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Backpacks

Drive By :: Osprey Radial 26

by , September 15, 2015
For the following Drive By we roped in Richard Bolus: Bellroy Special Ops, linguist and polite Englishman who has an annoying ability to see the bright side of things – except lazy design. He likes reading, taking long walks at sunset and his favorite color is blue. He’s also ex-British Army and taught martial arts to the Tokyo Riot Police.
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Osprey Radial 26
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There are backpacks you can use on a bike and there are backpacks designed specifically for use on a bike. The Osprey Radial 26 is definitely the latter.
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If you’re serious about getting gear from home to work and back home again, daily, on two wheels, you can’t go far wrong with this little gem (probably should call it an ‘emerald’ though due to its bright green color).
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Osprey Radial 26
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The team at Osprey really seem to have drawn up a list of the most important things you need when commuting on your bike, then nailed each and every one of them:
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Bright colorway and safety features such as reflective patches and blinker attachment – check
Separate outside pocket to keep your heavy bike lock away from your bag contents – check
Breathable, supportive pack-to-back interface – check
And they’ve even thrown in a handy lid lock attachment so you can pick up and pay for your early morning coffee without dropping your helmet on the floor (I’m almost certain they had this exact scenario in mind as I’ve done it more times than is optimal).
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Osprey Radial 26
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Who It Suits

Serious pedalers. If you’re on a bike on the reg, then this is a great (and affordable) option.
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Osprey Radial 26
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Who It Doesn’t

Those looking for a super versatile pack that can flex from riding to hiking to travel to whatever else. This offering’s specialized.
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Osprey Radial 26
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The Good

One of the things that make this bag so suitable for bike carry, its dazzling Mantis Green color, is precisely the reason it doesn’t lend itself to use in a business setting. Unless, of course, you want to scream to the world “Hey look at me, I biked to work today!” as you stroll into your meeting.
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“If you’re serious about getting gear from home to work and back home again, daily, on two wheels, you can’t go far wrong with this little gem.”
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You could tone down the loudness and opt for the black colorway though which looks a lot more work-smart. If you still wanted to reduce the likelihood of being side-swiped by a bleary-eyed truck driver on your way home you could always use the bright yellow rain cover to raise your visibility.
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Osprey Radial 26
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Osprey Radial 26
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The amount of organization this pack affords you is astonishing. Osprey have nested the pockets so that when one is full it doesn’t compromise the others. The access points are also reassuringly intuitive. Once I’d decided on the best system of storage for my daily commute gear it became effortless to check I had everything and access items quickly (even in a caffeine depleted pre-morning coffee state).
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Osprey Radial 26
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Osprey Radial 26
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The laptop storage compartment is easy to access and keeps your laptop more than an inch off the ground for added protection. With its soft mesh-covered foam you can slide a bare MacBook Pro in and out without fear of scratching it. The water-resistant zip also means you don’t need to worry too much about getting caught in a downpour.
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Osprey Radial 26
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The main compartment feels like it might be better served by incorporating a more heavy-duty zip. However, after having put the Radial 26 through its paces for over six months it’s holding up very well.
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Osprey have nested the pockets so that when one is full it doesn’t compromise the others. The access points are also reassuringly intuitive.”
I’ve also been surprised by how the bright color has not dulled and is surprisingly easy to keep clean.
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Osprey Radial 26
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The Not So Good

While the strapping and harnesses are extremely adjustable I found that the bottom corners of the support frame dug into my hips a bit. This wasn’t an issue on the bike, but it was an issue when I went on a couple of day hikes whilst bike-camping in the Australian Summer. I also could feel the frame a bit when jogging to work.
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“While the strapping and harnesses are extremely adjustable I found that the bottom corners of the support frame dug into my hips a bit.”
Although the waist strap looks minimal, it does a great job and tucks the loose straps away nicely. However, it would be great to see a bit more padding over these frame-to-back contact points inside the waist strap in the next version.
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Osprey Radial 26
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The shoulder straps are also joined to one another at the top – a little like the webbing between your fingers. This looks good and prevents undue pressure being placed on key failure points; however, when you look up on the bike you can sometimes feel the extra material slightly restricting your neck movement. I could have avoided this by relaxing the straps, but I like to ratchet the straps snugly so as to avoid side to side motion while pedaling.
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Osprey Radial 26
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The actual build quality and performance of this bag is beyond question. It is a bit of a shame that you can’t stand the pack upright though when you are trying to get your laptop or gear out of it; due to its aerodynamic shape, it always rolls onto its back. This is just a niggle though, not an issue.
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Osprey Radial 26
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Others to Consider

Timbuk2 are an obvious option – their Especial Vuelo Cycling Laptop Backpack is pretty awesome. Its flap closure dispels the need for a rain cover, but note: it has way less nifty pockets.

Bumping up the price tag a little, check out Mission Workshop, of course. And Chrome knows their bike carry too.

 Osprey Radial 26
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Verdict

Overall, I’m really impressed with the Osprey Radial 26 and will happily continue to use this as my go-to bike commuter bag.
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Osprey Radial 26
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The Breakdown

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Geek (Performance)

Space & Access
7
Organization
7
Comfort
7.5

Style (Design)

Look & Feel
7
Build, Materials & Hardware
7
Features
7.5

Stoke (Experience)

Warranty & Support
9
Brand experience
9
Value
9
X Factor
6

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