Osprey Zealot, Mountain Bike Specific Hydration Pack
Mountain bike packs are a necessary evil. I much prefer riding without one, however, nothing sucks worse than running out of water or being stranded on the trail without the proper equipment to make a repair. So basically your options are 1) Ride with a pack, or 2) Hope for the best and mooch off your buddies should something go wrong. And since nobody likes a mooch, we recommend riding with a pack in which case the Osprey Zealot makes for a fine consolation prize.
There are a number of handy features that make the Osprey Zealot stand out among the competition as a mountain bike pack. I’m not one for space-age technologies that don’t stand up to real world practicality, so I’ll just cover the ones that matter most to me as an avid rider.
This may not seem like a big deal, but a floppy water tube blows and makes it tough and awkward to grab a drink while charging hard on the bike. The little magnet addition on the sternum strap keeps your shit tight and within a tongues reach of your lips when you need it most.
Helmet Carrier (LidLock Clip)
Another modest, yet incredibly useful feature. Mountain bikers have enough shit to pack and carry around, and nothing looks more dorky then wearing your helmet when you’re not on your bike. Compatible with both full face and half-shell lids, the Zealot makes packing your helmet a no-brainer.
Phone Sized Secure-Zip Shoulder Pocket
A secure pocket big enough for your phone or point-and-shoot camera that’s accessible without taking off the pack. Perfect for quick access when you need to snap a quick pick or start your Strava.
Roll-Out Tool Pouch
The Osprey Zealot’s roll-out tool pouch keeps your tools separated from your main pack contents. Should you need to make a trail-side repair, the bottom-accessed roll-out pouch makes finding your tools quick and easy so you can fix what you need and get back to pedaling.
Additionally, the Zealot is one of the more comfortable mountain biking packs utilizing Osprey’s “Airscape” suspension design which purportedly maximizes ventilation and support. The reservoir can hold up to 3L of liquid, which I’ve found is more than plenty, especially if you’re carrying a water bottle on the bike. The Osprey Zealot comes in two sizes the 10 and 16. I’m running the smallest option which is more than ample in terms of storage capacity. However, I also prefer running as small of pack as possible.
Osprey Zealot vs Raptor
The brand’s other mountain bike specific pack is the Osprey Raptor, which I used for a number of years before the Zealot. The Raptor shares many of the same features as the Zealot such as the LidLock, magnetic bite valve, and AirScape technology. However, I feel the Zealot is the stronger iteration of the two, especially if you’re buying a pack intended for mountain biking. The Zealot offers a wider frame, which helps distribute weight across your back instead of off the back of the bike. Furthermore, the Zealot moved the pockets off the hip straps to the shoulder straps which seems to keep the pack from flopping around as much while you’re riding.
Like all Osprey Packs, both the Zealot and Raptor are quality crafted products and are backed by Osprey’s All Mighty Guarantee. Osprey will repair or replace any pack for any reason due to damage or defects for the life of the pack, no questions asked. As someone who’s dealt with Osprey’s warranty department in the past, I can vouch for them having excellent customer service. Furthermore, I strongly advocate companies who stand behind their products and make an effort to repair rather than replace, as should you.
Shop for Osprey Zealot mountain bike packs online at Backcountry.com for free shipping and guaranteed returns for life.
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