Review: Osprey Zealot 16



The Zealot is impressively comfortable, and carries weight well, and even when fully loaded it doesn’t unduly bounce around or feel burdensome. The Airscape back panel with its mesh material, raised and wavy foam padding, and flexible but stiff body work in concert with the BioStretch harness and padded hip belt for maximum comfort and weight carrying. The Airscape has nice air channels between the foam padding, which offers great ventilation, as does the harness which has small ports throughout its length.

The 40mm wide ErgoPull hip belt with its padded hip wings is comfortable and is easy to adjust, though I found the extra strap material sort of annoying when it flopped around. I remedied the situation by adding some of my daughter’s hair bands around the belt to hold the excess in place.

The large main compartment lets you bring tons of gear, so it was excellent for long trips or when you might need additional gear during inclement weather. Although I liked being able to toss anything into the packs main section, I would have liked a couple of extra pockets, slots or sleeves, to help keep thing organized. The monster stretchy mesh side sleeves or pockets were handy for just about anything, as was the large padded front section, where I usually tossed my armor, shock pump and rags.

The innovative LidLock helmet clip is a pretty amazing feature, and it makes attaching a vented helmet a simple endeavor. You just turn the clip sideways, insert it through a top hole, and then pop it out flat, and it securely holds it in place.

The tool pouch was another handy item, and I really liked how nice it was to keep all those small and odd items (tools, pump, patches, lube, tire levers, etc.) in one place in a very organized manner. When you needed something, you just unzipped the bottom pocket, grabbed the pouch and rolled it out for usage. I liked the tool pouch so much that I carry it around in my other test packs.

As I noted above, I wasn’t a huge fan of their hydration reservoir, though the I found the bite valve system was a real highlight. The rotating bite valve shuts off by aligning the valve with the hose, so you know when it’s closed, which prevents unwanted leakage and accidents. It has a magnet integrated on its back side that then attaches to another magnet located on the sternum strap, which helps keep the valve securely fastened in place, and prevents the hose and valve from flopping around when you’re bouncing along on trails.

  • Weight – pack only 820 grams, 29 oz, 1.8 lbs
  • Weight – reservoir/tube 340 grams, 12 oz, .75 lbs
  • Total Weight – 1160 grams, 41 oz, 2.56 lbs
Bottom Line

The Osprey Zealot is a well-made pack, that uses heavy materials and stitching for durability and toughness. The arched Airscape back panel and BioStretch harness are comfortable and ventilate nicely, and together they facilitate load and weight carrying, centering and stabilization. The cavernous main compartment has a back panel zipper that fully opens for easy access to its contents, though some extra internal pocket would be nice to organize things. The other pockets are very useful, especially the front padded sleeve, which was easy to access and drop items into it. Though the hydration reservoir functioned just fine, I wasn’t a big fan of it, except for the swivel bite valve with its magnet attachment. I highlight features were the tool pouch, which kept lots of tools and other sundry items nicely organized, and the brilliant helmet LidLock was easy to use whenever you needed to carry your helmet.

The Zealot 16 is comfortable, can carry a lot gear with good weight distribution, uses tough durable materials and comes with their “All Mighty Guarantee” lifetime warranties.

  • Lots of storage pockets
  • Bite valve system – rotating closure and magnetic clip
  • LidLock helmet attachment system
  • AirScape backpanel and BioStretch harness – great ventilation and comfort
  • Small/Medium and Medium/Large sizing for better anatomical fit
  • Tool pouch
  • Durable and tough material
  • Main compartment – large, with fully opening back panel zipper
  • Main compartment – needs some internal pockets for organization
  • Hydration reservoir (I’m picky) – tough to clean, no tube quick release, tricky to fill
  • Superfluous harness pockets
  • Expensive

MSRP: $149
Overall Rating: 4 Flamin’ Chili Peppers 

Photo Thumbnails (click to enlarge)

About the author: Brian Mullin

Brian likes to push the limits in all the sports he obsesses in, whether it's mountain biking, whitewater kayaking, skiing, or sport climbing. He takes those same strengths and a good dose of insanity to his reviewing and writing on mountain biking products, creating technical, in-depth articles. Whenever he's not on the bike, he might be found watching MotoGP racing, otherwise look for him out on the trail.

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  • dude says:

    wish osprey would come out with a lumbar reservoir like camelbak, best new hydration pack feature that is truly functional while riding…outside of that i prefer the designs of osprey….but wont go back to them after using an LR until they add one

  • Bill Willems says:

    I’ve got the Osprey Raptor 14. Had the original one a couple years and had to get bladder replaced twice because it was a faulty design. Many friends with same problem. I got the whole pack replaced under REI warranty due to strap problem, and they’ve changed their bladder completely. It is no longer like the one shown in this review. The overall pack is much less comfortable than previous version, and the bladder design seems to be the reason. I definitely like better than any Camelback I’ve had.

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