Great Lightweight Backpacker Pack!
I've hiked four segments (3-7) of the Colorado Trail on this pack now and I feel I've got enough experience with it to write a review. I'm coming from an Osprey Aether 70 pack. Mainly because my backpacking goals have shifted to distance/ultralight hiking vs casual weekends.
I will be up front and say I started with loads around 35 pounds and just finished a trek at 25 pounds. That's loaded weight (water, food, fuel, gear). In my opinion this pack does NOT handle loads above 30 pounds well and is really best suited for loads under 25 pounds if you want it to be comfortable and perform well.
That said I feel there are a three key elements to a good pack: comfort, durability, and function.
Comfort comprises suspension and padding. This pack is minimal on both. The straps are comprised of open cell foam padding to reduce weight. They are comfortable at lighter loads but can wear on you at heavier loads.
The suspension is a fixed point belt, affixed to a wire outer frame, and fixed shoulder straps at the to of the frame. Once nice thing is the frame is curved to allow for a raised breathing area on your back. The fixed suspension causes this pack to ride a little differently than you might expect as your weight tends to follow your body a lot closer than a floating suspension. At light loads this isn't a big deal but if you overload this pack it will be a problem as the weight will continually throw you off balance.
One other thing about the suspension. To reduce weight Osprey moved to significantly smaller webbing. The smaller webbing doesn't maintain tension as well as the wider webbing you find on most other straps I found that the belt in particular tends to loosen over time and you need to constantly make adjustments. Again a lighter load helps but even at 25 pounds I'm still adjusting.
In the durability department this pack is designed to be light which also means lightweight and less durable materials. While this pack is delicate I think Osprey did a nice job balancing materials and strength. You need to be extra aware not to throw this pack down or scrape it on trees/rocks/etc. On the plus side there are relatively few zippers and other things that can fail so if you're careful and respectful this pack should last a long time.
Lastly function. To reduce weight Osprey dropped a lot of zippers and pockets to shave weight. However they maintained a top flap with a mesh pocket and top loading zipper. They also kept two external long pockets and a stuff pocket. I'm debating cutting the top flap and pockets off completely to shave more weight.
I find I can fit my bivy and sleeping pad in one of the long external pockets and my rain gear, first aid kit, and toilet gear in the other pocket. Leaving the main compartment for sleeping bag, food, and a stuff sack with "10 essentials" stuff. With 3 days of food I had plenty of room for another 5 days of food without over stuffing. If I crammed I bet I could make a 10 day trip on this pack.
There are also two mesh belt pockets that are a nice touch. I stuff my camera in one and sun screen etc in the other. They are too small to fit most snack bars (unless you munge them). Which is too bad.
And one final note on luxury items. I don't always bring trekking poles but when I do I love the Osprey "shoulder strap holster" setup that allows you to sling your poles off your shoulder strap for easy access. I like to use my trekking poles on serious uphill/downhill but generally prefer to keep my hands free to bust out the camera.
One negative on function - the water bladder ports are too small! I really have to work to get my bite valve through the hole! It works but is annoyingly slow to work through.
Overall this is a fantastic lightweight backpacker pack off the shelf.
Osprey put enough webbing material on this for a 500 pound guy and king size gear. I'm about to take a knife to all the extra webbing I'm not using. I bet I lose a quarter pound in excess webbing alone.
If I choose to lose the top flap I bet I could lose another half pound (requiring some waterproofing of the closure). Bringing this into a really sweet ultralight pack range.
I give a guarded recommendation for this pack to a friend. The friend would have to be lightweight minded. This pack isn't meant for heavy loads!
Perfect when you know how to use it
I've progressed in Osprey packs from an Atmos 50, to the 65, and finally to the Exos 58. It's very nearly perfect for me. The back panel isn't adjustable, so definitely try it on with 25lbs (properly loaded!) and see if one of the sizes actually fits you. The medium fits me utterly wonderfully with less than 30-32 pounds on, and is servicable up to ~38.
I upgraded to the Exos for my John Muir Trail trip last fall. Including that and a few other trips, and I've lived out of it for 40 days in less than a year of owning it. It's still holding up excellently. It's not 100% made of Cordura so don't expect to drop it down a couloir and come out without a scratch, but I have no concerns on any future trips that I'll have anthing worse than a tiny hole in the bottom that can easily be patched up with duct tape.
As I said earlier, you do need to properly load this pack. Everyone should think a little bit before throwing their gear in their packs, but with the mesh suspension you'll have to be slightly methodical. Keeping the pack's center of mass as close to your lower-mid back is even more important. This was my strategy:
1) A BV-500 can fit in the bottom horizontally. Make sure the side pockets are empty and the straps are loosened and the bear can will slide in sideways with a little guidance.
2) My solo tent, sleeping bag, rain jacket, and rain pants all fit snuggly atop the bear can and close to the internal hydration pocket.
3) Other clothes fill the remaining main compartment space.
4) GorillaPod, med kit, fishing tackle satchel, toilet paper, and other miscellaneous items go in the side pockets.
5) Sunblock, chapstick, hand sanitizer, and contact eye drops go in one hipbelt pocket.
6) Compass, multitool, and map(s) go in the other.
7) Fly rod packed in a light case is strapped in on one side.
8) I usually don't carry much water at a time, but if I do then it's usually 1/2 a liter on the other side in a side pocket.
9) If I do need to carry more water, I'll slip my Platypus into the mesh and stick the capped hose end up. As I drink this will compress the bladde and keep water flowing without having a plastic cap digging into my back.
10) Finally, my 3/4 length RidgeRest is strapped in on the bottom. The pack will stand upright by itself whenever I set it down.
11) I don't even use the lid anymore. The expansion collar and kangaroo pockets are wonderful for keeping things like beanies, gloves, and headlamps redialy accessible.
One issue that may come up if between resupplies (14 days for me, thanks to a whole lot of side trips) is that your bear can will be so heavy that the can will push the taught fabric/wire part into the mesh and thus your lower back. This isn't fun, so all you need to do is put something inbetween to cushion your lower back just like all other internal frame backs do. I used my rainpants, and while I did sweat more from the comparatively stifled airflow, I survived for a few das carrying close to 40 pounds. The pack really isn't meant for anything about 35 or your shoulders will start shouldering a lot more of the weight. Keep it under 30, and everything feels like a breeze.
Some people don't like the feel of the weight of the pack not being held right next to their packs like they're used to. You get used to it. As stated, properly load it and you won't have the pack swaying from excessive torque, and your back will be perfectly fine at the end of a long day. I've done 20 mile days and a 15 mile, 5500' day where I ended up climbing Mt. Pinchot instead of Pinchot Pass with 35 pounds in the pack, and I had no complaints with the pack. It's not something you'd want to use for winter mountaineering or for extended exposed class 4-5, but that's not what it's designed for.
If you're looking for a spring-fall pack that makes anything less than 30 pounds feel like you're on a dayhike, this is your pack. If you're looking for something you can use as a haulbag and mindlessly chuck your gear and the kitchen sink inside, look somewhere else. My only suggestions are to make the hipbelt buckle slightly bigger because it's tough to get on when wearing puffy layers, and to make the hipbelt and side stretchy pockets a bit bigger to accomodate cameras and water bottles a little easier. Otherwise, this pack is heaven.
I am a longtime Atmos 65 user and was hesitant to get the Exos, worrying that the bag didn't have enough meat on its bones to last in the backcountry. After using it this weekend, I am moving exclusively to the Exos. While reviewing the Exos here, I will also try to compare it to the Atmos. I try to shave weight where I can, which was on of the reasons I gave the Exos a go.
Weight/sizing: I have a 19in Torso so a medium Osprey pack fits me well. The Med Atmos weighs 3lbs 9 oz, while the Med Exos is 2lbs 9oz, so there's a pound saved right there. I would note that like the Atmos, the should strap suspension (i.e. the torso lenth) is not adjustable, as it is on the Talon series.
Straps/buckles/zippers: much smaller/thinner on the Exos, which is how Osprey was able to save weight. The zipper pulls are smaller, the straps are notably thinner (especially the side compression straps). Having said that, the straps appear to be just as durable as the thicker Atmos straps and I did not have an issue at all. I was shocklingly surprised how comfortable the shoulder straps were, too. While they have a little less padding than the Atmos, there was no sacrifice in comfort. Wait belt looks slighlty different but is very similar to the Atmos (with the exception of a thinner waist strap).
Interior space: The Exos does not have a sleeping bag pocket (another way to save weight), so your bag goes right inside. Basic math says the Exos 58 should be 7 liters smaller than the Atmos 65, but in all honesty unless you are packed to the brim, there is plenty of space in the Exos. Here's what fits inside: Atom 40 degree sleeping bag, Neoair pad, Fly Creek UL2 tent (with the poles, all inside the pack), Snowpeak 1400 cookset (w/ gas and stove nested inside), my "emergency" stuff sack with meds etc, extra fleece, rain gear, 2 days food and a nalgene. With all this, there was still PLENTY of room to spare. I would estimate that I had the pack 70% full. If you were going winter camping and/or needed a bear canister or something, this pack would be fine.
Other features: like other reviews said, it would be nice if the gear straps on the bottom clipped on an off. I tested it and the Fly Creek fits in the allotted space with ease, as most smaller tents would I would think. Water storage is typical to other Osprey packs, as is the stretch pocket on the front. There are 2 front zip pockets which are nice for easy access.
All in all, the Exos is a stripped down version of the Atmos, but I'm glad I switched. The bag is durable, light, of Osprey quality, and while its appearance may be a bit misleading, this bag is tougher than it appears.
Excellent lightweight backpack
I just got back from my first backpacking trip using my Exos 58. It was a five day trip on the High Divide Loop in the Olympic National Park. Started the hike with about 34 lbs and the pack performed beautifully the whole way. In 2004, I switched out much of my gear to greatly reduce weight. I bought a Go-Lite Trek pack and have used it since with great success for a bunch of multi-day trips and overnights. It's 4000 cubic inches and weighs just 2 lbs! My only gripe was that the simple waist belt was not as effective in transferring the load to my hips as I would like. I've been watching with disappointment for the past six years as no pack manufacturers seemed to be making any serious effort to come up with a pack as light and well designed as the Go-Lite but with a better belt. It amazes me that so many packs in the 3500-400 cubic inch range still weigh 4-5 lbs (or more). There's just no excuse for that anymore IMHO. The Exos was the first pack I'd seen that looked like it might be a viable candidate to replace my Trek. I bought the Medium which weighs 2 and a half lbs. I'm 5' 9'', and 160 lbs and it fits me just fine. The waist belt actually works great for me in putting the load on my hips and off my shoulders. I like the simple design of the bag. The shape and dimensions make for very efficient packing. It holds a bear cannister horizontally perfectly. The mesh pockets on the sides that allow you to easily get your water bottles and put them back without removing the pack are an excellent feature. It has two ice axe loops and lots of lashing points. The mesh back panel gives good air flow to your back. I disagree with the reviewer that says the pack is actually an external frame pack with the associated problems. I used external frame packs for many years and this pack behaves like an internal frame pack in my hands. I would have no problem taking this pack off trail. I think its very important to get the correct size to fit your torso length for this pack to work. Get some help determining the correct one for you before buying one. Only concern I have is how durable the attachment points for the small width compression straps and the small waist belt buckle will be in the long run. Otherwise, it's a keeper.
I've not done backpacking trips before, so my past experience is limited to military issue packs in the Marines and working with the Boy Scouts. Last August I hiked to the Phantom Ranch in the Grand Canyon and purchased Osprey Exos 58 for the trip. The shoulder straps were much more comfortable that I've been used to with previous packs. For my four day trip, the size of this pack was more than sufficient. (Admittedly, I sent heavy or bulky items via pack mule) Space and access for packing was quite satisfactory. There are pros and cons to the external frame. The design integrated an open mesh material against my back that offered great ventilation in the 120 degree heat. However, the top of the frame tended to push my neck forward so I walked leaning forward. Actually, going uphill, this was not really a drawback as I tended to lean into the claim, anyway. Going down or on level terrain is was a bit awkward. The mesh side pouches on the outside of the pack were a bit confusing. They had lots of space, but I couldn't figure out how to effectively close the side access openings. Smaller items tended to slip out if not situated carefully in the pouches. While I didn't experience any problems with the plastic snap buckles on the pack closures, they seemed a little flimsy to me. I may be wrong, but those buckles don't look like they will hold up to extended, rought use. I'm used to metal buckles, so maybe I just haven't caught up with current technology. The small pouches on the hip belt were convienent for trail snacks, sun block, and such. I'm not used to a chest strap and didn't care for the position of that strap on this pack. To me, it felt too high and a bit too narrow for comfort. Maybe it just takes getting used to. I didn't notice a great deal of difference in the way the pack rode on my shoulders when I left the chest strap unbuckled. Overall, this pack was far more comfortable than the military issue packs I've used in the past. For my purpose of steep climbing in and out of the Grand Canyon in 100 degree plus temperatures, this pack worked out even better than I had hoped. I doubt that this pack would be sufficient for large loads that would be required for colder weather or long duration treks, but for light to medium loads I wouldn't hesitate to use it.
Great pack design, suspension didn't fit
I really like the design and light weight of this pack. I am looking for something to head back to the AT for some 200-300 mile sections. I have an ultralight pack now, but I am trying to get something with a little more comfort and couple more pockets to help with organization and easy access to some items.
This pack would be great, but the suspension did not work with my build. I'm a former wrestler, and though I do still have a neck, the "U" shape of the shoulder straps would not allow them to adjust wide enough, so it created pressure points on the side upper shoulders at the top of the trapezius muscles. I also wish Osprey would use a slightly different hip belt design. Wider adjustment straps and a larger buckle would make it more comfortable. They also use a two-strap system for the adjustment, which makes the straps really long, so that they hang down almost to my knees. Yes, I could tie them up so they were out of the way. But if you're a long distance hiker, tying and untying something like this many times a day can be an annoying pain.
The air suspension was actually pretty good. My other packs sit right against my back. With the Exos, I kept feeling like I wanted to pull the load lifters tighter, to get the pack closer to me, but I didn't feel like it was leaning backwards.
My only gripe with the design of the pack body is the side mesh pockets which have a cut out so you can put a water bottle in at an angle and reach it while you're walking. That seemed like it would be cool, but it's a pretty big opening. I reuse regular 1 liter plastic water bottles (like Dasani etc.) which are pretty skinny compared to a Nalgene. If you bend over during a rock scramble (think of some places in the Whites or Mahoosuc Notch here), the water bottles drop right out of the pockets. I I was going to keep this pack, I would use zip ties on the frame to pull that side opening closed.
For someone who only does straight-up hiking on easy to moderate trails, this wouldn't be a problem. I'm looking at stuff from the viewpoint of long distances on pretty rugged terrain, and I know that most people aren't doing that kind of stuff. My search for another pack continues....
Perfect if used correctly!
This pack is perfect if you have the self control and the right gear to be able to use it correctly. It definetly is not designed for heavy loads. However, if you have invested in other light weight gear, then this bag will fit your needs great for hikes ranging from overnighters to trips well over a week in length.
I have had this pack in the snow, in the rain, while climbing, off trail hiking, and on extended backpacking trips and have not yet had a single problem with it. No tears, loose seams, etc.
In regards to the pocket design and layout: Alot of people have complained about the side pockets being constricted once the pack is full. I have never had that issue. Also important to realize is the function these pockets are designed for: to hold small essential pieces of gear. I fit my pack raincover in there, a small plastic camp shovel, tissues, a small rope, etc. Even some extra clothes and gloves, all without a problem and also with the pack fully loaded on the inside. One feature that I particularly liked about the backpack is the elastic stretch pocket on the outside of the main pocket. The reason for this is that I was easily able to store my gloves and hat in there in winter camping, and snacks and other small items that you don't want to necessarily spend the time digging in the main part of the pack for.
Alot of people have also complained about the fit of the waist belt. I am 5' 7", skinny and have a small waist (30 in) and the M size of the pack fit me great. You do want to try it on in the store before getting it though, to make sure you don't have an issue with the sizing.
All in all, I love this pack. Its everything I need in a backpack, and if you use it correctly and get the right size, you will be equally impressed.
Trampoline = comfort
For myself the Exos is just the right combination of comfort, convenience and weight saving. My typical setup includes a bear canister, hubba hubba tent, down bag, water filter and bladder, pocket rocket or alcohol stove, titanium pot and thermarest neo-air trekker in Long along with a few lbs of miscellaneous safety and comfort gear. This puts me in the "lightweight" category which would make most backpacks overkill in the load carrying department. The Exos is remarkably light for how engineered it is. The aluminum tube frame stretches the breathable mesh back panel tight against your back providing a surprisingly rigid transfer to your hips. The pack has all the important features lacking in the granite gear vapor trail like top lid and hip belt pockets, and stays practically the same weight. The padding is not thick and cushy, however it does provide adequate support. This is not to say it is the most comfortable pack I have used, but it certainly wasn't uncomfortable. Other reviewers have reported carrying 40+ lbs, but personally I would be hesitant to go too much higher than 30-35 lbs. expect some shoulder tenderness throughout the day. Unlike many other packs I have tried, my lower and mid back never get sore from the exos. I am a big fan of the suspension style utilized. I believe the load feels more balanced and stable compared with single, centered aluminum stays. I don't believe their is another pack on the market with comparable breath ability. I should also comment on the quality of the construction with great attention to detail throughout. If you don't abuse the pack, it should last a lifetime. Osprey also offers a lifetime fix or replace guarantee so you shouldn't have to worry about your investment. I only wish REI would carry this pack in more stores, so people could get the chance to try it. With the advances in technology allowing outdoor enthusiasts to push the limit on weight savings, this pack is the perfect partner to your lightweight setup.
So versatile a ninja could use it!
I bought this pack for an 8-day solo hike. In the past I've rented or bummed off others, so I decided to finally buy my own gear.
First off, I had some concerns this pack would be too small for 8 days solo. Although I had this sucker packed to the gills, it definitely came through, with a few empty zipper pockets to spare and only the tent poles strapped to the outside. My pack weight was about 35 pounds total, with 10 pounds of food and 5 pounds of water, so "your mileage may vary".
Osprey's website implies this can carry an even heavier load and I don't doubt it, but I did notice the seam at the very top pocket just starting to come undone before the hike. I can't say if this is because I overpacked it, or if it came that way, but you may want to be careful packing if you have a bulky load. The seam is only loose for a few cm, very minor, and doesn't appear to be unraveling so I don't consider it an issue.
On comfort this is by far the most comfortable pack I've used. The padding fits snugly over the hip bones and encourages carrying the weight where it should be. The shoulder straps are very adjustable and conversely allow easing the weight where it shouldn't be. This is the first pack I've used where my arms were free to move most of the time, not thumbed behind the shoulder straps to make up for inadequate padding. I found this actually made for a much safer hike as freed arms improve balance.
The webbing is great for letting your back breathe, and the pack material did a great job keeping my equipment dry during a moderate rain. The number of pouches definitely increase the capacity, so don't count this one out for any trip, long or short. Versatility is where this pack really shines.
Good to go
I just returned from a 7-day trip to the Wind Rivers which was a try-out trip for the Osprey Exos 58. I was carrying 31 lb including a 10L Bear Vault. I'm 60ish with a semi-bad back and use trekking poles, so suspension and close-ride mean a lot to me. This is a great pack.
At this weight, the hip belt and shoulder system work very well. I'm used to a full frame pack riding on my hips, so it was good news to me that distributing more load to the shoulders and the trekking poles is a better alternative. Getting the right pack (torso) size and adjusting the shoulder strap lifters are key.
I was amazed that the Exos 58 could handle the big Bear Vault both vertically (my preference) and horizontally. The 8.5" diameter of the Bear Vault means that the load hangs out further than I like, but the suspension handled it well.
I also really like the built-in straps for cinching down the pack (we used the Exos for a very comfortable four-person day pack)and for eliminating the need for extra straps. The belt pockets were perfect for a bottle of DEET and a small camera+GPS device (Android phone).
I only give the Exos a four out of five for two reasons. 1) The belt closure is a bit undersized. It popped open twice when I bent over and I only have a 32" waist. 2) The "simple sack" design means that you have to unload everything to put a sleeping bag in the bottom. In my opinion this is essential so that you can get the load high on the shoulders and to have ready access to items you need during the day. In a downpour, you risk getting everything wet. A simple bottom partition would solve this and would eliminate the need for a sleeping bag stuff sack.
Well done, Osprey!