GEAR SHOP: Review

Osprey Exos
UL Backpack

Since 1974, Osprey has been a trailblazer in backpack design and innovation. As a longtime fan and user of Osprey packs, we were blown away with the introduction of their Anti-gravity (AG) line a few years ago—the epitome of trail comfort. This year, Osprey entered the ultralight (UL) pack realm with two new offerings: the 2-pound Levity, and the 2.6-pound Exos and Eja (men’s/women’s). When we saw that they would be integrating a similar anti-gravity-style harness structure into these two ultralight designs, we couldn’t wait to take them for a spin. We started with the Exos 58, a nice mid-range size with enough capacity and features for everyone from entry-level section-hikers to experienced thru-hikers.

Wanna see what’s going in our pack? Scroll down for our full kit.

Loading Up

When it comes to loading ease, there’s a lot to like about the Exos 58. As with most UL packs, there’s a single top entry point. You pretty much just start dropping your gear in and stack accordingly. The interior features a 3-liter hydration bladder sleeve, which has it’s pros and cons. With a full bladder, it’s a good way to keep it contained and upright, however—fully filled—it reduces storage capacity significantly. With our food in our Ursack, it wasn’t a big deal; just a little reorganization. With a bear canister, it was a pretty tight squeeze. It’s the additional loading areas that we really like, starting with the two dual-entry side mesh pockets. We use one for our insulated water bottle and the other for our ultralight camp chair—two items we want quick access to. These pockets are nice and deep, so can hold sizeable items. The side entry slot makes reaching behind for our water bottle quite effortless. The Exos doesn’t feature any hipbelt pockets, but we had no problem using these side slots to stash a few snacks and other small essentials to keep within easy reach. And then there’s the quick-release floating lid with two zippered compartments—we love this feature! This is where we keep our toiletry bag, rain gear, tent essentials and electronics, and can easily pop it right off and toss in our tent when needed. On the outside, the Exos features a large mesh front pocket where we keep our camp sandals, tarp and water filter; it’s also great for stashing wet clothes. Add to all that an easy-access trekking pole attachment, exterior tool loops and a detachable sleeping pad strap and we’re good to go.

Strapping On

When we got our hands on Osprey’s first AG pack (the Atmos) a few seasons ago, we thought we had discovered the ultimate in backpacking comfort. That comfort carries straight through to the Exos. On the inside, the pack is supported by an ultralight 4mm alloy frame, which gives it a nice, sturdy structure. This is good for keeping the pack from collapsing on itself while loading or unloading. On the outside, the harness consists of a tensioned, AirSpeed 3-D mesh back panel that conforms to the body for a perfect fit. The mesh material also provides excellent air circulation between our back and the back of the pack—very nice for staying cool on trail. The mesh hipbelt is a bit on the minimal side, but is enough to maintain comfort and tailor a nice fit to support our fully-loaded weight (30 lbs.). The harness is topped with two of the cushiest shoulder straps we’ve ever worn. These are also made of ventilating seamless mesh to help prevent those sweat-soaked shoulder straps that deer and goats love to chew on. Attached to the harness are two load-lifter adjustment straps that let us fine-tune the pack for a perfect fit.

The Osprey Exos is, hands-down, one of the most comfortable backpacks we’ve ever had the pleasure of hiking with.

Hitting the Trail

Loaded up and on the trail, the Exos becomes one with the body, floating snugly against the back without any bounce or sway. This was especially noticeable when hopping creeks and jolting down steep descents. Its 100D nylon main body is good for shrugging off overhanging branches, and even the occasional thorny blackberry shrubs; we had no worries about poking a tent pole through the side; the 210D nylon bottom can easily withstand being dropped on rocks and pinecones without worry of being punctured. We were a little cautious to avoid snagging the mesh shoulder straps, as this could present a potential damage issue down the line. As is, the Exos can withstand short periods of light drizzle without its contents soaking through, but it is not waterproof. If rain is in the forecast, you should definitely pack along a waterproof rain cover (sold separately). We like the additional FlapJacket cover over the main compartment that lets us take the Exos out sans lid, which is a nice option for day tripping from camp, or going on water or resupply runs.

The Lowdown

The Osprey Exos is, hands-down, one of the most comfortable backpacks we’ve ever had the pleasure of hiking with. The combination of its light weight, superior harness system and ample features allowed us to stay nimble on the trail, while still satisfying our desire to keep our gear neatly organized and accessible. Its sturdy materials and solid construction suggest that it will endure many seasons of wear and tear on the trail, with few concerns about breakdown (we’ll be keeping a close eye on that mesh shoulder harness). And should the pack ever get damaged, Osprey’s All Mighty Guarantee has us covered. Our only gripe is the lack of a rain cover or more effective DWR treatment—especially here in the rainy Northwest—but that small issue is no deal-breaker. We’ll be hiking happy in our Exos for years to come. $220

PROS: Anti-gravity mesh harness for ultimate, form-fitting comfort; removable dual-compartment lid; large exterior pockets.

CONS: Not water-repellent; rain cover sold separately.

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What we’re packing. (Approx. 30 lbs.)

gear spread

Osprey Exos 58 Specs

SizeTorsoCapacityWeight
Small16–19 IN55 L2.6 LBS
Medium18–21 IN58 L2.6 LBS
Large20–23 IN61 L2.7 LBS

Osprey Eja 58 Specs

SizeTorsoCapacityWeight
X-Small14–17 IN52 L2.5 LBS
Small16–19 IN55 L2.6 LBS
Medium18–21 IN58 L2.6 LBS

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