Osprey Exos 48 Review: Backpacking Backpacks

When looking for an ultralight backpack a loss in weight often comes with a loss of other features. In our Osprey Exos 48 review find out if the only price you'll be paying for it is in dollars.

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Osprey Exos 48 Review

Our Rating: 3.7/5

Osprey Exos 48 Men's Backpacking Backpack, Tunnel Green, Medium

The Osprey Exos 48 will keep you cool during the hottest hike, and comfortable during the colder seasons. The new AirSpeed trampoline mesh insert on the back of the Exos 48 provides ventilation that makes hiking the sweltering Natchez Trace much cooler. Carrying a load doesn’t have to be hot and sweaty when you are wearing this pack.

Osprey has created another good-looking, durable ultralight backpack with the Exos 48. It is lightweight, only 2.4 pounds, but plenty roomy to hold a sleeping bag, several days of food, water inside and out, and is made of durable ripcord nylon. It will last through hikes in the snow, rain and the sun while keeping its good looks over miles of trails.

The Osprey Exos 48 Backpack can accommodate you on the one-day trail hike or the multi-day backpack hike on the Natchez Trace.

Key Features

  • This pack rides smooth, perfectly balanced and is very light at 2.4 pounds.
  • The aluminum struts give strong support, unlike airframes
  • No-sweat fabric on the back of the pack works well
  • The pockets on the hip belt can be zipped and unzipped with just one hand
  • Three points of adjustment on the seamless mesh straps for a perfect fit
  • The lid, the attachment points, and the key straps can all be removed
  • The shoulder straps have a gel insert to protect the muscles and make it more comfortable

Category Scores

Weight to Volume
Ease of Use
  • PROs

    • The trampoline mesh back kept us cool even in the high 80’s with a full pack
    • The foam-padded hip belt stops bumping and chaffing
    • The detachable pocket is big enough for a day pack for a short trek
    • The floating top pocket has a mesh compartment inside and out, and room underneath for storage
  • CONs

    • No straps for a sleeping bag or tent attachment at the bottom of the pack
    • There is no coating on the aluminum frame, so after a while, it creaks and squeaks
    • The side pockets are awkwardly placed, tilted at an angle that is slanted too far forward

Osprey Exos 48 Hands-on Review

The Osprey Exos 48 is highly recommended for the short-medium trail hike. Loaded with 20-30 pounds of supplies, it is comfortable and cool for a day-long hike. This backpack is an excellent transition pack for someone who doesn’t want the lightest packs, but the heavier packs are just too much weight to drag around.


The best feature of this backpack is its comfort. The ExoForm™ gel padding in the shoulder straps helps prevent bruising, while the waist belt with the forward-pull closure enables a custom fit, eliminating that constant bump and see-sawing against the base of the spine that grinds on a long hike.

The AirSpeed™ trampoline mesh insert on the back allows ventilation, a very necessary feature when hiking in the heat. When the water inside the hydration sleeve is ice cold, you have your own swamp cooler effect.

Wearing this pack feels like there is more support for the back. The Superlight AirSpeed 6065 aluminum frame doesn’t just support the load of the pack; it also supports the spine. After wearing this pack for an eight-hour trek, you don’t have that crooked and stooped back that can happen if you have a shifting load or inadequate back support.

The Airspeed™ suspension system keeps the ventilation moving across the back and out the sides, making hiking in the heat cooler and less draining.


Weight & Volume

The 2.4-pound weight makes carrying equipment just a little bit easier. Holding 40-50 liters of gear inside of a backpack that is less than 2 ½ pounds feels like there is almost nothing there. While the heavier packs carry more, this weight is better for the smaller person or the one that doesn’t like to tote a load.


Cord tie-offs are plentiful on this pack and can hold a small tent with ease. For winter hikers, there is a built-in strap for an ice axe, with a mesh pocket inside the top for collapsible hiking poles. Small pockets inserted into the shoulder straps will hold a phone, protein bars, or a GPS. The mesh pocket on the back of the pack can hold wet clothes for drying, without getting the interior of the pack wet.

The Exos 48 backpack has a trekking pole gear loop near the bottom of the pack, and the handles can be attached to the shoulder strap bungee. This backpack will carry 20-40 pounds and hold from 45-50 liters of equipment, depending on the size of the pack.

Wearing the Exos 48 pack is very comfortable with a 20-pound load and can carry 50 in a pinch, although the weight is a little ungainly. The Osprey Exos 48 will last through a 30-day hike across the Grand Canyon and still look fresh with a quick wash. Removing the top, and using either section, upper or lower, creates a second day-trip pack that can hold all your supplies for the hike.

This is the largest backpack size that is approved for airline travel, so it is just right for that European Tour.


Ease of Use

Placing the sleeping bag in the “bucket” bottom is a little inconvenient, as it is handier to carry on the back with a strap. Even so, this backpack has plenty of room inside to store a sleeping bag.

The key to packing this backpack is organization. If you are one that uses multiple pockets and zips to hold your various items, you will miss those on this lightweight backpack. The zippers are what add the weight, so they were eliminated. There are two mesh pockets on the side and one movable pocket for storage, so placing gear inside the pack needs to be orderly.


The outer shell of the backpack, made of ripstop nylon, is very durable, but the mesh pockets can snag and tear, dependent upon your care. If you are careful with your terrain, this pack will last forever. If you are hiking through rough terrain, keep an eye on waist-level, sharp protruding items like thorns.

The shoulder straps and waist belt are also made of seamless mesh, but the ExoForm™ gel makes them surprisingly comfortable and soft. They are designed well, widespread to distribute the weight, but not bulky. They are also adjustable for a tailored fit, keeping the backpack snug to the body.

Technical Specifications

Best UseBackpacking
Frame TypeInternal Frame
Gear Capacity (L)S 45 liters M 48 liters L 51 liters
Gear Capacity (cu. in.)S 2,746 cubic inches M 2,929 cubic inches L 3,112 cubic inches
WeightS 2 lbs. 6 oz. M 2 lbs. 8 oz. L 2 lbs. 10 oz.
Weight – MetricS 1.08 kilograms M 1.13 kilograms L 1.19 kilograms
Fits TorsoS 16 – 19 inches M 18 – 21 inches L 20 – 23 inches
Fits Waist/HipsS 27 – 31 inches M 30 – 34 inches L 33 – 37 inches
Material(s)Ripstop nylon
Frame MaterialAluminum
Number of Stays1
Suspended Mesh Back PanelYes
Pack AccessTop
Number of Exterior Pockets4 + main compartment


The 20-pound weight is handled nicely by the Osprey Exos 48 backpack, but over 30 pounds begins the difficult-to-carry stage. It is rated to carry 40 pounds, but the weight isn’t as evenly distributed.

The adjustable waist strap is too long for a thin person and too short for a heavy one. It would have been better if there were more options than one-size-fits-all.

Best Applications

The Osprey Exos 48 backpack is perfect for the minimalist hiker. It will hold everything a thoughtful packer needs and wants and have room to spare. It performs well for all kinds of hikes, but we think the best application is for the medium-length hike of a week or less.


The Osprey Exos 48 backpack is priced comparably to its competitors and comes with a lifetime warranty.

Other Versions & Accessories

Osprey offers a rain cover that is a necessity for hiking in a downpour. The cover that comes with the Osprey Exos 48 backpack only covers the backpack when the top is removed. The Osprey Ultralight Pack cover is lighter than other brands and does the job efficiently. It dries very quickly, even after being in an overnight downpour. It also has a reflective logo for high visibility when night hiking. It comes with its own accessory, a pouch for the rain cover storage.

Osprey also has the Ultralight Zip Organizer for carrying a handy first aid kit, toiletries, or just extra gear you want close by. The Ultralight Zip Organizer has three compartments, all with zippers; one is lined in clear plastic for spillables. There is a see-through mesh pocket inside for things you need to grab in a hurry, but need to stay dry, like waterproof matches. It is made of the same nylon ripstop fabric as the Osprey Exos 48 backpack and folds into one zippered pouch that can be attached with a clip.



North Face Terra 65 Exploration Pack

The North Face Terra 65 TNF Black/Asphalt Grey LG/XL

The North Face Terra 65 Exploration Pack is a 65 liter capacity backpack with a 4.9-pound weight. It, too, is made of nylon ripstop. This backpack has another 15 liters of space but is double the weight of the Osprey Exos 48 backpack.

It has a special ventilation system that is designed to keep the hiker cool. It features a handy side zipper for access to the inner compartment and a bottom zipper to the backpack for access to the sleeping bag. This backpack is best suited for medium hikes for those who want a quick and easy route to the inner compartments to reach the sleeping bag and necessities.

Ultimate Direction Fastpack 30

Ultimate Direction Fastpack 35 Spruce MD/LG

Ultimate Direction Fastpack 30 Hydration Pack is priced comparably with a lighter weight, only 1.5 pounds. The storage capacity is 30 liters, so you have less weight, but also less capacity. The fabric is made of vinyl and is waterproof. There is no ventilation system of mesh on the back. The bottom of the backpack is reinforced for greater durability.

The Ultimate Direction Fastpack 30 Hydration Pack seems to be just right for a college student to carry books and a laptop, but wouldn’t be as comfortable for long or even medium hikes, like the Osprey Exos 48 backpack. It also only comes in two sizes.

Klymit Motion 35 Ultralight

Klymit Motion Multi-Day Pack, Lightweight Multi-Day Hiking Backpack With Air Frame Technology, 60 L

Klymit Motion 35 Ultralight Air Frame Backpack with a built-in pump so that the frame can be adjusted on the hike. The weight of the Klymit Motion 35 is 2.6 pounds, and it holds 55 liters. The airframe allows the backpack to conform to the shape of the wearer’s back, making it fit very snugly. It does not come with a hydration system.

The same airframe that gives it such a good fit has a downside; the backpack seated against the back increases friction and hot air. The Osprey Exos 48 is a no-brainer choice with the ventilation system and the built-in hydration system. This backpack would be appropriate for the northern climates where someone needs the extra heat.

Last update on 2023-09-21 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


Brian has been an avid hiker and backpacker since he was a small kid, often being taken out into the wilderness on trips with his father. His dad knew everything about nature and the wilderness (or at least that's how it seemed to a ten year old Brian).

After high school, he went to university to read for both a BS and MS in Geology (primarily so he could spend his time outside rather than in a classroom). He's now hiked, camped, skied, backpacked or mapped on five continents (still need to bag Antarctica) & 30 of the US states.

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