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 the 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 the this pack and can hold a small tent with ease. For the 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 at 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, the 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 adds 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.
|Frame Type||Internal Frame|
|Gear Capacity (L)||S45 litersM48 litersL51 liters|
|Gear Capacity (cu. in.)||S2,746 cubic inchesM2,929 cubic inchesL3,112 cubic inches|
|Weight||S2 lbs. 6 oz.M2 lbs. 8 oz.L2 lbs. 10 oz.|
|Weight – Metric||S1.08 kilogramsM1.13 kilogramsL1.19 kilograms|
|Fits Torso||S16 – 19 inchesM18 – 21 inchesL20 – 23 inches|
|Fits Waist/Hips||S27 – 31 inchesM30 – 34 inchesL33 – 37 inches|
|Number of Stays||1|
|Suspended Mesh Back Panel||Yes|
|Number of Exterior Pockets||4 + 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.
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 comparable 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, or 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 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 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.
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Klymit Motion 35 Ultralight
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 snug. 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 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.