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Hands-on Gear Review
Osprey Volt 60 Review
Cons: Ok suspension and support, one size fits most works well, though taller folks with 35+ pound packs won't find it as comfortable
Bottom line: The Volt 60 is a great all-around pack that doesn't give up much in the way of features; it's also light and versatile.
Not only is the Osprey Volt 60 our new OutdoorGearLab Best Buy winner, but we think that even price withholding, it's a rad pack. It is big enough for most backpackers going on 2-5 day long trips (longer if you pack lighter) and it has all the features that many backpackers are looking for - without many of the "extras". The Volt 60 is a top loading design with a sleeping bag compartment, external stretchy mesh pocket, a lid with a pair of zippered pockets, and a handful of smaller features. It's slightly lighter than average at 3 lbs 14 oz, and is one size fits most. We felt the Volt 60 had a respectable suspension, well-designed ergonomics, and comfortable shoulder straps. All this for a below average $180. Overall, we found this pack to be our favorite for the price and it was higher performing than several of the more expensive models on the market.
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The Volt 60 is easily our Best Buy Award Winner. For $180, we just don't think you can find as solid of an all-around backpacking pack that will provide the same level of comfort, suspension, and durability. It's even slightly lighter than average while still sporting our review teams' favorite features that they look for in a backpacking pack.
The chart below highlights the Volt's Overall Performance score, allowing you to compare all of the contenders overall score.
The Volt 60 is an exceptionally comfortable backpacking and mountaineering pack; it is certainly more comfortable than nearly any other packs you'll find in its price range. This contender is constructed with high-quality foam and has excellent ergonomics in its back-panel, as well as shoulder straps that give it an above average overall fit.
While the Volt is not quite as comfortable as packs like the Osprey Atmos 65 AG, Gregory Baltoro 65, or the Arc'teryx Bora 63 AR, it's comparable to The North Face Banchee 65 and is more comfortable than the Osprey Exos 58 or REI Flash 65.
The Volt 60 has a decent suspension, though it isn't outstanding; however, we did find the suspension to be better than nearly all models in the sub $200 price range. Our testers thought the Volt 60 was good for loads up to around 40 lbs. Above that weight, we felt like some of the beefier packs like the Gregory Baltoro 65 or the Arc'teryx Bora AR 63 handled the weight better. For loads of 30-35 lbs, our testing team could hardly notice a difference in the relative support of each pack's suspension.
What really stood out to us though is how well the Volt 60 compared to other packs in its price range. Taking home a 7 out of 10, our testing team felt the Volt certainly handled loads better than the REI Flash 65 or Osprey Exos 58. On the other side of the spectrum, the Volt didn't handle heavier loads or provide quite as much support as the Osprey Aether AG 60, The North Face Banchee 65 or the Gregory Paragon 68. Cream of the crop scorers in this metric includes the Arc'teryx Bora AR, Gregory Baltoro 65, and Osprey Xenith 75 - perfect 10 out of 10s (and on the more expensive end of the price range).
Adjustability and Fit
The Volt 60 is a one-size-fits-all design that our review team felt was executed extremely well, earning a perfect 10 out of 10, securing a spot in the top of the line-up. Not only does the Volt have a fair amount of vertical adjustment for the position of the yoke (shoulder straps), but the waist belt also features six inches of waist belt adjustability to dial in the right fit - regardless of a person's size or shape. This also maximizes padding on the wearer's hips.
The shoulder straps high adjustment is similar to Osprey's other models, where the shoulder straps are attached to a large velcro flap. The flap is tucked underneath the back panel; unlike the other Osprey models, the Volt features multiple gaps that are used to pass the shoulder straps through. This means the pack's length can be adjusted without the pack "sagging" backward. In our real world testing, we found this to be exceptionally effective; while we think the Volt would fit a greater range of users, we had testers that were 5'6" and 6'1" fit this pack fantastically. We do think that for taller folks, the Volt 60 might pull back a little more because of where the shoulder straps are leaving the back panel. For folks that are taller than 6'2" and who plan to carry heavier loads, you might be better suited using a multiple sized frame pack.
The Volt 60 weighs in at just under four pounds (3 lbs 15 oz), making it lighter than average among bags of similar volume. While hardly "ultralite" in the ultralight world, this pack is adequately light weight, especially for all-around backpacking packs. In fact, there weren't many packs that were lighter (especially for the price). We do think it's worth noting that the Gregory Paragon 68 as a fairly similarly designed pack that is even lighter (3 lbs 9 oz) and is a similar price range, ringing in at $250.
If you aren't ready for a true ultralight pack because you still want a frame, be sure to check out our Top Pick for Light Weight, the Osprey Exos 58. It weighs 2 lbs 8 oz, the lightest in our line-up, but still has a frame and many of the features that are common in backpacking packs. It doesn't have much in the way of length adjustment and isn't anywhere near as supportive or comfortable when carrying heavier (30+ lbs) loads.
Features and Ease of Use
The Volt 60 consists of a fairly basic design, while still boasting a majority of the features that most backpackers look for and earns an 8 out of 10. It sports things like stretchy one-liter water bottle pockets, a stretchy "beaver tail" pocket, dual zippered hip belt pockets, ice axe loops, lower sleeping pad straps, zipper pockets on either side of its lid, and a sleeping bag compartment and access zipper. While the Volt doesn't have a ton of extra "bells and whistles", we found that it does feature all of the important ones.
We like that it has a zippered pocket on both the top and the bottom of its lid, but don't like the Volt's external (top) pocket as much as other models like the Arc'teryx Bora AR 63. Because of the zipper's location across the side of the lid, we found it was harder to see and subsequently find items - particularity when the lid was full.
The zippered pocket underneath the lid is mesh, which made it easy to see everything in the pocket; however, it is worth noting that this pocket isn't particularly large. The hip belt pockets on this pack are HUGE and are among the more functional, largely due in part to their size and how easy they are to open and close while hiking along the trail.
The sleeping bag compartment sports a removable divider and the straps that are located on the outside are big enough for most closed cell foam sleeping pads. Our review team appreciated the lash points (daisy chain-like loops) that made strapping oddly shaped items to the back of the pack or the top of the lid easier.
All of our testers LOVED the stretchy beaver-tail pocket on the back of the pack and used it on every trip. It is a great place for a wet rain jacket (as the mesh allows it to dry) or a pair of flip-flops. While this pack earned a top score, the Osprey Atmos 65 AG, Osprey Xenith 75, The North Face Banchee 65, and Osprey Aether AG 60 earned perfect 10 out of 10s for this metric.
The Volt 60 isn't just a price pointed pack. Not only is it a solid backpacking pack in its own right, it will excel from shorter single night trips to extended stays into the backcountry. It is still light enough, and has the right feature set to let it pull some double-duty for mountaineering trips or overnight ski tours (we were surprised at how well it moved with us while skiing). It doesn't perform quite as well as other models with super heavy loads in excess of 45 or 50 pounds, but as long as you don't pack too much over that, the Volt 60 works well for most trips.
This pack is an unbelievable value. While it certainly isn't the best pack on the market, we think you'd have a difficult time finding a better pack for $180. In fact, our testing determined that it's comparable in many categories to other models that are much more expensive. If you're on a budget and looking for an exceptional pack to keep up with your adventures, this might be the ticket.
The Volt 60 is an above average all-around backpacking pack at a below average price. Despite the low price, this pack doesn't give a lot up in the way of features. It's also lighter than average among similar volume models on the market. It isn't the best pack for monster loads, but for more moderate pack weights, its design and fit make it a good choice for a wide-range of uses beyond - even beyond backpacking. We felt it was an excellent option for mountaineering, multi-day ski touring, or travel.
Other Versions and Accessories
Osprey also makes a 75L model called the Volt 75. It is more or less the exact same pack with a nearly identical design feature-wise but at a larger volume. It weighs 4 lbs 1 oz and costs: $200.
— Ian Nicholson
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