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Hands-on Gear Review

Osprey Viva 50 Review

Osprey Viva 50
Price:   $180 List | $139.95 at Amazon
Compare prices at 5 resellers
Pros:  Uncomplicated design, well-built, durable Stretch Mesh pockets, inexpensive
Cons:  Noisy frame, bulky padding
Editors' Rating:     
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Manufacturer:   Osprey

Our Verdict

The Osprey Viva 50 is simple and uncomplicated, perfect for women just delving into backpacking. While Osprey recommends this backpack for both mountaineering and backpacking, we found the one size fits all design and minimal features to be ideal for shorter length trips into the backcountry. This backpack has significantly thicker padding on the shoulder straps and back frame than the streamlined padding of the Osprey Aura; the extra padding is comfortable, but creates heat against the body in higher temperatures. At 3.5 lbs, the Viva is heavier than only two other packs- the Granite Gear Blaze A.C 60 - Women's, and the REI Flash 52 - Women's. The backpack comes in a single adjustable size that, if initially fitted well, can serve as an uncomplicated, introductory backpack. We enjoyed the simplicity of this pack- sparing excessive features for an easy to use, easy to adjust backpacking backpack that carries comfortably.

New Version Available — February 2017
Osprey has updated the Viva 50 for this year! Keep reading to find out more.


RELATED REVIEW: The Best Women's Backpacking Pack Review


Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results

Review by:
Briana Valorosi
Review Editor
OutdoorGearLab

Last Updated:
Friday
November 11, 2016

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New Version — February 2017


We noticed a few new things on this pack for this year, including a change to the trekking pole/ ice axe loops and straps on the upper compartment. Additionally, the pack is offered in two new colors, green and blue, seen below in comparison to the version we tested (right, in purple).
Osprey Viva 50
Osprey Viva 50
Osprey Viva 50
 

Hands-On Review


The Osprey Viva is the perfect introductory backpack! It spares excessive features for the sake of an uncomplicated design, yet offers plenty of space and organization for a range of backpacking trips. With a light weight plus comfortable padding, the Viva is well built and handles the outdoors with grace, not tearing or bending under pressure.

Performance Comparison


We took the Osprey Viva into the Winds  and it endured rain and granite with grace. The exterior has very few straps and three stretch mesh pockets. In a single size  it is adjustable to comfortably fit most women.
We took the Osprey Viva into the Winds, and it endured rain and granite with grace. The exterior has very few straps and three stretch mesh pockets. In a single size, it is adjustable to comfortably fit most women.

Comfort


The Viva is a very comfortable backpack. Like the Kelty Coyote, the padding is a bit bulky in comparison to backpacks like the Osprey Aura AG 50, but like the Deuter ACT Lite 60 - Women's, the back frame is well padded as well as the shoulder straps and waist belt, lending to incredible cushion. It is suitable for light weight loads yet remains comfortable with weight loads ranging from 20-30+ pounds. The adjustment options lend to extended comfort that is customizable to your body and your pack weight.

Weight


We found that, luckily, the bulkiness of the padding does not equal higher weight. At 3 lbs 9 ounces, the Viva is only heavier than two of the other eight backpacks. It feels very similar in weight to the North Face Terra 55.

Suspension


This backpack is designed in one size, which some may assume would compromise the suspension. We found that with the ability to adjust the torso length and with an extendable waist belt option, this backpack holds loads between 20-35 pounds quite well! According to the Osprey website, it is ideal for weight loads up to 40 pounds and suitable for slightly more. The pack has a load distribution design that runs on the outer sides of the back frame and is great at equalizing the load weight into the hips. While comfortable, and with a decent suspension, this backpack did not feel as comfortable after 8 or so miles…Unlike the Osprey Aura or Osprey Ariel, the comfort diminishes with length of use, and for that, we recommend this pack for shorter daily distances.

Ease of Use and Organization


The Viva is uncomplicated. We found the simplicity to be refreshing after using backpacks like the Arc'teryx Bora and the Gregory Deva. There are few adjustment points and straps around the pack, few pockets, and a streamlined design that allows you to worry more about the hiking and camping and less about loose straps and complicated design features. For other simple pack options, check out the Best Buy awarded North Face Terra 55.

A stretch mesh kangaroo pocket on the front of the Osprey Viva secures closed with a buckle  but is still accessible.
A stretch mesh kangaroo pocket on the front of the Osprey Viva secures closed with a buckle, but is still accessible.
The Osprey Viva has a simple design similar to the Deuter ACT Lite: both have a single main compartment, sleeping bag compartments, and two smaller enclosed top lid pockets. They both also have a stretch mesh fabric pocket on the front of the backpack, which is not enclosed with a zipper but an awesome pocket for storing layers on the go.

Adjustability


The Viva is offered in a single size with an adjustable torso length that secures with Velcro. The size can be adjusted for extra small  small  or medium.
The Viva is offered in a single size with an adjustable torso length that secures with Velcro. The size can be adjusted for extra small, small, or medium.
While the adjustability options on this one-size backpack are great, they are limited. Backpacks like the Osprey Aura and Osprey Ariel 65 come in multiple sizes that can better obtain an exact fit. The flexibility in sizing with the Osprey Viva is both good and bad. The good is that it is comprehensive and adjustable for most fits; the bad is that it doesn't come in multiple sizes, so if you can't get a tailored fit with the included adjustments, you may find yourself fussing with adjustments, toward comfort. That being said, we found the adjustability on the Osprey Viva to have plenty of options, particularly for the simple or entry level backpacker. Similar to the Mountain Hardwear Ozonic 58 and the Kelty Coyote 75 - Women's, the single adjustable size can lengthen or shorten the torso length, and unique to Osprey is an extendable waist belt called Fit on the Fly; Fit on the Fly can be found on the Viva and Aura AG. Overall, we found the adjustability to be adequate.
Fit on the Fly is an extendable waist belt option that allows the belt to be adjusted. It can be securely attached with Velcro to suit most waist sizes and also to account for extra layers.
Fit on the Fly is an extendable waist belt option that allows the belt to be adjusted. It can be securely attached with Velcro to suit most waist sizes and also to account for extra layers.

Best Application


The Osprey Viva is an excellent option for women new to backpacking or for those not as concerned with technical features and adjustments. The Viva is best suited for trips ranging from 2-6 nights and low daily mileage objectives since shorter distances lend to better comfort under the padding and suspension of this backpack.

Value


The Viva is one of the best values as a women's introductory backpack. At $179, it is simple and comfortable as well as customizable in fit. With a lighter weight and few pockets, the Viva is simple while still offering comfort and the sleek design of an Osprey backpack like the Aura or Ariel.

Conclusion


The Osprey Viva is inexpensive and comfortable while remaining simple and sturdy. Available in a single size, the Viva is adjustable to many body types and sizes. We appreciate the sleek exterior, typical of most Osprey backpacks, and highly recommend the Viva for any woman new to backpacking!

Other Versions and Accessories


Osprey Viva 65
-15 liters more capacity
  • $200

Osprey Hydraulics Reservoir
Osprey Hydraulics Reservoir
  • Cost - $34
  • Rigid structure makes it easy to slide in and out of your pack
  • Available in 1.5, 2, 2.5, and 3L versions

Osprey UL Raincover
Osprey Ultralight Raincover
  • Cost - $29
  • Keeps your gear dry from the elements
  • Available in 3 different sizes
Briana Valorosi

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Most recent review: November 11, 2016
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
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