Osprey Xenith 105 Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Top-notch foam and fabric on shoulder straps and waist belt, stout suspension handles heavy loads, excellent pocket design
Cons: Stiffer foam geared towards heavier loads and is less "cushy"
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Xenith 105 is our favorite model for massive loads and extended trips to remote corners of the globe. We love this model because it makes carrying monster loads bearable, thanks to its stout suspension, fantastic ergonomics, cozy fabrics, and top-tier foam. It also has one of our review teams' favorite all-around designs with an excellent and extremely functional collection of pockets, access points, and other additions.
This pack is a high scorer for its suspension and features.
Suspension and Comfort
The Xenith 105 features high-quality foam that strikes a very nice balance between comfort and stiffness. It offers some of our testers' favorite overall padding of any model in our review.
Even when loaded up with over 60 pounds of gear, the foam in the shoulder straps didn't bottom out.
Once you put this pack on, one of the first things you'll notice is how dramatically articulated the shoulder straps are. After a few dozen days, every one of our testers found this design was exceptionally comfortable.
The face fabric used on the inside of the shoulder straps and hip belt is also a favorite among testers. It was the most pleasant feeling against our bodies - an even more noticeable design component while wearing a thin base layer, tank-top, or even bare skin.
Like many of Osprey's packs, this one comes with a heat-moldable hip belt, meaning it can be heated in a convection oven and then placed on the wearer to cool and conform to their body. We think this is a cool idea; however, after quite a bit of direct side-by-side testing, we didn't find that heating it in the oven makes much of a difference. The shoulder straps and waist belt are incredibly luxurious. It's also one of the few packs on the market that is more comfortable when carrying moderate to heavy loads greater than 40 pounds.
The Xenith 105 easily has one of the most robust, burly suspensions in the review. It carries moderate to heavy loads (more than 40 pounds) significantly better than nearly any options out there. While there are others well-suited to heavy loads, the Xenith edges them out for massive hauls. Not only is the suspension system impressive, but it offers features and volume options, which made it easy to choose for huge loads or extended outings.
The Xenith 105 features a 4mm LightWire peripheral frame, which is quite thick. The result is a stiffer frame that is more resistant to bending under load.
This pack weighs in at right around 5 pounds, 11 ounces; while hefty, it's a decent weight for a 105-liter pack, especially when we consider how robust the suspension system is.
As the largest volume pack in our fleet, it is the heaviest. However, when you look at other similarly weighted models, the Xenith 105 becomes that much more impressive considering the additional 40+ liters of capacity.
Features and Ease of Use
Like most monster packs, this model is full of features to help you stay organized in its cavernous 105 liters.
It has one of our favorite feature sets and offers an impressive number of functional pockets, coupled with good access.
We love the twin zippered pockets in the front. They are easy to access, even when the pack is super full, and are big enough to fit objects more substantial than a 1-liter Nalgene. Built out from these two pockets is a stretchy mesh beavertail-style pocket, which is perfect for flip flops, a jacket you want to keep close at hand, or any other oddly shaped items. The stretchy, mesh water bottle pockets are user-friendly and well-designed.
This pack also has dual-orientation water bottle pockets: a traditional and secure vertical orientation as well as a diagonal forward-facing opening to make it (relatively) easy to remove and re-stow a bottle on your own. These stretchy water bottle pockets are also large enough to fit tent poles or similar items securely into the pocket on the side of your pack even if you have a water bottle in there.
This model's ice ax loops have better-than-average functionality compared to the more backpacking-oriented options included in our review. The lower straps that extend over the sleeping bag compartment are long enough to fit some closed-cell foam pads, tripods, or other elongated items; however, we wished they were just a little longer; they don't accommodate some of the full-length closed-cell foam pads we attempted to stow in them.
We like the two zippered top-lid pockets; one larger and one smaller, which kept us organized on extended trips. While we utilized these pockets on every trip, we didn't think they were quite as easy to search through for items as models with the zippers on the top of the lid.
We like the spacious hip belt pockets on this model. They were not as large as some others, However, we still found they were plenty big enough for a camera, smartphone, or snacks that we wanted to have easy access to during the day.
The lid also doubles as an actual daypack with shoulder straps folding out of a smaller third zipper. The idea is if you want to go for a day hike or a summit push, you can leave the primary body of the Xenith 105 behind.
This included daypack is surprisingly decent. An unexpected perk, we found it useful on short day hikes or trips where we weren't even entertaining the idea of bringing the main pack. If you want to save a little weight and leave the lid behind entirely, there is a separate flap (which Osprey calls the FlapJacket) that covers the central opening of the pack, helping to keep your items dry.
Adjustability and Fit
This pack's shoulder straps are attached to a large Velcro flap that sandwiches between two pieces of Velcro, located inside the primary back panel.
Many other pack manufacturers have imitated this relatively simple system over the years, and for a good reason. This design allows the pack to fine-tune to the torso length of any given user. After having used over a half dozen Osprey Packs that feature this system, we have never experienced it slip or slide out of position unexpectedly.
The Xenith 105 offers 4 inches of torso length adjustment and you can swap different sized shoulder straps and waist belts with various frames. For example, you could get a small or large-sized hip belt with a medium-sized frame.
At the price, this pack isn't cheap, but it certainly brings plenty of value. For roughly $50-100 more than many packs in this review, you get an incredibly robust frame, top-tier foam, and a ton of well-designed features to help make your trip more enjoyable.
If you need a behemoth of a pack, this is one of the best options out there. Winner of our Top Pick Award for its ability to carry large loads on extended trips, this model features a bomber suspension. It also features one of our review team's favorite overall designs for features and pockets. This pack should be on your shortlist if you're in the market for something of this volume.
This pack comes in three volumes--a 75L, 88L, and the 105L that we review here. They have a similar overall design, but the padding and frame generally become more robust as you go up in volume.
— Ian Nicholson