Osprey took their award-winning, ever popular Exos and designed it specifically for women — behold the Osprey Eja 58. This pack has the stand-out Osprey-style suspension system, a simple design, and as an added plus, it weighs a lot less than some of the popular models we have tested previously. The pack has very narrow shoulder straps that we found to chafe a bit and sit a bit heavy on the collarbones when carrying a heavy load. We also found the pack to have a few unnecessary frills that were more confusing than helpful.
Osprey Eja 58 Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Lightweight, nice large external pockets, good suspension
Cons: Lots of extra straps, narrow shoulder straps
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Osprey Eja 58 stood out when it came to suspension and overall design. The pack combines ultralight qualities with the suspension of a traditional backpack. Overall, it's simple, yet it has a few extra, straps, and loops that ended up getting caught on branches more than actually helping our organization on the trail. With only a few downsides, this pack is overall an excellent choice.
The main aspects of a pack that are under scrutiny in this metric are the shoulder straps, hip belt, and back panel. It is in these spots where chafing, hotspots, and general discomfort typically pops up. In the case of the Eja 58, we were surprised to find that the shoulder straps were our main source of discomfort during our testing period. The straps are very thin, only about an inch thick, which caused hot spots when carrying a heavy load. Packs like the Thule Versant and Osprey Aura have wider straps, which disperses the load a bit more. The back panel was very comfortable, though, as was the hip belt on the Eja, making it overall a decently comfortable pack.
The Eja is the third lightest pack in this review, following the ultralight Lumina and the comparable, but lighter Gregory Octal 55. The difference between the Octal and the Eja is negligible, as it ends up being only .02 pounds, or .32 ounces, difference. The Octal has a particularly light feel, though, because of its simple frame and lightweight materials. The stretchy mesh pockets provide lots of storage with little extra weight, and no extra bells or whistles are weighing this pack down. This was a noticeable difference between the Eja and the Octal, as the Eja had some superfluous loops and straps that add weight.
Osprey's new AirSpeed suspension system is very similar to their ever-popular and revolutionary Anti-Gravity system (think of the Osprey Aura AG or the Gregory Octal 55, which was inspired by this design). The Eja rocks the AirSpeed suspension by keeping the pack off your back and allowing for airflow between your skin and the pack itself. This is key to an effective suspension system, especially in hot weather. If the pack had wider shoulder straps, the overall comfort would be greatly improved, as the Eja has a good suspension system as a foundation. The Osprey Lumina has a similar design but was more comfortable.
Ease of Use
The Eja was a fairly straightforward pack to use. Very similar in overall design to the Gregory Octal 55, the Eja has more pockets without zippers than zip-closure pockets. We liked this style of pack, and it seems to be popular right now since the Osprey Lumina 45 has been designed in a similar style. We felt like this makes the pack easy to use; most of your kit goes into the main body, while extra equipment can be quickly stuffed into the large outer pockets. These features made the Eja easy to use overall.
Here, we were a bit confused on how to rate the Osprey Eja 58. On one hand, the pack has many great features, like the oversized mesh pockets we mentioned above. On the other hand, we found that this pack had some extra, seemingly unnecessary clip loops, storage straps, and attachment points on the shoulder straps, bottom of the pack, and hip belt. For us, these were not useful, and we preferred the overall simplicity of the Osprey Lumina and the Gregory Octal more.
The Osprey Eja 58 is designed for women who want to move fast. The Exos, which is the men's version of this pack, has been Osprey's thru-hiker go-to for the past few years and the Eja is just as light and fast as this model. The lid, as well as many of the extra straps, are removable to lose those extra ounces. A comparable, but even lighter model designed as a women's specific, ultralight pack is the Osprey Lumina 45, which of course has a smaller carrying capacity.
This brand-new pack hit the shelves with a price tag of $220. For such a specialized, high tech pack, this is a fairly good price. Less than the Gregory Octal 55 and only slightly more than the Deuter ACT Lite lands the Osprey Eja at the lower end of the price scale. If you have been backpacking for a while and are in search of a new, lightweight pack, the Eja 58 was a high scoring pack overall.
Though there were a few flaws that we found during our testing period with the Eja, the pack still received relatively high scores in our metric ratings. The suspension system is a highlight because it combines comfort and breathability with a light, sleek design. The shoulder straps were problematic to us, but the hip belt provided enough support without chafe or discomfort. The large features of the pack were useful and well-designed, but there was an excess of bells and whistles that we felt could be reduced for a more streamlined design.
— Jane Jackson