We love the ability of the Osprey Kyte 46 to handle extra technical gear with ease. It gets the highest marks for comfort, with its airy suspension and dream-like hip belt. As one of the smaller-volumed packs in our test, packing and getting things right can be a bit tricky, especially for a beginner. However, if you're the type of person that needs the support to carry technical gear, but doesn't want a bulky pack, or you've got a light-and-fast backpacking setup, look no further than the Kyte.
Osprey Kyte 46 Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Durable, comfortable even with heavier loads, streamlined features, great attachment points at outside of pack, integrated rain cover
Cons: Main compartment is a little narrow, water bottle holster is awkward, requires thoughtful packing
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Our Analysis and Test Results
We examined this pack inside and out, and the Kyte 46 impressed us with its small-but-mighty abilities. We loved taking this pack in all sorts of terrain from the alpine for a romp in technical terrain with a compact backpacking setup to the rim of the Grand Canyon and even overseas. The Kyte has features where you need it, and despite its small volume, it still has ample room for most backpacking trips. Backpackers with lightweight gear would find this pack plenty spacious but if you have heavier, bulkier gear or plan to go on winter trips, this may not be the model for you.
Comfort and Suspension
The Kyte wowed us with all-day comfort, even when trekking up steep, snowy inclines with crampons. The LightWire frame suspension system easily transfers heavier loads to your hips and made the pack feel light as a feather. The integrated hip belt offers to cushion where you need it without feeling bulky. The shoulder straps are well-padded and wide, giving you plenty of comfort. Osprey still included it's famous AirScape system in this pack, to keep the sweat at bay.
The Kyte weighs about average compared to the other packs in our lineup, mostly because of the extra-durable material the pack is made from, which is perfect for carrying technical gear. Also, you can't trim down this pack the way you can with some models, what you see is what you get. The tradeoff for a slightly heavier pack is that it can handle heavier loads and last over rough terrain.
We've mentioned how there isn't too much room for customization in the Kyte, but what it lacks in adjustable features, it makes up for in an adjustable suspension system. The torso height can quickly be adjusted, and the compression straps do an excellent job of keeping the pack close to your body. The hip belt doesn't offer the extension like some models we tested, but we found it to be one of the most comfortable hip belts we tested.
We loved the unique axe carry and large front mesh pocket in the Kyte. What the pack lacks in main compartment storage space, it makes up for in compression straps and roomy mesh pockets. Furthermore, the pack isn't overly complicated to use. As one of the smaller packs we tested, packing can be a bit of a challenge for the newly initiated. Osprey combats this by adding a separate sleeping bag compartment, as well as a roomy brain, removable rain cover, two large, side mesh pockets, and hip belt pockets. When you're first loading the pack, certainly pay attention as there are a few features that you should remember. First, the water bladder storage is actually on the outside of the pack, hugging the back panel. This position keeps the weight close to you, but your bladder needs to go in first. We weren't in love with this feature, and we also felt that the side mesh pockets didn't store a water bottle that well in holster mode — the bottle kept hitting us.
At less than $200 this is an extremely budget-friendly option. It is a durable workhorse with a sleek design to handle everything you need. If you're looking for a pack that can easily double as burly day-hiker, carry your climbing gear to the crag, and still contends with a regular backpacking outing, this pack is well worth a look.
If it weren't for the small volume and strategic packing situation, the Osprey Kyte 46 would likely be an award-winner. However, if you're looking for something to keep you comfortable mile after mile over rough terrain while easily handling the abuse of technical gear, this pack is for you.
— Meg Atteberry