Osprey Exos 48 Review
Cons: Heavy, less durable than others
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Osprey Exos 48
$199.95 at Amazon
|$270 List||$145 List||$119.96 at Backcountry|
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|Pros||Great for medium loads, inexpensive, thoughtful set of features, external storage and lashing options||Durable, comfortable, well-designed pockets, carries light and heavy loads well||Simple design, inexpensive, durable||Very light, large volume, versatile compression system||Very lightweight, relatively inexpensive, thoughtful design|
|Cons||Heavy, less durable than others||Large capacity makes it less versatile||Foam pad falls out easily, shoulder straps lack support||No frame, poor comfort for medium loads||Designed for a specific use, lacks versatility, lacks durability|
|Bottom Line||This incredible pack has tons of features, carries medium-sized loads well, and is comfortable to boot||This pack wowed us with its perfect set of features, comfortable design, and carrying capacity||A lightweight, simplified version of our favorite pack from this same company, making a durable, well-designed option||For the ultimate lightweight pack, this pack steals the show with its entirely frameless design and streamlined set of features||Designed for the lightest travelers on the trail, with minimal features and lightweight materials|
|Rating Categories||Osprey Exos 48||Gossamer Gear Mariposa||Adventure Equipment...||Granite Gear Virga 2||Gossamer Gear Murmur|
|Weight-to-Volume Ratio (35%)|
|Comfort to Carry (25%)|
|Specs||Osprey Exos 48||Gossamer Gear Mariposa||Adventure Equipment...||Granite Gear Virga 2||Gossamer Gear Murmur|
|Measured Weight||37.6 oz||30.5 oz||24 oz||18.5 oz||12.5 oz|
|Stripped Weight||33.9 oz||30.5 oz||23 oz||18.5 oz||9 oz|
|Claimed Volume||48 L||60 L||54 L||50-58 L||36 L|
|Measured Main Pack Volume||40 L||48 L||45 L||41 L||29L|
|Measured Volume Total (minus hip belt and shoulder strap pockets)||59 L||64 L||53 L||49 L||40L|
|Measured Volume Stripped (minus hip belt, shoulder pockets, and removable lids)||53 L||59 L||53 L||49 L||40L|
|Average Weight-to-Volume Ratio (grams/Liter)||18.9 g/L||14 g/L||12.8 g/L||10 g/L||7.6 g/L|
|Carrying Comfort 15 pounds||Good||Great||Great||Good||Great|
|Carrying Comfort 30 pounds||Great||Great||Poor||Poor||Poor|
|Frame Type||Tensioned Frame - AirSpeed SL Suspension||Foam pad/ removable stay||Removable foam pad||None (foam pad)||Removable foam pad|
|Fabric||100D high tenacity nylon, 100D high tenacity ripstop nylon||70 & 100 denier Robic nylon||210 Robic nylon, 400d Robic Bottom Panel||Cordura||30 & 70D rombic nylon|
|Main Pack Pockets||3||4||3||3||3|
|Hip Belt Pockets||None||2||2||None||2|
|Single Hip Belt Pocket Capacity||N/a||4||2 cliff bars||N/a||2 cliff bars|
|Shoulder Strap Pockets||No||No||No||No||No|
|Whistle on Sternum Strap||Yes||No||No||None||Yes|
|Internal Hydration Sleeve||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No|
|Bag Sizes/Torso Lengths Available||S, M, L||S, M, L||S, M, L, XL||Long, short, regular||One Size|
|Mix and Match Hip Belt Sizes||No||S, M, L||S, M, L, XL||No||No|
|Can Easily Strip Off Frame and Hip Belt||No||Good||No||No||Yes|
|BearVault BV500 Compatibility||Just OK||Good||Ok||Ok||No|
|Lid (aka Brain)||Yes, Removable||No||No||No||No|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Exos 48 earned high scores in almost all categories, even though it is quite a bit heavier than most other models in this review. It carries 30 pounds better than any other we tested and has the most extensive set of useful features among our contenders. Unlike many of the packs in this review, the Exos has a large lid. Use the lid if you want or leave it at home to save a few ounces.
Osprey has given their Exos series a makeover (as well as introducing a women's version, the Eja). Osprey states that they've tweaked the suspension and hip belt designs to help with load distribution and comfort.
This pack is available in three sizes with different torso lengths and waist belt sizes. We tested a size small, and it fit our 5' 7" tester perfectly.
At 18.9 g/L, the Exos was on the lower end of the spectrum regarding its weight-to-volume ratio. Unfortunately, the new model lacks the super stretchy mesh that made up the external pockets on the previous model, and so we lost some overall volume there when we measured the new pack.
The Exos is also made in a 58-liter version (the Exos 58) for larger loads and a 38-liter version (Osprey Exos 38), pictured to the right. Ultralight backpackers who love the feature set of this pack can save 3 ounces with the 38-liter version. According to our independent volume tests, we think the Exos 38, minus its lid, would be weight competitive and similar in total volume to the Gossamer Gear Gorilla.
Load Carrying Comfort
While this product is one of the best packs for carrying 30-pound loads, we found it less comfortable than several others in the fleet when carrying a light load around 15 pounds. This model earned "great" for 30-pound loads and "good" for 15-pound loads.
Some folks think the tensioned frame feels almost like a turtle shell with light loads. But this tensioned frame structure is what makes it carry medium loads so well. It is easily the best pack of this bunch for carrying more than 30 pounds. The frame distributes weight with ease, and the shoulder straps and waist belt offer more padding than most. Overall, we find simple frames are more comfortable with light loads.
We could fill pages describing all the standard features of the Exos. Rarely does a product completely distance itself from competitors in one of our metrics, but the Exos does with features. This tensioned frame pack not only has a floating lid, but also a FlapJacket top closure.
We often head out without the lid, and the FlapJacket is a major benefit compared to packs with only a drawstring top closure. The stretchy exterior pockets (main and side) hold more volume than any other.
The hip pockets on the sides are large, and the small, stretchy pockets on the shoulder straps can hold small items, like sunscreen or a phone. Unlike the previous model, the new Exos has slimmed down a bit when it comes to extra pockets.
The hip pockets are gone, as are the small shoulder strap pockets. We found that the pack is more streamlined and easier to use overall without these additional pockets. The new model is more in line with other ultralight models, like the Gossamer Gear Mariposa.
Zig-zag compression straps run up both sides of the main pack and can be routed inside or outside of the side pockets. This is a significant benefit when you want to reduce the internal pack volume but still have full use of the side pockets. This pack is chock-full of features, and you will probably discover the ones that suit your needs after a few times with this pack out on the trail.
This Osprey model earned a high adaptability score. If you're looking to strap bulky but light items to the outside of a pack, this one has the most options. The lid floats, bottom straps will accept a rolled foam pad, the stretchy main pocket is huge. To top it off, sewn-in webbing loops along the back provide a spot to attach bungee cords if you desire, and are large enough to easily clip a carabiner to.
One of the most notable differences in the new version of the Exos is its newly designed, much more durable stretch mesh pockets.
Previously, the Exos had fallen short in the durability metric because the stretchy pockets on the back were prone to catching on sticks and branches and often ripped. Now, the Exos has durable nylon fabric incorporated into the pockets, which are still somewhat stretchy, to greatly reduce the overall wear and tear this part of the pack sees.
This bag won our Best Buy Award, which we give to the product that delivers the most bang for your buck. There are several significantly cheaper packs in this review, but none performed well enough to recommend them over the Exos. Its reasonable price tag will get you a pack that will last a long time and performs well in a variety of situations. Backpacks are one of the items where you get what you pay for most of the time, and we're surprised Osprey packs don't retail at a higher price.
The Osprey Exos 48 is a perfect lightweight backpacking pack, and it's light enough to break into ultralight territory. In our experience, it performs best when carrying 20 to 35 pounds. If this is your common minimum and maximum total weight, this is the pack we recommend. Pockets and lash straps cover this model, meaning you can always have the items you want easily accessible at your fingertips.
— Jane Jackson & Brandon Lampley
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