When shopping for a pack 2 years ago I wanted something lightweight, durable and suitable for overnighters and trips lasting up to a week. Like many people my first stop on this search was REI and that's where I stumbled on the Osprey Exos 58 ($220). It fit the bill and to this day I am still very happy with my purchase.
This pack has accompanied me on many trips and aside from a snag on the back mesh pocket in Linville Gorge it has held up very well. You can see here where I've expertly repaired the rips with Tenacious Tape that comes in fun shapes.
I could also send it into Osprey and use their All Mighty Guarantee, which promises to repair any product from any era for any reason. If they cannot repair it they'll give you an equivalent modern product.
As the name implies this is a 58 Liter pack. Unlike heavier cousins in Osprey's line up it includes features that really lighten it up:
- Perforated foam in the shoulder straps and hip belt
- Narrower webbing
- Lighter zippers and buckles
- Lighter fabrics
A medium weighs 42 oz. and the top compartment can be removed to save 4 oz. bringing the weight to 38 oz. I add and remove this compartment depending on the trip I am taking. When it is not being used Osprey has integrated what they call a "flapjacket" to cover the top and keep your gear safe and sound.
It is not the lightest "ultralight" pack on the market, but if your goal base pack weight is between 10 and 12 lbs. and you want to be able to carry a week of food as well as haul water it is a very appealing choice. Osprey gives it a max weight rating of 40 lbs. I think that is much too generous. 30 lbs is about the most I am comfortable carrying. It features Osprey's easy breezy Airspeed Suspension and a very comfortable hip belt. The hip belt straps loop back on themselves so you don't get the long, dangly webbing in front of you. Very clean design!
The main compartment is a simple top entry design with no bottom sleeping bag compartment, which saves weight. It does include a water bladder sleeve and drinking tube port. The top cinches closed instead of a roll top seen on other lightweight packs. The benefit to a roll top is the ability roll the closure up or down in order to add or remove some capacity. People have modified their Exos 58 to have a roll top and it is something I've considered. I wish it came standard on this pack!
The outside of the pack has some features that I have found very helpful. The back and side pockets are made of 4-way stretch material, which can get snagged when bush wacking but do provide the best amount of outside storage. There are multiple loops, which I use for hanging my ball cap, wet socks and gross microfiber towel. It allows them to dry off while I hike.
There is also a trekking pole storage system. In the photo below you can see the loop under my armpit where the pole handles would get tied in. On the bottom/back of the pack there is another loop to hold the tips of the poles. This allows you to easily store them away or pull them out as you continue to hike. Some people write this off as a pointless feature that adds weight. I have found it very helpful a number of times.
My absolute favorite feature on this pack is the water bottle pockets. Many backpacks have side pockets that make it difficult or impossible to remove a water bottle comfortably. Most require you to bend in some hilarious position and grimace as you do it. Osprey has fixed this by including forward facing pocket openings in addition to the normal top opening. I have no idea if other pack companies also have this design, but all of them should. It makes too much sense. I'd miss it if I didn't have it.
This brings me to my least favorite part of the pack: the hip belt and shoulder pockets. On an otherwise fantastic pack they are just "fine." They're there. They work. They're made of stretchy material. They hold a Clif bar or a baggie of granola and will even fit a small digital camera. That's a problem though; they aren't big enough. In these modern times people have big ass cellphones. We don't use little cameras anymore. The smaller cottage industry pack makers know this and have adjusted hip belt pockets accordingly. It would also be helpful if the shoulder pockets could fit a small water bottle. Osprey has been slow on the uptake and I cannot get my very average sized Samsung Galaxy S6 into them comfortably.
All in all the Exos 58 is an excellent backpack. It is fairly lightweight, extremely comfortable, and has some features I've found helpful and useful on the trail. It's a nice pack for people who pack lighter than a traditional backpacker and want some versatility but are not quite in ultralight territory.
- Available nationally at REI and other popular retailers
- Osprey's "All Mighty Guarantee" is one of the best around
- Comfortable back panel/suspension
- Trekking pole storage
- Front facing water bottle entry
- Lack of durability in 4-way mesh pockets
- Roll top enclosures are more versatile
- Hip belt and shoulder strap pockets too small