Osprey Exos 48
Packed with many features, the Osprey Exos 48 is a favorite for many backpackers. The newer version is much more durable and comes with a larger pocket too. You can choose from three different sizes and select something that fits you well. While you may find it to be a bit heavy, other features compensate for it quite well. The newer version is an upgrade, as it uses thinner straps and lighter fabrics. It may not be the cheapest backpack out there, but it certainly offers a good value for money. The design is impressive too, and above all, it comes equipped with an aluminum frame. Let’s find out if it really serves as one of the best backpacks in this crowded category and why.
- Comes equipped with a buckle on the shoulder strap to keep the load closer to your body for improved stability
- Comes with a couple of side pockets that you can use to store most of your stuff, including two 1.25L water bottles
- Utilizes Exoform technology on the hip belt as well that helps a lot in providing you with a more ergonomic fit and the belt itself is seamless that works to prevent chafing
- Ample space to adjust a water bladder system along with tube routing loops for the ease of use
- Features contoured shoulder straps designed using ExoForm padding and mesh for added comfort
- Comes with a highly comfortable sternum strap that is fully adjustable and has an emergency whistle attached to it
- May feel a bit heavier than many other packs in this category
- Not possible to adjust the harness length because it is fixed, so you have limited options when it comes to finding the right size
- Lid is removable but the flap-jacket that is the top-cover in cast is not removable, which means you cannot use it to close the bag
Ease of Use
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For added comfort, the Exos 48 uses a tightly sprung ‘trampoline’ back pad. It makes you feel comfortable but does not add to the overall weight. The presence of this back pad means you don't have to worry about a sweaty back, as the trampoline panel allows for reasonably good ventilation too.
If you feel the bag is a bit heavy, you can consider removing the lid. It comes off completely and you can use an extra flap that comes with buckles to cover the top of your pack instead.
However, you should note that compared to carbon fiber or aluminum alloy frames, the steel frame on Osprey Exos 48 is heavier and adds about 7oz to the overall pack weight. But, the steel frame does give you the peace of mind you just cannot get from any carbon fiber frame.
Even though the frame is reasonably stiff, there is a degree of give in it, which is a good thing. It helps bushwalkers walk around with ease. A plastic sleeve inside the pack protects the frame corners, which adds to the overall durability of the pack.
Although the frame has its many good points, some backpackers think it would have been better as an adjustable frame such as in the Arc-Blast and many other backpacks. You have the luxury of adjusting the frame to make it a tighter fit against your back. If the Exos 48 does not fit that close to your back, you’re stumped and it can affect the comfort level and performance.
Speaking of durability, you have to consider how impressive the tensioned airframe is, and you won't feel disappointed. It looks sturdy, but we believe that the ZPacks Arc Blast 55 is slightly better in terms of durability. What it means is that though you can trust the durability of the Exos 48, don't take it for granted and never toss it around carelessly or you might cause some damage.
The side pockets are narrow but tall, so you might face some issues when grabbing for items. The mesh pockets use Inside Out compression, so your stuff will stay in place, which is a useful feature. The rear pocket is efficient and uses a single-strap closure so you can secure larger items with ease. An extra piece of fabric is added here to help keep items secure even if you overload the pocket.
There is a hip belt pocket to help you carry smaller items. Some backpackers think they are a little too small. It would be better to have bigger add-on pouches or something similar for additional storage. The newer model does not have as many pockets as the older versions to keep the weight low. However, the lid comes with a zippered underside, which means you will have some storage space for toiletries. There is also a small compartment with a key clip to carry small items.
At the same time, the pack seems quite adaptable, especially because of the floating lid and the stretchy main pocket. You will also find webbing loops sewn along the back that you can use to attach your bungee cords or something similar. So, there are ways to use your pack differently; you just need to be a bit creative here and the pack will respond well.
Comparison to Other Brands
The carrying capacity of the Osprey Exos 48 is impressive, and the pack works flawlessly when you're carrying more than 40lbs of a load. However, it fails to carry lighter loads efficiently, which is why you may be better off buying the Gossamer Gear Mariposa. That comes with a simple structure and efficiently handles lighter loads. Another good option is the Osprey Levity 45. It handles loads like the Exos but its sleeker shape means the load stays tighter to your body to keeps comfortable.
The Exos 48 is available in three sizes, but the waist belt is not removable, so you will have to choose one from a small, medium or large. If these standard sizes do not offer the right fit for you, you may have to look for smaller manufacturers that let you use different combinations of waist belt sizes and torso length.
It offers a perfect combination between the lightweight and ultra-light backpacking, which means it is a good choice for hikers. You can also make room for a water reservoir, but because of the overall weight of the pack, you cannot really rely on it for your trekking expeditions where you need more water to stay hydrated.