Osprey Exos 48

9.4 score
[Editors rating (9.4)] = (Gearweare.net) score (9.4)/10

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Editor rating: 9.4 / 10
User's rating: based on 0 user ratings
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Osprey Exos 48 Review Facts

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.

Editor's Pros & Cons
  • 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


The Osprey Exos 48 is an extremely comfortable backpack, and available in three sizes. It comes somewhere between the 38L and 58L models. With the change in size, the waist belt size and torso length change too. It’s a good thing and helps you can find a pack that fits perfectly keeping you comfortable.

Ease of Use

Using the Osprey Exos 48 is a breeze, even if it is a bit on the heavier side. The one-handed drawstring opening plays a big role in making it easy to access on the go even when you're holding onto something with the other hand.


The design of the Osprey Exos 48 will not disappoint any backpacker. It’s easy to love its two-tone color and discrete reflective details. The drawstring closure is covered by a stylish flap. The addition of an optional floating lid makes the design logical and effective. Even so, while it seems to be a well-thought-out design, some users complained it was difficult to take out a water bottle without taking the bag off your shoulders.

Also read about best value backpack


The rigid frame is strong and stiff, but it works well to transfer the weight of the pack to the hip belt, which directly improves the comfort factor. Even when carrying maximum load, you can expect breathable support from the hip belt and shoulder straps.

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.


The biggest selling point for the Osprey Exos 48 is its steel frame. You have to love the fact that the heart of this bag is 2m of 4mm high tensile steel. As the steel loops around the entire pack, you end up getting a backpack that is durable and strong.
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.

Carrying Capacity

If you're looking for a pack with the ability to manage 30lb load efficiently, you can certainly put your money on the Osprey Exos 48. It performs well when carrying around 30lb loads, although it may become a little less comfortable when the load is lighter than about 15lb. The tensioned frame fails to function optimally and feels more like a turtle shell and a bit uncomfortable. But, the tensioned frame is also the reason why the Exos 48 can handle medium loads so well. Because of this, you should consider your carrying needs carefully when buying this pack.


In terms of durability, the Osprey Exos 48 is right up there with top scorers. The mesh pockets on the new version are extremely durable. Mesh pockets on older models were prone to catch on branches, which was a serious issue. But the company has now replaced those with pockets that use durable nylon fabric. As they are stretchy, they naturally resist wear and tear.

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 storage itself is quite good because the tensioned frame comes with a FlapJacket top closure and a floating lid. By removing the lid, you can create more volume. On the sides of the pack, large hip pockets let you reach most of your stuff you need as you go. The shoulder straps have small yet surprisingly stretchy pockets, so you can easily carry smaller items, like a phone or sunscreen.

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.


The Osprey Exos 48 is a durable pack, but you couldn’t call it light. With all the modular components, the pack weighs around 2.35lbs although here is the removable lid that helps lighten the weight. However, the weight-to-volume ratio is reasonably good, with multiple storage options. The pack no longer uses super stretchy mesh featured on the previous model, which is why the pack has to give a bit in terms of overall capacity. If you're looking for a pack with a similar design but a better weight-to-volume ratio, you may want to consider buying the ULA Circuit.


Something that may make the Exos 48 a more favorable choice for many is how compatible it is with a hydraulic reservoir. It means that if you're mainly looking for a bladder pack, you can trust the Exos 48 because it has ample space in the center to accommodate a reservoir and a drinking tube. You can also put the bladder pack in the sleeve or simply secure it with the Osprey clip. It is certainly a nice feature to consider when finalizing your buying decision.

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 suspension system of the Osprey Exos 48 makes it a popular choice because it allows for ample ventilation by keeping the pack away from your body. If you’re interested in buying a different pack that uses the same system, there are some Deuter or Gregory packs. However, the Exos 48 is a better choice because it uses an aluminum peripheral frame, whereas the Gregory Zulu 40, as well as Deuter packs, use steel.

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.

Best Applications

You may want to put your money on the Exos 48 if your loads stay within the range of 20 and 35 pounds. If you consistently carry loads over 30 pounds, the Exos 48 will serve you well. In fact, it is hard to find a pack that does it better than the Exos 48.

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.

The Bottom Line

Overall, the Osprey Exos 48 is a highly durable and efficient backpacking pack. It works amazingly well when carrying medium loads. The availability of several pockets and lash straps mean you won't face any storage issue. The price is reasonably good, and the pack comes with a warranty as well. There are minor flaws related to small pockets, fixed flap-jacket, etc., but it still delivers a good performance in so many ways. Just keep in mind that if you need to carry lighter loads, you may have to look for a better alternative.