After adventuring through the Alps with a heavy Haglöfs Oxo 75 I thought please no more, there has to be a way to save some weight. It felt a bit stupid just to carry 3 kilos as an empty backpack. So I studied lighter options and this 1,1 kg Osprey pack caught my eye, and eventually my money as well at the end of 2010. Since then I have carried it in every hike, and in the beginning also for carrying groceries. I think this is a quite famous backpack as I have seen it very often on the trail too. There are also tons of reviews out there to read and Osprey’s website will give you the rest of the details:
But here are some of my thoughts after using it in several trips:
If starting from the inside of the backpack, the light grey color really makes it easier to find things in low light. The main compartment itself is suprisingly spacious and then there are the two vertical side pockets, mesh side pockets and kind of a “kangaroo” pocket behind. So lot of room. That zipper gives you an access to the space between the trampoline mesh and the backpack itself, a place where you could place some water bags for example. I’ve never used that. Under the water symbol there’s a tiny entrance for the water hose.
When starting the GR20, I think it weighed about 17 kilos with food and water. And that started to feel like hey, we are close to the limits and one should consider sturdier backpack. But when eating away few kilos going was much smoother and the backpack was on it’s best. With heavy weight the Exos comes also a bit unstable as the trampoline mesh makes the load to be a bit further from your back. I noticed this sideway movement easily while climbing the slopes of Corsican mountains. Also, when I had to pull myself up with a quick movement, quite often the weight of the backpack jumped too in my back making me lose my balance forwards. It was not that big issue but one had to be careful with it. Hard to say how breathable the trampoline mesh is but I think it helps:)
It’s a very versatile backpack as there are lot of straps to tight things and adjust. I usually pack my 3 season sleeping back to the bottom, sideways. For water I have used one 1liter Nalgene in the other side mesh pocket, and another 1liter Nalgene inside the main compartment. To the other side of the backpack I have tighten vertically my sleeping mat. It’s then really easy to take out for breaks. With some extra straps I have placed my Crocs to hang out behind the backpack.
But the hip belt pockets are absolutely fantastic! I don’t get it why all the backpacks doesn’t have those? In Exos they are big and easy to place and take out stuff while walking. I always place my Samsung WB2000 camera to the other one and some snacks to the other. They get wet though while raining so then just to put the camera inside of your jacket for instance. In the left shoulder strap there’s a place for a mobile phone. My old Nokia N70 fits well there but I doubt that any smart phone would.
Some tiny marks of heavy using are visible but I think there’s no issue with the durability. So far the backpack has gone through 3 weeks of extensive hiking and numerous day trips and there’s not even a single big scratch or a sign of a failure. I’ve read some negative comments about the tiny hip belt giving up, but for me it has worked well so far and never opened up by itself. I have to admit that it feels a bit fragile though. In the beginning the thin bottom fabric concerned me the most but it too has lasted without any defects. One should pay attention though where to place the backpack.
Inside the top lid there’s another mesh pocket, perfect for small things.
The Osprey rain cover was not included when I bought this backpack but had to buy it separately. And it wasn’t cheap, I think close to 30 euros. But it has worked well and I’ve been using it always when raining. I haven’t tested how well the fabric of the backpack itself holds rain but it doesn’t get scared from light drizzle.
Overall I think it’s a great value for the money when you’re looking for a lighter backpack. It has filled all my needs and so far I haven’t had to regret having it.
+ versatile, light, side pockets, spacious
– the hip belt could be a bit sturdier, the backpack has started to make slightly annoying noise while walking, balance issues some times