Gear Review: Osprey Exos 58
Osprey Exos 58
Weight: 2 lb. 10 oz. (for a medium)
About 400 miles into my thru-hike, my pack was feeling heavy (5+ pounds empty) and overly complicated (I looked like I was about to embark on a space walk). I needed to pare down, and since I am Bad With Money, I decided to buy a pack in the next town: Damascus, Virginia. I was looking for something something light but not ultralight, simple but not a potato sack. When in doubt, go with the pack that pretty much everyone on the trail is carrying, right? Hello Osprey Exos.
Hikers trust Osprey, and when they came out with a lighter model, this pack flew off the shelves. Osprey is known for luxurious, ultra-padded packs, and the Exos is a step towards lightweight trend while holding true to Osprey’s reputation for comfort and convenience. They also have a solid warranty, and will repair anything. Even if your pack was built in before the the customer service guy was born, he will still help you get it repaired.
This pack carried my 18-25 pounds of gear comfortably for 1,800 miles with minimal wear and tear. It comes in two color options (blue/white and green/black), three capacity options (38L, 48L, and 58L), and three (unisex) torso sizes (S, M, L).
Structurally, this thing is a beast. It feels as solid as the day I got it, without any sagging or pinch points. The zippers, buckles, and straps all held up, and the reinforced bottom has no weak points no matter how many times I threw it. The first (and only) thing to go was the mesh side pockets and some parts of the mesh front pocket. That’s what a sewing kit is for, right?
Compared to other lighter-weight packs, the Exos is full of padding and happiness. The hip belt and shoulder straps have a mesh-faced padding that breathed well and sat comfortably on my hips. The mesh on the shoulder straps was a little abrasive, and when I dropped my pack at the end of the day, it would scrape a little on the way down. The weight suspension is forgiving and supportive— I could pack sloppily and still get the pack adjusted comfortably for the long haul.
The Exos is designed by a company who puts a lot of stock into on-the-go adjustments. It’s easy to maneuver the straps as you’re walking—a few tugs and the load lifters, hip belt, and shoulder straps were molded to my moldy body. The mesh side pockets are easily reached, and the removable “brain” adds extra organization options. The main compartment is accessed from the top, and has a very wide opening. A drawcord cinches it shut, and there are enough points of compression to keep your entire load snug and tight.
Front Mesh Pocket: This pocket works well for anything you want to have readily available. Think snacks, rain gear, that layer you can’t stop taking on and off. The mesh didn’t hold up terrifically, but I feel like Osprey will address this in future models. It’s stretchy enough that you can really stuff your crap in there if you don’t feel like unbuckling everything.
Hip-Belt and Side Mesh Pockets: The hip belt pockets are a rounded shape, but they’ll fit most energy bars. They held up really well for me, (I saw some folks with ripped mesh though), and the zipper pulls are large enough for cold hands to grab. The pockets did not fit my iPhone 5S (with case). The side pockets were terrific until they ripped. They are in an easy-to-reach spot, and stretchy enough to fit almost any bottle. These pockets were not stitched all the way along the sides, and occasionally I would lose a bottle and have to go chasing after it.
Shoulder-Strap Pouch: This is a great little feature. I used it for my iPhone, so I could grab it quickly for another panoramic shot of some trees and Rocky’s receding butt. It also worked for sour gummy worms, and since the hip-belt pockets didn’t fit my phone, this is where I usually carried it for music as well as photos.
Removable Brain: I left the brain (lid?) on because it allowed me two extra pockets for easy access and organization. The brain has a zipper pocket on the top and bottom, which was convenient for a guidebook, snacks, headlamp, and other small items. The compression straps snugged down easily and the webbing is narrow but durable. If you don’t want to use the brain, see below for the FlapJacket.
“FlapJacket:” (Their term, not mine.) If you want to ditch the brain and save 4.2 ounces, the Exos has a built-in flap that can be buckled over the drawstring top for protection without the weight. Clever! I saw a lot of people using this.
Cords/ Tie-Offs / Gear Loops: I never used these. I would tighten them for compression, but ultimately I cut off the extra length. These might be good for tools, but I found them to be awkward. The side compression straps were handy for occasionally sticking my trekking pole through, like in town or on a hitch.
Buckles, Webbing, and Zippers: Because this pack aims for weight-trimming, many of the fasteners are on the small side. This might be annoying if you are freezing cold and have large hands, but it didn’t bother me. These pieces may be small, but they are extremely durable.
Suspended Back: The mesh panel on the back keeps the pack close to your body while still allowing ventilation. More airflow = less stank.
Hydration Bladder Holder: The pack doesn’t come with a hydration bladder, but there is an elastic-topped slot for a hydration bladder against the internal back of the main compartment. It comes with a little buckle to keep the reservoir upright.
Overall, I am crazy about this pack and I would carry it on another long hike. It’s a perfect combination of weight reduction while maintaining convenience and comfort. The mesh pockets are an easy fix, so I’d be surprised if the next iteration of the Exos didn’t address their durability. Everyone and their mom has this pack, so put a fun patch or flag on it to make it stand out.
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