In late 2008, Osprey
Packs gave five lucky OUTDOORSmagic members the chance to
use and report back on their new £130 Exos
46 lightweight backpacking pack before it even hit the
shops. And now as the test period draws to an end, we thought you might
like a quick look at what they made of it.
The idea was that the users would post their take on the new pack as
soon as they received it, then follow up with real world reports once
they’d had the chance to use the Exos on the hill. We’ve already
summarised some of the initial user opinions in this
article and shown you some of the neat details
that make the pack stand out here.
What’s Different About
The Exos 46 weighs just 990 grammes, but unlike most
ultra-lightweight packs, it has a 6061-T6 aluminium frame for stabilty
with heavy loads and die-cut Biostretch EVA foam for added comfort and
ventilation on hipbelt and harness, plus a fully-ventilated back panel.
In other words, it aims to provide more support than comparable packs.
Weight has been systematically slashed throughout, but not at the
expense of features. That means super-lightweight fabrics, mesh pockets
and perforated EVA foam for harness and hip-belt plus miniaturise
buckles, (tiny)tape and features where appropriate. There’s also
Osprey’s neat pole storage ‘Stow On The Go’ system.
For more background information see this Osprey YouTube clip:
What Did Our Testers Make
Of The Pack?
You can read the full story on this forum
thread, but at 363 posts long, it might take you
a while, so to give you a quick idea, we’ve whisked through it and
extracted a few opinions from our testers Paul Cummings, Jon Yale,
Richard Laird, Tommy Martin and Andy Hayes.
You can also find some of their opinions here
on the review system.
In The Beginning
fair to say that all our testers were impressed with the weight of the
Exos, Paul Cummings took the time to weigh it on his kitchen
scales at 988 grammes, liked the hip-pockets and thought that although
the ‘Tiny Tape’ compression tape looked thin it also seemed strong,
though Jon was a little concerned, initially, by the thinnness of the
hip-belt and buckle.
Andy wasn’t sure that the thin-looking shoulder straps would cope with
heavier loads, but loved the big front pocket and top-loading
configuration. He also had doubts about the thin compression
initial impressions with a daypack load were favourable. It carried ‘at
least as well as my Atmos 25’ he said. He liked the multiple pockets,
and Stow On The Go system, but wasn’t sure the lightweight hip-belt
buckle was ‘up to it’. Loaded up with 12 kilos of camping kit, he says,
‘it felt fine’ and he was pleasantly surprised that it all fitted in
In later testing a horse tried to eat the straps and fixings on the
back of his pack ‘a bit chewed now’ he observed. The buckles, he
thinks, can be a little fiddly.
again impressed with how close the mesh panel sits to the back and how
well the bioform hip-belt takes loads. He took it for a hammer over
Helvellyn in winter conditions – below – and posted some detailed
observations with a full 13.2 kilo load. He was impressed with the
vented back which allowed his back to dry well and found it a ‘stable
and comfortable’ carry.
He also liked the pole carrying facility finding that it didn’t
interfere with normal movement and loved the stretch pocket for rapid
clothing stowage. On the down side, he found the side stuff pockets a
little tight at the top and the mini compression straps were fiddly
with gloves, though they work well. Overall he praised the
fabric strength and build quality and found ‘ it a very stable and
comfortable all day carry, a good well ventilated back system when
packed correctly, and a host of innovative features that are useful
rather than gimmicky.’
Paul thought ‘comfort was superb’ with little air gap and
excellent movement when he turned or leaned. On his first big
walk with ‘full winter kit’ including, er, snowshoes, he was impressed
with Tardis-like kit-wallowing ability. He found the sac very comfy,
but still sittting a bit high for him and overall simply ‘didn’t think
about it when walking – No digs, no sore spots, no back ache,
nothing. Really reaching for criticism.’
The back system he called ‘the most comfortable I have used’. He did
though, question the security of the side mesh stuff pockets, though
Tommy said he’d found them fine.
some of the others, thought the pack seemed initially to sit too high
on the hips, but when loaded up ‘seems to sit just right’. He also
noted he stretch built into the EVA straps and
belt. He thought the hip-belt and back carried the
weight well and liked the
pull to tighten configuration on the belt. He also liked the pockets
and thought that while the tape was thin, it was probably well up to
On his first mountain day out, he found the Exos as
comfortable as other, weightier packs, liked the pole stowage device
and the vented back and found that while his shoulders ached after a
while, it was easy to transfer the load to the hip-belt.
off with a supermarket trip and found that once loaded, the weight did
move the hip-belt downwards into a lower and more natural position, he
also liked the air-gap back and found the pack comfortable with about
10 kilos of groceries in place, he still had doubts about the
thin shoulder straps however.
He did confess to loving the pockets on the outside of the pack and
liked details like the reflective Osprey logo for night safety.
With a 14 kilo load. he found the pack stable and was also
happy with the security of the pockets. He also confessed that while he
was originally going to sell the pack on at the end of the test period,
after using it, he was rapidly changing his mind.
‘Brilliant bag for four massive mountain walks in Torridon. The Exos 46
stored all my winter gear, it’s comfort and weight bearing
performance paid dividends and it’s light weight helped me
complete my walks with less physical exertion than if I’d
used my heavy, sweaty and weighty over-engineered Karrimor Alpiniste 45
instead!’ – Lairdo
‘The Exos performed flawlessly. It is now named
Jaffa due to the orangey bit in the middle! It sat on the
hips nicely and the pain that I had in my chest was due to breathing in
the cold air on the first part of the walk.’ – Andy Hayes
‘In use, I must say I struggle for much to say about the
pack. This is actually quite a compliment as it means I just
did not think about it when walking. No digs, no
sore spots, no back ache, nothing. Really reaching for
criticism, I would agree with others that the shoulder staps should be
wider, but as Osprey have already said this will be the case on the
production models, it shows they are on the ball.’ – Paul Cummings
We’ll have an OM editorial review up shortly, but overall,
the OMers who tested the Exos were more than favourably impressed with
the weight, build quality, features and carry of the pack. the thinness
of the shoulders straps was mentioned a few times, but they are being
widened for production packs which will be in store in late January
The only other common gripe was that the small buckles were fiddly with
gloved hands and the pack colours were also questioned.
More Osprey information at www.ospreypacks.com