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

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

It's

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

straps.

In Use

Jon's

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

the pack.

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.

Lairdo was

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.

Tommy and

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

the job.

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.

Andy kicked

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.

Overall

'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

2009.

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