Just In - Osprey Exos 48 Pack
It feels slightly bonkers to say that a pack, you know a humble rucksack, has 'wow factor', but oddly the new Osprey Exos 48 lightweight backpacking sac that's just arrived for review has just that - and in spades. It simply looks special and when you load it up and put it on, it feels special too.
The new Exos shares its name and light-packing ethos with the original version launched back in 2009 and the concept of a light, but still comfortable and supportive pack lives on, but the 2014 Exos has had some serious development work particularly on the back system.
The pack uses something called the ExoForm™ harness and hip belt and it's quite unlike anything else we've seen on a pack using what Osprey terms a 'dual mesh construction' both on the hip-belt and the shoulder area of the straps. Its' fabric rather than foam based, but remarkably soft and supportive at the same time thanks to the use of thick mesh. There's a bit of mechanical stretch or give to it as well.
Air Gap Back
The back system uses Osprey's suspended AirSpeed™ back panel combining a trampoline-style mesh panel with a board stiffener separated by a narrow ventilated air gap with extra support from an alloy perimeter frame.
All of which is great on paper, but the really important bit is that loaded up, the pack sits beautifully on your back and hips. No hard spots or instability, just a really comfortable, supportive feel, a bit like reclining into a well-designed car sports seat.
There's plenty more to like too. The original Exos wasn't short of stowage pockets and neither is this one: there are two power mesh ones on the hip-belt, inner and outer lid pockets, two side mesh pockets and a big stash one on the back too. All excellent for stowing kit on the go. Talking of which, there's also Osprey's neat Stow-on-the-Go trekking pole holder.
The fabric's light, but feels reasonably tough with it - weight incidentally is slightly up on the old Exos at 1150g measured for the medium around 160g more than before - and Osprey's small but perfectly formed buckles and webbing help keep it that way.
There are other neat touches too. We like the way the thin webbing compression straps can now be locked off half-way down allowing differential compression if that's your thing and the new floating lid not only has a ladder attachment to keep things neat on a partly loaded pack, you can also strip it off altogether and still have a finished-looking sac thanks to the new integrated FlapJacket™ which neatly covers up the hole in the top of the pack.
And the hip belt, for once, has captive ends, no over length webbing hanging haplessly down around your knees. Hardly genius, but a really nice thoughtful touch that every pack should have.
As you'd expect, the pack's hydration system compatible with openings on both sides for optimised tube routing and comes in small, medium and large sizes - the back is non-adjustable, so check before buying, maybe using Osprey's iPhone app developed for this very purpose.
It's early days, but the Exos 48 is one sexy beast of a lightweight pack - it simply looks great. More importantly though, not only is it decently light for its 48-litre capacity, early signs are that the new Exoform harness and back-system work really well to give a good balance of carrying comfort and stability.
If you're prepared to keep the weight of your other equipment down - particularly shelter, sleeping bag and mat - it should make a cracking light but comfortable, backpacking or trekking pack.
It makes us want to go wild camping right now. Full review to follow.
Price for the Exos 46 is £120. There are also 38L and 58L versions at £100 and £140 respectively. Osprey says the fit is 'unisex' so there's no women's specific version at present.
More information at www.ospreyeurope.com.