'Neat features, a comfortable, stable carry with a semi-vented back system and just the right degree of knock-about toughness make the Mutant 28 a cracking all-round technical mountain daypack'
Outdoors Magic: Light, supportive, comfortable back system with ventilation, easy main bag access, rope and helmet carriers, neat ice-tool carriers, top pocket, general build quality, handy gear loops, ace compression system, general Osprey-ness.
Outdoors Tragic: Mesh back potentially not as long-term tough as some others.
Outdoors Grabbit? The smaller of Osprey's two Mutants makes an excellent all-round technical mountain pack, winter or summer. It's super refined with an ingenious helmet carrier, differential zig-zag compression, neat attachments for leashless or other axes and more. Top zip opening gives great access and there's a top pocket too. The back system uses non-snow gathering reversed mesh over a ridged foam base and is actually comfortable. Decently light, but tough too and capable of carrying climbing hardware without crippling you. Genius.
Lightweight mountaineering and climb pack / main fabric 210D Nylon Dobby / Dual ToolLock™ for ice axe attachment / Integrated ski/climbing helmet storage / Removable HDPE framesheet with T6061 aluminium stay / Abrasion resistant PU texture to front panel / Glove friendly buckles / internal hydration sleeve / sewn-in reverse wrap stowable hip-belt with gear loops / side ski carry / under lid zipped mesh pocket with key-clip.
Full Review Below
Osprey Mutant 28 Pack | Performance
This is the second iteration of the smaller of Osprey's two Mutant technical mountain packs - there's also a larger 38-litre version - and it's a classic slice of Ospreyness with tons of refinement and a bunch of carefully thought-out features that mark it out.
Access is via a zip-open panel up top that makes getting stuff in and out straightforward, but you also get a handy and quite substantial top zipped external pocket plus a mesh one on the inside of the zip-open flap complete with a key-clip. Yes, climbers have keys too.
Then there's the back system. Classic alpine packs use thermomolded or fabric backs to avoid snow sticking to them, which is all well and good, but can make for a sweaty contact area. Osprey instead use a special reversed spacer mesh over a ridged foam pad, which shrugs off snow, but feels considerably less sweaty when the going gets hot.
Inside there's a removable HDPE framesheet with T6061 aluminium central stay that manages to support reasonably heavy climbing loads - rope, rack, spare clothing, bivi kit and all - without undue discomfort. You can take it out too if you want, but we didn't bother. The pack only weighs 1000g anyway.
Everywhere you look are neat little Osprey touches that really do make a difference. The shoulder straps are similarly foamed, meshed and vented and have just the right degree of support. The effective zig-zag compression strap can be locked off so you can compress different areas of the pack independently.
And then there's the hemet carrier. It's a stretch mesh, like a sort of glorified hair-net, that emerges from the same pocket as the rope strap and simple holds a helmet securely in place on top of your pack. Genius. If you've ever struggled to carry a climbing helmet on a fully-loaded pack, you'll know exactly what we mean.
What else? The ice axe attachments aren't strictly speaking an Osprey original touch, but work brilliantly with leashed or modern leashless tools and have snow-resistant shock-corded top loops, our default choice.
Mini gear-loops on the hip-fins work well, but manage not to obstruct your harness and can be reverse clipped if you prefer to have them out of the way. And finally, the build quality feels sturdy and solid, but in a refined sort of way.
Our one slight quibble is over how that mesh-covered back system will perform with heavy use, but the rest of the pack feels reassuringly light but solid.
Osprey Mutant 28 Pack | Verdict
The Mutant 28 is a brilliantly well-developed climbing pack that has all the refinement and cunning we've come to expect from Osprey. It carries really well, even with medium heavy climbing loads, but scores bonus points over competitors with its mildly ventilated back system.
Access is good, features like the helmet and rope carriers take the hassle out of routine use and despite weighing a competitive 1000g all in, it still feels reassuringly solid and tough.
And while it's been designed primarily as a climbing pack, the comfortable, but supportive back system and easy access zipped pockets mean it also works as an all-round mountain walking and scrambling companion too. Recommended.