Osprey Exos 48 Review: A Formidable Ultralight Backpack

Last Updated on July 8, 2020


Price: $200 MSRP – Check Price on Amazon
Noel’s Rating: 4.3 out of 5 stars 4.3 out of 5 stars
Pros: Extremely comfortable, lots of useful features, great airflow between back and bag
Cons: Not very durable, mesh loosens after time, lid is hard to access
Weight: New Model37 oz (1.05 kg)  My Model: 41 oz (1.16 kg)
Volume: 48 L
Lighter Option: Zpacks Arc Blast: 21 oz (595 grams)
Budget Option: Kelty Redwing 44

 

Osprey Exos 48 backpack against a green house

Osprey Exos 48 Backpack Review

 

Overview: Osprey Exos 48

Before I found the Osprey Exos 48, every backpacking trip was a painful struggle between me and the heavy bag on my back. My bulky packs of the past never seemed to fit right; they would creak and pull at my shoulders, and I assumed that multi-day hiking would always be painful.

Eventually, I came to my senses and decided to give the Exos 48 a try. Moving into a lighter and more comfortable backpack was a revelation. My purchase immediately took my focus off pain and onto my surroundings.

Although there are much lighter (but more expensive) options on the market, I am smitten with my Exos 48. It does everything I ask it to and will continue to do so for years to come.

Comfort

View of the tight mesh netting on the back of the Osprey Exos 48 backpack

The Osprey Airspeed suspended mesh technology makes the Exos 48 extremely comfortable.

 

The Exos 48 is the most comfortable pack I have worn on the trail. Its lightweight internal frame distributes the weight beautifully, and its padded and breathable straps neutralize any potential pressure points.

A tight mesh netting creates a small barrier between your back and the pack, which allows for excellent breathability and prevents objects in your bag from repeatedly jabbing you as you hike.

I have loaded my pack with up to 35 pounds (16 kg)  of gear, food, and water. Each time I embark on a new journey, the Exos 48 maintains its high standard of comfort no matter how much weight I throw its way.

Comfort Rating: 5 out of 5 stars 5 out of 5 stars

Features/Design

The Exos 48 has a laundry list of useful features that helps distance its self from some of its more minimalist competitors. Osprey truly pays close attention to detail while designing their packs.

The mesh back netting and perfectly padded, breathable shoulder and hip straps make this pack as comfortable as it gets. Its well-placed system of straps makes it easy to adjust your pack on the fly.

Abundant mesh external storage pockets can secure large amounts of gear conveniently to the outside of your pack. A series of loops and compression straps make it easy to carry trekking poles, ice axes, and more.

The detachable lid is a nice feature to keep track of your smaller items, but it has an annoying downside, which I will talk more about a little later.

The body of the pack is made of High Tenacity Nylon, which is exceptionally durable and lightweight.

Features/Design Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars 4.5 out of 5 stars

Durability

Up close view of damage and slight tearing on the mesh external pockets of the Osprey Exos 48

The mesh on the external pockets of the pack gets stretchy and torn after a while, but Osprey has addressed these issues in newer models.

 

My pack has held up admirably over its hundreds of miles of use. The only problem I have encountered with the pack’s durability is its external pockets. Over the years, the stretchy mesh has become loose and has formed several small holes. In the Exos 48’s defense, I am rarely gentle with my pack and often push the external storage to its limit.

Osprey has addressed these issues in its newest line of the Exos 48 backpacks by adding a more rigid and durable mesh to the outside of the pack.

Durability Rating
4 out of 5 stars 4 out of 5 stars

Weight/Size

Technology in the last ten years has drastically cut down the weight of ultralight backpacks. The introduction of the ultra-lightweight and waterproof Dyneema Composite Fabric (formerly Cuben Fiber) to the market has completely changed the game.

My Exos 48 (41 oz/1.16 kg) does not use DCF, which essentially makes it double the weight of some of its competitors. That said, this pack still comes in much lighter than many 45-55 liter packs on the market, which can weigh more than 88 oz (2.5 kg) each.

It is possible to shed 4 oz (113 grams) by ditching the lid, but by doing so, you will sacrifice storage and convenience.

Weight/Size Rating: 4 out of 5 stars 4 out of 5 stars

Ease of Use

A top view of the open lid of the Osprey Exos 48 backpack

The lid has an annoyingly short zipper, which makes accessing your belongings inside a guessing game.

 

The Exos 48 is extremely easy to fit to your body. Its straightforward set of straps allow for precise, quick, and stable pack adjustment. Just make sure to find the correct size.

The internal and external storage are both plentiful, secure, and easy to access. The only problem I have is with the accessibility of the lid. The zipper opening is particularly small and can make finding items inside the lid unnecessarily frustrating.

Ease of Use Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars 4.5 out of 5 stars

Value

Osprey competitively priced this bag at a $200 MSRP (check price on Amazon). Many competitors of the Exos 48 run a price tag above $350. DCF truly comes at a cost.

There are slightly cheaper options on the market to consider, but many lack features and comfort falls short. Comfort, to me, is the most important quality when considering a pack.

Value Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars 4.5 out of 5 stars

Versatility

This pack is best utilized on multi-day hikes and stays comfortable with a total pack weight of up to 40 pounds (18 kg). Its features allow for ample external storage, which can clear up space inside the pack for up to a week of food. If a 48-liter pack doesn’t seem roomy enough, check out the Osprey Exos 58.

I have utilized the Exos 48 reasonably well as a bare-bones urban travel backpack but is meant to be enjoyed in a hiking and backpacking environment. Get it outdoors for some multi-day excursions to maximize its true potential.

Versatility Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars 3.5 out of 5 stars

The Final Word: Osprey Exos 48

Osprey Exos 48 Backpack perched in front of a snowy mountain range near El Chalten, Argentina

Tried and true: The Osprey Exos 48

 

If you are looking for an ultralight backpack that offers extreme comfort, a full set of features, at a fair price, look no further than the Osprey Exos 48.

The Exos 48 was my first purchase of many that helped transform me from an over-packing and uncomfortable amateur hiker into a comfortable, carefree, and efficient ultralight backpacker.

While this pack is not without its faults, they prove to be minor in the grand scheme of things. Osprey has spent decades building a strong reputation in the hikeing, traveling, and backpacking community and, if the Exos 48 is any indication, they aren’t slowing down any time soon.

View Osprey Exos 48 GTX on Amazon

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