I purchased the Osprey Exos 48 back in the Spring of 2014 to hike the Tour du Mont Blanc. In my planning for a hike of the John Muir Trail in 2015, I realized the Exos 48 didn’t hold my BV500 bear canister, so I picked up the Osprey Exos 58. The only real difference between the two packs is the overall volume, so instead of doing a long term review for each, I’m combining them into one. I’ve used the Exos 48 on countless backpacking trips and day hikes over the past few years, and have started to use the Exos 58 a little more now that I have to pack for my infant son as well. Below you will find my review of these packs based on 3 years of intensive experience.
Build, Design, And Functionality
Storage, Size, Materials, And Weight
For each Exos pack, I wear a size medium, which covers a torso range of 18-21in and a waist size of 30-34in. I have a size 30in waist and feel like the waist straps have just the right amount of length. The Osprey Exos 48 and 58, hold 48L and 58L respectively. The Exos 48 weighs 40oz and the Exos 58 weighs 42oz.
The Exos packs are made with 100-denier nylon and ripstop nylon. This combination has proven to provide a very nice combination of light weight and durability.
I no longer use a hydration bladder in my pack, but I used to back in 2014. I now prefer using water bottles in my side pockets or front pockets. For those interested in using a hydration bladder, the Exos’ have you covered. There is an elastic sleeve and a buckle hook to keep your bladder suspended. There is also a sleeve hole on both sides of the packed marked “H2O”. The shoulder straps have a series of loops to string your bladder tubing through. In all, it’s a very well setup bladder hydration system. The internal sleeve worked very well when carrying 1 and 2 liter bladders, but was maxed out when carrying a 3L bladder. On the Exos 48, if you fill it with a 3L bladder, you’re not going to have much room left for storage.
Many lightweight packs save weight by getting rid of pockets and other storage options. This is not the case with the Exos. The front of the pack has a large elastic mesh pocket for things like wet clothing, a wet tent fly, or other items you wouldn’t want in your main tent compartment. The side pockets are quite large and can fit two 1L bottles in each pocket. The back side of each pocket is open so that you can reach back to grab smaller items out. This can be great for grabbing snacks on the go, just make sure you don’t have any items in these pockets that could easily fall out.
The hip pockets are about average for a pack of this size and can comfortable fit any snacks, gels, or sunblock you’d want to store. The Exos also has pockets on the chest straps. Osprey decided to go with small pockets on the chest, which is a bit frustrating. I wish they would have made them large enough to fit water bottles. As is, they’re not the most useful. They do fit my phone and inReach comfortably though.
Hip Belt And Shoulder Straps
The hip belt and shoulder straps are made out of a mesh material that Osprey calls ExoForm. ExoForm is a lightweight large hole mesh that breathes and dries well. The Exos 48 and 58 felt comfortable for me until my pack load exceeded 35lbs. After 35lbs, I could really feel the weight of the pack on my shoulders. My pack weight rarely exceeds 35lbs, so this has almost never been an issue. The Exos 48 and 58 are very comfortable packs.
I also had a slight issue with the material just outside of the hip belt, where the frame create the bottom corner of the pack. There is a very rough fabric on this part of the pack that dug into the top of my glutes and chaffed with every step. Again, this was only when the pack was loaded up with more than 35lbs. On the John Muir Trail, I covered this part of my pack with duct tape to remedy the situation.
Frame And Ventilation
For framing, Osprey uses what they call Superlight Airspeed on their Exos packs. Superlight Airspeed is a 6065 aluminum frame with a suspended mesh back panel. As I mentioned before, 35lbs is the limit for my comfort with these packs, but anything under that weight and these packs handle beautifully.
I can’t say enough good things about the mesh back panel on the Exos packs. Having the separation between my back and the pack kept me much dryer than any other pack I have used. With other packs, I’ve had an issue were I can sweat though into the main compartment. With the Exos, the suspended netting absorbs any sweat where it can safely evaporate.
Compression And Straps
I’ve used the Exos 48 on countless day hikes where I’m only utilizing around 15L of space. On the Exos, each side has a single Z pattern compression strap. The straps did a good job of minimizing the shake and rattle of my camera gear, but it would have been nice to have a compression method on the front of the pack as well. That would add extra weight, so I can see why one wasn’t added. This is a backpacking pack and not a day hiking pack after all. There are sleeping pad straps on the bottom of the pack. I have never used these as I pack an inflatable air mattress.
Trekking Pole Attachment
One of my favorite features on the Exos and other Osprey packs is the under arm trekking pole attachment. I used this a lot on Tour du Mont Blanc when hitting long stretches of asphalt and other sections when my poles weren’t required. There is an elastic loop on the hip of the pack and another elastic loop on the shoulder strap. Even after three years of hard use, the attachments on my Exos 48 are still holding strong.
Removable Floating Lid
To save on weight, the Exos 48 and 58 have removable lids. I remove the lid for day hikes and overnight trips and then attach it for longer multi-day backpacking trips when I need the extra storage.
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The Osprey Exos 48 has proven to be an excellent pack for day hiking. I can remove the top lid, and load it up with all of my day hiking essentials. I’ve used the Exos 48 on long day hikes like Mt. Whitney, Grand Canyon Rim to Rim, Iron Mountain, San Gorgonio, and many more. The one things I’d like to see in the next iteration of this pack is larger shoulder strap pockets that can fit water bottles, akin to the Ultimate Direction Fastpack series. Having to reach around to the side pockets for water can be a little bit tricky, and it would be nice to have my hydration up front.
Using a pack with a frame on day hikes with such a light load is not really necessary, but I didn’t find the Exos 48 to feel to rigid of uncomfortable for fast moving days either. For shorter and faster days, I still prefer my running vest, but for hikes approaching 10 hours, I like to carry a little bit more with me.
For overnight backpacking, the Exos 48 has worked out very well for me. The 48 carries all of my overnight essential and two days worth of food and snacks very comfortably. At around 20lbs of pack weight on an overnighter with food, the Exos 48 is in it’s element. I’ve worn the Exos 48 on the Trans-Catalina Trail, around the Sierra, Mt. Baldy, Cucamonga Peak, and quite a few more.
For multi-day backpacking trips, the Exos 48 did not have enough storage for me when using a BV500 bear canister. For these longer trips, or on trips where I’m carrying my son’s gear as well, the extra volume of the Exos 58 makes a big difference. In the Exos 58, I can easily lay the BV500 horizontally in my bag. I’m not able to do this in the Exos 48. I’ve used the Exos 58 on the John Muir Trail and Havasupai Falls. The only downside I can not on these longer tips is when the Exos 58 is loaded up with more than 35lbs. As I mentioned before, I get a bit of chaffing on my hips, and the shoulder straps start to bury themselves into my traps.
I’ve used the Exos 48 a few times a month over the course of 3 years and it is holding up very well. The pack is dirty and smells like a pack that’s been well worn, but no seams or fabrics are tearing. There is some fraying around the bottom edge of the frame where I set the pack down, and the elasticity of the trekking pole holders is not quite as taut as they were new, but that’s pretty much it. I haven’t babied this pack at all. For a pack that is this light to also be this durable is pretty impressive. I’m looking forward to abusing my Exos 58 a little more in the months ahead.
Likes And Dislikes
- Supportive frame is very comfortable with loads under 25lbs
- Lightweight for packs with 48L and 58L
- Functional trekking pole attachments
- Ventilation with the back panel suspension
- Lots of external storage options with pockets and a removable lid
- Pack loses comfort with loads over 35lbs
- Hip belt can chafe my glutes with heavier loads
The 48L and 58L Osprey Exos packs are very functional lightweight options that every hiker and backpacker should enjoy. For just about every other lightweight pack option, you’ll need to go with a cottage industry manufacturer. Osprey is one of the few large companies providing a lightweight pack that consumer can purchase at places like REI or Amazon. I’ve now used the Exos 48 for three years and have plans on trekking many more miles with my Exos 58.
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