The Levity 45L is a superlight backpacking and hiking backpack made by Osprey. My size medium comes in at a svelte 1lb 12oz (.8kg), and is really comfortable despite its minimal design. What makes this pack special is that it’s one of the first ultralight backpacks manufactured by an established brand that sells at large retailers. Before this, ultralight backpackers had to rely on cottage industry brands to meet their ultralight gear needs. I’ve worn the Levity 45L for the 150-miles Camino Portuguese, and on numerous hiking and backpacking outings over the past few months and will share my experience in this review.
(There is also a 60L Levity available and a women’s specific 45L and 60L equivalent called the Lumina.)
Build, Design, And Functionality Overview
To start with this review, I want to cover the materials that went into making such a lightweight pack. The main pack is made from a translucent 30D Cordura ripstop silnylon (silicone impregnated nylon). This is a very light and thin material that is also used on lightweight tents like my Tarptent Double Rainbow. If you’ve never held or felt silnylon before, it will be very easy to assume that it is fragile and lacking in durability. It’s a bit unsettling to literally see through your backpack. My initial experience with 30D nylon a few years ago defied my initial expectations, as my Tarptents have shown to be very durable over time.
Silnylon is a waterproof fabric, but the pack itself isn’t entirely waterproof. Much like silnylon tents, seam sealing and other measures are required for full waterproof protection. I’ve found the Levity to hold up to light drizzles without issue and it even kept the inside of my pack dry on a few surprise showers while hiking in Portugal. For sustained showers, I used my waterproof pack cover.
In the high wear areas on the bottoms and side of the pack, Osprey uses a more robust NanoFly 210D Nylon X 200D. I’ve been pretty rough on this pack over the past few months and have yet to notice any deterioration, frays, or tears.
My Levity 45L in a size medium is a true 45 liter pack. The size small is 42L and the size large is 48L. The Levity series also comes in a larger 60L offering (S-57L, M-60L, L-63L). My 45L Levity is the perfect pack for treks like Camino de Santiago or Tour du Mont Blanc, and is also light enough and comfortable enough for long day hikes. On the backpacking end, 45L is plenty for me on quick solo overnighters or short range camping trips. The Levity 45L wont horizontally hold a bear canister like the Garcia or BV500, so you’ll want to grab the 60L version if you’re planning a trip like the John Muir Trail.
Capacity by Size
S: 42 liters – 2,563 cubic inches
M: 45 liters – 2,746 cubic inches
L: 48 liters – 2,929 cubic inches
The Levity 45L is built for a 18-21 inch torso (hip bones to base of neck). I have a 20.5 inch torso and sit between the medium and large pack sizes. I have large glutes though, and find the extra length of the large to cause chaffing on my glutes and hips. The medium size pack rides at just the right height for all-day comfort without issue.
The size medium is built for a 27-48 inch waist. I have a 31 inch waist and this pack fits me perfectly with about 7 inches of waist belt hanging on each side. If you have a 40+ inch waist, you might find this pack a bit snug around the hips.
S: 16-19 inches
M: 18-21 inches
L: 20-23 inches
S: 24-45 inches
M: 27-48 inches
L: 29-55 inches
At 1lb 12oz, the Osprey Levity 45L is super light. I almost couldn’t believe a pack was in the box I ordered when it first arrived at my house. When I first tried on an empty Levity 45L, my admiration for the pack continued to grow. Some lightweight packs feel chintzy and uncomfortable. The Levity’s hip belt and shoulder straps felt comparably plush and high quality. Once loaded up, this feeling of comfort was sustained until I pushed it past 30lbs. When loaded fully with backpacking gear, food, and water, the Levity rides like a cloud for lightweight loads up to 20lbs. In the 20-30lbs range, the Levity still rides well, but the thinner than normal shoulder straps and hip belt make themselves known as the miles pile up.
Hip Belt and Chest Straps
One of the first things I noticed when the new Levity series of packs was announced by Osprey is that they came without hip pockets or shoulder straps. This almost prevented me from purchasing the Levity, as I relied heavily on the hip and shoulder strap pockets provided on my old Osprey Exos 48 and 58. I ended up ordering the Levity once I realized that Gossamer Gear sold hip and chest pockets that could be added to any pack. After a few weeks of use, I ended up not using the GG pockets, as I realized I didn’t really need them. The side pockets on the Levity are very large and easily accessible by hand. I store everything else in the top pouch on the pack or in the pockets of my shorts. The positive of removing the hip belt pockets is that the waist belt on the Levity is one of the most comfortable I’ve ever experienced on a lightweight pack.
I find the shoulder straps and hip belt of the Levity to be very comfortable for all day use. Both the shoulder straps and hip belt use a cushioned and padded open mesh design for the areas that come in contact with the skin, then use thin nylon belts for compression. As I mentioned above, this shoulder strap and hip belt combo remains very comfortable up to around 30 lbs
On the front of the Levity, Osprey uses an adjustable 15mm sternum strap that includes a buckle with a whistle. Unlike previous Osprey packs that adjust by sliding the strap along a track, this sternum strap attaches to webbing loops.
The Osprey Levity comes with load lifters, which is nice because a lot of lightweight packs are built without these. Many manufacturers assume that if you buy a lightweight pack your load will always be ultralight. This is the case most of the time, but the occasion sometimes calls for heavier loads, and load lifters help keep that load a bit more comfortable.
Pockets and Storage
The Levity comes with three massive external pockets. There are two on each side of the pack and one on the back. Each pocket has an elastic cuff on the top to keep goods secure, and an individual drainage grommet for wet weather and damp items.
The single back pocket is large enough for a wet tent rain fly, or for quick access to a puffy or rain jacket. While shooting video, I use the pocket to carry extra lenses, my gimbal, and other camera gear that I need quick access to.
The side pockets can easily carry two 1-liter bottles each. Bottles and other items can be accessed from the pockets via front facing access ports. My standard setup is to carry a 1-liter bottle in each side pouch, and then stash items like chapstick, sunblock, my iPhone, and snacks next to each bottle. I can easily reach back and grab items from each pouch. The font facing openings are high enough on the pouch that small items sit below the opening and don’t fall out while hiking.
For compression, the Levity uses thin removable cords. These cords work really well when cinching down the pack with smaller loads. I was very skeptical about how effective they would be when I first saw how thin they were, but I have been nothing but content with them in-use.
The Levity uses a fixed top lid with a single topside zipper. I like to use my top lid for small items that I might need throughout the day, but don’t need quick access to. For travel and trekking, this includes my wallet, passport, headlamp, maps, guidebooks, and extra camera gear. For backpacking, I usually carry extra snacks, maps, and accessories, as well as anything I might need for my toddler.
Main Compartment and Hydration
The main compartment opens up with a cinch cord, and has a top buckle to keep the internal load tight and compressed. There is a back sleeve and a center opening for a hydration tube, but not much else. This is a very simple and feature free pack.
Frame and Ventilation
My favorite part of this pack, and Osprey packs in general, is the use of their AirSpeed back panel. The back panel on the Levity uses a lightweight 6065 aluminum frame that provides just enough structure for light to medium weigh loads. Osprey attaches a 3D-tensioned mesh panel for breathability and ventilation. As a hiker that sweats quite a bit through my back, this is a feature I really love. On packs without ventilation, I either sweat through my pack and into the main compartment, or if the pack uses waterproof fabrics like Dyneema, the sweat flows down onto my hips and causes chafing. The Levity allows air to flow between my back and the pack, allowing more sweat to evaporate.
As a day hiking pack, the Levity carries small and light loads with ease. Coming in under two pounds, my hydration packs and vests don’t have much of a weight advantage over the Levity. The side compression cords cinch down nicely on short days when I’m only carrying food and a layer, which makes this a very versatile purchase for hikers and backpackers that only want one pack for all use cases. The lack of hipbelt pockets isn’t an issue, as I can store most things in the side pockets, and the hipbelt feels more comfortable as just a belt. I do miss having the chest pockets of the old Exos though, as it made grabbing my phone or camera quick and easy.
For backpacking, my endorsement of the Levity isn’t as conclusive. For lightweight overnighters and weekend trips, I think the pack works amazingly well. For ultralight thru-hikers, I think the Levity will be a great option as well. For my current use though, the 30lbs comfort limit is a bit of an issue, even if I were to size up to the Levity 60L.
When I take a backpacking trip with my wife and son, she usually carries him on her back. This means I need to carry water, food, and gear for my wife and toddler. For a quick overnighter in warmer weather, this isn’t an issue. For multi-day trips in colder temperatures, I need a pack that’s going to carry a bit more weight.
This is no knock on the Levity line of packs, as their intended use is not my normal use. When used as designed, the Levity 45L performs exactly as intended. I just don’t get out for as many solo outings as I used to. But, when the time calls for a quick and light solo summit adventure, the Levity is the pack I reach for.
The Osprey Levity 45L comes in at $250. This might seem a bit high if you’re shopping comparably sized packs on the market, but is par for the course when looking at packs in this weight class. Similarly weighted cottage industry packs will cost about the same, and many won’t come with ventilation, load lifters, or the ability to try them on in a store like REI. Having used the Levity on a 150-mile day hiking trek and on weekend backpacking adventures, I have to say that Osprey has provided a very functional pack in the Levity 45L. The Levity might be spartan and feature-bare, but it remains incredibly comfortable when used as intended. Even when pushed past its max load, the Levity is still a very serviceable pack. Finally, I’ve been really tough on my Levity 45L, and its durability has been nothing short of impressive.
- ($310.00) Hyperlite Mountain Gear (HMG) 2400 Southwest: If you’re researching the Levity, you’ve certainly looked at the HMG 2400 Southwest as well. This is an amazing pack that comes in just 2oz heavier than the Levity 45L, but provides 5 few liters of volume. Make sure to check out my review of 2400 Southwest. The reasons to pick the Southwest over the Levity is the hip pockets, waterproof and bombproof Dyneema fabric, removable frame, and roll top closure. It has no load lifters or ventilation though.
- ($200.00) Osprey Exos 48: The Osprey Exos 48 is very similar to the Levity, but weighs almost a pound more. That weight is spread out in the pack with more durable fabrics and more cushioned straps. There is also a removable floating lid.
- ($225.00) Gossamer Gear Mariposa 60: This is a very popular pack for lightweight backpackers and is only a tad bit heavier than the Levity at 2lbs. For the extra weight you get 15 more liters of storage. The Osprey Levity 60L comes in just shy of two pounds, so those two packs are near identical in weight with the same storage. The Mariposa has load lifters, hip pockets, and massive storage pockets on the pack, but no ventilation.
- ($190.00) Gregory Optic 48: I received this pack just after I purchased the Levity 45L, and it was my would have been my Camino pack had it arrived before the trip. This pack reminds me of the of the old Exos 48. It has hip pockets, a removable top lid, ventilation, and is super comfortable. Best of all, it’s only $190.