If you're looking for a super lightweight pack, but aren't sure you want a frameless model, the Exos
is a great option. It is as light as some of the ultralight
packs out there and is close in weight to many others in our fleet - all while still featuring a frame, cozy shoulder straps, and a relatively robust waist belt. These three things make it slightly heavier, but significantly more comfortable than the more minimally designed frameless packs. Even frame aside, the Exos
is certainly simple but still has many nice features that go along towards making your backcountry trip more enjoyable - at a minimal weight penalty.
was surprisingly comfortable, especially considering its exceptionally low weight. While it wasn't quite as supportive or comfortable as the new REI Flash 65
or The North Face Banchee 65
, it was also a pound less than either of those models. The fabric on the inside of the Exos
waist belt is cozy, and despite some initial skepticism, we found the shoulder straps were quite comfortable as well, even with minimal clothing on.
This contender sort of lives in between the world of ultralight frameless packs and traditional backpacking packs. It's 1-3 pounds lighter than most traditional backpacking packs that it shares many features with (including a frame), but is 0.5-1 pounds heavier than most "ultralight" packs. While this is certainly something worth mentioning, we must admit that it's not a lot of added weight and it is easily more comfortable to carry the 30-40 pound loads that a majority of backpackers will end up with (than a frameless model).
The Exos 58 is a surprisingly comfortable pack, especially considering its 2.5 pound weight. We thought it was fantastic to 30 pounds, and decent to 40 lbs, but we wouldn't want to carry much more than that.
This pack is all-around one of the cooler (ventilation-wise) packs and is well vented throughout; from its perforated shoulder straps to the space behind the back panel, this pack kept us cool on our midsummer testing trips, making the Exos
ideal for use in warmer climates. It's also a great option for people who just run on the warmer side. We tested this pack mountaineering on glaciers but didn't get to use it in a truly snowy environment, which leads us to wonder whether or not snow might get stuck in the back panel.
At 2 lbs 8 oz, this pack is over a pound lighter than the next lightest competitors in our review, the REI Flash 65
and North Face Banchee 65
. Both are 3 lbs 10 oz (also seven additional liters), and half the weight of many others we tested.
For folks whose primary concern is weight but still want a frame, then look no further. This pack is even lighter than many packs on the market that have no frames. You sacrifice a little bit of durability to get such a light package, but not much, and we found this wasn't a big deal at all on trips where the user is traveling primarily on trails.
Part of how Osprey made the Exos 58 so light is by utilizing several much smaller than average buckles and straps throughout the pack; despite their size, we never found them difficult to use.
Part of how the Exos
attains this weight is via its super light frame and fairly minimalist design. It also has several smaller than normal buckles and smaller 7mm compression straps, along with corresponding tiny buckles. In our real world testing, we didn't find that these buckles were much harder to use than traditional-sized clips.
This pack features a nylon flap (which Osprey calls their FlapJacket system) underneath the primary lid of the back, allowing the user to leave it behind, making the pack even lighter. This flap (shown on the right) acts as a cover to help keep the contents of your pack dry.
The Exos 58
also offers several features that make stripping the pack down (to an even lighter weight) fairly easy. One of the biggest of said features is the Exos
removable lid, that when left behind, still features a nylon flap (which Osprey calls their FlapJacket system) that attaches to the same buckles as the lid to help keep the contents of your pack dry.
The Exo's easy to use lid detachment.
Despite its low light weight of 2 lbs 8 oz, it features a relatively solid suspension. It is great for loads up to 35 lbs, but once we crested 40 lbs, most of our testers felt that this pack was less capable and comfortable. It has a pretty stout aluminum frame, but doesn't quite have the stiffness necessary in its hip belt or shoulder straps for heavier loads. That said, when carrying 25-30 lbs (or for some testers, 35 pounds), we couldn't even notice a difference in suspension compared to more robust options. Our testing team started to notice a difference in support when carrying 35-40+ lbs while hiking all day.
Features and Ease of Use
Despite its low weight, the Exos
has many features that make it easier and more convenient to use. Check out the chart below to see where the Exos 58
ranked in the Ease of Use metric.
One of our tester's favorite feature is the stretchy mesh pocket on the back; it was secure and our test team found all sorts of uses for it, from all kinds of small items that we wanted to be easily accessible, to keep smelly clothing or garbage away from the rest of our stuff, or for funky shaped items like flip flops or a fry pan.
We loved the stretchy mesh pocket featured on the back of the Exos 58. It was a great place for wet items (which the mesh allowed them to continue to dry), stinky garbage that we didn't want inside our pack, or our favorite item - flip flops.
The "Stow on the Go" system was a little gimmicky. It's a way of attaching the trekking poles to the pack via a stretchy band near the bottom of the pack and an attachment on the shoulder strap; this feature was not as cool as we thought it would be. While practical for short distances, most testers who needed to stow their poles on their pack for more than 10 minutes just stored them on the side of the pack where they are more secure. The waist belt pockets are decently sized, easily fitting a couple Clif bars or a small point-and-shoot camera. These were nice to keep bars or nuts in, making mid-hiking snacking easy.
A zippered pocket, featured on the Exos 58.
The lid of the pack did not perform at the top of the pack. It features one small pocket on the top of the lid and a mesh pocket underneath. Our testers loved the mesh pocket which was easy to see into, but the top lid pocket was harder-than-average to find items because of its narrowish entrance and longish size. The one thing the top lid had going for it was its nice bright yellow colored interior which helped with searching for lost items.
The top zippered pocket featured on the Exos 58. This pocket sported a fairly narrow entrance that made looking for things slightly harder than average, but we found that the bright yellow colored interior helped.
The lowest strap, which actually runs around most of the base of the pack, seemed a little odd at first but we ended up finding it pretty functional; it worked great for a 3/4 length closed cell foam pad. For early season hikers or just folks enjoying the occasional mountaineering trip, we appreciated the pack's single ice axe loop that we felt only helped add to the pack's versatility.
The uniquely designed lower strap on the bottom of this pack features compression straps on each end. At first, our users were pretty unimpressed with this feature. However, after using these pack for several nights, we learned to appreciate its versatility (and it was long enough for most 3/4 length closed cell foam pads).
Adjustability and Sizing
While this pack is not technically adjustable, it does come in three sizes, which means you can likely find a pack that fits you well. We find most people shorter than the 5'4-5'5 range would want to order something smaller than a size small (which Osprey does not offer) and conversely, most folks above 6'3-6'4 would need to order something larger than a large (also something Osprey does not offer); it may be difficult to size this pack for people at the end of each spectrum.
This award winner is perfect for backpackers who are either already in the world of ultralight hiking or just getting into it. While certainly heavier than most ultralight frameless backs, it isn't exceptionally heavier and is far more comfortable for folks who don't have their pack weight down to below 20-25 pounds yet. It's also a great option for those who want to go super light, but simply desire a more comfortable pack with a frame and more robust padding. Despite being a little on the heavy side of ultralight packs, we know several people who have used the Exos
(mostly in its smaller sizes) on the PCT and the AT. For application and length, the Exos 58
is good for most people hiking 2-6 days, with 5-8 days requiring most non-ultralight users to go much more minimally.
The Exos 58 is shown here in all of its glory.
Value and Conclusion
At $220, the Exos
is on the less expensive end of the spectrum among packs in our review. It is slightly more expensive than its closest competitor, the $200 REI Flash 65
, but is 1 pound 2 ounces lighter and doesn't give up a lot in the way of comfort, support, or features. It is less expensive than the much more comfortable and feature-rich $240, 3 lbs 10 oz, The North Face Banchee 65
. Most folks looking at the Exos 58
might consider other packs we've reviewed; it really comes down to what a user needs and wants from their pack.
This pack really does sort of live in a world in between traditional backpacking packs and ultralight packs. We included it in our review because it features a frame and is quite comfortable for most folks that are going on a common backpacking trip in which most cases very little sacrifice needs to be made. However, if you need the ability to carry weight greater than 40 pounds on a regular basis but still want a lightish pack, we'd recommend looking at the The North Face Banchee 65
, REI Flash 65
, or Osprey Volt 60