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Reviews > Packs > Internal and External Framed Backpacks > Osprey Exos 58 Backpack > Test Report by David Heyting

Osprey Packs Exos 58 backpack
Test Series
Initial Report March 7, 2009

Field Report May 19, 2009

Long Term Report July 22, 2009

Tester Information:
Name: David Heyting
Age: 31
Gender: Male
Height: 6’ 0”, 1.83 m
Weight: 205 lb, 93 kg
Chest: 46", 117 cm
Waist: 38", 97 cm
Sleeve: 36", 91 cm
City, State, Country: Snoqualmie, Washington, USA

Backpacking Background:
I have been hiking and backpacking for over 15 years. A great deal of the backpacking that I do is related to mountaineering and rock climbing in the Pacific Northwest. When not climbing, I’m a hiker that tries to go light in order to push more miles. My main areas of exploration are the Washington Central and North Cascades, but I have done lots of hiking in the British Columbia Coastal Range as well as the Oregon Cascades. I am also an avid adventure racer and compete in several races each year ranging from 2 hours up to several days in duration.

Product Information
Manufacturer: Osprey Packs, Inc.
Model: Exos 58 Backback
Listed Weight: 2 lb 10 ounces / 1185 g
Measured Weight: 2 lb 12 ounces / 1190 g
Size: Large
Volume: 3700 cu in / 61 L Color: Ember Orange

Product Description:
The Exos 58 is designed as an ultra-lightweight do everything pack. It was designed under the premise that going light with a pack that does not feature any type of suspension can actually burn more energy than it saves by being light. It features Osprey’s Airspeed Suspension system which teams an aluminum frame with a 3D tensioned mesh back panel and side crescent ventilation. Per Osprey’s website the ideal load of this pack is 25-40 lbs (11-18 kg). With the large size, the pack can carry 61 L or 3700 Cu in.

View of back support system on the pack

The AirSpeed suspension system incorporates a LightWire alloy frame with a mesh backpanel. What does this mean? It means that all contact surfaces are either breathable mesh or perforated molded waffle foam. The goal is to create uniform body contact with no hot spots. There are also side crescents that provide further ventilation. The hip belt features foam BioStretch technology. Essentially the technology is perforated foam that is covered with mesh. The shoulder straps feature this same technology. There is an adjustable sternum strap, which features a built-in whistle in the buckle.

The Exos 58 features a top loading system, with a top pocket that can be removed completely from the pack. Along with the top loading system, the pack features a compression strap that can be used to tightly cinch down the contents of the pack. The pack is constructed with 70D x 100D shadowcheck and 160 x 210 Window Ripstop Nylon. It also has two vertical zippered pockets that can be used to store items for easy access. These pockets can be accessed when the pack is fully loaded and cinched.

The pack has many compression straps that can be used to cinch down the pack, or to allow the pack to have a comfortable ride even when not using the full capacity space. The side compression straps form an M shape on both sides of the pack. 7mm webbing is used for the straps, which means they are relatively small – but very lightweight. The pack also has two straps that connect to the top pocket that can be used to really tighten the load.

The Exos 58 has a built hydration system that is separate from the main compartment. It has a sewn-in internal sleeve and features and two exit ports on either side. Plus there straps on both shoulder harness straps where the tube from a bladder can be easily run.

There are pockets on each side of the waist belt, which provides easy on the go access of snacks and items. There are two sleeping pad straps on the bottom of the pack and the pack features attachment points for two ice tools. What is nice is that not only does the pack have tool loops, but also features a bungee tie-off mechanism to secure the axe to the pack.

View of side pockets built into the hipbelt

One of the most interesting aspects of the pack is that it has a “Stow on the Go” system for trekking poles. There are two bungee loops that can be used to secure trekking poles on the side of the pack. The system is designed to be used so that the pack can stay on while the poles are stored.

View of the venting system.

Initial Report
March 7, 2009

Initial Impressions:
Wow! Where to start? This pack has lots and lots of features. The first thing that I notice was how light the pack feels. For a pack that can handle 3700 cu in (61 L) this pack feels like a day pack. The suspension system is something that really jumps out at me as well. The aluminum frame is completely visible. In thinking in terms of external vs. internal frame, I would say that the Exos is designed as having an internal frame system that is visible like an external system. The mesh backpanel is also very interesting as my back only comes into contact with the mesh backing. Thus it would appear that this pack will provide excellent ventilation.

View of the Osprey logo and axe and sleeping pad loops

The shoulder straps are sewn into the back panel, thus the pack cannot be adjusted for size. Meaning that the size you get (S, M, or L) is what you get. I actually have found that, for me the pack could be a little bit longer. When just trying it on I feel like the waist belt wants to try and ride up just a little bit and I have found that I have had to adjust the sternum strap to its lowest position on the pack. The waist belt and the shoulder straps seems to be very comfortable as the mesh covered foam is soft seems to cinch down nicely on my chest and waist. The waist belt features a really small “skeleton’ buckle. Which is sort of a pet peeve of mine now. As manufacturers look to shave overall weight, the buckles are a logical place to start, however I like big buckles that are easy to adjust and snap closed.
The pack also has some great items that I like to see on packs. For example pockets on the hipbelt so that I can access food on the go and with ease. Multiple tool attachments, so I can carry an ice axe and a second tool. Side pockets for carrying things like tent poles – I like to feel confident that they will not slowly slide out of the compression straps.

Features to Test
Some items that I want to explore during the testing period: The “Stow on the Go” system for trekking poles is very unique. I really hope to see just how practical this is. Since the frame is exposed, I will be curious to see how well it can take abuse in the field. The same goes for the meshed backpanel – will it hold up over time?

Initial Likes and Dislikes:

Likes: The big side pockets on the waist belt for easy access to lots of stuff.

Dislikes: Nothing yet!

Field Report
May 19, 2009

Field Locations and Conditions:
I have used the pack on multiple outings. I have taken a couple of trips to Mt. Rainier National Park and hiked up to Camp Muir (10,000 ft 3000 m). I have done an overnight trip up the Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie River, where, due to road closures, I ended up biking in 10 miles (17 km) just to get to the trail head with the Exos and all of my overnight gear – tent, sleeping bag and various gear. I have also done three hikes in my local hiking destination area of the Issaquah Alps. My local trips consisted of Squawk Mountain (9 miles 13 km, 2,000 ft – 600 m of gain) where I took two separate trips and Tiger Mountain where I took one trip (6 miles 10 km - 2,000 ft – 600 m of gain).

Typically my pack weights have ranged from 20 to 60 pounds (9 to 27 kg). The trip in which I carried the heaviest load was on one of my trips up to Camp Muir. This was mainly due to the fact that I carried gear from others in my group. The weight of my pack was right around 60 lbs (27 kg) after picking up my group members gear.

Field Performance:
I was a little bit worried about the pack being a little bit too short for me, based upon initial fitting. However once weight is put in the pack it seems to ride quite well. The back mesh panel is comfortable and seems to ride well. I also was not quite sure what to think about having a pack in which the size of the back frame is not adjustable. As the shoulder straps are sewn directly into the pack with no adjusting mechanism in the frame, thus the size you see is the size you get. However I have been presently surprised to find no issues with this. The sizing seems to work just fine for my body – a comfortable fit. The pack doesn’t move around nor have I experienced any rubbing or other issues. I really like the foam molded straps as I find them to be very comfortable. I think the best test of comfort was found during my bike ride with a full pack. I felt the pack gave me a very smooth ride, moved well with my body and never left me feeling off balance. As for me, that seems to be a very common ocurance for most packs I have used while riding with 20 lbs (9 kg) or more of weight. The Exos did not pull at my shoulders or cause a redistribution of the weight.

The best thing about the Exos is the plethora of straps and ways to store my gear. I think they designed the storage just for me, as I have a place for my ice axe, shovel, helmet, treking poles and ice tool! Those are items that I typically take with me on my trips. I can strap any of those items to the pack and have it securely fastened without having to use extra bungee cords or straps. Ice axe, snow shovel, tent poles, mattress pad, trekking poles, everything is easy to attach and secure. One of my pet peeves is having items fall out of my pack or start to flop around during a hike. I really like the two mesh side pockets, as the pockets in conjunction with the side compression strap make it so I can really secure items. The hip pockets are also nice and big and easy to access while in motion.

The easy way to store a shovel with the Exos

I did use the trekking pole straps to carry my poles while in motion. It actually worked out quite well. I would have thought for sure that the poles would have gotten in my way while hiking, however when stowed I hardly noticed they were there.

Really the only thing that I have not liked about the pack is the fact that they use the tiny hollow buckles! On this pack I feel like Osprey has taken weight savings on the buckles to the extreme as on the compression straps the webbing is very small as well as the buckles.

Field Summary:
So far this pack has been incredible. It provides a super smooth and comfortable ride. The size is great the compression straps and design make it easy to adjust the pack to fit the size of the load. Thus even when not carrying a full load I can make it so the pack does not feel bulky at all, yet it can be quickly expanded to carry a large load. The ability to secure items on this pack is amazing.

Items for Continued Testing:
I have some longer trips planned in which I will be carrying some much larger loads, which should provide me with some great insight to the packs ability to carry weight and how my body feels wearing the pack over a few days of hiking. Plus I will be carrying some additional weight with an assortment climbing gear.

Field Likes and Dislikes:

Likes: Securing things is a super easy with the assortment of great straps and pockets.

Dislikes: The small hollow waist buckle - I can live with the small buckles on the other straps, but on the waist belt I would prefer a large buckle.

Long-Term Report
July 22, 2009

Long-Term Report Locations and Conditions:
I used the Exos on various trips during the long –term report. I made three trips to my local Terrain – one trip to Little Si (5 miles - 9km - 1,000 ft - 300 m of gain) and two trips to Tiger Mountain (6 miles, 10 km - 2,000 ft – 600 m of gain). I also used the Exos on two overnight climbing trips. I will focus on these two trips as it provided a much better picture of what the Exos 58 is capable of. The first trip was Eldorado Peak in the North Cascades. The high point of the trip was 8867 ft. 2703 m. In total I did about 13 miles (22 km) and 7800 ft (2400 m) of elevation gain. I carried around 40 pounds (18 kg)with full water bladder. The second trip was a summit trip on Mt. Rainier. The high elevation was 14,410ft (4392 m). I went up the Emmons Glacier route. I camped at Camp Sherman, which is at 9,200 ft (2800 m) and then climbed the peak the following day. All in all the total elevation gain was 10,200 ft (2804 m). The total trip is something like 16 miles (25 km), I think . I had almost an identical pack in terms of gear for this trip as the Eldorado trip.

Full pack and the Exos on the boulder fields

Long-Term Performance:
On the these trips I did notice a few items that were not as noticeable on some of my shorter trips. On the Eldorado trip, there were some large sections of the trail that traveled over a large boulder field. The Exos 58 rides pretty well, however I felt like at times when scrambling over a boulder the entire pack would move to one side or the other, which made me off balance a little bit, throughout this section of the trail. It was almost like the pack would move well for smaller dips and movements, but a bigger move the pack would sort of whip itself around - which I could really feel. The way the pack is designed with the internal frame system, I think it lends itself to this problem. The system works great most of the time, but the occasional big movement can lead to me feeling not so nimble. Most of the time this works just fine, but in a more technical setting can be a little bit annoying. Also after a long day, I felt like I was constantly working to keep the weight of the pack on my waist. I was constantly adjusting the waist belt and shoulder straps after several hours of hiking. I would chalk this up to the super small waist strap and buckles. (Small buckles have always been a big complaint of mine on all packs and the Exos has lots of them!.

Loaded Exos on the Inter Glacier on the way up to Camp Sherman on Mt. Rainier

The outside pockets were again wonderful. Heading up Rainier, I was able to pull out my water bottles from the side pockets on both trips with ease. I was also able to put them back in without help, which on a rope team is very critical indeed! I was also able to access, place and clean ice pickets on both of the overnight trips. Again a huge plus to be able to do this without having to take off my pack. On my Rainier trip I frequently used the stowing mechanism for my treking poles and the system worked great. I probably had them in and out for about 4 miles (8 km) they were out of the way and did not interfere with my stride at all. As I have mentioned before I really like the storage system that is in place as it seems to fit well with my gear and trips. I had water bottles, tent poles, pickets, shovel handle and ski poles all in the outside pockets at one point, plus my ice axe stored with the ice axe loop and my shovel blade stored in the shovit pocket.

I haven't noticed any issues with wear and tear on the pack. My trip up Eldorado featured a pretty rough trail in which the pack was constantly being snagged by tree branches and was being scrapped by brush the entire hike up. All of the straps are working great, even the super small m side pull straps. Also the frame and back panel seem to be doing well.

Long-Term Summary:
All in all I have been impressed with the Exos 58. I have found that is it lightweight and can handle a load of around 40-45 lbs (18 - 20 kg) with relative ease. The Exos is comfortable to wear and for my style of adventures boasts some fantastic pockets and loading systems. It has some of the items that I think are a must - such as side hip pockets for easy access to food and a separate water bladder compartment and tube system.

The Exos on its way to the Eldorado Summit

Continued Use:
I will continue to use the Exos 58 as my main overnight and climbing pack. It performed very well on my two climbing trips and I know that it will be used for many more trips to come. I really like the size and the weight of the pack. It will be my pack of choice for these types of trips, which I think says it all about the backpack.

This concludes my test series. Thank you to both BackpackGearTest and to Osprey Packs for this fantastic opportunity to test the Exos 58 Backpack.

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Reviews > Packs > Internal and External Framed Backpacks > Osprey Exos 58 Backpack > Test Report by David Heyting

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