Andrew Murphy is a 27-year-old, Raleigh, North Carolina based independent sales rep for multiple outdoor clothing brands. He is also a recent Appalachian Trail thru-hiker, photographer and adventurer.
Product Reviewed: Osprey Exos 48 – Size Large – Black/Green
Pack Color: Both the black/green and blue/white bags are spot on with the colors shown on the website.
Review Length of time: This bag was put to the test on the Appalachian Trail. I traversed 14 states, 2,189.2 miles in a time period of 137 consecutive days.
- 6 ft 1 in
- 205 lbs
- Torso Length: 20 in
- Waist Measurement: 35 in
Pack Sizing and Weight The pack fit perfectly well at the beginning of the trip. The torso length was the perfect length and it sat nicely on my hips. I ran into a problem when I got about three months into my trip. I was rapidly losing weight and the hip belt would not adjust tight enough to accommodate my weight loss. My solution was to tighten as much as possible, and continue to re-tighten as I hiked, keeping pack weight low. The pack weight (sans gear) is 2 lb 10 oz – 51 liters. My average pack weight (with gear) was 30 lbs (16 lbs of gear, 14 lbs of consumables). At times, it was necessary for me to add about five more pounds of food for longer stretches between towns. Although the pack structurally handled the extra weight, I would not recommend it. More than 30 pounds in this pack causes too much stress on shoulders, lower back and chaffing on hips. Especially at the end of the trip, when my hip belt was too large.
This pack is very minimal and I love how it reduces weight and over-packing tendencies! The main compartment is 51 liters (size L) and includes a hydration sleeve pocket, which I did not use at all.
Brain (flap jacket) It has one external zip pocket with one zip mesh pocket underneath. I used the external zip pocket for my quick access items (guidebook, lighter, knife, journal, pack cover). I did not use the zip mesh pocket underneath the brain.
Back Mesh Pocket Super durable and stretchy mesh. Good for holding items that you do not mind getting wet/dirty. Personal Uses: Crocs, Tyvek ground sheet, camera tripod, water scoop (cut off water bottle to access poor flow streams), and general stuff area for jackets, etc.
Side Pockets I used the opening in the bottom of the stretch pocket to access my water bottle while on the move. You can easily slide your water bottle back into the sleeve, top first, while hiking.
Hip Belt Mesh Zip Pockets I primarily used these two pockets for snacks and trash. They are generously-sized and over-stuffing them does not cause any issues with comfort on the hip belt.
Shoulder Strap Mesh Pockets I used the left shoulder strap pocket to carry my phone. I had an iPhone 5s in a Lifeproof Nuud case. Buy a Lifeproof Nuud case, it’s super burly. My phone stayed in that mesh pocket, powered on, while I walked through downpours. I never once had any issues, although using the screen while it’s wet is damn near impossible. Thanks Lifeproof! Also, any phone that is bigger than the iPhone 5s is too big for this shoulder pocket. These pockets also work well for snack/quick-access item storage.
Sleeping Pad Straps on Bottom These are designed awkwardly and will cause you to lose your mind if you use them. I removed mine after one week and carried my tent and sleeping pad internally…there is more than enough room.
Ice Pick Loop I found this good for storing trekking poles or an ice pick when you’re not using them. Easy to attach and remove on the go.
Overview/Performance I have been backpacking for 15 years, and not once has a pack fit my needs as perfectly as the Osprey Exos 48. I have used multiple versions of the Osprey Atmos 50, as well as similar internal and external frame backpacks from Kelty and ULA. This pack has the perfect minimal amount of features…enough to keep my quick access gear separated from my load gear, but not too many to make it tough to forget where I put everything, or cause me to overload my pack.
Comfort This bag is like wearing a Tempur-Pedic mattress. The shoulder straps and hip belt are plush enough to allow you to walk for 12 straight hours, but are streamlined enough to reduce heat and sweat retention. The same can be said about the airspeed frame, which allows enough air to escape, so you wont overheat.
Durability In one word: bombproof. My pack was overloaded a few times, and dropped even more times than that. I have minor holes and tears in the mesh pieces, and the logo treatments which is to be expected with consistent use. I had absolutely ZERO structural damage to the frame, or to the rip-stop nylons that make up the body of the pack.
Cons The only grief I have with this bag is the fixed-size hip belt. For a normal hiker, this should not be an issue, as you will likely not lose 30 pounds on your hiking endeavors. For me (and other prospective thru-hikers), expect to lose significant weight. I lost 30 lbs, and 4 inches off of my waist and not having an exchangeable hip belt ruined the comfort of the bag. By the end of the trip, my pack would slide down my hips and cause chaffing because I simply could not get the hip belt tight enough. There is honestly nothing else that I deem to be a ‘con’ about this bag. It is near-perfectly designed and sold at an accessible price point. You should get many, many miles out of it.