View Full Version : Osprey back pack selection

02-13-2014, 06:50
Good morning Vietnam!

After having some awesome success from peeps on whiteblaze. I thought I'd try my luck and ask what you guys think about my backpack selections. I have herad good things about Osprey packs and wondered if you could help me make decisons on pack size and weight and whether I should go for more / less hip belt padding.

I spoke to a great fella called Graham from the UK last night who did the hike in 2006. He gave me some great advice and kindly spent over an hour of his own time helping answer a load of questions. He recommended a pack between 60 and 70L.

I have been looking at packs between 48 and 70L for my thru hike and wondered if you guys can help me confirm what is most suitable as well.
The packs in question are as follows:

1. http://www.ospreyeurope.com/gb_en/pack-selector/aether-70?

This has a detachable top lid which an be used as a bum bag / vanny pack (I think that's what you guys call it). This could be useful for putting my valuables in when I reach a shelter and have to then go off and find water / want to go check out a view without my pack.
The pack also has excellent padding around the hip belt, but is heavy at 2.29 kg / 5LB!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Medium). I need a large, but as I could only find weights for the medium I thought it was a good comparison.

2. http://www.ospreyeurope.com/gb_en/pack-selector/kestrel-58
This pack has a built in rain cover and is the cheaper of all three options. It also has a reasonably well padded hip belt.
It weighs in at 1.72KG / 3.8LB (Medium). I need a large, but as I could only find weights for the medium I thought it was a good comparison.

3. http://www.ospreyeurope.com/gb_en/pack-selector/exos-58
This pack isn't out until February, but I hear that it's predecessor was awesome. (https://www.cotswoldoutdoor.com/osprey-exos-58-rucksack-62110511?id_colour=122)
The pack features much less padding around the hip belt, but is only 1.09 kg / 2.4LB (Medium). I need a large, but as I could only find weights for the medium I thought it was a good comparison.

If anyone has used any of these packs any advice would be much appreciated

Kind Regards,


02-13-2014, 08:14
What is your pack weight?

I used an Exos 58 for all my AT hiking and love it, but it is meant for a very different weight range, especially vs the Aether which is something of a heavy hauler.

02-13-2014, 08:16
Size wise, for me, anything over much over 50L is getting too big for a thru - the natural tendency is if I have a bigger bag, I'll put more "stuff" in it, things I don't need really. Then you also need to have an idea of how much weight you'll be carrying and the actual packed volume of at least your major items (sleep/shelter system, cooking, ...). I've used an Atmos 50 for years, has been my workhorse, love it; it carries a relatively heavy load well, took me a while to get used to packing it though with the curvature but I do like the thing. And I would suggest to try on the the packs you're interested in with weight in them to see how they feel. Just because a certain pack from a mfg works for one person doesn't mean it suits another person just as well. Try some different ones on. There's lots of suggestions already on Whitreblaze (ULA, Gossamer Gear, GoLite, HMG, etc), although some may be hard to find in the UK, and again, depends on the weight you'll be carrying. If I only had the 3 bags you listed to choose from, I'd go with the Exos; however, I'd go with the 48 but I'm a small guy and my sleeping pad, quilt are sized for me and pack up small. You may need the 58, that's determined by the volume you would need, not what volume myself or others would need. Hope that makes sense and helps a little.

02-13-2014, 08:50
Given your selections, take the Exos

my strategy is smaller & lighter is better. See if you can make the Exos 48 work

02-13-2014, 08:50
My pack base weight including the Exos 58 is about 20Lb's. I have tried to go lightweight wherever possible. I respect some of the lightweight ninjas, but have opted for comfort in some cases i.e. a tarp tent v's just a tarp. I figured it' better to get a good nights sleep v's a super lightweight outfit, but that's only my opinion!

I think it's best to go to the outfitters armed with all my kit and then see what fits. My kit list looks like this so far.

I have a Stratospire Tarp tent - 1 person
Zpacks 20F sleeping bag
Exped downmat lite 5
MSR cookset
Cooking utensils
MSR pocket rocket stove
1 Zpacks dry bag plus conatining my clothes (2X baselayers - leggins and tops, 2X Smartwool pants and socks, 1Xcamp socks, 1Xtrekking zip knee trousers, 2X midweight baselayers, 1X Merino T-shirt, 1X Rab Xenon insulated hoodie, 1Xfinger less merino gloves + 1Xtuffbag waterprof mitts + 1Xliners, 3X bandanas, 1XMontane Polartech hat and 1XMontane Minimus shell and 1Xwaterproof trousers)
Leki Thermalite treeking poles
Platipus gravityworks water filter + Aqua marina
Platipus 2 litre hydration sack
First aid kit + wash stuff
ATguide + compass
Bushcraft knife
Morphy Juice pack

I have yet to include a few luxury items i.e. Kindle

This excludes food and water. I have ordered a Zpacks bear bag kit that will hold up to 5 days worth of food. I think that food is approx 2lb / day. Therefore 5 days = 10lbs
1L of Water is approx 1 Kg. 1Kg is 2.2LB's. My hydration pack is 2L so I will be carrying 4.4lb's.

Therefore my total weight including all my kit, food and water should be about 34-35lb's.

Will the Exos 58 deal with all of my equiptment and supplies and will it handle the weight?

Kind Regards,


02-13-2014, 09:04
should be ok with the Exos up to about 35 lbs but you're starting to reach limits. You can also shave some oz if you want by splitting the AT guide up, etc. It does seem like you're carrying a lot of clothing though, but that's just me. May just be the wording but it looks like you're carrying 6 sets of thermals (2x baselayers (leggins and tops), 2x smartwool pants, 2x mid weight base layers)? You could cut back on that quite a bit, or if you're not sure you could use a bounce box. And once you get to Pearisburg you can lighten up a bit - you won't need as many clothes for summer so you can bounce them to VT.

02-13-2014, 09:12
Whichever one you try, load all your gear in it and put it on, hike around, up and down the stairs if you have to. It's only the right pack for you if it carries well and fits you comfortably. I LOVE Osprey packs, but none of them fit me right, so I don't have one. Interesting you can get the Kestrel 58 there, Osprey doesn't have the 58 in their line up here anymore. I bought one but it didn't fit right, gave it to my son's dad.

02-13-2014, 09:33
Thanks for your reply.

Let me clarify on the baselayers. Basically I have a set of lightweight 200gm Icebreaker leggins and a simlar weight top for hiking and a a thicker 260gm set for camp.
I also have 2x mid weight base layers. Again 1 for hiking and 1 for camp.
I thought this was sensible just in case my daytime clothes get wet.

By pants I mean underpants. Maybe that's where the confusion lies?? Or do you think that what I have put above is overkill.
I plan to use the bounce box strategy for sending on my clothing as well as things like protein shakes and pemetherine / deet etc.
I was planning on sending on the later 2 items once I land in the US and I don't think I can do it from the UK. Is this a straight forward process and are there any good trail towns you would recommend sending my quip to?

Let me know what you think.

Kind Regards,


Almost There
02-13-2014, 09:54
Been hiking with the Exos 58 since it was first introduced. It is my go-to, solo summer pack. Someone said up to 35...30 and under, or it will start to hurt/fail. I love the pack for the summer, and could probably make it work on a thru-hike, but I've been using it for a few years. If you're not used to lightweight hiking, I would go with the Aether. I also have an Aether 70 that I use for Winter hiking because I place comfort over weight in the winter time....if you're unsure of your needs I would go with the 70 as it will handle all you need comfortably. I'm about to go and buy a bigger Osprey Xenith as I embark on trips with my soon to be 5 year old son. Love the Screamin' Eagle!

02-13-2014, 09:59
One aspect to remember of course is that you're only fully loaded for the 1st day after full resupply, gets lighter quickly as you go along, so I personally don't mind pushing or even exceeding my pack's weight limits for a day. that being said, as was commented on below, the 58L pack is a bit large IMHO, where the 46L version is plenty big for my kit, at least. More space, more stuff!

I've been an Osprey disciple for many, many years, I love their stuff (plus the company is based in Colorado...), and my current is the Exos 46. But: I finally "discovered" the ULA line of packs, and the big deal with these to me is that the ULA line has a much more significant hip belt making the same total-weight pack carry easier than the Osprey. Plus the pack itself is lighter, significantly, at least the OHM 2.0 (even the beefier ULA Circuit is lighter, I believe). Plus you can get different sizing on the hip belt vs. the pack body (I have skinny hips, need the small belt, but long torso, so the large pack). Huge hip-belt packets too; I carry a full day's worth of trail food, AT guide, sunscreen and other misc items in these, probably over a pound, nice to have that weight right on the hips and not the back. Osprey hip pockets are ridiculously small.

Not sure if you have considered these ULA packs or not, but might be worth a look if you can get them in the UK. If nothing else, you can check them out when you get to Damascus; Mt. Rogers gear shop carries the full line.

I do also own and use the Aether (maybe the 85L?), but only for full-on cold-weather mountain climbing expeditions where we carry ~2 weeks of food and the pack weight is 75+ pounds to start. Way overkill for warm weather AT hiking, I don't care how non-lightweight your kit is.

Anyway, have a fine time in the USA! I'm looking forward to some good walking time in the late summer in the UK myself (well, Scotland... that's still the UK, right?)

02-13-2014, 10:04
+1 on the ULA backpacks. I carry a Catalyst, but it seems like most thru-hikers who carry ULA carry the OHM or Circuit. http://www.ula-equipment.com/category_s/1836.htm

02-13-2014, 10:22

Osprey packs are awesome and I own two, but they are not the lightest. Have you considered a Zpacks Blast? The Osprey packs that you are considering weigh approx 1.2kg, the Zpacks is under half that. Someone mention the ULA range which also receives excellent reviews and here's a link to a UK shop that sells them if this is the direction that you decide to go: Ultralight Outdoor Gear http://www.ultralightoutdoorgear.co.uk/equipment-c3/rucksacks-c19/all-rucksacks-c134

Not sure of your Thru start date, but I think that you can get some weight reduction. Perhaps repost with weights. There is also a website where hikers post their pack lists. (not sure where) This may be a good place to visit to compare - perhaps someone on WB can post the link for you.

02-13-2014, 10:28
Cool! They do sell those ULA packs in the UK then. One note: do not believe those sizes, like they call the OHM 2.0 a 64 liter pack; that includes loading up the outside pockets fully, see the ULA website for details. I consider the OHM 2.0 to be on par size-wise with a 50 liter Osprey I own (the old Atmos).

really though, in my post below, I am not trying to talk you out of Osprey packs, they are the 2nd best that I've owned, I just wanted to mention the ULA line.

02-13-2014, 10:36
Have you tried the Exos with a full load? I really, really wanted to love that pack, but it seems designed for very skinny people with no hips. (That might be you, of course. It's not me.) It also failed for me at loads approaching 30 pounds. Your base weight of 20 is too much for that pack, IMHO.

The Aether 70 is kind of big but it will definitely carry 40 pounds. You might try the Aether 60, that has been a very popular AT thru-hiking pack. I wore and Aether 60 for several years of hiking. I have a Kestrel day pack and I really like the suspension, though I haven't tried the 58.

If there is any way to try them on with a load, that will help you decide on the one that fits and carries the best on *your* back.

Good luck.

Edit: +1 on the ULA packs, the Catalyst would be a reasonable choice for your base weight and it will keep you from carrying too much stuff :)

02-13-2014, 10:50
If you're stuck on osprey, look at the Atmos 50 - I've carried 35lbs in mine no prob. The back is a bit heavier at 3lbs but it fits me and carries well

Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

02-13-2014, 12:58
A big thanks for all your advice. I took a look at the ULA Catalyst, but it claims that 30LBs is near it's limit. It looks a great pack, but I can only get it on mail order. Whereas with the Osprey packs I should be able to try them in store as peeps have advised.
I have ordered some gear from Joe at Zpacks. Great company and good advice given. Although again I figured that it would be easier for me to get a pack from the Uk so I can easily check the fit without the pain of dealing with any unwanted returns.

I think I will just take my kit into the outfitters and see what works with the different packs.

Thanks guys.

Kind Regards,


02-13-2014, 14:01
I would not buy a pack that you cannot try on. I have several lightweight packs from small companies that in the end just don't work for me. I'm currently using an Osprey Exos 58 and really like it. I wanted the Atmos, but after trying them both, the fit of the Exos for me was much better. The good thing about the Exos 58 is that if you don't need all of the space, just leave the lid at home.

02-13-2014, 14:22
Cool! One note: do not believe those sizes, like they call the OHM 2.0 a 64 liter pack; that includes loading up the outside pockets fully, see the ULA website for details. I consider the OHM 2.0 to be on par size-wise with a 50 liter Osprey
You are right on the money there. Pack size/capacity should be rated by the main compartment size. The outside pockets, unless they are tacked on, actually can rob space from the main. And at some time or another you are going to want as much of your gear as possible inside because of weather and other concerns.

Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-N900A using Tapatalk

02-13-2014, 14:34
I started my AT thru-hike with an Osprey Aether 70 L jammed with 50+ lbs of gear and 12 days food. Great Bomber dependable pack as are all the Osprey packs I've seen or owned. I've seen many an Atmos, Exos, and Kestrels on hiker's backs. 90% of the hikers using these backpacks I've spoken too like those backpacks.

There is something you should be aware of though. You will change. You will evolve. Your gear knowledge, hiking style/hiking philosophy, body, mind, etc etc etc will evolve on an AT thru-hike just as you will continue to evolve as a hiker and a person. We evolve in spits and spurts as we evolve in gaining new knowledge in piecemeal fashion. In other words, we don't get to know everything in one big lump sum. This will happen to you on your AT thru-hike as well. Embrace that. It's OK.

Within 40 days I was using a Granite Gear Vapor Trail, a new MontBell 30* down sleeping bag, had eliminated 3.5 lbs of clothing, and was never carrying more than 6 days trail food. I obviously changed and the seasons(hiking conditions) changed and those changes were reflected in my gear and hiking logistics.

Start with the smallest volume backpack you can(about, give or take, a 55 L) or possibly be prepared to go to a smaller volume backpack from the Aether 70 L at some pt. Let the rest of it unfold as you are ready to embrace it.

Met Graham in 2006. Nice guy.

02-14-2014, 12:22
I have a sort of follow up question on this, and I hope I'm not hijacking the OP's thread here,

but does anyone who has an Aether have any regrets?

I see a lot of comments (not necessarily in this thread) about it being comfortable, but too heavy. I've worn it for a short time comparing it to the atmos and found the difference in comfort reason enough for me to ignore the extra weight.

02-14-2014, 12:43
I have a sort of follow up question on this, and I hope I'm not hijacking the OP's thread here,

but does anyone who has an Aether have any regrets?

I see a lot of comments (not necessarily in this thread) about it being comfortable, but too heavy. I've worn it for a short time comparing it to the atmos and found the difference in comfort reason enough for me to ignore the extra weight.
I have the aether 70 and I love it. I go with my kids a lot so I need to carry a 4 person tent and a lot of other stuff for 4 people instead of 1 so I need the extra space. I'm always looking for another smaller/lighter pack for solo trips, but I leave the top at home right now when I go solo. But since switching to a quilt and other smaller/lighter gear it is still ridiculously too big for one person for a week or so. Nothing really against the pack at all and at times I have needed every inch of space in it, but it is just too big for one persons gear unless you are really packing heavy or bulky items.

02-14-2014, 13:42
I have a sort of follow up question on this, and I hope I'm not hijacking the OP's thread here,

but does anyone who has an Aether have any regrets?

I see a lot of comments (not necessarily in this thread) about it being comfortable, but too heavy. I've worn it for a short time comparing it to the atmos and found the difference in comfort reason enough for me to ignore the extra weight.
it's individual; what feels good to one may not feel good to another; go with what is comfortable for you; if it's not comfortable, it doesn;t matter how much or little it weighs; weight is just one factor. I love my atoms 50; i had the bigger versions of Osprey for winter that I got rid since I didn't like the carry and wt like the Atmos so I switched out for CILO Gear 75L, which I love. So even the same mfg can have different "feels"

02-14-2014, 14:02
Right, if you like the Aether, use it in good health :). It's a fine pack.

The Aether 60 worked well for me when I was carrying 40 or 45 pounds hiking with my wife and our very young daughter. Since I have transitioned to a much lower pack weight, it's overkill for what I need.

02-14-2014, 17:06
Ditto wrt comments about the Aether 60. Very comfortable pack when I first got back to hiking (2004), but way overkill now. I love my older Atmos 50 (2005), but will give a serious look at the newer 2014 Exos 48. :)

02-14-2014, 23:26
If I was doing extensive backcountry Alaska or maybe southern S. America off trail backpacking having to haul 12+ days of food and winter gear I would consider using an Osprey Aether 70 L.

lemon b
02-15-2014, 07:55
I use an atmos 65, base weight 22 lbs. Been close to 50 with food and water. Comfortable pack, Onky semi complaint is hip belt pockets are small. Replaced the stock tie down on main Pack. Some people discard the top. I like it.