Osprey Exos 58
Weight: 2 lbs. 10.4 oz. (M size)
Fabric: 100D & 210D nylon
Capacities: 38, 48, 58L
What we like: A well-made and highly breathable ultralight design.
What we don’t: Not a class leader in carrying comfort; no hipbelt pockets.
See the Men's Osprey Exos 58 See the Women's Osprey Eja 58
For a time, Osprey’s Exos 58 was the ultimate ultralight pack and a favorite among thru-hikers. The competition has grown significantly in recent years, but the latest model still is a compelling and well-made option among ounce-counters. However, it does come up short of class leaders in carrying comfort and is missing hipbelt pockets, which we find to be an extremely useful feature. Below we outline our experiences with the Exos 58. To see how it stacks up to the competition, see our article on the best backpacking packs.
Table of Contents
- Carrying Comfort
- Build Quality and Durability
- Fit and Sizing
- What We Like/What We Don't
- Comparison Table
- The Competition
Similar to its heavier sibling, the popular Atmos AG, the Osprey Exos 58’s flexible backpanel practical hugs you when you don the pack. The mesh gives the design a comfortable feel as soon as you put it on, and I found it to be a nice match for loads around 30 pounds and under. You also get a thin metal frame that provides some structure and helps distribute weight, and the padding on the hipbelt and shoulder straps have a nice overall feel.
However, despite these positive impressions, I wouldn’t call the Exos a standout in the comfort department, even among ultralight packs. The padding undoubtedly is high-quality, but it’s too thin to be comfortable if you push that 30-pound limit, especially at the hipbelt. We’ve found alternatives like the Granite Gear Crown2 60 and Gregory Optic 58 to be superior UL options from a comfort perspective. Interestingly, Osprey lists the Exos’s maximum carry weight at 40 pounds, and while the frame may be able to handle that load, we don’t recommend pushing it to that amount. And a final note on comfort: the mesh backpanel stretches the entire length of your back, which gives it a close and flexible feel. That said, the lack of padding along the lumbar can cause some chafing at the lower back when wearing a t-shirt. It won’t be an issue for some (myself included), but it was a notable complaint from our tester using the women’s Eja, which shares the same backpanel design.
At 2 pounds 10.4 ounces for my size medium, the Osprey Exos 58 is at the high end of the ultralight backpacking pack spectrum, but still is reasonable for everything from thru-hikes to short overnight trips. In the same weight class, Gregory’s Optic 58 clocks in at 2 pounds 8.3 ounces, Granite Gear’s Crown2 60 is 2 pounds 5.8 ounces, and REI Co-op’s Flash 55 weighs 2 pounds 10 ounces. There are even lighter options in the UL market—including the Gossamer Gear Mariposa (1 lb. 14.5 oz.) and Hyperlite 3400 Southwest (2 lbs. even)—but these are more pared-down designs that cost more. All in all, the Exos strikes us as a nice compromise. And you do have the option to strip down the pack by removing the top lid (there’s a flap underneath that secures over the main compartment) and compression and sleeping bag straps, which shaves around 5 ounces total.
As expected from an ultralight design, organization is limited to the basics: a large mesh front pocket, dual side water bottle holders, and a top lid with zippered storage on both the top and underside. Further, the only access to the main compartment is through the top lid, although it’s large and bear-canister-friendly. And the water bottle pockets in particular strike us as great design. They’re quite tall—approximately double the height of the average-sized pockets on our Gregory Optic—which makes them well-suited for storing more substantial items like a tent pole bag. And both pockets have a lower opening behind your elbows that can be accessed without removing the pack, which is great for on-the-go hydration. Rounding out the features, there’s an exit port, clip, and dedicated sleeve along the interior for storing a water reservoir and attachments at the back of the hip for stashing trekking poles.
The big omission with the Exos 58 is the lack of hipbelt pockets. The prior generation had them, and we were truly surprised when we found out that Osprey ditched them with the latest version. It appears they would be incompatible with the new wing-like hipbelt, but it nevertheless comes with a notable drop in convenience. We typically store everything from Chapstick and our phone to on-the-go snacks like Clif Bloks in these pockets and always find them useful. If we could change one thing with the current Exos, it would be bringing back storage on the hipbelt.
Osprey is a market leader in ventilation, and this holds true with the Exos. The trampoline-style backpanel is covered in mesh, and there’s enough separation between the pack and your body to generate a good amount of airflow. In addition, webbing traces the padding on the hipbelt and shoulder straps, and even the foam on both is covered in holes. The net result is a highly breathable pack that keeps you cool regardless of conditions. We still think Osprey’s own Atmos wins out in this regard (it features Osprey’s Anti-Gravity suspended mesh system), but the Exos isn’t far behind, which is impressive considering its low weight.
As we’ve come to expect from Osprey packs, the Exos 58 has a well-made look and feel. The overall construction is well-thought-out, and Osprey strategically incorporated burly and strong materials like the metal frame and substantial plastic buckles. That said, this is still an ultralight pack, so the materials are thin: you get 100-denier (D) nylon on the pack body and moderately thicker 210D nylon along the base. The prior generation used a similar mix, and we put a sizable slice in the side of the pack just from it tipping over on a large granite rock.
Needless to say, you’ll want to be careful with the Exos, but the design is about average in the overall market. Gregory’s Optic 58 and Granite Gear’s Crown2 60 have similar builds, while the REI Co-op Flash 55 is a bit tougher with a 420D bottom (its pack body is the same 100D). We tested the Exos on overnights in a wide range of locations, from Utah’s Canyonlands to a coastal hike in Washington state. A close inspection only shows light scuffs along the base of the pack where it sits on the ground, but everything else is holding up well.
The Osprey Exos 58 is sold in three sizes, which is a useful feature as it doesn’t offer a lot of fit customization (both the hipbelt and shoulder straps are fixed in place). I have an 18-inch torso, which puts me on the small end of the medium, and I found the fit to be spot-on. It was snug against my back and sat properly on my hips. As with many Osprey packs, I had a lot of excess strap hanging off the hipbelt, but this is something you can trim easily if you don’t plan to share the pack.
Other Capacities of the Osprey Exos
In addition to the 58-liter pack reviewed here, Osprey also makes the Exos in 38- and 48-liter variations. The 48-liter, in particular, strikes us as a versatile size: if you’re willing to pack light, this could be a great option for everything from overnight trips to thru-hikes. The Exos 48 is lighter at 2 pounds 9.1 ounces and $20 cheaper than the 58L version at $200, but it has the same max carry weight of 40 pounds and sports an identical feature set. Finally, the 38-liter model is a viable choice for those willing to pack light on shorter weekend outings and is rated for up to 30 pounds ($180; 2 lbs. 7.7 oz.).
Women’s-Specific Osprey Eja
The Exos is a men’s-specific design, but Osprey also offers the pack in a women’s model called the Eja. The Eja comes in the same capacities (38, 48, and 58L), which cost the same across the board. Stacked up against the Exos 58, the Eja 58 weighs slightly less at 2 pounds 8.5 ounces for the size small, comes in different colorways, and features a women’s-specific fit. Otherwise, the designs are identical including the removable floating lid, dual mesh side pockets, front stretch mesh pocket, and maximum carry weight of 40 pounds. We also reviewed the women’s Eja 48 and found it to be a good match for minimalist adventurers and thru-hikers, although the hipbelt did cause some pressure points and chafing on our tester’s lower back (see our in-depth review here).
- The Exos's suspended mesh backpanel is flexible and allows for a close fit, while promoting a lot of airflow between the pack and your body.
- Everything from the plastic buckles to the foam padding has a quality and well-made feel.
- Strippable features including the top lid and compression straps are a nice addition and enable you to shave even more weight.
- Offered in a nice array of capacity options including 38- and 48-liter variations, as well as women’s-specific designs.
What We Don’t
- Carrying comfort starts to decrease as you approach the 30-pound mark. In particular, the hipbelt padding is too thin for shuttling heavy loads.
- No hipbelt pockets.
- Fairly thin build. We haven’t had any issues yet, but the pack should nevertheless be treated with care.
|Osprey Exos 58||$220||2 lbs. 10.4 oz.||Nylon (100D & 210D)||38, 48, 58L||Top||5 exterior|
|REI Co-op Flash 55||$199||2 lbs. 10 oz.||Nylon (100D & 420D)||45, 55L||Top||9 exterior|
|Gregory Optic 58||$210||2 lbs. 8.3 oz.||Nylon (100D & 210D)||48, 58L||Top||6 exterior|
|Granite Gear Crown2 60||$200||2 lbs. 5.8 oz.||Nylon (100D & 210D)||38, 60L||Top||6 exterior|
|Gossamer Gear Mariposa 60||$270||1 lb. 14.5 oz.||Nylon (100D & 200D)||60L||Top||7 exterior|
|Osprey Levity 60||$270||1 lb. 15.2 oz.||Nylon (210D & 30D)||45, 60L||Top||4 exterior|
As we touched on above, Osprey’s Exos has been a popular backpacking pack among thru-hikers for years, and another intriguing ultralight design is REI Co-op’s Flash 55. Stacked up against the Exos, the REI is a bit lighter at 2 pounds 10 ounces, slightly more durable with a 420D bottom (the body is the same thickness at 100D), and includes hipbelt pockets and heavier padding along the hips and shoulders. Like the Exos, the REI’s lid and straps can be removed, but it includes even more strippable features including the shoulder strap and hipbelt pockets (REI call this their “Packmod” system). In the end, given these additions and $21-chepaer price tag, we give the edge to the more cushioned and customizable Flash.
Gregory’s Optic 58 is very similar in overall construction and execution to the Exos 58. Both are similarly durable with 100D bodies and 210D bottoms, close in weight (the Gregory comes in at 2 lbs. 8.3 oz.), and cost around the same (the Optic is $10 cheaper at $210). The Exos wins out in breathability with its more mesh-heavy backpanel, but the Optic has hipbelt pockets and is more comfortable to carry over long distances with its well-padded hipbelt and better lower back support. All in all, it’s a close call between two capable UL designs, but we think the Optic is the slightly more well-rounded pick (for more, see our in-depth Optic review).
Granite Gear’s Crown2 60 has been a favorite of ours for years and is one of the Exos’s long-time competitors. The two have similar constructions, including large mesh pockets along the front, removeable lids, and lightweight fabrics (the Crown2 also uses a mix of 100D and 210D nylon). The Exos wins out in breathability with its suspended mesh backpanel (the Crown2 uses foam), but the Granite Gear pack includes hipbelt pockets, which we think are an essential addition for stowing snacks and small items that you’ll want quick access to. Additionally, the Crown2 is more comfortable with substantial hipbelt padding and has a more customizable fit. In the end, for 4.6 ounces and $20 less, we think the Crown2 is the better all-around design.
For an even lighter design than the competitors mentioned above, Gossamer Gear’s Mariposa 60 is a true standout. At just 1 pound 14.5 ounces for a size medium with a medium hipbelt, the Mariposa manages to retain excellent organization and durability with a generously sized main compartment and seven external pockets (including hipbelt storage), as well as a fairly robust Robic nylon build (100D & 200D). Stacked up against the Exos, we found that the Gossamer Gear was able to handle a full load much more comfortably (we carried up to 35 lbs. without issue). The Mariposa will cost you an additional $50 compared to the Osprey, but for most ULers we think the performance benefits are worth the slight cost penalty.
Last but not least, Osprey offers an intriguing in-house alternative to the Exos in their Levity 60. Compared to the Exos, the Levity is lighter at 1 pound 15.2 ounces but felt noticeably more durable on the trail with a robust metal frame and 210 x 200D nylon covering a good portion of the pack body. However, like the Exos, the Levity forgoes hipbelt pocket and uses fairly thin padding that began to suffer as we exceeded 30 pounds (its ideal range is listed at 10-25 lbs.). Further, the Levity costs $50 more at $270. But despite the price penalty and lower weight capacity, we think the Levity is the more functional ultralight design.
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