The Osprey Packs Exos 58 is a lightweight, multi-day backpack that’s excellent for long distance thru-hiking, weekend backpacking and other multi-sport trips. Weighing a mere 2 pounds 10 ounces in a size medium (torso length 18″-21″), the Exos 58 has a rigid but lightweight aluminum frame and a ventilated back panel that will keep you comfortable even when you need to haul extra gear and food. Loaded with capabilities and easy to customize, the Exos 58 is a very well thought out pack that can be used year-round for a wide variety of adventures.
Organization and Storage
The Osprey Exos 58 is very different from most other ultralight and lightweight backpacks since it’s configured with a floating top lid instead of a dry-bag style roll top. In addition to extra pocket storage (one pocket on top and one inside), the floating lid lets you sandwich extra gear between the lid and the top of the pack’s main compartment so you can carry extra technical equipment or supplies that won’t fit inside your pack. Top lids are a great feature, especially when you travel or hike and backpack in winter and want convenient access to hats, gloves, snacks, and navigation gear.
If you don’t need the floating lid, you just need to detach three hooks to remove it instead of fussing with a bunch of straps and buckles. Putting the lid back on is also a snap. Removing the top lid reduces the weight of the pack by another 4.2 ounces bringing the medium-sized Exos 58 down to 2 pounds 5.8 ounces.
There’s a nylon flap under the top lid that is permanently attached to the pack, what Osprey calls a FlapJacket, that covers the drawstring opening of the main compartment. When you remove the top lid, the FlapJacket is used to protect the main compartment from rain in its stead. The rear of the FlapJacket also clips into the same rear straps and buckles used by the top lid so you’re not left with any extra straps or buckles to get in the way.
While the Exos 58, also has good open storage in the form of side and rear mesh pockets, the main compartment is where the bulk of this pack’s capacity is. With close to 3500 inches of room, you can put a ton of gear and food inside. Being a mainstream manufacturer, Osprey computes the volume of their packs using industry norms and only counts covered and zippered storage when they calculate backpack volume. If you are comparing the volume of the Exos 58 with a pack from a cottage backpack maker, be aware that they often add in open and closed pocket volumes, so the Exos 58 may feel quite a bit larger.
With the exception of a hydration pocket, hang loop, and top compression strap, there’s nothing inside the Exos 58 main compartment like a sleeping bag compartment or interior pockets to break up the seemingly cavernous space. Still it’s easy to see inside the main compartment because lightly colored fabric panels help channel light to the pack’s interior.
In addition to the main compartment, the Exos 58 has two stretch side mesh pockets which can be used to store water bottles. Each pocket is reinforced with solid fabric on the bottom for better durability and has a holster-style opening cut in front, so you can orient your water bottles sideways if you prefer. The mesh is not strong enough however, for off-trail travel and I would recommend you stay on trails with this pack in order to keep the pockets from tearing.
There is also a rear mesh shovel pocket on the back of the pack which is useful for carrying items that you want easy access to, without requiring that you stop and open your backpack. I can’t live without a rear mesh pocket like this and use it to stuff light layers and snacks that I want easily accessible during the day.
External Attachment Points and Compression System
The Osprey Exos 58 has one Z-style side compression strap on each side of the pack. The strap can be threaded in front of or through the side water bottle pocket, which is handy because they won’t get in the way if you run them outside the pocket. Still, I’m not a huge fan of the Z-style threading pattern because I think it makes it difficult to strap gear to the side of a pack and release it.
But don’t let the Z-style straps deter you from rigging up two horizontal compression straps instead. One of the great things about the Exos 58 is the distribution of gear loops around the perimeter pockets, the pack bag seams, and even the top lid, making it easy to rig up your own custom compression system with an extra cord lock and some guyline or a piece of webbing.
The other key attachment point on the Exos 58 is the sleeping pad strap on the bottom of the pack, a feature which has largely disappeared from the lightweight backpacking market. While the strap is optional and can be removed, it’s super handy to have if you’re a hammock camper or a winter camper and carry a bulky foam pad to sleep with/on at night.
Backpack Frame and Suspension
The Osprey Exos 58 is a trampoline-style backpack. Breathable mesh is suspended in front of the back panel creating a ventilated space behind your back that’s designed to evaporate sweat before it can soak your shirt. The mesh is tightly stretched across the aluminum frame, hence the name trampoline, which also serves to anchor the hip belt and load lifters.
The aluminum frame on the Exos 58 is the secret sauce that “makes” this pack. It’s super lightweight and super stiff, providing great load transfer to the hips, so you can really load up this pack and still get a very responsive carry. The nice thing about an aluminum frame is that the torso won’t collapse, causing the torso length to shorten when you load the pack to capacity, which can be an issue with other lightweight packs.
The shoulder straps and hip belt are both covered with a stretchy mesh fabric that is soft and helps wick moisture to prevent rubbing and chafing. While they’re both well padded, they’re not overly padded, so they conform to the shape of your collarbone, shoulders, and hips and don’t slip.
All good so far, but there’s one thing about the Exos 58 that I don’t particularly like and that’s the length of the hip belt, which I think is too short. This isn’t just a sizing issue with the Exos 58, but a sizing issue that I repeatedly encounter with Osprey Packs that don’t have adjustable hip belts.
I’d like to see this pack made available with an adjustable hip belt that will fit a 34″-38″ waist because I see too many people wearing Osprey hip belts that are much too short. Ideally, front part of the hip belt padding should wrap around the front of your hip bones as well as the side and rear. If they only wrap around the back of your hips, which happens when the hip belt is too short, you won’t be as comfortable or get the load transfer you would expect.
For example, if your torso length is 18″-21″ (a size medium), the largest hip belt you can get for the Exos 58 is 30″-34″ long (a size medium). If you need a bigger hip belt than that, you have to get the pack in a 21″-23″ inch torso length, even though that torso length may be way too long for you. I have a 19″ torso and a 36″ waist, which is pretty average for a man my age, so I’d have to use a hip belt that’s really too short if I wanted to use the Exos 58 as a pack. My advice: make sure you check the sizing carefully.
- Lightweight and high capacity (58 L)
- Easy to remove top lid w/ lightweight replacement lid
- Optional sleeping pad straps on bottom of the pack
- Lightweight perimeter frame provides great load transfer and control
- Soft and grippy mesh covered hip belt conforms well to hip bones
- Lightly colored fabric strips improve main compartment visibility
- Lots of external attachment points all around the pack make it possible to customize the compression system
- Hip belt is not adjustable and available in a wider range of sizes
- Hip belt and shoulder strap pockets are mesh only, not solid fabric
- Holster style cutouts in the side mesh pockets are less secure for stowing small items
- Single Z-style side compression strap can be awkward to use
The Osprey Packs Exos 58 Backpack is a nicely put together backpack that’s easy to configure for many different kinds of hiking and backpacking trips. Weighing just 2 pounds 10 ounces, it boasts a stiff aluminum frame and trampoline suspension that provides excellent comfort and control for loads up to 35-40 pounds. If you want a large but lightweight (58L) backpack with a real frame and a top lid, the Exos 58 is a great choice. Sizing can be a little tricky however, since the hip belt lengths available are tied to the torso length of the pack. If the Exos 58 fits you, great. It’s an excellent backpack. If it doesn’t, give it a pass.
Disclosure: The author owns this product and purchased it using their own funds.
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