Osprey Eja 58 Women’s Backpack Review
The Osprey Eja 58 is an ultralight ventilated backpack made for women. Weighing 2 lbs 8 oz, the Eja 58 is a women’s specific version of the Osprey Exos 58, which is the most most popular backpack used by thru-hikers and lightweight backpackers because it combines the organizational layout of a top-lid backpack, lightweight materials, and a rigid internal frame capable of hauling heavy loads.
The Eja’s women’s specific features are threefold: it has a narrower frame that allows for greater freedom of movement and increases stabilization by lowering the position of the load to a more optimal center of gravity on the hips. The shoulder harness and sternum strap are designed with varying padding thicknesses to create an anatomical fit for a woman’s neck, shoulders, and chest. Finally, the hip belt is narrower in height for better comfort and angled because women’s hips are conically shaped with a larger difference between the waist and hip measurements.
Specs at a Glance
- Volume: 58L, also available in 48L and 38L
- Weight: 2 lbs 8 oz. (size women’s small, tested)
- Optional removable top lid: 5.4 ounces
- Ventilated: Yes
- Top lid: Yes
- Type: Internal frame
- Pockets: 5, plus the main compartment
- Torso sizes available: XS (14″-17″). S (16″-19″), M (18″-21″)
- Hip belt sizes available: XS (24″-45″), S (24″-45″), M (27″-48″)
- Bear canister compatible: yes
- Maximum recommended load: 30-35 lbs
- Materials: 100d and 210d high tenacity nylon
Backpack Frame and Suspension System
The Osprey Eja 58 is a ventilated backpack. Breathable mesh is suspended in front of the back panel creating a ventilated cavity behind your back that’s designed to evaporate sweat before it can soak your shirt. The mesh is tightly stretched across the aluminum frame which also serves to anchor the hip belt and load lifters. Fully loaded, I still have 2 or more inches of airflow between the back panel and the pack.
The aluminum frame on the Eja 58 is the secret sauce that “makes” this pack. It’s super lightweight and stiff, providing great load transfer to the hips, so you can really load up this pack and still get a very comfortable 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 and ultralight backpacks. I found the fully loaded Eja to be incredibly comfortable. The weight felt close to my body and the pack “moved with me.” I’m able to transfer the load to my hips and off my shoulders.
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. They’re super comfortable with enough cushioning to provide comfort without stiffness and conform well to the shape of your collarbone, shoulders, and hips. While the shoulder straps have more of a J-shape characteristic of men’s or unisex backpacks, the extra soft padding provides a good wrap around your breasts without any chafing or pinching. This is key on those hot and sweaty days.
The Eja has what Osprey calls an ExoForm hip belt, with pull forward straps so you can get a secure fit. Unlike many packs, the Eja 58 does not have hip belt pockets. While this is less convenient, it makes for a more flexible hip belt that wraps around your hips more comfortably and won’t slip down over your hip bones. Osprey chose comfort over convenience, and I can see the logic in that even if it bucks the norm. It’s well worth not having hip belt pockets to have such a “form-fitting” hip belt!
Backpack Organization and Storage
The Osprey Eja 58 is different from most ultralight backpacks because it’s configured with a floating top lid instead of a dry-bag style roll top. With two zippered pockets (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.
Top lids are a great feature, especially when you need to carry bulky gear, an Ursack, or extra dry bags that won’t fit into the main compartment of your pack. The extra top pockets also provide handy access to hats, gloves, snacks, and navigation gear.
If you don’t need the top lid on the Eja, you can remove it to save gear weight. This reduces the weight of a medium-sized Eja by 5.4 ounces bringing it down to a very respectable and ultralight 2 pounds 2.6 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 the 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 Eja also has good open storage in the form of side and front mesh pockets, the main compartment is where the bulk of this pack’s capacity is. With close to 3500 cubic 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 Eja 58 with a pack from a cottage backpack maker, be aware that they often add in open and closed pocket volumes so the Eja 58 may feel quite a bit larger. You may even find that downsizing to the smaller and nimbler 48L Osprey Eja will work for your needs.
While the main compartment curves inward to accommodate the shape of the ventilated frame, the top opening is nice and wide and I can easily see items and access them. Still, when packing the Eja 58, you’ll want to place that the heaviest items as close to your back as possible to retain good balance.
With the exception of a hydration pocket, hang loop, and top compression strap, there’s nothing inside the Eja 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 Eja 58 has two stretch side mesh pockets that are large enough to store two, 1-liter water bottles, or a water bottle and a water filter. Each pocket is reinforced with solid fabric for better durability and has a holster-style opening cut in front, which lets you position bottles sideways so you can pull them out and replace them when on the move. This design was quite good and keeps the water bottles snug so that they don’t fall out when I bend over; as an extra security measure, there is a sewn-in loop by the side access which would allow someone to secure a safety cord to their water bottle.
The Eja 58 is also a front 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 mesh pocket like this and use it to stuff light layers, rain gear, my crocs, and snacks that I want easily accessible during the day.
External Attachment Points and Compression System
The Osprey Eja 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. I prefer to thread the straps inside the pocket which keeps pack contents snug and pockets nice and loose. But in a pinch, threading the straps to the outside would allow someone to secure items (such as a wet tent) to the side of your pack.
You can also rig up two horizontal compression straps instead if you prefer that strap geometry over the built-in Z-pattern. One of the great things about the Osprey Eja 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 Eja 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 thru-hiker, hammock camper, or winter camper and carry a bulky foam pad to sleep on at night.
Comparable Lightweight Women’s Backpacks
|Women's Make / Model||Frame: Torso Range||Weight||Colors||Price|
|Osprey Eja 58||Fixed: 14-21"||42 oz||Grey, Blue||$220|
|Osprey Eja 48||Fixed: 14-21"||41 oz||Grey, Blue||$200|
|Osprey Tempest 40||Adjustable: 13-20"||38.1 oz||Magenta, Black||$160|
|Osprey Lumina 60||Fixed: 15-21"||31.2 oz||Grey||$270|
|Osprey Lumina 45||Fixed: 15-21"||28 oz||Grey||$250|
|REI Flash 55||Fixed: 16-18"||43 oz||Grey, Olive Oil||$199|
|REI Flash 45||Fixed: 16-18"||41.5 oz||Grey, Pumpkin||$159|
|Granite Gear Crown2||Fixed: 15-21"||34 oz||Grey, Black||$200|
|Gregory Octal 58||Fixed: 14-20"||41 oz||Grey, Blue||$210|
|Gregory Octal 45||Fixed: 14-20"||40 oz||Grey, Blue||$190|
|Gregory Amber 44||Adjustable: 14-20"||44 oz||Red, Teal||$160|
|Exped Lightning 60||Adjustable: 14.2-20.9"||40 oz||Black, Terracotta||$229|
|Exped Lightning 45||Adjustable: 14.2-20.9"||38.8 oz||Black, Terracotta||$199|
|Kelty Redwing 50||Fixed: 14.5-18.5"||42 oz||Black, Teal||$130|
|Mountainsmith Scream 55||Fixed: 14-17"||42 oz||Grey||$160|
The Osprey Packs Eja 58 Backpack is a top-loading ventilated backpack that’s easy to configure for many different kinds of hiking and backpacking trips. Weighing just 2 pounds 8 ounces, it boasts a stiff aluminum frame and ventilated suspension that provides excellent comfort and control for loads up to 30-35 pounds. Fully loaded, the Eja 58 is incredibly comfortable. The weight rides close to the body and the pack moves with you. The hip belt, the key to adjusting weight, is excellent and transfers the load to the hips and off my shoulders, all while maintaining a snug fit. If you want a lightweight, women’s backpack with a real frame and a top lid, I recommend the Osprey Eja 58 without reservation. It’s a great women’s backpack. Osprey hit a home run with the Eja 58.
Disclosure: The author owns this product.