Osprey Exos 58 Backpack Review

Osprey Exos 58 Backpack Review

The Osprey Exos 58 Backpack is one of the most popular backpacks used by thru-hikers and lightweight backpackers because it has a ventilated, suspended mesh back panel that keeps you cooler and drier in warm weather and it weighs under 3 lbs. There are very few other lightweight backpacks with suspended mesh frames available today. We list them below in the comparison table.

This new version (introduced in April 2022) adds an adjustable torso length capability to the ventilated frame and puts pockets back onto the hip belt, which had been removed in the previous version. The sizing has changed a bit and the pack is a few ounces heavier. There are also a host of other small changes to the top lid, the compression system, and the use of recycled fabrics, but the carry and convenience of the Exos 58 remain much the same as previous models.

Specs at a Glance

  • Volume: 58L
  • Mfg Weight: 2 lbs 13 oz (1276g). (size S/M, tested) – actual weight was 2 lbs 12.1 oz (1250g)
    • Optional removable top lid: 4.4 ounces
  • Torso: S/M: 17″ – 20.5″ (L/XL 19.5″-23″ also available)
  • Hip Belt: M: 30″ – 50″ (L/XL 30″-50″ also available)
  • Bear canister compatible: Yes (a BV500 fits horizontally or vertically in the main compartment)
  • Maximum recommended load: 30-35 lbs
  • Top Lid: Yes, floating.
  • Frame Type: Internal aluminum perimeter frame
  • Pockets: 7, plus the main compartment
  • Adjustable Torso: Yes
  • Suspended Mesh Backpanel: Yes
  • Hydration compatible: Yes, center port.
  • Materials: 100-denier high-tenacity recycled nylon ripstop; 400-denier high-tenacity recycled nylon

Backpack Organization and Storage

The Exos 58 has a floating top lid pocket that can be removed if you don’t need the extra storage
The Exos 58 has a floating top lid pocket that can be removed if you don’t need the extra storage.

The Osprey Exos 58 is very 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 underneath), 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 need to carry bulky gear like rope coils, foam pads, or tent bodies 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 and is indispensable for cold weather use.

The top lid has two zippered pockets - one on top and mesh pocket on the underside, which has a key fob inside.
The top lid has two zippered pockets – one on top and a mesh pocket on the underside, which has a key fob inside.

If you don’t need the top lid on the Exos, you can remove it to save gear weight. This reduces the weight of a medium-sized Exos 58 by 4.4 ounces bringing it down to a respectable 2 pounds 8.6 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 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. When it’s not needed you can stuff it into the main compartment or into the internal hydration pocket.

You can save a few ounces by removing the top lid pocket and just using the Flapjacket to cover the main compartment opening
You can save a few ounces by removing the top lid pocket and just using the FlapJacket to cover the main compartment opening

While the Exos 58 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 over 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 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 will feel quite a bit larger.

A BV500 Bear Canister fits horizontally in the Exos 58.
A BV500 Bear Canister fits horizontally in the Exos 58.

While the main compartment curves inward to accommodate the shape of the ventilated frame near its base, the main compartment is so large that the pack is still easy to pack. Still, because it is ventilated, you’ll want to position the heaviest items as close to your back and hips as possible. 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 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. I’d still recommend packing the Exos with a pack liner for moisture/rain protection (See Five Ultralight Pack Liners Compared.)

The new version of the exos 58 has hip belt pockets.
The new version of the Exos 58 has hip belt pockets.

Osprey added hipbelt pockets to this new version of the Exos 58, but they are on the small side and hard to zipper closed when wearing the pack. For example, I can barely fit an iPhone X into them. They’re also sewn onto the hip belt in such a way that the back of the pocket has to be able to curve when it wraps around your hips…which is a good way to break a SmartPhone screen since they don’t curve so good. I’d advise against putting anything similarly oversized and inflexible into them.

The Exos 58 has mesh side pockets with holster side openings that are best used with short Nalgene bottles, since the side compression straps make it difficult to replace tall bottles in the mesh side pockets.

In addition to the main compartment, the Exos 58 has two stretch side mesh pockets that can be used to store water bottles. The mesh is not strong enough for off-trail travel and I would recommend you stay on trails with this pack in order to keep the pockets from tearing. Each pocket is reinforced with solid fabric on the bottom 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. I’d just caution against using tall bottles or packing small items in the side pockets because they can fall out of the holster-sized water bottle holes.

Front open stuff-it pocket is good for carrying rain gear or snacks.
Front open stuff-it pocket is good for carrying rain gear or snacks.

There is also a mesh stuff-it pocket on the front 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 or snacks that I want easily accessible during the day. It’s also a good place to stash a wet rainfly, so you can easily pull it out to dry when you stop to admire a view.

The Exos 58 has a suspended mesh backpanel.
The Exos 58 has a suspended mesh backpanel to keep you cool and dry on hot days.

Backpack Frame and Suspension

The Osprey Exos 58 is a ventilated “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 360-degree 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 stiff, providing great load transfer to the hips, so you can load up this pack and still get a very comfortable carry.

The shoulder strap yoke slides up an down a ladder-like track.
The shoulder strap yoke slides up and down a ladder-like track.

This new Exos also has an adjustable torso length that is very lightweight and simple to use. This is a huge benefit for new backpackers who have less experience sizing and fitting a new backpack. You lengthen or shorten the torso length, the distance between your hip bones and your C7 vertebra, by moving the shoulder strap harness up or down since the position of the hip belt is fixed. This is done using a simple wafer and ladder system which slides up and down along the track on the back of the backpack. This is by far the simplest adjustable torso system that Osprey has ever used.

To resize, you simple move the plastic wafers up or down.
To resize, you simply move the plastic wafers up or down.

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. The shoulder straps are very heavily padded and have two elastic hydration hose keeper straps on the front, where the sternum strap is adjustable on a sliding rail system so you can dial in an exact fit. However, while the shoulder straps are comfortable, you’ll be somewhat challenged to attach accessory pockets to them, something that is increasingly popular with backpackers and day hikers alike. The same can be said for the lightly padded hip belt.

The shoulder straps are heavily padded but it can be difficult to attach accessory pockets to them
The shoulder straps are heavily padded but it can be difficult to attach accessory pockets to them

To their credit, Osprey modified the Exos sizing ranges in terms of torso length and hipbelt length, by collapsing the three sizes in the previous model into two sizes (S/M and L/XL) in the current model. The end result is that it’s much easier to get a hipbelt that fits you regardless of your torso size. I still think that the position of the padding in Osprey’s hip belts runs a bit short and should wrap more around the front of the illiac crest, but the new sizing changes make getting a decent fit easier than previously. (See How should a Hip Belt Fit?) I just wish their hip belt pockets were positioned closer to the center buckle and not so far backward. That’s always been an issue for me on the Exos, this being the third model I’ve reviewed in the past 10+ years.

Osprey Exos 58

Comfort
Weight
Suspension
Features
Adjustability
Sizing
Durability

Premium Ventilated Backpack

The Osprey Packs Exos 58 Backpack is a top-loading backpack with an adjustable torso length that's easy to fit and configure for many different kinds of hiking and backpacking trips. This ultralight backpack has a ventilated suspended mesh frame to keep you cool in hot and humid weather, but can haul a serious amount of backpacking gear when you need to go far

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External Attachment Points and Compression System

The Osprey Exos 58 has one Z-style side compression strap on each side of the pack. I’m not a huge fan of the Z-style threading pattern because I think it makes it difficult to strap bulky gear like snowshoes or a folding pad to the side of a pack. I find two horizontal side compression straps to be optimal instead.

The hip belt pocket is now the anchor for the side compression strap.
The hip belt pocket is now the anchor for the side compression strap.

You also can’t thread the side compression strap through the side water bottle pocket anymore on this new version of the Exos and it can only run on the outside of the mesh pocket. This is because the hip belt pocket is now the anchor for the bottom side compression strap…which is a screwy way to design it because that compression strap will pull the hip belt off your hip if you need to tighten it. These functions are best decoupled.

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. If I used the Exos 58 regularly, I’d probably cut the side compression straps off and replace them with cord and cordlocks.

A removable strap lets you attach bulky items to the bottom front of the pack.
A removable strap lets you attach bulky items to the bottom front of the pack.

The other key attachment point on the Exos 58 is the sleeping pad strap on the bottom of the pack. The strap is removable, but it’s still super handy to have if you’re a thru-hiker, hammock camper, or a winter camper and carry a bulky foam pad to sleep on at night.

Likes

  • Lightweight and high-capacity (58 L)
  • Large bear canister fits horizontally
  • Optional sleeping pad straps on the bottom of the pack
  • A lightweight perimeter frame provides great load transfer and control
  • Lightly colored fabric strips improve main compartment visibility
  • Lots of external attachment points all around the pack

Dislikes

  • Difficult to attach accessory pockets to the shoulder straps or hipbelt pockets.
  • Difficult to pull items out of side pockets while wearing the pack.
  • Z-style side compression straps are awkward to use with bulky gear

Comparable Ventilated (Suspended Mesh) Backpacks

There aren’t many lightweight (sub 3 pound) ventilated backpacks available today, with or without adjustable torso lengths.

Make / ModelWeightAdjustable Torso Length
Osprey Exos 582 lbs 13 oz / 1276gYes
Gregory Focal 582 lbs 9.3 oz / 1171gNo
Osprey Levity 601 lb 15.2 oz / 885gNo
Zpacks Arc Blast 551 lb 3.9 oz / 565gYes
Zpacks Arc Haul Ultra 601 lb 3.6 oz / 556gYes

While the Gregory Focal 58 is very similar, it only comes in fixed length sizes and doesn’t have an adjustable torso length. However, the Focal 58 is close to 4 oz lighter than the Exos 58, it has much larger and better hipbelt pockets, a removable FlapJacket style cover, and a side compression system with two separate compression straps which makes them much more flexible to use. I like the Focal 58 slightly better than the Exos 58, but if you want a pack with an adjustable torso length the Exos 58 is the better choice. (See our Gregory Focal 58 Review).

The Osprey Levity 60 is another ventilated, fixed-length pack, similar to the Exos 58, but rated for lighter loads (See our Osprey Levity Review). It’s considerably lighter weight than the Exos 58 and has a much lower max load rating.

Zpacks also has several models that are very competitive with the Exos  58 including the Zpacks Blast 55 (See our Zpacks Blast 55 Review) and the Zpacks Arc Haul 62 (See our Zpacks Arc Haul 62 Review.) While both of these packs are much lighter than the Exos 58, they’re also much more expensive. On the other hand, if you want a ventilated backpack with an adjustable torso length that’s set up like an ultralight roll-top pack, they’re the only game in town.

The Exos 58 can hold a full backpacking load plus 5-6 days of food.
The Exos 58 can hold a full backpacking load plus 5-6 days of food.

Recommendation

The Osprey Packs Exos 58 Backpack is a top-loading backpack with an adjustable torso length that’s easy to fit and configure for many different kinds of hiking and backpacking trips. Weighing just 2 pounds 15 ounces, it boasts a stiff aluminum frame and ventilated suspension that provides excellent comfort and control for loads up to 30-35 pounds. If you want a large but lightweight (58L) hydration-compatible backpack with a real frame and a top lid, the Exos 58 is a great choice.

The thing that I like less about this pack is the way it forces you to pack a certain way when it comes to carrying water bottles, adding accessory pockets, or strapping gear to the outside of the backpack. I prefer more flexibility in this regard, but that’s my personal preference. Despite that, I could see being perfectly happy using an Exos for a long-distance or section backpacking trip, particularly in hot and humid weather where a ventilated suspended mesh frame is a huge win.

Disclosure: Osprey donated a backpack for this review.

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19 comments

  1. Which would you say is more “comfortable “ the Exos or Focal? The Exos looks like it has more shoulder padding.

    Thanks

    Jeremy

    • I think the Focal is more comfortable because the hip belt is much beefier and provides a much better hip wrap. Your pack’s weight should be on your hips, not your shoulders.

      • I just spent 30 days on the AT with the Focal 58. Wanted to love it but the lumbar pad drove me crazy. I’m a large guy and the hip belt did not transfer the weight to my hips, just pressed on the lumbar pad no mater how adjusted. I just ordered the new Exos, will see how it works. Thanks for the great review.

  2. I finished my hike on the PCT with the Exos 58 in 2015 after using two non ventilated packs. I loved my 58. It has pockets on the shoulder straps, removed in the next two iterations (why, Osprey, why?). The hip pockets were almost useless for all but small nut bars chapstick and a compass. My Samsung Note 4 and a beacon just fit the stretchy shoulder strap pockets. The bottle pockets with insertion slots could accommodate a quart Gatorade bottle. I’d hope this new bag would do the same, though my old 58 is ready to go when I am.
    I haven’t seen the straps on this new iteration, but I’d say a creative hour with needle and threads can give you the size pockets you want. Why, you could even sew on d-rings and attach a bottle like we did with ULA shoulder straps.

  3. And the hip belt pockets are also a joke and candidates to be cut off.

  4. Bill in Roswell GA

    Philip, I appreciate you pointing out the small details that make a difference over the long haul. For myself, if I can’t get most of the weight to my hips on a long climb its a no-go. That said, the Exos is a comfortable pack. Yet some of Ospreys design decisions are baffling (the hipbelt pocket for instsnce). I talked w their southest rep years ago as to why they dropped the belt pockets. A BS answer followed. I don’t understand why they don’t aspire to be the best. OK, actually I do – money money money. They continue to lose sales to cottage firms but refuse to address the reason why. Oh well, unlike 10-12 years ago, hikers now have a plethora of choices to fit individual needs.

    • There really isn’t a lot of competition, so they really can do what they want. Even though the “cottages” are stealing customers, it’s a drop in the ocean and they still lack the manufacturing capability to make much of anything except sacks with shoulder straps.

  5. The first thing I did with my 2015 (or so) Exos 58 was cut off those useless tiny hip pockets and replace them with much larger z-packs hip pockets. It has served me well on a PCT thru hike and other adventures! Love the pack, very comfortable and handled those big water and food carries through desert.

  6. Thanks for this update Phil. I like the adjustable harness and teh larger hip belt pockets but not the blue color.

    I’ve had my original EXOS 58 (actually 62) for several years and many miles. I cut off the “pole carrier” and lid flap and added light side pockets to better suit my needs. But this is THE most comfortable 3 season pack I’ve ever owned – and I’ve owned several over the decades.

    • This is my 4th pack.
      I purchased an Exo 58 in March (w/o the strap pockets upgrade) so my experience is thus far limited, however, my biggest takeaways are:
      1) The unusual “width” of pack’s lower half (directly above my waist) allowed me to store most most of my (weekend) gear evenly across my back. It carried very comfortable The remaining room in the upper half of the pack was so easily accommodating to store the balance of my gear. The end result allowed for great gear organization, POSITIVE.
      2) I dropped roughly 2 pounds of pack weight, replacing my Atmos 50. I entirely removed the lid (also dropping additional 2-3 ounces). POSITIVE
      3) The side pockets (or water bottle pockets) are so long (or deep) that a smart water bottle will not stick out (totalling out of view). That seems good, however, I could not pull out a water bottle without removing the pack. NEGATIVE On the Flip side, the side pockets grow wider from top to bottom. I could easily store to 3 cans of soda (I stored 2) side by side if desired. The added width may allow for longer personal gear storage (camp chair) in the future. (UNSURE But FAVORABLE).

  7. Hello Philip,
    Many thanks for this full review.
    I’m hesitating between the Exos and the Exped Lightning 60L.
    Which one would you choose when you think about comfort, when full loaded (30-40lb), the ease to pack and unpack and resistance?
    On a french website (I’m french native), I read that the Exped was uncomfortable with the shoulders straps (not padded enough) when loaded.
    What is your opinion?
    Thanks a lot for your work.

    • They’re really very different backpacks with different capabilities. The Lightning 60 is a roll top that doesn’t have a mesh front pocket and has lots of flexibility in terms of strappy bulky gear to the outside. While the exos has the front pocket, it’s really not that great for attaching gear to the outside of your pack, so it’s really is going to come down to the type of backpacking you do. The lightning is much more of a mountaineering style pack, for instance, one that you can really get 4 season use with. The Lightning can also hold 40 pounds comfortably, which the Exos can’t. The shoulder padding really shouldn’t matter all that much, because you should have most of the weight on your hips not your shoulders. Both are adjustable torso packs. I would try both on loaded with your gear to decide which you like best. My preference would be the Exped, but I do all my hiking in very mountainous terrain and all year round (winter lasts for 6 months here).

      • Many thanks for your reply that helps me a lot.
        I plan to use it only in the summer ot three seasons in the mountains (to cross the Alps, pyrenees), so I guess the exos will do the job but I’m worried about the weight it can load comfortably.
        About the Exped, I’m questionning about how I could pack my tent and wet gears outside the backpack, is it convinent? Will I have to add cords ?
        I currently have the Osprey Kestrel 58L, it’s fine with the pockets and straps to hold my stuff, but it’s heavy and umconforable for me (I chose a sSM size that is too small for me).

  8. Yes the kestrel has an adjustable torso length.
    However, the backpack is still too short and the top of the pack is under my shoulders and it tears them when loaded.
    Besides, I’m a thin person, so I guess I need a backpack with a good comfort with heavy load.
    I think I should choose one where my max load will be far from the max load of the pack, so probably the lightning should be the right choice.
    Thanks for the link, that’s where I discovered this pack, and saw that you have a pretty good opinion of it

  9. Philip, great to see you give us an early and comprehensive review of the pack. In several places I have seen people comment that the adjustable should strap hard plastic “ladder” digs into their shoulder blades, as this is the area that the shoulder blades meet the back of the pack. Was this something that you found or noticed, or did you find it OK? I guess it may depend on body shape – someone like myself with “chicken wings” that stick out may have an issue, but others may not. Interested to hear your take as it does seem slightly strange to have a harder plastic in a location that may rub against the body.

    • No. Fits me just fine and is super comfortable. I would have said something if the frame caused any pain. Maybe it only happens at the extreme end of the fit range. It’d be useful if they told you what size pack it occurred in and what their torso length is.

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