This post may contain affiliate links.

Osprey Levity Ultralight Backpack Review (60L and 45L)

Osprey Levity Backpack Review

The Osprey Levity is an ultralight backpack available in a 60L or 45L size and weighing just under 2 lbs. Much-anticipated, the Levity packs are one of the first ventilated ultralight backpacks available with a suspended mesh back to help keep you cooler and drier while backpacking. Ventilated backpacks have their strengths and weaknesses, which I’ll elaborate on below. But other than the use of lightweight fabrics, the Levity backpacks aren’t a radical departure from Osprey’s other backpacks and will be easy to switch to if you’re already an Osprey pack owner, without having to radically change your gear list or style of backpacking.

Osprey Levity 60L


Ultralight and Durable Construction

The Osprey Levity is an ultralight backpack available in a 60L or 45L size that weighs under 2 pounds. Much-anticipated, the Levity packs are one of the first ventilated ultralight backpacks available with a suspended mesh backs to help keep you cooler and drier while backpacking.

Shop Now

Specs at a Glance:

  • Osprey Levity 60L (weight): 31.8 oz (tested, size large)
  • Osprey Levity 45L (weight): 29.7 oz (tested, size medium)
  • Type: internal frame, suspended mesh, top lid
  • Bear canister compatibility: 60L (vertical), 45L (vertical)
  • Maximum recommended load: 60L (30 lbs); 45L (25 lbs)
  • Fabric:
    • Inner pack body: 30 denier silnylon body
    • External pockets/bottom: 210d nylon x 200 d UHMWPE (similar to Dyneema) grid

A Note on Sizing

Osprey’s always had a problem with the accuracy of their size specifications, particularly when it comes to backpacks with fixed length torsos and hip belts, and the sizing specifications for the Levity are no different. My advice for you is to buy one size larger than you think you need. The Levity runs small. SIZE UP!

In addition, if the ends of the hip belt wings (not the webbing) do not cover your front hip bones, this pack is too small, and your shoulders will suffer from the extra weight when you load it up.

Backpack Organization and Storage

The Levity is pretty much what you’d expect an Osprey ultralight backpack to look like with a fixed top lid pocket, draw string closure, fixed length hip belt, side water bottle pockets, and an open front pocket. Although the Levity 60L and 45L don’t have any hip belt or shoulder strap pockets, like the new Osprey Exos (see review) which is also missing them.

There's no mesh on the side or front pockets on the Levity to tear, adding considerably to the pack's durability.
There’s no mesh on the side or front pockets on the Levity to tear, adding considerably to the pack’s durability.

The Levity’s main compartment is enormous, especially on the 60L backpack, and it can fit lots of gear. It’s made with a nearly transparent 30d silnylon which lets a lot of light into the pack so you can find stuff. The main compartment is shielded on three sides by dual side pockets and a large front pocket, which are all made with reinforced solid 210d fabric and protect the inner silnylon bag. However, the curve of the ventilated back makes the Levity considerably more difficult to pack efficiently than backpacks with more rectangular main compartments. This is true of both sizes, the 60L and 45L versions of the pack.

The top lid has one deep pocket and is fixed to the pack, unlike a floating lid that you can raise if you need to overstuff the main compartment. That’s a strength in my book, because the pocket doesn’t flop awkwardly back when it’s overloaded like it does on many packs with top lids, and pull you backward.

Both the 60L and the 45L feel very wide when you pack water or gear into the side pockets
Both the 60L and the 45L carry very “wide,” especially when you pack water or gear into the bulging side pockets. They remind me of hamster cheeks.

The side water bottle pockets are quite large and can each store 2 x one liter bottles. They have slits along the front (facing your back) so you can pull a bottle out if you want a drink. However, there’s no way to put a water bottle back into the side pockets while wearing the 60L or 45L sized pack, because the side pockets are too tall and it’s too difficult to re-insert a bottle into a front slit. There is an internal reservoir pocket inside the pack with a single hand loop, and centrally located hydration port, between your shoulders if you want to use a hydration system.

There’s also a large shovel-type front pocket on the Levity that’s ideal for stuffing layers into, wet gear, or items you want fast access to during the day.

Backpack Compression and External Attachment System

The Levity packs have z-style side compression system that uses a thin reflective cord and its primary purpose is to pull the front of the pack closer to your back. It doesn’t do a terribly good job of this because there are so many direction changes along the length of the cord. These limit your ability to target extra compression at different points inside the main compartment where you might have a bulging sleeping bag or shelter. The side compression cords are also quite long and have a tendency to extend beyond the sides of the lid so they catch on overhanging vegetation.

The Levity compression system is primarily designed to pull the load forward closer to your back
The Levity compression system is primarily designed to pull the load forward closer to your back

The other problem with a z-style compression system is that it’s hard to attach bulky objects like snowshoes to the side of a backpack. Osprey has to use this kind of system on the Levity packs because the side pockets are so tall, but they’re not as functional as several tiers of horizontal, webbing-style compression straps.

The Levity has two daisy chains on the outside of the front pocket
The Levity has two daisy chains on the outside of the front pocket

The front pocket has two thin daisy chains running down its side that can be used to lash extra gear to the pack. While there aren’t distinct sleeping bags straps like on the Exos, there are exposed gear loops that can be used to tie a sleeping pad or tent body to the bottom of the pack.

Backpack Frame and Suspension System

The Levity is a ventilated backpack with a perimeter wire frame and suspended mesh back panel. The frame is quite springy and has a lot of lateral flex (bounce even) to it, but like many ventilated backpacks, it has a tendency to pull you backwards onto your heels because the back is so sharply concave. While load lifters help to correct this back tilt, the effect is still quite noticeable.

The Levity is an internal frame pack with a suspended mesh back for improved ventilation
The Levity is an internal frame pack with a suspended mesh back for improved ventilation

While the Levity is ventilated (and uses the same frame as the Exos 2018), the mesh is not as supportive or hugging as the Anti-Gravity ventilated mesh found on the Osprey Atmos AG or Aether AG backpacks, which have much sturdier hip belts and wider spaced mesh.

The Levity hip belt is lightly padded and provides surprisingly little load transfer to the hips, in part because it has holes cut out in the rear which reduce the amount of surface contact between the pack and your hips. If you prefer backpacks with pre-curved and sculpted padding, you’re not going to like the Levity very much. The hip belt sizing is also noticeably short, as noted above, a common problem with Osprey fixed length backpacks.

When filled, the curved frame directs the force of the load onto the back of the hips and lumbar area of your back, but far less so on the side or front hip bones. This is very different than most the ultralight backpacks because they’re straight-backed or have a shallower curve that’s closer to the spine and hips. The difference doesn’t matter that much for a backpack with a max load of 30 pounds or less, but it is still noticeable.

The 45L version of the Levity has a considerably nimbler feel than the 60L size
The 45L version of the Levity has a considerably nimbler feel than the 60L size

Carry wise, both the Levity 60L and 45L feel very “wide” and less nimble than a backpack with a narrow main compartment, although the 45L is considerably fleeter of foot than the 60L pack. The wider feel comes in part from the unstructured, extra-wide, side pockets, which do less to compress or stabilize gear stored in them than packs with stretchy side pockets. If your load volume is small enough, I’d encourage you to get the 45L which still has plenty of capacity, but has shorter and smaller volume side pockets than the 60L Levity.

Comparable Backpacks

Make / ModelWeight (oz)Type
Gossamer Gear Mariposa 6030.5Speed flap
Granite Gear Crown 3 - 60L36.7Roll top, Top lid
Granite Gear Blaze 6048Roll top, Top lid
Hyperlite Mountain Gear Southwest 5532Roll top
Osprey Exos 5843Top lid, speed flap
Gregory Focal 5841Top lid, speed flap
Mountain Laurel Designs Exodus 5718Roll top
Seek Outside Gila 3500 (57L)47Roll top, side zipper
Sierra Designs Flex Capacitor41.2Top lid


The Osprey Levity 60L and 45L backpacks weigh less than 2 pounds and are one of the few ventilated ultralight backpack options available today. Both packs are designed for durability with a noticeable absence of the external mesh, which is so notorious for getting ripped up on Osprey Packs. External daisy chains and gear loops allow plenty of gear attachment and customization options while a large top lid pocket provides excellent external gear storage. While the design of the ultralight Osprey Levity 60L and 45L backpack is not earth-shatteringly new, they’re both excellent choices if having a ventilated, suspended mesh back is at the top of your priority list.  Equally exciting is the fact that you’ll be able to try on and fit the Levity ultralight backpacks on in retail stores, which should help to further demystify and accelerate the backpacking industry’s development and adoption of lighter weight outdoor gear.

Disclosure: The author purchased these products with his own funds.

SectionHiker is reader-supported. We only make money if you purchase a product through our affiliate links. Help us continue to test and write unsponsored and independent gear reviews, beginner FAQs, and free hiking guides.

See Also


  1. Friar Rodney Burnap

    You need to but the external frame back on the packs…this experiment has failed we need to get on with with the real backpacks . . .

    • Wildland Explorer

      I mean my youtube channel shows me doing long outings exceeding the stated weight capacity by over 15 lbs – for a 35lb carry. In the desert. And it feels solid on my back, snug and secure, transferring the load well. I’ve done class 2/3 in sandstone canyons as well as high alpine with the Levity on my back. It works fine. Better than the Exos actually. There’s no evidence in my world that this is anything approaching a “failed experiment”. I keep seeing this nonsense posted though. Sorry it didn’t work for you but this isn’t really evidence of anything except that pack choice is a personal affectation. My Levity is now going on 4 years old. Probably has around 500 wilderness nights on it. My only complaint is the color white & blue looks really weird on a dude.

  2. Philip,

    Excellent and comprehensive review, thank you. Couple of questions:

    1. What is the load bearing capability for this pack? Do you agree? (Couldn’t find it).

    2. In your opinion, how does this pack compare to the GG Mariposa which you reviewed (Couldn’t find the date of the review).

    3. Please compare this pack to the Osprey Exos … is the weight reduction worth the loss of features/capability in your opinion?


    • 1. It’s listed in “specs at a glance” – yeah, that’s about right for a perimeter wire frame and a minimal hip belt.

      2. Mariposa Review – (obviously written for the 2016 model)
      Answer: Depends what you’re looking for. I personally don’t care about back sweat and think the Mariposa is easier to use, but have grown to dislike the long Mariposa side pocket, which is really only good if you carry a proper tent (which I don’t). I think the Silverback is a much better pack and the Silverback 2018 is going to be a roll top when it arrives in inventory, I’m told.

      3. No. The Exos is a marginally better pack, although less durable, because the external storage is less “floppy”. But you can’t reinsert water bottles in the Exos side pockets either. Let’s just say I’m underwhelmed by both packs, but if you have your heart set on an Osprey ventilated pack, they’re both well suited for that purpose.

  3. What percentage of your reviews in the last year are between 4 and 5 stars? I’d guess 95-100% of your reviews are between 4 and 5 stars. I never said your audience was ultralight backpackers and I never said you should write more concise reviews. I’m talking about your propensity for only rating gear between 4 and 5 stars.

  4. If you’d like to discuss this backpack, I’m happy to engage in a discussion. I’m not in the business of trying to trick my readers, as you seem to be implying. What I try to do is tell my audience about the best products available today. After writing over 1000 product reviews you get pretty good at spotting duds and can avoid wasting your time on them.

  5. This looks a bit like the REi Flash 45 but about a pound lighter and $100 more. Would you say the Flash is more comfortable? Which would you prefer a 3-4 days?

  6. Thanks for the review Phil. The Exos 48 et and Levity 45 are respectively advertised to have a carrying capacities of up to 40 lbs and 25 lbs. Since you’ve tested both packs, can you tell us if the carrying capacity of the Exos really seems to be that much more the Levity’s?

    • Both packs have identical suspension systems. Same frame, hipbelt, and mesh. Not sure how they can be that different.

      • I recall reading somewhere that the Exos has sturdier shoulder straps and hip belt. That would allow it to carry more weight.

        • Not that much. I have all the packs sitting right here besides me. The padding differences are minimal. The only thing that really matters is the hip belt…

      • Osprey even lowered the advertised max load of the levity 45 to 20 lbs. That seems way too low for a 45 liters pack to be useful. I suspect it is not because of the suspension, but because of the silnylon main body fabric, which might not be strong enough to consistently hold more without tearing.

        • That is news. Have to wonder about that!
          20 pounds is the max recommended load for a FRAMELESS backpack.
          But I doubt the problem is the silnylon. People have been making silnylon backpacks for a long time that can carry 30 pounds loads or more.

  7. Not sure I follow your train of thought. I periodically publish gear lists and have a gear closet section so you can see what gear I prefer to carry for personal use on my trips. The trip, terrain, and objectives determine the gear I take from the small list of favorites I own.

  8. Zpacks has made a ventilated, framed pack for years. My Arc Haul Zip is lighter(27.5oz), has greater capacity(64L), is rated for more weight (40lbs), and doesn’t assume my back is the shape of a box turtle :) With Zpacks, you can keep it flat or arc it to your preference.

  9. Have a great hike.The Circuit is a great pack. We live in an era of great pack choices, I must say.

  10. Hi Phillip,

    Someone mentioned the Arc Haul. Im often around 25-30lbs (starting out), currently have an EXOs 58 and dont love it. I find the hip belt wrap not sufficient most of the time, hip and shoulder pockets worthless and the suspension bouncy and squeaky. I dont hate it, but think its just OK. I tried on the Levity 60 at Downworks in Santa Cruz (best gear shop in the Bay Area/CA), and thought it was pretty good. Seems like the vented back panel is set closer to the back than the old EXOs. But really curious how you think this pack compares to the Arc Haul? What do most folks think a reasonably load for the Haul is?

  11. Thanks for reviewing this Phil. I finally got to try this out at my local sport store. It’s basically a lighter weight exos58. The compression straps did a terrible job of holding the weight up top and it all sagged to the bottom like a giant potato sack. Maybe it takes the right size and shape stuff bags to compartmentalize the pack, idk, and I don’t want to pay the $ to find out it won’t work. It’s too bad. I have an exos38 which is used for day/overnight trips and I personally think the suspension on it is the best I have ever used. Keep in mind, I have never gone over 17 lbs (standard), 7727 gr (metric). Didn’t get the chance to try a 45 model. Maybe that works better.

  12. I have had issues with this rucksack initially (finding the compression system useless and lack of adjustability on the sternum strap). I finally used it today carrying 5kg – 6 kg if that. Firstly, the back system has eaten my lightweight shirt – this was an initial reservation I had about the osprey back system a long time ago, as it looked to harsh for my lightweight clothes and I have also had issues with other ruck sacks that thankfully I managed to resolve. There needs to be padding around the bottom of the frame or at least it needs smoothing out. I am worried about using it with my expensive and very light waterproof.

    I found it extremely uncomfortable. I am not a sponsored user or magazine who are not going to say anything bad – I’m a regular user and this is my true experience on a 15 mile hill walk – the straps dug into my shoulders and they now hurt. The lack of flexibility to alter sternum strap is just unworkable.

    The tearing up of my clothes is a real issue for me and sadly this is not the bag for me – I expected so much more, not only from the bag but the brand.
    Unfortunately for me a dreadful waste of money! Obviously people need to be made aware of the serious limitations of this system rather than listening to people telling you how fantastic it is because in varying degrees of vocabulary – thats what they always say when they review a product.

  13. I just purchased this pack – I went in to the shop intending to get the Exos 48, but ended up with the Levity 45. (My normal summer weekend load, including 2 days of food and a liter of water, is 17 pounds using this pack.)

    The sizing issue Phillip noticed is one I’ve always had with Osprey packs. At 19-20 inch torso, I’m right on the edge between the medium and large in most of their packs, and had always found the large fit better. This pack was no different, but I ended up choosing the medium over the large. The large hipbelt came further forward on my hip bones, and the wrap of the shoulder straps was OK; the load lifters made a nice 45 degree angle – but the sternum strap, in the highest setting, was about 2 inches below my sternum. When I tried on the medium, the hipbelt just covered my hipbones (an eighth inch to spare), and the shoulder strap wrap was a bit better than the large. The load lifter angle was a bit flatter (probably 30 degrees), but the sternum strap was a perfect fit. I chose the medium. (For me, the sternum strap is critical – I use it to pull the shoulder straps together just enough that they don’t dig into my shoulder.)

    I find the minimal feature set to be one of the best parts about the pack. I really don’t use pockets a lot, but even the minimal pockets on this pack are enough to let me put everything I need on the trail on the outside of the main compartment, and the in-camp stuff inside the main compartment. I appreciate that none of Osprey’s trademark features, like the Stow-on-the-Go, aren’t included – I always found a lot of them contrived and hokey, and usually took them off. I began backpacking when there was no such thing as hipbelt pockets, and just never really used them when I had them. I don’t miss them on this pack.

    The compression system isn’t overly impressive, but it’s OK. My pack is usually full enough that compression isn’t really an issue anyhow. I did find the same too-long issue regarding the cord that Phillip noted; I solved it by running the excess length through the sleeping bag loop on the bottom of the pack, then back onto itself. I’m not sure I won’t play with that; I may even experiment with looping it through the daisy chain (maybe even overlapping the two cords), and skip the bottom loop in the side pocket – that should provide enough entertainment that I don’t need to take any electronics along, saving some weight (how’s THAT for true-believer ultralight?)

    The pack does definitely require you to commit to ultralight gear. I had considered switching to synthetic garments and sleeping bags, for ease of care and cost (fully knowing that the useful life is much less) – but that decision is now made in favor of down, irrevocably. However, there is enough room that, if I want to, I can fit in a Thermarest chair kit as a luxury and not add significant weight.

    My only real concern is what happens when I have to add an extra two liters of water to carry to a dry camp. However, that’s normally only for a couple of hours – but it’s at the end of the day, generally, when I’m getting tired. I’m pretty confident it will be OK, but it remains to be seen.

    Overall, I’m excited about this pack – it’s more than 2 pounds lighter than the Atmos AG 50 I’d been using, and is just minimalist enough to please me.

  14. Well, my concern turned out to be true. At 17 pounds, it felt pretty good to carry. Then I added 2 extra quarts of water (what I usually carry to a dry camp), and the pack carried like a tired 4-year-old had climbed onto my back – and wasn’t in a particularly good mood. No actual hair-pulling, but the suspension pretty much collapsed, and I couldn’t get weight off my shoulders. The 20 pound weight limit Osprey set appears to be pretty accurate.

    Much as I wanted to like it, the pack went back (I hadn’t worn it outside yet) and I picked up the new Exos 48. I took it home, loaded it up the same, added the extra water, and the pack carried great.

    A further note on sizing: I noted previously that the Levity size medium fit me better than a large. In the Exos, I’m back to my old fit: the Large Exos fit me better than the medium. Go figure.

    • In the four or five months since my August 18 post, above, I did some long-term strategizing. I’m almost 69, and as I started thinking about how much longer I wanted to backpack, I decided “at least to 80” made sense. I’ve still got all my original hips and knees, and nothing hurts when I get up in the morning. To make that last, though, I figured out that I needed to lighten my then-current load below the 18-20 pounds I normally carried for a weekend (that includes food, water, and fuel.) After some “strategic” purchases (such as a new tent, sleeping bag, and puffy jacket) and rethinking some other techniques, I got down close to 14 pounds; winter clothing and a warmer bag added 2-3 pounds. At that point, I knew I could stay under the 20-pound limit of the Levity pack in nearly all conditions I’d choose to be out in, so I bought another Levity 45 – this time in size L. That saved another pound, and cinched the deal.

      The larger size solved the fit problem – the hipbelt padding comes far enough forward over my hipbones, the sternum strap fits right (I wasn’t adjusting the shoulder straps properly), and I got a perfect wrap over my shoulders. I’ve hiked a good bit with it, and find that the pack rides well, even at 17 or 18 pounds. I did find that tightening the shoulder straps a bit more than I did with other packs I’ve owned prevented the pack from slipping down the waist, like you would expect with a thinly-padded belt; it moved maybe half an inch after 45 minutes or an hour. The tighter straps also eliminate the ‘bounce’ some reviewers have mentioned. (I’m not talking about fully cranked down-just another light tug to snug them a bit. I can still move my shoulders inside the straps, so the weight isn’t being carried on my shoulders to any appreciable extent.)

      I did notice I had to tighten the hipbelt a bit more than I did with the Exos; however, it wasn’t enough to leave marks, and it didn’t feel constricted – just a bit tighter for about 15 minutes, then I didn’t notice it at all.

      I still appreciate the minimalist feature set – it has everything I need, and maybe one thing I don’t: the cord compression system isn’t that impressive. It doesn’t really do much compressing (too narrow), and it gets in the way of getting things in and out of the side pockets. It’s also about twice as long as it needs to be. I haven’t removed it yet, and I still want to see if I might be able to use the extra length to somehow include the daisy chain points and achieve some significant compression. But I suspect it may just go away – there’s not really enough stretch in the pack that it needs compressing, and the volume is small enough that I usually fill it pretty well, even for a weekend. (I don’t compress my sleeping bag or down jacket any more than necessary.)

      At 13-18 pounds, this comes close to being the most comfortable pack I’ve ever carried. I’m not sure if it’s the pack, or just the light load, but I really do like the pack. You’ve got to fully commit to ultralight, though. I did this mostly with lighter gear, but I also put some limits on they types of trips I take. No more zero-degree nights with 6 inches of snow, no more 7-10 day trips, and no more pressing hard for mileage (I don’t want to carry the extra weight of food I’d need to replace the calories of 15 or 20 mile days. The trade off is that I’m enjoying poking along and paying more attention to what I’m seeing on my 8-mile, slow moving days.) I also plan water more carefully, and use water caches to supplement dry camps, rather than carrying from the last source of the day (or at least reduce how long I’m exceeding the 20-pound limit of the pack by carrying water to camp.)

      I might be able to cut another pound off, eventually. I could only afford a 650 down bag and jacket, with all the other gear I replaced. I also kept my “heavy” Platypus gravity water filter system, because I like it; I may eventually cut back to a Sawyer (or, more likely, just switch to chlorine dioxide tablets.) I’m also still using my Titan Kettle/Pocket Rocket kitchen, but I may eventually switch to an alcohol stove like my buddy has.

      But for now, the Levity is looking more and more like a keeper.

      • Thanks for sharing your experience. Sounds like you’re doing everything right to me! I’m even a little envious.

      • I forgot to mention: I didn’t have any problem getting a Platypus bottle into the side pockets after loading the pack. I also tried a hard-sided Nalgene wide-mouth, and it too went in fairly easily (not as easily as Platypus, but not an epic struggle, either.)

      • Well, another six months has gone by, and things have morphed a little more. I’ve found that the 14-pound load I was carrying with the Levity was a bit too spartan. I’ve gone back to the Hubba NX solo tent, which is a bit more convenient and roomy, but also 3/4 pound heavier. I’ve also decided that a chair kit (1/2 pound) is worth lugging along on most trips. (The extra pound and a half doesn’t seem to beat up my knees too bad; I can reduce my mileage or terrain if it becomes an issue. :) )

        There’s enough extra bulk, though, that the Levity pack gets a bit full; at sixteen rather than fourteen pounds, an extra quart or two of water can put me over the 20-pound limit of the Levity’s load-carrying ability. So, I’m finding that on most trips, I’m starting to take my Exos 48 instead.

        I’m still a proponent of the Levity. It’s a very nice pack in terms of hitting a near-perfect (for me) balance of features, weight and durability. (After half a dozen overnights and 10 or 15 long day hikes, it shows virtually no wear, even on the bottom of the frame where it rests on the ground.

        The hipbelt on the Exos is a bit sturdier, and can carry more than twenty pounds without starting to fold over (I’ve had it to 22, once, and have no real desire to establish the heaviest-load parameter.) In terms of features, I don’t need the stow-on-the-go gimmick or the external sleeping pad straps, and will probably remove them. I do like the thin webbing compression straps on the Exos better than the cord compression system on the Levity. I also like the fact that I can remove the lid if I want to; I also like the small mesh pocket on the bottom of the lid (I can put wallet and car keys there, and never open the compartment and risk having them fall out unnoticed.)

        So, while I’d still recommend the Levity to anyone who is committed to ultralight, I’m finding the Exos fits my near-ultralight needs just a bit better.

      • Alex-Michel Ngningha

        Love your comments glenn and the follow up, just ordered an exos for my pct. Hope that will work for me

      • Well, another eight months passed, and it’s time to wrap up this little story.

        Since my last post, my gear got lightened a bit more: I found an ultralight tent (Nemo Hornet 1) that works great for me. I also got an 800+ fill jacket, pants and quilt, which saved some more weight (pack and wallet.) The chair kit isn’t really worth its weight, so it’s gone. All this put me, exclusive of pack itself, at a summer load (gear, two days of food, and a quart of water) of twelve to thirteen pounds, and sixteen with cool-weather clothing.

        I had gone back to using my Levity since mid-summer 2019 and had been extremely happy with it. I still have concerns about the long-term durability of the fabric, but so far there are no signs of wear other some minimal scuffing on the bottom of the frame (which is wrapped by very sturdy fabric.) As long as I keep the load under twenty pounds, which I can do unless I need to carry water to a cool-weather camp, the pack is very comfortable to carry, and transfers most of the load to my hips.

        Fast-forward to March, 2020. I was browsing Phillip’s gear reviews one day and came across his review of the Gregory Optic pack. He was praising its comfortable suspension. A couple of days later, I got my REI dividend – so, naturally, I ordered an Optic 48. It’s a great pack, with a tremendous suspension for its weight. COVID-19 arrived about the same time as the pack, so I’ve only carried it for a couple of miles on the local walking track and taken it on one overnighter (ten miles or so), but I’m impressed so far. It rode well even when I added enough water to hit twenty-five pounds. Any load I carried was significantly more comfortable in the Optic, and is enough to justify the extra half-pound of the Optic. The mesh fabric on the three outside pockets of the Optic concerns me: it looks like it might snag on trees and bushes – or the sharp corners of a Playtpus or Sawyer bottle. The extra three liters of pack space is handy, too, and the less-concave shape of the Optic also makes it easier to load. I also have to admit I don’t miss the aggravation of the Levity’s inability to stand up on its own.

        I still highly recommend the Levity 45 if you can always pare your load to 20 pounds. But, in the end, I decided the extra comfort and convenience of the Optic 48 is better for me. It wasn’t an easy decision, though.

      • I thought the story was over, but…

        It’s now July, 2020; thanks to COVID, spring and summer backpacking seasons were pretty much a bust. Most state parks were shut down (at least camping, including backcountry campsites), and making a 4-hour trip to the nearest state or national forest involved logistical problems, so I’ve been pretty much limited to long day hikes (4-6 hours.) The local backpack trail (part of our metropark system) recently reopened partially, so I’ve gotten out once (they’re restricting occupancy.)

        However, the dayhikes revealed one insurmountable issue with the Gregory Optic 48. The lumbar pad actually put too much pressure on my lower back when the hipbelt was properly tightened, and pinched a nerve. This resulted in weakness in the back of my thighs, and in my lower back – a condition I’ve never been bothered with before, even when I was regularly using internal-frame packs with lumbar pads. It was bad enough that I’d lose my balance in addition to the pain. So, I rested it for a week or so, until the pain and stiffness was mostly gone, then took a long hike with my Levity 45. No pain, no pressure, and it rode well. I passed the Optic along to the local Scout troop, and am now happily using my Levity 45 again.

        I’m thinking that the issue wasn’t the pack’s fault, though. I was in my 50’s the last time I used a pack with a lumbar pad (I can’t remember if it was a Lowe or one of the large-capacity Osprey packs) – and I had a bit more “intrinsic” padding on my lower back and hips, plus the pack’s padding was more generous. Now, at 70, both my body and pack have far less padding. So, if it fits you and you don’t find the lumbar pad troubling, I can still recommend the Optic pack.

        For my particular needs, though, I’ve gone back to the Levity as my pack of choice. When it wears out in a few years, I may not replace it with another Levity – it will depend a lot on how the Levity and Exos compare at that time.

        • Glenn Roberts, best review of the Levity 45 pack. I am committed to order one. I was battling between M and L with my 20 inch torso, but thanks to you – no more.

          I´ve tried before 60 litre in L size (they didn´t have M) in a shop with 11 kg of weights + ca. 1 kg of pack itself and I was impressed by the comfort of shoulder straps, the hip belt etc. It was finicky to adjust, but when I finally got it right … it was really nice to carry.

          With one “but” – the big suspension curve was like dragging me to the back. I could have tight more load lifters, but I like to hack things. I removed the outside plastic 0.5 cm horizontal bar from below the suspension mesh, and the I packed the pack once more – the curve became 2 times smaller, part of the load inside the pack got between the suspension rods and got closer to the spine, but didn´t touch it. Much nicer, closer to the core, still some air flow.

          Have you tried?

          No need to cut anything, just use force considerably but sensitively – a little bit of push, pull, drag etc. – ca. 2 min. to “hush hush” get rid of it in the shop, and about 4 min. to put it “hush hush” on, the plastic bar is quite elastic.

        • It’s now October, 2022. Although my much-loved Levity 45 pack is still in pretty good shape, I’ve replaced with the 2022 Exos 48 (the adjustable suspension.) Mostly, I’m concerned about the “pretty good.”

          The pack has never given me a moment’s problem. However, there are some signs of wear on the bottom fabric that wraps around the bottom, and there’s a loose thread or two in a couple of seams. With this light a pack, my concern is that I don’t know whether the pack will continue to wear gradually over the next few years, or whether it will simply fall apart unexpectedly. (I’m going to give it to a friend and let him determine where the fail-point is. :) )

          In an abundance of over-caution, I decided to go ahead and replace the Levity with the Exos 48. I must say that I really like the adjustable suspension. I’ve heard second-hand reports from a friend in Virginia that some people complain that the adjustable part of the suspension rubs their shoulders, but I’ve had no problems at all of that nature. (We both suspect that the complaints are coming from people who didn’t take the time to adjust the pack properly – or the store they bought it from didn’t know how to do it – or that the users were trying to carry too much weight. As we all know, if you put 45 or 50 pounds in a pack that is designed for 25-35, it’s not the pack’s fault if it doesn’t carry well. Since I still carry only 12 or 13 pounds of gear, food, and water for an overnight hike, the weight I’m carrying, including the pack, is well below the bottom limit of the comfort range. The Exos suspension is noticeably more “stiff” (or sturdy) than the Levity, with a bit more padding; I find it quite comfortable.

          Although I could take or leave the hipbelt pockets, they’re OK. One unexpected feature I like is the ability to remove the lid compartment. I carry my rain suit and windbreaker in there, and when I remove the lid I’ve got an instant pillow (how cool is that?!)

          And so, the Levity saga ends and the Exos saga begins.

  15. Just had a quick try of the 45. I was interested to see what a mainstream brand would make of an ultraliht pack. But similar to other reviewers, I was decidedly underwhelmed.

    As Philip points out, the curve of the frame is extreme, and I felt that the load was pulling me backwards. There’s no adjustment so you are stuck with this.

    Despite the relatively heavy and rigid suspension system the waist belt was collapsing with a 25lb load and most of the weight was on my shoulders.

    The side pockets are far taller than than they need to be. A couple of us tried, and it’s literally impossible to get a water bottle in and out while on the move. We couldn’t make sense of the side opening half way up the pocket – with some contortions you could get the bottle out, but we couldn’t figure out a way to get it back in. So this pack is really only viable if you use a hydration bladder.

    Like everyone else, we found the compression system inadequate.

    And the liberal use of 30d silnylon on the sides looked extremely vulnerable – the merest brush of a branch or rock and it’s going to rip. So really only suited for groomed trails – any kind of scrambling or bushwhacking, even over windfall, and you’re asking for trouble.

    As Philip says, only worth of consideration if a suspension frame is your absolute top priority. There are better options in this weight band.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *