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 backs 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.
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)
- 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 2018 Osprey Exos (see review) which is also missing them.
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.
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 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 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 2018 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.
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.
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.
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.
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