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Backpacker.com – Featuring Exos 48 – July 2014

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Backpacker.com – Featuring Exos 48 – July 2014

July 1, 2014

Why we like it : The redesigned Exos carries a week’s worth of ultralight gear, but it’s svelte and compressible enough to use for just about any day-long adventure. Outdoor junkies who dabble in everything—biking, skiing, climbing, dayhiking, and backpacking—were hooked.

Versatility : The removable top lid is fairly standard (ditching it saves 3.6 ounces), but a unique flap crosses over the drawstring opening, adding a bit of weather protection and compression to the lid-free mode. Our tester stuffed the pack with five days of supplies in the John Muir Wilderness, and then removed the lid and compressed the pack down for day trips from basecamp.

Comfort : While many packs in this weight range sacrifice big-load support, the Exos avoids this tradeoff: One tester toted up to 42 pounds on more than a dozen trips in the Sierra Nevada. Shoulder straps employ two layers of soft, open-cell polyester mesh—rather than the typical foam—to save weight and amp up breathability. “They’re amazingly pillowy,” reports our tester. “There’s no hard binding tape to chafe my armpits—the edges are rolled. And despite their thinness, they still lie flat so weight distributes evenly.” The hipbelt (made of the same material) and trampoline-style backpanel provide excellent load support and venting.

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Backpacker.com – Featuring Volt 75 and Viva 65 – June 4, 2013

July 4, 2013

“This pack has penthouse features at a basement price,” said one tester after a four-day trip in Big Bend National Park. “Effective compression keeps the load compact and stable for quick overnights, but a seemingly bottomless packbag can handle gear and food for a week.” Another tester toted the Viva 65 (the women’s version) on a five-day loop in Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Park. “The pack is light for its class, yet the features are perfect,” she says, pointing to stretchy side and stuff-it pouches, the bottom zipper, and the giant top lid, all of which make for easy organization. Our testers carried 60-pound loads with no soreness, thanks to the wire perimeter frame and plastic framesheet that effectively transfer weight to the precurved, dense foam hipbelt.

The secret to big-pack performance at such a small price and low weight? Designers skipped pricey features found on many Osprey models—like a built-in raincover, multiple sizes, and interchangeable suspension parts—and focused on comfort and durability. “It came through abusive canyon scrambles unscathed,” reports one tester, referring to the 600-denier poly packbag. The exterior hydration sleeve lets you access the bladder without unpacking. And the suspension system adjusts (via a Velcro patch) from 17 to 22 inches with no decrease in stability.

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Backpacker.com – Featuring Portal Series – January 13, 2013

January 13, 2013

After sweeping the showroom floor for this year’s best new packs, it’s clear that consumers are asking for tech-compatibility and feature updates on tried-and-true designs.

Osprey’s strong new Portal series caters to the burgeoning tablet market with convenient touchscreen pockets to let you access your iPad without taking it out of the pack, perfect for commuters and students.

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Backpacker.com – Featuring Ozone 28” – November 2012

November 10, 2012

Giant rolling duffels are a gear editor’s best friend. I’m constantly schlepping heavy loads around the globe, and I often get dinged with overweight baggage fees. The Ozone, at just under five pounds, is less than half the weight of many other rollers I’ve tried, which lets me pack more gear, not more bag. The 210-denier nylon lacks the rubbery finish of many burlier bags, but after close to a year’s worth of globetrotting (40,000-plus miles), the Ozone looks no worse for the wear.

The large, U-shaped zipper accesses the cavernous, 80-liter interior, which has stealth side pockets to keep me organized. The 12-inch wheelbase mounts to an aluminum perimeter frame (the lack of a framesheet accounts for a big weight savings). When combined with the sturdy, collapsible T-handle, the design created a stable load whether I was dragging it down a dirt path in central India or a pebbly walkway in Chile’s Andes.

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BackPacker.com – Atmos 65 – April 2012

April 18, 2012

Some backpackers like to have a designated spot for every little item. The Atmos (and the women’s Aura) is ideal for the hyper-organized. After a five-day trip through the mountains of central Chile, our tester reported, “The big, top-loading main compartment swallowed my bag, clothes, food, and tent, while tons of pockets let me lay out everything for quick access during the day. Two lid pockets held my headlamp and beanie; the stretchy shove-it pouch fit my big puffy jacket; a pair of long, zippered pockets stashed my mini-crampons and gloves; and two hipbelt pockets held lip balm and sunscreen.”

There’s also an accessible sleeping bag compartment and two stretchy side pockets for water bottles. The suspension (adjustable from 17 to 21 inches), with an alloy frame, cross struts, and a tensioned mesh trampoline, negates pack sway with up to 50 pounds and kept testers’ backs cool during heavy exertion in hot weather. The hipbelt has strategically placed cutouts that create exceptional wrap around the hips and lower back for great load transfer and stability. The effective compression—two V-shaped straps on either side of the pack—adds extra stability. $239; 3 lbs. 9 oz.; 65 liters; ospreypacks.com

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BackPacker.com – Featuring Shuttle 32 – February 21, 2012

February 21, 2012

At first glance, the Shuttle is a standard cargo hauler—a wraparound zipper opens wide and the lid folds all the way back, providing entry into the big main compartment. Our tester easily packed away an ice axe, helmet, trekking poles, boots, and other bulky gear for a volcano climb. But the Shuttle also has a surprising number of organizing pockets that are so streamlined our tester almost missed them. In addition to a boot compartment, a long vertical pocket runs along the side (good for maps), and small quick-grab pockets lie on front and top, while the interior has zippered mesh stashes for small items like a headlamp and water purifier.

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