“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.