When Osprey introduced the Exos pack series in 2008, it immediately became a leader—and helped redefine how we think about backpacking. It showed us that a backpack weighing under three pounds can serve the needs of everyone from weekenders to longer-distance backpackers and thru-hikers, and it gave ultralighters an option to the minimalist rucksacks that fill that category (which are “minimalist” both in weight and comfort). Success is a tough act to follow, and revising a popular product is risky. As a longtime fan of the original Exos packs, I took the new Exos 58 out on a seven-day, hut-to-hut trek on the Alta Via 2 through Italy’s Dolomites and concluded that Osprey has taken something that was very good and made it lighter and better.
The secret sauce in the top-loading Exos—the reason it carries up to about 30 pounds comfortably while itself tipping the scales at a pound or two less than many competitors—is the perimeter frame made of 6065 aluminum with a stabilizing cross strut. (Picture a somewhat squared-off figure eight.) The frame has only the slightest flex to it along both its vertical and horizontal axes—compared to, say, a plastic framesheet found in many packs that will flex much more—and the frame’s curved shape transfers much of the pack weight onto your hips, where you want it.