Osprey Exos 46 2009

Some lightweight rucksacks resemble a bin liner held together by string. These can be uncomfortable and impractical, lacking durability when used regularly for hill-walking. So it’s no surprise that lightweight sacks are not everyone’s ideal. However, if Osprey is right, the new Exos 46 could be the sack that changes the way we think about lightweight gear.
The Exos 46 is part of a new range of sacks that also includes a 34 and 58 litre version. The Exos range is designed using the latest technology to be superlight without compromising on ventilation or features, and this particular sack weighs in at just 857g.
I took the Exos on the Lake District hills. Packing was easier than its weight suggests, as its stiff back panel means you don’t have to pack it carefully to ensure that nothing is going to dig into your back. At 46 litres it is a good size for year-round use, with more than enough space for day walks and just about enough for lightweight backpacking over a weekend. It’s also useable for longer trips if you pack superlight. But what I liked was the compression system and stretch stash front pocket that allow flexibility of load carrying and storage of gear on the move.
The back system is the Exos 46’s real star feature. Aluminium rods form a precurved frame over which a mesh body contact area is stretched to leave an air gap between the wearer and the main compartment. The hipbelt and shoulder straps both have die-cut Biostretch EVA foam to provide cushioning, while allowing airflow and of course slicing a few grams off the weight.
The back system works extremely well and is very comfortable and easy to adjust, making the load wobble-free. Most importantly the sack remains comfortable and stable when packed to bursting point. In fact it was remarkable just how comfortable this sack was. And as someone who rates comfort way above pure weight advantage, I found the Exos 46 a revelation.
Are there lighter sacks? Yes, there are. Are there more comfortable sacks? Yes, without doubt. However the real question we should be asking is whether there is a sack that is better able to combine low weight, features and comfort into one? To that question I have to say no: the Osprey Exos 46 stands apart.
This is a remarkable evolution of modern rucksack design, which shows that lightweight gear can be more than just easy on the scales – it can be functional and comfortable too!  

Price £130 (Exos 34 £100; Exos 58 £140)
Capacity 46 litres
Materials 100D Shadowcheck nylon, 210D window ripstop
Features 6061-T6 aluminium frame; die-cut Biostretch EVA foam shoulder straps and hipbelt; ‘Stow on the Go’ trekking pole holder; one main compartment; extendible removable lid; side compression straps; mesh wand pockets; front stretch pocket; internal and external lid pockets; hydration system-compatible
Weight 857g
Made in Vietnam
Stockist details – tel. (01202) 572775; www.ospreypacks.com
The Osprey Exos 46’s good points are is weight, comfort and airflow
across the back. But there are lighter sacks; heavier sacks are probably more durable in the long term for the hardest of users. Overall, it’s practical, comfortable and lightweight: a perfect combination.

Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine February 2009