Osprey UNLTD range: a new era of backpack technology

Like all advancements in top-end equipment, Osprey’s latest technology comes at a price. But what is it, what does it do, and will we see it in more mainstream gear in the future?

Hiker using Osprey UNLTD AirScape 68

by Trail magazine |
Updated on

Formula 1 racing brought traction control into our road cars. NASA gave us memory foam. The United States Military invented duct tape (and, to be fair, some other stuff). The point is that lots of the technology we have at our disposal today was once the preserve of elite, specialist use. When it did become available to the general public, much of this technology would have retained an elite price tag; the first sat nav – Honda’s Electro Gyro-Cator navigation unit – cost $2750 in 1981, which is around $8500 or £6800 in today’s money. And now it comes free with your smartphone.

All of which brings us to the new UNLTD hiking packs from Osprey. The UNLTD AntiGravity 64 and UNLTD AirScape 68, both available in men’s and women’s versions. Superstar mountaineer Nims Purja – a man who’s fairly UNLTD himself – used the AirScape on his latest record-breaking adventure, summiting Everest, Lhotse and Kanchenjunga in 8 days, 23 hours and 10 minutes without oxygen, and completing the Everest to Lhotse traverse without oxygen in just 26 hours.

The best backpacking rucksacks reviewed

Both models in the UNLTD series were designed by Osprey Founder Mike Pfotenhauer and his team and represent a significant innovation in how packs are designed and constructed. But all this innovation comes at a price. The UNLTD packs come with an eye-watering price that is more than twice the cost of Osprey’s superb Atmos/Aura.

How to care for your rucksack

Five things you need to know about Osprey UNTLD packs

Osprey UNTLD mesh lumbar and Fit-On-The-Fly

Fine-tuned support

The mesh lumbar support on both packs is the 3D Printed Fitscape Lumbar with Carbon DLS (digital light synthesis) Technology. The lattice structure offers graduated support, from firm at the base of the lumbar pad to soft at the top. The high-tech back system offers supreme ventilation, fine-tuned support and anti-slip grip that ensures the pack stays comfortably in place.

On-the-go adjustment

Osprey’s innovative AutoLift F System and Fit-On-The-Fly hipbelt allow the fit of the carrying harness to be adjusted on the go, meaning fine tweaks can be made to ensure the perfect fit and ultimate comfort without having to stop and remove the pack. This system also eliminates the need for separate load-lifter straps.

Osprey UNTLD fabric and panel opening

Light but tough

The packs feature ultra-durable high-tech fabrics, including a new super strong 210 double ripstop nylon main fabric with an UHMWPE (ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene) grid for extra durability. Anti-abrasion TPU panels are placed across the packs on high-wear areas, and even the included rain- and travel-covers are made from high tenacity nylon ripstop.

Convenient packing

Both rucksacks feature a large reverse panel opening which makes packing and accessing kit much more convenient. In addition, the lower section of each pack has an integrated compression wrap designed to hold and compress bulky items such as sleeping bags or insulated jackets.

Osprey UNLTD AirScape 8L detachable top lid

Removable capacity

The AirScape’s 8L detachable top lid converts in to an 18L daysack, while the AntiGravity’s lid can be removed and used as a lumber pack.

Specs and serious stuff

Weight 2.5kg | Back lengths S/M, L/XL | Volume 64L (S/M), 67L (L/XL)

Weight 2.5kg | Back lengths XS/S, M/L | Volume 61L (XS/S), 64L (M/L)

Weight 3kg | Back lengths S/M, L/XL | Volume 68L (S/M), 72L (L/XL)

Weight 3kg | Back lengths XS/S, M/L | Volume 64L (XS/S), 68L (M/L)

Other cool stuff that’s more than we need (and our wallets can handle)

Top-end tent

Because the Hilleberg Saitaris has been designed as the ultimate base camp tent for mountaineers tackling remote high-altitude climbs, it offers both tremendous strength and impressive spaciousness. All of this is hugely important if you’re camping in the most hostile environments where you could be required to sit out a storm in your tent for days. It is probably overkill for a summer wild camp in the UK though – even in Wales.

Military tech
Garmin Tactix 7 Pro Ballistics Edition

Rrp: $1599.99

Price: $1399.99

Along with a wealth of GPS tools, the Garmin Tactix 7 Pro Ballistics Edition features a special screen setting for use with night vision goggles, a stealth function that stops storing and sharing your GPS position while disabling wireless connectivity and communication. There is also a Jumpmaster Mode that calculates high-altitude parachuting release points according to military guidelines, a kill switch to wipe the device of all user memory in the event of a ‘security issue’, and a built-in ballistics calculator (including full access to the Applied Ballistics Bullet Library and more than 1200 custom measured bullets) for long-range shooting.

All of which is no doubt exceptionally useful if you’re Jason Bourne, but probably less relevant to the average hillwalker. Luckily for us, you can get all the useful GPS stuff without the special ops wizardry in much less expensive GPS watches, such as the Instinct 2.

Japanese metal

If you can’t bring yourself to eat noodles with a spork, then these Titanium Chopsticks from Japanese brand Snow Peak might appeal. Truth be told, we’ve never found wooden chopsticks overly heavy, but these do come with their own chopsticks storage sleeve/carry pouch, which surely makes these a veritable bargain and fantastic gadget?

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