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Osprey Exos 38

rated 4.5 of 5 stars
photo: Osprey Exos 38 overnight pack (35-49l)

Best lightweight backpacking pack I've used. Definitely recommend for lightweight packing, for those who are not into ultralight backpacking and comfort is still important. Do not recommend for people packing heavier loads. I have definitely found that packing >30 lbs significantly and negatively affects comfort. Normally, my total pack weight is somewhere between 24-28 lbs, food and water included.


  • lightweight
  • comfort
  • still has pockets and compartments for organization
  • Osprey's lifetime guarantee


  • durability
  • the mesh side pockets did not hold up very well. Holes developed in the first year of ownership (to be fair it saw heavy use in the first year of ownership, however it still didn't hold up quite as well as the previous Osprey pack which did not need any repair whatsoever)

Fit: 5/5 stars, excellent fit. I am a woman 5'7", 135 lbs. I bought the pack when it was "unisex" or men's only, I have it in M. They have a women's specific version of this pack available now (Eja 38), which I have not used.

I found the original unisex version of this pack to be perfect with no homemade modifications necessary for better fit. I was not able to try the pack in person as I bought it online. Going off of Osprey's recommended sizing measurements, I originally ordered a S, but I have a comparatively long torso, so a M fit me much better.  

Comfort: 4.5/5 stars, excellent comfort. All the straps (hip, shoulder, sternum, and load) are adjustable, and there are many adjustment points for customized fit. There are several different loading straps on the pack which are adjustable as well, which can affect load distribution and comfort.

I find the pack to be very versatile and customizable as far as fit and adjustability. The main structural frame of the pack is not-adjustable and a major component of fit, so it is critically important that the frame of the pack is appropriately sized to fit you, otherwise no amount of strap adjusting is going to make it work properly for you.

Osprey's proprietary AirSpeed suspension puts air between you and the pack which makes it very comfortable for extended periods and in hot weather.

Capacity: 4/5 stars, adequate capacity. The advertised volume is pretty accurate, I would say it's definitely on the lower end of the estimated volume. It fits all the gear I need, and I find that the capacity is enough.

Given that I have the 38L version, it definitely is a space constraint which will prevent you from overpacking. There is a 48L, and a 58L version of this pack if you need more capacity. 

Organization & Accessibility: 5/5 stars, excellent organization and acessibility. Unlike a lot of other "ultralight" packs that remove all the pockets to save on material and weight, this one still has pockets which are very handy for storage and organization. The shoulder straps have small mesh pockets, and the hipbelts have a decent sized pocket on each side that can fit a smartphone or other small electronics. 

The lid is detachable. You can remove it to save weight and streamline the pack if you don't need it, but I find the outside and inside zip pockets offer a great deal of storage and is useful for separating out pieces of gear you might use a lot and would rather not have to go through the rest of the pack to find, things like water filter system, personal items like toothbrush, or camp soap or wipes for cleaning up, and other items.

There are mesh pockets on the sides for water bottles and there's a hydration slot for water bladder if you prefer that. There's a big outside stretchy mesh pocket that I find really useful for carrying things like my tarp, a rain jacket, my camp shoes. And because it's stretchy you can fit a surprising amount of stuff in there.

I also really like the adjustable straps that run across the bottom of the pack. It makes it very easy to secure loads on the outside of the pack and increase what you can carry. For example it's very easy to strap a camp chair or your tent to the outside of the pack so it doesn't take up storage space in the main compartment.  

Ride: 4.5/5 stars, rides well. All the adjustment points on the pack make it very easy to secure gear and make sure the load is appropriately distributed the way you want. The frame of the backpack if properly fitted will make it comfortable to transfer the strain from your shoulders to your hips and makes it much easier to carry loads for extended periods.

I personally found it difficult to find the right adjustment for my shoulder straps, but once I finally got it dialed in, it carried really well for high mileage days hiking in the mountains. I found it really important not to overpack with this pack, there is a significant difference in comfort when you start packing heavy and I try not to pack anything over 30 pounds with this pack. It is not designed to pack heavy, and it's very noticeable if you do. 


This is the second Osprey pack I've used. I have had this pack for over 5 years, and probably over a thousand miles at this point. It's seen a lot of use backpacking with me all over the place and has held up to a lot of abuse. I have not needed to use the Osprey lifetime guarantee to replace or repair this pack, yet.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $135

Super lightweight and comfortable!


  • Lightweight
  • Comfortable
  • Easily adjustable
  • Useful pouches


  • Single compartment
  • Limited hipbelt support
  • Multiple lids

I made the choice to go lightweight several years ago, so this pack is the latest addition to my arsenal. I'll first say that you have to be determined to go lightweight, and already have the proper gear BEFORE you buy this pack. The fact this pack is tiny, it shouldn't bother you. It doesn't need to be any bigger because the suspension won't support more than about 20-25 lbs.

With my Western Mountaineering AlpinLite, Big Agnes FlyCreek2, self inflating torso ground pad, UL chair (yep, I'm old and it's worth it), LifeStraw, Nalgene, possibles bag, clothes, food and water, it was full and weighed 22 lbs.

I carried this on a fairly level, easy trail and was very happy. With the temperatures in the mid 80s, the ventilation on my back kept me cool. The hip belt did a good job dispersing the weight, but know that this is not your traditional Osprey hip belt. The Exos 38 has a soft belt that is not designed to carry the entire load. Some of the weight must be supported by your shoulders. This isn't a bad thing, but it is different for some folks.

The single top opening is inconvenient, but manageable. The pouches on the hip belt as well as those on the lid can be used to sort the small items, and the slash pockets on the sides hold the Nalgene and water filter comfortably.

I'm not a fan of the multiple lids. I love how easily the "top lid" is removed and can be replaced just as easily. I wish this could be used as a fanny pack, like other Osprey reenactment lids, but it's not made to. Also, I don't like having to deal with the "lower" lid. It should also be removable but isn't.

I recommend this pack to minimalists. Its lightweight system will serve us well for years to come. 

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: ~$140

This is an excellent backpack that I tried in civilized vacations and off-road backpacking.


  • Ultra light
  • Speedlite system really helps to mitigate sweating


  • Slightly uncomfortable on the shoulders when above 20kg
  • Only one access to main
  • Might wear quickly

I tried this backpack on two main occasions.

1) Off road: three days full autonomy, 22kg on start.

Pretty nice in this case, able to fit tent, sleeping bag, and mattress on the sides and top. Shoulders a bit sore after a few hours, but it can't be considered a real issue given the conditions and weight.

Rain cover absolutely required. 

2) On vacation in a more "civilized context": my only downside is that the only access to the main pocket is from the top, so go figure how to access that coat right at the bottom.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $120-ish

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The Exos 38 replaced the Osprey Exos 34.


small medium large
Price MSRP: $180.00
Current Retail: $180.00-$220.00
Historic Range: $64.73-$220.00
Reviewers Paid: $135.00-$140.00
Load Range 15-30 lbs
Volume 2,136 cu in / 35 L 2,319 cu in / 38 L 2,502 cu in / 41 L
Dimensions 27.17 x 15.75 x 11.81 in 29.13 x 15.75 x 11.81 in 31.1 x 15.75 x 11.81 in
Weight 2.46 lbs 2.48 lbs 2.51 lbs
Main Fabric 100D High Tenacity Nylon
Accent Fabric 100D High Tenacity Nylon Triple Check Dobby
Bottom Fabric 210D High Tenacity Nylon
Product Details from Osprey »

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