Reviews

A very comfortable, well thought out hydration daypack…

Rating: rated 5 of 5 stars
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $158

Summary

A very comfortable, well thought out hydration daypack that’s very comfortable with any amount of weight you can reasonably fit in it. It’s suitable for four-season use, and can carry 8" wide snowshoes under the compression straps as well. The Anti-Gravity suspension really does take the weight off your back.

Pros

  • Anti-Gravity suspension
  • Plenty of pockets
  • Included rain cover
  • Included hydration reservoir

Cons

  • Configuration of hip belt pockets
  • Narrow hip belt
  • Compression straps go over mesh pockets

I bought my Osprey Manta AG 36 a little over a year ago and have used it on almost every hike I’ve been on since then. This thing is amazing, to put it simply. I’ve had a max of about 25lb in it and while I can’t say I didn’t feel it, the weight was very easy to handle thanks to the Anti-Gravity suspension and functional compression straps that keep it close to your body. With a regular 15-20lb load it feels like part of my body. Pack weight is 2.87lb according to Osprey, not exactly lightweight but if it was much lighter I doubt it would carry as well.

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The pack has multiple pockets that allow you to keep all your gear organized and easy to access. Closest to your back is the hydration pocket, with a strap and buckle to hang the reservoir. The 2.5l Osprey Hydraulics reservoir that came with the pack is a perfect fit, and there’s room left below it for my Sawyer Squeeze water filter. 


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In front of that is the main pocket, with a dual-pull zipper that extends far down each side for ease of loading and unloading. There’s a stretchy mesh pocket with reflective tab for small items. I usually put my spare glasses here for the protection being deep in the pack offers.

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At the top of the main pocket flap there’s a small scratch proof zippered pocket for goggles or other small items.

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A large helmet pouch is below that, with a loop (seen at the bottom of the pic) to pass the chinstrap through for securing the helmet. The front flap of the pouch is tightened by the upper compression straps. 


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On the front of the flap there’s another pocket with 2 zipper pulls, with 2 stretch mesh storage pouches and a key clip. At the very front of everything is a mesh shovel pocket with buckle closure. I use it for everything from a trash pocket to drying wet socks to shoving my rain jacket or wet tent fly and footprint.

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There’s a small zippered compartment at the bottom of the pack where the rain cover is stored. The cover is removable for drying or to save weight, and attaches by way of a ribbon with a simple toggle at the end that passes through an elastic loop. A cord-locked drawstring around the periphery of the cover allows you to snug it to the pack. The rain cover does work, during the great New England rain and wind storm last October I did an 8-mile hike in Chatham, N.H., and everything in my pack stayed dry.

Above the pocket is a loop for attaching a light. 


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The Anti-Gravity suspension is the major feature of this pack. It consists of a tight mesh trampoline that’s attached to the periphery of the pack almost all the way around, including the hip belt wings. This directly transfers the weight of the pack to your whole back and hips, with the shoulder straps only keeping the pack from rolling backward. There’s a metal wire of about 3/16" diameter that runs around the periphery of the back of the bag to give it structure and anchor the mesh.

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Each hip belt wing has a small pocket on it. 


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These are my biggest gripe with the whole pack, because they’re very hard to close while wearing the pack. One end of the lower compression strap is anchored at the back of the pocket and the hip belt pulls at the front of the pocket, putting the upper half of the zipper under tension but leaving the bottom half on the bag part of the pocket free. Pull on the zipper and you get nothing. I either have someone close it for me or just don’t put anything I’ll need to get with the pack on in them. Someday I’ll get around to modifying them. 

Demonstrating the differing tension on the zipper halves. You can see the angle formed by the 2 coils at the pull, this makes it very difficult to zip.

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The compression strap sewn to the rear of the pocket. The clear tube is part of the Stow-On-The-Go trekking pole carrier, a feature I don’t use because my waist size puts them behind me instead of at my side. 

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The too-narrow hip belt with buckle. I’ll eventually get around to replacing this with 2" webbing for comfort. 

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The drinking tube port at the top back of the pack. It easily routes to either shoulder strap, and they both have loops for securing it. Be careful not to route the tube through the grab loop. The sternum strap buckle has a magnet on it, and another clips to the drinking tube. It will interfere with your compass at short distances. 

 

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There are 2 very capacious mesh pockets on either side of the pack, with plenty of room for a 1l water bottle and a can of bug spray. Each has top and angled entry. The compression straps go over them, however, locking in anything you may be carrying and making it difficult to reinsert a water bottle or bug spray. My Aether AG 70 allows you to route the straps underneath the mesh, which is something I think I’ll try with this at some time. Right now I don’t put anything I’ll need on the trail in them, normally my trekking poles go in one side and tent poles in the other. 

Yes, I use this for overnight and even weekend hikes in the summer. There’s plenty of room for my tent, sleeping pad, sleeping bag, stove, 6 meals, base layer, down sweater, and miscellaneous small stuff. Total weight is right around 25lb. 

All in all, I think this pack is about as close to perfect as it’s possible to be. Its flaws are minor and easy to work around. I wouldn’t hesitate to buy another one. 

Alicia MacLeay TRAILSPACE STAFF

Great review, Phil! Thanks for sharing it.


1 year ago

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