Osprey Stratos 24 review (2023)

Table of Contents

If comfort is what you are looking for in a day hiking pack, the Osprey Stratos 24 should be at the top of your list.

Osprey is known for quality, durable, and comfortable backpacks, and in those categories, the Stratos 24 is a home run.

I have hiked with 20+ packs in the past couple of years, and this is the most comfortable day pack I have tried.

The Stratos 24 has comfort and features on par with backpacking packs, designed to carry heavy loads and last for years. But it has the carrying capacity of a day pack. So in many ways, you get the best of both worlds.

With all that praise, there has to be a catch, right?

Osprey Stratos 24L Backpack

  • High level of comfort

  • Heavier than most other daypacks

  • More features than comparable packs

Osprey Stratos 24 overview

osprey Stratos 24 overview

Specs

Capacity: 24 Liters

Weight: 44 oz.

Materials: 210D & 420D recycled nylon

Max load: ~25 pounds

Hydration sleeve: Yes

Osprey Stratos 24 ratings

Comfort (fit)

osprey stratos fit rating

The Osprey Stratos 24 is a one size fits all pack. It does have Osprey’s injection-molded ladder adjustment system, the same one that is found in their Exos 48. It provides four inches of adjustability in the height of the shoulder straps.

I can attest that the pack will fit most hikers between 5′ 6″ and 6′ 1″, and I would guess the range is bigger than that.

The Stratos 24 has a significant hip belt for a day hiking pack. Osprey’s ErgoPull system allows you to easily get an effective fit with the hip belt. Though, I still do fit the lack of stowage loops puzzling. The excess straps either have to just dangle off the front or be looped around the waist belt.

The load lifter straps make sure the main body of the pack is sitting closer to your body, preventing the pack from sitting too low on your back, potentially compromising your balance.

sternum strap, ladder system, and load lifters

The Stratos 24 backpack also has two side compression straps on each side that allow you to cinch down the main body of the pack. Make sure these compression straps are tightened before tightening other straps to ensure you get the best possible fit.

Osprey has made the Stratos 24 a day pack with backpacking pack features. This allows for a really comfortable and dialed in fit with everything from the shoulder straps, hip belt, and sternum strap.

The only fault I have with the fit of this pack is that it is a one size fits all. I prefer multiple sizes to ensure the best fit, but the Osprey Stratos 24 does a good job of negating that.

Carryability

osprey stratos carrying comfort rating

From a carrying comfort perspective, this is practically a backpacking pack with a day pack carrying capacity.

The AirSpeed suspension system makes it a comfortable pack up to about a 25-pound load. Though, it really thrives in the 15-20 pound range.

Generously padded shoulder straps, save your shoulders from feeling sore at the end of your hike.

The hip belt has a good amount of padding and effectively transfers weight to your hips.

The Osprey Stratos 24 also has a mesh back panel that increases airflow on your back while you hike, making sure that you don’t end up with a sweaty back 30 minutes into your hike.

This is something that is more common on backpacking backpacks, so seeing it on a day pack gives it an extra boost in the comfort category.

As with the fit of this pack, the comfort is hard to critique.

The only negative I have with it is the pack is on the heavy side for day hiking. If you are carrying a lighter load, you do not need the extensive comfort of this backpack. I find it to be a bit bulky and clunky when not packed with a heavy load.

Durability

durability rating

Keeping with the theme of this pack so far, the durability is on par with a backpacking pack.

With proper cleaning and care, I would see this pack lasting at least 5 years. The 210D and 420D nylon used for this pack is suitable for normal use and could last in some fairly rugged conditions.

It is not immune to wear and tear or particularly rough abrasions, but unless you are regularly hiking through overgrown conditions or sliding it across boulders, the pack should hold up for a long time.

The overall build quality of the Stratos 24 is on par with what is expected from Osprey. I have always found their packs to have quality materials and stitching, and no cheap or flimsy buckles and attachments.

Features

features rating

The Osprey Stratos 24 has features galore.

  • Hip belt pockets

  • Trekking pole attachment

  • Ice axe loop

  • Hydration sleeve

  • Integrated rain cover

  • Exterior pockets

Hip belt pockets. The Stratos 24 has zippered hip belt pockets, plenty large enough for a phone, snack, or other quick access items. These are a big plus for longer hikes compared to day packs with a basic waist belt.

Trekking pole attachment and ice tool loop. Not everyone uses trekking poles or ice axes, but they are nice features to have without hindering your use if not utilized. If you like to have trekking poles, but don’t use them the entire hike, the Osprey Stow-on-the-go system is one of the better ones on the market.

Hydration sleeve. If you use a hydration reservoir (bladder), the Stratos 24 can hold up to a 3L bladder. The hose port is in the center (top) of the back, giving you the ability to route the hose over either shoulder.

internal hydration sleeve

Integrated rain cover. This is a nice feature because it prevents you from having to purchase a separate rain cover. A zippered pocket at the bottom of the pack houses the rain cover. So it is as simple as unzipping the pocket, and pulling the rain cover out and over the pack to keep your pack dry. Just make sure to let it dry out before stowing it back into its pocket to prevent mildew.

Exterior pockets. Aside from the hip belt pockets, the Stratos 24 features side mesh water bottle pockets, a zippered pocket on the front panel, and two zippered pockets at the top/front of the pack. There are plenty of pockets on the outside of this pack that can give you easy access to items like phones, snacks, first aid kit, etc. I prefer a front mesh pocket versus a zippered one, but that is my personal preference.

Value

value rating

This is where the Stratos 24 hits a bit of a lower note. The pack is comfortable, fits nicely, and has plenty of features, but I think the price is just a little high for it.

I lean toward lightweight hiking, so I don’t often carry more than 10 pounds on a day hike. For my usage of the pack, I prefer a lighter option without as many special features.

A more minimal option, ala something like the REI Flash 22, is more suitable for my preferences. (and wallet)

If you are someone who places a high importance on comfort and features, the price tag may be more palatable. But if you don’t often carry more than the hiking essentials on your day hike, the Stratos 24 is probably a bit much for you.

Overall

overall rating

Overall, much like the Osprey Exos 48 backpacking pack, the Stratos 24 is a comfortable option with a lot of bells and whistles. But ultimately has a fairly narrow usage for me, making it a fairly expensive pack to only use once or twice a year.

There are plenty of hikers who this pack is worth a look for though:

  • Often carrying 15-20 pounds

  • Using one pack for multiple people

  • Wanting to maximize comfort out of your pack

  • A do-it-all type of pack

Something worth mentioning is that the Stratos 24 is able to be used as a carry-on bag for a flight. So if you want a pack that can double as a travel bag, the Stratos has you covered.

Osprey Stratos 24 pros and cons

pros and cons

Pros

  • Comfortable to wear

  • Durable

  • Plenty of pockets

The best aspect of the Osprey Stratos 24 is the comfortable carry created by the mesh back panel and suspension system. I could see doing an 8+ hours hike with this pack with little to complain about. There are plenty of packs made with lighter materials, but the trade-off for this pack is the increased durability. Osprey is known for quality materials and build quality, and the latest Stratos 24 is no exception.

Cons

  • Heavy for a day pack

  • On the pricy side

The increased durability and comfort come at the cost of weight. There are multi-night backpacking packs that come in lighter than this day pack. For me, it is a little too much to counteract the durability and comfort. Plus, the cost is significant, and for a backpack with little versatility on the trail, I would put my money in a different pack.

Is the Osprey Stratos 24 right for you?

Ultimately, whether the Stratos 24 is right for you comes down to if you prioritize comfort or value.

There are plenty of cheaper options on the market, but they won’t be quite as comfortable or you will lose some features.

Conversely, there are few backpacks that carry heavier loads as well as the Stratos, but you will end up paying for that perk.

I tend to prefer the first option myself, as I have multi-night backpacks that carry heavier loads well, so investing in a day pack that does that doesn’t make a lot of sense.

Ultimately, stick with your gut on whether a pack like this makes sense for you. If you are on the fence, I would recommend skipping out on this one until you know for sure you need a pack like the Stratos.

You would rather start with something cheaper to know whether or not you needed something more. Compared to spending a nice chunk of change on something that you find out you don’t really need.

Conclusion

The Osprey Stratos 24 offers a day pack with the features and comfort of an overnight backpack.

From the AirSpeed suspension system to the wide array of features, you will not be disappointed when carrying this pack.

The biggest drawback is the price, and for me, that is too big of an obstacle to feel good about purchasing it. But that isn’t to say that this pack won’t fit your needs.

If you want a backpack that can double as a travel pack, or you are carrying around gear for your family of four while hiking, this should be on your short list of packs to consider.

If comfort and features are nice to you but not the end all be all, you may want to look elsewhere for a backpack best for you. But for those that value what this pack does really well, the price is a small obstacle.

Osprey Exos 48 review: best Osprey pack of 2023?

Table of Contents

I have years of trips with the previous two versions of the Osprey Exos 48, and the 2022 update made this the best version yet.

If you are someone who values comfort, the suspension system and mesh back panel take the load off your shoulders and provide great airflow to keep your back nice and cool.

Plus, Osprey brought back the hip pockets on this version.

The Osprey Exos 48 offers top of the line comfort for medium weight loads with an updated set of features.

But there are some drawbacks that may mean that this pack is not the right one for you.

Osprey Exos 48 Overview

Specs

Capacity: 48 Liters

Weight: 44 oz.

Materials: Ripstop nylon (recycled)

Max Load: ~ 30 pounds

Hydration Sleeve: Yes

Pros

  • Carries a 20-30 load very comfortably

  • Hip pockets return on this version

  • Mesh back panel allows good airflow along your back while hiking

Cons

  • Durability projects to be okay, not great

  • Price feels high, given other options on the market

  • On the heavy side for packs in its class

Osprey Exos 48 Ratings

Comfort (fit)

osprey exos 48 comfort rating

The updated version of the Exos 48 features two sizes, S/M and L/XL. Fitting individuals with torso lengths of 17″-19″ and 20″-23″, respectively. I am 6′ 0″ tall and a L/XL fit me well.

Osprey includes what they call an “injection-molded ladder adjustment system.” This system provides four notches to adjust where the shoulder straps attach into the back of the pack.

The shoulder straps themselves are quite comfortable. I found the padding to be on the generous side compared to other lightweight backpacks.

The pack also features an adjustable sternum strap, hip belt, and load lifters. These, coupled with the ladder adjustment system, will allow you to really dial in the fit to your body.

I found the fit of this version of the Exos the best yet. I first experienced the Exos line back in 2017 and loved that model. I had gripes (as many did) with the 2018 version of this pack, but the newest update is a homerun.

Carryability

osprey exos 48 carryability rating

In my experience, the Exos 48 carries a load range of between 20-30 pounds as well as any other pack.

Closer to 15 pounds, I would prefer a frameless pack because something like the Exos feels like a bit overkill. And I would not put much more than about 30 pounds into it. But in that 20-30 pound range, this pack is great.

Shoulder straps. The shoulder straps offer you a great amount of cushion without feeling too bulky or intrusive. I found that they hugged my shoulders snugly and comfortably. Plus, the adjustable ladder system allows you to find the ideal fit for you to maximize their comfort.

Hip belt. Much like the shoulder strap, the hip belt gives you a snug, comfortable fit without interrupting your natural stride. Osprey’s ErgoPull does an excellent job of providing a good fit and an effective load transfer to your hips.

Mesh back panel. The Exos 48’s mesh back is one of my favorite aspects of this pack. It creates a sizeable gap between your back and the back of the pack. This prevents your back from becoming overly sweaty by allowing air to flow between your back and the pack.

Durability

osprey exos 48 durability rating

Like previous versions of the Exos, I find this one to have fairly average durability.

I put a lot of time the last two summers in with the Gossamer Gear G4-20, and it barely has any wear and tear. I will get a full season of backpacking with this version of the Exos this year, but in my experiences so far, I don’t see it holding up in the durability compartment to the Gossamer Gear competitor.

I had issues with the mesh pockets tearing pretty early on in the previous versions of this pack, but the front mesh pocket on this updated version seems to be a little more durable.

The body of the pack is made of 100D high tenacity nylon ripstop. Certain high tension areas feature 400D nylon for increased durability.

Features

exos 48 features rating

Hip belt pockets. Perhaps the best upgrade on this more recent version of the Exos 48 is bringing back the hip pockets. As someone who loves external pockets, I was disappointed that the 2018 version of this pack did not have hip pockets.

Plus, the pockets are much bigger than the previous model that had them (2014). The first Exos I had could barely fit the phone I had at the time. I have no problem fitting an iPhone 13 into the pockets of this model.

Removable top lid. The top lid is removable for those that do not use it or if you are on a shorter trip and don’t need the extra storage. If you opt to remove the lid, there is a flap with two buckles that comes down to cover the opening to the main compartment.

Also of note, with the lid, it has two zippered pockets, one on the top and one on the bottom.

Hydration sleeve. The Exos 48 comes with an internal sleeve that houses your hydration bladder. The hose port is in the center of the top of the pack; this allows for the hose to be routed over either shoulder comfortably.

External pockets. The front stretch mesh pocket is an upgrade over previous versions of this pack. To me, it feels a bit more durable. As someone who loves external storage, I use the front mesh pocket a lot and love to see the increased durability.

The side pockets remain about the same. I find the side pockets have decent height to them, and they have an opening in the side along the back of the pack, giving you easy access to whatever items you have in there.

Removable sleeping pad straps. Toward the bottom of the front of the pack are straps that you can use to store your sleeping pad on the outside of your pack. If you store yours on the inside or elsewhere on the outside, the straps are easily removed.

Stow-on-the-go trekking poles attachment. There are bungee loops on the left shoulder strap and along the left side of the pack at the bottom. These allow you to store your trekking poles while your resting or if you don’t need them while hiking. I am not a regular pole user, but the system on this version works better and more reliably than previously.

Value

exos 48 value rating

The updates of the previous version make this a much more attractive pack, but you will pay for them.

The Exos is a comfortable pack, has some useful features, and is a great option for lightweight backpacking. But, it lacks a distinguishing characteristic as there are ultralight backpacks that offer similar features and durability at an equal or lower price.

If this backpack weighed half a pound less or had incredible durability, I would feel better about the price tag. But, I think there are better or equal packs on the market that provide a better cost value.

Overall

osprey exos 48 overall rating

Osprey Exos 48 Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Carries a 20-30 load very comfortably

  • Hip pockets return on this version

  • Mesh back panel allows good airflow along your back while hiking

The biggest positive about the Osprey Exos 48 backpack is its carryability of medium-weight loads (20-30 pounds). It is extremely comfortable with a pack weight in that range; it distributes the load as effectively as any other lightweight pack. The hip belt distributes weight onto the hips really well, making 25 pounds feel lighter than it truly is.

Cons

  • Durability projects to be okay, not great

  • Price feels high given other options on the market

  • On the heavy side for packs in its class

To me, the price is the biggest deterrent. I value weight and durability more than features and comfort. In 2023, there are a lot of packs that have similar features as this one, and while it is very comfortable, I do a number of shorter trips where a frameless backpack is plenty comfortable.

For me, this pack has a limited usage, so the cost value isn’t great. Though, if you are looking for a single pack that you can use for a wide range of backpacking trips, the Exos 48 may make sense.

alpine lake along trail

Is the Osprey Exos 48 right for you?

If you are someone who values comfort above all else, the Exos 48 is worth a look. At its optimal pack weight, it is a more comfortable backpack than frameless packs and most framed packs in this size range.

If you often find yourself carrying more than ~30 pounds, consider upgrading to the Exos 58.

If you are someone who regularly carries an ultralight base weight, this backpack will feel a bit much for you.

If you value durability or price more than comfort, then you should look at other packs as the Exos is just okay in either category.

Conclusion

The Osprey Exos 48 is a great entry level backpack for someone who wants a comfortable backpack that can be used in a variety of settings.

The ladder adjustment system and mesh back panel allow for a variety of fits and a comfortable carry. And the external storage is on par with other lightweight backpack options. The reintroduction of the hip pockets is a big plus with this updated version.

Durability and the total feature set is fairly middle of the road for its class of backpack. And the weight is a bit on the heavier side for packs in the price range.

There are plenty of backpackers who will love the Osprey Exos 48 (and for good reason), but it will not be right for everyone. If it were about $40-$50 cheaper, I would recommend it much more.

picture from backpacking trip with osprey exos 48 backpack

REI Flash 22 Overview

REI Flash 22 Review: Best budget hiking pack for 2023?

Table of Contents

If you value a lightweight pack, an array of features, or using recycled materials, the REI Flash 22 has all three.

This pack gives you:

  • Enough carrying capacity for almost any day hike

  • A versatile option for the trail, the gym, work, and travel

  • A day pack that is under 1 pound

  • The option to carry a hydration bladder or water bottles

  • A versatile option for the trail, the gym, work, and travel

Versatility and value are what you get with this pack, perfect for someone who loves nature and traveling.

REI Flash 22 Overview

REI Co-Op Flash 22 Overview

Specs

Capacity: 22 Liters

Weight: 14 oz.

Materials: Nylon (recycled)

Max Load Weight: ~ 15 pounds

Hydration Sleeve: Yes

Pros

  • Versatile

  • Carrying comfort

  • Good Value

Cons

  • Only one size

  • No front mesh pocket

  • Durability

REI Co-Op Flash 22 Ratings

Comfort (Fit)

REI Flash 22 comfort rating

The fit for the Flash 22 can be hit or miss because of there being just a single size. If you are on the shorter or taller end of the height spectrum, you may run into an issue.

Though, I would estimate that anyone between about 5′ 1″ – 6′ 3″ shouldn’t run into much of an issue with the pack not fitting.

The hip belt, shoulder straps, and sternum strap are all adjustable, so you have a wide range of fits that can be achieved.

All in all, the fit is designed to accommodate a wide range of body types, which is great! The trade-off is that the fit is just going to be good for that range; rarely will an amazing fit be achieved. Packs that offer multiple sizes can achieve a great fit for a wider range of people.

I found the fit of the Flash 22 to be good, but I never really felt one with the pack.

Carrying Capacity (Carryability)

REI Flash 22 carryability rating

REI does not list a maximum recommend weight capacity, but I estimate it to be about 15 pounds. I carried around 10 pounds in it, which felt fine, but I would estimate another 5 pounds would be about the max that you’d want to carry in this pack.

If you are just using it as a daypack for hikes or general use, it will be good and is comparable to others in its class.

Shoulder straps. The shoulder straps are fairly basic and common. They are lightly padded and adjustable; I think they are adequate for carrying lower weights. I fought the shoulder straps to be rather non-intrusive. They were padded enough but not to the point of feeling overkill for a daypack.

Sternum strap. Like the shoulder strap, fairly basic and adequate. It has a whistle built into the buckle, which is always nice. There is a fairly nice range of tightness that can be achieved with this strap, so it should fit a wide range of chest sizes. One thing that I really like about this pack is that the sternum strap is easily removable. That accommodates wider-chested people, but also I find that I don’t always want one with a daypack. Sometimes I feel that these just get in the way more than they really help, so I like the option to take it off.

Hip belt. Like the other straps, the hip belt is commonplace for daypacks. It is an upgrade over the previous model of the REI Flash 22 by adding a wider mesh material around the hips before transitioning to a nylon strap around the midsection. This gives a more comfortable fit around the hips, whereas a nylon strap style of hip belt can feel tight and restrictive.

While the hip belt cannot be removed, it can be stowed away in pockets on the back of the pack. This allows you to get the strap out of the way if you opt not to use it. Personally, I don’t like using a waist belt on a day hike since the pack is pretty light.

Back pad. The Flash 22 has a back pad that also doubles as a removable sit pad. This is a nice feature that also works to improve the comfortability. As a back pad, it serves nicely to give yourself a little bit of padding along the back panel. Being able to remove it, via a zipper pocket, and utilize it as a sit pad is a nice convenience. Being able to hike out and having a padded seat to sit atop a rock overlooking a gorgeous lake is blissful.

Durability

REI Flash 22 durability rating

This is the category that has some variance depending on how you plan to use the Flash 22.

If you are doing off-trail hiking or commonly hiking in areas that are prone to snagging your pack, you may want to explore more durable hiking pack materials.

If you are using it for general use or on buffed-out trails with little overgrowth, this pack should hold up fine.

My usage so far has been consistent with more buffed-out, commonly used trails. And I have not run into any issues with the durability. The stitching and attachments appear to be sufficient for multi-year usage.

I foresee this pack lasting 3-5 years of semi-regular use. Obviously, getting snagged on a branch or getting worn down from poorly packed sharp objects on the inside would shorten the lifespan; but probably about 80% of users will get 3-5+ years out of this pack with standard usage.

Features

REI Flash 22 features rating

Hydration sleeve

The internal sleeve can accommodate a hydration bladder of up to 3 liters. It has a hole in the top of the pack that allows the hydration hose to be routed over either shoulder.

This is nice, as you can have the hose routed to whichever side that is most convenient for you.

Side Pockets

The side pockets are a change up from the previous model of the Flash 22.

The updated version of the pack has more durable pockets. That said, I prefer the previous version’s mesh pockets. I had better luck accessing them while having the pack on, and I have a soft spot for the versatility of mesh pockets.

The new pack has deep pockets that are perfect for holding water bottles, and the nylon material is more durable and more resistant to snags and abrasion.

Closure

The Flash 22 features a fairly standard drawcord, cinch type of closure for the main compartment, and a top lid with two buckles.

The top lid is a switch from the last version, as it had only one buckle. In my opinion, the single buckle is preferable because it is sufficient for the weight load out and reduces the change of gear failure. (the more attachment point on a pack increases the chances that one breaks)

The top lid has a nice sized zippered pocket in it. The lid pocket is perfect for storing items that you will need throughout your hike or items that you would want to access quickly.

Value

Considering you could pay 2-3 times the price for a comparable pack, the Flash 22 presents an excellent value.

I put it into a “good at many things, great at nothing” category, but that is not a negative. For 90%+ of day hikes, this pack will do the job.

I would easily consider this among my short-listed day packs for beginners. You will get a lightweight pack, some nice features, a comfortable carry, and all at a reasonable entry-level price point.

Overall

The REI Flash 22 fills a great spot on the day pack spectrum. It provides value to new and experienced hikers alike.

For someone just getting into hiking, it is a versatile pack for day hikes and everyday general use that won’t break the bank. It can comfortably carry 1-2 liters of water, some snacks, a rain jacket, and some camera equipment.

For more experienced day hikers, it provides an affordable pack that fits well as a “do-it-all” type of pack. I use it for day hiking on maintained trails during ideal weather conditions. For most, this encompasses the majority of their hikes. I would not use it in inclement weather or on day hikes that require carrying a larger load-out. (I.e., cold weather gear, gear for multiple people, etc.)

Pros And Cons

REI Flash 22 pros and cons

Pros

  • Affordable

  • Versatile

  • Stowable hip belt

  • Removable sternum strap

Cons

  • No mesh exterior pockets

  • One size

Is This Pack Right For Your Next Day Hike?

bridge on day hike

Yes. The Flash 22 should be on your list of options if you are considering getting a new day pack.

Some exceptions are:

  • your torso length is outside of the advertised range (16″-21″)

  • you plan to regularly carry heavy loads (15+ pounds)

  • you plan to do a lot of hiking off-trail or in overgrown areas

Outside of these exceptions, the Flash 22 will provide a good option for day hiking.

To be clear, this pack is not for backpacking trips as the volume is just too low to carry a tent, sleeping bag, etc.

Conclusion

If you are looking for your first day pack or an affordable option for your quiver of packs, the REI Flash 22 is well worth a look.

The Flash 22 is:

  • Lightweight

  • Hydration bladder compatible

  • Durable enough to last years

  • Made from recycled materials

  • Oh, and yeah, it’s as affordable as any other pack in its class

REI has done an excellent job over the years to up its own brand of gear, and the Flash 22 fits that trend.

This pack will get you excited to get out the door for your next outdoor adventure!

picture of rock island in lake from a hike

 

Gossamer Gear G4-20: Best Ultralight Pack For 2023?

Table of Contents

Looking for a lightweight pack or looking to branch into the world of ultralight gear?

The Gossamer Gear G4-20 is the perfect pack to consider.

A frameless pack with a lot of features, built to last multiple years of regular backpacking use.

The G4-20 Ultralight Backpack will give you a larger capacity than others in its class, with the features of a backpack twice the price.

It’s water resistant and can function as a day pack or be used for multi-night backpacking trips.

Oh, and it’s under 2 pounds and less than $200.

Quick Stats And Overview

     

      • Total Volume: 42L

      • Weight, without sit pad: 20.9 oz – 22.4 oz.

      • Weight, with sit pad: 23.5 oz – 26.0 oz.

      • Max carry capacity: 25 pounds

      • Material: Robic nylon, with DWR coating

      • Frameless

      • Roll top closure

    Pros And Cons

    Pros

       

        • Versatile

        • Lightweight

        • Comfortable

        • Lots of external pockets

      Versatile. The thing I love most about the G4-20 is just how versatile it is. It is large enough to take on a multi-day trip (if weather and trail conditions are right), but it is also light enough to use as a day pack. If I could have only one backpack, this would easily be on the shortlist.

      Lightweight. At an average weight of 24.7 oz. it is hard to complain. This includes the 3.1 oz. sit pad that is included in the pocket/sleeve along the back. If you are taller and opt for the large pack, the weight only increases to 26.0 oz. and if you are shorter, the total weight drops to 23.5 oz.

      Comfortable. This was my second frameless backpack, and I was still a little bit hesitant of frameless packs. But the G4-20 opened my mind to the idea of frameless backpacks being viable multi-night packs. The fixed hip-belt is perfect for me; it is padded enough to be comfortable but not too much to feel intrusive on my stride. (A nice little hug to let you know it’s there without engulfing and smothering you)

      External Pockets. I am a sucker for high-volume, functional external pockets, and this pack is like a dream come true. Two hip-belt pockets. Two side pockets (one tall pocket and one short pocket). And one big mesh front stretch pocket. The hip-belt pockets are perfect for storing your phone on one side and a couple of snacks on the other. The side pockets are perfect for water bottles or a bottle on one side and other quick-access items on the other. (Plus, it is easy to reach your water bottle in the short pocket without removing your pack or asking for someone else to grab it) And the open mesh pocket is amazing to use for maps, jackets, or drying some clothes while you hike! This past year I did a couple of multi-day trips with this pack and was able to store my tent, tent poles, sleeping pad, and more using just the exterior pockets! (Perfect for opening up space in the main compartment for a bear canister)

      Cons

         

          • Shoulder straps

          • Need to have a low base weight

        Shoulder straps. The shoulder straps are padded, but I would not consider them luxurious by any means. Particularly when the total pack weight is closer to the 20-25 pound range, I felt like my shoulders were feeling sore at the end of the day. Going to the large size versus the medium may reduce this issue, as I am right in the height range between the two sizes.

        Base weight. If your base weight is above 15 pounds or so, I would recommend going with a framed backpack. Gossamer Gear recommends a max of 25 pounds for comfort on this pack, and I feel like that is spot on. By the time you add in water and food, if your base weight is not below 15 pounds, you will not get the most out of this pack.

        In-Depth Rating

        Comfort

        The Gossamer Gear G4-20 is an ultralight backpack that you can load up for a single or multi-night trip and forget that you are using a frameless backpack.

        If you start to reach that 20-pound weight threshold, the pack starts to become a little less comfortable. That is the nature of frameless packs, so it is hard to ding the pack for it too much.

        The hip-belt is nice and wide with adequate padding, and they can be tightened or loosened to achieve the most comfortable fit.

        The shoulder straps are plenty wide and padded. They have adjustable straps to loosen or tighten to achieve your fit. There is also a sternum strap that can be loosened or tightened across your chest.

        The sit pad (a fairly simple foam pad) that is included with the pack sits along the back of the pack in a designated pocket/ sleeve. This provides a nice layer of comfort that protects your back against any hard or uneven items that you have in your pack.

        Unless you carry more than 20 pounds, you will hardly notice that you are wearing a pack, which is about the best compliment you can have for a pack.

        Durability

        I have used mine for two years worth of backpacking trips, and you would never know; it looks brand new.

        All of the stitching has held up. None of the webbing or straps have frayed. The exterior material has no holes.

        It has primarily been on trips in mountainous terrain, so I am holding out to take it on some more varied terrains before I give it a perfect rating for durability. Though I see no signs of wear and tear so far.

        For reference, before this pack, I was usually using the Osprey Exos 48 on trips in mountainous terrain, and it showed more wear and tear in a similar time frame. The mesh pocket on the Osprey pack had multiple holes in it, and some of the stitching was coming loose along the waist belt.

        Features

        The G4-20 has pretty much every feature I was looking for in an ultralight pack.

        Large front mesh pocket. Large hip belt pockets. Roll top closure. Large side pockets. All in a frameless pack that weighs under 2 pounds and can carry up to 20 pounds.

        The front mesh pocket is huge and durable. The bottom of the pocket is robic nylon, so you can put any item with a sharp edge toward the bottom of the pocket for extra protection.

        The hip belt pockets are large and zippered. This is perfect for a phone or snacks. Or another item you want quick access to during your hike.

        The roll top closure allows you to compress the top of the pack down to the level you have it packed to. You could use the full height of the pack or roll it all the way down. There are clips on either side of the roll top that clip in on the side of the pack. This gives you added flexibility to use the pack for longer trips or short day hikes.

        The large side pockets offer a lot of storage and are easily accessible. The two pockets are asymmetrical (one is taller than the other), and this is something that hikers either love or hate. I love them because the short one is reachable while I am wearing the backpack, so it is perfect for my main water bottle. The taller one is flexible it its use; this year I stored my tent poles and stakes in it, saving room in the main compartment.

        Other notable features include: a zippered pocket on the front (above the mesh), removable straps, a removable sit pad, and an ice axe loop on the bottom of the front.

        Gossamer Gear also offers a couple of optional features (for an extra cost). Those are a shoulder strap pocket and an umbrella clamp. I do not have either, so I cannot speak to the quality of them.

        Value

        You are going to pay for a pack that is this light and has as many features. Though, compared to other packs in this ultralight range, the G4-20 is among the best values.

        This pack is still priced under $200, which for an ultralight pack in 2023 is quite impressive.

        I see this pack lasting me at least 5 years (and probably more). Even if this was your only pack, I could see this one lasting over 5 years.

        Plus, with the added daypack/backpack flexibility, I think this pack is well worth the investment.

        Total

        This Gossamer Gear backpack is as versatile and durable as any other frameless backpack on the market.

        Gossamer Gear has been popular among ultralight backpackers for years, and for good reason. Their packs are lightweight while still emphasizing durability and useful features.

        Is The Gossamer Gear G4-20 Worth The Price?

        Yes.

        You are hard-pressed to find an ultralight backpack with this much storage, a comfortable hip belt (plus with hip belt pocket), and comfortable to carry up to 20-25 pounds at this price point.

        You usually have to sacrifice on either comfort, features, or price. But the G4-20 gives you what you need without having to sacrifice any of those three.

        Who Is This Pack Right For

        Anyone looking for a lightweight pack that has maximum flexibility and durability.

        If you are looking to lighten your pack without spending a huge amount of money, this is one you should look at.

        I would recommend that you have your base weight dialed into the 10-15 pound range before considering this backpack for overnight trips. Frameless backpacks can be rather unforgiving if you try to exceed their weight capacity.

        In my experience, the Gossamer Gear G4-20 strikes an excellent balance between comfort, weight, and durability. It is a great do-it-all backpack!

        Conclusion

        The G4-20 is a homerun from Gossamer Gear.

        Under 2 pounds, can carry up to 25 pounds, does not sacrifice nice features, and all for under $200?

        Rather unbelievable for a backpack in 2023.

        If you are into backpacking and want something a little lighter than your big-name brands offer, check out the Gossamer Gear G4-20.

        I switched to this pack for my main overnight backpack a couple of years ago and have not regretted it at all.

        I have plenty of storage, a lighter load, and I find myself enjoying every step of my trips!