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

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