An Expert Guide to Osprey Backpacks

Published on 10/17/2023 · 16 min readDiscover the world of Osprey backpacks – renowned for quality, durability, and innovation. Find your perfect adventure companion in this guide!
Hunter Reed, Camping Expert
By Camping Expert Hunter Reed

Photo by Jazzz Monet

TL;DR: Osprey backpacks are well known for their quality, durability, and innovative features. They have tons of different models, varying from technical backpacking packs to casual travel packs and everything in between. Each pack has key features tailored to your outdoor needs. No matter what kind of activities, features, and capacity you need in a pack, there’s sure to be an Osprey pack that fits your adventures.

I have worked in the outdoor industry for the last 8 years and been an avid outdoor enthusiast since I can remember. From going on hikes and camping trips with my dad as a young kid to frequent backpacking and climbing trips throughout college to the last few years of getting more into ski touring, I have dabbled in just about every outdoor sport for which you’d need a backpack.

I got my first Osprey pack 11 years ago as a graduation gift from my dad, and even after miles and miles of use of my Talon 22, it still works just as well as the day I got it (though it’s quite a bit dirtier!). I am pretty hard on my gear, so the fact that my 11-year-old pack is still chugging along without any issues is incredibly impressive to me.

I have since purchased a few more specialized Osprey packs for various outdoor pursuits, including backpacking, trail running, and more. I am always impressed with the quality and durability of Osprey’s gear, and I think it’s truly one of the best brands out there. In this guide, I will break down exactly why Osprey packs are so great and help steer you toward the right pack option from Osprey for your needs and activities. Let’s get into it!

Who Is Osprey?

Photo courtesy of Osprey

A well-known name in the outdoor industry, Osprey makes some of the best backpacks on the market. With 50 years of experience in the backpack world, they have perfected their packs and consistently come up with new features and technologies to make their packs more comfortable, durable, and easy to use no matter your outdoor activity of choice.

Not only do they have some of the most durable and multi-featured packs out there, but all Osprey packs also come with the bonus feature of Osprey’s All Mighty Guarantee. It doesn’t matter if it’s a pack you purchased in the 1980s or a pack you just bought yesterday — if there is damage or a defect in your Osprey pack, you can send it to them, and they will either repair it or replace it free of charge. When you purchase an Osprey pack, you are not only getting a great piece of gear but the peace of mind that your new pack can accompany you on all your outdoor adventures for years to come.

What to Consider When Buying An Osprey Backpack Product

Before perusing all the backpack options Osprey has to offer, there are a few key things to ask yourself to narrow down the best kind of backpack for your exact needs. Here are the first questions to consider before shopping for your pack.

What is The Primary Activity You Plan to Use it for?

Photo courtesy of Osprey

If you’re in the market for a new backpack, chances are you have a specific activity in mind that you need a backpack for. Osprey has a wide range of backpack options from climbing packs to hiking packs to backpacking packs to multi-use packs and everything in between. The primary activity you’re planning on using your backpack for will govern the kind of pack you need and the size and specific features that might be useful to you.

How Much Carrying Capacity Do You Need?

Next up is determining what carrying capacity or liter capacity would be best for you. This will largely depend on the type of activity you plan on using it for, but even within the different categories of packs, there are ranges of sizing options. Day hiking packs come in a range of 8-35L capacity options, and backpacking packs come in a range from 45-75L options.

To help figure out what capacity you need, think about the gear you will need to bring on your activity. If you mostly do short hikes where you just bring water, snacks, and an extra layer, a smaller 12L daypack will suffice. If you generally carry water, snacks, and layers for you and your two kids, you might want something larger such as a 30L daypack. Similarly for backpackers — if you plan on doing one- or two-night trips, a 50L pack will likely work, but if you are doing weeklong backpacking trips where you need more gear, you may want to opt for a 65L pack.

What Size and Weight Are Suitable for You?

Along with the internal size of your backpack (its carrying capacity), you’ll also need to consider what size backpack you need and what weight of pack is suitable for your body type and activity. If you’re a smaller individual, a 75L pack will almost certainly be too large and heavy for a backpacking trip, but if you’re a larger individual, it might suit you well.

In terms of how to size your backpack, Osprey has a range of sizing options, and packs for different activities might have different fits. Here’s a general guide on how to size your pack:

Diagram courtesy of Osprey

For more information about specific sizing for specific packs, check out Osprey’s detailed guide here.

Do You Need Any Specific Features?

Internal hydration sleeve in the Hikelite 32 (left) and the stowaway rain cover on the Atmos 65 (right)

Osprey has a ton of different options across their backpacks, all intended to make your backpack easier to use and more functional for the type of activity you’re doing. Here’s a short list of some of their most common features:

  • Hydration sleeves: An internal sleeve within the backpack that can hold your hydration bladder securely so it doesn’t spill or get crushed by the rest of your gear
  • Adjustable torso lengths: Especially helpful for those with shorter or longer torsos who have a difficult time finding a backpack that fits them well. This offers more customization so you can get a better fit without needing to settle for a pack that’s slightly too large or small for you in the torso area.
  • Specialty suspension systems: Osprey has different suspension systems meant to offer better ventilation, distribute the load in your pack evenly, and avoid trouble spots for hikers or backpackers who prioritize more airflow in their back panel or who suffer from neck or shoulder soreness.
  • Integrated rain covers: For those living in particularly rainy areas such as the Pacific Northwest, a rain cover can be a lifesaver. It can easily be stored in a pouch on the outside of your pack, and you can whip it out and cover your pack with it if the rain starts coming down. This can protect your layers, sleeping bag, and the rest of your gear from getting soaked.
  • Removable top lid: This is a super-useful feature on backpacking packs. Most backpacking packs across all brands have a top lid section of the pack that goes over the main compartment. On most Osprey packs, this top lid can be removed and used as a fanny pack on its own. If you’re a backpacker who likes to have a home base where your tent is set up and explore during the day, you can easily take this top lid off and store your day hike essentials in it as you inspect the area around your campsite.

Not all of these features may be useful to your particular situation, but no matter what kind of activity you’re looking to use your Osprey pack for, there are likely some specific features that will help make your life easier when you hit the trail.

How Much Should an Osprey Backpack Cost?

Osprey packs come in a wide range of price options. Simpler day pack options start around $60-$100, whereas heavier-duty backpacking packs are typically in the $100-$250 range. If you’re looking for a larger pack with tons of features and technology, you should likely budget for closer to $300. Even their lower-priced models are still super durable and last a lifetime, so no matter how much you’re spending on an Osprey pack, you can at least have the peace of mind that you won’t have to spend money on a pack again for a long time.

What Are the Different Types of Osprey Backpacks?

Now that you’ve narrowed down a bit about what kind of backpack you need exactly, let’s check out the different categories of backpacks Osprey has to offer. Each pack in this list has a specific use in mind as well as some pros and cons!

Daypacks

Photo by Maridav

Daypacks, like the Osprey Daylite, are the most compact and versatile backpack options from Osprey. They are designed for shorter adventures or everyday use.

  • Benefits
    • Compact and lightweight
    • Versatile, can be used for short hikes, travel, or everyday use
    • Essential features for organization
  • Be Aware
    • Limited capacity and features for extended trips
    • Not optimal for carrying heavy loads
    • Don’t typically have as many special features as more specialized packs

Backpacking Packs

Photo by Everst

Osprey’s line of backpacking packs, including the very popular Atmos AG and Aether AG, are meant to carry heavier loads for longer trips, ranging from overnight backpacking trips to longer thru-hiking adventures. They have more storage and more advanced suspension systems than the daypacks, as they need to be able to distribute heavier loads more comfortably.

  • Benefits
    • High capacity
    • Advanced suspension systems make heavier loads easier to carry
    • Designed for multi-day trips and heavy loads
  • Be Aware
    • Heavier than daypacks
    • Not as versatile because of the size
    • Can be expensive because of specialized features

Osprey Travel Packs

Photo by Yongkiet Jitwattanatam

The newest pack line from Osprey is the travel packs, including the Osprey Farpoint series. These are designed for travelers, offering features like lockable zippers, a padded laptop sleeve, and detachable daypacks in a streamlined shape. Osprey also just started making luggage such as suitcases, which we won’t cover in this article but if you’re looking for a travel set it’s certainly worth looking into!

  • Benefits
    • Streamlined and versatile
    • Has helpful travel features such as security features
    • Great everyday packs
  • Be Aware
    • Not optimal for specialized outdoor activities
    • Lack the ventilation and suspension systems of hiking-specific packs

Mountain Biking Packs

Photo by Wavebreak Media

Osprey's mountain biking packs line, including the Raptor 10, is made specifically for cyclists who are heading out on a long day or even an overnight bikepacking adventure. They carefully balance carrying capacity with stability so you can still pedal through rough trails with all your essentials easily accessible.

  • Benefits
    • Dedicated compartments for spare tubes, tools, and pumps securely
    • Streamlined and balanced to carry your gear without weighing you down
  • Be Aware
    • Smaller size, can’t carry as much gear as a daypack or non-cycling specific pack
    • Not as versatile as other options

Trail Running Packs

Photo by AYA images

In their trail running packs, Osprey focuses on a low-weight construction and a secure fit to prevent weighing you down or your pack from bouncing during runs. Their trail running packs, such as the Dyna 6, have enough storage for only the basics — water, some snacks, a phone, etc.

  • Benefits
    • Lightweight, not bulky
    • Secure and streamlined fit
    • Usually come with hydration bladders or bottles
  • Be Aware
    • Limited carrying capacity
    • Some models lack enough pockets for organized storage
    • Not as versatile as other options

Ski/Snowboard Packs

Photo by Zedspider

Osprey’s ski and snowboard packs are more waterproof than their other pack options, so they can keep your gear dry even if the snow is really coming down. These packs, including the top-seller Kamber pack, are specially designed to make skiers’ lives easier on backcountry tours. They have features such as a helmet carry, ski carry, and specific pockets for your avalanche safety gear.

  • Benefits
    • Ski and snowboard carry options make bootpacking easier
    • Insulated hydration sleeves prevent water from freezing in cold temperatures
    • Avalanche gear storage makes it easy to find your safety equipment quickly
    • More weatherproof to endure heavy snowfall
  • Be Aware
    • Bulkier and heavier than other types of packs
    • May offer too many specialized features for general outdoor use

Multi-Activity Packs

Photo by Christopher Moswitzer

Lastly we have the most versatile of any of the Osprey packs, the multi-activity packs like the Talon series. These have some specific features that could be useful for specific activities but are more geared towards being a go-to pack for any type of adventure, from day hiking to climbing to day-to-day use and more.

  • Benefits
    • The most versatile pack option
    • Balances features, weight, and capacity
  • Be Aware
    • Not as many specialized features for specific activities
    • Not ideal for carrying very heavy loads

Features to Look Out for When Buying an Osprey Pack

As one of the best-known names in the world of backpacks, Osprey has a few features and technologies that make their backpacks really stand out. Here are the most common features you’ll see when shopping around for your Osprey pack and what exactly they mean.

  • Anti-Gravity Suspension System: The Anti-Gravity system is included in most of Osprey’s backpacking packs as well as some multi-use packs or day hiking packs (noted by AG in the name of the product). It’s a 3D suspended mesh that’s contoured to the parts of the body that carry the most weight, helping disperse the load across the shoulders, hips, and lumbar more equally and comfortably. It’s great for longer hikes to prevent soreness and keep your back well ventilated.
  • AirSpeed Back Panel: The AirSpeed is similar to the Anti-Gravity system, but it allows more airflow through the back panel in order to prevent as much sweating in the areas of high contact. This is particularly nice for hiking or backpacking in the warmer months.
  • ExoForm Harness: The ExoForm Harness combines breathability and performance to make almost a custom fit in the back panel. It’s a mesh-covered foaming on the back panel that molds to the shape of your back ensuring a comfortable fit and pack that keeps your belongings secure when navigating tricky terrain.
  • Stow-on-the-Go Trekking Pole Attachment: For those times you want to bring your hiking poles, but worry about carrying your poles if you decide you don’t want to use them for some segment of the hike, this is super helpful. It’s a series of loops on the outside of the pack that allows you to easily stow your poles without needing to remove your pack. (In the backpacking packs, there are also integrated sleeping pad loops, and on some of their more technical packs, there’s an ice ax attachment that both work similarly to the stow-on-the-go attachments.)
  • Fit-on-the-Fly Hipbelt: This adjustable hip belt, included in all of Ospreys backpacking packs allows you to get a perfect fit that’s comfortable on your hips. The hip belt is easy to tighten or loosen without taking your pack off. It makes it easy to get the right fit without needing to stop every time you need to take a layer off or put a layer on because you can just adjust as you’re hiking. It also allows extended fitting options for those who have a hard time finding a backpack with a hip belt that’s large enough to fit their waist.

How to Choose the Right Osprey Pack for You

Now that you have all the information, it’s time to narrow down exactly what kind of Osprey pack might be the best fit for you! Below are three Curated customers whom I have helped find their perfect Osprey pack. They each have different needs and uses for their packs and different features that would be helpful to have in their Osprey pack. I have also listed some options of specific recommendations of the best Osprey backpacks for their situation.

Lily the Avid Day Hiker

Lily is a passionate hiker living in Northern California who loves exploring new trails. She spends most of her weekends car camping and doing day hikes in various types of terrain. She always carries the essentials, including water, snacks, layers, and a first aid kit. At 5’3” and 120lbs, she has a smaller frame so wants something lightweight.

  • Things Lily Needs in a Pack
    • Lightweight and compact
    • Comfortable with good ventilation
    • Quick access to essentials
  • Features to Look for
    • AirSpeed backpanel for ventilation
    • Water bottle pockets on the outside
    • Stow-on-the-Go trekking pole attachment
    • Multiple accessible pockets

Joann the Backpacking Enthusiast

Joann has been a frequent backpacker for years. She does some overnight trips but generally tries to plan her summers, springs, and falls around when she can take time off to do multi-night backpacking trips deep in the backcountry. Since she backpacks so often, she wants something durable enough to withstand the elements. She wants enough room for all her gear but doesn’t want to carry anything too heavy since she generally hikes long distances.

  • Things Joann Needs in a Pack
    • High carrying capacity
    • Durability for rugged terrains
    • Comfortable back panel
    • Advanced suspension system
  • Features to Look for
    • Anti-gravity suspension system for comfort
    • Hip-belt pockets for easy access to her map devices
    • Lower weight for long distances
    • Hydration sleeve compatible to stay hydrated during her treks

Danny the All-Around Outdoorsman

Danny loves getting outside. Whether it’s climbing peaks, hiking through the forest, or going on a short stroll on his skis with his friends, he will always say yes to any type of outdoor adventure. He is looking for a pack that’s versatile enough to handle the variety of outdoor activities he likes doing. He wants something that’s functional and comfortable but not too specific to one activity that he would need to buy several backpacks.

  • Things Danny Needs in a Pack
    • Versatility for different activities
    • Balance between weight and features
    • Easy gear accessibility
  • Features to Look for
    • Multi-activity design
    • Adjustable and comfortable harness
    • Multiple gear attachment points

Find the Right Osprey Backpack for You

Photo courtesy of Osprey

Even with all the ground we’ve covered in this guide, it can still be overwhelming to decide which Osprey pack is exactly right for you. Luckily, our team of Camping and Hiking Experts here on Curated are here to help give you personalized advice on all your gear purchases. Whether you’re just about to head out on your first camping trip or are a seasoned pro looking for a second opinion, we can chat with you for free and offer recommendations and suggestions on the right gear for your next adventure. Happy hiking!

Curated experts can help

Have a question about the article you just read or want personal recommendations? Connect with a Curated expert and get free recommendations for whatever you’re looking for!

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