Review: Osprey Archeon 70 and Archeon 65 Backpacks

Backpack
Osprey Archeon 70 and Archeon 65
$340, 68L/4,150 c.i., 5 lbs. 8 oz. (men’s S/M)
Sizes: men’s S/M and L/XL, women’s XS/S and M/L
backcountry.com

Large backpacks may seem to some backpackers like the outdoor industry’s Ford Edsel—reflecting a style from a bygone era—and the clean, old-school, utilitarian look of Osprey’s Archeon series perhaps engenders that reaction. But don’t judge it prematurely. Packs for big loads have a place, and the Archeon 70 won me over on numerous trips for its very modern comfort and functionality—not to mention that it’s made with recycled materials. 

Osprey Archeon 70 harness.
Osprey Archeon 70 harness.

I carried the men’s Archeon 70 (the women’s model is the Archeon 65) on six trips this summer: two overnights with tons of gear; a five-day, 40-mile hike through Idaho’s Seven Devils Mountains in early summer, frequently laboring over treefall, soft snow, and rocky scrambles; a 35-mile, off-trail fishing trip in Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains; five long hiking days over three passes in Oregon’s Eagle Cap Wilderness; and a rigorous, five-day, 77-mile circumnavigation of most of the Wonderland Trail around Mount Rainier.

On each and every one of those very different trips, the Archeon 70 performed beyond expectations.

With a suspension featuring an HDPE framesheet and aluminum alloy stays, the Archeon carries up to about 45 pounds comfortably and stably. The easily adjustable harness—with about four inches of adjustability in each pack size—wraps seamlessly from the ample lumbar pad to the hipbelt, eliminating the hip discomfort and shoulder and upper-back fatigue that I’ve had with other packs.


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Osprey Archeon 70 front.
Osprey Archeon 70 front.

That design helped me—someone with both a short torso and a barrel chest—remain comfortable even carrying substantial weight off-trail and scree running down a mountainside in the Sawtooths, and on 17-mile, 8,000-vertical-foot days on the Wonderland Trail.

The edgeless, breathable foam padding in the hipbelt and shoulder straps and Osprey’s Airscape back panel improve ventilation and comfort, although the pack necessarily carries close to the body, and with any heavy pack, you’re going to sweat.

I’ve used and owned packs with greater volume that weighed considerably less, including, for many years, an older Osprey Aether with great satisfaction. But none of them were nearly this comfortable; I consider the Archeon far superior for the backpacking I do. (I tend to carry some camp luxuries, like a packable chair and cot.) To me, a pound more in pack weight seems a small price to pay for much better comfort and performance.

The Archeon packs demonstrate Osprey’s usual craftsmanship and attention to detail—which arguably become even more important in a pack for big loads than in an ultralight pack.

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Osprey Archeon 70 zippered front panel.
Osprey Archeon 70 zippered front panel.

A top-loader with a floating lid, it has excellent access, mostly notably a dual-zipper front panel that opens up the main compartment—a feature I regularly used to quickly grab clothing, food, or my tent, and easily load a Bear Vault BV 500 bear canister horizontally into the main compartment. Another external zipper accesses the sleeping bag compartment, which has a floatingdivider. The bag has plenty of space for extra gear like fishing rods and tackle, plus side compression straps and multiple webbing lash points to secure gear to the outside. The top and side compression help stabilize the pack when it’s underfilled.

The Archeon features two stretch side pockets that hold a liter bottle and open at the top and the back side, allowing you to reach into them while wearing the pack, as well as a spacious lid pocket and zippered hipbelt pockets. I used the lid pocket for my gravity filter, headlamp, knife, and snacks, and the zippered mesh pocket on the lid’s underside for sunscreen and other small items—the mesh letting me see what I was looking for. The Archeon comes with a fitted rain cover that stores in its own pocket and dual loops for ice axes or trekking poles.

One common drawback of lightweight and ultralight packs is less durability—not a shortcoming of the Archeon. Its 100 percent recycled, 1880-denier nylon canvas fabric can endure everything from off-trail bushwhacking to scraping through tight, coarse slot canyons and virtually any other forms of abuse that shred lesser packs. Indestructible metal hook-style clips replace buckles.

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Osprey Archeon 70 hipbelt.
Osprey Archeon 70 hipbelt.

A PFC-free DWR (durable, water-resistant) coating enhances the pack’s sustainability story—but nothing is more sustainable than a pack will endure hard use for many years, as the Archeon will. 

At 5.5 pounds to just over six pounds (depending on size), the Archeon 70 and 65 compare with leading large packs like the Arc’teryx Bora AR 63 and the Gregory men’s Baltoro 75 and women’s Deva 70—which all weigh two to three times as much as the best ultralight packs, spotlighting the truth that the largest Archeon models are designed for backpackers who carry a lot of stuff, like parents backpacking with young kids and anyone on gear-intensive adventures.

Backpackers who do not routinely carry 40 pounds or more can find better packs that are half the weight of the Archeon 70 and 65. But for the gear-intensive overnights and weeklong trips I took, I found the Archeon 70 perfect.

Smaller versions include the men’s and women’s Archeon 25, Archeon 30, and Archeon 45.

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The Verdict

This is not a pack for anyone wanting to travel light. But if your backpacking style involves loads of 40 pounds or more, and you’re seeking superior comfort, access, and durability, Osprey’s men’s Archeon 70 or women’s Archeon 65 is a good pack for you.

—Jeffrey D. Wilhelm

Note from Michael Lanza of The Big Outside: Jeffrey D. Wilhelm is an experienced backpacker and hiker, a university professor of English, and a friend with whom I’ve backpacked for years.

BUY IT NOW You can support my work on this blog, at no cost to you, by clicking any of these affiliate links to buy a men’s Osprey Archeon 70 at backcountry.com, moosejaw.com, or ospreypacks.com, or women’s Osprey Archeon 65 at backcountry.com, moosejaw.com, or ospreypacks.com, or any Archeon model at backcountry.com, moosejaw.com, or ospreypacks.com.

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Whether you’re a beginner or seasoned backpacker, you’ll learn new tricks for making all of your trips go better in my “12 Expert Tips for Planning a Backpacking Trip,” “A Practical Guide to Lightweight and Ultralight Backpacking,” and “How to Know How Hard a Hike Will Be.” With a paid subscription to The Big Outside, you can read all of those three stories for free; if you don’t have a subscription, you can download the e-guide versions of “12 Expert Tips for Planning a Backpacking Trip,” the lightweight backpacking guide, and “How to Know How Hard a Hike Will Be.”

NOTE: I tested gear for Backpacker magazine for 20 years. At The Big Outside, I review only what I consider the best outdoor gear and apparel. See my Gear Reviews page at The Big Outside for categorized menus of all of my reviews and my expert buying tips.

—Michael Lanza

 

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OSPREY MEN’S ARCHEON 70 AND WOMEN’S ARCHEON 65

Comfort/Support
Fit
Access
Features
Weight-to-Performance
Value

Summary

If your backpacking style involves loads of 40 pounds or more, and you’re seeking superior comfort, access, and durability, Osprey’s men’s Archeon 70 or women’s Archeon 65 is a good pack for you.

4.5
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