Tag Archives: ultralight backpack reviews
By Michael Lanza
Backpacks come in many sizes and flavors for a reason: so do backpackers. Some of us need a pack for moderate loads, others for heavy loads, while still others want a pack designed for lightweight or ultralight backpacking. Some prefer a minimalist design, others a range of features and access. Everyone wants the best fit and comfort they can find, and almost everyone has a budget.
From the many backpacks intended primarily (if not exclusively) for backpacking that I’ve tested and reviewed at The Big Outside, I’ve selected for this article 10 top performers that stand out for reasons that make each appeal uniquely to a certain type of backpacker. (In addition, I point out below two excellent packs for kids of all ages.) I think one of them will be perfect for you—possibly even more than one if, like me, you prefer different packs for different kinds of trips. Continue reading →
Osprey Exos 58 and Eja 58
$220, 58L/3,539 c.i., 2 lbs. 11 oz. (men’s medium Exos)
Sizes: men’s Exos S-L, women’s Eja XS-M
It’s difficult and sometimes dangerous to improve on a piece of gear that’s nearly perfect in its simplicity and functionality. So when Osprey rolled out the redesigned Exos for 2018, along with a women’s version, the Eja, with some changes to this popular model—which became an ultralight pack archetype when it was introduced in 2008—I immediately wanted to see whether the changes represent an improvement. Taking it on a six-day, roughly 90-mile hike on the Continental Divide Trail through Glacier National Park, I found definite improvements—including that it carries better than the previous iteration—and I think some backpackers may miss one convenient feature that’s absent from the updated pack. Continue reading →
I read your article about ultra-backpacking and how you did the John Muir Trail in seven days. I am planning on doing it, but would like to know, for an ultralight backpacker, what do you suggest for a backpack, tent, sleeping bag, etc.? Any feedback or thoughts that you have would be much appreciated.
Covina, CA Continue reading →
I’m looking for a backpack for my Appalachian Trail thru-hike. I am considering some Osprey packs and others. What to you recommend as the best thru-hiking backpack?
Gregory Optic 58 (men’s) and Octal 55 (women’s)
$210, 58L/3,539 c.i. (men’s medium), 2 lbs. 7 oz. (men’s small, without the included rain cover, 3 oz.)
Sizes: men’s S-L, women’s XS-M
No one loves loading extra water into their pack—especially upwards of 13 pounds of it, as I did as we left our last water source on our final evening backpacking the Grand Canyon’s Thunder River-Deer Creek Loop. We needed to haul enough liquid sustenance to get us through the 2,600-foot climb we were embarking on at 5:30 p.m., plus another 2,000 feet uphill early the next morning. That pushed my total pack weight up toward the limit of the ultralight Optic 58—as good a test as any. And Gregory’s first foray into ultralight packs not only handled that assignment well, it shines for many other reasons, too. Continue reading →