Osprey Exos Pro 55 Rucksack Review by Rudolf Abraham
The Osprey Exos Pro 55 is unquestionably the most comfortable pack I’ve ever used, and is almost ridiculously light – 1122g/946g (there are two sizes), which is less than many day packs, without any loss in stability. I’ve now been using the Exos Pro 55 for around 6 months, during which time I’ve taken it on two very different long distance routes, the High Scardus Trail in North Macedonia/Kosovo/Albania, and the Tour des Combins in Switzerland.
The carrying system is more substantial than might be expected on a pack weighing so little, and is highly adjustable, ensuring a good fit. At the centre of this is a tensioned mesh back panel running almost the full length of the pack, which does a very effective job of keeping some space between your back and the pack, allowing ventilation and reducing sweat buildup. The pack has a wire frame, with a horizontal support bar running across the middle to prevent the pack from simply bulging in against the mesh back panel. The hip-belt is wide and comfortable, made from EVA padded foam with cutouts to reduce weight. The padded shoulder straps are shaped, and have a combination of perforated foam overlaid with mesh which again aids ventilation. The partly mesh yoke is quite wide, so the shoulder straps aren’t too close together and the load is well distributed. The fit can be adjusted by way of simple clips which allow the yoke to be positioned higher or lower on the back panel. All in all I’ve found the frame very comfortable – the pack moves with me, and the mesh back panel is one of my favourite features of this pack.
Photo: The Osprey Exos Pro 55 on the High Scardus Trail in North Macedonia
The Exos Pro 55 comes in two sizes, S/M and L/XL (with a capacity of 55l and 58l respectively). I have the L/XL, which should fit a torso length (back length) of 50–58cm. I’m 1.92m tall, and the fit is very good – the back certainly isn’t too short. It comes in one colour choice, dale grey/agam blue, with black for the shoulder straps and mesh back panel. There’s a women’s fit equivalent, the Eja Pro 55.
The front pocket is quite large, and is made of the same fabric as the rest of the pack with mesh along the sides – this makes it less susceptible to snagging, but means it doesn’t have as much stretch as the all-mesh side pockets. In any case I manage to fit a pair of Keen Newport H2O sandals in there (which are quite bulky and not exactly light, and I have large feet) without a problem. The front pocket is also where I’ll stuff waterproof over-trousers and gaiters after use, when they’re wet. There’s no opening at the base of the pocket to aid drainage, but I haven’t found that an issue.The mesh side pockets are also very deep and roomy, the perfect size for a water flask, with no chance of it slipping out – actually I often carry a 1l metal flask together with a 1l LifeStraw Peak Series filter in one of these pockets, keeping the other side free for the legs of a tripod. The side pockets have an elasticated opening just above the hip-belt, meaning you can access a flask without having to remove the pack (easy with one flask in there, a bit more difficult with a flask plus filter pouch).
There are two pockets on the hip-belt too, which I find very handy – a zipped pocket on the right side, and a stretch pouch on the left. The fabric of the zipped pocket is shaped, so there’s a decent amount of room inside, and it’s easy to get things in and out while wearing the pack – I generally use this carrying for sunscreen, hand gel and the like. I find the stretch pouch good for stuffing lightweight gloves or a fleece beanie into. The side compression straps are long (one single zigzagged strap down each side), and work well in my experience. Four webbing loops on the lid and further ones down each side of the front of the pack provide additional attachment points, and there are two ice axe loops.
Photo: High Scardus Trail, North Macedonia
The floating lid is a good size, and can be removed if you wanted to strip weight down further (shaving off around 80g, at the expense of a 9l reduction in volume), although I haven’t used it in that way. It has a key clip inside. There’s a flap which acts as a minimalist covering if the lid of the pack has been removed, attaching to the same clips as the ones used by the lid. Otherwise it just hangs inside the opening of the pack, or lies across it. The opening to the pack has the usual sensible Osprey draw-chord, which is easy to operate with one hand. Inside, the pack is very roomy, and we have a large hydration pocket with an attachment clip. There’s also an internal compression strap to help keep loads stable – although I’ll admit I haven’t found any occasion to need this.
The fabric used is Osprey’s NanoFly, a Bluesign approved, PFAS-free, 100D ripstop nylon with 200D UHMWPE (that’s ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene to you and me) – which translated means an extremely abrasion-resistant material which is also incredibly lightweight.
The first trip I tested the Exos Pro 55 on was the High Scardus Trail – a 200km epic along the mountainous and remote borders of North Macedonia, Kosovo and Albania, which meanders through some of the most spectacularly wild and remote mountain scenery in Europe, in the second half of June. Weather, late snow and steep, frequently trackless terrain conspired to make this a challenging though incredibly beautiful two week solo trip, so the fact that the pack was so comfortable was a huge relief (I can’t say the same about my choice of boots on that trip, but more on that one another time). You can read more about the High Scardus Trail here.
Osprey claims the Exos Pro 55 is suitable for carrying loads up to somewhere around 13.5kg (10–30lbs is the figure they give). I carried roughly the upper limit of that on the High Scardus Trail, cramming a lot in and carrying a tripod (Gitzo Series 2 Traveller plus Acratech Ultimate Ballhead) down one side, and it coped fine with this. On the Tour des Combins – a 100km circuit in the Swiss Alps and partly in Italy, which rivals the better known Tour du Mont Blanc yet sees far fewer hikers – I carried much less, under 10kg. I’d say that 12kg is a good figure to aim at, which the Exos Pro 55 will be able to carry very comfortably.
I managed to rip the pack on the High Scardus Trail – though not through any fault in the pack or the fabric. It was a long, gruelling day where heavy rain had made the first river crossing ‘inadvisable’, and long steeply pitched tongues of snow (which should have melted weeks before) blocked the trail in places – these required several trackless detours above or below them, resulting in a fair number of slips and falls, on one of which I ended up with a 5cm tear on the base of the pack from a protruding rock. Osprey have said this can be repaired, so I’ll be sending the pack in to get it fixed now that the summer hiking trips are over, and I’ll update this review when it’s returned.
In 2020 Osprey stated their aim to become ‘the most progressive, transparent and sustainable outdoor hardgoods brand worldwide’. This commitment spans making gear which is intended to last longer in the first place, to offering a repair service to help ensure more gear goes back into the wild, rather than into landfill, and their SecondLife programme which refurbishes pre-used packs and helps put them into the hands of new owners. All Osprey products use PFC-free coatings, and over 60% of the main body materials use recycled content, with 65% of those being Bluesign approved. They have a range of 100% recycled fabric packs which include both post-consumer and post-industrial waste. Osprey have a long-term partnership with EOCA (European Outdoor Conservation Association), sponsoring several conservation initiatives in Europe and beyond, and have also partnered with the Nimsdai Foundation in the Himalayas.
As it should be fairly obvious by this point, I really like the Exos Pro 55, which delivers pretty much everything I could ask for in a pack this size.
For more information on the Osprey Exos Pro 55 lightweight pack click here.
Review date: October 2023 | Back to reviews