How to Choose the Perfect Backpacking Pack for Your Adventures

CAMPING GEAR

Finding the best pack for your needs can be overwhelming, so Osprey is here to offer some insight into how to find the best pack for you.

Since 1974, Osprey has designed highly customizable packs to meet the needs of hikers and adventurers of all shapes, sizes, and genders.

Navigating the process of finding the best pack and fit for you can sometimes feel confusing, so we’ve teamed up with Osprey to break down the size and tech features that will help you decide which pack best meets your needs.

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Osprey Exos Eja Lifestyle Image Hiking
(Photo/Osprey)

Key Considerations When Choosing Your Pack

Fit

Being able to customize your fit is essential for a comfortable hiking experience. Osprey encourages you to measure your torso from the C7 vertebrae to the iliac crest to see what size pack is best for you.

Most packs range from S to XL. From there, you have adjustability in both your shoulder straps and hipbelt to provide the most comfortable fit for long days on the trail. Check out this article for more in-depth info on sizing.

Type

Whether you’re hitting your local trail for a casual day hike, taking on the Pacific Crest Trail, or somewhere in between, you’ll need different features in a pack to perform at your best. Longer thru-hikes require strategic packing and minimal pack weight while shorter treks allow for a little more wiggle room. 

Packability

When it’s all said and done, you need to be able to stay organized on the trail. The last thing you want is to have to pull all of your gear out in search of that one elusive item, and then figure out how to shove it all back in.

Utilizing the different pockets on your pack can save some headache, as well as the utilization of stuff sacks. You can utilize stuff sacks, dry bags, and packing cubes to keep your pack organized and your gear neat and easily accessible. (Check out more tips on how to efficiently and effectively pack your gear here.)

Hiker-Favorite Osprey Packs

Exos & Eja: $220-260

Osprey Exos Eja Lifestyle Image Hiking Through River
(Photo/Osprey)

The Exos and Eja packs have been deemed a favorite amongst hikers of the Appalachian Trail. They are designed to be ultra-lightweight and comfortable to carry for those 20-mile days. This pair is designed for the highly experienced hiker who has mastered the art of minimalist carry. 

One recent standout improvement is the AirSpeed back panel. It utilizes a stronger mesh than previous models and is designed to provide breathability and durability without sacrificing weight.

There are two size options per gender to ensure a proper fit, and the packs are available in 38L, 48L, and 58L capacities, with a load range that tops out at 35 pounds. The ultralight suspension provides 4 inches of torso adjustability, while the 4mm LightWire frame provides stability without bulk. 

Key Features:

  • Top pocket web loop attachment points
  • Removable floating lid with top and under-lid zippered pockets
  • Internal hydration sleeve with center back hose port
  • Stretch mesh front and side pockets
  • Side compression straps
  • Web lash points for attaching overloads
  • Removable sleeping pad straps
  • Ice axe attachment
  • Dual zippered hipbelt pockets
  • Stow-on-the-Go trekking pole attachment

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Atmos & Aura: $300-325

Osprey Atmos Aura Lifestyle Image Hiking
(Photo/Osprey)

The Atmos and Aura AG are a continuation of Osprey’s bestselling pack series. They’re designed to take on a wide variety of hikes, up to a week or more. Best suited to a wide range of backpackers, this is a great option for the hiker who likes to bounce from casual day hikes to longer adventures and wants a pack that can take on those diverse trips.

These packs utilize the same framing and suspension tech as Exos and Eja, which allows for a two-size-per-gender fit. But the hipbelt construction differentiates the Atmos and Aura AG from the other packs.

The AG technology extends the tensioned back panel into the hipbelt and integrates the hipbelt overlay into the frame to decrease pressure and increase load transfer for a smoother carry. The customizable hipbelt and ErgoPull design provide a proper fit and adjustable weight distribution.

These packs are available in 50L and 65L capacities, giving you room for up to 40 pounds of gear.

Key Features:

  • Included Drain cover raincover
  • Floating top lid with lash points
  • Fabric-reinforced front shove-it pocket
  • Tall dual-access side water bottle pockets
  • Side compression straps
  • Dual zippered hipbelt pockets
  • Dual ice axe loops with upper compression strap capture
  • Zippered sleeping bag compartment with removable divider
  • Removable sleeping pad straps
  • Internal hydration reservoir sleeve with center back exit port
  • Stow-on-the-Go trekking pole attachment system

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Levity & Lumina: $250-270

Osprey Levity & Lumina 60

If “less is more” is a mantra you live by, the Levity and Lumina might be for you. This set is Osprey’s “superultralight” design that lets you focus on the adventure ahead rather than what’s on your back. 

They are available in 45L and 60L capacities, with a load range of 10-25 pounds. These packs are made from ripstop nylon prepared to take on the elements without the weight. They have a 3.5mm wire frame, AirSpeed back panel, Exoform hipbelt, and adjustable sternum strap. 

Reviews from thru-hikers who have purchased and used this pack on 100-plus-mile stints say they’re extremely comfortable, especially for those who keep their base weight around 13 pounds. 

Key Features:

  • Fixed top lid with zippered pocket for organizing smaller items
  • Bellowed front fabric pocket stores rain gear for easy access when skies darken, or wet gear after the downpour stops
  • Dual access fabric side pockets for water bottles or smaller items with removable InsideOut compression cord
  • Internal main compartment compression strap
  • Top lid cord loop attachment points for external gear attachment

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Packing Right

Osprey focuses on thoughtful integration of where to place pockets, straps, and various storage solutions in its packs to make organization on the trail easy. A properly packed backpack can make all the difference between an amazing experience and a miserable one, so taking the time to research and practice your packing technique is always time well-spent.

Before you throw things in your pack, it’s best to lay it all out in one spot and run through a backpacking checklist. Once all your gear is ready, then you can concentrate on packing it with weight and accessibility in mind.

Osprey Atmos Aura Brand Image Hiking
(Photo/Osprey)

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This article is sponsored by Osprey. Find out more about Osprey online.

Group backpacking photo
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