why are osprey packs so popular?

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    Myles Booth


    So, a friend and i just completed a section hike of the A.T, (Damascus to Dickey gap) and we saw a lot of osprey packs out there with thru hikers, as well as ULA. I know ULA has a great reputation, but i was wondering why we saw so many people carrying osprey packs. I looked on the web a bit, and they didnt seem too light weight, but noticed they have a great warranty. I was assuming it was because they are comfortable or something, but i have never put one on. Can any osprey owners fill me in? Am i missing out on a great pack?

    Jake D
    BPL Member


    Locale: Bristol,RI

    Have the Exos 58 and 34. Fits great, pretty light w/ frame to carry up to 30lb. I try to stay under 25lb total and I have no pain or discomfort. plenty of other features that keep me happy.

    only way to know if it works for you is to try it. everyone is different, hence so many different packs.

    Myles Booth


    Yeah, i was thinking that the having a frame would definitely help, especially on longer trips with bigger loads. Thanks for the reply.

    Roger Caffin
    BPL Member


    Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe

    Because for some (many) people they definitely work, MUCH better than the fashionable frameless ones.


    Ken Thompson
    BPL Member


    Locale: Right there

    That they are sold everywhere doesn't hurt them either. Plus they make commuter and other sports stuff so brand loyalty is there too.

    Maybe average Joe/Jane love all those straps.

    Eli Zabielski
    BPL Member


    Locale: Boulder, CO

    Without even talking about the merits of Osprey packs themselves, there are a few things that have made Osprey really popular.

    – Company Philosophy. The warranty is epic. Also, until relatively recently, Osprey packs were made in Colorado. Now they are made in Asia, but I think that reputation has carried on. They've also been in the business for a while.

    – Availability at REI. At least at my local REI, they have basically every single Osprey pack in every single possible size. They have way more Osprey packs for sale than other brands it seems. People like REI, and when they see a huge wall of packs that are mostly Osprey, they are going to buy them. Sort of brand-momentum.

    – They are part of the prototypical image of backpacking. Their flagship backpacks like the Aether series are THE image people have in their mind of a backpacking backpack.

    If you left the AT and went to a non-thru hiking backpacking area, I think you would find a lot less ULA packs and more big Osprey packs. ULA is popular by word of mouth of thru-hikers.

    Myles Booth


    Yeah, i do suppose availability is a big reason. They are sold in almost every outfitter i have been to. That would give them a big advantage over cottage industry makers. I need to go try one on sometime, just to check them out. I looked into their warranty, and it is, as you said,epic! Not many companies offer that now a days, or so it seems to me. Either way, thanks for the info people.

    James holden
    BPL Member


    because people can try em on …

    fit is everything, if a pack doesnt fit you, it doesnt matter what it is

    and they work … ospreys (like dead bird, MH, TNF, etc …) are used by some folks who do more in a few years than most of us ever will in their life … the packs are not what are holding them back

    oh and theres the warranty of course …

    i own and use an osprey mutant climbing pack


    Owen McMurrey


    Locale: SE US

    Don't care about brand names, and fit is an individual thing, but Osprey's size Medium packs happen to fit me perfectly. Better than anything else I've tried, and I shopped packs for months before buying my first Osprey. Now I have 3 different sizes of Exos, a Manta 25 for dayhiking, and a Raptor 14 for mountain biking. Even the simple ones have more doodads than I care for, but between the way they fit me and the suspended mesh back panels, I really only look at other packs out of curiosity.

    They really are very popular, too. Had no idea how much so until I took my dad to Zion NP during tourist season a couple of years ago, and noticed on the trails and shuttles that Osprey was the only backpacking brand I even saw(though it was almost all daypacks). Lots and lots of Manta series packs.
    Wanted to try the Manta 25 that I later bought at REI in Las Vegas, and they were completely out of them-I mean all colors and sizes. I think their variety of styles and features must give them a wide appeal.

    John Finney
    BPL Member


    Locale: Zürich, Switzerland

    Just to reinforce some points made above:

    Osprey packs are built well, and for their weight tend to have good and comfortable weight transfer capability — before I lightened my load and switched to lighter packs, I never had a pack as comfortable as my Atmos 65 for long trips carrying a ton of food and gear.

    The fit of a frame pack, however, will be very specific to the individual. Stores that carry a good selection of Osprey packs (like REI) will likely carry other brands with similar build quality, price, size. It is recommended to load a pack with your gear (or bean bags, if you don't have your gear) and get a trained store employee to fit each one.

    Going UL, of course, gives you completely different options, where comfort derives primarily from less weight to carry in the first place.

    hwc 1954


    I've got three Osprey packs:

    A Raptor 14 liter day pack for when I want to carry a water bladder, a snack, and a rain jacket.

    A Stratos 34 day pack, which is my standard summer daypack.

    An Atmos 50, which is my winter daypack (big enough to lash snowshoes, carry a down jacket, etc.) and my summer overnight backpacking pack.

    The Stratos and the Atmos both have the wire frame and are VERY comfortable, with substantial padded shoulder and waist bands. I'm sure there are lighter packs out there, but these are very comfortable

    I stuck with Osprey because I was happy with the first one and because my Osprey water bladders integrate perfectly with all three. My sense is that Osprey does a very good job of useful features.

    I haven't had the first bit of trouble from any of them. As far as I can tell, they are practically bullet proof. Osprey packs are, by far, the most popular backpack I see in New Hampshire. I'd say you see more Ospreys than every other brand of pack combined.

    Jake S


    I guess the question you could be asking is: "why are osprey packs so popular, when they could be using _____________ ?"

    The easy answer then is that they're available at retailers and that they market themselves in a way that makes new people feel comfortable. It's the same way REI sells a bunch of crap people don't need like and the $5 roll of 8' of duck tape.

    The brightly color brochures featuring attractive people, the nonsensical features like "trekking pole holders" and various organizational compartments all put people at ease. "But how nifty is it?" is the question most people want answered–osprey provides easy answers.

    And most people only get out a couple nights a year, and they only walk 3-4 miles when they do. For them osprey preforms more than well enough. I guess in such cases You could argue they'd be better of with grandma gatewood's laundry duffle over their shoulder and spending the difference in some steaks, but most aren't that practical. :)

    J R
    BPL Member


    It's because REI sells the hell out of them. Walk into any REI and ask the clerk about backpacks, and odds are they will steer you towards an Osprey as "the best." Go to the REI website and click on packs for backpacking, let the listing come up in the automatic order that REI has it set to — on the first page out of 30 packs shown 18 are Osprey. In fact, 5 of the first 6 are Osprey. Coincidence?

    Gregory and Deuter and others have a variety of features too, and nice brochures, and a differentiated product line, etc. Those qualities alone don't set Osprey apart.

    On the AT last weekend I saw tons of Osprey, but I also saw a surprising number of TNF. I mentioned that on REI's page that 5 of the first 6 listed are Osprey, guess what the other one is? The TNF. Coincidence?

    Jake D
    BPL Member


    Locale: Bristol,RI

    Jake S. you sound overly butthurt over this.

    Funny, as the OP stated the Exos series is pretty damn popular with the AT thru hiking crowd. I see many of them while in the white mountains and while I was on my Long Trail Thru hike.

    2 years ago i hiked over 500mi with mine and used most of it's features. including the pole holders. last year i finished the NH 4k's with the smaller 34L. while it is a bit overkill for a daypack it has the same ergonomics as the 58 and lets me carry bulky things that 12L hydration packs don't.

    not sure why all the hate but they make a good pack and back it up. Being able to try on a pack is a huge advantage vs ordering blind from a cottage company most have never heard of. Sure you could get a Circuit which would be comparable to the Exos (and 4oz lighter!) but throwing 250 bucks at the wind and hoping it fits doesn't work when most advice says to TRY IT OUT.

    just a few words from someone who does a bit more than a few nights per year.

    David Chenault
    BPL Member


    Locale: Queen City, MT

    -Widely available. REI, etc.

    -Pretty good quality, very good warranty and CS. Talking to Osprey on the phone is a great experience. They tend to shortcut reinforcements in certain places (compression strap and lash point anchoring), but they're no more guilty than any other big company, and 98% of users won't (for instance) haul snowshoes often enough to pull those little 3/8" webbing loops out of the seam.

    -Good suspension components and designs. I love their shoulder straps. Still wish they'd use proper torso sizing.

    -They're pretty. This last point is what motivates me to chime in. The pack design crew at Osprey has the best eye for aesthetics in the pack industry at the moment. All those swoopy pocket edges and extra seams only enhance function 2 out of 3 times, but they make for great curb appeal. A lot of pack companies, mainstream, cottage, and pseudo-cottage, could learn a lot on this subject.

    David Drake
    BPL Member


    Locale: North Idaho

    >"They're pretty. This last point is what motivates me to chime in. … A lot of pack companies, mainstream, cottage, and pseudo-cottage, could learn a lot on this subject."

    Agreed. While fashion without function is always a problem, there's no virtue in making an aggressively ugly pack. And no vice in paying attention to appearance, once you've dialed in the fundamentals.

    Matt Dirksen
    BPL Member


    Locale: Mid Atlantic

    I just had the fortune of "adjusting" an Osprey pack for a scout in my son's troop, on a shakedown backpacking trip a few weeks ago(in preparation for Philmont this summer.)

    Having worked at REI (and other outdoor retailers) for a span of about 15 years, I have had experience with adjusting many, many backpacks of all shapes and sizes. I stopped working at REI just before they started selling Osprey (back around 2000, so I never had a chance to work directly with them, even though they had a solid reputation by then.)

    My initial "gut" reaction was the following:

    – Well made & appeared quite durable
    – It looked capable of fitting someone like a glove (assuming they got the right pack size)
    – It clearly had lots of bells & whistles (staring at it long enough reminded me of a few pin ball machines, for some reason)
    – It had many different adjustment points, which could obviously be helpful in the long run.
    – It certainly had the potential to carry a lot of weight, if packed properly. Could likely carry the scout himself.

    In the case of this particular scout it was waaaaaay overkill.
    There was nothing "simple" about the pack's adjustment system.
    The pack itself was quite heavy & was likely 5% of the kid's bodyweight on it's own.
    Not only was the pack not fit properly (or perhaps the boy grew since it was fit), but the scout & his parents were not educated on HOW to properly adjust the pack.
    (Obviously none of these issues are about Osprey, but more about how people buy them.)
    There were several Osprey brand "Fastex" buckles that were located in strange places. I can only assume they were intended to offer some internal compression option, but it seemed totally superfluous, in my opinion, for groomed trail hiking.
    I hate the name brand buckles. Just hate em. If they break in the field, you are pretty much screwed since most universal Fastex buckles wont mate properly. Some of the buckles were completely sewn into the pack bag. Therefore, if they were accidentally stepped on and crushed … (!)
    (Edit: the only name brand waist belt buckle I ever recommended was Kelty's Cam lock buckle. Being metal, they simply never broke. However, they are still awesome.)

    In a nutshell, I wouldn't have ever recommended a pack like this to a novice. I presume Osprey offers some simpler options out there. But wow, it sure looks pretty cool. I really think REI needs to think about how they sell these things to the weekend warrior. Sadly, "upselling" is probably what keeps the doors open these days.

    Jesse Anderson
    BPL Member


    Locale: Land of Enchantment

    I bought my first Osprey back around 2000. My reasoning, it was the most comfortable pack I had ever strapped on. My first pack was a beast, a Kelty Arapahoe that probably weighed 100 lbs. I then went to a Low Alpine Sirocco that when filled for a week long trip would leave my hips with bruises. (of course back then it wasn't unheard of to carry a 50+ pound pack.) When I bought my Osprey Finesse Pro it was like wearing a pillow in comparison. I can attest to their build quality as well. That pack I bought well over a decade ago is the same pack I use for most trips still. I've done some MYOG work to it to help lighten it up some, but the pack still shows no real signs of needing to be replaced anytime soon. I also love that it is from the made in Colorado era.

    I've since purchased a larger Osprey pack for winter activities. and have the same comments about quality and comfort.

    Should I ever choose to replace my beastly Finesse Pro with a lighter pack, I may look at other brands, but Osprey will certainly be at the top of my list.

    Myles Booth


    Thanks, everyone. I was just curious, as i have never owned one. It seems like their frame, and adjustability would appeal to many people. It makes sense why we saw so many considering how many people sell them. Also, a lot of people maynot even know that xottage companies are even out there. It is a plus, for me at least, that you have the ability to try them all on. I currently use a custom built pack ( thanks scott) that is modeled after the gorilla, with the stay, and enjoy it.

    One other thing, everyone i asked about their osprey never had anything negative to say about them. Maybe it is brand loyalty, or that they have nothing to compare it to, but that was nice. For my taste, they seem to have a dew too many straps, and bells and whistles, but that is just me. I would be willing to get an exos 48, just to try it out! The trekking pole holders did seem a bit much, but then again, i have always just carried them when need be. I appreciate all the replys, as some good points have been brought up.

    James holden
    BPL Member


    The snarkyness of some folks over "mainstream" gear thy dont use i rearing its ugly head

    BPL (Will R) gave the last gen exos a "highly recommended" rating

    And mr caffin in his latter mini SOTM review gave it a "recommended" rating

    They may not fit YOU or be the lightest, but they work and plenty of folks who do more than most of us ever will use osprey

    Theres more to things than just weight … Which is heresy of course


    Jake D
    BPL Member


    Locale: Bristol,RI

    People trim straps off packs of all types. others have to order pockets and extras that adds additional weight that isn't on the spec sheet.

    the pole holder weights like an ounce and can be used if you want or cut off quite easily if you're so against it. See, when hiking all day on a thru hike you can put your poles in there while walking, eat a snack, drink some water all without breaking stride or removing your pack.

    I tried other packs on that i could try on and nothing compared.. the favored REI Flash felt like a plastic box digging into my back. Deuter and Gregory's straps were too soft and spongy.

    Michael Gartman
    BPL Member


    Locale: Flatlands of Virginia

    I bought a clearance 2013 model Talon 44 for $99 at REI over the holidays to lighten up a little. Plus it was the first pack I tried on that fit me perfectly. I didn't even have to move the torso adjustment. It was set on it shortest setting, and it felt like a custom pack. I had gone to REI to try the Granite Gear VC 60, and it just didn't fit at all. While Osprey is not the lightest option out there, denigrating them just because they are popular is not a valid argument. We went on a short section hike on the AT, and of the 20 or so people we saw, I recall 3 Gregory, 1 Lowe Alpine, and the rest were toting Osprey's. They are all either delusional, or they had good reasons to go with Osprey.

    That being said, I have an Osprey Volt 60 which is supposed to be highly adjustable, but I used it for a whole year and never got that thing to fit right. And my Talon 44 holds more. Not sure how they measure volume in packs, but I am using the Talon almost exclusively from here on out, even when we go to the Wind River Range for a longer period this summer.

    Dave Ploessel


    Maybe the "average" joe actually has a use for some of those straps too…

    I love osprey packs when I am doing more technical climbing/mountaineering trips that require easy/fast access to lots of gear. They fit better and stay more stable when I'm wearing a harnes than any other pack I've tried.

    Also their warranty/service is among the best in the industry.

    If I'm just looking for lightest weight possible I go with other packs tho.

    Valerie E


    Locale: Grand Canyon State

    I agree with others who cited "easy availability" and "aesthetics" as the primary reasons for Osprey's popularity.

    Personally, I just sold my two Osprey 65L packs, the Ariel because it weighs almost 5lbs empty (!), and the Aura because it wasn't very comfortable (I have fit issues with "standard" sized packs), and because the trampoline-style back panels seemed to reduce the pack's capacity way too much for my needs.

    For fit, all the lightweight Ospreys come in a couple of standard sizes — either they fit you, or they don't. The Ospreys with the interchangeable belts/harnesses are all quite heavy (well over 4lbs), and can be comfortable for those of us with fit issues (but did I mention "heavy"?).

    I can get a better fit with Deuter, 20L extra capacity (think winter sleeping bag!) for 1.5lbs less, and without all those bells & whistles that I didn't want, anyway.

    I will say this in favour of Osprey packs: they are durable!!! My GoLite pack got a fabric hole on my first backpacking trip, but I could drag those Ospreys around in the dirt with no adverse effects. And that's a big plus when you're off trail in rough terrain where you have to lower your pack off ledges repeatedly.

    But fit is just so PERSONAL…it may be that MOST people are shaped in a way that fits Osprey perfectly. Unfortunately for me, I am shaped differently.

    Michael Gartman
    BPL Member


    Locale: Flatlands of Virginia

    Their customer service is almost too good. We know a guy who thru hiked a couple of years back who runs an outfitter in Norfolk now. He told us he used a Talon 44 for his thru hike, and later in the fall, a strap broke on it. He sent it back for repair, and they sent him a new one. He actually was quite upset because the old pack had so much sentimental value. He went to trail days and gave the pack to someone who had their pack stolen.

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