Last Updated: December 21, 2022

Osprey Exos 38 vs 48 Backpack Review (New And Improved Hiking Backpacks)


Osprey Exos 38

  • Weight: 2.48 lbs (M)
  • Main Fabric: 100D High Tenacity Nylon
  • Capacity: 38 Liters
View Latest Deal

Osprey Exos 48

  • Weight: 2.57 lbs (M)
  • Main Fabric: 100D High Tenacity Nylon
  • Capacity: 48 Liters
View Latest Deal

Osprey certainly makes a lot of hiking backpacks, and almost all of them are top-notch quality. I already talked about the Talon backpacks, as well as the Hikelite backpacks, and now it’s time to check out one that’s even better. That is the Exos backpack, and in this review we will take a look at the Osprey Exos 38 and Exos 48 variants of it.

There is even an Exos 58, but we won’t be covering that in this comparison.

I’ll do my best to help you decide which of these two Exos backpacks is the best fir for your particular needs. And I will do that by telling you absolutely everything there is to know about them. So if you are on the prowl for a new, modern hiking backpack, you’ve come to the right place.

Now is the time to scroll down and read this detailed comparison of the Exos 38 and 48 men’s hiking backpacks!

The Main Differences Between The 38 And 48 Exos Packs

The biggest difference between these two backpacks is in fact in their sizes and weights. Above are their basic specs are, but let’s take a look at those specs, in terms of choosing the best size for you.

Don’t let those be just numbers to you. Deciding on the size of the pack that you are going to get is very important, and you have consider a lot of different factors. The first one is the length of the trips that you usually go on.

The Exos 38 will be just fine if your trips are about a week long, provided that you can pack adequately. But, if you tend to go on longer trips, then you might just need the larger capacity of the Exos 48. However, ask yourself this: Do I really need it?

With the right packing tips, you could make the most out of the smaller backpack and even take it on trips that are several weeks long. And it would actually teach you how to discern between what you really need to bring and what you don’t.

The second one is your own size and weight. Did you know that your backpack should weigh maximally 10% of your own weight (without water and food)? However, you should also know that both of these backpacks can carry a lot more; in fact, their maximum load capacity is about 40 lbs. So, if you are a smaller person, definitely consider getting the smaller backpack. You will stay pain free, and your body will thank you.

On the other hand, if you are of larger build and can carry the added weight, then there’s no reason why you shouldn’t get the Exos 48. Especially if you usually tend to get 45+ liter backpacks and you are used to their larger sizes.

And the third thing you should consider is the price difference. Naturally, the larger backpack is going to be more expensive. If you really need the bigger capacity, then it is okay to splurge on the Exos 48. But if you don’t, and if you can get by with the 38 liters of the smaller Exos, then why not spend $40 less?

But the decision is, as always, completely up to you. I’m just trying to give you the best advice possible. And now let’s move on to the cool design features of the new and improved Osprey Exos backpack.

Osprey Exos 38
Osprey Exos 48

Features Of The Osprey Exos 38 And 48 Backpacks

So, the 38-liter version has all the same awesome design features as the 48 one – it is basically just the scaled-down version of the Exos backpack. So, regardless of which one you choose, you can expect it to have everything that I’m going to talk about below. So, let’s get to the details. :>

Ventilation on a backpack is very important, and the Exos is certainly among Osprey champions in that area. We are talking about the new and redesigned Exos, and it has even better ventilation than the last year’s model. Its AirSpeed back panel promises to keep you cool and dry throughout your adventures.

And I’m not talking about just your back. You can see in the photos that the mesh also covers the shoulder straps and the hipbelt. So, there shouldn’t be a drop of sweat on your entire torso when this pack is on your back. And, not to mention that all of these parts are also padded, and therefore very much comfortable.

ExoForm Hipbelt And Harness

osprey exos backpanel comfort

The ExoForm harness is precisely that mesh I was just talking about. The mesh itself is layered seamlessly, and it is designed to provide with just enough comfort and cushioning so that the load of the backpack doesn’t cause you any pain. To get the harness to fit perfectly, you need to adjust it so that there are no gaps between it and your back.

The hipbelt is made from the same material, and it is just as comfortable. It has the main function of helping distribute the weight of the backpack across your entire torso, so that your shoulders are somewhat relieved. And it also features ErgoPull closure, which means that (un)buckling it will be a piece of cake.

Internal Hydration Sleeve

Osprey Exos Internal Pockets

Both of the Exos backpacks have an internal hydration sleeve, which is compatible with Osprey’s hydraulics reservoirs. And probably with other hydration reservoirs, but Osprey won’t tell you that (so I will :>).

So, they are perfectly suitable for hydration on the go. Also, you should always keep the reservoir inside the intended sleeve, because these will ensure the best distribution of the pack weight. And if you want to avoid any spillage, be sure to attach it to buckled loop inside the sleeve.

Osprey Exos 38
Osprey Exos 48

Removable Lid And FlapJacket Closure

Removable Lid And FlapJacket Closure

The top part of the backpack is actually a lid that can be removed. This lid transforms into a very small pouch that acts as a separate packing compartment, when it’s attached to your backpack. But you can also remove it, when you want to shed a pound or two off the backpack.

Or simply when you want to carry along just a few items with you, and not your entire 20+lb backpack. In that case, there is also the FlapJacket closure that allows for lidless use of the Exos.

Various Equipment Attachment Points

osprey exos 58 attachment points

The Exos is equipped with several attachment points for various types of gear, so let’s go over them one by one.

Stow-on-the-Go trekking pole attachment points. These are straps that are located on the shoulder straps, as well as the bottom of the backpack. They are designed to carry your trekking poles, so that you don’t have to.

Sleeping pad straps. They are on the outside of the backpack, and they are an incredibly useful feature. That’s because these straps allow you to attach the sleeping pad to the backpack, without having to take up any space inside. This in turns allows you to carry more gear and food in the main compartment.

An ice axe loop. So, this is an attachment point for your ice axe (obviously), and it is coupled with bungee tie off cords. Therefore, you can be sure that the ice axe won’t fall off at any point, and you will stay perfectly safe during your adventure.

Stretch Front Pocket And Side Pockets

Osprey Exos External Pockets

In case you haven’t figure it out by now, the Exos has a lot of different pockets and compartments. This will help you stay perfectly organized in all of your adventures. And, one of those pockets is a stretch pocket on the very front of the backpack. It is great for quickly stashing gear that you want to be able to access quickly, such as a hoodie or a jacket. But also for any wet gear that you want to keep separate until it dries off.

And there are also stretch pockets on the sides of the backpack. These are perfect for holding water bottles in place, especially because there are slim compression straps that go over the pockets. They will ensure that the contents of the pockets stay in place even if you decide to do a headstand with the Exos on your shoulder. But try to avoid that.

Sternum Strap With Emergency Whistle

osprey exos whistle

sternum strap is that little buckle that is supposed to keep both of your shoulder straps connected. That way, neither of them will be able to accidently slip off. The cool thing about the sternum strap on the Exos is that the buckle is also an emergency whistle, which might just safe your life at one point. But let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.

And with most Osprey backpacks, you can buy a little magnet that you can attach to the sternum strap. This magnet is supposed to accompany the magnet on the hose of the hydration reservoir, so that you can have the best hands-free hydration at all times.

Osprey Exos 38
Osprey Exos 48

Do You Go For The Osprey Exos 38 Or 48?

If you are asking me personally, I would go for the smaller Exos backpack. That is because I don’t usually tend to carry a lot of gear on my hiking trips, and I don’t really need the larger capacity of the Exos 48.

Osprey Exos 48 Men's Backpacking Backpack
  • Integrated FlapJacket protects packed gear when top lid is removed
  • Front stretch mesh pocket stores rain gear and layers for easy access

However, I told you what factors you need to consider when making this decision. So, if you think that you can benefit greatly from the larger Exos backpack, then there’s no reason why you shouldn’t buy it.

Osprey Exos 38 Men's Backpacking Backpack, Tunnel Green, Large
  • AirSpeed suspension keeps the weight in the pack off your back, enabling highly ventilated carrying comfort
  • Dual access stretch mesh side pockets for storing water bottles and other gear

Whether you get the Exos 38 or the 48, you will have all the same awesome features. So, pick that size that is best appropriate for you and head over to Amazon. You will definitely get the best deal on either Exos backpack there.

Osprey Exos 38
Osprey Exos 48