The Exos 48 is the smallest pack in the test group. Ease of storage in the back pocket and brain are offset by small hip belt and side pockets. Many features add a nice touch but cater to the day hiker and will be less useful the longer a backpacker is out in the field.
Comfort The Exos 48’s ridged frame effectively transfers weight to the hip belt. The size of the pack limits loads to under 35 pounds and, even at that weight, the stretchy mesh that makes up the shoulder and hip belt straps provide forgiving and breathable support. The breathable mesh back panel provides airflow, but adds weight and moves the pack’s center of gravity away from the users back.
Storage The Exos 48 has a relatively small main compartment when compared to other packs in the test group, but a well functioning lid, side pockets and an excellent rear pocket add functionality and storage options. Hip belt and shoulder strap pockets are small but allow items to be kept close at hand.
Internal The Exos 48 is slimmer throughout the bottom of the pack, forcing the majority of contents to be placed higher up, improving its stability. The interior volume is on the small side, making it difficult to pack gear for a multi-day trip along with sufficient rations. Our tester managed to fit enough gear for a winter overnight, but could hardly fit a days worth of food along with it. The body shape is maintained even when packed full, and comfort is not compromised by packing ability. It also has a built-in hydration bladder sleeve.
Side Pockets Tall and narrow side pockets make grabbing items and putting them back difficult on the go. The mesh pockets’ Inside Out compression is effective at keeping items in place and compression straps can be routed under or over pockets for additional security.
Rear Pocket The rear pocket is the best in the test group. It accommodates fluctuating storage easily and secures larger items with its single-strap closure. It is large enough to store multiple mid-sized items, and has an extra piece of fabric designed to keep items secure when overloaded.
Hip Belt The Exos 48’s hip belt uses a layered mesh comfortably supports weight transferred by the frame. Stretchy hip belt pockets store most small snacks easily, but have trouble accommodating larger items.
Shoulder Straps The Exos 48 has unique shoulder straps made of layered mesh and remains comfortable as the pack becomes fully loaded. The shoulder straps have convenient mesh pockets that hold smaller items.
Lid The Exos 48 lid has a zippered underside, perfect for toiletries and sometimes-needed items, and a small top compartment with a built in key clip. The top compartment fits an insulation layer and a small item.
Versatility The Exos 48 is built for smaller loads, but extra items can be strapped on the packs exterior. Bottom compression straps can fit larger closed cell foam pads and some items can be stored underneath the lid or be secured by the rear pocket’s strap.
The lid can detach to save weight and a built-in FlapJacket (a lid with no storage) clips right in, providing a sleek alternative that is travel friendly. While this function may be nice for smaller loads and urban travel, it is not detachable and remains dead weight while backpacking with the lid.
Weight The Exos 48 has many features that add to its overall weight, making it very heavy for its carrying capacity. Backpackers with a small enough load to fit in this pack will have to accept that their pack will be one of the heaviest gear items they will carry.
Durability The Exos 48 is made with lightweight materials, but its streamlined design prevents excessive abrasion. Due to the shift in the packs center of gravity, it does not stand on its own very well and forces the user to be proactive in setting the pack down. When overloaded, the pack’s compression area near the front of the lid is prone to excess wear.
Mike Summers is an avid hiker, cyclist, climber, and outdoor enthusiast. While exploring America’s best outdoor spaces, Mike has developed an intimate relationship with his gear systems, allowing him to stay safe and comfortable in an otherwise forbidding environment. When he’s not exploring, you can find him sharing insights and chronicling his journeys at improbablebutpossible.com.