Osprey Exos 38 Review

Technological evolution leads us to be in search of increasingly light material. Osprey is no exception to this quest and offers a range of ultra-lightweight Exos backpacks for minimalist hikers who count grams. The Exos 38 is an excellent choice for day hikes or lighter loads. While it may lack additional features like hip pockets, it fulfills its purpose as a lightweight pack, facilitating easy and brisk-paced walking.

Despite the constant strain of pulling on the rope, does it manage to hold up? I’ll share my perspective after spending a scorching summer with the Osprey Exos 38 on my back.

Osprey EXOS 38 Backpack Review

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Technical Description:

  • Material: Nylon
  • Weight: 2.48 lbs
  • Stripped Weight: 2.19 lbs
  • Dimensions: 29.13 inches long x 15.75 x 11.81 inches
  • Volume: 38 liters (also available in 48 and 58 L + Eja female model)
  • Load Range: 15-30 lobs
  • Available size: M or L (to be defined with the Osprey app)
  • Integrated FlapJacket: Yes
  • Cord Attachment Points: Yes
  • Removable Floating Top Lid: Yes


  • Very light and slim design
  • Good back ventilation
  • Excellent carrying comfort
  • Include back straps
  • Removable floating top lid


  • No cover was supplied with
  • No pocket on the belt
  • Doesn’t come with cover

Comfort and Ventilation!

I’ll begin with my initial impressions upon receiving the Osprey Exos 38 backpack. I was immediately underwhelmed when I picked it up and tried putting it on my back (although I am loyal to and familiar with Osprey bags). It felt excessively taut, almost like a bowstring.

The interior reinforcement means that there is a really strong tension on the whole backpack. Putting it on empty was really confusing at first! The structure is however quite close to that of the Atmos AG 65 that I use for my treks but I had gotten used to the flexibility of the Talon 44. BUT…on the pitch, it’s truly amazing: that same tension means that we have the impression that the bag is floating on our back, that we are not carrying it!

The Osprey Exos 38 bag appears to be somewhat distant. I’ll set aside the query about the consequences of ventilation and mention that the aluminum frame inside facilitates a highly effective transfer of the load to the hips, consequently reducing the strain on the shoulders.


The hold of the pack on the back is guaranteed by a minimalist but effective belt and the chest strap (integrated whistle + +/- top adjustment system). In addition, the dorsal net perfects the feeling of contact with the back to become one without pressing on the shoulder blades or hips for example. I also used it when passing a trudge in a chimney. Also, the inner aluminum structure is very flexible and reacts well to the movements of the body in action.

Osprey Exos 38 Backpack Review

Regarding the compression of the bag, the overall balance is maintained by minimalist Z straps equipped with two rings, reminiscent of the traditional ones used to secure mountaineering crampons—ancient, yet highly effective in their design.


In addition to the frame, there is the harness running parallel. Despite my experience with the Atmos AG, whose shoulder straps are also foam-padded, I harbored some reservations about these particular straps.

Again, completely blown away! Tested with more or less heavy loads (the Exos has a capacity of up to 20 kg), it never pulls on the shoulders. The foam completely absorbs the pressure and avoids the tourniquet! In Besides this, its breathable structure reduces sweat saturation in the collarbones.

Adjustability and Versatility

The other major asset of the Osprey Exos 38 backpack is its majestic net that unfolds over the entire back. Firmly taut but flexible like on the Atmos AG 65, you could (almost) trampoline on it.

Suddenly, the contact is super pleasant and adapts perfectly to the ergonomics of the curvature of the back at the same time as it marries the bumps of the shoulder blades. It’s just a matter of properly adjusting the straps of the shoulder straps to find the right measure of comfort.

The clearance between the netting (hence your back) and the back panel varies from 2 to 5 cm. This design ensures optimal ventilation. The moisture transfer is genuinely excellent, and you essentially “dry” as you continue walking. Moving forward, the breathability responsibility lies solely with your T-shirt.


The bag is made up of a single volume for storing your belongings, there is no specific compartment at the bottom for the sleeping bag. A separate compartment is dedicated to the placement of a water pocket, which is large enough for me to put mine of 3 liters. With small practical detail, a clip makes it possible to fix the bag as well as the pipe so that they do not move and come off and thus flood your whole backpack. Two loops are placed along the shoulder straps to guide the hose and prevent it from wandering.

Closing System

The closing system is classic at Osprey: you can open wide for easy access to the contents of the backpack then you pull the drawstring which locks automatically. No need to tie a knot that is always difficult to undo afterward.

Osprey Exos 38 Backpack Review 2

The Osprey Exos 38 backpack has a top flap with two pockets, an outer one spacious enough to fit more than just two hands, and an inner net for personal belongings with hook for keys. If you are looking for ultra-light, know that this upper part is easily detachable (4 clips to remove it in a few seconds).

An integrated floating flap acts as a canvas and will cover your bag.

Pocket and Space

Outside pocket, I find it very practical and I really use it to put a whole bunch of little things such as telephone, sunscreen, energy bars, tissues, etc. I deplore the absence of pockets integrated into the belt, Osprey has equipped its Exos bag with two large side pockets. Ideal for placing a bottle of water, or boarding a photo tripod … An opening on the top and another horizontal on the bottom leave latitude for their use.

A large stretch mesh pocket in stretch mesh ( PowerMesh ™) is located on the front of the bag to put a jacket, a hat, the legs of unzippable pants… A little lower, an ice ax loop with an elastic band to fix the handle higher. Even lower, two straps allow you to attach a mattress or a tent to the bag to keep room inside for the rest.

A series of loops are also arranged along the bag (2×3) and the upper flap (2×3) to attach carabiners, quickdraws, slings, strings… Dear Osprey, we find the Stow-on-the system -Go™ to quickly attach hiking poles. Personally, it’s never something I think of using, although I have no doubt that it could be practical.

The Verdict

Nice surprise! This Osprey Exos 38 backpack is really stunning! While I had a lot of a priori when I had it in front of my eyes and in my hands, it was able to seduce me and even deeply convince me! Despite its initially taut appearance, it is ultimately super-comfortable. Even if the 38 liters could be too big for a day hike, it’s still the one you can take because it’s so light and airy: the impression of carrying nothing on your back! If its profile is geared towards a hiking backpack, it is also suitable for rock climbing and mountaineering.

Frequently Asked Questions

How does the pack handle weight distribution?

The suspension system is praised for its comfort, with weight distribution recommendations at 75% on the hips and 25% on the shoulders. This results in a balanced center of gravity at mid-back.

Is the Osprey Exos 38 suitable for specific body types?

Yes, the Osprey Exos 38 is designed to accommodate a range of body types. It comes in different sizes (small, medium, and large) to ensure a better fit for users of varying heights and builds.

Are there any common issues with the Osprey Exos 38 reported by users?

A recurring issue is a frame squeaking where the shoulder strap attaches to the top of the pack. However, you can fix this issue by using a small piece of foam between the shoulder strap and the frame.

Is the Osprey Exos 38 suitable for hot weather?

Yes, the Osprey Exos 38 is well-suited for use in hot weather. The backpack features optimal ventilation, and the design allows for effective moisture transfer. The gap between the netting (which rests against your back) and the back panel allows air to circulate.

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