Osprey Mutant 38 Backpack Review

The Mutant 38 is a flagship model from Osprey and has undergone its 5th transformation. We could even speak of fusion since it has integrated with it the characteristics of the Variant fire. After several outings on rock and snow, here is my opinion about Osprey Mutant 38.

Osprey Mutant 38 Backpack Review

Osprey Mutant 38 Review

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Tech Specs:

  • Main Fabric: 210D High Tenacity Nylon
  • Accent Fabric: 210D Nylon Honey Comb Contrast Thread
  • Bottom Fabric: 420HD Nylon Packcloth
  • Item Weight: 2.8 Pounds
  • Dimensions: 728.7H X 12.6W X 11.8D in.
  • Volume: 38 liters (available in 22 and 52 L, unisex)
  • Available Size: S/M or M/L (to be defined with the Osprey app)

Key Features:

  • Snowshed fabric back panel
  • Dual ToolLocks with bungee tie-offs
  • Front panel daisy chain for additional gear attachment
  • Three-point haul system
  • Internal hydration sleeve
  • Rope attachment and internal compression
  • Removable top lid with integrated FlapJacket for lidless use
  • Top or front of pack helmet carry
  • Reinforced A-frame ski carry
  • Quick release upper and lower side compression straps
  • Dual hipbelt gear loops and ice gear carry attachment


  • Beautiful design
  • Compact and lightweight
  • Simple and practical
  • Exterior Accessories
  • Versatile


  • Exterior storage for crampons
  • 2 lower pockets under the hood

As a foreword, I am telling you this here because it does not meet any really objective criteria, but it seems to me that, whatever people say about it, it is an element of choice in our little heads: this new Mutant 38 backpack from Osprey… it’s really really nice!!

The old black and green reptilian version was already really beautiful too. This new look is more refined and the sober black color enhanced with a touch of arctic blue is downright very classy, ​​I love it! The other model in orange is also good. The black is slightly eggplant to respond as a complementary color.

Carrying Comfort

Let’s approach the discussion with a rational perspective. With its 2.8 pounds weight, the Osprey Mutant 38 is very light to carry. A hundred grams heavier than the old version and 200 less than Variant 37. When empty, you do not feel it in the back. This characteristic is a real asset when you know the weight of all the hardware you have to lug around afterward to get up there. Dorsal reinforcement and even possibly the side compression straps (it will probably appeal to the most radical…).

The straps are unadorned. Gone is the convoluted foam of the old version, Osprey has integrated the full band of the Variant. A priori austere visually because it is actually very comfortable and effective. It’s even quite amazing how you don’t feel the charge. They are equipped with two loops to store the adjustment straps, Camelbak pipe, and hang a compact camera or even gear.

The chest strap is height-adjustable, providing a customizable fit. Also, it comes equipped with a built-in whistle for added functionality and safety. There are classic adjustment straps for the height on the back.

This same delicately plush foam is used for the smooth, snow-repellent back panel. So far, I’ve only used the Osprey Mutant 38 backpack in the fall and winter, but my summer experience with the Variant tells me that it doesn’t pose any real breathability problems when you’re only wearing it with a t-shirt.

The belt is very thin and allows it to be used everywhere in narrow fireplaces. In the same spirit, there is no belt pocket to prevent unnecessary clutter. It’s a mountaineering backpack! With the tight set at the torso and pelvis, the Osprey Mutant 38 bag becomes one with the bust and follows the movements perfectly, even during the jolts during ski touring descents. Perfect! Even partially filled, it retains its unit volume well.

Accessorizing on the Outside

After carrying comfort, accessorizing is the other very important criterion for a mountaineering backpack. Osprey has therefore provided its Mutant 38 with two “daisy chains” of three loops to pass carabiners through and be able to hang slippers, knives, etc. on the outside of the bag. The reinforced fabric strap is firmly sewn on the front part and inspires great confidence in its resistance.

Osprey Mutant 38 - Accessorizing

Designed like a harness, the belt has two reinforced gear loops to hang your mountaineering hardware. On Variant 37, it was detachable and you could reverse its direction. This possibility is only found on Mutant in its 52 L version. For the 38-liter model, it is sewn to the bag and therefore just reversible to attach to the front of the bag, increasing accessibility to the harness.

For my part, carrying the bag high enough, never really bothered me and I like having the harness/belt doublet to classify my equipment according to the needs during progress.

On either side, two ToolLock™ system ice axes: a classic elastic cord at the top to secure the handle, a reinforced central loop to store the blade, and an aluminum bar to pass through the hole in the head. It can be used with one hand. It avoids the manipulation of having to reclip once the ice ax is detached. In ski touring, you can also place your hiking sticks and the handle of your shovel…

With the transition from the Variant backpack for winter mountaineering to the Mutant as the singular model, I find myself missing the integrated external pocket of the former for storing crampons. While solutions can always be found, the absence of this feature is a noticeable drawback.

The Osprey Mutant 38 backpack also comes equipped with easy-to-use side ski racks. The 2 x 2 side compression straps allow two passages at skate level. On the bottom of the bag, a reinforced loop allows for supporting the weight at the level of the fixing. The tight set does not move.


A large zipped pocket with an opening on the head side allows you to store a large number of things including the crampon bag. Inside, a clip to attach your keys. I just regret that there isn’t a second, more “discreet” pocket to store personal effects like on the Osprey Talon 44 for example. This would make it possible to separate keys, telephone, etc. from the other things that we will pick up during an outing.

The hood is equipped with two chains of four loops on the top, which makes a total of 14 attachments on the whole bag (not including the gear loop of the belt).

Osprey Mutant 38 - Hood

The hood is also equipped with a mini-pocket with velcro where a helmet-carrying net is stored. In a stretch fabric, it attaches to the backpack with 4 plastic hooks. Under the hood, there is a classic strap to secure the rope to the top of the skirt, with a loop on the flap.

Accessorizing on the Inside

The interior compartment is held in a single space offering the entire volume. Also, 38 liters is more than enough to put all your belongings in during a day trip or even over two days. Unlike the Osprey Kamber 32, which has two separate spaces to separate your belongings from the security triptych, you put all your eggs in one basket with the Mutant 38. As a result, for use in raids over several days, the 52-liter model will undoubtedly prove to be more appropriate.

A specific location is reserved for a water bladder and a hole behind the neck allows the pipe to come out. There is no external protection to insulate it against the cold.

Type of Use

The Mutant 50 from Osprey lives up to its name, it is a hybrid between mountaineering and ski-touring backpack without making any compromises except the crampon pocket. Thanks to its accessorization and its lightness, it is logically suitable for multi-pitch climbing.

It has all the necessary options for taking mountain equipment with you and storing it outside within easy reach. You can even wedge your skis to go up steep slopes or for approach walks during end-of-season races. The fabric is water-repellent and has high abrasion resistance. Although it is also not specifically designed to be a hiking backpack, the back panel allows versatile use from winter to summer.

The Verdict

I am conquered! The general design and accessorizing of the Osprey Mutant 38 make it an all-purpose backpack. It is suitable for all mountain activities regardless of the season. In addition, its lightness, compact size, and carrying comfort allow it to be used more widely for other outdoor activities.

Frequently Asked Questions

What size options are available for the Osprey Mutant 38?

There are small/medium and medium/large choices. Although the exact difference is not explicitly stated, it seems that the medium/large is 38 liters, and the small/medium is 36 liters.

Can the Osprey Mutant 38 accommodate climbing gear?

Yes, the backpack is designed with features appealing to climbing users, including dual tool tie-offs for items like ice axes or poles, robust gear loops on the top exterior, and a helmet holder. It’s considered suitable for climbing activities.

Is the Osprey Mutant 38 comfortable for extended use?

Yes, the backpack is very comfortable, particularly mentioning its contoured still back plate and the simplicity of the clips, designed for easy use even with winter gloves.

Is the Osprey Mutant 38 suitable for smaller trips?

Yes, we plan to use the backpack for hikes for up to about three days, and believe it will be perfect for such outings.

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