Camping Gear

Ask Me: What’s the Best Thru-Hiking Backpack?

Posted On April 8, 2016 at 5:58 pm by / Comments Off on Ask Me: What’s the Best Thru-Hiking Backpack?

Hi Michael,

I was just getting ready to get the Osprey Atmos 65 backpack for my Appalachian Trail thru-hike. Osprey and REI say a large is 3 lbs. 10 oz. Your review of the Atmos 65 said a medium would be 4 lbs. 6 oz. Really? Why the significant extra weight?

Thanks.

Bruce

Hi Bruce,

You were looking at the old version of the Atmos 65 (which I reviewed in 2012). For 2015, Osprey redesigned the pack and it’s a bit heavier, but the 2015 Osprey Atmos AG 65 is one of the nicest packs for backpacking that I’ve ever used (the women’s version is the Osprey Aura AG 65). Read my review. The big change is a harness that feels like it’s hugging your torso.

For a good thru-hiker pack, especially if you like Osprey, I suggest you take a good look at the Osprey Exos 58 for thru-hiking if your gear is light and compact. I used the Exos 58 on a four-day, 86-mile backpacking trip in Yosemite, carrying up to 25 pounds, and on a weeklong hut trek in Italy’s Dolomite Mountains. Read my review. (My friend, Todd, is carrying the first generation of the Exos 58 on the Pacific Crest Trail at Glen Aulin in Yosemite National Park in the lead photo, above.) I’ve liked that pack a lot since the first version of it came out in 2008.

If you scroll through my backpack reviews and my reviews of my eight favorite packs for backpacking, you’ll find other models I really like, but most range from around three-and-a-half pounds to five pounds. The Exos 58 weighs just two-and-a-half pounds, but has the support for carrying 25 to 30 pounds, which, with judicious packing, is the most—and often more than—you’ll carry on an AT thru-hike. In fact, when a friend asked what I’d recommend for a pack for his daughter to use thru-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, and I told him the Exos 58. (She loved it and had a wonderful hike.)

You might also want to see my “5 Tips For Buying the Right Backpack,” “Video: How to Load a Backpack,” all of my reviews of backpacking gear, and my stories:

“Why and When to Spend More on Gear: Part 1, Packs and Tents, and Part 2, Rain Jackets, Boots, and Sleeping Bags
The Simple Equation of Ultralight Backpacking: Less Weight = More Fun
Buying Gear? Read This First
5 Tips For Spending Less on Hiking and Backpacking Gear
Ask Me: How Do We Begin Lightening Up Our Backpacking Gear?

Good luck with your thru-hike. I’d love to hear what you pick for a pack and how the trip goes for you.

Michael

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—Michael Lanza

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