Farewell to the Osprey Exos 44 - a 10,000 km Backpack

Saying farewell to a rucksack that you've carried for 10,000 km is a wrench.  When setting off on a trip that first feeling of the bag on my back is like firing the starting gun for an adventure.  I've got so used to it, I know where everything goes and together we've developed a system which works.  Not quite on its last legs it has, however, started to show its age.  My wife claims that it smells and if I'm going to avoid offers of loose change as I wander through towns I have to accept that I need to smarten up.
Osprey Exos 44 at rest in Hungary
I was first introduced to my Osprey Exos 46 three and half years ago as I set off on my 5,000km trip from Tarifa, on the south coast of Spain, to Budapest.  Since then we've crossed Spain three more times, walked the Apennines in Italy, bashed our way through Bulgaria, crossed the Alps twice and been on numerous trips to France and various parts of the UK.  In three and a half years the Exos has been clamped to my back for at least 300 days.

Osprey Exos 44 fully armed with baguette
So what does 10,000 km do to rucksack?

The sun seems to be the most deadly enemy.  Not only does it fade the colour, it also rots the fabric.   The most exposed part, the top pocket is now so thin you can put your finger through it.
10,000 km of sun damage
The other enemy is friction and all the points where the bag comes into contact with me have started to wear (maybe sweat has had an impact.....).
10,000 km of friction damage
Finally, it has suffered from a certain amount of abuse or misfortune.  I managed to get all the way from Spain to Hungary climbing fences without any mishap until I snagged it climbing a 2 metre deer fence three days out from Budapest - causing a small tear in the top pocket.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining. This has been a brilliant rucksack and I would happily have got another one exactly the same. But the latest version - Osprey Exos 48 - is even better, keeping the best features but tweaking them in a novel way.
New comfortable hip straps - see also the amended suspended frame
The key strength for both bags is the suspended framed back, which creates a lightweight bag capable of carrying heavy loads.  It features a curved aluminium frame separated from your back with a mesh panel.  This has been developed further on the new bag by simplifying the fixings for the mesh creating a cleaner, bigger space between the bag and your back.

The original bag had quite skinny shoulder and hip belts. These have been upgraded and are now altogether chunkier with the hip belt incorporating a more substantial closure cinch.  This again is a great development which should only improve what is already a very comfortable bag

The old bag had a main compartment, a zipped intermediate compartment and then a flexible front compartment.  The zipped compartment was quite useful for stashing waterproofs but when packed it constrained the main department. This has now been dropped and replaced with a bigger, even more flexible front compartment : a simpler solution which works well.
Detachable top pocket

The top pocket, essential for gloves, hat, etc., is now removable which is a neat idea but, to be honest, I'm not sure when I would want to be without the top pocket. If it means I can squeeze the bag into hand luggage I will definitely take it off but I suspect the frame is still about a centimetre too long.

Other neat developments include large stretchy dernier pockets on each side replacing the less flexible mesh pockets featured in the previous model, removable sleeping bag straps, chunkier hip belt pockets (again getting rid of the mesh pockets from the old model), and an internal compression strap for the main compartment.

I'm not sure what I'm going to do with my old bag.  If my wife gets her way then I'll never see it again and it will be unsentimentally disposed of.    I think I know a place, well protected from any more sun, where I can hide it - perhaps leaving a note in it for posterity listing all its journeys.  I'm going to put my 10,000 kilometre bag out to grass.


  1. John,
    Sad to see a treasured piece of equipment have to be discarded. I've just had to do the same with a pair of Abris lightweight trousers that have been with me on all my trips for almost 20 years! Came back from a recent French walk to find a great split in their backside, don't know how long it had been there. Of course the firm don't exist now so struggling to replace.
    Came across 'your' GR1 last week at St. Llorenc de Morunys, fantastic scenery. I was out there completing my Spanish GR7 hike up to Andorra after 6 years. (See posts)
    Sorry to say that sticking to the GR in the mountains was better than your E4 variation along the coast.
    Hope Cicerone guide coming along OK.
    Regards. John.

  2. Hi John

    I'm sure you're right about the E4 versus the GR7, the Catalonia stretch was very disappointing, really not sure why the route doesn't stick with the GR7.

    Cicerone guide is in production. There is a lot of work to do at there end - it's a long walk!

    Nice to hear from you.