Gear Review: Osprey Xenith 75 Backpack
Since my early college days I have backpacked all over the country; up and down California, Colorado, Idaho, Michigan, New Hampshire, Oregon and Wyoming. In that time I've gone through an evolution of packs - starting with my first Kelty external frame pack and on through to my current internal frame pack. Through it all I've learned a lot about packing, gear and what works best for me.
I'm not typically a "minimalist" or "ultralight" guy when it comes to packing gear. I value comfort while in camp over shedding pounds on my back. That being said, I need a pack that can accommodate the gear and still be comfortable on long treks. Whether it's a long weekend or a whole week, my pack still needs to carry my tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, stove/fuel/mess kit, water filter and miscellaneous smaller items like my GPS, water bottles, and med kit. The major variable on longer trips is the amount of clothes and food I bring along (obviously time of year plays into clothing needs as well). So I prefer a pack that is big enough to accommodate longer trips but can be cinched down for smaller loads. And it needs to fit me comfortably and properly while loaded. For me that pack is the Zenith 75 from Osprey.
The Xenith 75 is a feature-rich pack that provides plenty of capacity (75 liters) for a week-long trip but can be cinched down with smaller loads so it's not overly clunky and cumbersome. The Xenith's load-carrying ability keeps heavy loads comfortable, and Osprey's custom sizing options, interchangeable hipbelts and harnesses, plus custom molding allow anyone to dial in the perfect fit for their body type. Features like hydration compatibility, Stow-on-the-Go trekking pole attachment, removable top lid (which can serve as a daypack), multiple access points and convenient stretch-mesh side pockets are well thought out and improve usability on the trail. Plus, Osprey will repair any damage or defect for any reason free of charge with their All Mighty Guarantee.
What I like: First and foremost I love the fit of this pack, it was, after all, customized to my body type. From the fit comes comfort and this pack can handle large heavy loads and still be comfortable to wear on long hikes. Beyond that, the pack features are extremely well considered and suit my needs and my style perfectly. I also like the size. For what I do it works well for long weekends to weeklong excursions.
What I don’t like: I'm stretching to find anything here, but two things I can point out. First, while wearing the pack it can be a little difficult to retrieve your own water bottle from the side pocket. It can be done, but it's a little clumsy. If I'm hiking with a friend and don't want to drop the pack, I'll typically just ask them to grab it for me. Second, I did crack one of the buckles on the pack on my last outing. Not a huge deal; it still worked well enough to get me through the trip and Osprey was quick to replace it free of charge when I got back. And, in fairness, it was very cold out and I am notoriously rough on my gear.
Perfect for: Retailing at $350 and able to carry 75 liters of gear comfortably, plus to the ability to customize fit and include some very thoughtful features, the Xenith is a perfect long-weekend to week-long pack that over delivers for the price.
Stars: 5 out of 5