Osprey Atmos 65 Backpack
Atmos 65 Backpack (courtesy, Osprey)

I need to replace my dinosaur of a backpack with an ultra-light version. Ideas?

I have a massive backpack, and thus my hiking buddies load me up with everything (last year the record was 70 pounds). I need a much smaller pack that I can use on ultra-light weekends and leaning toward an Osprey Talon 44. Thoughts? John Pleasanton, California

Osprey Atmos 65 Backpack

Good heavens, man! Seventy pounds? Loads like that may have been the norm during the 1980s, but these days they’re decidedly un-cool. Not to mention hard to carry. This past weekend I took a backpack trip into the Olympics and my pack (minus food and water) was about 20 pounds. And I wasn’t really skimping; I had stuff for freezing weather and rain. For a longer trip all I would have added is a pair of rain pants (one pound) and more fuel.

Osprey Atmos 65 Backpack

Osprey Atmos 65 Backpack Atmos 65 Backpack

So, yeah, get yourself a smaller pack. But an Osprey Talon 44 ($160) may be a touch too small. With 2,500 cubic inches of space, it’s almost the size of a big day pack. Unless you replace every piece of gear with the lightest, most compact stuff out there, you might be hard pressed to fit it all in (unless your scheme is to make your buddies carry some of your gear, as well as all of theirs).

Better, I think, to go with the Osprey Atmos 65 ($240). With 4,000 cubic inches of space, it still isn’t huge. But it does give you the flexibility to go out for multiple days, or pack for colder weather. For this last trip I was using an Osprey Aether 60 ($219), which has 3,700 cubic inches. I was carrying a 30-degree sleeping bag, light tent, cooking gear, aid kit, pad, food, clothes, etc. It was tight, but it all fit. I figure I could make that pack work for a four-day summer trip, but there wouldn’t be much extra space. None, in fact. Well, unless I left the bota bag home. But where is the fun in that?

So, the Aether 60 would be another choice. As would the Gregory Triconi 60 ($249), which, like the Osprey packs, is a lightweight, mid-size pack (same volume as Aether 60) for trips up to three or four days, or more for the super-frugal.

But get rid of that huge pack!

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From Outside Magazine, April/May 2021 Lead Photo: courtesy, Osprey