Wednesday, 02 January 2019 15:29

Osprey Levity 45l rucksack tested and reviewed

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Osprey have built an enviable reputation in the outdoors world for their incredibly comfortable packs, but the downside has always been the weight. With the Levity, Osprey have broken with tradition and gone lightweight, but is the famous Osprey comfort compromised or are the opposing priorities well balanced?

What Osprey say

The ultralight Levity utilises NanoFly™ fabric and comes equipped with an AirSpeed™ ventilated trampoline suspended mesh backsystem. This provides a multi-day backpacking pack ideal for experienced trekkers looking to drop those grams.


Fixed top lid with pocket

Two removable side compression cords

Dual access fabric side pockets with InsideOut™ compression cord

Bellowed front fabric pocket for stashing gear

Top lid cord loop attachment points

Sternum strap with integrated safety whistle + Internal main compartment compression strap + Strippable

Weight - 830g

Osprey Levity 2

On test with My Outdoors

I used the Levity 45 to walk the Derwent Watershed route in the Peak District UK, this summer 2018, over three days and subsequently I have used the pack when I have a bit more gear to haul on some weekend camping trips. The Levity also comes in a 60l version for extended journeys.

My first impressions of the Levity 45 are it has the usual Osprey approach to the back and hip system, resulting in a very even distribution and comfortable ride when carrying 8-10kgs. I immediately realised that although the Levity 45 has great capacity, it doesn’t quite match up to the comfort of the Osprey Exos range when stuffed with 12-13kgs. I rarely carry that weight these days, but I have tested the Levity out for comfort with bigger loads. The Osprey Exos range, although still lightweight, have a much burlier construction and it’s easy to see why they are a global favourite for thru-hikers and general backpackers. They hit the nearly perfect balance of functionality and comfort in my opinion and can take a pounding. One of the key issues for the Levity, as a comparison, is the shoulder straps are fairly narrow and the aluminium framing at the hips has a tendency to bounce into the tops of my hips and sacral area.

Osprey Levity 1

I have been using the correct sizing, as I am 5’5”and need the short version. Throughout three days of walking I tended to leave the belt undone, which is a style of carrying I’m more accustomed to. Getting sized up with this pack is crucial, as the back frame is not ‘strippable’. I have read another review by a man that had a 38 inch waist and he struggled with the frame pinching his hip area. The Airscape trampoline or ‘hammock’ suspension allows for excellent venting and suits summer use or travelling in hot countries. The rigidity of the back panel and frame mean you can consistently throw gear in without the worry that you need to rearrange the contents, as is often the case on other lightweight packs that have no frame.

Osprey are a relative late-comer to the ‘ultralight’ backpack market. The ultralight bracket for packs has been occupied by cottage manufacturers, often American and geared to the thru-hiking community. Brands such as Gossamer Gear, Mountain Laurel Designs or Hyperlite Mountain Gear have been tweaking and perfecting ultralight packs for years.   The Levity clearly has to make a compromise in construction to save weight and one main change is the denier of the main compartment fabric. The Nano-Fly fabric is noticeably thinner, but this is standard on most ultralight packs and extra care is always needed. The Levity will never be a pack to haul up a climb.

One change for the Levity over the Exos range is the lack of mesh pockets. I personally love using mesh pockets, they keep on giving on warm days as you strip away layers and can hold wet tents and jackets. The Levity 45 has a denser fabric that makes up the generous outer pockets, but they have no elasticity. I had no problems using them overall, you can easily fit two pouches of water and a jacket in the rear pocket, but as they become full the tops of each pocket tighten against the main compartment. An added bonus of the solid fabric choice is the pockets protect the thinner layer underneath and can take a lot more abrasion when bush-whacking. The mesh option Osprey offer on other packs has always had a tendency to tear easily on thorns etc.

Osprey Levity 4

The main compartment is generous, as are all Osprey litre measurements. I use a Talon 22 which always surprises me as it swallows gear and the Levity is no exception. The top pocket is also a decent size. The only negative I have with the shape of the main compartment is that there are two areas of wasted space in each corner, where the body meets the aluminium frame. You can get around this by squishing your sleeping bag or insulation into the base of the pack. It’s just not a neat cylinder shape in the bottom, but it’s a minor issue.

The buckles on the pack, strapping and compression ropes are all minimised to save weight. The buckles are going to need to be treated gently over time. In this sense they don’t differ much across the ultralight pack market. The compression cord on the pack sides is not that useful. If you have space in the Levity, I recommend not stuffing gear in tightly and let jackets and other insulation fill the space to offer load stability. There are hoops on the lid, base and sides to allow attachment of your own shock cord stowage system, but I feel if you are resorting to adding so much external storage then it’s time to look at a larger or more sturdy pack than the 45 litre version.

The lack of hip-belt pockets may bother some, as they are always handy for phones and snacks. The side pockets made up for that for me. I recommend a chest pouch for cameras and essentials with the Levity and these are easily attached to the webbing on the shoulder straps.

Osprey Levity 6

To sum up, I’ll round off some of the pros and cons for the Levity 45.

At 830 grams it is certainly a lightweight pack, yet falls short of what a lot of ultralight enthusiasts would identify with as a truly light pack. The compromise here is created by the back system; an area many pack manufacturers omit to save weight. As I mentioned, there are clear advantages to having a rigid back system as you can be less discerning when packing out your gear, plus the suspension offers more comfort when you want to tip the scales.

The pack is made from more delicate fabric. Although strong enough, the ripstop NanoFly fabric will inevitably require more care. If you’re heavy handed, or plan an extended trip in true back-country, then it’s worth bearing this in mind. It would be a deciding factor for me if it were to be hold luggage on a flight for instance, where a clumsy baggage handler could easily ruin this pack.

There are no dedicated walking pole or axe attachments on the Levity. It’s possible to slip poles into a side pocket and stow with the compression cords, but I feel this is a poor omission. While in keeping with the stripped back minimalism, I feel this needs addressing.

The cost. This pack, currently retailing online with Osprey for £220, is a bit pricey for what you get. There are market competitors offering highly functional packs that weigh in lighter, for less money. That said, if you buy an American brand from new, you face import charges to the UK, so Osprey are offering a good quality mass market pack in Europe, that largely does what it says on the tin.

The Levity 45 is a good option if you have begun to lighten your kit list, but you’re not ready to make the transition to a frameless ultralight pack. It looks good, carries loads easily