This spring Osprey has released a new backpack design that is aimed squarely at the ultralight and thru-hiking communities. It’s available in men’s and women’s sizes, each in two volumes:
- Levity 45 ($250, 1 lb 13 oz) and
- Levity 60 ($270, 1 lb 14 oz) for men; and,
- Lumina 45 ($250, 1 lb 12 oz) and
- Lumina 60 ($250, 1 lb 13 oz) for women.
At Outdoor Retailer I spoke with Chris Horton, a Product Line Manager for Osprey who was involved in the development of the Levity/Lumina, about the major differences between these two packs, in terms of design and intended uses.
The Levity/Lumina retains Osprey’s renowned fit and AirSpeed suspension. But in the process of making 12 oz lighter, it became less durable, $50 more expensive, and comfortable only up to about 25 to 30 pounds. It’s stripped down to the essentials, and some of its remaining features seem fussy, like tiny side-release buckles and 2mm compression strap cords.
If you are an experienced backpacker who will stay comfortably below 25-30 pounds, who hikes only on trails, and who is willing to baby their gear, the Levity/Lumina may be for you. (If you find that there is a bias against the Levity/Lumina in the post, it’s because I no longer do any of that.)
The Exos/Eja is about 12 oz heavier, but more durable and less expensive. Its comfort limit is about 40 pounds, thanks to more cushioned body/backpack contact points. It has several nice-to-have features, like ice axe loops and a removable top lid; and its other features are often more user-friendly, like webbing compression straps and a sliding sternum strap. It’s a durable and reasonably priced ultralight pack that is suitable for beginner and veteran backpackers alike.
The headline story about the Levity/Lumina is their weight: in all sizes, the 45L and 60L are less than 2 pounds. As one specific example, in size medium the Levity 40 is 1 lb 13 oz and the Levity 60 is 1 lb 15 oz.
On average, the Levity/Lumina are about 12 oz lighter than an Exos/Eja of comparable volume, which is a decrease of about 25 percent. The exact difference will vary with volume and size.
Of course, everything is a tradeoff. In the case of pack design, weight-savings are normally at the expense of performance, durability, and/or price. To shed those 12 oz, Osprey had to make sacrifices in all of these regards.
The Levity/Lumina and Exos/Eja share the same load-support system, Osprey’s AirSpeed Suspension. It tensions a mesh back panel across a peripheral frame made of spring steel to create an air channel between the wearer and pack bag.
The main compartments are similarly proportioned, therefore have a similar balance and ride.
The mesh back panel on the Levity/Lumina is lighter than on the Exos/Eja. But to maintain durability, the mesh is less porous and air permeable.
The more significant differences in the suspension are the shoulder straps and hip belts. Those on the Exos/Eja are more cushioned: the shoulder straps about twice as thick as on the Levity/Lumina; and the hipbelt is lightly padded, not just mesh.
The extra cushioning in these key contact points explains why Osprey recommends an upper weight limit of 40 pounds for the Exos/Eja, but only 25 to 30 pounds for the Levity/Lumina 60L and 45L, respectively. For backpackers who have not streamlined their kits or who will have to carry significant food or water, the Exos/Eja will be more forgiving.
The main pack body of the Exos/Eja is made of 100d nylon, and its more abrasion-prone bottom uses heavier 210d nylon.
The pack body of the Levita/Lumina, meanwhile, is made of 30d silicone-impregnated nylon (“sil-nylon”), which is used frequently as a floor fabric in lightweight tents but which to me seems risky as a pack fabric: yes, it’s light; but it’s less durable than a comparably light Dyneema Composite Fabric (“Cuben”) or even a run-of-the-mill pack fabric like the 100d in the Exos/Eja.
Thankfully, Osprey covered the most vulnerable sections of the pack — including the bottom, side pockets, rear pocket, and top lid — with a 210d nylon x 200d ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene (UHMWPE), which is essentially an unbranded equivalent to the Dyneema fabric used by, say, Mountain Laurel Designs and My Trail Company. At Sierra Designs we used a similar “Chineema” on the Flex Capacitor 40-60 Pack, in order to get high performance at less cost.
Osprey branded this fabric as NanoFly. It’s more durable, more water-resistant, and marginally lighter than the 210d used on the Exos/Eja. But it’s largely responsible for the $50 price premium between the two packs.
All Osprey products are backed with an All Mighty Guarantee, whereby it promises to repair any damage or defect free of charge (or replace the product if it’s beyond repair).
The Levity/Lumina is not intended for canyoneering in southern Utah, bushwhacking through Alaskan willow or Appalachian guard spruce, or scrambling on mineral-infused High Sierra granite, but the cost of such foolish behavior will be incurred by Osprey, not the user (at least once they’ve made it back to the trailhead). The Exos/Eja do not need to be babied as much.
The Exos/Eja has a removable top lid. Osprey considered saving weight on the Levity/Lumina by excluding this feature, but ultimately kept it: it protects the main compartment from precipitation, improves compression, and creates a convenient pocket. However, it’s permanently attached, to eliminate the weight of some hardware and straps.
Each pack has two side pockets, one rear pocket, and a top lid pocket. The Exos/Eja has one additional pocket on the underside of the top lid.
The side and rear pockets on the Exos/Eja are made partially with stretch mesh, which makes for a cleaner aesthetic. The Levity/Lumina pockets are dimensional (i.e. pre-shaped) because they are made of the 210d NanoFly, which has no stretch.
Osprey went gram-hunting on the Levity/Lumina trims. It removed several convenient and thoughtful — but ultimately unnecessary — features, like ice axe loops, sleeping pad straps, its Stow-on-the-Go trekking pole attachment system, the extra ring on its compression system pivots that allows for more nuanced adjustments, and even the 2-inch loop that opens up the hipbelt when the pack is picked up by a shoulder strap.
Trims on the Levity/Lumina that could not be removed were often scaled back relative to the Exos/Eja. For example, it has 15-mil webbing on the shoulder straps (vs 20), 20-mil webbing on the hipbelt (vs 35), 2-mil cord on the compression system (vs 5-mil webbing), and half-inch webbing for the top lid compression (vs three-quarter inch). I would describe some of these efforts as “stupid light,” but I admire Osprey’s weight obsession.
The Lumina/Levity is about $50 more than the Exos/Eja: $250 and $270 for the 45 and 60, versus $180, $200, and $220 for for the 38, 48, and 58.
It sounds like the Levity/Lumina could have been priced for less, but it was intentionally not. Osprey believes that the higher price point will encourage newer backpackers — who tend to be more budget-conscious — to go with the Exos/Eja, which will better endure heavier loads and which does not need to be as babied. Chris specifically said, “The Levity/Lumina should not be someone’s first backpack.”
The Levity/Lumina is really designed for veteran backpackers, who generally have lighter kits and who take better care of their gear. Relatively speaking, the $50 premium is a small price to pay for a 12-oz weight-savings.
Questions about the Levity/Lumina or Exos/Eja? Leave a comment. If I can’t answer it, I’ll get the answer from Osprey.
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