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Osprey Levity/Lumina vs. Exos/Eja: What will you sacrifice for 12 oz?

The new Osprey Levity/Lumina is about 12 oz lighter than Osprey’s previous lightest backpacking pack, the Exos/Eja. But it sacrifices performance, durability, and price to make that happen.

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:

For many years, Osprey’s answer for these backpackers has been the men’s Exos 38, 48, and 58 and the women’s Eja 38, 48, and 58.

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.

Overview

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.

Weight

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.

Load carrying

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 Levity and Exos both have Osprey’s AirSpeed suspension. The Levity uses a lighter mesh, but to maintain durability it’s less 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 shoulder straps on the Exos are about twice as thick as those on the Levity. Also, notice the sternum strap: the Exos has a conventional sliding rail, while the Levity is more minimal.

The Levity hipbelt is purely mesh and uses 20-mil webbing, while the Exos is lightly padded and has 35-mil webbing. This extra cushioning and surface area (and that on the shoulder straps) give the Exos more load carrying ability.

Fabrics

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.

The Levity pack is made of 30d nylon, which strikes me as a risky pack fabric. At least it’s covered with a 200d x 210d “Chineema” in the most abrasion-prone areas. Also notice the narrow top lid attachment webbing, narrow SR buckle, and 2-mil compression strap cord. Osprey was obsessed with eliminating weight.

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.

The delicate 30d sil-nylon is covered in the most abrasion-prone areas with a much more durable 210d x 200d “Chineema.”

Warranty

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.

Top lids

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.

Pockets

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.

Trims

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 Levity was pared down to the max. Nice-to-have but often extraneous features were removed, like ice axe loops. And the trims (mostly webbing and buckles) were all scaled down.

Price

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.

Ideal use

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.


Disclosure. I strive to offer field-tested and trustworthy information, insights, and advice. I have no financial affiliations with or interests in any brands or products, and I do not publish sponsored content

This website is supported by affiliate marketing, whereby for referral traffic I receive a small commission from select vendors like Amazon or REI, at no cost to the reader.



Posted in on January 25, 2018
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36 Comments

  1. Stephen on January 26, 2018 at 7:59 am

    Hi Andrew,

    Thanks for posting a thorough comparison between the Exos and Levity, and providing context on its use and possible intended audience!

    What changes to the Levity and or Exos do you think Osprey could make to strike a different balance between versatile and UL? I think the Exos hit a reasonable balance but wonder if there could be value if Osprey merged the two packs, as in the design of the Exos but constructed using their Nanofly fabric instead.

    • Andrew Skurka on January 26, 2018 at 8:07 am

      I would be more interested to see a Levity in all NanoFly, for about 2 extra ounces.

      But even then, I like many features on the Osprey. I don’t see anything wrong with a 2.5-lb pack that’s durable, fully featured, and capable of carrying reasonable loads.

  2. Dan on January 26, 2018 at 8:09 am

    Exos sounds better to me. Anything you could tell us about the differences between this year’s Exos and the old Exos? A salesperson said the new one is lighter and gender-specific but didn’t have details, and I’m trying to decide whether to get the old one on clearance or hold out for the new.

    • Andrew Skurka on January 26, 2018 at 8:38 am

      We didn’t go there, because we wanted to stop working and drink some beer, sorry.

      • Jeremy on January 26, 2018 at 10:23 am

        Yeah, but the Exos carries more beer right? Ok, sold… =P

    • Michael Perry on January 26, 2018 at 12:32 pm

      You’re in luck! I emailed Osprey about this, and they replied with:

      Our new and updated Exos/Eja series should be available around the middle February. Some models/colors may be available sooner. The hipbelt pockets were removed to allow for a more adjustable fit while you’re spending considerable amounts of time on the trail resulting in weight loss. The new design of the Exos/Eja allows the user to tighten the pack as needed. To make up for that, we’ve bumped up the volume of the side pockets. In regards to the weight difference between the two, it’s an accumulation of little changes, wider frame, more nylon on the front pocket, larger side pockets, different fabrics, etc. Other updates include and softer, more durable mesh on the back panel, and an increase in durability in high-wear points.

      • Todd on January 26, 2018 at 12:42 pm

        Nice- thanks for the info

  3. Todd on January 26, 2018 at 10:12 am

    I still don’t understand how the Exos gained 3 oz over last years model, while also losing hip belt pockets.

    • tom on January 29, 2018 at 6:47 am

      Probably market segmentation. They wanted more weight difference between the Exos and Levity

  4. Padraic Hirsch on January 26, 2018 at 11:02 am

    On the new Exos they removed the hip belt pockets and on the new one and compression straps seem to be set up a tad different. However weight is the same. Possibly because loosing the hip belt pockets the new pack is 200 or so cubic inches smaller. Not 100% sure but a big thing osprey is pushing with all these packs is it’s strippable so you can remove the compression straps, top lid and other components with ease. I don’t know if the previous version could do this or it just wasn’t marketed that way.

  5. Hunter Hall on January 26, 2018 at 2:58 pm

    What would you say is the impetus to buy this pack instead of a cottage manufacturer like MLD, Zpacks, GG, or HMG? Seems to be just the lead time, osprey guarantee and REI member return policy + price to some degree on some packs, correct? Is the comfort that much better?

    • Andrew Skurka on January 26, 2018 at 4:06 pm

      In addition to the reasons you cited, I think customers will be drawn to the Levity because of the AirSpeed suspension and the ability to try it on in a store. Also, a lot of customers know and trust Osprey, but have never heard of the cottage brands.

  6. Spencer on January 26, 2018 at 3:21 pm

    Hey Andrew, I am interested to hear your opinion on the hip belts. I tend to be in the camp that likes a well cushioned full wrap hipbelt even on a lighter backpack. I have used similiar packs that have a smaller belt than this and found them not to be comfortable. I have an older exos and even find that that could use a bit more coushioning and a more rubust haul loop/shoulder straps…..What are your thoughts? Also Just a side thought, I wish Osprey would incorporate a pocket into their flapjack lid (so it would be similar to a gossamer gear backpack) So you could really take the top lid off and get a more minimalist pack (but still have a top lid pocket)…..

    • Andrew Skurka on January 26, 2018 at 4:07 pm

      If you have found what you like, then does it matter what I think? (For the record, I generally agree, although it’s tough to say exactly because I’ve never worn the same pack with two different styles of hipbelts, and other design decisions play a role in comfort.)

  7. Eric on January 26, 2018 at 5:24 pm

    Hey Andrew,

    Sorry for writing a novel here. I’m planning a 2018 AT Thru in March and am undecided between the Levity 60 and the Exos 58. I’ve got a fair bit of experience and have done one longer, 350km Trail. My base weight will be around 12lbs.

    Just wondering whether you think the Levity 60 could carry that load comfortably on the AT (with 1 L of water, and say 10lbs of food on a resupply day, moving me up to 25 lbs).

    Also, I’m pretty gentle on my gear, but in your opinion is the Levity up to 3500 KM?

    Last Question, How much water weight would the Exos gain during an all day pour? If I went for the Levity I’d leave my rain cover at home and just bag everything inside. If I go for the Exos, I’d consider bringing my rain cover.

    Thoughts?

    • Andrew Skurka on January 26, 2018 at 6:46 pm

      I’d go with the Exos. Let other thru-hikers learn whether it it is comfortable with thru-hiker loads and whether it can withstand a thru-hike of wear. Save yourself $50, maybe more if you buy a 2017 or earlier version of the Exos, and start the trail with no worries.

      I don’t know the volume of your 12 lbs, but 58L seems large to me for a thru-hike. My Flex Capacitor is a 60L pack, and I can shove in there about 10 days of food (in a bear canister) with a low-10’s base weight. I would think that the 48L would be better sized, and maybe in the summer you’re carrying so little that you pull off the top lid.

      I don’t think pack covers are worth it. Modern packs don’t absorb that much weight, and pack liners are much more effective at keeping your stuff dry. Plus, pack covers interfere with your access to the pack.

  8. Hunter on January 26, 2018 at 5:42 pm

    I would love to see Osprey make an ultralight high-end DCF pack. Do you think they just have no desire to be in that market, similar to Sierra Designs?

    I’m sure there are far more customers that would buy a $250 pack versus a $350 pack but it seems like it would be a pretty simple “premium product” for them to offer.

    • Andrew Skurka on January 26, 2018 at 6:14 pm

      I wish they’d used DCF instead of the 30d sil-nylon, and charge $50 more. DCF would be lighter and stronger, and it’d better separate the two packs.

      My guess is that DCF totally blows up the pricing. Also, their factories have no experience working with it.

  9. BrightEyes on January 26, 2018 at 7:46 pm

    Hey Andrew! Thank you for this detailed review. I’m wondering, what are the design differences between the Levity and Lumina? The unpadded hip belt deflated my enthusiasm for this pack because packs tend to cause pain and bruising at my hips, a problem quite common among women. Did they make any adjustments to the Lumina to address issues such as these, specific to women? Cheers.

    • Andrew Skurka on January 26, 2018 at 9:17 pm

      I didn’t ask that specific question. However, men’ss and women’s packs normally differ in the distance between the shoulder straps, back panel width, and hip belt angle. I think the differences are all in fit, and a different colorway. No feature differences.

  10. Fattah RazzaqghanimughnI on March 6, 2018 at 12:28 pm

    Hi Andrew,

    We’re follow each other at Instagram 😀
    A big thanks to you for comparing these gears and answering the comments.
    All of my thoughts about this comparison were answered.
    I really hope Osprey will make a new product with the same design of Osprey Exos 2017, 45-48 liters volume capacity, but made of DCF.
    US$300-ish I think will be a pretty descent price and I would buy it right away, considering the All-Mighty-Guarantee it will be a great investment.

    Hike on,
    outdoorgearjunkie
    ==

  11. Sheri on March 28, 2018 at 2:13 am

    Thanks for the information. I was considering an Eja, but I need hip pockets for my food for the day’s hike. I’m soooo disappointed they removed this pretty important feature from the Exos!

    • Andrew Skurka on March 28, 2018 at 8:35 am

      I think it was an oversight, too. Stupid light.

      But I would caution you to not be overly rigid with your systems. You may have some preferences and habits, but there’s no reason that another system won’t work. In this case, perhaps you find the side pockets easily accessible and sufficient large for snacks. Or maybe you opt to keep your food in the top of your pack (like I do, so that I can’t reach it too easily (calorie control) and so that I can insulate the chocolate from the sun).

    • TJ on March 31, 2018 at 5:10 pm

      Sheri I just bought the Eja 58 and at first was pretty bummed about the lack of shoulder and hipbelt pockets. Having tried on the pack though, I was extremely surprised how accessible the side pockets were and decided it wasn’t a total deal breaker to not have them. I’m taking the pack on a quick weekend trip at the end of April and might buy some “after market” pockets from ula or zpacks if I decide I miss them too much.

      Realistically I’m starting to think that may have been their goal since so many people are cutting “unnecessary” parts off their packs? Maybe Osprey will realease their own compatible add ons in the future.

  12. Sheri on April 1, 2018 at 1:01 am

    I appreciate that feedback. Sounds like it’s worth using my REI dividends & 20% after all. I bought another 2017 Exos from Amazon, just in case I can’t adapt. REI is sold out of them. Let me know what you find to be the best after market add-ons. Thanks and happy trails!

  13. Dan on April 16, 2018 at 5:50 am

    Hi, thanks for the information. I have a question about The levity’s weight bearing capacity please. It seems Osprey have recently changed their figures, because all reviews and info online (aside from Osprey) refer to the pack being able to carry weight such as 12kg/25lb, like you mention, but Osprey themselves are saying the 45L is for weight up to 9kg only (i.e. 20lb)!? Further, the product manual on their website still says up to 25lb! I wonder if they have “downgraded” the weight range recommendation after it’s been used a bit more and they’ve received feedback? It’s makes me a bit nervous about the pack as I would want it to carry that kind of weight with no dramas. What are your thoughts on the mismatched Osprey figures, and how much weight do you think it comfortably carries? I’m interested in buying the pack, but it’s got to carry more than 9kg with comfort for it to work for me and be worthwhile. Here’s the Osprey official page where you can also access the product manual: https://www.osprey.com/au/en/product/levity-45-LEVITY45.html
    I messaged Osprey a couple days ago on facebook (the only contact I could find) about the conflicting information they’ve released but haven’t had a reply yet. It’s particularly bad as all reviews (like yours) that people refer to state the presumably old recommended and higher weight limit.
    I’d be happy to buy the new Exos instead if it’s a good fit but none of my local shops have it yet to try. The old Exos fits awful on my hips, with the levity far more comfortable.
    Thanks!

    • Andrew Skurka on April 19, 2018 at 9:59 am

      If the 20-lb carrying comfort is intentional, I don’t know what prompted it. 20 lbs is pretty low for any pack, even frameless packs.

      I have both the Exos and Levity. Neither has gone out yet; this past weekend I went their with Aether Pro. What surprised me most about the Exos/Levity was that the sizes are different. I have a 19-inch torso, and a Medium Levity fit me best. But I went with a large in the Exos. I went over to REI to size them, and had a sales associate confirm what I was feeling. It’s odd, because I would have thought that the Levity is just a stripped-down version of the Exos. But maybe they re-worked more than just materials.

      • Dan on June 1, 2018 at 4:00 am

        Thanks for the reply, Andrew.

        I did end up hearing from Osprey, they said the following:

        “I did hear back from our marketing team and the load range is correct on the website. Like you thought we lowered that load range to make a more clear delineation between the Exos and the Levity.”

        Sounds like it was purely for marketing purposes?!? Not sure about that….

        They actually recommended not getting the pack, saying my base weight shouldn’t be above 5kg (mine ranges between 6-7.5kg).

        I tried the Levity in store, with probably ranges between 9- 12kg, felt comfy but it was a bit heavy lower down with the extra weight i.e. the suspension system was collapsing I think. I think I will give the pack a miss as a result. Disappointing I was hoping it would be my new pack…

      • Steve on July 8, 2018 at 12:46 am

        The Exos sizing you experienced is interesting to me. I have a 19.5 inch torso and a medium Exos 48 seems to fit me like a glove, or so I thought until I read your experience and second guessed myself a bit. I’ve been out a few times with mine and have found it very comfortable, but I decided to compare it with my other Osprey that I also feel has fit me very well. Up until the Exos I was using a Volt 75 set at “medium” (torso length not lengthened or shortened from where the harness rests when delivered from the factory). Putting the packs side by side (with the Volt in this setting), the torso length and harnesses seem to be exactly the same. I’m a near textbook medium in the Osprey size device and seem to be in both of their packs I own. Could this just be a difference in body builds or preference on how the harness wraps the shoulders, etc? I’ve seen a few folks online with the new Exos and have seen a wide variety of how the harness sits on them. In some cases, I’ve seen the heavily padded portion completely on the chest of the wearer seemingly without it over the shoulders at all. That just doesn’t seem comfortable to me, especially with the load lifters connecting to the shoulder straps at the wearer’s collarbone, but to each their own I guess?

        • Andrew Skurka on July 8, 2018 at 7:02 am

          In terms of sizing and fit, backpacks fall between t-shirts and shoes. Not as generic as the former, but less fussy than the latter. If you can, it’s always best to try the pack on before you buy. I used the Exos (size Large) for 8 days last month and never thought for an instant that it was sized too large for me.

      • Ellery on October 9, 2018 at 1:06 pm

        It must be mostly marketing to differ it from Exos. As a Sonoran Desert dweller – when I bought the levity 45, the first thing I did was load it up to 32 lbs to account for water carried along dry stretches of the AZT. Still by far the most comfortable pack I own out of three others. I do imagine there would be issues with the suspension at 40 lbs, but 20-25 is Osprey going beyond playing it safe.

        • Dan on December 3, 2018 at 2:55 am

          Thanks for the feedback Ellery. That’s substantially over their weight range, so good to hear it’s still comfortable. I might still get that pack at some point.

          FWIW following on from my initial post, I got to try the new Exos, doesn’t fit my hips at all still 🙁 I must have some crazy hips or wear my pack real funny as there is no way they would design it to not be suitable for a 34 inch waist.

  14. Joy on June 9, 2018 at 10:59 am

    Thanks for the great comparisons. I’ve been on the fence between the Eja and the Lumina. I think I may have fallen on to the Eja side. Keep up the good work!

  15. Tim Azzopardi on June 14, 2018 at 5:07 pm

    I am an “experienced backpacker who will stay usually below 25-30 pounds, who hikes only on trails, and who is willing to baby their gear”. For better or worse I have a new levity 60L pack large size. I plan to walk the gr11 through the spanish pyrenees 500 miles 800 km. I plan to start 27th July 2018. I am have a 6.5kg 14.5lb base weight. Normally i expect to carry 3 kg of water max and 2kg food and at most 0.5 kg fuel. So in total a normal maximum under 12kg or 26 pounds. Occasionally I may need to carry more water on very hot days or where water looks like it will be scarce. I should finish mid september 2018. I will post back when done to let you know whether the levity was ok.

    • Dan on December 3, 2018 at 2:56 am

      How did the Levity go on your 800km hike, Tim?

  16. Tim Azzopardi on January 2, 2019 at 1:09 am

    Hi yes the Levity was and has been a fine pack. Unfortunately I had to abandon my trip after four days but it was nothing to do with the Levity – Very happy to continue using it and am finding it hard wearing despie its light weight.

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