Ahead of our new issue and new look gear pages, OE’s editor David Lintern has been getting to grips with one of Osprey’s highly anticipated Levity backpacks, available in the UK from March 2018 onwards.
The Levity packs caused quite a stir when they were announced last summer, enough to win an Outdoor Industry Award, but the UK has had to wait until now to try them out. OE was lucky enough to receive a test sample of the smaller of the two options. I tried the 45 litre, and there’s a 60 litre available too (£240), both in unisex fit.
Why all the fuss about these packs? With the Levity, a mainstream manufacturer is embracing the ‘ultralight’ revolution in pack materials, which means that a backpacking pack under 850g will now be available on the high street and no longer the province of niche or ‘cottage’ manufacturers. Osprey hasn’t thrown the baby out with the bath water though. They have retained their trademark ‘Airspeed’ ventilated back system and combined it with hi-tech materials to make something that’s not just a copy of the cottage brands’ offerings.
Does it work? Mostly, yes it does. The result is an exceptionally comfortable carry for loads of up to about 10kg. After that it starts to struggle a little, with the fabric being so lightweight the packs structure starts to give in. It would be interesting to see how the 60 litre version fares with heavier loads. However, with a smaller three-season load, this pack really seems to move with me, the aluminium framed suspension system working efficiently and comfortably to transfer weight to the hips, despite only minimal padding on the shoulders and hip belt. The suspension system does mean that packing the interior needs to accommodate the curve, and it doesn’t stand up so easily on it’s own, but the carry makes up for these minor inconveniences.
The ‘Nanofly’ fabric is so lightweight as to be semi-transparent, but there’s thicker fabric on the wear points, and it all appeared very durable and pretty water resistant in my test – gear inside won’t stay dry forever without drysacks but the fabric itself didn’t soak up rainwater. Features wise there’s a large zipped lid pocket, two side and one front pockets, plus plenty of webbing loops and drawstrings to cinch the load down and attach items to the outside of the pack. There are no axe or pole loops, although these could be added. I had no issues with stowing my walking poles when I needed to, even without custom bungees.
There are one or two little niggles. The exterior pockets are separated by a stretchy mesh, which means that loading the front first can restrict use of the sides; they share capacity if you like. That’s the trade off in not using mesh, but conversely the pack should fare well if you intend to do a lot of bushwhacking. Osprey have mentioned that they have updated these pockets, but my pre-production model has the old style. Also note that the hip belt has no pockets – I imagine to keep the weight down – although 3rd party pockets could be added.
I really enjoyed testing the Levity, and for warmer weather backpacking it proved to be a good size and super comfortable over long days. I’ve been sceptical about the durability of Osprey’s back systems in the past, but this pack – despite the odd foible mentioned above – has won me over on the carry comfort alone.
VERDICT: A very comfortable, high spec and high tech 3 season pack.
BEST FOR: Lightweight backpackers. Less useful for those who pack the kitchen sink!
Review and photographs by David Lintern @