OSPREY XENA 70 4/5 Stars
Reviewer: Whitney Oliver
My Gear Style:
Use It ‘Til It Disintegrates
They say ignorance is bliss, but in the case of an ill-fitting backpack, ignorance can mean aching shoulders, bruised hips, and a bout of swearing you wouldn’t want your mother to hear.
For 10 years, I was content with my 30L unisex backpack, believing that the discomfort of straps that cut rudely into my chest and the backward pull of excess gear I had strapped to the outside was all part of roughing it. Little did I know the luxury that awaited me in the Osprey Xena 70.
While I perused various large backpack models in preparation for Jasper’s 44km Skyline Trail, the Xena stopped me in my tracks with its many compartments. Other packs seemed to have only a few large cells, which hold plenty of stuff, but make finding anything a hunt through a black hole.
The Xena boasts six zippered compartments in addition to the main one, making organization for a long trip a breeze. There are also two side zips that allow quick access directly to the main cell without needing to undo any straps. Since the spacious interior has more than enough room for all of my gear, including sleeping bag and compact mat, I now have a streamlined ride–no more junk swinging from my trunk while I huff it up a hill. If I should need to latch anything outside, the bag is equipped with plenty of aptly placed straps and loops.
An especially handy feature is the detachable lid, which works as a lumbar pack (mature cousin of the fanny pack), so I can ditch the big pack at the campsite and still have all I need for an afternoon on the trail.
Other perks are the front mesh pocket for easy to reach items, two side mesh pockets that fit big water bottles, an exterior pocket for a hydration pack and a tiny emergency whistle built into the chest strap -which, I might add – is comfortably fitted for the ladies.
Big Ups: After over 100km of trail testing, the Xena’s cushy padding kept me comfortable with no back or shoulder pain, while the many compartments helped me keep days’ worth of supplies organized. At certified retailers, you can actually heat the padding of your pack and custom-mold it to your body. Talk about the perfect fit!
Downers: At 5lbs 5oz (Size M), the pack is on the heavier side, even before you load it to capacity. However, since the weight is smartly distributed and the padding is top-notch, I hardly noticed the extra ounces. You will need to buy a raincover separately.