A while ago I was deliberating on the purchase of another rucksack. A long drawn out process of weighing pros and cons, whys and wherefores, and of course, weight and cost.
The Exos has been a brilliant piece of kit and, as I've the long back version, something of a cavern when it comes to the capacity. Fine for week, winter or longer trips where the packed weight is north of 12kgs or when the kit is bulkier than the summer stuff but a bit overkill for summer weekend trips or an overnighter.
Working on the fact that I could fit my summer overnight kit into a 35l rucksack, a bag of 40l or so capacity would be ample when food and water are included. With the bank holiday looming and with it the opportunity to get out for a couple of days I needed no more justification to buy one.
The Exos owes a lot to the Talon series. There are a number of features that are common to both; the shoulder and hip belt are made from mesh and die cut foam to allow airflow, the shoulder strap pockets (two on the Talon; one on the Exos), a stretchy front bucket pocket, a floating lid with a zippered mesh pocket, stretchy side pockets and compression straps, and the floating lid retainer and a rope retainer/compression strap. Where they differ is that the Exos has mesh for the hip and side pockets and the compression strap webbing is thinner than the Talon. In fact the bags are a similar weight despite the difference in size, this is in part due to the weight saving of the thinner webbing and use of mesh on the Exos. And the Talon has an adjustable back system which adds to its weight but at 1100g it's still 400 to 600g lighter than comparable sized models from Berghaus or Lowe Alpine.
The hip belt pockets are big enough to hold a couple of cereal bars and other bits and pieces. The side pockets are deep enough to hold a water bottle but careful choice of bottle is needed as getting the bottle in and out isn't easy. In use I had a Nalgene hip flask (sadly not filled with a decent single malt) that I was able to push up and pull out. There is a U shaped flexible stay that transfers weight to the hip belt that the smaller capacity models don't have. I loaded the bag with about 10.5kg of kit, food and water and it handled that weight without fuss. I'm not sure what the top limit is with this but I'd guess about 12-13kg would be about right.
There's an external bladder pocket and hanger, although it not strictly speaking external as the slot is between the back sheet and main compartment, and the material separating the two is bellowed to accommodate a bladder. I'm using a Source 1.5l bladder and this hangs happily from the tab provided, in use it was necessary to partial unpack the bag for the bladder to settle in place.
Other features include double ice axe loops and bungee holders, bed roll holders, a LED bike light patch, additional tie off points and zipped entry to the bottom of the bag. The bag has a floating lid which means the bed roll holders are superfluous, and will no doubt meet the scissors in the near future.
Osprey pack sizing is on the generous side so the 44l capacity was more than enough for the kit that I'd selected, and a couple of days food.
Given that I think the Exos is a great piece of kit, it's no surprise that I've taken to the Talon. I'd prefer a fixed back to save some weight, mesh side pockets that are easier to use, and larger mesh hip belt pockets but I can live with these shortcomings.