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Tested: Osprey Volt 75 Pack

osprey volt 75 backpack

After spending most of my athletic prime racing at high speeds (bicycles and motorcycles,) I decided to slow things down a bit and take on more of a “stop and smell the roses” sort of approach. Hiking and trail running sure slow things down by comparison, but I still push myself hard enough that I’m gasping for air instead of enjoying the scenery!

Backpacking looked like the perfect activity! What better way to slow down than to carry a 50 lb load on your back? 😉

Before I knew it, I was the proud owner of this Osprey Volt 75 Pack and spending my free time planning a thru-hike of the Laurel Highland Hiking Trail!

The Volt series (consisting of both this 75 liter pack and a smaller 60 liter version) debuted in 2013. The packs are aimed at value-conscious users who want a quality pack that truly fits and carries well, ensuring an enjoyable experience in the backcountry.

That’s me! I don’t need all the bells and whistles. Half the time, that kind of stuff gets in the way and simply offers more opportunity for something to break (often at the worst possible time.)

But I didn’t actually go into REI to look at this pack…

Going shopping for my first backpack!

After doing my research, I went to REI planning to buy the Deuter ACT Lite 65+10. It looked like a great pack, was in my price range, and I was happy with the smaller Deuter packs I’d used in the past.

I tried on the Deuter, adjusted it to my liking, filled it with bean bags and pillows, and hiked around the store (REI is awesome for all this!) It felt really good, and if I was short on time, I would have purchased it and been done with it. But being a smart shopper, I tried on the Osprey Volt and gave it the same test.

The Volt was simply amazing! The adjustment was super quick and intuitive, and it was so comfortable, it made carrying the load effortless! I had no idea a loaded down backpacking pack could be so comfortable!

I was so excited that, despite already making up my mind, I kept hiking up and down the stairs, continuing to be impressed by this pack!

As soon as I got home, I ordered the Volt 75 in fern green! (The local REI only had the blue in stock.)

This was in April, during REI’s member appreciation sale, so it meant 20% off! I managed to snag this $200 pack for just under $160.

The next week, a big box arrived at my door and this was inside:

brand new osprey volt

The green was even nicer in real life than it looked in the pictures!

First Impressions

The Volt is pretty basic… for an Osprey pack. But it’s still full of features!

Just look at the sternum strap – it features an integrated safety whistle that’s always right where you need it.

Overall, the pack has a really simple, streamlined look (which I love,) but it also offers tons of attachment points. So even if you fill up the entire thing, plenty of gear can be attached outside with carabiners.

Ditching all those bells and whistles keeps the price low, which matters to me! It keeps the weight down, too! Boy is this thing light! At 3lb 12oz, it’s very lightweight for a 75 liter. (The Deuter I wanted would have been 4lb 6oz, and others are even heavier.)

Sizing and Set Up

A lot of packs come in 2-3 sizes, but the Volt comes in just one size. To make up for that, it offers a lot of adjustment! Not only is that a cool feature in general, it’s especially useful at this price point. It will fit just about anyone, so even if you’re a total beginner, it’s impossible to buy the wrong size!

It’s just one less thing to worry about if you’re new to backpacking.

The main adjustment is for torso length, and that’s controlled by a big sliding Velcro section.

You can also adjust the hip belt (not necessary for my 29-32″ waist,) shoulder straps, sternum strap, and more.

You can even let your friends and family borrow it and it will fit them – try doing that with a bike! If you eventually (inevitably) buy another pack, this one can be a spare that fits whoever happens to hike with you.

Storage Space and Organization

This is a top-loading pack with one huge storage compartment! It’s so big that a bear canister will fit down in, sideways! (I don’t live where that’s necessary, but it’s nice to know I have the option.)

A long zipper running along the bottom of the pack provides quick access to the sleeping bag area, which is partially (and optionally) separated from the main compartment.

There’s a roomy top compartment for essentials. You have to remove the pack to access this, but you don’t have to open the main compartment.

Then you have the hip belt pockets, one on each side. You can fit a small camera, smartphone, wallet, energy bar, etc. in these and you can access them while moving!

A large mesh pocket on the back is ideal for carrying wet or dirty clothes that you don’t want inside the pack. Mesh pockets on the sides are great for storing water bottles and/or tent poles. And yes, you can access water bottles here while moving! The pockets are open on two sides for dual access, and with a slick sliding motion to get bottles back in and upright, it works. I freaking love this feature!

There’s a special spot to put a hydration reservoir, sleeping pad straps, ice ax loops, and a unique “Stow-on-the-Go” trekking pole attachment spot under the left arm where you can carry your trekking poles for easy access. And a variety of other clips and straps.

All in all, there’s certainly enough room to handle trips of 3-7 days.

Comfort and Stability

Sometimes, what lightweight packs lack in weight, they also lack in comfort. But for me, the Volt has been comfortable in all conditions.

It has a LightWire peripheral frame (which you can barely even see) that transfers the load to the hip belt, and the hip belt is thick enough to cushion the load against my hips. Compression straps on the sides and top help keep the load close to your center of gravity.

Now, the recommended load range on the site says 40-55 pounds. That might be a tad optimistic if you want optimum comfort! I’d say the pack is capable of 40-55 lb, but has a recommended 30-40 lb load range.

Durability

Deuter is known to be the bomb-proof brand, but this Osprey pack appears plenty durable. I’ve had it over a year and probably put about 100 backpacking miles on it. Plus, I used it in place of a duffel bag a few times.

If something does go wrong, though, there’s this:

osprey all mighty guarantee

Osprey has an incredible guarantee on their packs! And by incredible, I mean that they actually honor their guarantee! So I’m not too worried.

What’s missing?

The only drawback to this pack is that a rain cover is not included. If you’re out in a torrential downpour, your gear will get wet. And the cover is nearly $40 so it’s not cheap! But… it’s preferable to putting everything inside dry bags!

You can buy the Osprey raincover in sizes large and x-large. The large fits packs of 50 – 75 liters and the x-large fits packs of 75 – 110 liters.

So, for this 75 liter pack, which one fits? I say go with x-large if you really stuff your pack full and use the external pockets. If you get the large, you may struggle to fit it over everything.

You don’t get a hydration reservoir either. I added a 3L Source reservoir I already owned, but if you need one, plan to spend another $35.

I’d pass on the Osprey brand reservoir and instead get one from Hydrapak or Platypus – these styles are much more convenient to fill.

levi hiking moraine state park with osprey volt pack

On the trail!

All my mountain bike races and camping trips the last two summers, I was living out of this pack. This and my ENO hammock as my shelter, I was set! (The weather was nice enough I could leave my tent inside the pack!)

I did tons of short hikes (4-6 miles long) wearing this pack simply because I like it so much. You don’t have to fill it up – just use the compression straps to cinch everything down and you’ll be fine.

I also did a few big 20 mile hikes! And these were in some rough locations – McConnell’s Mill and Raccoon Creek State Parks. If you’re in Western PA, you know these two parks have steep, steep hills and rough, rocky trails!

The pack always performed flawlessly, even the one day I was running short on time so I began to (literally) run while wearing the pack! I cinched it down really tight and took off!

OK, a few complaints!

This hydration reservoir area. It’s nice to have, but it sure is hard to insert a full reservoir into a full pack. Unfortunately, the hydration reservoir still competes for space with the rest of your gear. What I mean is, if the pack is full, good luck trying to slip a full 3 liter reservoir into the reservoir compartment!

It’s the same problem I see with mountain bike hydration packs, except those are much easier to load and unload since they’re small and you’re not carrying much.

Also, if you have a full pack and a full reservoir, the water is going to be right up against your back, and it’s going to get warm quickly.

Speaking of which, the back ventilation could be better. It looks like mesh material, but I don’t see any effective air channels. If I wear a good sweat-wicking shirt, I don’t have any problems in hot weather, but I wouldn’t want to encounter “very hot” weather.

I’d also like more water resistance. One day I got caught in some passing showers, and after about an hour in light rain, the material looks like it’s soaked! I wouldn’t go on a serious trip without the rain cover!

Should you buy a more expensive pack?

If I had purchased a more expensive pack, I might be happier, I might not. Buying an expensive pack wouldn’t really eliminate my complaints. (Good luck finding a waterproof backpack!)

I thoroughly considered the Osprey Aether 70 if I had the money – it’s $290 – but ultimately realized it was just too busy and had extra features I didn’t need. The front panel zip seemed like a great idea, but in reality, I think the only things I’d need quick access to, I could fit in the little top compartment or hip belt pockets.

And the bonsai green was not as nice as fern green! 😉

If I needed separate pockets for organization, I’d probably get the Osprey Atmos 65, which is a badass pack. Maybe if you need something super light, you’d prefer the Osprey Exos 58.

Or if you need to carry very heavy loads and need something more comfortable under heavy load, it would be worth spending more.

For my needs, I think the Volt 75 was plenty good enough!

My final verdict is…

You’ll have a hard time finding a better deal than this! The Osprey Volt is an excellent choice for the occasional backpacker, or anyone who wants a great quality, simple backpack.

I’m very pleased with this pack, and I’m sold on Osprey!

Official website: www.OspreyPacks.com

Buy online: www.REI.com

Product Review Details
Company: Osprey
Product: Osprey Volt 75 Pack
Reviewed by: Coach Levi
My Rating: 4.2 out of 5
Date last updated: 2015-09-26
Obtained Product: Purchased at retailer.
CoachLevi.com Advertiser: No.

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6 Comments
  1. Sounds like you made the right choice! I was looking at ordering one of the packs from L.L. Bean that’s a similar size. Maybe I should do some comparison shopping first.

    • @Steve

      The LL Bean packs look alright, but I’ve never worn one, so I can’t comment too much. What I can say is that they are about the same price as the Osprey Volt line, so definitely look around some more and try on both packs before purchasing!

  2. Wouldn’t the lower compression straps interfere with the side pockets? How do you carry both tent poles and Nalgene bottles in virtually the same space?

    • @Francis

      I see what you’re saying. The answer is, it depends.

      It’s certainly tricky to cinch those straps down tight around something like tent poles, yet still have room in the mesh pockets for a water bottle (that will be inserted/removed frequently.) If you’re going with a Nalgene bottle, I’d do that on one side and skinny stuff on the other. Or switch to a Camelbak Podium bottle, which is skinnier. Or just use the hydration reservoir while hiking, and the extra Nalgene for extra fluids at rest stops.

      Lastly, I will just say that the mesh side pockets worked better than I initially expected!

  3. Can you confirm it holds a full-size BearVault BV500 sideways?

    My brother-in-law is looking into a new pack and this one sounds great, but that would be a deal breaker.

    • @Mrs. McKenzie

      That’s what everyone says. There should be just enough room that you can get that BearVault BV500 in there sideways. (A number of sources have confirmed it, but I don’t have any of my own pictures for proof.)

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coach levi
Hi, I'm Coach Levi. I'm a USA Cycling Certified Level 3 Coach as well as Level 1 Certified with Precision Nutrition. Want to feel better, ride faster, and look great? Let's work together!

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Coach Levi is my favorite child and favorite cycling coach. I'd choose him over Christoper McCarmikael even. Did I mention that Levi can coach you to a healthier lifestyle where you look and feel your best?
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Hometown, PA