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Which large-capacity backpack will serve me well in the ...

May. 20, 2024

Which large-capacity backpack will serve me well in the ...

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You’ll have to carry a pack that size in order to bring all the insect repellent you’ll need—ha, ha, ha!

Gregory Palisade

Palisade backpack

Palisade backpack

But, yeah, several packs should be right for you. These days I tend to regard the Gregory Palisade ($299; www.gregorypacks.com) as the classic big backpacking pack. It has an excellent suspension that holds up under big loads and transfers the weight well to its firm, contoured hipbelt. In the medium size it holds 5,100 cubic inches. Access to gear is fairly easy through a top port, front zip, and bottom sleeping-bag compartment. And there’s lots of room for odds and ends, plus you can choose between using a hydration bladder or slipping water bottles into several easily accessible pockets.

I also like the Osprey Crescent 85 (www.ospreypacks.com), although it’s a bit pricier at $380. Osprey suspensions are just a cut above those on Gregory packs, with perhaps slightly better load transfer and a more comfortable hipbelt. But it’s not a big gap. Osprey also adds some nifty features such as a waterproof compartment for wet gear (or to keep gear dry). Capacity is the same as the Palisade.

For a real bargain, look no further than the Lowe Alpine Contour 80+15 ($239; www.lowealpine.com). It has a simple but effective suspension with curved aluminum stays to get the load to your hips, lots of places for small items and bigger things such as sleeping bags, and plenty of space (4,900 cubic inches, plus 900 more if the bag top is extended).

If you can, try a few packs on with 25 to 30 pounds in them. Packs are a little like shoes in that fit matters, and not all packs fit all people. Plus think about how you like to pack a pack, and try to imagine yourself using the pack during the day. What makes the most sense, in terms of pack layout and where daily/nightly items are stashed? And of course, what seems to hold the load best.

Have fun!

Check out this year’s more than 400 must-have gear items, including a comprehensive backpacks section, in the Buyer’s Guide.

Product Review: Osprey Manta 24 Backpack

Osprey Manta 24 Backpack Review

I have tried out several different backpacks since I began my hiking journey and it was a little bit of a Goldilocks syndrome. This one is too big, this one is too small. But I think I finally found the one that is &#;Just Right&#; with the Osprey Manta 24 backpack.

The longer you hike the more you realize what is important in what you pack and the pack itself. When I first started, I had a small pack and it was overflowing with stuff I didn&#;t need. Now that I know what I need to bring with me it was important to find a pack that worked with my needs and that was the Osprey Manta 24.

As a disclaimer I would like to mention that I have an affiliate agreement with Osprey and any purchase you make from this website results in me getting a small commission. All opinions on this page are my own and based on my own experiences with this backpack. This review is for general informational purposes. Your experience with the pack may be completely different.

Specs on the Osprey Manta 24 Backpack

The Osprey Manta 24 Backpack in Green Shade

According to the Osprey website, the Manta 24 is &#;A confidence-inspiring hike hydration pack adorned with the quality features you&#;ve come to expect from us. The Manta 24 features an included 2.5-liter reservoir in its own dedicated hydration compartment, a highly ventilated trampoline-style AirSpeed backpanel and more than four inches of adjustability in its harness so you can tailor the fit to your specific needs.&#;

This is one of the most advanced packs that I have hiked with and it really makes a difference. From comfort and fit to functionality, Osprey really thought of everything. Before I get into my full review, here are some of the specs of the Manta 24.

Spec Sheet*Cost$160.00ColorsGreen Shade, BlackSizesOne Size, adjustableDimensions (inches)22 H x 14.2 W x 11.8 DVolume24 L / IN3Weight2.89 lbs

*All specs from Osprey.com. Subject to change.

Walking by the tall grass with my Osprey Manta 24 Backpack

What I Liked

There is so much to like about this pack but I think the overall concept is how everything works so well together. The pack has several options for storage, a dedicated hydration system, and a springy back panel that allows for airflow and space between you and the pack.

Storage

The most important part of a backpack is what it can carry. I don&#;t think we wear them as a style choice! The Manta 24 has several options for storage. It starts with a dedicated hydration pocket. This large pocket houses the 2.5 liter water bladder that comes with the pack. The bladder is equipped with a quick release so to refill you can just push a button and remove the bladder and not have to take the tubing out.

There is additional room in this dedicated pocket around the bladder but I haven&#;t had to use it yet as the other pockets are also quite large.

The dedicated hydration pocket in the Osprey Manta 24 backpack.

Main Storage Pocket

Next up is the main storage pocket. This pocket is accessed from the top of the pack just past the hydration pocket. The main storage pocket is full sized and has plenty of room extra clothes, a first aid kid, camera bags, and is even tall enough for me to fit some adjustable tripods. This main pocket is roughly 18.5 inches tall, 11.5 inches wide and can expand to about 5 inches in depth. It is a very versatile area for a majority of your storage needs.

The main storage area in the Osprey Manta 24 backpack.

Front Storage

There is also a third pocket on the back of the pack. This is a quarter zip pocket that I use for all of my snacks and my keys, wallet and other things I may need more often or need to be able to get to quickly. The inside of this third pocket has a mesh organizer with smaller compartments to keep things exactly where you need them.

This pocket is roughly 10 x 10 x 2 inches. While it isn&#;t the biggest zippered pocket on the pack I find it absolutely to be the most useful. It is one of those pockets I didn&#;t even know I needed until I had it for the first time and now I use it for everything important.

The back side pocket in the Osprey Manta 24 backpack.

Sunglass pocket

On the top of the back panel is a small pocket that is meant to keep your sunglasses as the material is supposed to keep the lenses from scratching. I store my GoPro cameras in here as well and have found this to be an incredibly useful pocket. This one isn&#;t very big, about 7 inches wide and 4 inches tall but it is perfect for items you want to keep safe.

The sunglass pocket on the Osprey Manta 24 backpack

Open Rear Storage

Another really nice feature is the open back panel that has strap. I use this pocket for additional clothing and rain jackets. It is great to have a spot outside of the pack to be able to store a wet rain jacket instead of having to put it back in with the rest of your gear. The strap is also adjustable giving you some flexibility with how big of an item you can store here.

The adjustable exterior pouch on the Osprey Manta 24 backpack.

Hip Pockets

The Manta 24 also comes with two small hip pockets. The pack extends on either hip with a small piece of fabric before the waist strap. This area has a small pocket on either side. It fits a GoPro camera, or Chapstick, a small flashlight and allows for access to a zippered pockets without having to take the pack off. These are yet another item that I didn&#;t know I needed until I have them and now I use them for everything. I do wish that this area extended just a little bit further but part of that might be that my waist extends a bit further than most!

The hip pockets are on the extra piece of wrap around hip fabric on the Osprey Manta 24 backpack.

Water Bottles

The last bit of storage I went to mention is that the Manta 24 has a spot for water bottles on either side of the pack. While these pockets are perfect for water bottles they also have an open front panel. This allows for a quick release ability to reach back to this area and being able to pull a small item out without having to come from above. While this sounds like a convenient feature it is one I have not used yet as I am too nervous that the opening would allow small items to fall out. I do use it for water bottles though and they have had no problems with slipping or falling.

Water bottles in either side pouch on the Osprey Manta 24 backpack.

Storage Wrap

As you can see, there is plenty of options for storage with the Manta 24. As a day hiker mostly, I haven&#;t bee able to fill it up completely. It has plenty of room for everything that I need and more and is even big enough for me to bring some of my camera gear along as well. I am extremely happy with the storage capabilities of the Manta 24.

Walking down the trail with my Osprey Manta 24 backpack.

Comfort

If storage is the most important part of a backpack then comfort has to be the second most important part. If the pack doesn&#;t feel good or distribute the weight well you aren&#;t going to want to wear it. Well Osprey has that figured out as well on the Manta 24.

Back Panel

The most important part of the comfort for me is the mesh back panel that they have created. This adjustable panel serves a couple of purposes. It is a tensioned mesh so it keeps the weight of the pack off your back and helps properly distribute the weight. The panel also allows air to flow between your back and the pack which helps to keep you cool! As a bigger hiker the airflow is amazing on those warm summer hikes! You can see the springy, black back panel in the below picture. While it keeps a bit of separation it is not so big as to put the weight in a bad position.

The thin flexible and mesh back panel keeps separation between the pack and back.

The Manta also has dual top and bottom tension straps to further adjust the weight distribution. Or at least that is what they do for me. When I was getting fitted at REI for this pack the gentleman helping me called the straps &#;Load Lighteners&#; and it really works. Just a little adjustment to the tension goes a long way.

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Straps

Remember the hip pockets from above? Well they also serve a dual purpose. Instead of having a tight nylon waist strap digging into the love handles, the hip pocket material is soft and snug allowing you to be more comfortable without a strap digging in as you walk.

The shoulder straps are also a padded and thick and really comfortable. The material that touches your shoulder is made of mesh as well allowing for a bit of airflow against your body to help with keeping a bit cooler.

The pack comes with a chest and waist strap. The waist strap that I talked about briefly above comes with a standard buckle system but the chest strap uses a magnetic clasp. I was really concerned about this being magnetic but haven&#;t had any problems at all with it coming undone.

The last cool feature of the straps are that there is a built in adjustable loop for your hiking poles when you aren&#;t using them.

Comfort Wrap

As you can see Osprey really put a lot of time into making sure that this pack is very comfortable and has everything you would need. The back panel is absolutely amazing. I have never been more comfortable on a hike than with this pack. It is almost like the pack is floating just off my back but still completely controlled. I also like not taking the pack off and having it stick to me because I have sweat so much that me and the pack have melted into one! The Manta 24 is a very comfortable pack.

Durability

I have done about 20 hikes with my Osprey Manta 24 Backpack. I have hiked in mountains, forests, in rain and in intense sun. I&#;ll be taking it out in the snow as soon as I get some too. With all of different parts and straps I was a bit worried that things would start to get loose or come apart. That has not been the case at all.

The Manta 24 has held up remarkably well. All of the straps and zippers remain fully functional without even a hitch when using them. The water bladder and tube are also in really good shape.

I take my pack off a lot when I am looking to take pictures and shoot videos on the trail and always throw the pack on the dirt or rocks and I have not seen any marks or scratches on any of the material. I have not had a single mechanical or aesthetic issues so far so I feel that it is a very durable pack.

The rain cover that comes with the Osprey Manta 24 backpack.

Water Resistance

The Osprey Manta 24 comes with a built in rain jacket. The rain cover stores in a zippered pocket in the bottom of the pack and the rain cover can be put on in just a few seconds if you find yourself caught in a sudden rain storm.

What I Didn&#;t Like

Now to the tough part of this review because I really liked the Osprey Manta 24 backpack. I do have to find things I don&#;t love or they take my blogger card away so here we go!

I would really like if the hip pockets extended a bit further. I don&#;t need the pockets to be any bigger I just wish that they were a little closer to the front of my body to make getting the zipper open a little easier. Also that little padding is great so I would selfishly love if it wrapped further around my love handles.

Next, while the water pocket is really convenient, it can be a challenge to get the bladder back in after filling it if you have the main storage section full. If stuff in the main storage is pushing against the back pocket then you will need to adjust it to get the bladder in. I also think the bladder pocket could be a little smaller but I&#;m not sure how that would work from a functional standpoint.

I guess having to adjust one pocket to get a water bladder into a separate pocket may be a little first world problem of me but it has come up a few times so thought it deserved a mention.

Video Review

I was out on a hike the other day and decided to do this video review if it is helpful at all.

Wrapping up the Osprey Manta 24 Backpack Review

Overall, I really love this pack. What surprised me is all of the stuff I didn&#;t know I needed in a pack until I had it in this pack. I am a little concerned I won&#;t be able to go back to a pack that doesn&#;t have all the features on this one.

The back panel is a complete game changer. If you haven&#;t tried a pack with a panel like this then you are really missing out. The way it keeps a bit of separation between me and the pack makes hiking super enjoyable and comfortable.

The storage is pretty amazing. There is room for so much and the expandable exterior space is great for the extra jackets that take up so much room normally. The size of the 24 might be a bit much for people who just do small day hikes but if you like to prepared or like longer hikes or maybe a minimal camping trip for a weekend this pack has pretty much everything.

I highly recommend it and think you will enjoy it if you give it a chance.

If you like this review, you can see other products I have reviewed on my Product Review Page. If you have any items you would like me to review or any comments feel free to me at  or you can follow me on any of the below social media platforms. Happy Hiking!

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