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Ethan Rambacher | 10.14.2018

Osprey Xenith 88 Backpacking Pack specs

  • Volume: 88 L / 92 L / 96 L
  • Weight: 5.5 lbs / 5.61 lbs / 5.72 lbs
  • Load range: 40-70 lbs
  • Fabric: 420D nylon

Where to get it

The Bottom Line: The Osprey Xenith 88 is a fantastic technical pack with a huge capacity. It's great for longer backpacking trips or even just shorter camping trips if you have a lot of gear. It's a bit heavy, particularly if you don't need the full capacity, but it's so comfortable and adjustable that it's not a big deal. It's also pretty expensive, but if you need the capacity for extended trips, then it's a high quality pack that will last you a long time and serve you well.

The Osprey Xenith 88. Photo by Ethan Rambacher.

I've had my Xenith 88 for several years now. I initially got it to use on a 10-day backpacking trip and on five-day backpacking trail crews. Since then, I have mainly used it for one-night camping trips. Although I never use the full 90-liter capacity, the huge size allows me to pack my gear efficiently and comfortably close to the bottom and the back. I typically carry a lot of camera gear with me, and the large pack works well for these large items.

I've carried pack weights of up to 60 to 70 pounds; usually I end up carrying around 35 to 40 pounds, and the pack is still super comfortable. There are lots of adjustments and flexibility in packing that makes it comfortable to wear and hike with.

The pack also has tons of features that make it a great pack:

  • The "brain" (top pockets) detach and serve as a small day pack. You can stick some items in here if you are making a quick excursion and want to leave most of your stuff behind. Or, if you don't need the extra space, you can save a few ounces by leaving this part in the car.
  • The bottom pocket is separated from the rest by a small divider that can be unclipped or adjusted if need be. This helps with organization.
  • There are two side zips to get at stuff in the bottom of the pack without removing all the stuff on top.
  • There are straps along the side of the pack that make it easy to compress the entire pack, keeping the weight closer to your back.
  • There is a pocket on each side of the hip belt; one is mesh and the other is solid. It's great to have easy access to some small items like my phone, pocket knife, bandages, granola bars, etc.
  • Sleeping pad straps on the bottom on the outside of the pack.
  • Two zippered pockets in front are perfect for smaller items and quick access to food, etc.
  • I have a tall, lanky build, and I use a size large pack with a size medium hip belt. The Xenith's hip belt system lets you interchange belts to accommodate different builds. Personally, I really like this feature.
  • The super stretchy water bottle pockets on each side are great for stuffing anything into - water bottles, hiking poles, trash, etc.

You can probably tell - I love this pack. I've used it for several years and I have had no complaints with it. If I had to come up with some, I guess I'd say:

  • It's pretty heavy. I could easily save weight by moving to a smaller pack, since I don't really need the extra space anymore. But if you compare the Xenith 88 to other packs in the 90-liter range, it's comparable around 5.5 pounds.
  • The bottom pocket is designed as a sleeping bag pocket - but I'd rather put heavier objects down there, since it's right behind the hips and close to the back. The sleeping bag is less dense, so it could go farther up or back. I usually remedy this by stuffing my extra water bottles into the sleeping bag pocket instead.
  • It's expensive. Like a lot of gear, it usually pays off to invest in a good quality pack, but that doesn't mean you need to spend nearly $400 on a pack. Similar packs, like the Kelty Red Cloud, sell for "only" $220, and you can find others even cheaper.

So to sum it all up again - I love this backpack. If you need a large capacity pack and you are willing to spend a bit more for the extra features - you will also love the Xenith 88. If you don't really need the capacity, then you'll be happier with a smaller pack. Osprey makes lots of smaller packs with similar features, like the Osprey Volt, that are cheaper and lighter. Depending on what you'll be doing with the pack, I'd recommend taking a look at the other options and considering which is best for you - but in the end, the Xenith is a quality pack that will handle just about anything.

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