Gear Reviews

Osprey Mutant 52

Best load-hauler backpack from the Fall/Winter 2018 Gear Guide.

Brand: Osprey Packs

Model: Mutant 52


Thanks to its svelte design and comfy carry, this pack was our go-to for multiday backcountry missions. To cut weight, Osprey ditched exterior pockets and other luxuries. The foam on the hip-belts and shoulders isn’t very plush, and it lacks interior organization save for a reservoir sleeve. There’s no skimping on the suspension, though: A stiff plastic framesheet and twin aluminum stays support the Mutant’s foam backpanel and distribute weight to all the right places (the 4-inch-wide hipbelt wings help). “Winter packs tend to be heavy and bulky, but I carried 48 pounds of gear with it and it didn’t feel unwieldy,” said a tester after a four-nighter around Oregon’s Mt. Jefferson.


Testers praised the top-loading Mutant’s 21-inch-wide maw for swallowing everything from bulky subzero sleeping bags to bear canisters, but were especially high on the removable, two-pocket toplid. “I fit three days’ worth of food in its main pocket,” one tester said. A smaller upper pocket contains a removable helmet-carry sleeve. The Mutant allows A-frame ski carry.


“For a big pack, it’s light and cinches down well enough that I happily used it on day tours and climbs,” reports one Mt. Rainier guide. 

Weight: 3 lbs. 6 oz. (M/L)

Volume: 52 liters

Sizes: S/M, M/L

See more Backpacks for Winter 2018

See the entire Winter Gear Guide