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Osprey’s Mutant 38, the most featured climbers’ pack?

A pack designed for climbers heading into the mountains on big objectives

Osprey have long been in the upper-end technical pack field and the Mutant 38 shows how many climbing features they can include on a 740 gram pack. The rip-stop nylon of the 38 litre body of the pack is light but still abrasion resistant, the 420 denier base is even tougher.



The backpanel is treated with Osprey’s Snowshed coating to prevent snow from sticking to it when you set it down warm in the white stuff. Aluminum stays and a plastic framesheet will reduce the toil of carrying heavy gear and protect your back from your rack without adding much weight, but can be removed to make the pack lighter. The Mutant is compatible with hydration systems, but does not come with one. Buckles and zipper pulls are small, but designed to be easy to use, even when you’re wearing gloves.

The special climbing features abound. There’s a helmet harness on the lid, and Osprey have provided a second attachment system on the front of the pack for when you’re going light without the pack lid. There’s a special flap to cover the top-opening when the lid is removed, eliminating the common problem of risking wet gear when lightening the load by doffing the lid.

Climbers are familiar with the problem of harness hip belts that get in the way of harness hipbelts, but the hip-belt on the mutant is designed to stay out of the way of your tie-in, a crucial feature when carrying your pack in technical terrain. Bungee tie-offs for quick access to your ice tools, ski carry-loops, gear loops on the hip-belt, a strap for carrying your rope, a three-point haul loop system, and a daisy chain on the front of the pack for more gear round out the package.

If you want to make the pack lighter, the top lid, framesheet and aluminum stays, helmet harness, rope attachment strap and side compression straps can be removed.

Something climbers will notice more than hikers is that the pack’s tapered shape allows for greater freedom of mobility, especially in the hips. That is a big win on climbs.  Extreme lumbar support feels good on flat terrain, but can hinder balance. The frame in the Mutant 38 is a compromise between support and flexibility, but the option of using the pack without the frame opens up the possibility of an even less rigid pack. A well thought-out pack ideal for climbers, but also recommended for scramblers and backcountry travelers in general.