Gear Review: Osprey Lumina 45 women’s backpack

RRP: £220
Weight: 0.77g (M)

The last thing you need when backpacking is pack that’s heavy before you even start loading up all your equipment, food and water. The Lumina is a women’s specific backpack from Osprey that is ultralight – so light that it is hard to believe it has a full frame or will stand up to the rigours of multi-day camping trips. I like to backpack as light as possible and usually use a frameless pack that requires careful packing to give it some structure; it still has a tendency to take the weight on the shoulders and nowhere else. That sack is also 65l capacity so I chose the 45l version over the Lumina’s larger 60l sibling, to encourage me to pack even more wisely and keep to the lightweight ethos.

The pack is built around an aluminium frame that mirrors the shape of the body and is kept away from the back by a tensioned mesh trampoline. As this is in contact with the wearer’s back it distributes the weight evenly and once I had properly adjusted the shoulder and chest straps there were no pressure points where weight pulled too much on one shoulder or hip. I also found it ventilated well, certainly a lot better than my usual non-frame pack.

The shoulder straps are mesh-covered padding with three, fiddly, attachment points for the chest strap which comes with a built-in whistle. Even though the Lumina is designed for the female shape I needed the chest strap to keep the shoulder straps in the middle of my shoulders, though women with a larger frame may find it fine without them. It’s good that the chest strap can go in three different positions. The shoulder straps are easy to adjust using straps attached to the top of the back of the rucksack. Do this often if you change the weight of the pack over a trip as it makes a real difference to load distribution and comfort. The hip belt is also padded mesh. The padding doesn’t extend as far as most backpacking packs but I found it comfortable and it did the job. I like pockets on hip belts but this is a minimal design, the lack of extra features being the trade-off for the low weight. The buckles are small (no good with gloves) but they work and seem well made.

The main body of the pack is a single compartment with an elasticated sleeve which will take a 2l hydration pack and has a small buckle to stop the bladder sliding down. An exit hole allows the tube to be fitted to either shoulder strap which have one stretchy strap for this purpose. The actual capacity of the main compartment is much less than I’m used to and due to the pronounced kink in the frame it’s quite hard to push large items down to the bottom – I could just fit my much-compressed sleeping back down here but it’s a little awkward especially combined with a waterproof pack liner. Given the Scottish climate most items will need to be carried in the main body which I found just about roomy enough for a few days backpacking – it does concentrate the mind down to essentials.

The photo shows the pack loaded with gear, food and water, for a single night camp with the side pockets holding items that don’t need to be inside the waterproof liner like plastic mug, wrapped food, trowel etc.

Lots of extra space is provided by the two huge side pockets and a large bellowed front pocket. The sides easily swallowed winter-weight waterproofs with room for water bottles and other items – just don’t put any small things in these as they have an elasticated opening at the sides. All three pockets have drainage holes, so the large front one is useful for a wet-tent outer or carrying extra insulation that you want easy access to. There is a decent-size zipped pocket on the lid, with a key fob, for smaller items. A slightly-fiddly draw-cord system allows the pack to be compressed which distributes the weight better and gives the pack more versatility if you are going to using it with varying loads. There are a couple of extra cord attachment points at the bottom and on each side pocket that could be used to secure hiking poles.

The main body of the pack is made from 30D siliconised nylon with the pockets, lid, attachment points and bottom of the pack made from Advanced Nanofly material which is much tougher. This is the biggest trade-off, the main body material is so lightweight you can see through it and it will need to be treated with care to ensure it doesn’t get snapped, punctured or ripped. The tougher material does seem pretty robust and rip resistant and has worn well so far, but I still think it will need to be treated carefully.

The price is high but it is well built and designed and with careful use should last a long time. If you do a lot of longer multi-day trips or your camping gear isn’t particularly lightweight it would be worth considering the 60l version but I liked the discipline the 45l brought and overall I consider it an excellent pack for lightweight trips.

Available in 1 colour, 2 back sizes (S, M) see the Osprey website for a sizing guide, also available as a 60l pack, men’s version is the Levity.

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