I tested the Osprey Mutant during a 4 day trip to Riksgränsen Sweden. I used the pack during a splitboarding tour into the backcountry and also during a day of inbound boarding.
After having used and tested the Osprey Daylite back pack I was looking forward to being able to use the Mutant. Looking at a day of splitboarding and having to carry crampons, skins and trekking poles besides food water, extra clothing, food and camera equipement, the 38L that the Mutant offers was a welcome upgrade from the Daylite which has only 15L.
The Mutant is a backpack specifically developed and designed for alpine territory and especially for climbing. Most notiecable as far as that is concerned, are the integrated ski/climbing helmet storage, integrated gear loops on the hilpbelt to which you can attach carabiners for example, and the Dual ToolLock™ for ice axe attachment. You can also strap your ski’s to the side of the pack when skitouring in terrain that is just to steep to skin up.
I didn’t get the opportunity to test the belt loops (though I did hang my GoPro on it’s pole from it on numerous occasions) and the ice axe system, as we didn’t do any ice climbing, but I did use the helmet storage quite a lot. To start with that, the idea is really good. But I could just fit in my helmet, which isn’t that big. The elastic fabric which you pull over the helmet and fix in place with a buckle just made it. I do have to say the helmet was fixed securely in place, and I carried it that way on the plane and through customs. Unfortunately I scraped the top along a wall; the fabric tore rather quickly leaving a small hole. So when the fabric is stretched taught, it is fragile.
But it does work really well. There’s no helmet dangling losely from your back pack and free’s up a lot of space inside the pack. And it does pack a lot. What I ran into when packing is that if the side straps, which you can use to trim the pack when nog fully loaded, are not lose, the point where they meet the buckle of the top lid can get too tight to acces the back pack easily. Loosening the trimming straps took more than I had expected. So it took some getting used to.
The second day I used the pack half packed. I could really trim down the pack by detaching the top lid from the back pack. There’s a seperate lid the “FlapJacket™” that you can lock down with the same buckles that you use when the top lid is attached. Furthermore I could shorten the side compression straps so that the back pack feels small and tight to your back. It did leave some long straps flying in the wind, but they didn’t bother me. I could have tucked them away, and I guess depending on the activity it is advisable to do so for safety reasons.
Al together this means you can really strip the pack of features and bring down the weight of it, if necessary. Osprey boasts that even in the stripped down version using the FlapJacket™, the pack is still completely weatherproof. We didn’t experience rain, only snow so we haven’t been able to really test that out.
What I always like about Osprey is the way they enable smart integration of hydration systems. Inside the pack there is a sleeve for the reservoir of the system, and to the side of the pack there is a opening in the pack through which you can fit the tube of the system that guide’s along perfectly to the shoulder straps. In colder conditions the water in the tube, exposed to the cold, will freeze. So it is wiser to actually keep the tune packed away in the pack itself.
These straps themselves are quite comfortable and worked really well. It is part of a shoulder harness set-up which is die-cut and to minimize weight and maximize ventilation. I haven’t used the pack in particularly warm conditions, but I do believe this would really work well. At times mesh back panels can be a problem in snow conditions because it can hold on to snow a bit much, but with the Mutant I didn’t run into that particular problem.
The back pack rides comfortably enough on your back, but what did bother me was that if the chest strap was not buckled, the shoulder strap would slide off quite quickly. Maybe it’s a matter of adjusting all your straps or maybe I should try to bulk up and have broader shoulders, 😉 but, it was something that bothered me. And the same issue I found with the Osprey Daylite I mentioned earlier.
- Feature rich
- Integration of Hydration pack
- Well constructed
- Ability to trim the back pack
- Shoulder straps slide without chest strap being buckled
- When back pack is trimmed, straps are quite long
- Mesh helmet cover fragile