Osprey Archeon
Hiking in Humboldt County, California; photo credit: Archeon

Osprey Archeon 45 Review: Environmentally Friendly, Working-Class Gear-Hauler

With a simple but versatile design, the Osprey Archeon backpack should appeal to hikers, overnight campers, and climbers alike.

Osprey released its Archeon series this past January with sustainability as a core concept. The packs stress minimalism in both appearance and features, a break from Osprey’s usual cutting-edge aesthetics and generous conveniences.

The Archeon line covers packs from 25 to 70 L in both men’s and women’s fits for $190-340. For this review, we tested a men’s Archeon 45 backpack over a month of training hikes.

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The Archeon 45 proved to be a multiuse gear-hauler that brings a considerable value. It has just enough features on a capable suspension system, built from durable materials. The recycled fabrics and environmentally safe chemicals were bonuses on a pack that proved versatile by way of simple design.

The pack has a spartan feature set. This pairs well with monochromatic fabrics and rucksack styling offered in three colors. The pack is available in S/M and L/XL sizes in both men’s and women’s versions.

With a retail price of $290, the 45L pack falls squarely in the middle price range for quality backpacking bags. It has a verified weight of 5 pounds 1 ounce for the men’s L/XL.

Archeon Sustainability Story

“Sustainability” is an oft-spoken buzzword in the outdoor industry these days, and I’m wary of undeserving platitudes. But the Archeon 45 isn’t a poser.

The 1,880-denier recycled nylon canvas used on the main pack body and bottom is third-party verified to comply with the Global Recycled Standard, and the DWR coating is PFC-free.

The manufacturing process follows responsible chemical management strictly audited for compliance and adheres to the Bluesign Restricted Compliance List. Additionally, Osprey updated its Factory Code of Conduct following standards set by the Ethical Trading Initiative and audits factories to enforce compliance with Worldwide Ethics Alliance guidelines.

Although the Archeon series leads the way, Osprey is carrying the momentum by moving to as may Bluesign-approved fabrics as possible and submitting materials to third-party testing for analysis and spot-checking.

All spring 2020 products are PFC-free. Carryover items are switching from C8 to less hazardous C6 DWRs. Osprey hopes to eventually make all its offerings PFC-free.

Finally, Osprey is partnering with outfits like the Renewal Workshop to extend product life cycles and dodge the landfills.

Archeon 45 Backpack Review

The first thing I noticed on the Archeon 45 was the fabric. Although it did have the “polyester” feel of recycled nylons, it felt extremely burly, as did all the attached webbing and hardware. There is nothing minimalist-sized, which is common in other Osprey packs to save weight.

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The Archeon is a hybrid top-loader. It’s easy to load and compress gear through the top opening, which is especially effective for trad climbing gear.

A short sleeve with drawcord and a top strap (which could also hold a rope or helmet) and a non-adjustable lid cinched the load vertically. Four side compression straps stabilized and compressed the load horizontally. Accessing gear proved easier and faster via the dual-zippered front access panel.

The suspension is rigid and capable of comfortably managing loads appropriate for a 45L pack. I trained with 25 pounds most of the time, which didn’t come close to stressing any part of the suspension system. Loads of up to 35 pounds still felt well-harnessed.

Although the high rigidity of the frame sheet and generously wide hip belt efficiently transferred load, they limited twisting and side bending, something that could be an issue on aggressive approaches.

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The back panel’s ridges were palpable, but I still found it to be on the warmer side. Sweat accumulated on the lower half on most outings. All the padding contacting the body had the right combination of density and comfort, resisting bottoming out but still negating any pressure points.

The side pockets easily held larger insulated water bottles, while the quick-release (with metal hooks) compression straps were handy for longer items like trekking poles and tripods. There were quite a few places to clip and lash items on the exterior of the pack despite the lack of daisy chains.

Although the testing period was only a month, I used the Archeon 45 often and didn’t baby the pack in the slightest. I live in a rocky area, and I dropped and dragged the Archeon 45 indiscriminately, charging through sharp cedar branches without care. I bled, but the pack remained undamaged.

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Osprey claims the Archeon 45 is adept at backpacking, cragging, and traveling. I fully agree with the first two, but the inability to stash the hip belt and shoulder straps is a limiting factor for my consideration as a true travel pack.

Osprey Archeon 45 Build Specs

  • HDPE frame sheet with dual profiled aluminum-alloy stays
  • Mesh-covered Airscape back panel with bumped foam
  • Seamless hip belt with dual zipper pockets
  • Edgeless, mesh-covered shoulder straps with sternum strap
  • Fixed top lid with pocket and webbing lash points
  • Dual ice-axe loops and webbing attachment points
  • Open main body compartment
  • Four side compression straps
  • Dual-zippered front access panel
  • Dual stretch side pockets
  • Internal hydration-bladder sleeve
  • Removable rain cover

Archeon 45 Backpack: Who It’s For

The Archeon 45 fits the bill for everyday hiking, backpacking, and cragging. It reliably schlepps loads on trails and to the cliffs. Its simple design keeps it versatile, and the rugged materials and hardware should handle abuse for a long time.

Gram-counters need not apply, but abusive users can rejoice. The Archeon 45 is the blue-collar pack that gets the job done, week in and week out, with little fanfare and no complaints.

The sustainability angle is a bonus that appeals to many, making the Archeon 45 and its cousins attractive to adventurers looking for a multiuse pack while appeasing the conscience, the planet, and the wallet.

Seiji Ishii
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Seiji Ishii has enjoyed a lifetime of outdoor adventure and sports, from participant and competitor to coach and trainer, and finally as an editorial contributor. His interests have spanned cycling, climbing, motorcycling, backpacking, trail running, and the training involved for all of it. He has also designed outdoor and off-road motorcycling gear. He lives in a wildlife refuge in Wimberley, Texas, with his daughter, itinerant dirt bags, a dog, and a cat. Read more of his musings at seijisays.com.

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