The new Osprey Mutant 38L rucksack has been around for a few months now, and it’s still turning heads everywhere from the Alps to Scotland with it’s revamped style.
The best thing about this retread is that Osprey hasn’t messed with many of the reasons the Mutant was a great sac to begin with. It’s still very light (a mere 1.19kgs), and can be stripped down even further. An ingenious second ‘Flap Jacket’ top cover means if you remove the lid there’s still a cover to stop spindrift entering. The Osprey Mutant rucksack is a brilliant climbing sac, and is clearly more targeted at the fast-and-light Matt Helliker-style new routing in Alpine winter, rather than Scottish trudge-fests.
This is probably why Helliker is an Osprey ambassador, not Andy Nisbet. The presence of integrated gear loops and a hydration sleeve also point to a more alpine-style approach, although the ingenious reverse wrap stowable hipbelt is a boon in more trad winter situations.
In spite of all this lightness, the materials have held up well to several months’ abuse and still look new. Osprey has cunningly added an abrasion-resistant PU texture to the front panel, where careless crampon thrustage can easily undo the strongest design. Having fully tested this with cack-handed crampon stuffery, we can confirm it works, and the bag remains hole-free.
Climbing Tip: Gear review in briefThe Osprey Mutant 38L rucksack is superlight, super technical and will absolutely definitely, undoubtedly make you climb harder. Buy.
It’s a very comfortable sac too. Even fully loaded for a weekend of Scottish winter bothying it’s unruffled, and stripping it down doesn’t mean you’ll automatically prang your spine as there’s still some padding in the backrest – other alpine sac makers please note. Osprey point to neat touches like the scaled-back mesh in the back panel to prevent it filling with spindrift, and they’re right too. The materials and design mesh pretty seamlessly in most conditions.
Of course, it’s not perfect all the time and in every situation, (what outdoor equipment is?) so although Osprey claim the buckles are ‘glove friendly’ they’re all pretty small (for weight reasons), and this does mean that they’re hard to operate in full-on Scottish conditions. (Admittedly some of this testing was done in near hurricane-force winds, dropping temperatures considerably below the already freezing level). The same applies to the compression straps, which are ingeniously designed, lightweight and require practice to use smoothly.
Overall, the Osprey Mutant 38L rucksack is a highly competent climbing rucksack, and the numerous refinements festooned about the place are well-thought through enough, although sometimes it feels like the kind of product that needs to come with an expert briefing about each element.
If you’re looking for the ultimate lightweight alpine pack, this is certainly one to put on the list. It looks pretty funky too, which has to be a plus in anyone’s book. It’s also on offer right now at Blacks for a mere £80.
If you needed more encouragement, here’s Osprey ambassador Matt Helliker testing the Mutant on a first ascent on the NW ridge of a remote peak named ‘The Citadel’ deep in the Neacola range, Alaska.
Originally posted on Tumblr at VerticalMoves.co.uk