I managed to get hold of a pre-production version of the Levity 45 to take on the final leg of the Pyrenean High Route between L’Hospitalet d’Andorre and the finish of the walk at Banyuls sur Mer. First impressions were that this is an amazing pack, it weighs in at just 830grams, it has a fully supportive frame with a ventilated back, a lid (with a large pocket) and copious external pockets suited to backpacking.
The full weight I carried in it including food for about six days and water came to a shade under 30lbs (13.6kg) and the 45 litre pack swallowed this and gear for ten days easily. I was able to get about 60% of the food in the top pocket once it had been repackaged, the tent went into the main compartment along with everything else including my synthetic top which was too hot to wear when travelling to the start of the trek. The only kit I couldn’t get into the body of the rucksack was water.
This left the external pockets more or less empty. I have a lot of experience with packing rucksacks and the Levity really impressed me with the amount of space it offers. I think Osprey must be quoting 45 litres for the main compartment only, either that or other pack manufacturers are exaggerating their volumes.
Although the Levity packs don’t have pockets on the hipbelt they do have two large side pockets which have access via a front facing opening as well as top access. These make the contents very easy to reach when on the move, there’s no danger of items falling out of the front openings though you do have to watch that you don’t accidentally pull out items when removing the piece of kit that you want.
Carrying 30lbs with a pack as light as the Levity will require some compromise in comfort , the padding on the hip belt fins is quite thin and I found it tricky to support the weight on my hips, at lower weights i.e. shorter trips without so much food and water, this would not be an issue. After a couple of days I realised that the hip fins were too short for me – these days I’m sporting a 38inch waist and the fins aren’t long enough to fit around my hips meaning that its impossible to transfer the load effectively. I passed this comment back to Osprey who said they were making them bigger, but the production version has the same size.
Having said this I think anyone less than 36inch waist or less will have no problem, I’ve discussed the issue with slimmer customers and they find the pack really comfortable.
There’s a system of compression cords around the main body of the pack that don’t work that well, its a combination of the thinness of the cords and the thinness of the material, I don’t bother much with compression anyway, if there’s not much in the pack its less important to have it compressed against your back, so long as it doesn’t move around you’re fine.
The external pockets are great, true backpacking rucksacks offer similar arrangements because you need a large external pocket to stash wet gear, and further pockets to store kit you’ll need on the trail. I used one of the side pockets for hats and the other for water, while they are quite easy to access when on the move they aren’t good for small items – you can’t rake around to find small items unless you take the pack off. Consequently I attached a Granite Gear hip belt pocket to one shoulder strap for maps, guidebook, sunscreen and small stuff to eat etc..
In summary ‘I love the Levity’, it has all the features you need in an ultralight package, sadly the hip fins don’t work for me and there’s nothing to be done about that.