Osprey is famous for its excellent backpacks of all shapes and sizes. If you’re a winter sports enthusiast, you’re probably hoping to find an excellent Osprey pack perfect for ice climbing and ski mountaineering.
If so, you’re in the right place!
Osprey has two packs in particular that are designed for this type of sport. The Osprey Variant 37 and the Osprey Mutant 38 are two excellent options for anyone who might want to haul around skis or ice picks this winter.
Which should you pick? That depends on a variety of factors. Read on to learn which pack is the best, and why!
|#1. Osprey Variant 37|
Our Best Pick
|37 Liters||3.2 pounds||Contoured shoulder straps||Ridge EVA back panel, aluminum frame|
|#2. Osprey Mutant 38|
|38 Liters||2.8 pounds||Breathable minimalist straps||Mesh back panel, aluminum frame|
Although the Osprey Variant 37 and the Mutant 38 are pretty similar in size, they don’t have the exact same dimensions.
The Variant 37 is slightly smaller in size, but it’s taller. If you’re a tall but slim person, this will probably be very comfortable for you.
The Mutant 38 is a bit larger, but it’s shorter and wider. Although the shape of the bag isn’t as important as the fit of the hip belt, this might have some impact on the comfort depending on your height.
The Variant and the Mutant are designed for essentially the same things and almost have the same carrying capacity. In the long run, the size isn’t going to matter much to you if you’re deciding between these two bags.
As you can see in the name, the Variant carries 37 liters and the Mutant caries 38 liters.
The Osprey Variant 37 is significantly lighter than the Osprey Mutant 38. Despite its slightly lower carrying capacity, it’s over half a pound heavier.
While this might not sound like much, half a pound is twenty percent of the weight of the Mutant. That’s a significant increase if you’re taking a long trek and every ounce counts.
However, there’s an upside to the weight increase. The Variant has thicker straps and more gear attachments, and each bit of foam and plastic adds weight to the bag.
You’ll have to decide if you want more comfortable straps or a lighter bag.
Straps and Suspension System
The Variant has contoured shoulder straps that are padded with foam for a comfortable carry.
The ultra-light suspension system is made with an aluminum frame for structure yet flex. The frame is housed in a comfortable ridge EPA back panel. It’s mesh-free to keep ice and snow from sticking.
You can take the aluminum frame out of the panel, if you want less weight and more flex.
The Mutant is a bit different than the Variant. The straps are also foam-padded, but they aren’t as thick and they are more breathable.
Although it also has a removable aluminum frame, the back panel is a separate design entirely. The back is made with breathable mesh rather than solid ridges.
This has pros and cons, compared to the solid back panel. It does run the risk of collecting snow, but it keeps the bag off your back.
As far as hip belts go, both bags have something distinct. The Variant has a narrowly-fitting hip belt padded with EPA foam. The belt is removable and includes gear loops. The Mutant has a minimally-padded, reverse-wrap hip belt for lightness and ease of movement.
The Osprey Variant 37 is a classic top-loading bag with a single entry. Inside and outside, it has separate pockets. One awesome feature is the plastic pocket in the front that’s durable enough to carry an ice pick!
There are also two mesh pockets and the side, plus a few pockets in the hood. If the hood is too bulky, you can actually take the whole hood off and use the flap-jacket! The spindrift closure will keep your stuff clean and compact.
The Mutant is also a top-loading bag with a removable hood and a flap-jacket. The hood has a couple of small slash-pockets, and one of these contains a nifty helmet sling that is also removable. There’s a mesh pocket inside the pack, but the sides have compression straps rather than pockets.
Both packs are hydration-compatible, and both have gear loops. You can use the ski attachments for A-carrying your skis. Although their various gear attachments and compression straps are different, they both have more than enough.
The Osprey has a couple of features that the Mutant doesn’t. It has a great three-point carry system, and everything is glove-compatible.
While both of these backpacks are excellent climbing packs for ice climbing and snow trekking, the Osprey Variant 37 is the clear winner. Although it’s a bit heavier and holds a little bit less on the inside, it holds more on the outside and can pack heavier loads.
This is the pack you want if you’re going to be totally equipped for winter climbing. The straps are more comfortable, as is the waist belt. And if you don’t want the waist belt, you can take it off.
The Variant is also better designed for cold weather. Not only can you easily use it with gloves on, but you won’t have snow trapped in your mesh as you’re climbing. If you want the best backpack possible for winter trekking, go with the Osprey Variant 37!