Osprey PacksVariant 52L Backpack

For extreme winter assaults, fresh lines, and good times in the cold.

The three-point haul system of the Osprey Variant 52 Backpack makes lugging your stuff up a wall, mountain, or glacier quick and easy. The big volume and convenient pocketry of this winter pack make your gear easy to access, and the removable hip-belt and frame sheet shed weight when you need to go light. Stash your crampons, ice tools, or probe in their own dedicated locales for quick gettin' and puttin' away. A water-resistant zippered front pocket keeps maps dry, and dual ski loops carry your sticks with ease.

  • Removable HDPE frame sheet provides lightweight rigidity and pairs with aluminum tubing to help transfer the load to your hips
  • Thermoformed contoured backpanel provides cushioning and is shaped to better encourage air flow
  • Contoured hip-belt curves around and pads your hips to ensure your load rests where it should; reverse-wrap ErgoPull closure makes cinching down belt easy
  • Padded shoulder straps ergonomically shaped for chafe-free performance and pressure-reducing comfort
  • Removable top lid lets you ditch extra weight for summit bids and fast-packing
  • Unique side compression straps are low-profile and let you adjust the pack's volume to fit different load sizes
  • Glove-friendly buckles improve ease of use
  • Under-lid rope compression strap holds your rope in place during mellow pitches or bootpacks
  • Dual ice-tool loops and keep your vertical gear on lockdown until it's needed
  • Dual ski loops hug your planks while you earn your turns; dedicated probe pocket keeps Ol' Probey ready for action
  • Crampon compression pocket tames your claws when they're not in use
  • Climbing loops on waistbelt provide more room for your rack
  • Water-resistant front pocket protects your map from flying snow
  • Reflective detailing helps keep you visible in low-light situations
  • Optimal for 35-50 pounds of gear
  • Reviews
  • Q & A

Variant 52

  • Familiarity: I've used it several times

I love this pack. There aren't a whole lot of options for packs that are 50L, but this one is awesome. I am a park ranger and I need to carry more than most on backcountry adventures and this pack does the job. It is very comfortable with 45+ pounds. This pack handles avy gear well and the gear loops on the waist belt are appreciated.

The only downside is the secondary hood if you want to remove the main lid. This is the most unnecessary piece of fabric I have ever encountered on a pack. I cut it off. If I don't want my stuff to fall out I'll just cinch the pull cord tighter. The biggest complaint about this pack is its unnecessary complexity and this

Unanswered Question

Can a snowboard be carried with this pack?

Great for everything other than skiers

  • Familiarity: I've used it several times

I bought this pack for a ski trip to Rainer. We did a warm up day up by Mt. Baker and during the first day when I was A-framing my skis, both sides of the bags were cut. That was pretty shocking for the first day of use and the bag wasn't even very full. Other than this issue though the pack was great. It really carried weight well which I appreciated. My only other change is it'd be nice if the ax straps were slightly adjustable.

Durable, weight distribution perfect

  • Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

I've had this pack since September 2015 and it's been so good to me. I got the 49L (I'm a size S) because I read that it packs down great and I wanted one pack that I could use for anything. This is definitely that pack. I use this thing for everything: climbing, earning turns with my snowboard strapped on, backpacking, traveling. It gets used for something at least weekly. No rips or tears in in yet and I'm not nice to it. I live in the rainy and beautiful PNW so that's where it's seen the most love.



Pros: transfers weight perfectly to my hips, takes a beating, packs down to nothing nicely, can hold all necessary gear except snowboard (but with an added Voile strap can hold that too), hasn't gotten completely soaked in the rain to date, has removable "brain" of the pack for when you need that extra space.



Cons: Only the one entry.



If you're like me and want one pack for everything, this is the way to go.

Durable, weight distribution perfect

Thanks for the great review, Megan!

Leta
Osprey Rep

Perfect size for multi pitch rock & Ice

  • Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

The Variants gets it done for all aspects of rock, ice and mountaineering. It's got nice tool attachments, beaver tail for a crampon or rope carry and seems pretty durable overall. Got this for a buddy for our trip to climb Western Hardman on Notch Peak and worked out great!

Perfect size for multi pitch rock & Ice

Excellent, Matt! Thank you for sharing!

Leta
Osprey Rep

Great pack for backcountry adventures

    Used this pack for a ski ascent of the west face of Shasta. This route has a pretty long approach hike carrying skis. The pack handled the weight with no problem.

    Thanks Bruce!

    Leta
    Osprey Rep

    Unanswered Question

    Can you fit a bearvault bear can into the variant 52, diameter-wise? Also, it doesn't seem like it has a traditional pole loop - is there a place to attach ski poles? Thanks!

    The previous version is superior

    • Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

    I've used the previous and current generation of the variant 52. I much prefer the previous version (sadly, it was stolen out of my car and can't obtain a replacement anymore for that version).

    De-provements, aka things that were better in the old version:
    - zipper pouch on the back. I used this so frequently, it was incredibly handy. The current stiff back panel is pretty stiff and only useful for crampons, whereas the prev was useful for crampons and other things as well.
    - haul system. The previous front two loops were equally loaded on both sides of each loop, and bomber. The new loops only load one end of the loop when hauling, and it's also a wide angle that amplifies the force on each loop. I'm very suspect of the new haul system.
    - The previous bottom side z-straps were nice for compression, vs the single straps.
    - there used to be ice clipper slots on the hipbelt
    - straps and sections were independent, so if you unclip one strap, the other things don't open up.
    - the variable tool attachment points could be used as a daisy, attaching biners etc.
    - the previous inside pocket on the lid was horizontal, so when the lid was flipped and zipper opened, things wouldn't fall out. Now it's vertical, so things fall out no matter which way the lid is flipped...no way to keep things inside. This was a horrible design decision.

    Improvements on the new pack:
    - getting rid of the rolled-up snow collar
    - easily removable lid and flap cover
    - better main belt attachment tightening
    - small internal mesh pocket

    Wish list for next version:
    - keep new-version improvements.
    - bring back old haul attachment points
    - add back zippered back pocket
    - add back ice clipper slots
    - add daisy to back

    Hey there, thank you for taking the time to write such a thorough review. I will pass the feedback on to my friends at Osprey. We have gotten lots of great feedback on this new version as well, but we always welcome constructive reviews!

    Thanks and Happy New Year!

    Leta
    Osprey Rep

    Hello, would you mind commenting on the capacity of the main compartment in comparison to the old model? I notice that despite stated with 52 L, the old version seems to hold much more volume (at least 5+ L more in capacity). Does this apply to the new model? Thanks in advance!!

    is this the new variant or the same one?

    this is the new variant, we are getting the photo changed.

    What is the minimum height of this pack? wondering if I could squeeze it into an overhead compartment in an airplane (22 inches)

    dimensions are : 29 x 13 x 11 which is 53 linear inches. Most carry on dimensions are 45 linear inches max.

    I'm on pack #2

    • Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

    Over a period of several years, I beat the hell out of my old Variant 52. Winter Mountaineering, schlepping rope/rack/etc on long approaches, etc etc. It wasn't perfect, but for the price and what it was, I was a very satisfied owner. Carried the weight well, and was fairly durable. I ended up breaking off a buckle or two, tearing something. I sent it back for repair and they handled it quickly, no charge.

    Recently took out my new version of the V52 - they improved on a bunch of the little "if onlys" I had on the last pack. Job well done. I know the fit is specific to your body, but the thing fits me like a dream, and carries weight really well. Stuff it full of cams and all your camping gear, and go get after it. I've looked at a lot of the more specialized climbing packs, from CCW and CG. They have their merits for sure, but for the price I paid and the comfort of carry, I'm good with my Variant.

    What do I like better about the new version?
    1. better tool attachments
    2. flap for running lidless
    3. small mesh storage just inside the main opening
    4. shovel/crampon pouch improved
    5. hipbelt has better padding?

    I'm on pack #2

    While I agree the upgrades are nice, they made a huge mistake with the material. While it is lighter, it is much less durable. This pack may not be designed specifically for canyoneering, it is slated as a mountaineering and Alpine pack, which suggests rugged and durable. I took the newest version through one easy canyon and it was pretty much destroyed. I love Osprey and stand behind their products, but if you are looking for a durable rugged pack, stay away from the updated version. Look for the older model. You can tell the difference by the front pocket. The new version has no zipper. The old version lasted almost 2 years running through tough and harsh canyons. Much more durable.

    Osprey Variant in the Tetons

    Awesome Pack

    • Familiarity: I've used it several times

    I originally bought this pack with the intention of using it to carry my full trad rack on long climbing approaches. I have used it for this, and it worked fantastically carrying a heavy climbing rack and rope! But i have also used it for many overnight trips and even a 2 night trip. I'd like to start off by saying this is an awesome pack!It has so many cool features in it! The shelled outer pocket would be great for storing crampons, and you wouldn't have to worry about them ripping through your pack. The three point haul system makes it easy to tow it up a wall behind you if you're planning on staying over night on the summit of a climb. This pack also works great for a quick lightweight overnight trip, and if you don't plan on taking much stuff, could easily be used for atleast a 5 day trip. The nice thing about the size of this pack, is i can pack my whole rack in the bottom, and still have room for a sleeping bag and coat on top. I can then store my tent on top of my rope under the lid of the pack, secure them both down with the rope carry system, and have a solid setup to camp and climb for a few days. This pack is lightweight, durable, and very comfortable. I highly recommend it!

    Best adventure pack

    Best for one night or a week, just depends how luxurious you want to be living.

    Best adventure pack

    Shrunken packs

    Compressed for day use while skinning around.

    Shrunken packs

    Go find the snow.

    There's a kitchen sink down in there somewhere.

    Go find the snow.

    Bigger and just as good

    • Familiarity: I've used it several times

    The Variant 52 takes all the great things that I love in the Variant 37 just a few days further.



    For one, it's got a comfy hip belt and properly padded shoulder straps, making that stupid load a bit less painful. It's easy to isolate the weight on either the hip belt or shoulder straps or blend both in increments. The ice axe/ice tool carry is sublime. No rattle or movement, but plenty of quick access. I'd make the crampon pouch pocket a little bit deeper for easier access with a full bag.



    Once everything is unloaded at camp, the 52 does a terrific job of being just a day pack. The compression straps hold everything together, so there's no flop, and it's an overall low profile.



    If the beating I've given my 37 is any indicator, the 52 will look new and act brand new for quite a while.



    I'll check in later once I've used it more.







    Hi David,
    I am planning to use this pack (if I buy it) for about a monht on the AT. About 750 miles. Do you think it's good for long backpacking trips like this one? I will be carrying about 6 to 7 days' worth of food at a time plus the essentials. I ask becuase I see that you are also using it to hike.

    Hey Victor--

    That's awesome you're planning to get out on the AT. Hope that's an amazing experience.

    Honestly, I would say that the Variant isn't what you want, mostly because it's aimed more at climbing/ski mountaineering. Specific features like ice tool pockets and gear racking loops have no purpose on a big trek like that and will only slow you down. Could you make it work? Probably. But there's a whole host of lighter packs that are better designed to accommodate what you're planning. If you're looking for something from Osprey, check out the Atmos AG series. Absurdly comfortable.

    Skiers delight

    • Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

    I love this bag so much. It's incredibly light yet super durable. most recently did a ski tour and at one point with my skis strapped to the back it weighed 45-50 lbs but it it never felt like I was hauling that much weight. I quickly was able to attach my skis in an a-frame and easy climb a rocky area. A few times I almost lost my balance but everything was stable and secure I'm my bag. The outside pickets were stupid short but I bought some narrower water containers for spare water and mainly used my bladder for drinking water.

    This bag holds a whole heck of a lot of stuff and I still manage to find room after stuffing it to the brim. I appreciated the ability to get a size that suits my height and build. The straps are comfortable, adjustable and the waist strap sits comfortably and yet snug in my hips.

    I am 5ft4 no hips and got size small.

    I like the bright red. It actually helped when we got socked in and the person close behind me kept her eyes on my bag. Great all around ski tour bag and summer backpacking bag. Maybe a little big for short trips but you can always remove the too if necessary.

    Skiers delight

    Best backpack for anything snowy!

    Best backpack for anything snowy!

    Mt Baker Summer Ski Mountaineering.

    Mt Baker Summer Ski Mountaineering.