Osprey Mutant 22 Rucksack Review
The Mutant series has been, with good reason, a staple of the Osprey range for several years. They are great looking, stripped back, technically featured, durable and lightweight climbing packs perfect for a range of situations. I had previously tested the older version of the Mutant 28 and, when Osprey released the 5th generation series, they sent me a pre-production sample of the 22 litre version to test. The new model is now out and, having been able to give this a thorough testing over several months, it is time to share my thoughts on this updated offering..…
The Mutant 22 is, I want to say straight away, a really great looking pack. The model I was sent was in an eye catching dark blue (called blue fire) and orange colour and they also make it in a black colour (called black ice). Beyond the colour though, Osprey have added a slight pattern to the material which looks great too.
The pack also looks good because of the shape. It is a shaped bucket shape that offers a low profile and keeps it snug to the back - it is designed as a climbing pack but actually I also used this pack for ski touring during last winter, spring scrambling and it also works really well for less technical trekking missions.
Beyond the colour and shape, the Mutant has a simple and uncluttered appearance that will excel for mountain activities, but that sleek appearance actually hides a lot of technical features. Osprey have used a tough 420HD nylon packcloth for the main body and they have added extra reinforcement in the base.
The main compartment is a simple single tube but there is an internal hydration sleeve (which also makes a handy storage pocket if you don’t use a hydration system) and there is an under lid zipped mesh pocket big enough to store headtorches, compasses, sunglasses or similar sized items. This pocket also houses a key attachment clip. Also inside is an under lid rope carrying system which doubles as a top load compression strap.
The back and harness system combines a snow shedding fabric covered padded back panel with padded shoulder straps, a simple removable strap waist belt (or the belt can be reverse wrapped and secured around the back of the pack if preferred). There is also a removable sternum strap with incorporated emergency whistle. The buckles are designed to be glove friendly.
At the sides of the pack there are ski carry loops and the front features the low profile dual ToolLock ice axe attachment system. Down the length of the front panel there are daisy chain attachment points and, true to its climbing heritage, a reinforced 3 point haul system.
Entry to the pack is via a chunky reverse opening top zipper designed to allow quick entry and fast and easy packing. The weight for the Mutant 22 is 570 grams and it is available in a single size.
The Mutant has become one of those packs which, if it will do the job I need, is always the first one off my gear shelf. I have said that I love the appearance, but I have also come to love the way it operates too. Since I received it for testing in February it has seen plenty of days out in the winter and has become a firm favourite for summer mountain activities too. In winter it was used for some fast and light mountaineering and walking adventures along with several ski days. Over the spring and summer it has been used for scrambling, lightweight climbing missions and plenty of general hillwalking days.
The fit of the Mutant, for me at least, is spot on. Having a close fitting fabric and foam back panel doesn’t allow it to be the most breathable, but it clamps and contours around your back to offer the perfect stable and low profile fit needed for climbing. There is plenty of padding in the back for the kind of weight you will be carrying in a pack of this size, but it is also firm enough to allow the pack to keep its shape well. This firmness also means there has been no problem at all with anything packed in the rucksack poking through when worn and being felt on the wearers back.
The shoulder straps are low profile and yet have sufficient padding to be comfortable and the waist belt and sternum straps, while being simple webbing straps with quick release buckles, are just what you need on a pack of this type. The waist belt and sternum strap can easily be removed although a simple alternative for the waist belt is that it can be threaded around the front of the pack and retained in the sleeve designed for storing ice axes. It all works just as it should and yet is not fussy or over engineered.
The other stand out feature of the pack is its low profile shape. When it is on your back it doesn’t sit so high that head movement is at all restricted and it is slim enough to allow a complete range of arm movement. It also sits high enough on the back so that access to things stored on a climbing harness aren’t impeded and a full range of climbing movement is possible. It is a great shape for a climbing pack.
The opening on the Mutant 22 is one of my favourite features. A chunky zipper is designed to open to the front and this allows really simple packing. It would also mean that it would be no problem to pack this up if you had it hanging from an attachment point on a belay stance although I haven’t tested this facility. The zipper is a potential water entry point and it has leaked water on a few occasions, but I work on the basis of waterproof packing key items inside my pack anyway and so this hasn’t been a concern for me - but do be aware of this.
The pack is hydration system compatible and this worked well when tested with an Osprey Hydraulics bladder, but I wouldn’t normally use a hydration system with this sort of pack and so the bladder pocket is actually then a really useful additional storage pocket. Under the lid is a handy zipped mesh pocket with key attachment point and that is it really. Simple, efficient and absolutely perfect for a pack with these intended uses.
Actually, there is one last thing under the lid, and this is a stroke of genius. I used to follow the principal of trying to fit everything inside my packs when walking up to a climb, but in more recent years I have started to change this. Sometimes, if you are going to be climbing with a pack, it makes sense to accept that some stuff might be carried on the outside for the walk in and then, when everything is taken off that is needed for the climb, you are left with a very compact and streamlined pack. Typically, it makes sense to carry your rope and helmet this way.
The addition Osprey have added to the Mutant 22 makes this very simple. Under the lid there is a strap that can be used to compress contents stored inside or it can be used to carry a rope. To do this, Osprey have added a slot allowing the strap to feed outside and the rope can then be easily and efficiently attached. Once this is secured a helmet can easily be secured to some of the daisy chain loops. It works really well and even allows the lid to be opened when the rope is attached.
On the outside there are ski carry loops and Osprey’s simple and efficient ToolLock ice attachment system. This allows axes to be added quickly and they are then held extremely securely with, I would say, no chance of them coming off accidentally.
You really want for nothing with the Mutant 22 and yet everything is tucked neatly away and still allows the pack to remain sleek and streamlined.
Everything from the appearance to the function ‘just work’ with the new Mutant 22 and Osprey have managed to make a tried and tested pack even better. It is a great mountain pack that, providing the size and volume are okay for you, will become a well trusted partner on many adventures. The Mutant 22 is also, at a RRP of £80, really great value. A brilliant product. Full details are available on the Osprey website here.
Posted by Paul