Thanks for the prompt response and useful edits. Below is the edited
Owner Review. If you have thoughts about where you'd like to see
more detail, let me know. I'll try and respond.
Owner Review: Osprey Ceres 50 Backpack
April 29, 2005
Name: Michael Slater
Height: 5'8" (173 cm)
Weight 160 (73 kg)
Location: Salem, Oregon
Backpacking Background: I've been hiking and climbing regularly in
the Cascade Range for the past two years. I primarily use my
equipment for one or two-day technical climbs, often requiring an
approach hike and overnight base camp. I try to use quality gear
that balances light weight and durability with affordability.
Company: Osprey Packs, Inc.
Product Name: Osprey Ceres 50
Reported Weight: 4 pounds 1 ounce (1.84 Kg)
Model Year: 2004
Volume: 3000 inches (50L)
Available Colors: Orange and Black
Selection and Delivery
I was looking for a pack for one- or two-day mountaineering trips.
My criteria were:
§ The durability to withstand a rocky environment
§ The ability to tightly compress the load in order to prevent
shifting while scrambling and climbing
§ Comfort carrying heavy gear
§ External attachment points
§ Volume sufficient for short, but gear-intensive trips
§ As light as possible given the other factors
I initially selected a competitor's lightweight packk because it was
the right volume and weight, but I returned it after just a few
trips when the bottom seams and fabric began to tear quickly in an
alpine environment (thank you, REI). After reading a short review of
the Osprey 50 in Outside Buyer's Guide 2004, I decided to give it a
try. I purchased my Ceres 50 from Backcountry Gear in Eugene, OR,
where I had an opportunity to make sure I selected the correct size
and that the pack measured up to the impression I got from the
manufacturer's website. After loading up a size medium with a bunch
of heavy gear and marching around the cramped isles for a few
minutes, I took a deep breath to make the investment.
The Ceres 50 is an internal frame pack with a 3,000 cubic inch
volume (50 L) that weighs in at 4 pounds. Its bright orange color
has made it easy find on several occasions when I've dropped it
before that final summit bid. The pack has:
§ A long, narrow, undivided, top-loading main compartment
§ A floating lid with a roomy zippered compartment and a
useful fastener for a key chain
§ Two side wand pockets with straps to help secure the
§ A central tool tube with buckle
§ Two ice-axe loops
§ A deep shovel pouch
§ Removable Velcro loops to secure skis or tools
§ 2 gear loops on the hip belt
§ Bottom sleeping pad loops
§ A whistle built in to the chest strap buckle
§ A three-point haul loop
§ The ability to attach a line of small Osprey bags, such as a
day pack or crampon bag
§ A removable frame sheet and metal stay
A major selling point with the Ceres 50 is that it is designed to
compress well. It has two thin fabric wings, one on either side of
the shovel pouch, with compression straps. The straps on the right-
hand side mate with either the buckles on the left fabric wing if
the pack is very full or can be stretched to the far left side of
the pack when the pack is less full. The straps can then be cinched
tight. Outside refers to this as Osprey's "tortilla style"
compression system. Inside the pack, there is a strap at the top
that connects the front of the pack to the internal frame and pulls
the pack closer into my back.
When I purchased the Ceres 50, I had a few initial impressions that
reassured me about my choice. My first that struck me was that the
fabric was heavy and seemed quite durable, especially on the bottom,
which was a contrast to the previous lightweight pack I had
purchased. The pack had a wealth of attachment points. In my living
room practice session, I was able to attach ice axes, snow pickets,
water bottles, and a climbing helmet. The shovel pocket was a great
place to stuff a warm jacket and extra gloves where they were easy
to get to. The lid compartment fit snacks, headlamp, first aid kit,
and map and compass. And the pack is much lighter than it looks like
it should weigh. Finally, the hip belt has a very nice tightening
mechanism that Osprey calls an "Ergo-pull" hip belt. The hip belt
webbing runs from the pack, through the buckle, and then back
towards the pack. This design allows me to pull back on the straps
simultaneously without my hands crossing and creates additional
leverage to cinch the belt tightly.
In the nine months I've owned the Ceres 50, I've used it on several
daylong climbs in Oregon and Washington, a couple weekend trips to
Smith Rock, several fully loaded training hikes, and an overnight
trip loaded down with gear and too much camping equipment. The
weather has ranged from sunny and clear to rain and snow. I've also
glissaded and rappelled wearing the pack and about 20 to 25 pounds
(9-11 kg) of gear.
Things I like about the pack:
§ Just enough organization. The pack has a lid pocket, a
generous shovel pocket and two wand pockets in addition to the main
§ The pack proved to be quite durable. I've glissaded in it,
bushwhacked in it and dropped it onto rocks, but the fabric shows
very little wear. There are no indications that seams are stressed
or the fabric is fraying.
§ The pack's design does a good job of preventing the contents
from shifting, once all the straps are fastened and tightened. This
is very helpful when boulder-hopping or traversing a narrow
§ The weight is carried on the hips. The pack's frame does a
good job of transferring the weight of loads under about 30 pounds
onto the hips.
§ The straps that tighten the hip belt are cleverly designed
and work quite well.
§ The pack gives good clearance to my head and my arms. I can
lean forward and still look up, even with a helmet on, and there's
no interference my arms when I reach up for a hold.
§ The frame sheet and aluminum stay (as well as the top lid)
can be removed to save weight, still leaving a thin, horseshoe-
shaped, aluminum tube in place to transfer weight.
Things I don't like about the pack.
§ The downside of stability is a lot of strapsa total of
seven, which must be fastened in the correct order.
§ The straps at the bottom, which I take to be sleeping pad
straps, are far too small to use for a sleeping pad or two-person
tent. This can be quite frustrating when trying to fit in both
climbing gear and camping gear.
§ While the pack does a good job of stabilizing its contents,
I haven't yet figured out how to best customized the fit to
eliminate completely the space between the pack and my lower back.
This means that there's a bit of side-to-side pack movement when I
move abruptly. I'm not yet sure whether it's the pack or me.
The Osprey Ceres 50 is a well-designed and well-constructed climbing
pack that represents a good value for a high-end pack. It's
surprisingly lightweight for its bomber construction. The pack is
streamlined, but still offers enough organization to ensure that
mountaineering gear (pickets, wands, probes, shovels and multiple
changes of gloves) is accessible. There is a lot of straps that I
find annoying and time-consuming, even though I recognize they're
useful for stabilizing the load. Osprey could significantly improve
the pack by replacing the existing bottom straps with longer quick-
release straps for a sleeping pad or tent, which they offer on other
models. While I would purchase this again, I would spend more time
in the store selecting the size and adjusting the frame length to
ensure a tight fit along my back.