If you’re a regular reader of my “Gear Closet” stories here at The Adventure Blog, you probably already know the I have a habit of going on at great length about the product that I’m writing a review for. That is likely to be the case with the Manta AG 28 from Osprey as well, but for those of you who would rather get to the bottom line on this bag, I thought I would save you some time. So, for those folks wondering whether or not this pack will get a good review, let me just tell you now. It is amazing. Go buy one. Thank me later.
For those of you who are still around, we can now get into the details.
The Manta line of packs have been a part of the Osprey catalog for some time. But this pack, which was released this past spring, adds a nice new dimension that truly helps to separate it from the crowd. The “AG” in the bag’s title stands for “Anti-Gravity” which is the name given to Osprey’s innovative suspension that not only helps the pack to sit more comfortably and naturally on your body, but it can effectively carry more weight over a longer distance too.
The Anti-Gravity suspension was first introduced on Osprey’s Atmos series, which is designed for backpacking and adventure travel. But now, it has trickled down to these daypacks as well. The suspension really does make a noticeable difference, and the integration of the mesh backpanel plays a big role in keeping you cooler and drier while hiking.
I have to say that I was a bit skeptical that the AG system would have as big of an impact on a daypack as it does on the larger backpacking models. But, after putting this bag to the test in the field, I can honestly say that my doubts were unfounded. The suspension is remarkable, and I think you’ll find yourself coming off the trail at the end of the day feeling much better than you would with a traditional daypack without AG integration.
The Manta comes in three sizes – 20L, 28L, and 36L. (There is also a women’s specific model called the Mira that comes in 18, 26, 34-liter models.) For me, the 28L version is the sweet spot for a daypack, offering plenty of room to carry everything you need, without getting so large that its starting to infringe on the small backpacking pack level. Of course, your particular needs may be a bit different than mine, but I found the 28L Manta to be just right.
As you would expect from a pack from Osprey, the Manta comes with a wide variety of pockets to store all of your gear. From its cavernous main chamber to the front pocket with mesh organizational sleeves – complete with key fob – this pack has plenty of ways to keep all of your important items organized and close at hand. There are also two surprisingly large pockets on the hipbelt as well, which I always appreciate for storage of small items such as snacks or my phone.
In terms of staying hydrated, the Manta comes with dual water bottle holders that can be found on each side of the bag, as well as a dedicated hydration sleeve. Osprey even throws in a high-quality 2.5 liter hydration bladder, which is a nice addition considering many companies require you to buy one separately. Considering the price of this pack, and all of the features it brings to the table, it was really nice to open the hydration sleeve and find the bladder tucked away inside.
That isn’t the only nice little detail that Osprey has included on this pack. It also comes with its own integrated rainfly, which should be a common practice these days, but surprisingly isn’t. There is also a helmet attachment loop for when you’re cycling or climbing, and stretch mesh front pockets for quickly storing away extra gear, including a spare pare of shoes. Of course, Osprey has made always been good about paying attention to details, but it is nice to see that tradition continue here.
All of these features aside, the best thing about this pack is just how comfortable it feels when you’re out on a hike. I can load it up with just a few small items, or stuff it to the brim with way more gear than I’ll need, and it not only happily swallows up everything I throw at it, it feels good on your back too. The AG suspension is a true revelation, and a welcome addition to the daypack line. And of course, this being Osprey, the pack is very durable too, but still comes backed with the All Mighty Guarantee, which says the company will repair or replace the bag for its lifetime. You can’t ask for better coverage than that.
As if all of that weren’t enough, the Manta AG 28 costs just $165, which is a relative bargain when you consider everything this pack brings to the table. It is filled with excellent design decisions, includes the best suspension system on the market, offers lots of carrying capacity, and it is durable enough to survive just about anything you throw at it. It also comes with a built-in rain cover and has an excellent hydration sleeve that you’ll want to use in all of your other packs as well. All of that adds up to an excellent daypack that you’ll certainly want to have with you on your future hikes and adventure travel excursions.
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