In North America and Europe, few backpack companies are better known than Osprey. Since founding in ’70s California, Osprey have come to be held among the best outdoor backpack makers going, or at least the most popular. This popularity might be why we’ve never featured them at The Perfect Pack before: there’s fun to be had in hunting down the rare soft goods, made in small batches by a sole person from their mountain cottage. Sometimes though, it’s nice to be able to walk into any outdoors store in the country and find something that looks great, is built to last, and works really well for all kinds of situations. That’s where Osprey are aiming with the Archeon 24.
The Archeon 24 is part of Osprey’s White Label collection, which highlights the company’s commitment to sustainability in their production, and aims to deliver cleaner designs with timeless styling. As such, they use 100% recycled fabrics, and PFC-free DWR for these packs. While the Arcane series presents some lifestyle-oriented options, the Archeon packs are designed for hiking and outdoor performance, with options up to 70L. The Archeon 24 is currently the smallest in the range and features some urban capability in addition to its dayhike function, which will appeal to a wider range of users.
Dimensions provided by Osprey
Primary Fabric: 1880D Recycled Nylon Canvas
Quality & Comfort
The fabric used for the Archeon is really interesting. I had no preconceptions about its recycled production, but felt drawn by the simple, classic aesthetics of the pack, combined with its modern athletic silhouette. I love the ‘haybale green’ colour, and the chunky weave of the 1880 denier fibre, which is stiff and satisfyingly heavy to the touch. I’ve never been a fan of ‘heritage’ packs made of waxed canvas or leather but here, as was my experience with Salkan’s Backpacker, I can see the appeal.
The build and finish was generally to a high standard; I was glad to see #10 YKK zips with tasteful custom pulls, and ITW plastic hardware. Being DWR treated, the Archeon 24 held off rain all through my testing, and shows no signs of wear after weeks on both streets and trails. I did notice that the fabric ends of the Archeon 24’s grab handle protrude visibly into the interior of my pack. This isn’t a concern for durability; it shows a roughness of finish that I’d probably forgive in a small, artisanal maker, but I didn’t expect from one of the biggest backpack manufacturers in the world.
The downside to many traditional designs is a simplistic approach to suspension, and this is where Osprey pulls ahead. The adjustable harness is reminiscent of the Mystery Ranch packs I know and love, allowing the pack to sit perfectly on the wearer’s hips, with weight supported by a pair of lightly padded wings. These pads are fixed but generally less obstructive than on the first Evergoods MPL30, for example, and extend into a removable 1” webbing belt for stability.
The Archeon 24 also sports Osprey’s ‘Airscape’ back panel, which interlaces foam ridges with a light mesh over a rigid framesheet. The objective here is breathability and, in testing, I still found my back ended up a little moist, but certainly less than I would with a flat panel of canvas. I remain unconvinced that a true sweat-free experience is achievable when a pack is spread across the wearer’s back, but this kind of system certainly doesn’t hurt. The pack rode comfortably whether scrambling over rocks or just walking through town without ever feeling overbuilt, and leaves me curious to test more from Osprey’s catalogue.
With its clean styling, the Archeon 24 is not especially featureful on the exterior. There are no loops or attachment points for lights or carabiners. Twin stretch pockets sit flat when not in use, and are well placed for bottles. Their design is simple but they will accommodate a full size Nalgene bottle with a push, eating a little space from the main compartment,. There is one quick-access pocket built into the top panel, with a leash for keys inside. The size and position makes this pocket easy to fill, and if the bag isn’t completely stuffed it may sag downwards.
This panel opens forwards, revealing a deep main compartment. The Archeon has a lightly padded internal sleeve that holds my 15” laptop nicely, or a 2L hydration bladder (it has a passthrough and hanging loop high up. Additional organisation is built into the front of this sleeve: a zippered pocket with a stretch panel, a slot for a pen and something like a charge-bank or a slim wallet. This whole area was difficult to really utilise – despite the elastic, the zippered section is too slim and shallow even for an A5 Notebook. The Archeon 24 is tall enough that my usual pouches sink to the bottom, and with the pack being top-load only, I struggled to retrieve things more than once.
Eventually I found that a tall organiser pouch (in this case the Remote Equipment Org Kit) worked well within the main compartment, keeping my cables and small items tidy and easily accessible. I know Osprey intend the Archeon 24 to primarily work outdoors, but the urban functionality could be greatly improved here.
- Beautiful crossover styling
- Lightweight, comfortable suspension works for town and in the hills.
- Meagre organisation makes volume hard to maximise.
- Clean exterior limits accessory options.
The greatest success of the Archeon series, in my opinion, is to open Osprey up to an even broader audience. The visual simplicity of the designs, the tactile quality of the fabric, and perhaps the bags’ association with other brands and individuals will all serve to attract users to whom Osprey’s normal bright colours and lightweight fabrics wouldn’t appeal. I’ll include myself in that, and admit to being sucked in by this new line.
I’m pleased to find the appeal is not just aesthetic. The suspension on the Archeon 24 is really good, which might not surprise longtime Osprey fans, but is certainly worth reporting here. This is crucial for a pack to crossover between outdoor activities and urban use, but so are the features that meet our day-to-day needs. I may have been less happy with that aspect of the pack, but that hasn’t stopped me enjoying it overall. The Archeon 24 isn’t perfect, after all, but what is?
Disclaimer: The Archeon 24 was supplied by Osprey Europe for use in this review. The content of the review was not shared with Osprey prior to publication. Our reviews are impartial and never changed to keep a brand happy.