A Must-Read Osprey Stratos 50 Review [August 2021]

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I’m so happy. A few weeks ago, I finally did it.

I purchased this Osprey backpack on an online sale after a friend of mine told me it was the most complete pack he’s ever had.

Now that I own it, many folks keep asking me about my experience with it. So that’s why I decided to write this Osprey Stratos 50 review – to give the world my two cents about this pack.

Since this is just an introductory summary, I’ll directly give you my verdict – this is the most comfortable and body-friendly pack than I’ve ever had.

For me, it’s undoubtedly the best bang for the buck.

What I like most about it is the quality of the ventilation and padding, and the extremely well adjustable suspension system that literally makes the pack a part of my body.

In the rest of this article, I’ll reveal everything about the Stratos 50 so you know what to expect. I’ll inform you about some little quibbles too. Let’s begin.

Osprey Stratos 50 Review

Osprey Stratos 50 review

Click on image to see more details on Amazon.

I decided to buy a new pack because I desperately needed an upgrade for my 3-5 day trips. My old rucksack was a worn-out 40 L “Tashev” and I wanted something roomier, more ventilated, and with multiple compartments and pockets.

Besides, I was already familiar with the extreme comfort that Osprey packs offer, having tested the Stratos 24 and Rook 65 models (a review of the latter is on the way). My wife also has a Skimmer 28 L, and she loves it.

Moreover, I knew that Osprey have updated their Stratos and Sirrus series back in 2017, enhancing the overall structure and fit of their product line.

When I invest more bucks in a backpack that I know I’ll use for many years to come, I’m very cautious and detail-oriented. I really want to be sure I’m making the best possible choice.

Otherwise, I just won’t be able to sleep, knowing that I could’ve bought a better pack for the same money. That thought is always making me feel robbed.

Osprey Stratos 50 L pack in the woods

That’s me with my new Osprey Stratos 50. I feel good!

That’s why choosing the Osprey Stratos 50 L wasn’t a fast or emotional choice. I compared it to probably ten similar backpacks before clicking on the “Buy” button.

I even went to a local retail store nearby to touch and feel the Osprey and some other packs. To be honest, I really liked the Deuter Futura Vario 50 +10 but the Stratos 50 prevailed because it was slightly lighter and generally more comfortable with its superb suspension and ventilation systems.

I admit I also liked the coloration more because I find the combination of black and green nuances very stylish.

Now let’s jump to some details.

Who Is This Pack For?

The Stratos is a men’s model. As already outlined in another review, the women’s alternative are the Sirrus or the Skimmer models, for instance.

That doesn’t necessarily mean women can’t wear a Stratos but I guess it won’t be as comfortable because the Sirrus packs are specifically designed to follow the frame of the women’s body.

I bought the Stratos 50 exclusively for hiking because that’s its main purpose but I’ve also used the pack when travelling and backpacking. It’s very appropriate for these activities because it’s highly adjustable and flexible.

For instance, you can remove the top lid if you don’t need it, thus shrinking the pack. For that, you’ll also want to use the compression straps to further tighten and stabilize the load.

You can even get rid of the rain cover and put something else in that zippered pocket. And you can use the straps to tie your sleeping bag on the exterior of the pack.

The pack is suitable for overnight hiking trips as well or when you hike in the woods, where you have to bring various types of camping gear.

osprey backpack in the mountains

When I day hike, my Stratos 50 is not so full.

Other than that, the Stratos 50 L could easily hold 30 - 35 lbs of load comfortably, which makes it perfect for 3-5 day trips.

I wouldn’t recommend buying this pack if you hike once or twice per year. It just doesn’t worth the investment. You’ll be better off with a cheaper brand.

The point is, you don’t need to invest over a $100 for a backpack that you won’t use regularly. However, if you like to hit the trails as often as I do and need to carry various essentials, then you’ll absolutely love the Stratos 50.

In the next section, I’m going to describe the features. Let’s go.

Overview of Features

This pack is rich in features. That’s what I love about it and that’s why I bought it. Many folks out there find it confusing to deal with tons of pockets, straps, and buckles.

But if you’re going into the wilderness for days, the presence of many useful features can only be a benefit. They are designed to make you feel comfortable wearing those 30 lbs of gear on your shoulders.

For instance, I love the floating lid, the walking pole attachment point, and the removable sleeping pad straps. These are all super practical.

The first thing I noticed when I took the pack in my hands was the rigidity of the internal frame. That one-stay frame is there to enhance support by transferring the load to the hips. That’s cool when you hike for hours with heavy gear.

Check out the video below in which Base Camp Chris does a great job demonstrating the pros and cons of the Stratos 50. He’s much more photogenic than me.

Now, I will quickly go through the specifications.


The pack is 28” x 14” X 15” or 71 x 35.5 x 38 cm when filled. I feel you asking whether it will pass as a carry-on so my answer is most probably no.

However, if you shrink it enough and remove the top lid, you’ll probably be good to go depending on the airline.

The maximum volume of the pack is (obviously) 50 L and it can comfortably hold up to 40 lbs of load.

Weight And Materials

Weighting 3lbs or 1.36 kg, the Stratos 50 is slightly lighter than other similar packs that I tested. At first, I thought it was somewhat heavy but when compared to other packs in that range, it’s not the case.

The main weight comes from the alloy peripheral frame that stabilizes the pack. In brief, it’s a perfect weight for a 50 L backpack. Nothing bulky.

osprey hiking backpack

Despite the rigid alloy frame, the Stratos 50 feels lightweight on your back.

As with many other rucksacks, the material here is waterproof nylon. It’s pretty solid and tear resistant and it will save your gear from light rain. If you happen to be under a thunderstorm, then you better use the integrated rain cover.

Let’s see about the comfort.

Comfort And Usability

Similarly to its little brother the Stratos 24, the Osprey Stratos 50 also excels when it comes to comfort. Sure enough, the bigger model has improved benefits and more features, which is normal given its purpose to accommodate a 2-5 day hike.

Osprey Stratos 50 ventilation system

Undoubtedly, what makes the Stratos 50 stand out is the quality of its ventilated suspension system.

With a risk to repeat myself, I’d like to mention once again that after several hikes already, now I’m certain this is the most comfortable and smartly organized backpack that I’ve ever had. And this is my unbiased, objective opinion.

In the following sentences, I’ll try to describe some features that I like very much and that make the pack super comfy.

  • Adjustable Torso Panel – I’m 5.6 feet tall and when I unpacked the pack and put it on my back, it didn’t fit well. It felt short. Thanks to the adaptable torso length panel on the backside, I was able to extend it with a simple pull so I felt the pack on my entire torso, including the lower back. That provides further stability and comfort. Super convenient!
  • AirSpeed™ Technology – I’ve already experienced the comfort of having a long-lasting ventilated back on extensive summer hikes with the Stratos 24. Now I feel that stronger with more load on my back. The suspended trampoline mesh on the back panel provides great breathability by keeping the pack away from my back. It also eliminates pressure points. My old pack was with a molded foam on the back panel and the difference is huge.
  • Efficient Suspension System – I’m able to strengthen or loosen up the hip belt and the sternum strap with a single pull of the straps on the go. No need to take off the pack and do complicated maneuvers. That and the thick padding present everywhere distribute the load on my entire body, thus making the pack unnoticeable.
  • High-Quality Padding – as I just mentioned there’s a thick, yet breathable padding on the shoulder and hip belt straps that allows you to wear heavy loads and still smile.
  • Adjustable Sternum Strap – it’s super easy to adjust based on your chest size and stabilizes the load even further.
  • Breathable Stretch Yoke And Load Lifters – located at the top of the shoulder straps, I’m able to reposition the load lifters to draw the pack closer to my body and better align it to my spine. I love those because they provide more stability and greater fit on the go.
  • Premium Zippers – they are grip-friendly, super solid, and easy to slide and pull. I guess you’ve been in a situation when you had to deal with weak zippers. Everybody has, and it sucks. No compromises with the zippers here. Excellent execution!
  • Double Side Compression Straps – whenever your pack’s half full or you need to tighten it up to avoid load shifting, you can pull those straps to stabilize the load and further secure your gear

In brief, I am very impressed with those comfort-oriented features because that makes all the difference when I compare the Stratos 50 with other backpacks.

In the next paragraph, I will talk about the pocketing and the organization of the pack.

Storage And Compartments

Smart organization is another thing I was looking for when searching for the best pack for me. I wanted my future backpack to have enough pockets and compartments so I could arrange all my stuff worry-free, including some of my summer dry bags.

I hate to fill everything in the main compartment because of the lack of enough separate storage spaces. Everything becomes a mess pretty quickly.

Make fun of me if you want but I counted every pocket and compartment of every pack I tested.

Osprey Stratos 50 storage space

The main compartment is pretty roomy. There’s a devider pocket inside and you can also see the zippered pocket on the inside of the lid.

I almost bought the Osprey Rook 50 because it was slightly cheaper than the Stratos and it had pretty much the same features. However, I counted 5 exterior pockets on it versus 7 on the Stratos.

That and the fact that I liked the colors of the Stratos 50 made it my preferred choice. Oh, and the fact that it had three access points against 2 on the Rook model.

Let me explain what the pack has in terms of pocketing and organization abilities:

  • Three Access Points – you’ll have the convenience of getting to your essentials from the bottom, top, and from the side of the backpack. There’s a side vertical zippered pocket that gives you access to the main compartment which is awesome. I can access various items in that way based on my current needs.
  • Sleeping Bag Pocket – I find the possibility of stowing my bag inside the pack very practical. That zippered pocket is close to the bottom of the backpack. Whenever I don’t bring it with me, I put my socks in there or some food. Anyway, it’s cool to have that extra space.
  • Integrated Rain Fly – again, it’s very convenient to have that space. When you don’t use it, you can put something else there. I put extra t-shirts but in general, I rarely go on a hike without that beautiful green rain cover. It’s very easy to deploy, and it keeps my gear always dry. It’s located in a bottom zippered pocket.
  • Internal Hydration Sleeve – another nice thing is that the Stratos 50 is hydration-ready. I haven’t used a hydration system with it yet but prior to purchase I tested that a 3 L water reservoir could comfortably fit in the dedicated space situated on the back of the pack. Can’t wait to try that!
  • Removable Top Lid –besides the cool fact that you can easily detach the lid, it contains a zippered pocket on the top. It also has a zippered mesh pocket on the inside that’s big enough for you to store anything you like from snacks and small clothes to head lamp or flip-flops. There’s a red key clip there where I attach my keys.
  • Front Panel Zippered Pocket – yes, more pockets! Unlike other packs that have similar pockets but they’re shallow or tight, this one is roomy enough and allows you to store much more than a map. I use it to stow my winter anorak, which is not small at all, and it fits pretty well.
  • Front Shove-It Pocket – yet another convenient storage space you can use to store gear that you need easy access to. You can even buckle this one up for extra security. I use it to put my weatherproof jacket there.
  • Dual Zippered Hip Belt Pockets – needless to say, they’re insanely useful. Besides, they are not small as with some other packs. I fit my Xiomi Mi 5 smartphone easily. It’s much more comfortable to walk when your phone is not in your pants pocket.
  • Dual Side Meshed Pockets – these ones are stretchable and roomy. You can put various-sized water bottles there. Again, I’m happy they’re not tight because that was the case with my old pack.
  • Walking Pole Attachment – Osprey’s famous Stow-on-the-Go™ technology allows you to hang your trekking poles on two attachment points – on the shoulder strap and on the bottom side of the
  • Removable Sleeping Pad Straps – located on the front bottom of the backpack, these are also very useful. You can effortlessly secure a tent or a sleeping mat there. No need to wonder how to bring your overnight gear any more.
  • Ice Axe Loop – I’ve never used an ice axe but that loop could be handy in case you want to bring one. A friend of mine wo’s a photographer uses the loop to secure his tripod. Smart and convenient, right?

Okay, that was long but useful to you, I hope.

If I had to nag about something I’d mention that the sleeping bag compartment it too tiny. I couldn’t fit my sleeping bag in there, which is a bit bulky, so I had to buy a more compact one. Keep that in mind.

osprey stratos sleeping bag compartment

A close look to the sleeping bag compartment. You can also see the rain cover and the removable pad straps.

Another possible con would be the tightness of the hip belt pockets. I don’t have problems with that but some people complain that they couldn’t fit larger smartphones there.

Other than that, Stratos 50 offers plenty of options for strategic packing. You’ll be able to bring a lot of items and organize them both internally and externally to make sure you have a well-distributed load.

How To Use This Backpack?

I needed to look at the user manual to understand how to customize the backpack based on my body requirements and how to use efficiently all the features such as straps, adjustable torso panel, etc.

I suggest you do the same.

The most important thing you have to do is to achieve the best possible fit for you. That happens after you pack your backpack.

That’s because the volume of the pack is different when it’s empty, therefore it stays differently on your body.

The most important thing you should do is to adjust the torso panel to follow the curves of your spine. Then when the pack is on your back, buckle up the hip belt and the sternum strap and pull the straps on the hip belt to tighten it up. You should feel how the pack embraces your body.

Don’t forget to modify the length of the load lifters to better position the upper part of the pack to your back and shoulders. Here's a quick explanatory video.

Click to play

If you’re travelling, you’d probably want to consider locking your backpack. “Better be safe than sorry” is my motto.

For everything else, consult the manual. It explains how to take the most advantage of all the bells and whistles of this pack.

As for attaching external items such as a shovel or ice axe, use the gear loops and straps. There are plenty of them so make use of those!


Based on my research and experience, there are four other backpacks that are similar to the Stratos 50.

If price is a strong factor for you, I can immediately give you a lot cheaper, yet great alternative. That’s Teton Sports Scout 3400.

It’s similar in volume (55 L) and it still has detachable rain cover and a sleeping bag compartment. You can also see it on our list of the most affordable backpacks this year.

Don’t expect miracles from the ventilation system, though.

I also advise you to consider one of Osprey’s all time bestselling backpacks Atmos AG 65 L. Let the bigger volume not scare you.

It’s an incredibly well-fitted and versatile pack with some amazing features such as the highly ventilated Anti Gravity Suspension System, detachable top lid, and many more. It’s arguably Osprey’s best backpack for multi-day trips. You’ll see that from the price too. Nevertheless, it’s a great investment.

Another option would be Osprey Rook 50 or 65 L. The Rook is an excellent model that is reasonably priced and you’re sure to receive what you pay for – unbelievable comfort.

The 50 L model is very similar in features to the Stratos 50. Both have great ventilation and suspension (AirSpeed™), they weigh 3 lbs, have a sleeping bag compartment and an included rain cover.

The main difference comes from the number of pockets and compartments and the access points. That’s why the Stratos costs a bit more.

Last but not least, check out another popular hiking backpack – Kelty Redwing 50. It’s slightly cheaper than the Stratos model.

It combines great durability, adjustability, and storage capacity. A friend of mine has it and he’s thrilled with it. Kelty is a well-recognized brand and their PerfectFIT™ Suspension is very well thought out. Plus, the front organizer pocket with multiple separate compartments is super convenient.



What is the size of the sleeping bag compartment?

What is the height of the pack without the lid?

Is the pack waterproof?

Can I bring the Stratos 50 as a cabin luggage?

Is there a guarantee?

What size of water reservoir I’ll be able to fit in?

Final Verdict

I use the Stratos 50 as my main hiking backpack for months now and I love it. It’s a pleasure wearing it and it serves its purpose with ease.

What I like most about it is the AirSpeed™ suspension system that provides great fit and unbelievable ventilation. Thanks to that, the backpack always feels lightweight no matter how load I stuff in it.

my osprey backpack

Osprey Stratos 50 is my favourite hiking backpack. For now.

The presence of multiple access points and a good number of compartments, both internally and externally makes me love this pack even more.

Except everything else, I can easily store my sleeping pad and sleeping bag for my nights into the wilderness. And my gear is protected by the rain cover if I hike on rainy days.

Yes, the price is a bit high, but as is the quality and the comfort you receive in return. In brief, you’re unlikely to find a better solution for the money. At least I didn’t.

Thank you for reading. I hope this review was helpful to you. Don’t hesitate to share your impressions with the Stratos 50 in the comments below. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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Asen Stoyanchev

Founder of this website, Asen is a passionate hiker and writer who is also a gear nerd. He’s been featured on many established hiking websites where he gives hiking advice & tips. When he is not trekking with his family or friends, he is writing articles and product reviews. Asen spends most of his time in Bulgaria but he constantly travels the world in seek of more unforgettable experiences. Read more about Asen here.

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Sujit - August 15, 2019

Hiking in (ABC) Annapurna base camp has always been in one of my bucket list. i remember my trekking bag gave me a problem while travelling in mustang. Osprey bag pack really sounds durable and light as per your review and i would love to buy it while trekking in holidays nice post mate.

    Asen - August 15, 2019

    Hi Sujit,

    I also would love to hike in Annapurna base camp one day. Looks stunning.

VictorP - August 15, 2019

Great, and certainly as ridiculously detailed as you claim. I’ll be returning here for reviews and advice in the future. One question, is the opsprey Stratos 50 available in any other colors?

    Asen - August 15, 2019

    Hi Victor,

    Yes, the Stratos 50 comes in a red color too. Thanks for reading! 🙂

Jukka - August 15, 2019

Great timing Asen! We are planning a long trip through Europe next year (maybe right after the new year!). I’m looking for a good large backpack to take on hikes and possibly to carry all my belongings for several months as we haven’t yet decided yet if we will go by car or train/plane.

This definitely got my interest as I have had only good experiences the Osprey products before. The review was definitely thorough and left no questions so thank you for that :D. I’ll bookmark your review for future reference when I actually know what size backpack I need.

    Asen - August 15, 2019

    Hi Jukka,

    You must be excited about that upcoming European trip! Sounds amazing. I wish you success in finding the right adventure backpack!

Molly - January 23, 2020

This is an awesome comprehensive review. My mom and I are thinking of doing a pilgrimage in Spain and I have previously liked the Osprey brand but would need a different size or style. This one seems like a great fit. Do you think that there is a better option that has side pockets for a water bottle? I find that sometimes I wish there was an easy access pocket to grab a drink from!

    Asen - January 24, 2020

    Hey Molly,

    So you’re going to walk the El Camino De Santiago road? That sounds like a great adventure. Osprey is a fantastic brand and the Stratos 50 is super comfy. I have it and I love it. However, it’s a men’s model. The one with a female-specific fit is the Sirrus. Otherwise the Stratos has side water bottle holders that are pretty large. Good luck on your journey!

Lasvot Jackie - June 8, 2020

Hi Asen! I liked your review of Ospey stratos 50. It’s quite a budget-friendly backpack. I think none will regret buying this backpack. but I am a bit confused between osprey kestrel 48 vs stratos 50. Which is best?

    Asen - June 9, 2020

    Hey Jackie,

    Thanks for stopping by and reading. The main difference between the Osprey Stratos 50 backpack and the Kestrel is in the suspension and mainly in the ventilation. The Kestrel has the Airscape back panel with foam ridges and airflow channels while the Stratos includes the Airspeed technology that has a suspended mesh that creates space between the pack and your back. Having tested both systems, I can safely say that the Airspeed ventilation is better in keeping your back cool. There’s a difference in the price too. Stratos is more expensive. Otherwise, they are both great packs for 2-5-day trips.

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