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Osprey Packs Variant 52L Backpack

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For extreme winter assaults, fresh lines, and good times in the cold.

The three-point haul system of the Osprey Variant 52 Backpack makes lugging your stuff up a wall, mountain, or glacier quick and easy. The big volume and convenient pocketry of this winter pack make your gear easy to access, and the removable hip-belt and frame sheet shed weight when you need to go light. Stash your crampons, ice tools, or probe in their own dedicated locales for quick gettin' and puttin' away. A water-resistant zippered front pocket keeps maps dry, and dual ski loops carry your sticks with ease.

  • Removable HDPE frame sheet provides lightweight rigidity and pairs with aluminum tubing to help transfer the load to your hips
  • Thermoformed contoured backpanel provides cushioning and is shaped to better encourage air flow
  • Contoured hip-belt curves around and pads your hips to ensure your load rests where it should; reverse-wrap ErgoPull closure makes cinching down belt easy
  • Padded shoulder straps ergonomically shaped for chafe-free performance and pressure-reducing comfort
  • Removable top lid lets you ditch extra weight for summit bids and fast-packing
  • Unique side compression straps are low-profile and let you adjust the pack's volume to fit different load sizes
  • Glove-friendly buckles improve ease of use
  • Under-lid rope compression strap holds your rope in place during mellow pitches or bootpacks
  • Dual ice-tool loops and keep your vertical gear on lockdown until it's needed
  • Dual ski loops hug your planks while you earn your turns; dedicated probe pocket keeps Ol' Probey ready for action
  • Crampon compression pocket tames your claws when they're not in use
  • Climbing loops on waistbelt provide more room for your rack
  • Water-resistant front pocket protects your map from flying snow
  • Reflective detailing helps keep you visible in low-light situations
  • Optimal for 35-50 pounds of gear
  • Item #OSP0151

Matrix (420D nylon), Cordura (315D)
[small] 49L (2990cu in), [medium] 52L (3173cu in), [large] 55L (3356cu in)
1 front zippered water-resistant
Claimed Weight
[small] 3lb 8oz, [medium] 3lb 10oz, [large] 3lb 13oz
Recommended Use
touring, backcountry skiing, mountaineering
Manufacturer Warranty

Tech Specs

What do you think about this product?


>Rating: 4

Variant 52

I've used it several times

I love this pack. There aren't a whole lot of options for packs that are 50L, but this one is awesome. I am a park ranger and I need to carry more than most on backcountry adventures and this pack does the job. It is very comfortable with 45+ pounds. This pack handles avy gear well and the gear loops on the waist belt are appreciated. The only downside is the secondary hood if you want to remove the main lid. This is the most unnecessary piece of fabric I have ever encountered on a pack. I cut it off. If I don't want my stuff to fall out I'll just cinch the pull cord tighter. The biggest complaint about this pack is its unnecessary complexity and this

>Rating: 2

Great for everything other than skiers

I've used it several times

I bought this pack for a ski trip to Rainer. We did a warm up day up by Mt. Baker and during the first day when I was A-framing my skis, both sides of the bags were cut. That was pretty shocking for the first day of use and the bag wasn't even very full. Other than this issue though the pack was great. It really carried weight well which I appreciated. My only other change is it'd be nice if the ax straps were slightly adjustable.

>Rating: 5

Durable, weight distribution perfect

I've put it through the wringer

I've had this pack since September 2015 and it's been so good to me. I got the 49L (I'm a size S) because I read that it packs down great and I wanted one pack that I could use for anything. This is definitely that pack. I use this thing for everything: climbing, earning turns with my snowboard strapped on, backpacking, traveling. It gets used for something at least weekly. No rips or tears in in yet and I'm not nice to it. I live in the rainy and beautiful PNW so that's where it's seen the most love. Pros: transfers weight perfectly to my hips, takes a beating, packs down to nothing nicely, can hold all necessary gear except snowboard (but with an added Voile strap can hold that too), hasn't gotten completely soaked in the rain to date, has removable "brain" of the pack for when you need that extra space. Cons: Only the one entry. If you're like me and want one pack for everything, this is the way to go.


Thanks for the great review, Megan! Leta Osprey Rep

>Rating: 5

Perfect size for multi pitch rock & Ice

I've put it through the wringer

The Variants gets it done for all aspects of rock, ice and mountaineering. It's got nice tool attachments, beaver tail for a crampon or rope carry and seems pretty durable overall. Got this for a buddy for our trip to climb Western Hardman on Notch Peak and worked out great!


Excellent, Matt! Thank you for sharing! Leta Osprey Rep

>Rating: 5

Great pack for backcountry adventures

Used this pack for a ski ascent of the west face of Shasta. This route has a pretty long approach hike carrying skis. The pack handled the weight with no problem.

Thanks Bruce! Leta Osprey Rep

>Rating: 3

The previous version is superior

I've put it through the wringer

I've used the previous and current generation of the variant 52. I much prefer the previous version (sadly, it was stolen out of my car and can't obtain a replacement anymore for that version). De-provements, aka things that were better in the old version: - zipper pouch on the back. I used this so frequently, it was incredibly handy. The current stiff back panel is pretty stiff and only useful for crampons, whereas the prev was useful for crampons and other things as well. - haul system. The previous front two loops were equally loaded on both sides of each loop, and bomber. The new loops only load one end of the loop when hauling, and it's also a wide angle that amplifies the force on each loop. I'm very suspect of the new haul system. - The previous bottom side z-straps were nice for compression, vs the single straps. - there used to be ice clipper slots on the hipbelt - straps and sections were independent, so if you unclip one strap, the other things don't open up. - the variable tool attachment points could be used as a daisy, attaching biners etc. - the previous inside pocket on the lid was horizontal, so when the lid was flipped and zipper opened, things wouldn't fall out. Now it's vertical, so things fall out no matter which way the lid is way to keep things inside. This was a horrible design decision. Improvements on the new pack: - getting rid of the rolled-up snow collar - easily removable lid and flap cover - better main belt attachment tightening - small internal mesh pocket Wish list for next version: - keep new-version improvements. - bring back old haul attachment points - add back zippered back pocket - add back ice clipper slots - add daisy to back

Hey there, thank you for taking the time to write such a thorough review. I will pass the feedback on to my friends at Osprey. We have gotten lots of great feedback on this new version as well, but we always welcome constructive reviews! Thanks and Happy New Year! Leta Osprey Rep

Hello, would you mind commenting on the capacity of the main compartment in comparison to the old model? I notice that despite stated with 52 L, the old version seems to hold much more volume (at least 5+ L more in capacity). Does this apply to the new model? Thanks in advance!!

>Rating: 5

I'm on pack #2

I've put it through the wringer

Over a period of several years, I beat the hell out of my old Variant 52. Winter Mountaineering, schlepping rope/rack/etc on long approaches, etc etc. It wasn't perfect, but for the price and what it was, I was a very satisfied owner. Carried the weight well, and was fairly durable. I ended up breaking off a buckle or two, tearing something. I sent it back for repair and they handled it quickly, no charge. Recently took out my new version of the V52 - they improved on a bunch of the little "if onlys" I had on the last pack. Job well done. I know the fit is specific to your body, but the thing fits me like a dream, and carries weight really well. Stuff it full of cams and all your camping gear, and go get after it. I've looked at a lot of the more specialized climbing packs, from CCW and CG. They have their merits for sure, but for the price I paid and the comfort of carry, I'm good with my Variant. What do I like better about the new version? 1. better tool attachments 2. flap for running lidless 3. small mesh storage just inside the main opening 4. shovel/crampon pouch improved 5. hipbelt has better padding?


While I agree the upgrades are nice, they made a huge mistake with the material. While it is lighter, it is much less durable. This pack may not be designed specifically for canyoneering, it is slated as a mountaineering and Alpine pack, which suggests rugged and durable. I took the newest version through one easy canyon and it was pretty much destroyed. I love Osprey and stand behind their products, but if you are looking for a durable rugged pack, stay away from the updated version. Look for the older model. You can tell the difference by the front pocket. The new version has no zipper. The old version lasted almost 2 years running through tough and harsh canyons. Much more durable.


Osprey Variant in the Tetons

>Rating: 5

Awesome Pack

I've used it several times

I originally bought this pack with the intention of using it to carry my full trad rack on long climbing approaches. I have used it for this, and it worked fantastically carrying a heavy climbing rack and rope! But i have also used it for many overnight trips and even a 2 night trip. I'd like to start off by saying this is an awesome pack!It has so many cool features in it! The shelled outer pocket would be great for storing crampons, and you wouldn't have to worry about them ripping through your pack. The three point haul system makes it easy to tow it up a wall behind you if you're planning on staying over night on the summit of a climb. This pack also works great for a quick lightweight overnight trip, and if you don't plan on taking much stuff, could easily be used for atleast a 5 day trip. The nice thing about the size of this pack, is i can pack my whole rack in the bottom, and still have room for a sleeping bag and coat on top. I can then store my tent on top of my rope under the lid of the pack, secure them both down with the rope carry system, and have a solid setup to camp and climb for a few days. This pack is lightweight, durable, and very comfortable. I highly recommend it!


Best adventure pack

Best for one night or a week, just depends how luxurious you want to be living.


Shrunken packs

Compressed for day use while skinning around.


Go find the snow.

There's a kitchen sink down in there somewhere.

>Rating: 5

Bigger and just as good

I've used it several times

The Variant 52 takes all the great things that I love in the Variant 37 just a few days further. For one, it's got a comfy hip belt and properly padded shoulder straps, making that stupid load a bit less painful. It's easy to isolate the weight on either the hip belt or shoulder straps or blend both in increments. The ice axe/ice tool carry is sublime. No rattle or movement, but plenty of quick access. I'd make the crampon pouch pocket a little bit deeper for easier access with a full bag. Once everything is unloaded at camp, the 52 does a terrific job of being just a day pack. The compression straps hold everything together, so there's no flop, and it's an overall low profile. If the beating I've given my 37 is any indicator, the 52 will look new and act brand new for quite a while. I'll check in later once I've used it more.

Hi David, I am planning to use this pack (if I buy it) for about a monht on the AT. About 750 miles. Do you think it's good for long backpacking trips like this one? I will be carrying about 6 to 7 days' worth of food at a time plus the essentials. I ask becuase I see that you are also using it to hike.

Hey Victor-- That's awesome you're planning to get out on the AT. Hope that's an amazing experience. Honestly, I would say that the Variant isn't what you want, mostly because it's aimed more at climbing/ski mountaineering. Specific features like ice tool pockets and gear racking loops have no purpose on a big trek like that and will only slow you down. Could you make it work? Probably. But there's a whole host of lighter packs that are better designed to accommodate what you're planning. If you're looking for something from Osprey, check out the Atmos AG series. Absurdly comfortable.

>Rating: 5

Skiers delight

I've put it through the wringer

I love this bag so much. It's incredibly light yet super durable. most recently did a ski tour and at one point with my skis strapped to the back it weighed 45-50 lbs but it it never felt like I was hauling that much weight. I quickly was able to attach my skis in an a-frame and easy climb a rocky area. A few times I almost lost my balance but everything was stable and secure I'm my bag. The outside pickets were stupid short but I bought some narrower water containers for spare water and mainly used my bladder for drinking water. This bag holds a whole heck of a lot of stuff and I still manage to find room after stuffing it to the brim. I appreciated the ability to get a size that suits my height and build. The straps are comfortable, adjustable and the waist strap sits comfortably and yet snug in my hips. I am 5ft4 no hips and got size small. I like the bright red. It actually helped when we got socked in and the person close behind me kept her eyes on my bag. Great all around ski tour bag and summer backpacking bag. Maybe a little big for short trips but you can always remove the too if necessary.


Best backpack for anything snowy!


Mt Baker Summer Ski Mountaineering.


Skiing the Sliver Couloir w Variant Pack

Grand Teton National Park, WY

>Rating: 5

Best all-around pack I've used

I've put it through the wringer

Variant 52 is nearly perfect. I've beat this thing up pretty well with crampons, ice tools, mountaineering tools, skis, and lots of rock gear. If you're into shedding weight you can take out the back lining and replace it with a very light sleeping pad. The hipbelt and brain come off to create a combined daypack if needed. It carries heavy weight impressively well. Haul straps are well-positioned. The whole pack is very adjustable. Like other reviewers mentioned, the side pockets are oddly short. I assume this is to accommodate nalgene removal without taking the pack off, but if I'm climbing I biner all bottles anyway.


Osprey in the Arctic

SUP-to-Ski in Svalbard, Norway with Osprey Variant 52. Photo Credit: Gabe Rogel/Ice Axe/BoardWorks Surf


How did you get it to hold your skis well? Is it stable?

Hey Gravity Slave, This Ospray pack comes equipped with straps dedicated to supporting your skis either diagonally as Kim has hers situated or in an A-frame shape. It is stable, though you should definitely consider securing your tips with a Voile strap if you opt for the A-frame method (my favorite --as it seems to weight more equally than the diagonal method).


My best pack ever

Got my Variant this spring and here it is packed with everything for a 4 day hike in Hornstrandir, Iceland, tent and all. Great design and fits everything nicely (although tightly)! Can't wait to see how it performs this winter!


Can a snowboard be carried with this pack?


Can you fit a bearvault bear can into the variant 52, diameter-wise? Also, it doesn't seem like it has a traditional pole loop - is there a place to attach ski poles? Thanks!


is this the new variant or the same one?

this is the new variant, we are getting the photo changed.


What is the minimum height of this pack? wondering if I could squeeze it into an overhead compartment in an airplane (22 inches)

dimensions are : 29 x 13 x 11 which is 53 linear inches. Most carry on dimensions are 45 linear inches max.


I was pretty set on getting a Deuter 45+,...

I was pretty set on getting a Deuter 45+, but this backpack is now intriguing me. can anyone compare the two? Which cinch down better to make a daypack?

Personaly...I'd go with the Variant. I've had experience with both Osprey and Deuter and so far Osprey has been my go to for packs...period! As far as compressing down to a daypack size, both will probably do about the same. The Varient is a pretty specific type pack though, more of a climbing/alpine pack so keep that in mind.


I'm in love with osprey packs. I use my...

I'm in love with osprey packs. I use my talon 33 for everything, from vacationing, climbing daypack, to a 4 day dacks pack. What it doesn't work well for is lugging hiking&climbing gear, extended vacations, or holding skis. Does anyone have any direct experience using the variant 52 vs the mammut trion guide 45+7? I'm so torn between the two.

I'm in love with mammut packs so I say the the mammut trion guide 45+7 for it have the "Motion Butterfly-back" and it make easy life when you on the move...but the variant 52, is a bit bigger...


The Variant 52 sounds like it's just what...

The Variant 52 sounds like it's just what I'm looking for, but I'm still not so sure about it's overall volume. My older pack was 55 liters, and that pack didn't look like it could handle anything over 5 days, so I'm sure the Variant has the same deal. Does anybody have any tips as to how I could pack this for extended trips (+4 day trips), without stretching the limits of the packs volume?

It's interesting that you say your old pack didn't look like it could handle anything over five days. Did you ever try? I'm no expert, but I can get a week into a 40L pack. There are plenty of people out there who can do it with even less. The best way to go is to set out the gear you think you need for a trip and purchase a pack that fits that gear. If you want to shrink that load, cut back on extras - you don't need two t-shirts or pairs of shorts. You don't need a giant first aid kit. You don't need a 4L pot for a solo trip. (I'm exaggerating, but you get the point.) Once you know what you're going to bring with you, get a pack that fits everything into it.


Looking to buy a new pack but I don't know...

Looking to buy a new pack but I don't know whitch to choose: The Arc'teryx Arrakis 50 or the Osprey Variant 52. I'm planning to break it in on an 8 day long crosscountry skitrip in Norway (sleeping in snowshelters and mooving all my stuff on my back.) Not planning to pack heavy it's definitley this size I'm looking for. Thanks.

This is a quality made pack designed exactly for what you are looking for. I don't think you could go wrong if this pack is your choice.

The Arrakis 50 is a completely waterproof bag, and twice the price of the Variant 52. If the temps will be below freezing the whole time, which I'm guessing they would be in Norway during the winter, so the waterproof aspect would probably be unneeded. The Variant is probably the right choice. Hope this helps.


I am very interested in this pack, but I...

I am very interested in this pack, but I have no idea what size to get. I'm pretty skinny with fairly narrow shoulders, but I'm kind of tall for my overall size (5'8"), and I'm still young, so I've got some room to go. What size should I be looking at? And another question, I'm really into climbing, but still want a pack I can use for regular backpacking and skiing. Would this pack work for that also?

Sizing is generally related to torso length, since the measurements are working to correlate the shoulder straps with the hip belt. If your height is mostly in your upper body, I'd venture you could get away with either a medium adjusted to its upper limits, or work with a large cranked down until you grow into it... presuming you've got another five or six inches of height coming. If not, the medium is probably your best bet. As for the capacity, I find 3000 is a bit on the low side for much more than a weekend backpacking trip, unless you have some very compressible gear, or are rolling ultralight. But with some creative strapping, I think this pack could do all you want it to decently.


I purchased this a while ago and love it....

I purchased this a while ago and love it. However, I can't remember what size I purchased? Is anybody aware of something on the pack that would indicate the size?

If you look at the bottom left side of the back panel, on the seam where the backpanel and the side of the pack are sewn together, there should be a little black tag with a letter on it.


i think this pack will be perfect for a...

i think this pack will be perfect for a bit of everything; weekend backpacking, alpine climbing, ice climbing, rock climbing, ski touring, etc. However, I am also a boarder and if I'm not splitboarding it and am hiking up with a regular snowboard, I need to know I can strap it to the back of this pack, vertically if possible. Anyone know if this thing can carry a board well? I guess when I splitboard and need to break out the crampons and tools I can break it apart and carry them a frame style like regular old skis (if they are narrow enough) but what about a regular board?

hey Billy, this pack does not have specific straps for carrying your board, but it has a ton of lashing points, and you can certainly make it work.

I was able fit 2010 Sir Francis Bacons (142-115-138) through the straps with a little room to spare, so you could probably fit a splitboard that wasn't more than 300mm wide at the tail. I agree that you could lash a board on with some additional straps, since there are so many attachment points.


anybody know if i this pack can carry a...

anybody know if i this pack can carry a snowboard?

you could probably do it. but its meant more for ski carry. check out the osprey kode series.

Hey Zach, not specifically designed for that but you sure can rig it if needed. The Kode / Karve packs are a better option.


Does the Variant have gear loops on the...

Does the Variant have gear loops on the hipbelt (that you could rack some gear on)? It looks like it in the picture, but I don't see anything in the description about them.

It certainly does and you certainly can rack a bit of stuff on them!

In addition to the gear loops on the waist belt I used the ski loops on the side of the pack to rack gear. Easily accessible and out of the way. Works great.


is there any video of it because im really...

is there any video of it because im really interested on it?

Nicolas, I could not find any videos specific to this pack. You can usually find them for about all of the Osprey packs but I could not locate one for the Variant 52.


how well does this thing work with skis?

how well does this thing work with skis?

Phenomonly. The skis will fit on A-fram style better than any other carry method. A shovel fits in the pocket on the outside for easy access as well. Osprey has a great compression system too, allowing it be used well, even if it isn't filled to capacity. If you're looking for more of a day to day pack, you should also check out the Variant 37. A bit smaller and might be more comfortable (just due to the size) for day long touring trips.

Works really well with skis. The loop at the bottom of each side and the fastex buckles at the top make on/off quick and easy.


52 - daypack versatility? I was planning...

52 - daypack versatility? I was planning on getting the 37. Seems ideal for day skiing and climbing. But my folks got me the 52. Torn b/c I would also like to get a pack that could do multiple days / huts. Is the 52 versatile enough to be a day pack? Can it support skis without as much stuff in it? What about the profile for climbing- any changes? It seems to cinch down tight, but would like to know how it does on day trips. I usually carry a 4L first aid kit and often a thermarest for a splint. I'm also a tall guy and rocking a large which I guess is 55L. Thanks for any notes-

Ben, I think it really depends on where you are skiing. The 37 would be great for days - climbing and skiing. At the same time though, you really can't go bigger once you're in the 37. With the 52, you can go smaller and Osprey has done a great job of this. While the compression system is top notch, do keep in mind that it'll feel a little different when nearly empty and hiking with your skis on your back (but avoiding this is a good tactic to enjoying your day too, IMHO). I have the previous version of this pack, the Exposure 55 (or maybe 52), and I've used it for everything from a day of climbing at the local craig, to skiing, to week long backpacking trips (in the summer). Super versatile! All in all, the 37 will feel smaller on your back, but because the pack is designed to be a climbing pack, its still has a narrow profile and tappers as you get closer to the waist belt. Wouldn't hesitate to climb in the bigger one over the 37 - just gotta work on that minimalist approach and keep the compression sacks tight when possible!


Is there a spot for a thermarest on...

Is there a spot for a thermarest on this?

You could slide a thermarest under the side compression straps but there are not sleeping pad straps on the bottom of the pack.

You can take out the framesheet and slide a thermarest zlite in behind the framesheet pocket no problem. What's nice about this is that the framesheet weighs 8.8 oz in size medium so you get to drop that weight since you're going to carry your pad anyway.

I threaded lightweight webbing w/ fastex buckle through the gear loops to carry a tripod and thermarest vertically. Works great.


Does the Variant 52 have enough space to...

Does the Variant 52 have enough space to carry a sleeping bag along with other needed gear? It doesnt say whether or not there is a sleeping bag compartment..I am stuck between the Variant 52 or Osprey's Aether 70. Anyone have any suggestions or input?

Hey Chris, If you're looking to compartmentalize more in terms of your sleeping bag or other gear you'd want to go with the Aether 70. The Variant series doesn't do an individual's pretty much a tube with some great tool attachments on the outside. There are also a few pockets on the outside. Speaking with both and Osprey about the Variant it's meant more for technical type activities instead of backpacking. The Aether is quite a bit bigger which would be nice for a multi-use pack. With that said, I love my Variant! They're incredibly comfortable, move well with you and don't feel bulky at all when they're loaded down and strapped on. Plus they still have the cool whistle on them just in case you run into some Ligers on the trail:) Hope that helps!

I packed my sleeping bag in a Variant 37,if you use a stuff sack for your sleeping bag,it will pack smaller,you should be able to make a sleeping bag fit in the Variant 52....

Yes - you can pack a sleeping bag. I got my -25 F western Mountaineering into it no problem with a full mountaineering load. No space problems at all. This pack is much larger than speced by Osprey.


can this be cinched down small enough for...

can this be cinched down small enough for resort skiing? in other words do you think i could fit on a ski lift with this pack on with only some water, food and extra clothes inside?

You might be able to, but Osprey Packs actually makes a line of backpacks specific for 'snowplay.' I think the Kode 22 or 30 bags would be perfect for what you're looking for. Although does not offer these new packs at this time, you can find them for sale elsewhere online. In the meantime, check out the different models at Osprey's website: Osprey makes great packs and you'll like yours, whatever you decide. Hope this helps!

I use this for everything from one day side-country trips, to multiday winter trips. It is definitely too big to use as a dedicated inbounds or even side country pack. But if you are only going to have one ski pack, this is a good one. Better to size up for long trips, then over stuff a 30L pack. Plus this pack cinches down real well.

I wouldn't recommend the 52 as a daypack - way too big.


is the pack waterresistant or should i get...

is the pack waterresistant or should i get a rain cover with it?

The only thing water resistant is the zippers. I would get a packcover it says they have one you can buy but it doesnt come included with the pack

you need a rain cover or at least a trash bag if you expect sustained rain on the pack. for light drizzle and very brief light showers, you can get away without a cover.

Skip the pack cover that will get ripped or blown off, and try watering proofing your gear inside. Line your sleeping bag compression sack with a trashbag. Same with your clothes bag. Pots, tent, and food don't need to be waterproof. It works. Try safeway brand trash compactor bags. They kept my gear dry mtneering and sea kayaking in patagonia for three months.