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This is a review of the Osprey Kestrel 48 vs the Atmos 50. We felt that this review was needed because, on the surface, both seem like very similar overnight backpacks. But they are actually different in many ways. In this review, we assume that you already have a basic understanding of what these two backpacks are about. We will be going over the major differences between the two so that you can make a decision as to which would meet your needs the best.
The Atmos 50 comes in 3 different sizes; small, medium and large. The Kestrel 48 also comes in different sizes but they are lumped into two categories; small/medium and medium/large.
All things being equal, the Atmos 50 is bigger than the Kestrel 48 by about 3 inches in height, and 1 inch in length and width. The Atmos 50 holds 10% more volume than the Kestrel 48.
Is also important to understand that both of these backpacks are made for overnight backpacking, while some other Osprey backpacks are made for several days worth of gear. The Atmos 50 can hold up to 40 pounds of gear, and the Kestrel 48 holds a little bit less.
Both of these backpacks have a top lid with a pocket where you can store gear that you will need to access on a regular basis. However, the Atmos 50’s top lid is removed in order to make it lighter for those days when you want to go at a faster pace. What makes this even better is that the Atmos 50 has a compression sheet that goes over where the top lid normally would be once it is removed. This provides extra compression to the backpack’s contents.
The Kestrel and the Atmos have backpanels that are completely adjustable to your own torso length. Considering that some other Osprey backpacks don’t have this capability, this is a great feature.
One thing that the Atmos 50 does have that the Kestrel 48 does not is a fully adjustable hip belt. You can adjust the length of the hip belt according to your hip size. This makes for a more comfortable fit, and also provides the opportunity for people who are especially thin or on the larger side to have a proper fit.
The Atmos 50 and a Kestrel 48 have a straightjacket compression system to allow you to keep the gear in your backpack stable. This is a common feature in most Osprey backpacks. The compression straps on these backpacks also act as gear carry straps that you can use to hook things onto them such as helmets and poles.
The Atmos 50 has the extra feature of having internal compression straps instead of just external. This further helps to keep the gear stable. In fact, this does make sense as the Atmos 50 can carry more volume than the Kestrel 48.
The Kestrel 48 and the Atmos 50 both have a front pocket, but they are designed differently. With the Atmos 50, you can store away your gear in the front pocket and zipper it up to keep it away from the elements. They have a dual zipper; one on each side of the pocket.
The Kestrel 48 does not have zippers on its front pocket. It is simply a large front stretch mesh pocket that you can use to store frequently accessed items such as blankets and sweaters. There is definitely a benefit to this, as you do not have to open a zipper to reach for this gear.
External attachment points
While both the Kestrel 48 and the Atmos 50 have compression straps that can be used as external gear attachment points, only the Kestrel 48 has a daisy chain. To daisy chain surrounds the front pocket and acts as a chain of loops that provide attachment points for any external gear that you might hang off of the backpack.
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Overall, the Atmos 50 is the more fully featured backpack of the two. It can hold a more gear, but still serves the same purpose as the Kestrel 48.
Both backpacks are perfectly suited for overnight backpacking, but you will need to pay $100 more if you want the Atmos 50. Our vote is for the Kestrel 48 if you don’t need to carry more than 35 pounds of gear.