The Osprey Manta AG 28 (AG stands for 'anti gravity') has been one of the staple rucksacks of my hikes for the last three years. Originally bought for a National 3 Peaks Challenge, the Manta has held up to a fairly consistent level of physical abuse and bad weather ever since.
This pack has always very much aimed at the 'day hiker' - as in, not carrying a tent, expecting to go up and down somewhere within mostly daylight hours. So if that sounds like you, read on.
Osprey appear to have recently re-released this pack with a 24 and 34 version, but the main principles appear the same (there is also the Mira version for women, with the same features). These are both designed to be a premier day pack, incorporating a hydration reservoir, rain cover, 'stow on the go' pole attachment system (which is genuinely very handy) and pockets everywhere you would want them. The Manta also comes with a lifetime guarantee, which is nice.
However even reviewing my older version, there's still plenty to love.
Let's not mess around. The Manta is quite easily the most comfortable, well balanced pack I've ever worn - mainly down to the AG system.
I suffered from chronic back pain due to an old injury when I looked to take the challenge on and so was looking for something that would support and protect my spine and pelvis.
Given my pack could often be packed with 2.5 litres of water, food, waterproof, extra layer, waterproof trousers, medic bag, camera and accessories, being able to carry a lot of weight is pretty essential. The AG system did not disappoint.
Designed to properly spread weight down onto your hips (the most stable and load-bearing part of the body) this draws the weight away from your shoulders, reducing aches and most importantly protecting your back.
What it means in reality is that you can't really feel the pack is there. Walking over level or even some major inclines, the weight is spread so well away from your body it can sometimes feel like you aren't wearing the pack at all.
And, because of the suspension system curving the pack away from your body, there is plenty of ventilation on your back, making it perfect for hiking in hot weather.
2) Extreme weather proof
As cameras aren't known for their ability to weather a storm, having a bag that could keep dry things dry was pretty important. The Manta AG comes equipped with a raincover hidden in the base of the pack which folds out easily to cover the entire bag. I can confirm, it has passed the Lake District 'sideways rain' test with ease, as well as being rolled around in the snow.
The Manta AG 28 has eight pockets and can take over 30lbs of gear (which is insane for a daypack) all without feeling like it is really there at all.
With two pockets in the hip belt, one hydration sleeve pocket, one main compartment with internal mesh storage, a smaller front pocket with multiple mesh pouches, two expanding drinks/tripod holders on the sides of the bag, one smaller top pocket for delicate items such as sunglasses, and a mesh front area for wet gear or items you really need to hand quickly (I use mine for a hat and gloves normally) you've plenty of ways to over-pack...
There's also a helmet clip on the back, but I've never used that.
Is it worth it now?
Even with 4 litres missing since 2016, the Manta (or Mira) is well worth your time and money, especially for the Osprey AG system and maximum hiking utility. The is the most forgiving, comfortable pack you could buy in my opinion. And I'm not paid to say this (I wish) - it is just that good.