Earlier this morning, March 03, 2018, our good friends over at Vargo Outdoors released their second generation ‘ExoTi’ backpack, called the “ExoTi AR2“!
In almost every way the ExoTi AR2 is the backpack that many of us Vargo backpack fans have been waiting for!
The first generation of their “ExoTi” lineup, the ‘ExoTi 50‘, has been a backpack that has gone with me on numerous trips when I was in need of a larger volume backpack.
Of course, before the ExoTi 50 was the ‘Ti-Arc‘, a backpack that was loved by some and questioned by most others. None the less the ‘Ti-Arc’ set the groundwork for a new generation, a new evolution, of the modern day lightweight external frame backpack.
The Ti-Arc had a few initial things that needed to be changed, which Vargo addressed with the ExoTi 50. Now, with a second generation of the ‘ExoTi’, they have once again listened to their customers and made some changes.
The AR2 Features:
The most obvious change, feature, and the one that makes me go “weehoo!” the most, is the return to a 3/4 length bag. It was one of the things that I truly loved about the Ti-Arc. The ability to strap something to the frame, underneath the bag. Unlike most backpacks that have straps on the bottom of the bag to attach something to, that design causes the weight of whatever you attach to pull the pack even further downwards, instead of resting against your back. By having the ability to attach something directly to the frame, that load is not pulling you downwards, backward. It is load weight distribution directly on the frame. Backpack designers understood this decades ago. For me, it is where my tent is going to be attached. One could also attach trekking poles/staffs, a dry bag with your quilt/sleeping bag, or maybe even a bear canister, such as this couple did with their Ti-Arc while thru-hiking the PCT.
Another change between the AR2 and the ExoTi 50 is the AR2 now has a pocket on the back. It is actually a double pocket. The side pockets of the AR2 are now a combination of solid and mesh fabric.
There has also been a slight change to the design of the lid/brain, which I really doubt anybody would notice, just cosmetic changes it seems. The pack has the same closure system as the ExoTi 50.
As for the frame, well it is the same on the AR2 as it is on the ExoTi 50. In fact, I just took off the ExoTi 50 bag from the frame, and in about 5 minutes I had the AR2 bag completely attached to the frame. Super easy. Going to make for a very versatile backpack setup, over the course of the year, being able to just swap the bags on and off for different trip needs.
Because the harness system is integrated into the frame, it too has not changed.
AR2 Pack Volume:
The total pack volume is 46 liters. Yeah, not much different from the ExoTi 50, huh, but that is ok because it is all about the 3/4 length design if that is your thing.
I have been told the volume of just the bag (internal volume) is 40 – 42 liters.
That means the lid/brain, the side pockets (top and bottom, on each side) and the new back pocket, are accounting for an additional 4-6 liters of pack volume.
The width of the pack is 13 inches (35 cm) with a height of 24 inches (61 cm), and an adjustable torso length from 16 to 22 inches (40-55 cm). The weight of the pack (frame+suspension+bag) is 2 lbs. 12 oz (1247 grams).
Price / Availability:
The ExoTi AR2 backpack is priced at $299.95 and is available directly from the Vargo Outdoors website and ships within 24 hours!
Here are some pictures of the AR2 backpack.
Here are some photos of the product card:
Here is a picture of the ‘ExoTi 50‘ and the ‘Ti-Arc‘ side by side:
ps: as for the name, I am told it is a wordplay from ‘Ti-Arc’, but, I not exactly sure how “AR2” came from “Ti-Arc”.
I am not a sponsored hiker of Vargo, as they do not sponsor hikers. I am not an ambassador of Vargo, as they do not have an ambassador program. But I am a huge fan of Vargo Outdoors and have owned all of their previous backpacks. Vargo Outdoors sent me the AR2 bag about a week before launch so that I could get some pictures taken of it, for launch day, for all of you, so huge thanks to them for that.