Our mate Explorer Kate has been giving the Osprey Renn 50L backpack a run for its money through the snow and mountain tops of Kosciusko National Park this winter. And it’s ticking a lot of hypothetical boxes.
When starting out hiking, it can be hard to find the right backpack. Unsure of the hiker you are – day, overnight or a committed-week-in-the-bush type – spending big on a backpack can seem a little daunting. The Osprey Renn 50L is the master of diversity. She’ll be the pack you’ll want to grab for any hiking activity; from sunrise snowshoes, splitboarding out in the backcountry or overnight snow camping, this backpack has been ready for any winter activity in Kosciuszko National Park.
Sunrise Snowshoe – Porcupine Rocks
There’s no better motivator than new hiking gear. The moment that Osprey box was at my door, plans were already set in motion for our first sunrise hike of the winter season. Finding a home for everything in the pack was next; with a few simple tricks, the Renn 50L easily adapted to a day pack.
Putting my first-aid kit in the lower sleeping bag compartment meant easy access in the case of an emergency. Stoves (for morning coffee, of course), and extra layers live in the top-loaded main compartment, whilst frequently used objects went in the zippered lid – including GPS, head torch, map and compass. The pack was ready to go, now all we had to do was make sure we woke to our early morning alarm clock.
Starting in the dark from Perisher Village, the hard-packed snow sparkled in the moonlight’s reflection as we followed the wooden pole line marking the snow-covered path. Not using snowshoes, or even our head-torches, it felt like we may have overpacked for the hike, but the Renn was barely noticeable on my back and sat snuggly around my hips.
Climbing higher up the valley, the mountains of the Main Range over to the west changed from white to pink. The rush to see the sunrise ceased, as we slowed our pace to take in the surrounding views. Wandering up to the lookout, I could see the light just hitting the trees, and scurried up the rocks to bask in the warmth of the rising sun. Setting up a little picnic, it wasn’t long till the smell of freshly brewed coffee filled our noses; breakfast with a view.
Backcountry Splitboard – Mount Kosciuszko Via Cootapatamba Hut
Our eagerness to explore the backcountry grew as the weekend approached. Throwing the splitboard and Renn (still packed from the last hike) into the car, we were off on our next winter adventure. We caught the chairlift at Thredbo Ski Resort to the trailhead of the Kosciuszko summit walk as the sun was just starting to soften the frozen snow. Strapping the splitboard long-ways, using the pack’s sleeping mat straps, we hiked the metal boardwalk in our snowboard boots until the visible track disappeared beneath the snow. We transitioned into touring mode and headed up the nearby ridge, leaving the path behind.
With not a breath of wind, and the sun warming up, we quickly began to build up a sweat, but my back remained cool and dry. The air-suspension design of the Renn not only allowed for airflow, but also meant pointy objects inside the bag stayed off my back. Reaching the top of the ascent, we were treated with uninterrupted views into Victoria, with the snow-covered Mount Bogong visible in the distance. Our destination was tucked away in the valley below, a little red hut.
We narrowly missed rocks as we snowboarded over patches of alpine grass and newly formed snow bridges. Risky, but that’s half the fun! We made it to Cootampatamba Hut with Mount Kosciuszko towering above, it was hard to believe just how close we were to the ski resort in this haven. As we ate our morning tea at the hut, we drank in the feeling of pure serenity that can’t be ignored in the backcountry.
One thing I would have loved for this backpack, a feature that I’ve used on my Ariel Pro 65L from Osprey, is an adjustable/detachable lid. This feature would have been handy to further decrease the size of the pack for day trips, but also help to increase the pack’s size on multi-days by expanding the top-loaded space. Assuming this was a design feature left out to keep the pack weight down, it would have completed this pack off as the perfect day to overnight to multiday pack.
Overnight Snow Camping – Whites River Hut
I predominately used the pack on day trips over the last couple of weeks, so it was time to take the Renn on an overnight adventure. The 50L size allows for enough space to pack the essentials, whilst avoiding the temptation of overpacking. My sleeping gear fit perfectly, including a winter sleeping bag, inflatable mat and silk liner in the zippered base compartment.
The important items could fit snuggly into the hip pockets; one took my PLB for fast access in emergencies and the other stashed lip balm, sunscreen and the ever-important snack supply. This was my first ever solo overnight splitboard, so I wanted to feel prepared for whatever challenge the trail may entail.
Surprised by the amount of snow, and the relief of not having to hike on a dirt road in snowboard boots, I transitioned to touring mode immediately on my splitboard and began the steep switchbacks up the Schlink road. The easy to follow path allowed me to set my stride and take in the surrounding mountains as I wound my way through the valley.
Deep in thought, I was startled at the sudden sight of Whites River Hut. Smoke was already coming from the chimney, a sure sign of others already inside, and I quickly set up my tent in hope of sneaking in a few fresh turns before the cloud came in.
Had I owned an Osprey Daylite, I would have been able to attach it to the points on the front of the Renn 50L. This would’ve created an extra front pocket for the Renn and meant that the bigger pack could stay at base camp, whilst the Daylite could be removed and used as a smaller pack on side-trips.
Instead, I unpacked the overnight gear and carried just the essentials in the Renn for this little hike to the ridge. Picking a clear route up through the trees, it was a quick ascent with maximum reward. Perfectly untouched powder lines through the trees, with nothing but the sound of moving snow beneath my snowboard.
I’m left thinking about one word when I describe this pack, adaptable. It’s one for the hikers; first-timer, amateur to a growing enthusiast. A new pack, to a beginner hiker is a commitment, one that immediately needs to feel right. This master of diversity shapes around you, moulding slowly until you have memorised each unique space to hold exactly what you need with absolute intention.
Pack a punch