The Osprey Aura AG 65 is one of the top multi-day hiking packs on the market. Amy decided to give it a spin in the Blue Mountains and Warrumbungle wilderness to see if it lives up to the hype.
Osprey boast that the Aura AG 65 is ‘the best-fitting, most ventilated and comfortable women’s-specific pack ever made for traditional backpacking trips up to a week or more in duration.’ Wowzas. Try saying that ten times fast.
Does the Aura AG fit the enormous hiking boots they claim to fill? I took the pack on a couple of overnight hikes to see if the shoe fits.
Osprey gives a lifetime guarantee to every one of their packs and although I haven’t had a chance to test it out just yet, from features like the tough, reinforced zippers and incredibly padded shoulder straps, it doesn’t seem like much on the pack is going to come loose or wear out any time soon.
The one exception to this is the base of the pack.
Due to the arching shape of the wire-frame hip belt, the pack doesn’t have a solid and even base to stand on. Even when fully packed, the bag doesn’t stand alone, which means I was constantly leaning it against something or lying it on the ground whenever I wasn’t wearing it.
Whichever way I attempted to lie it down was slightly concerning – lie it on its back and it seems to squash the wire frame of the hip belt. Lie it on its front where the only unsealed, non-waterproof pocket is and it might squash the goodies inside.
Constantly having to prop it up against something also means there’s more chance of wear and tear. The only marks I’ve accrued on my bag so far are from lying it on the ground or resting it up against a tree.
Something to watch out for.
Fit and Comfort
There seems to be an infinite number of ways to adjust this pack, which means it can take a while to figure out the best way to fit it to you. If possible, I highly recommended going in store to get a helping hand and a few hints from a professional. Failing that, there are some pretty detailed instructions online.
The adjustable harness feature is pretty baller. You can literally heighten or lower where the shoulder straps sit on the back of the pack, allowing you to either widen or narrow the space between the shoulder straps and the hip belt to fit the length of your back. Nifty.
I did however have a pretty difficult and slightly painful time attempting to adjust this. The cams are tucked right away behind the anti-gravity mesh and are difficult to get a firm grasp on. But once you’ve got the harness exactly where you want it, there’s not really any need to adjust it again.
The rigid wire-frame hip belt feels like someone’s giving you a warm embrace, all hike long. At first it felt a little too snug, but pretty soon, it felt less like I was wearing the pack and more like it was wearing me. Where does my body end and the pack begin? Who knows? We are now, one.
The only downer comes when you’re hoisting the pack up onto your back. Due to the rigid nature of the hip belt, there’s a 98% chance (v. legit stat, I asked around) that the hip belt will get stuck between you and the pack, causing you to do a little jig as you fumble to fling them out and wrap them around the front of your hips instead.
The suspended anti-gravity mesh back panel is one of the top features of the pack. Osprey claims that it feels like you’re carrying less weight than you are.
I can’t truly attest to this as I haven’t compared the same weight in a different pack. However it certainly felt like the weight of the pack was more evenly distributed between my shoulders, back and hips and that the bag clung to me, rather than weighing me down.
Even if your pack doesn’t feel immediately lighter, the suspended back panel has another superpower. It creates a gap between your back and the bag, allowing for airflow and breathability. The thick, sturdy material of the bag is well distanced from your warming skin, preventing the ever-common back sweat from accumulating. Praise be.
I won’t lie, when I first pulled the Aura AG out of its packaging, I was pretty overwhelmed with the sheer number of straps, pockets and fasteners that seem to cover every inch of this pack.
There are no less than 12 pockets and compartments on this bag, which may seem excessive, but trust me, they come in handy. They’ve been a great way to segment all of my belongings, especially the small stuff, without buying additional packing cubes.
My favourite pockets include;
– The two small zippered pockets on the hip belt, perfect for storing the essential gear you need to access while you’re walking (like a phone, lip balm, maybe a snack).
– The bottom compartment of the pack, which has been specially designed to store a sleeping bag. Squeezing your sleeping bag in here helps give the pack a sturdier and more solid base and helps to stabilise the pack (which is much needed!)
– The two zippered front panel pockets that are much deeper than they appear. I managed to fit all of my toiletries in one side and all my food for an overnight hike in the other. Never lose your toothbrush to the bottom of your pack again.
On top of this (literally heh) there are plenty of fasteners on the outside of the pack for strapping on a sleeping mat, holding hiking poles and even a space for an ice tool. These guys seriously think of everything.
One function I’ve been unable to use however, is a part of the internal hydration reservoir. Although my 3L bladder slides into the dedicated sleeve at the spine of the pack perfectly, the gap through which to thread the tube to the outside of the pack is too small for the nozzle to fit. I’ve resorted to flopping the tube out of the top opening of the pack instead, which still works, but it’s a shame the opening isn’t slightly larger.
It’s in the fine details that Osprey really nails it. There’s an internal compression strap in the main compartment to really fasten down your load, the sternum strap doubles as a safety whistle, plus, they’ve printed the ‘Leave No Trace’ principles in not one, but TWO languages (English and French) on the inside of the pack. Who does that? Osprey, Osprey does that.
The Aura AG 65 will set you back a good $440, which may seem like a big whack of money to drop at one time. It certainly falls towards the more expensive end of hiking packs. However, with Osprey’s All Mighty Guarantee that ensures any damage to your product will be repaired free of charge or replaced if need be, you’re pretty much guaranteed to have this pack for life.
$440 over a lifetime doesn’t seem so bad.
If you’re looking for a pack for any type of overnight hiking, the Aura AG 65 is more than worth the investment. It’s like one of those crazy intricate paintings – the more you look at it, the more you see. I’m still finding funky features on it that I’d never expect, even after two overnight hikes with the pack as my life support. I think we might just be lifelong friends.
Amy was sent the Osprey Aura AG 65 for testing and was allowed to keep it afterwards. She was allowed to say whatever the heck she wanted about it in this review.
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