Osprey's Atmos 65 and Aura 50 Anti Gravity packs for him and her take a revolutionary approach to shouldering loads in the backcountry. Their incredibly comfortable and innovative suspension system will change the way you think of backpacks. It changed our minds and made every day on the trail that much more fun and comfortable. A tip of the hat to Osprey for putting a new spin on packs.
The Backcountry Skiing Canada Team.
As I headed out on a five day ski touring trip this April I was worried about the effect carrying a heavy backpack would have on my back which had been bothering me for a few weeks. Luckily for me, I had chosen to use the Aura 50 AG Women’s specific pack from Osprey (the Osprey Atmos AG Pack is the men’s version and comes in a 50 and 65L version with all the same great features). The Aura is by far the most comfortable and supportive pack I have ever worn. The Anti Gravity™ (AG) suspension system, women’s specific fit and, above all, the incredibly supportive hipbelt work together to create an amazing fit which allowed me to feel supported carrying five days worth of gear and supplies despite my sore back.
The "Anti Gravity" suspension system is a panel of mesh that runs from the top of the backpanel down to the hipbelt. The mesh is continuous across this distance which means there are no seams to create hotspots. Furthermore, since the mesh is suspended it forms to fit the shape of your body which means the pack moves with you and is, as I said above, super comfortable. I did find that getting the pack on when it was fully loaded was tricky as you have to pull each side of the hipbelt out of the way (the continuous mesh panel makes this more difficult than on most packs) as you lift the pack on. For the first few days my ski partners helped me get the pack on, but as the weight decreased and I got more used to the pack I was able to do it by myself. Despite this annoyance for a few days, I still came away from the trip feeling really excited about the amazing support the Aura 50 AG provides and blown away by how comfortable it is.
As you’ll see from the list below, this pack is crammed with features!
- Anti-Gravity™ Suspension, backpanel, shoulder harness and hipbelt
- Women’s specific fit
- Adjustable shoulder harness, sternum strap and hipbelt
- Removable floating top lid
- FlapJacket™ closure
- Internal reservoir sleeve and port
- Sleeping bag compartment
- Stretch mesh front and side pockets
- Hipbelt pockets
- Ice tool attachment
- Stow-on-the-Go™ trekking pole attachment
- Side and top compression/carry straps
- Fabrics: Main 100D x 630D Nylon Dobby, Accent 210D High Tenacity Nylon, Bottom, 420HD Nylon Packcloth
- Shoulder harness: angle changes and varying padding thickness
- Adjustable sternum strap
- Hipbelt: angle changes and varying padding thickness, narrower in height to prevent it from jabbing under the ribs
- Shape: overall the pack is narrower with more depth
Due to the rigid frame in the Aura 50 AG it is really important to get the correct size of pack for your torso. I ended up with a size larger than I needed so the pack feels like it towers over my head even when empty. There are instructions on Osprey’s website to help you get the correct size (it comes in XS, S or M). Whatever size you get, there are several adjustable features on this pack which are great to help customize it to your body.
Shoulder harness: Changing the height of the shoulder harness allows you to adjust the pack to fit your torso length. At first I had a hard time figuring out how to make this adjustment. I was mislead by a zipper inside the pack that accesses the mesh back panel. Luckily after a frustrating session trying to adjust the harness from the backside of the back panel I realized the adjustment is actually super accessible and easy to use and is on the front side of the back panel. Specifically, when you’re looking at the mesh back panel there is a grey band that runs across the back of the pack and is attached to the shoulder harness. Behind this band, on the sides, are quick release tabs that you lift up to allow you to slide the harness up or down. The system is super slick and easy to use.
Hipbelt: The Aura’s hipbelt has what Osprey calls the Fit-on-the-Fly™ system which allows for 5”/15cm of adjustment. I found that the adjustment was in fact easy to make “on the fly” as Osprey claims; simply separate the Velcro and pull or push on the hipbelt to increase or decrease the size. I also liked the subtle markers along the belt to ensure you extend the two sides the same distance.
Sternum strap: The sternum strap is easily adjustable by sliding it up or down along the shoulder straps. This is a feature that I used to take for granted, but since having a pack with a non-adjustable sternum strap that is the wrong height for me, I’ve learned to appreciate having the option of moving the strap up or down.
My favourite feature of the lid is the fact that it has two pockets. I found that having two pockets allowed me to keep things much more organized and accessible than usual.
The lid on the Aura 50 is removable. It does not, unfortunately, convert to a fanny pack. This is a feature that I would like to see added to the pack. On multi day trips in the past I have found a lid that converts into a fanny pack to be useful for side or day trips so I don’t have to use the larger pack. The lid on the Aura 50 is also a bit fiddly to remove and reattach; a problem Osprey could easy fix with some buckles.
The Aura has an interesting feature under the main lid: the FlapJacket™ closure. The FlapJacket™ closure is a flap that covers the top of the backpack to give protection when the main lid has been removed. I think this is a great idea as it allows you to take off the main lid without worrying about loosing the contents of your pack or exposing them to the elements. Having said that, when I was using the lid I found that the FlapJacket™ was in the way and mildly annoying. Again, this could easily be fixed by a slight design change which would allow the flap to be rolled up and secured in place out of the way.
The Aura 50 AG has 5 external pockets: two hipbelt pockets, two side pockets and one front pocket. The hipbelt pockets extend the length and width of the hipbelt which, in theory, makes them a great size. They are, however, quite shallow so I could not make full use of the length as I simply could not get bigger items (ie. my camera) into them. These pockets are zipper access and the zippers, like those on the lid, are easy to use with gloves on.
The remaining three pockets are made of stretchy mesh and, as such, grow to fit your items. I often find the challenge with side pockets is actually getting things out of them while I’m wearing the backpack. Osprey has taken care of this problem by having two entrances to the pockets: one on the side (by your hip) and one on top. The side pocket allowed me to access items stowed in the side pocket as I was moving along the trail. The disadvantage of these pockets is that smaller items may fall out so the pockets are better used with mid sized items, such as water bottles or bear spray. The front mesh pocket on the Aura 50 is another of my favourite features of this pack. I love having a stretchy outside pocket to help keep things organized and keep items, such as toque, gloves, or skins, out of the way and secure but easily accessible without digging in my pack. For added security, the front pocket buckles at the top to prevent items from falling out.
Overall, I really love this pack. Undoubtedly its best feature its how incredibly comfortable it is! As I said above, there are several features that work together to create this comfort: the AG™ suspension system, all the possible adjustments, the women’s specific fit and the incredibly supportive hipbelt.
Being able to adjust the height of the shoulder harness was super helpful in making the Aura 50 fit well and to make sure the weight was not all sitting on my shoulders. Making this adjustment is super easy so if you’re struggling with it make sure to check out Osprey’s website for a quick video demonstration.
Although the hipbelt on the Aura 50 can be difficult to get on when the pack is heavy, the fact that it didn’t poke me under my ribs, it has lots of rooms for adjustments, it sat squarely on my hips and it took most of the load’s weight and it was really comfortable outweighed any possible disadvantages by far.
In terms of keeping items organized, the Aura has several useful features. One of the features I haven’t mentioned yet is the lower, zippered sleeping back compartment. This compartment offers easy access to items in the bottom half of the pack and the drop down divider helps keep the items separate. In terms of pockets, the three mesh stretch pockets are well located and easy to use. Also the two good sized pockets on the lid meant that I was able to separate items like snacks, sunscreen and chapstick from my map and compass.
Another feature that I didn’t discussed is the trekking pole attachment. Although I didn’t use it, I could see how the pole attachment would be useful to keep your poles together and out of the way when you need to have your hands free.
As I stated above I love the pockets on the lid, but I would prefer if the lid was easier to remove from the pack and if it could be converted into a fanny pack. The FlapJacket™ is an interesting feature, but I think it would be better if it rolled out of the way more naturally.
Despite years of admiring people’s Osprey packs on the trail, this was my first Osprey experience. As with any piece of gear there are a few small possible improvements that could be made to the Aura 50 AG, but overall this is an amazing pack with unrivalled comfort!
Osprey Women’s Aura 50 AG Pack
Weight: 1.73kg / 3lbs 13oz (Medium)
Sizes: XS, S, M
Colours: Silver Streak, Rainforest Green
Load Range: 25-40lbs
Liters: XS-45L, S-47L, M-50L
Osprey Men’s Atmos 65 AG Pack
Weight: 1.92kg / 4lbs 13oz (Medium)
Sizes: S, M, L
Colours: Absinthe Green, Graphite Grey, Cinnabar Red
Load Range: 30-50lbs
Liters: S-62L, M-65L, M-68L
-Many options for adjustments-harness, hipbelt, sterum strap
-Very supportive and comfortable
-Mesh front pocket to get at items quickly
-Good sized, mesh side pockets with two entrances
-Two pockets in lid helps with organization
-Glove friendly zipper pulls
-Lid could be easier to remove/reattach
-Lid can not be used as a fanny pack (I know its geeky but its so useful)
-FlapJacket™ closure is in the way when not in use
-Hipbelt pockets are too shallow
-Neutral hipbelt position can make a heavy pack difficult to get on (but its worth it once its on)
Quality / Price 2/2
This is only our opinion. Do you disagree? Did we miss something? Are we totally out to lunch? Join the discussion in the forums here, and let us know what you think. People like/dislike gear for different reasons so chime in and we'll get a well-rounded evaluation.