Osprey Aura 50L Backpack Review
April 14, 2015 Gear Reviews
If you’re in need of a new overnight pack, check out the Aura by Osprey. This is a women’s pack, but Osprey makes a similar pack for men called the Atmos. The difference is the fit: the Aura is tailored for women and the Atmos for men, otherwise, the packs are identical.
The packs are now made in the Aura AG and Atmos AG versions, which are even more lightweight than these models.
The pack is very lightweight and durable. The best features of this pack are it’s light weight and excellent ventilation. This pack is ergonomic and has a great fit with loads of little great design features which make packing for your backpacking trip a breeze.
Let’s start by going through the features one by one.
Airspeed Suspension System
The main benefits of this system are the supreme adjustability of the pack, allowing you to customize your fit even while on the go. On the shoulder strap, there are 3 inches (7.5 cm) of adjustability, you can pull out the shoulder straps by dislodging the secure velcro and sliding it to where you need. The velcro is very strong and stays securely in place.
Women’s Specific Sizing and Fit
As we mentioned above, the pack is made for a women’s specific fit. The Aura features a bio-stretch women’s harness (the shoulder straps and hip belt area), with mesh covered, cool-perforated waffle foam. This waffle foam is very breathable and does not get soaked when you’re sweating. It is perfect for summer hiking. Of course, this also means that it will dry fast in case it gets wet. Though we do recommend you purchase a rain cover regardless – it’s an excellent thing to have!
The shoulder straps are contoured to fit comfortably on a women’s torso and are also created with women’s specific sizing in mind. The sewn-in harness is wider in the collar bone area, and tapered around the chest area. There is also bio-stretch in the sewn-in hip belt, with women’s specific cut, also made with the mesh covered cool-perforated waffle foam. It has an ergonomic pull closure. The hip belt is canted to ride specifically on a women’s hips, with a narrower cut, allowing for shorter hip to rib distance, and has specific sizes tailored for women.
The hip belt features two pockets which are perfect for storing things such as sunscreen lip balm, small snacks, and tissues.
The curved back creates great airflow and comfortable suspension. The back length can be adjusted depending on the length of your torso very strong velcro, by puling out the shoulder straps, as described above.
Because of it’s heavily arched back, it may be more difficult to pack than a similar sized pack of a different brand. This is the one downside of the ventilated back.
Floating Top Pocket
The floating top pocket is really convenient and allows you to stow a considerable amount of gear. On the outside of the top pocket I’m able to store: a light wind jacket, gloves, hat, sunscreen, my headlamp, personal toiletries (toothbrush, toothpaste, soap and face cream) plus my small first aid kit. There is also an inside mesh map pocket in the inside. It fits flatter, non-bulky items such as maps with ease.
Cool Foam Construction
The shoulder straps are made with mesh covered, cool perforated waffle foam, which allows this pack to offer great ventilation and is perfect for summer, and hot hiking days.
The foam is also light and comfortable, and quick drying.
Fit on the Fly System
The “Fit on the Fly” adjustable hip belt system allows you to micro-adjust your pack easily while wearing it. This includes dual density foam for improved support, with spacer mesh for enhanced breathability. Built in hip belt pockets, adjustable hip belt which can extend up to 6 inches (15 cm).
The adjustable hip belt is a great feature of the pack. It can be adjusted quickly, even on the go, and has very strong velcro to lock it in place effortlessly. You can tailor your fit on the trail.
There is also a sliding adjustable sternum strap, which has a safety whistle on it.
Storage, Storage, Storage
The Aura features plenty of extra storage so you can access your gear while on the trail and maximize the carrying capacity of your backpack.
The floating top pocket is secured with clasps on both sides. Underneath there is a mesh map pocket that is easy to get to. The front stretch woven pocket allow quick access to your gear, this is great for storing things such as water bottles, jackets you want to have handy, and snacks. I like to stuff my Nalgene bottles in there and an extra pair of shoes to wear around camp.
There are also two zippered pockets on either side of the front stretch pocket, stretch pockets on the side that fit your 1 L water bottles, plus straps on the side you can attach additional items you don’t mind having on the outside of your bag.
Removable sleeping pad straps on the bottom of the pack help you strap on additional items, such as a sleeping pad, to the bottom of your pack for extra storage. These straps can easily be removed from the pack if you don’t want to carry them around.
Inside the main interior you’ll find drawstring closure, and a inner pocket which is created to store your hydration device. There is a hole on the side of the pack to route the mouth piece of the bladder so you can drink on the go.
The pack also features the “stow on the go” trekking pole storing system, makes it easy to stow your hiking pole in case you need to on the trail, for example if you’re going over some technical terrain.
How to Choose a Size
The packs come in two different volume sizes for backpacking – the 50L and 65L. This is for both the Atmos and Aura packs, which are essentially the same except the Atmos is for men, and Aura for women. Should you get the 50L or 65L? It depends how long most of your backpacking trips are. The 50L can be a tight squeeze in some situations if you are packing larger items.
The 50L is the perfect size for a super lightweight backpacking trip. Ideally suited to backpacking trips up to 4-5 days. I’ve used it on the Skyline Trail in Jasper and in Little Yoho valley.
The back of the pack is quite curved, which is great for breathability, but can make packing it a challenge. This is not so much of an issue in the summer, but in the winter, when you’re really trying to jam the pack full with larger items, it can be a problem.
I’ve tried using this backpack as an overnight pack in winter, for backcountry ski trips. The aggressively curved shape of the pack gives it optimum comfort and excellent breathability, but there is a drawback to this. The curved shape creates a constriction on the back on the inside of the pack which makes packing problematic. I had a difficult time fitting in all my gear for a 3 night traverse to mountain huts. To be fair, the pack is not intended to be a winter pack and I recommend it for hiking and backpacking only.
The Bottom Line
This pack is a great, lightweight pack and the 50L is a perfect size for most multi day backpacking trips. Unless the trip is in excess of 4 overnights, you can make do with the smaller and lighter 50L Aura. If your trip is more than that, consider the 65L version of the same backpack.
Overall, the pack is great: it’s lightweight, and the supreme adjustability and customization make it super comfortable to wear. The pack also has the best ventilation of any pack in it’s class. The curved back is the only thing that is an issue for me, though it has a trade off. The curve of the back makes it harder to back the backpack but gives excellent comfort and breathability that is hard to beat.
Sizing + Specifics
The bag comes in three sizes. I own the S, which fits me great. My height is 5 feet 6 inches. Here are some pack specifications. (Table courtesy of REI.)
|Gear capacity (L)||47 liter||50 liter||53 liter|
|Gear capacity (cu. in.)||2,868 cubic inches||3,051 cubic inches||3,234 cubic inches|
|Weight||3 lbs. 1 oz.||3 lbs. 2 oz.||3 lbs. 4 oz.|
|Fits torso||16 – 19 inches||18 – 21 inches||20 – 23 inches|
|Fits waist/hips||25 – 35 inches||28 – 38 inches||33+ inches|
|Material(s)||High-tenacity nylon/mini-ripstop nylon||High-tenacity nylon/mini-ripstop nylon||High-tenacity nylon/mini-ripstop nylon|
|Frame material||Metal alloy||Metal alloy||Metal alloy|
|Number of stays||1 peripheral hoop||1 peripheral hoop||1 peripheral hoop|
|Suspended mesh back panel||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Number of exterior pockets||8 + main compartment||8 + main compartment||8 + main compartment|
|Sleeping bag compartment||No||No||No|
The pack is made from strong 210 Cordura.
Where to Buy
The Aura and Atmos packs are also available in the AG series, which stands for Anti-Gravity. This new system is even lighter and contours your body allowing for even greater mobility.
The series features a continuous panel of lightweight mesh extending from the top of the back panel to the hip belt. It’s a seamless structure that contours automatically to the body, giving excellent comfort, outstanding fit and breathability. Otherwise, the main features of the Aura pack apply to the Aura AG, so this review will give you a good idea of what to expect.
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