Gear Review: Osprey Aura AG 65

One of the “Big 3”, choosing a backpack can be very time consuming and vital to your gear list. If the Aura 65 is in your top 5 choices, read to see about my experiences with it.

Hello, folks! Here’s my first post-AT hike gear review, and I’m starting it off with my Osprey Aura 65L AG backpack that I used on my journey north on the Appalachian Trail. I’m going to try to make all my reviews simple and organised for anyone who reads it; especially if you’re a future (thru)hiker looking at all those gear reviews before buying anything! Onto the review!


Specs:

  • Brand: Osprey (Europe)
  • Model: Aura AG 65 (Female)
  • Litre Capacity: 62 (Size Small)
  • Colour: Silver Streak
  • Weight: 4 lbs. 2 oz. (Size Small)
  • Retail: $260 (before tax/shipping)
  • Paid: $147.03 ($133.21 [+$13.82 shipping])
  • Purchased: New
  • Full specs from Osprey’s website

I tried on packs for months before settling on the Aura; this is not a purchase you should be spontaneous about. I kept coming back to the same pack due to the ergonomics of the design and just how comfortable this felt on my body with easily 30 lbs. loaded in the back. The folks at REI got to know me so well whenever I’d stay in the bag section for hours at a time, loading up various brands and models so I could walk around the store for 30 minutes before switching them out.

In the end, the Aura won me over. I decided to go with the 65L because I found it so cheap on a British website called Webtogs UK. The 50L model was more expensive compared to the 65L during the time I was shopping. I’m not sure how they price their products, but I went for the cheapest version – which happened to be in the Silver Streak colour style I wanted.

* * * Reminder * * *

Always remember, everyone is different. We all have unique body shapes, lengths, and comfortability needs. The Aura might fit on me best, but another person might hate it. Always take this into account when you read reviews on things like backpacks and footwear. You have to find what fits YOU best. The way this pack fits on my body shape,  as well as the way I can distribute the suspension load, makes it worth the pack’s weight.

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Pros:

  • Comfortable
  • Durable
  • Waist belt pockets can store an iPhone 7+
  • Separate sleeping bag compartment for easy access
  • Amazing and customisable suspension
  • Big mesh front pocket
  • European version comes with rain cover!!!
  • Lifetime warranty

Cons:

  • Heavy
  • Squeaky (Probably just mine)
  • Too big for a thruhike (now that I’m experienced)
  • Bladder pouch in main compartment of pack is hard to use when pack’s full

First Thoughts

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Okay, so this pack is a true gem for any backpacker. If we take away the fact my pack alone weighs 4.2 lbs., I honestly don’t have many negative thoughts towards it!

I mean, at times it does squeak as I hike BUT that might just be from the constant battering it takes everyday, thus it’s got some dirt stuck in places I haven’t cleaned.

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The durability of this pack seems to be great. I only have a tiny worn area at the bottom where the frame is for the pack to rest on rocks and shelters.

Luckily with Osprey’s lifetime warranty, I can get my pack fixed or even replaced by Osprey with no hassle! I’ve dealt with Osprey’s customer service before, and they are amazing. Once this Aura bites the dust, I can get a replacement for little-to-no cost. You can’t beat that kind of deal!

I own 5 packs from this company, and they’ve definitely won me over with their pricing, durability, and service.

Since my pack is from the European branch, I got a special surprise when I opened my package… it comes with a rain cover! The US versions do not, and I have no idea why.

Mine is a bright neon green one which makes it easy to spot in the forest, whereas all the ones I’ve seen for sale in REI are dark forest green versions. That alone saved me some money, so there’s a tip for anyone looking to get a rain cover included in their pack!


Performance On The Appalachian Trail

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The performance of the Osprey Aura out on the trail was wonderful. There’s so many various elements to adjust when it comes to the suspension of this pack, which is part of the reason it’s so heavy. That’s a sacrifice I do not regret making. I’d rather hike with a heavier pack and be comfortable than go UL with a pack that doesn’t give me the support I need or creates hot spots.

Processed with VSCO with f1 presetWithin the first few days, I sent home the removable top lid and just used the flapjack instead, so that cut a few ounces off my load. I love that Osprey has the option for removing the lid and having the flapjack to still cover your gear. Way to go for making cool stuff, guys!

The pack also has two front zippered compartments: one keeps my toiletry supplies (wipes, TP, hand sanitiser, etc), and the other usually houses my AWOL AT guide and some other small items that can lay flat. When the pack is stuffed, those front pockets are a little harder to use, I must admit. Another thing I found hard to use while hiking was the bladder sleeve that rests against the frame in the pack. If your bag is loaded with gear, it’s pretty hard to get the bladder in and out.

I ended up having to take everything out just to put the bladder in. I did get better at pulling it out once the bladder was empty, but if it’s still halfway full it would get stuck sometimes. I ended up to the point of saying “screw it” and put the bladder in the outside mesh pocket… which you shouldn’t do because you now have a huge bladder hanging the farthest distance away from your back and causing everything to be unbalanced. That’s how annoyed I got; I didn’t even care. Don’t do that, guys…


Final Thoughts

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When it comes to thru-hiking, this pack is now too big for me to use. When I first started the trail, it was stuffed to the brim because I had room to put things in. The bigger the pack, the better chance you’re gonna fill it with crap you don’t need. Sounds like something Tyler Durden would say, doesn’t it?

Don’t be afraid to go smaller, folks. By the 1/3rd mark (731 miles), I had easily 20 litres of free space because I learned how to maximise my space, and I got rid of a lot I didn’t need.

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For general backpacking and non-thruhiking trips, this is my go-to pack. I’m in love with its features, comfort, and suspension. Now that I’m a bit more experienced on thru-hiking, I’m planning to get Osprey’s new Lumina 45L when it comes out in early 2018. It’s their version of a UL (female) pack that will only weigh 1.6 lbs., but has the Airspeed suspension that I love on my Mira 26L pack.

Uhm, hellllll yes to that weight drop! I won’t be carrying nearly as much as I did when I first hit the summit of Springer, thus I won’t need to have that kind of room anymore. It’ll push me to only carry essentials, and further learn the world of Backpack Tetris.

If you have any questions about my experience with this pack, feel free to leave them down in the comments! Hope you enjoyed my review, and also leave tips for me regarding how I can make these gear reviews better!

I will leave you all with some photos of my pack and I on our hike this season. Oh yeah, my pack’s name is Amethyst, and we have plenty more exciting adventures to go on!

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This review is not paid for – nor am I sponsored – by Osprey.

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