Backpacks

Women’s Backpack Reviews 

Osprey Aura AG™ EX 65

 

Frame type Internal
Gear capacity (L) 60 / 62 / 65
Gear capacity (cu. in.) 3,661 / 3,783 / 3,967
Weight 4 lbs. 4 oz. / 4 lbs. 6 oz. / 4 lbs. 7 oz.
Adjustable torso Yes
Fits torso 14 – 17 / 16 – 19 / 18 – 21
Fits waist/hips 24 – 45 / 24 – 45 / 27 – 48
Material(s) Nylon
Frame material Aluminum
Number of stays 1 peripheral hoop
Suspended mesh back panel Yes
Pack loading Top
Pack access Top/bottom
Number of exterior pockets 10 + main compartment
Sleeping bag compartment Yes
Raincover included Yes
Gender Women’s

Overview: I first heard about the Osprey AG technology late 2013 when I called the company to see if they might be able to track down a left over 2nd gen Aura. And when the pack debuted in 2014 with its new technology, that was supposed to radically reinvent the backpacking experience, it met and exceeded expectations. Winning the OutDoor Gold Industry Award in Germany, one of the most prestigious awards in the industry.

This became a topic of discussion as Matthew was looking to retire his well worn 2nd generation Atmos but felt like the 3rd generation was a down grade. Due to massive harness size, color scheme, and more importantly the fact that the 3rd generation packs mouths do not expand enough to hold a bear canister. We agreed to investigate once they were released for public consumption early 2015. Matthew, however, caved and pre-ordered the bags, surprising me for Valentine’s day.

The bag is a dream. While to be honest there are still features I prefer on the 2nd generation Aura, the AG technology undeniably surpasses previous year. The full-contact ventilated 3D suspension system contours to your body, making a 30+lb pack feel light. They took into consideration the negative feedback surrounding the 1) harness size, offering women a XS option 2) color scheme/fabric used 3) and most importantly the fact that the 3rd generation Atmos and Aura cannot accommodate a bear canister.

The 3D suspension contouring feature allows for unrestricted mobility, while stabilizing loads for optimal comfort and weight distribution. While the LightWire™ peripheral frame, structural load lifter bars and suspended mesh wrap hipbelt, literality make a fully loaded multi-day pack feel like your typical daypack. The integrated FlapJacket™ offers additional protection for when bad weather hits, even when using without lid compartment. The zippered hipbelt pockets, two stretch-mesh side pockets, and front stash pocket provide both storage and organization. As with previous generations this pack features a zippered sleeping bag compartment, removable sleeping pad straps, trekking pole attachments, and ice tool loops with bungee tie-offs. Removable floating lid contains 2 zippered pockets for quick-access essentials.

Half Empty:

Half Full:

Osprey Aura 65

Frame type Internal
Gear capacity (L) 62 / 65 / 68 liter
Gear capacity (cu. in.) 3,800 / 4,000 / 4,200 cubic inches
Weight 3 lbs. 6 oz. / 3 lbs. 9 oz. / 3 lbs. 13 oz.
Weight – metric 1.53 / 1.63 / 1.73 kilograms
Fits torso <18.5 / 18 – 20.5 / 20+ inches
Fits waist/hips <31 / 30 – 34 / 33+ inches
Material(s) Nylon
Frame material Metal alloy
Number of stays 1 peripheral hoop
Suspended mesh back panel Yes
Pack loading Top
Pack access Top
Number of exterior pockets 7 + main compartment
Sleeping bag compartment Yes
Gender Women’s
Backpack style Lightweight backpack

Overview: By 2014 I had pretty much given up on finding a 2nd generation Aura 65, particularly the Baja Blue. I had spent a decent amount of time researching alternative models, in addition to the specs on the New AG coming from Europe. Luckily for me Matthew never gave up and surprised me with a brand new Osprey Aura 65 2nd generation Baja Blue pack he found floating around on eBay.

This gender-specific pack has the exact same features specified in the gear review below with the addition of a bottom entry sleeping bag compartment. (See Osprey Aura 50 Review)

I was fortunate enough to get this pack in time to test out my EMS Mountain Light -20 Degree sleeping bag on a winter hut stay in the White Mountains. I was not disappointed. It had all of the features I loved about the 50 with the addition of the bottom entry sleeping bag compartment. The more slender and contoured shoulder straps allowed me to carry 30+ lbs over the course of several days without any bruising. The traditional harness size offered greater adjustability, preventing the bottom of the frame from resting on my backside.

I use this pack for extended trips and when I am carrying weight. For example, a negative degree bag or large cookset for a family style campout.

Half Empty:t.

Half Full:t.

Osprey Sirrus 36

 

Best use Hiking
Frame type Internal
Gear capacity (L) 34 / 38 liters
Gear capacity (cu. in.) 2,075 / 2,319 cubic inches
Weight 2 lbs. 14 oz. / 3 lbs. 2 oz.
Weight – metric 1.31 / 1.42 kilograms
Fits torso <18.5 / 20+ inches
Fits waist/hips <31 / 33+ inches
Material(s) Ripstop nylon
Frame material Aluminum
Number of stays 1 peripheral hoop
Suspended mesh back panel Yes
Pack loading Top / Panel
Pack access Top/front
Number of exterior pockets 7 + main compartment
Raincover included Yes
Dimensions 28 x 13 x 12 inches
Gender Women’s

Overview:Do I really NEED a Daypack? Truth be told it is far from a necessity. I have done many short day hikes and ultralight overnights using my 50L pack, simply using the compression straps to make-up for the empty space. With that being said, if you are hiking/backpacking on a regular basis it is a great way to preserve your larger more expensive packs.

It actually took me quite sometime to find my favorite Daypack. And even longer to finally commit to one, although that part is thanks to Matthew. The Osprey Sirrus featured a Women’s specific harness and more importantly it was a VENTILATED TECHNICAL pack. Two features I did not want to compromise on.

The Sirrus 36 offers the perfect amount of space for a long day hike or light overnight adventure. The 2 zippered pockets on the hood come in handy for snacks or items you wan tot keep close at hand, such as your head lamp or cell phone. The Stow-on-the-Go™ system allows you to attach trekking poles/ice axe, while the integrated rain cover provides added convenience.

Half Empty: e.

Half Full:e.

Osprey Raptor 14

 

Best use Mountain biking
Frame type Internal
Gear capacity (L) 12 / 14 liter
Gear capacity (cu. in.) 732 / 854 cubic inches
Liquid capacity (L) 3 liter
Liquid capacity (fl. oz.) 100 fluid ounces
Weight 1 lb. 12 oz. / 1 lb. 14 oz.
Weight – metric 0.80 / 0.85 kilogram
Fits torso <18 / 18+ inches
Fits waist/hips <33 / 33+ inches
Material(s) Ripstop nylon
Frame material Aluminum/HDPE
Pack loading Panel
Number of exterior pockets 5 + main compartment
Hipbelt Yes
Bite valve shut-off switch Yes
Wide-mouth opening Yes
Dimensions 18 x 10 x 10 inches
Gender Unisex

Overview: Matthew picked us up a pair of these shortly after we started biking. This cute little pack doubles as a mountain biking pack and hydration pack for short summer day hikes. One of my favorite features of this pack is the LidLock™ helmet clip, allowing you to attach/detach your helmet to the pack without wasting any time. The large main zipper pocket not only has sleeves for tool organization but also several mesh pockets specifically designed for carrying pumps, bike tools and tire tubes. Additional zip pockets hold personal items and includes a key clip, although I am still able to fit a layer or two in the main compartment.

The ergonomic back panel and AirScape™ suspension provide stability and structure while remaining flexible enough for comfort while riding. Similar to the 2nd generation Atmos and Aura, this pack features perforated, molded waffle foam contoured shoulder straps and ErgoPull™ hip belt. Easy-access top lined zippered pocket offers a safe place to keep valuables or easy to break items. Reflective trim can be found throughout the pack, increasing both visibility in low light environments and safety.

There are so many additional features I love about this pack, but to keep this review concise I will name my final and favorite feature. The one feature that truly sets this pack apart, in my humble opinion, is its unique Osprey Hydraulics™ system. This system consists of a anatomically-shaped plastic sheet between a layer of nylon fabric in a independently accessed compartment. To put it simply…the unique design conforms your reservoir to the pack’s shape, even when carrying a full 3 liter reservoir, resulting in a precise, stable and comfortable fit.

Half Empty: At the time Matthew purchased this pack it was categorized as a unisex pack. The current model is being sold as a men’s pack as Osprey has introduced the Raven (Women’s equivalent) to the market.

Half Full: For me the Hydraulics™ system feature on this pack just makes all the additional features I love an added bonus. One last thing that I love about this pack its its Liter to Ounce ratio…unlike many other “hydration packs” this one stays true to its intended purpose, offering its user 100 oz water capacity in just a 14 liter pack.

Osprey Aura 50 

 

Frame type Internal
Gear capacity (L) 47 / 50 / 53 liter
Gear capacity (cu. in.) 2,800 / 3,000 / 3,200 cubic inches
Weight 3 lbs. 4 oz. / 3 lbs. 6 oz. / 3 lbs. 8 oz.
Weight – metric 1.47 / 1.52 / 1.57 kilograms
Fits torso <18.5 / 18 – 20.5 / 20+ inches
Fits waist/hips <31 / 30 – 34 / 33+ inches
Material(s) Nylon
Frame material Metal alloy
Number of stays 1 peripheral hoop
Suspended mesh back panel Yes
Pack loading Top
Pack access Top
Number of exterior pockets 7 + main compartment
Gender Women’s
Backpack style Lightweight backpack

Overview: I LOVE THIS PACK! Matthew surprised me with this beautiful pack in 2012, it was love at first sight. Where to begin… I could write a 10 page review about why I love this pack but I will try to keep it concise for anyone reading this review. I just want to quickly point out how pretty this beautiful bag is. Ok, moving on…

The gender-specific BioStretch™ fixed shoulder harness and hip belt, specifically contoured to fit a women, is undeniably the most comfortable harness I have ever tried on due to the sleek, perforated, waffle-pattern foam harness that saves weight and enhances breathability. Combine that with the specifically canted and ErgoPull closure hip belt and you will understand how I can say that this pack is irrefutable the most comfortable pack I have ever worn (New Osprey Aura AG included).

Just to run down the list, this packs resume includes; floating lid design to allow extensive gear storage, twin front slash pockets with water-resistant welded zippers, stretch-woven front and side pockets, zippered mesh pockets on hipbelt, Stow-on-the-Go™trekking pole attachments, hydration-compatible design with drinking tube portholes, twin ice axe tool loops, bungee tie-offs, adjustable sternum strap, and removable sleeping pad straps.The pack features a Osprey Airspeed suspension with a metal alloy frame and torsion rods for support and flexibility regardless of weight being carried. The suspension system provides even pressure and comfort as its is anchored in the lumbar area. Made with 210D Twill Velocity Cordura, 160D x 210D Window Ripstop Cordura, this pack is lightweight yet durable, looking every bit of a premium bag in both color tone and texture.

I have used this bag over the past 5 years in all types of weather, in 12 counties, on countless mountains and I adore it more then ever! I can easily fit a 20 or 15 degree sleeping bag, alongside my Therm-a-rest Prolite plus sleeping pad, numerous layers, and supplies for a 2-3 day trip. It is also my go to for a hut stay or overnight when using a zero degree sleeping bag and heavy winter layers. 

Half Empty: Unfortunately before I was able to purchase the 65 liter they discontinued this pack. Unsure I rented the new one only to return it disappointed. 1) They switched to a cheaper fabric, loosing the bags high quality and elegant look 2) Switched to a more chunky type harness, similar to some of their bulkier unisex models. Creating two issues a) the shoulder pads were too wide, resulting in bruising between my arm and the outside of my armpit area. b) the altered sizing. 2nd generationif you were a 18.5 torso height your hip belt was 24-31 inches, while new sizing puts a 18.5 torso with a 28-38 inch hip belt. This caused the frame of the pack to sit lower over your backside, not a huge issue for most guys, but for a lot of women this presents a problem. By the end of the day I had two matching bruises from where the frame was sitting on my backside due to a lack of tension at the hips.

Half Full: Ebay, Ebay, Ebay! I 100% support the reduce, reuse, and recycle mindset!    Used gear shops and ebay are great ways to find a specific item that has been discontinued or sold out, while simultaneously helping our environment! 

Osprey Kestrel 48

 

Frame type Internal
Gear capacity (L) 48 liter
Gear capacity (cu. in.) 2,900 cubic inches
Weight 3 lbs. 10 oz.
Weight – metric 1.64 kilograms
Adjustable torso Yes
Fits torso 19+ inches
Fits waist/hips 28+ inches
Material(s) Nylon
Frame material Metal alloy/HDPE framesheet
Number of stays 1 peripheral hoop
Suspended mesh back panel No
Pack loading Top
Pack access Top
Number of exterior pockets 7 + main compartment
Sleeping bag compartment Yes
Raincover included Yes
Gender Unisex
Backpack style Lightweight backpack

Overview: As someone who grew up in New England hiking and camping in a family of 6 it is safe to say I have never been very particular about my backpacking gear. My boyfriend surprised me with this bag for my 19th birthday in a attempt to sway me from using my moms 30 year old neon orange 20lb (that may be an exaggeration) external frame backpack on a upcoming backpacking trip. And while my moms old pack is still probably the coolest backpack I have ever seen, it only took me about 30 seconds to realize the technological benefits the Kestrel had to offer.

I soon discovered the Kestrel was a beast when it comes to gear heavy trips. Designed with 420D nylon and a internal peripheral spring alloy frame, this pack is heavy duty yet maintains a light structure. A integrated raincover is located in back pocket, this pack’s resume also includes daisy chains, 2 ice axe lops, bungee tool tie-offs, EVA foam torso, torso-length adjustability, Stow-On-The-Go™ trekking pole attachments, sleeping bag compartment, and of course a Osprey AirScape lightweight back panel.

Half Empty: Osprey stopped using the indestructible 420D Nylon and swapped it out for a less expensive 210D fabric. The internal peripheral spring alloy frame was also retired, resulting in a less structured and “floppy” frame. Yet, only shaving 2 ounces of the packs overall weight.

Half Full: Made for rain, snow, and slush the 2009 Model is virtually indestructible.

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