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Hands-on Gear Review

Osprey Aura AG 50 Review

Editors' Choice Award
Price:   $230 List | $229.99 at Amazon
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Pros:  Lightweight, incredible back ventilation, streamlined design, comfortable, easy to remove top lid, wide range of fitting options and adjustments
Cons:  Waistband attached to back panel, tight hip belt pockets
Editors' Rating:     
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Manufacturer:   Osprey

Our Verdict

Our Editors' Choice award goes to the Osprey Aura AG 50. It is the best women's backpacking pack we have used, outshining the others in trip length versatility, light weight without compromising support, and a simple, feminine design with women's specific shaping in the shoulder straps, hip belt, and overall fit. From the attention to detail with each pocket and compartment to the adjustability, this pack is easy to use and easy to organize your gear in. The Anti-Gravity technology is incredibly comfortable in summer heat and beneath a heavy weight load. From day hikes to multi-day backpacking, the Aura AG can comfortably carry your gear.


RELATED REVIEW: The Best Women's Backpacking Pack Review


Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results

Review by:
Briana Valorosi
Review Editor
OutdoorGearLab

Last Updated:
Thursday
December 10, 2015

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The Editors' Choice award winning Aura AG 50 is the ideal women's pack. It brings a feminine design together with functionality. The Anti-Gravity suspension is unparalleled in breathability and support on day hikes and multi-day backpacking adventures. Overall, it rates highest in all of our metrics and meets the expectations of women on the trail.

Performance Comparison


The shoulder straps feature ExoForm padding  found on Ospreys light weight packs. The harness connects to the Anti Gravity system via stretch mesh. Multiple adjustment points allow the pack to be fit correctly under a wider range of body types and pack loads.
The shoulder straps feature ExoForm padding, found on Ospreys light weight packs. The harness connects to the Anti Gravity system via stretch mesh. Multiple adjustment points allow the pack to be fit correctly under a wider range of body types and pack loads.

Comfort


A unique suspension design brings the highest degree of comfort to the Aura AG. A single mesh backing stretches the span of the back panel and connects continuously through the hip belt. It is a soft, perforated panel that offers incredible breathability. Comfort is not compromised by a lack of ventilation or support in the back, shoulders, or hips. The pack has well-padded shoulder straps that are streamlined in shape and size. Compared to the Mountain Hardwear Ozonic 58 - Women's, the shoulder straps are narrower and simpler with the same continuous mesh material that the entire back panel and hip belt are made of. Unlike most packs that design the hip belt separate from the rest of the suspension and back panel, the Aura AG has a fluid construction of a single mesh panel. This restricts the hip belt from having a full range of motion outward. Only when fitting the pack on at the start of a hike is this slightly hindering to an easy fit. The pack requires some attention in spreading the hip belt apart, then hoisting the pack on to your back, then allowing the hip belt to conform to your hips with a tension. With a heavy load, this may present some discomfort in the hoisting process, but it otherwise feels comfortable as a single component.

AG stands for Anti-Gravity. While bending over for a quick cool down or a water bottle fill  the pack remains comfortably conformed to the back. The Aura AG remains stable on your back as a result of this design.
AG stands for Anti-Gravity. While bending over for a quick cool down or a water bottle fill, the pack remains comfortably conformed to the back. The Aura AG remains stable on your back as a result of this design.

Weight


At 3 pounds 11 ounces, the Aura weighs in less than the Arcteryx Bora, Osprey Ariel, and North Face Terra, yet remains heavier than the Osprey Viva 50 and Black Diamond Elixir 60 - Women's. Actual weight feels lighter than any other pack with the exception of the Granite Gear Blaze A.C. 60 - Women's. A nylon main body and more durable nylon bottom section are light in weight but don't feel as vulnerable to abrasion as the light weight Elixir's nylon material. For the Aura AG, weight is not synonymous with ideal pack load weight. Many light weight packs will feel most stable and comfortable with light weight loads, but the Aura AG is capable of carrying 5-10 pounds as comfortably as 20-30 pounds.

Water beads up on the Aura AG as a summer rain storm approaches. While the pack is not water proof  it does repel light rain for a short time before the pack begins to absorb moisture. For more rain protection  consider the Mountain Hardwear Ozonic or an Osprey rain cover to accompany the Aura AG.
Water beads up on the Aura AG as a summer rain storm approaches. While the pack is not water proof, it does repel light rain for a short time before the pack begins to absorb moisture. For more rain protection, consider the Mountain Hardwear Ozonic or an Osprey rain cover to accompany the Aura AG.

Suspension


The Anti-Gravity (AG) suspension system is the star of this pack. Past models of the Aura featured mesh back panels that contributed to breathability and conforming support. The AG takes it to the next level with Exoform padded shoulder straps, a seamless stretch mesh back panel that wraps onto the hip belt, and an adjustable harness that is reinforced with load lifter bars. The pack has a perimeter frame that is incredibly lightweight. The continuous design of the back panel with the hip belt offers another degree of stability and support. It conforms to your body while maintaining its initial tension, mile after mile. No other pack has a stable back panel design that is also soft and flexible. It manages varying weight loads with incredible distribution. One concern raised with the Aura AG is how it manages heavier weight loads. The suspension system is designed to sit away from your back, as opposed to most stabilizing designs that rest the bulk of the weight against your back. With a heavy load that is improperly packed, the separation in space will pull slightly backward. The pack suspension excels with weight loads under 30 and although it is capable of carrying up to 40 with little compromise in overall comfort, we found the stability and support to carry best with lower end weights.

Breathability and comfort are top considerations in the Anti Gravity design. The stretch mesh creates a tensioned panel that conforms to each individual body for maximum comfort.
Breathability and comfort are top considerations in the Anti Gravity design. The stretch mesh creates a tensioned panel that conforms to each individual body for maximum comfort.
The stretch mesh Anti Gravity (AG) suspension is one fluid part  connecting the hip belt with the back panel and the harness to the shoulder straps. This simplified design lowers the overall weight and also offers a greater degree of comfort with fewer moving parts and fewer attachment points that often lend to rubbing.
The stretch mesh Anti Gravity (AG) suspension is one fluid part, connecting the hip belt with the back panel and the harness to the shoulder straps. This simplified design lowers the overall weight and also offers a greater degree of comfort with fewer moving parts and fewer attachment points that often lend to rubbing.
At rest  the hip belt remains tightly wound. This results from the continuous mesh panel. Pulling the pack on while also having to adjust the hipbelt around may be slightly inconvenient but this pack shouldnt be carrying a heavy load so it is a manageable adjustment.
At rest, the hip belt remains tightly wound. This results from the continuous mesh panel. Pulling the pack on while also having to adjust the hipbelt around may be slightly inconvenient but this pack shouldnt be carrying a heavy load so it is a manageable adjustment.

Ease of Use and Organization


Ease of use is rated by how simply the pack can be fitted, packed, and tightened. On trail adjustments should be easy to make and organization lends to the ease of use while hiking and at camp. We rated the Aura AG with 9 out of 10 for ease of use. Despite its many adjustment points, it retains a simplicity that makes it easy to use. All of the pockets offer easy access to your gear while on the trail and the compartments separate trail gear from camp gear so you can easily set up camp without having to unload the entire pack. Versatility contributes to this pack's overall ease of use. It is suitable for all day hikes to multi day backpacking trips. It is easy to remove the lid and shrink the pack with compression straps to fill with only the essentials, or it can be packed full, expanded and stretched for those long trips in the mountains. It is easy to make these adjustments and to accommodate your needs for nearly any length of backpacking trip. The simple design remains uncomplicated by excessive zippers, bulky components, multiple straps, or too many access points.

Fit on the Fly is Osprey's proprietary design that allows you to adjust the hip belt larger or smaller depending on your desired fit. The tab simply pulls outward to extend or tucks easily behind the hip belt pocket to shorten.
Fit on the Fly is Osprey's proprietary design that allows you to adjust the hip belt larger or smaller depending on your desired fit. The tab simply pulls outward to extend or tucks easily behind the hip belt pocket to shorten.

Seven enclosed pockets and three stretch mesh pockets add up to the most organizational features of any of the women's packs. The main compartment has top and bottom access- the top cinches closed with a drawstring and has a small cover of fabric for trips where you remove the lid; the bottom compartment is ideal for a sleeping bag and has an internal separator for compressing the sleeping bag down or just to keep it separate. The front has two matching pockets that are suitable for quick access layers, maps, sunscreen, and other medium sized items that require easy access. On top of these two pockets is a large stretch mesh pocket. This is the same feature that is on the Osprey Viva and Osprey Ariel. Over the years, it has become one of our favorite storage features. It stretches out to accommodate a lot of essentials but remains tight against the pack when it is empty. The lid has two zipped pockets for storing identification, camera batteries, and other small, important necessities. It is also removable for reducing the overall capacity and simplifying the pack. Two additional enclosed pockets on the hip belt and two stretch mesh side pockets conclude the elaborate organization of the Aura AG. While it may sound like an excess amount of pockets, we found it convenient with staying organized on the trail. For a pack with fewer pockets, the Deuter ACT Lite 60 - Women's has only 3 enclosed compartments. In either case, we recommend stuff sacks for further organization of the gear and food that will be packed in the main compartment. One thing that is missing on the 50 liter version (but is on the 65 liter version) are sleeping pad straps. For an already relatively small liter capactiy pack (one of the smallest in our review), side pockets or top straps must be used to secure a traditional foam sleeping pad. Ideally, both models would have the sleeping pad straps but an efficient alternative is to use the side compression straps. The one consideration with the 50 liter versions is compatibility with a bear canister. It is a tight squeeze to get all of your essential gear into the pack and a bear canister as well. For a pack that is more accommodating, check out the Ariel or Mountain Hardwear Ozonic.

Exploring Colorado's Rocky Mountain wilderness with the Aura AG 50.
Exploring Colorado's Rocky Mountain wilderness with the Aura AG 50.


Adjustability


The Aura has multiple adjustment options for finding the best fit on your body as well as the best fit for your gear. The hip belt has a 'Fit on the Fly' design allowing you to extend the intial length to a few additional sizes. The belt simply pulls out and is secured with high strength Velcro. There are marked points for the additional settings. This feature is one of the best adjustability features available because it allows you to fit the pack to a range of sizes, depending on your daily preference in fit, fluctuations in body size, and widens the range of a pack's ideal size paired with torso length. Another feature is the adjustable harness which allows you to adjust the harness size too- the torso length can be adjusted for an optimized fit. On top of the adjustment options for fit, the Aura AG has multiple compression straps on the sides, top, and interior, for securing gear. Adjusting your gear properly lends to better stability and support while backpacking. When there is loose space or moving gear inside of the pack, stability and comfort are compromised. Final adjustments are easily made with the smooth pull of each shoulder strap, load lifter strap, and sternum strap. This pack has a plethora of adjustment options without being pretentious or complicated. Each point of adjustment is simple and straightforward.

The new Aura AG 50 (left) side by side with the old Aura model (right). The evolution of the back panel mesh is noticable from the older design to the newer design. Notice how the AG is a continuous mesh panel while the older model is a mesh back panel only with separate components for the harness and hip belt.
The new Aura AG 50 (left) side by side with the old Aura model (right). The evolution of the back panel mesh is noticable from the older design to the newer design. Notice how the AG is a continuous mesh panel while the older model is a mesh back panel only with separate components for the harness and hip belt.

Best Applications


The Aura AG has the widest range of applications of the packs in our test. We took it on long day hikes and with the compression straps and adjustments, the pack carries comfortably under a light load. The lid is removable for minimizing weight and any extra space that isn't necessary for shorter hikes. We experienced unmatched comfort on weekend trips with a moderate weight load not exceeding 20 pounds. Lengthy backpacking trips lasting a week or more demand a durable, stable, and comfortable pack- the Aura AG is capable of meeting all of these demands. This pack is most ideal for single day hikes to overnight and weekend trips to 10 days on the trail. It adjusts to properly suit your gear needs and remains supportive even when additional weight is added. The ideal weight range for this pack is under 30 pounds but it can sufficiently carry up to 40.

Value


The 50 liter version of this pack is among the least expensive packs in our review. At $230, it is neither the most expensive ($450) or least expensive ($170). It is an incredible value to invest in the highest regarded women's pack for a mid range price. It is backed with Osprey's All Mighty lifetime guarantee. It is also the smallest liter capacity in our test, but can be used as a day pack or can accommodate a week's worth of backpacking gear. If more space is of value to you, 15 additional liters costs only $30 more on the 65 liter version. The advanced suspension technology and lasting comfort make this versatile pack an incredible value.

Getting in to camp at sunset with the Aura AG 50. The Anti-Gravity suspension eases long days on the trail carrying multiple days worth of gear.
Getting in to camp at sunset with the Aura AG 50. The Anti-Gravity suspension eases long days on the trail carrying multiple days worth of gear.

Conclusion


The Aura AG 50 is the Editors' Choice awarded pack for women's specific packs. It offers excellent suspension and unparalleled breathability with the Anti Gravity system. The stretch mesh has evolved from its previous models to be softer, more conforming and tensioned well for maximum comfort. The Aura AG is versatile throughout three seasons of day hiking and backpacking, with varying trip lengths. No other pack offers the same features and adjustment options for such a great value, and it is backed with the reputation of Osprey.

Buckled and ready for the trail  the Aura AG straps hang loosely before being secured.
Buckled and ready for the trail, the Aura AG straps hang loosely before being secured.

Other Versions and Accessories


Aura AG 65
  • Cost - $260
  • Has lower sleeping pad straps
  • 65L Capacity

Osprey Atmos 65 AG and Atmos 50 AG
Osprey Atmos 65 AG
  • Cost - $260
  • Men's version of the Aura
  • Editors' Choice Award Winning Men's Backpacking Pack!
  • Excellent features and pockets
Briana Valorosi

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: March 15, 2016
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
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 (5.0)
Average Customer Rating:   
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 (4.0)

100% of 2 reviewers recommend it
Rating Distribution
3 Total Ratings
5 star: 67%  (2)
4 star: 0%  (0)
3 star: 33%  (1)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)
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   Mar 15, 2016 - 04:30pm
leah · Backpacker · Arlington
I just tried this product on, but it wasn't very comfortable to me. It also scratched my skin. The old Aura i loveeeee. Where can I get the old one:/ I have one already but it is too small in the torso for me and puts a lot of pressure on my shoulders. Where can I find the old Aura medium:)) Please please please.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Feb 15, 2016 - 11:10am
OpticalPhoton · Backpacker
This is a great pack!

I made the decision to buy it after reading the outdoorgearlab review on the Osprey Aura, the Aura AG's predecessor. It's a little more expensive than the others I was considering, but well worth it. Here are the pros and cons that I've found so far:

Cons:
  • Some of the plastic attachments scratch my arms
  • Difficult to put on, especially at first
  • Belt pockets are small and weirdly shaped

Pros:
  • Comfortable
  • Stable--doesn't shift around at all
  • Good fit, but not at the cost of ventilation, which is also good
  • Many different pockets and organization options
  • Comfortable
  • Seriously, it's the most comfortable pack I've ever worn


Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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