The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

Arc'teryx Bora AR 63 Review

A fantastic all-around pack with an awesome suspension and top-notch weather resistance.
Arc'teryx Bora AR 63
Top Pick Award
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Price:  $549 List | $406.26 at Amazon
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Spectacular suspension, comfortable padding, ergonomic shoulder strap design, extremely weather resistant
Cons:  Expensive, heavier, few convenience features
Manufacturer:   Arc'teryx
By Ian Nicholson ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  May 7, 2019
  • Share this article:
75
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#3 of 16
  • Suspension and Comfort - 45% 9
  • Weight - 20% 5
  • Features and Ease of Use - 20% 7
  • Adjustability - 15% 7

Our Verdict

The Arc'Teryx Bora AR 63 is famously comfortable and weather resistant. It features an epic suspension that is among the most robust in this review. The foam padding in both the shoulder straps and the hip belt is top-notch. Its AC² fabric makes it easily the most weather resistant in our fleet. This model is a great all-around backpacking pack with a full suite of features and is one of the best overall thanks to its high comfort level and excellent suspension system. We do caution that you will pay handsomely for its comfort. If you can't quite justify the cost, the Osprey Atmos AG 65 is as quality as ever, but if the investment doesn't scare you away, this pack is worth a careful look.


Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Arc'Teryx Bora AR 63 is a top-notch pack with a dreamy suspension, cushy shoulder straps, and a marvelous pack design. Our testers love the attention to detail from the top lid, which is secure and easy to search through, to the flat bottom, which allows the pack to stand up on its own when we set it down. It is by far the most weather resistant pack in our review, and it features several panels of waterproof fabric that are seam taped in more exposed areas. If you want a first-class pack that carries like a champion, and you're willing to spend more for several subtle but friendly features, this is the one.

Performance Comparison


This pack is top-tier for its comfort and suspension.

We really like this pack in all weather conditions.
We really like this pack in all weather conditions.

Suspension and Comfort


This pack is easily among the most comfortable models on the market. The foam used in the shoulder straps feels more like a memory foam mattress than your typical shoulder strap. At first, they feel overly soft. But after using it in the field extensively, we found that the foam seems to adjust to your body perfectly.


After several weeks of constant use, the foam continues to be as contouring and supportive as ever.

The foam on the waist belt and the shoulder straps are top-notch. Before using this pack in the field  we worried that it was going to be too soft and would compress under heavy loads. But  we found that the foam feels and behaves more like a memory foam bed mattress. Even with heavier loads it remains supportive enough and its slight softness allows it to form to our shoulders and hips  effectively distributing the weight.
The foam on the waist belt and the shoulder straps are top-notch. Before using this pack in the field, we worried that it was going to be too soft and would compress under heavy loads. But, we found that the foam feels and behaves more like a memory foam bed mattress. Even with heavier loads it remains supportive enough and its slight softness allows it to form to our shoulders and hips, effectively distributing the weight.

The shape and general ergonomics of the shoulder straps are top notch and contour to our backs nicely. While our entire testing team thought the foam used on the shoulder straps is fantastic, for monster loads, we do like the slightly stiffer foam found on the Gregory Baltoro 65 and Osprey Xenith 105 but at 40 pounds or less, we think the Bora AR 63 takes the cake.

The Bora's "RotoGlide" pivoting waist belt seems gimmicky  but even our most skeptical testers appreciated this feature for how effectively it transfers the load from the pack's frame to our hips on uneven ground. On steep hillsides or rough terrain  this feature stood out to us.
The Bora's "RotoGlide" pivoting waist belt seems gimmicky, but even our most skeptical testers appreciated this feature for how effectively it transfers the load from the pack's frame to our hips on uneven ground. On steep hillsides or rough terrain, this feature stood out to us.

The waist belt features a similar, albeit marginally denser and thicker version of this foam.

We also like the newer version of Arc'teryx's RotoGlide pivoting waist belt. The latest version is much more secure than the old one. With the Bora, the waist belt never came out while we were wearing it, but it sometimes popped off during breaks while we were sitting on our pack. While this was hardly a big deal, it seemed to always happen at the most inconvenient time and would always take 1-2 minutes to reattach correctly. In the end, our entire testing team found the Bora to be one of the most comfortable packs in our review, along with the Gregory Baltoro 65 and Osprey Atmos AG 65.

The Thermo-molded Tegris frame sheet  combined with robust aluminum stays  is what gave the Bora one of the most supportive suspensions in our review. Overall  we found the Bora to be a top-notch load hauler  performing as well as any model in the review.
The Thermo-molded Tegris frame sheet, combined with robust aluminum stays, is what gave the Bora one of the most supportive suspensions in our review. Overall, we found the Bora to be a top-notch load hauler, performing as well as any model in the review.

This pack has an extremely robust suspension system, especially considering its volume. For support, the Bora AR 63 uses a thermo-molded Tigris frame sheet in addition to aluminum stays. The frame sheet is visible from the outside and looks like carbon fiber (it's not). But it is a stiff and light material that also protects the wearer's back from any oddly shaped items that might try to poke through the pack.

We love the pivoting waist belt. It seems gimmicky at first, but testing shows that it transfers weight incredibly well allowing the pack "flow" with us like no other. All of our testers agreed that this is even more noticeable on scree, talus, or generally gnarly trails. It is as supportive as both the load hauling Osprey Xenith 105 and Gregory Baltoro 65.

The Bora features an external water bottle pocket on either side of the main pack. These pockets are secure and possible to access and stow completely without help  but aren't as easy as other models. It is worth noting that the Bora is hydration bladder compatible.
The Bora features an external water bottle pocket on either side of the main pack. These pockets are secure and possible to access and stow completely without help, but aren't as easy as other models. It is worth noting that the Bora is hydration bladder compatible.

Features and Ease of Use


This model has several small features that make it easier to use. The bottom of the pack is flat, which lets the pack stand up by itself when setting down on the ground. What impressed our review team is how weather resistant this pack is. We used it over a dozen days during the spring in Washington's Olympic rainforest and North Cascades National Park and are impressed with how effectively it kept the interior contents of our pack dry.


Most models in our review can withstand light showers. However, in extended downpours, where others would soak through, the Bora AR 63 kept going strong. Arc'teryx uses a proprietary weatherproof AC² on much of the pack. We also found the AC² fabric to be extremely durable. The black material is Tigris frame sheet and N630p-HT nylon.

There are two stretchy mesh pockets built into the Bora's hip belt. Despite being the only model that didn't feature zippered hip pockets  we found these quite secure. The best part about these simple pockets is that they add only a minimal amount of weight to the pack compared with more traditional waist belt pockets.
There are two stretchy mesh pockets built into the Bora's hip belt. Despite being the only model that didn't feature zippered hip pockets, we found these quite secure. The best part about these simple pockets is that they add only a minimal amount of weight to the pack compared with more traditional waist belt pockets.

The waist belt features two stretchy mesh pockets. Unlike all the other models we tested, these pockets aren't zippered but are tight enough to ensure that we never lost anything. They are perfect for small snacks or an average sized point-and-shoot camera. There is also a side-access zipper on one side of the pack. While this zippered access point isn't huge, it is more than appropriate for the volume of this pack.

The large kangaroo-style zippered pockets are one of our review team's favorite overall features. Every reviewer who tested this pack used it constantly. It's fully seam taped and sports a watertight zipper  making this pocket extremely weather resistant. We used this pack on several VERY wet trips and these features kept our gear dry.
The large kangaroo-style zippered pockets are one of our review team's favorite overall features. Every reviewer who tested this pack used it constantly. It's fully seam taped and sports a watertight zipper, making this pocket extremely weather resistant. We used this pack on several VERY wet trips and these features kept our gear dry.

Our review team loves the kangaroo style pocket, with every tester utilizing this feature each time they put on the pack. This particular pocket sticks out from the pack (like a cargo pocket) so that it's easy to access when full. What sets this feature apart from other models is its waterproof material covering, it features a watertight zipper, and is thoroughly seamed taped.

The Bora features one short side access panel. While this access zipper is shorter than average  it provides adequate access to more deeply packed items without having to explode the pack. Since the Bora doesn't feature a sleeping bag compartment  this side-access zipper is particularly nice.
The Bora features one short side access panel. While this access zipper is shorter than average, it provides adequate access to more deeply packed items without having to explode the pack. Since the Bora doesn't feature a sleeping bag compartment, this side-access zipper is particularly nice.

The Bora AR 63 is hydration bladder compatible and features two snug side pockets for water bottles. We appreciated the small zippered pocket with a key holder on the inside of the pack. This pocket is great for car keys or other items we don't want to lose and helped us stay organized when we left the primary lid behind.

The primary zippered pocket on the lid of the Bora 63. This lid is easier than most to access because the zipper is on top of the pocket rather than on one side. This makes searching for items very easy  but is still secure  keeping items from falling out of its bowl. It's also really weather resistant.
The primary zippered pocket on the lid of the Bora 63. This lid is easier than most to access because the zipper is on top of the pocket rather than on one side. This makes searching for items very easy, but is still secure, keeping items from falling out of its bowl. It's also really weather resistant.

The design of the lid allows you to fully load and access the top pocket even when the pack is full to the brim. All of our testers found that having the zipper in the center of the lid pocket made it more accessible.

We also like having the secondary zippered pocket underneath the lid. This pocket helped us organize, as the lid is easy to remove.

While this pocket doesn't have a ton of space and was much smaller than the pocket on the top  it is certainly nice to have and helps us to stay more organized.
While this pocket doesn't have a ton of space and was much smaller than the pocket on the top, it is certainly nice to have and helps us to stay more organized.

Weight


This pack weighs in at five pounds which is heavier than average and one of the few reasons this pack doesn't come out on the very top.


The Bora AR 63 is lighter and handles heavier loads better than the feature-rich Osprey Aether AG 60. It's also lighter than the Osprey Xenith 105 but doesn't have nearly the same carrying capacity.

Adjustability and Fit


This pack features one of the best adjustment systems we've ever tested. It is extremely effective at fine-tuning the fit. Arc'teryx calls this the gridlock system, which allows the shoulder straps to be tailor fit to the wearer both vertically and laterally, depending on a user's body type. Our review staff loved this system for how effectively the pack can adjust.


It also offers a similar amount of vertical adjustment to the Osprey Aether AG 60 and the Osprey Atmos AG 65 (right around 4 inches).

The "GridLock" adjusts the pack's shoulder straps both vertically and horizontally. This feature has a solid construction and works very well.
The "GridLock" adjusts the pack's shoulder straps both vertically and horizontally. This feature has a solid construction and works very well.

Best Applications


The Arc'teryx Bora AR 63 is a rad all-around backpacking pack. Its extremely weather resistant design makes it a particularly good option for soggy or extended trips with a lot of snow or rain. Its comfort, durability, and super-robust suspension mean it could be at home anywhere from overnights to extended trips. Its pivoting waist belt is great for backpacking and general mountaineering. Due to this pack's weather-resistance, we do think it's a solid option for extended multi-day ski tours.

This pack is worth careful consideration for your next backpacking adventure.
This pack is worth careful consideration for your next backpacking adventure.

Value


At $550, this pack is the most expensive one that we tested, by a lot. While we hardly consider it a bargain, we do think the Bora AR 63 offers decent value if you run your packs rugged. It brings several unique features to the table, along with top-notch comfort and suspension. That said, its $550 price tag is double most of the other packs in this review, and it's hard to say that it is twice as good any other model.

Conclusion


This model is undeniably an incredible pack. It has some of the nicest padding and foam of any model on the market, coupled with excellent ergonomics in its shoulder straps, and a frame that is near as burly as it gets. Many of its features are top-notch, and it's the most weather resistant pack in our review. If you are willing to spend the $550 to have one of the best, this pack's suspension and comfort are undeniably impressive.


Ian Nicholson