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

Arc'teryx Bora AR 63 Review

A fantastic all-around pack that's comfortable, and has robust suspension, rad features, and top-notch weather resistance.
Arc'teryx Bora AR 63
Top Pick Award
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Price:  $549 List | $536.24 at Amazon
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Comfortable padding, ergonomic shoulder strap design, robust suspension, extremely weather resistant
Cons:  Expensive, average weight, not as many places as other models to lash/strap oddly shaped items on externally
Manufacturer:   Arc'teryx
By Ian Nicholson ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  May 16, 2017
  • Share this article:
77
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#2 of 12
  • Comfort - 24% 9
  • Weight - 29% 5
  • Suspension - 22% 9
  • Features and Ease of Use - 18% 9
  • Adjustability - 7% 7

Our Verdict

While this newest model shares the name with the older Bora line, it has several significant updates over previous models. The most notable of these is the pack's lighter weight and burlier weather resistance. The Bora's famous comfort factor is also better than ever. This model specifically replaces the older Altra line of packs, utilizing a similar design and several features, along with a few upgrades. The newest Bora features a vastly improved suspension that is among the most robust in the review. Improved foam padding in both the shoulder straps and the hip belt is top-notch. What sets the Bora AR apart from other models is its AC² fabric, which made it the most weather resistant in our fleet. The Bora is a great all-around backpacking pack with a full suite of features. It's one of the best overall packs, thanks to its high comfort level and excellent suspension system. Its downsides are that its weight is average and it has an expensive price tag. At $550, it's $200 more than any other pack we reviewed.


Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

The new Bora AR 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. The Bora 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 a number of subtle but friendly features, the Bora might be the pack for you.

Performance Comparison


We really like this pack.
We really like this pack.

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.


Your first concern might be that this soft feeling foam is going to pack out or won't be as supportive as your body might require. After several weeks of constant use, we have not noted the foam packing out at all. The older Arc'teryx Altra 65 featured similar foam that we used 150+ days with heavier loads before it started to pack out. We like the thickness upgrade with the new Bora over the older Altra.

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, we do like the slightly stiffer foam found on Gregory Baltoro 65 and Osprey Xenith 105 for monster loads (50+ pounds) marginally better. We feel no difference with more moderate loads (~40 pounds).

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 that is dreamy to carry — even after long days. Our testing team loves the Bora's pivoting waist belt. While this feature may seem gimmicky at first, even our most skeptical testers were impressed when they used the Bora in the field, especially by how effectively this feature transferred the weight to our hips, helping the pack "flow" with us. All of our testers agreed that this is even more noticeable on scree, talus, or rough trails, but makes less of a difference on smoother paths.

We also like the newer version of Arc'teryx's RotoGlide pivoting waist belt. The new 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 properly. 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.

Suspension


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


In both our side-by-side tests and during real-world use, the Bora didn't give up anything in the way of suspension. It is as supportive as both the classic load hauling Osprey Xenith 105 and Gregory Baltoro 65, which also scored well. Following closely behind are the Gregory Paragon 68, Osprey Aether AG 60, and the Osprey Atmos 65 AG.

As we mentioned before, while it might appear gimmicky, the pivoting waist belt does a fantastic job of helping transfer the load from the pack to your waist. This is particularly evident on uneven or rough terrain.

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 is packed with a number of small features that make it easier to use. The bottom of the pack is flat, which lets the pack stand up by itself when set 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 the North Cascades National Park and were impressed with how effectively it kept the interior contents of our pack dry.


Most models in our review are fine for light showers. However, in extended downpours, where other models would wet through, the Bora kept going strong. Arc'teryx uses their proprietary weatherproof AC² on much of the pack. We found the AC² fabric to be extremely durable and weather resistant and lucky for us, the fabric covers most of the pack, including the back of the pack and the lid. The black fabric 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 lose anything. They are perfect for small snacks or a normal 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 really set this feature apart from other models is that it's covered by a waterproof material, features a watertight zipper, and is fully seamed taped, making it waterproof. We loved that we could keep clothing layers close by (in this pocket) without fearing that they'll get wet.

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 is hydration bladder compatible and features two snug side pockets for water bottles. These pockets function classically when using one-liter 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 helps us stay a little more 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 Bora's lid allows you to fully load and access the top pocket even when the pack is stuffed to the brim. All of our testers found that having the zipper in the center of the lid pocket made it more accessible. Other models offer a side zipper on the lid, which isn't nearly as easy to use.

We also like having the secondary zippered pocket underneath the lid. This helped us organize, as the lid is easy to remove. The Bora scored really well for this metric. Models on par with the Bora for this metric include the Gregory Baltoro 65 and Gregory Paragon 68.

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.

A Note on the Bora AR 63's Volume

We found that the Bora's 63-liter volume felt a little smaller than other 60-liter models, like the Osprey Aether 60 or The North Face Banchee 65. The difference is not significant but is noticeable.

The Bora feels slightly smaller than other 60L packs. While we didn't actually measure the volume  there is no set standard among pack manufacturers on how to measure volume. It's not that the Bora feels far smaller than most 60-65L packs  just slightly smaller.
The Bora feels slightly smaller than other 60L packs. While we didn't actually measure the volume, there is no set standard among pack manufacturers on how to measure volume. It's not that the Bora feels far smaller than most 60-65L packs, just slightly smaller.

Weight


This pack is five pounds even, which is slightly heavier than average overall and one of the view reasons this pack didn't win our Editors Choice award.


The Bora is a lighter than the Gregory Baltoro 65 (5 lbs 3 oz), which has a comparable amount of features, support, and comfort. The Bora is lighter and handles heavier loads better than the feature-rich Osprey Aether AG 60 (5 lbs 2 oz).

There are lighter packs that are nearly as comfortable when carrying lighter loads, like the Atmos AG 65 (4 lbs 8 oz), the Gregory Paragon 68 (3 lbs 15 oz), or The North Face Banchee 65 (3 lbs 10 oz). While these packs are comparable in performance when carrying moderate loads, the Bora 63 excels when our pack weights exceed 40 to 45 lbs. It also offers superior durability and far better weather resistance.

Adjustability and Fit


The Bora 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 is able to adjust to all of our testers.


The Bora offers a comparable amount of vertical adjustment to the Osprey Aether and the Osprey Atmos 65 (3.5-4" of adjustment), but more than the Gregory Baltoro 65, which only features two pivoting shoulder straps points. The Bora also features horizontal adjustment that moves the shoulder straps outward or inward, something that few other contenders do.

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 make it a particularly good option for soggy or extended trips in the Pacific Northwest, British Columbia, or Alaska. 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. For technical climbing, it's just so-so, as the frame is a little stiff and the waist belt a little bulky. But that's what makes it comfortable for more general applications. Due to this pack's weather-resistance, we do think it's a solid option for extended multi-day ski tours.

Value


At $550, this pack is the most expensive pack we tested. While we hardly consider it a bargain, we do think the Bora AR 63 offers decent value. 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. We don't think it's twice as good as several of the other models we tested.

Conclusion


This is undeniably an incredible pack. It has some of the nicest padding and foam of any pack 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. The pack's primary downside is its cost. At $550, it's double the price of many of the other contenders in our review, and while it's one of our favorites, we don't necessarily think it's twice as good as other models in the review.

But if you are willing to spend the $550 to have the best of the best (or find it on sale), the Bora's suspension and comfort are undeniably impressive. The pack's weather resistance will be appreciated by folks who frequent wet climates, while its pivoting RotoGlide waist belt keeps your hips grateful, even if you think it's a gimmicky feature before you use it.


Ian Nicholson