Arc'teryx Bora AR 61 Review
Cons: Complicated adjustment options, expensive
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Arc'teryx Bora AR 61 is an incredibly adjustable and comfortable pack. The pack is futuristic in its design, with thoughtfully designed storage and a range of adjustment options. It has exceptional padding in the hip belt and shoulder straps and is the most expensive model in this review, much like its predecessor, the Altra. As one of our reviewers said after a trip in the Bora, "I'd rather have the pack on than off!" This highly technical, durable pack is for the expert backpacker who places aesthetics high on their list of priorities along with comfort and durability.
Comfort and Suspension
In general, the Bora is an extremely comfortable pack and earned high marks in this metric. Its waist belt and shoulder straps are solid chunks of foam that provide lots of padding. For a few testers, especially those with smaller frames didn't like the way the hip belt or shoulder straps sat quite as much as those with a larger build did; this is due to the width and bulk of the straps. The back paneling is also not for everyone. This Thermo-molded Tegris frame sheet is bulky, and if the pack is too large for you, the paneling could rub or get in the way more than it helps.
The Bora utilizes a hip stabilizing design that allows the backpack to remain stable in the shoulders while hinging with hip motion. Arc'teryx has a centralized hinging system.
Similar to other models with heavy-duty suspension systems, the Bora's works better with more weight in the pack. An ideal setting for the Bora is in challenging terrain with a heavy pack, where stabilization is more crucial. Overall, we did not experience the featured suspension system to outmatch the suspension of other backpacks in a significant way.
We love how easy the Bora is to organize, due to its simple design. The body of the pack is straightforward to use since there are only three compartments — the brain, an outside pocket, and the main body. We liked the simplicity, but if you are looking for a pack with more pockets and organizational components, we tested many other models with all the pockets you could dream of.
Regarding design, the Bora gets the highest of marks. The pack is sleek, with enough pockets to keep you organized, but not too many to become confusing. This top-loading pack is super spacious inside and has a sneaky side zipper for access to the middle without having to unpack everything from the top. The outside pocket is large enough to store extra clothes or gear but doesn't add bulk to the pack itself. We also liked how large the brain was — it can stow tons of smaller items without feeling overstuffed.
Though this pack's claimed weight is 4 pounds 14 ounces (4.94 on our scale), it carries surprisingly light. Despite its incredibly durable fabric and solid back panel, the pack felt comparable in weight to some of the lighter models, since it carries so well. We were surprised by how light this pack feels when it is on.
Total Volume = 75 L
Main Bag = 50 L
Pockets = 15 L
Lid = 10 L
One of the best aspects of the Bora is its simplicity. It is easy to use, easy to adjust, and super comfortable right off the bat. There are tons of different options for adjustability in the shoulder straps, with the GridLock shoulder strap design that adjusts vertically and horizontally for different widths and heights. The waist belt is not super adjustable, but it is a straightforward panel of comfortable foam, so it doesn't require much. It also slides up and down, to accommodate different torso lengths.
The Arc'teryx Bora is a well-padded and comfortable women's specific backpacking backpack that offers a multitude of fitting adjustments. While it is expensive and very spacious, it has technical details in design and features that will appeal to the experienced backpacker. This pack is the Lamborghini of backpacking packs and the price reflects the attention to detail that went into designing it.
— Jane Jackson