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Arc'teryx Bora AR 61 Review

The Bora AR 61 is a high-end pack that combines comfort and adjustability with a sleek, spacious design.
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Price:  $549 List | $549.00 at REI
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Multiple adjustments for incredible fit precision, sleek design, attention to detail, spacious, comfortable
Cons:  Complicated adjustment options, expensive
Manufacturer:   Arc'teryx
By Jane Jackson ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 4, 2019
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62
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#7 of 16
  • Comfort and Suspension - 45% 8
  • Organizational systems - 20% 6
  • Weight - 20% 3
  • Adjustability - 15% 5

Our Verdict

The Bora AR 61 has a sleek look and a slim profile. The hip belt features RotoGlide technology, which is intended to reduce chafing and improve balance and comfort. This pack will cost you an arm and a leg and is the most expensive model in this review. That said, the Bora is an incredibly comfortable pack, and if you want to take the leap, this contender will not disappoint. Its simplicity and durability are the two most striking features, in addition to its unique suspension system.


Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards  Editors' Choice Award  Top Pick Award Top Pick Award 
Price $549.00 at REI
Compare at 3 sellers
$255 List$179.95 at Backcountry
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$269.95 at REI
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$269.95 at Backcountry
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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Multiple adjustments for incredible fit precision, sleek design, attention to detail, spacious, comfortableComfortable, supportive suspension, simple design, large pockets, durable, customization from manufacturerDurable, comfortable even with heavier loads, streamlined features, great attachment points at outside of pack, integrated rain coverHuge main compartment, customizable compression straps, super lightweight, comfortable with heavy loads.Comfortable, plush padding, wide range of fitting options and adjustments, good number of pockets, easy-to-remove top lid,
Cons Complicated adjustment options, expensiveNon-ventilated back panel, less organizational featuresMain compartment is a little narrow, water bottle holster is awkward, requires thoughtful packingDark material makes pack contents difficult to see, hip belt difficult to adjust, rigid padding might not last over time.Large, spring loaded waist band is hard to get into, suspension can feel bulky, expensive, hip belt can sag uncomfortably on some users
Bottom Line The Bora AR 61 is a high-end pack that combines comfort and adjustability with a sleek, spacious design.The ULA Circuit is a durable bag with all the right pockets and suspension that will keep your back, hips, and shoulders comfortable all day.The Kyte 46 is a small, but mighty pack, built for a more advanced user. The comfortable wear allows you to tackle rough terrain with ease.The Blaze does the unthinkable with the combination of a lightweight pack that can haul heavy loads and still feel comfortable.This pack has stood the test year after year with its robust feature set, comfortable straps, and a strong yet light suspension featuring an incredibly ventilated back panel.
Rating Categories Arc'teryx Bora AR 61 Circuit Osprey Kyte 46 Blaze 60 Osprey Aura AG 65
Comfort And Suspension (45%)
10
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8
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9
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7
Organizational Systems (20%)
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6
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8
Weight (20%)
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3
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8
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7
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8
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4
Adjustability (15%)
10
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5
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9
Specs Arc'teryx Bora AR 61 Circuit Osprey Kyte 46 Blaze 60 Osprey Aura AG 65
Measured Weight (pounds) (medium) 4.94 lbs 2.68 lbs 3.42 lbs 2.63 lbs 4.65 lbs
Volumes Available (liters) 49, 61 68 35, 45 60 50, 65
Organization: Compartments Lid with zippered map pocket, zippered front pocket, side mesh pockets, hip belt pockets, main compartment Side pockets, front pocket, hip belt pockets, main compartment Lid, mesh side pockets, hip belt pockets, lid pocket, front mesh pocket, internal sleeping bag pocket, main compartment Lid, front pocket, main compartment Lid, front pocket, side pockets, dual front pockets, hip belt pockets, main compartment
Access Top, side zip access Top Top, bottom Top Top, side, bottom
Hydration Compatible Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Rain Cover Included No No Yes No No
Women's Specific Features RotoGlide hip belt helps prevent chafing S-Curve Shoulder Straps Women's specific fit Women's Specific fit & sizing Women's specific fit
Sleeping bag Compartment No No Yes No Yes
Bear Can Compatible Yes Yes - Vertical tight fit yes Yes
Main Materials N420p-HT nylon, N630p-HT nylon 500 Cordura 210D x 630D Nylon 210D HD nylon Nylon
Sizes Available Regular, Tall S, M, L, XL, Kids XS/S, M/L Short, Regular XS,S,M
Warranty Practical lifetime warranty - case to case basis Lifetime Lifetime Lifetime Lifetime

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.

Testing out the Bora's compatibility with a climbing rope in the High Sierra.
Testing out the Bora's compatibility with a climbing rope in the High Sierra.

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 thick foam waistband on the Bora is one of the most comfortable we tested. This photo also shows the thin mesh hip pockets that were  unfortunately  a bit too small to be useful.
The thick foam waistband on the Bora is one of the most comfortable we tested. This photo also shows the thin mesh hip pockets that were, unfortunately, a bit too small to be useful.

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.

The simple design of the Bora makes it easy to both pack and access gear. The large outer pocket is roomy enough for water bottles  clothes  and snacks.
The simple design of the Bora makes it easy to both pack and access gear. The large outer pocket is roomy enough for water bottles, clothes, and snacks.

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.

Weight


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.

Testing packs on a 10-day trip in Yosemite's northern backcountry.
Testing packs on a 10-day trip in Yosemite's northern backcountry.

OGL Measured Volume Bottom Line:
Total Volume = 75 L
Main Bag = 50 L
Pockets = 15 L
Lid = 10 L

Organizational Systems


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.

Adjustability


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.

We loved the roomy lid on the Bora that seemed to fit more than most other lids in this review.
We loved the roomy lid on the Bora that seemed to fit more than most other lids in this review.

Conclusion


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