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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
#8 of 15
  • 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.

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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.

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.

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

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