In 2017, Arc'teryx dropped the Altra name, transforming the product line in the Bora AR. The Bora AR 61 has a sleeker look, a slimmer, less bulbous profile. It also weighs a few ounces more than the Altra 62. The redesigned hip belt now features RotoGlide technology, which is intended to reduce chafing and improve balance and comfort. One very significant change is the price tag. This new pack will cost you a pretty penny at $549, a hundred dollar increase on its predecessor and 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.
Arc'teryx Bora AR 61 Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Multiple adjustments for incredible fit precision, sleek design, attention to detail, spacious, comfortable
Cons: Complicated adjustment options, expensive
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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!"
Comfort and suspension
In general, the Bora is an extremely comfortable pack, so much so that it 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. For a pack with narrower shoulder straps, we'd recommend the Thule Versant 60 or the Lowe Alpine Manaslu.
Like the Gregory Deva 60, 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, while the Gregory Deva's occupies each side. In the newest version of the Deva, the shoulder straps also pivot independently for even more weight distribution, whereas the Bora rotates side to side and up and down in the hips only.
Backpacks with a fluid design and a single frame panel, like the Osprey Aura AG 65 and the Osprey Ariel seem to be most comfortable in regards to distributing the weight across the shoulders and hips. In the case of the Bora, much like with the REI Co-op Traverse 65, the suspension system 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.
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 the Osprey Renn 65, since it carries so well. We were surprised by how light this pack feels when it is on. It is on the heavier end of the spectrum out of the packs in this review, but it feels as light as the Osprey Aura 65 AG. Both of these packs are burly and provide lots of support while remaining light on the back.
Total Volume = 75 L
Main Bag = 50 L
Pockets = 15 L
Lid = 10 L
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, our first choices would be the Thule Versant 60 or the Osprey Aura AG 65.
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. No model comes close to the Bora as far as features go, but this sleek pack comes at a high price. For a more reasonably priced option with a great design, the Thule Versant 60 comes closest to the Bora in this metric.
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.
This highly technical, durable pack is for the expert backpacker going out 7 to 10 days. We took this pack on a 10-day backpacking trip through the north side of Yosemite National Park that included climbing a few technical peaks. The Bora did well-carrying plenty of food, as well as ropes and climbing gear for this trip. The pivoting hip belt and the ample padding in the hips and shoulders made the pack super comfortable, even in this rugged terrain. This pack is a long-term investment for backpackers planning for long trips carrying heavy loads.
As the most expensive backpack in our women's specific backpacking review, the Bora is a good value for the experienced backpacker looking to invest in a well-versed backpack that will endure many years and many conditions. It is hard to justify spending so much on a pack, but if you were to invest in one to last the rest of your life, the Bora would not be a bad option.
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