Osprey Ariel AG 65 Review
Cons: Too many straps, complicated pockets, heavy, extra-large water bottle pockets
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Osprey Ariel is a longstanding favorite in the world of backpacking packs and continues to hold its own, even as new technologies develop around it. The Ariel is a more traditional backpacking pack, with lots of cushion, support, and excessive straps, pockets, and buckles on the outside. Some will appreciate this feature set, while others may think its a bit too much. We feel that it is best suited for those taking expeditions into remote terrain or folks who need to haul a lot of extra gear such as on backcountry climbing trips.
Comfort and Suspension
The Ariel is designed with a heavily padded hip belt shoulder straps which contributes to high marks in comfort. An Airscape back panel creates airflow allowing for all-day comfort. Only during sweltering days (90+ Fahrenheit) was the limited airflow noticeable. Unlike the Aura AG, with an airflow design intended to separate your back and the pack with significant space, the Ariel has a slight curve that creates space for ventilation, but the pack still rests against your back. With that being said, the Ariel, with the mesh panel and lighter weight padding, has a better ventilation design than others with chunky padding with channels for ventilation.
Where the Ariel excels is with heavy weight loads. With pack load weight ranging from 20-45+ pounds, the comfort was not compromised. The Ariel feels more comfortable with more weight.
A LightWire perimeter frame distributes the weight efficiently, and a single center stay retains the shape and rigidity of the Airscape back panel. The panel is comprised of molded foam covered in mesh. It is designed to offer airflow between the pack and your back while remaining close to the body for added stability. The two main suspension components work together to maintain all-day comfort, day after day. Whether you are carrying a light load or a heavy load, using this pack for a weekend trip or a long-distance
The Ariel is one of the heavier packs in this review. Weighed at home with our scale, the Ariel comes in at 5.31 pounds. This gives the Ariel a lower score since that's five extra pounds you have to carry around, in addition to all your gear! Some features that likely contribute to the weight of the Ariel are more durable zippers, bulky buckles on the hip belt, thick padding, and heavier weight material.
Total Volume = 65 L
Main Bag = 47 L
Pockets = 9 L
Lid = 9 L
The Ariel is fairly easy to organize, though more complicated than a lot of the other packs we tested. There are hundreds of adjustment options, zipper access points, pockets, and straps. The vast number of features and options are what make this pack hard to get the hang of. Most of the straps are intended to compress your gear down, eliminating looseness and empty space. Once the pack is filled with gear, it takes some analyzing to see where to make adjustments, which straps to tighten, and if there is a need to reconfigure the contents. Although we recognize the value in these features, they compromise the overall ease of use. This metric is a bit subjective, and it's up to you to decide how much adjustment and compression you are looking for in a pack.
Four enclosed compartments and three stretch mesh unenclosed pockets make up the organizational layout of the Ariel. Where this pack shines is with its access into each of these compartments, making organizing even easier. In the main compartment, there is an option to separate the sleeping bag with a layer of material that compresses over the top. This has become fairly standard in most packs. The stretch mesh pockets are amazing - the large front one can accommodate a lot of layers or gear including a camera, rain jacket, lunch, and a book. The side stretch pockets are deeper than past models; water bottles swim in all the excess space, but with two access points, they are retrievable with the pack on or off. The removable lid adds to additional organization options, so you can easily take the essentials and leave the main pack for town trips and side hikes on layover days.
This pack takes adjustability to a whole new level with the custom-molded hip belt and plenty of torso height range. It has plenty of adjustment points for continuous comfort. Customizable features, such as the heat-moldable ISOform hip belt, offer a personalized fit.
All of the fitting straps - the hip belt, shoulder straps, sternum strap, etc. - adjust easily, without resistance in the buckles, but it is worth taking the time to assure that all of the many straps are properly fitted.
Though not the most expensive pack we tested, the Ariel still falls at the upper end of the price range of the packs in our fleet. It offers stellar features for organization and durability but is significantly heavier and more complicated in design than most models tested. It is a great value for the women that can make use of its multiple adjustment options, spaciousness, and excellent support with heavy pack loads but if you find all of that overwhelming, there are many simpler and lighter packs in our test that cost less as well.
The Osprey Ariel 55 is a durable women's pack that offers comfort, stability, and support with heavy pack loads. The adjustability accommodates a range of gear and trip lengths, extending upwards of ten days. It is a great women's specific backpacking pack featuring a detachable lid for use as a daypack and is built to endure the elements as well as your adventures. While slightly heavier and slightly more expensive than the other packs in our review, we think the Ariel is sturdy, carries well, and is a great value.
— Jane Jackson
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