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Osprey Ariel AG 65 Review

The Ariel 65 is an elaborate pack with lots of support, tons of features, and a burly overall construction.
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Price:  $310 List | $309.95 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Comes with hydration system, adjustable, good for heavy loads, burly construction
Cons:  Too many straps, complicated pockets, heavy, extra-large water bottle pockets
Manufacturer:   Osprey
By Jane Jackson ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 5, 2019
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55
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#11 of 16
  • Comfort and Suspension - 45% 6
  • Organizational systems - 20% 6
  • Weight - 20% 2
  • Adjustability - 15% 8

Our Verdict

Year after year, we have reviewed the newest model of the Osprey Ariel. Unsurprisingly, the current model of the Ariel comes stacked with features and adjustments. The Ariel 65 is one of the heavier packs we tested, due to its rigid back panel and well-padded suspension system. Though this model is durable, has lots of features, and is a tried and true model, its scores are lower due to its complex, bulky design. With the implementation of the Anti-Gravity Suspension system, the Ariel does feel incredibly comfortable on the back, especially when carrying large loads. The pack is durable and will be able to endure the longest of journeys.


Compare to Similar Products

 
This Product
Osprey Ariel AG 65
Awards  Editors' Choice Award  Top Pick Award Top Pick Award 
Price $309.95 at Backcountry
Compare at 3 sellers
$255 List$179.95 at Backcountry
Compare at 3 sellers
$269.95 at REI
Compare at 3 sellers
$269.95 at Backcountry
Compare at 3 sellers
Overall Score Sort Icon
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Star Rating
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Pros Comes with hydration system, adjustable, good for heavy loads, burly constructionComfortable, 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 Too many straps, complicated pockets, heavy, extra-large water bottle pocketsNon-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 Ariel 65 is an elaborate pack with lots of support, tons of features, and a burly overall construction.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 Osprey Ariel AG 65 Circuit Osprey Kyte 46 Blaze 60 Osprey Aura AG 65
Comfort And Suspension (45%)
10
0
6
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
7
Organizational Systems (20%)
10
0
6
10
0
8
10
0
4
10
0
6
10
0
8
Weight (20%)
10
0
2
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
4
Adjustability (15%)
10
0
8
10
0
4
10
0
7
10
0
5
10
0
9
Specs Osprey Ariel AG 65 Circuit Osprey Kyte 46 Blaze 60 Osprey Aura AG 65
Measured Weight (pounds) (medium) 5.31 lbs 2.68 lbs 3.42 lbs 2.63 lbs 4.65 lbs
Volumes Available (liters) 55, 65, 75 68 35, 45 60 50, 65
Organization: Compartments Lid, stretch mesh front pocket, hipbelt pockets, stretch mesh side 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, front, bottom 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 Women's specific fit and sizing S-Curve Shoulder Straps Women's specific fit Women's Specific fit & sizing Women's specific fit
Sleeping bag Compartment Yes, bottom zip compartment No Yes No Yes
Bear Can Compatible Yes Yes - Vertical tight fit yes Yes
Main Materials 210D Nylon Dobby 500 Cordura 210D x 630D Nylon 210D HD nylon Nylon
Sizes Available XS, S, M, L S, M, L, XL, Kids XS/S, M/L Short, Regular XS,S,M
Warranty Lifetime Lifetime Lifetime Lifetime Lifetime

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.

Performance Comparison



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.

The Ariel shines carrying heavy loads  since the pack is so bulky and has a very supportive suspension.
The Ariel shines carrying heavy loads, since the pack is so bulky and has a very supportive suspension.

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 sleeping bag storage at the bottom of the pack was a difficult zipper to use whenever the pack was overstuffed at all.
The sleeping bag storage at the bottom of the pack was a difficult zipper to use whenever the pack was overstuffed at all.

Weight


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.

OGL Measured Volume Bottom Line:
Total Volume = 65 L
Main Bag = 47 L
Pockets = 9 L
Lid = 9 L

Synching up the waist belt of the Ariel. The pack is very adjustable and has a wide range of configurations for different body shapes.
Synching up the waist belt of the Ariel. The pack is very adjustable and has a wide range of configurations for different body shapes.

Organizational Systems


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.

One downside to the Ariel  we found  was the excess of straps and buckles on the outside of the pack. Often these straps caused confusion and didn't actually help much in terms of organization  access  or storage.
One downside to the Ariel, we found, was the excess of straps and buckles on the outside of the pack. Often these straps caused confusion and didn't actually help much in terms of organization, access, or storage.

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.

Adjustability


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.

Here  the under-lid cover is being buckled. This flap is supposed to keep your gear dry  but it seemed a bit unnecessary.
Here, the under-lid cover is being buckled. This flap is supposed to keep your gear dry, but it seemed a bit unnecessary.

Value


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.

Conclusion


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