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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
Osprey Ariel AG 65
Photo: Osprey
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Price:  $310 List | $232.46 at Amazon
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
#13 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.

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Osprey Ariel AG 65
This Product
Osprey Ariel AG 65
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award Top Pick Award  
Price $232.46 at Amazon
Compare at 3 sellers
$255 List$269.95 at REI
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$269.95 at Backcountry
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$199.00 at REI
Overall Score Sort Icon
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65
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 manufacturerHuge main compartment, customizable compression straps, super lightweight, comfortable with heavy loadsComfortable, plush padding, wide range of fitting options and adjustments, good number of pockets, easy-to-remove top lid,Lightweight, easy to access side pockets, removable pockets and straps
Cons Too many straps, complicated pockets, heavy, extra-large water bottle pocketsNon-ventilated back panel, less organizational featuresDark material makes pack contents difficult to see, hip belt difficult to adjust, rigid padding might not last over timeLarge, spring loaded waist band is hard to get into, suspension can feel bulky, expensive, hip belt can sag uncomfortably on some usersFixed torso length, rigid feeling hip belt
Bottom Line For a pack that will last a long time and hold up to heavy loads, the Ariel is a great choiceComfortable suspension for all day use, all the right pockets, and durable fabric make the Circuit a top choiceThe Granite Gear Blaze is built for hauling heavy loads over vast distances with comfort and easeThe Aura 65 AG is a comfortable pack that is fully featured, well ventilated, and sleek in designWhen pack weight is a priority, the REI Flash 55 keeps the pounds and ounces low and works well for weekend trips and ultralight adventures
Rating Categories Osprey Ariel AG 65 Circuit Blaze 60 Osprey Aura AG 65 REI Co-op Flash 55 - Women's
Comfort And Suspension (45%)
6
9
7
8
6
Organizational Systems (20%)
6
8
8
8
8
Weight (20%)
2
8
8
4
8
Adjustability (15%)
8
4
7
9
4
Specs Osprey Ariel AG 65 Circuit Blaze 60 Osprey Aura AG 65 REI Co-op Flash 55...
Measured Weight (pounds) (medium) 5.31 lbs 2.68 lbs 3.0 lbs 4.65 lbs 2.68 lbs
Volumes Available (liters) 55, 65, 75 68 60 50, 65 55
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, front pocket, side pockets, hip belt pockets, main compartment Lid, front pocket, side pockets, dual front pockets, hip belt pockets, main compartment Lid, double side pockets, front pocket, hip belt pockets, shoulder strap phone pocket, main compartment
Access Top, front, bottom Top Top, front Top, side, bottom Top
Hydration Compatible Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Rain Cover Included No No No No
Women's Specific Features Women's specific fit and sizing S-Curve Shoulder Straps Women's Specific fit & sizing Women's specific fit Women's specific fit
Sleeping bag Compartment Yes, bottom zip compartment No No Yes No
Bear Can Compatible Yes Yes - Vertical Yes - Vertical and Horizontal Yes - Vertical Yes - Vertical
Main Materials 210D Nylon Dobby 500 Cordura 210D HD nylon Nylon Ripstop nylon; Oxford nylon (bluesign® approved)
Sizes Available XS, S, M, L S, M, L, XL, Kids Short, Regular XS, S, M 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...
The Ariel shines carrying heavy loads, since the pack is so bulky and has a very supportive suspension.
Photo: Lauren DeLaunay

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

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

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...
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.
Photo: Jane Jackson

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

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