The Osprey Aura 65 wins our Editors' Choice award as the best all-around pack. Its women's-specific design is super comfortable while remaining functional. We also appreciated the Anti-Gravity suspension system, which provided plenty of breathability and support on long days in the backcountry. This pack scored highly in all metrics as a top-notch pack for any multi-day adventure.
The Aura 65 has everything you could ever want in a backpacking pack and is well-suited for long hauls and weekends away.
In this year's Osprey Aura AG 65 we did notice a changing in hip belt sizing. We found the hip belt to be a bit more contoured than previous years, meaning you might need to size up for the right fit.
Comfort and Suspension
A unique suspension design brings the highest degree of comfort to the Aura AG, if the waist belt fits (more on that in a minute). A single mesh backing stretches the span of the back panel and connects continuously through the hip belt. It is a soft, perforated panel that offers incredible breathability. Comfort is maintained, even with a lack of ventilation or support in the back, shoulders, or hips. The panel molds to your back and hips like a massage chair, with little time needed to break it in. The newly updated version of this pack has small, subtle differences, most notably in the hip belt. The new belt is still tough to get on, although it still has some play. The angle of the counter within the belt itself caused issues. When using the sizing recommended on the manufacturer's website, the hip belt was extremely uncomfortable and pinched at our hip bones. Using a more aggressive angle means our testers had to size up. The issue didn't fully resolve itself, which is why we prefer the Osprey Kyte's suspension system over the Aura AG this go-around.
The shoulder straps fit well to a woman's shape and ventilate in the same way as the back panel. Similar in design is the Thule Versant 60, whose straps are also narrow and straightforward. On the other end of the spectrum is the Granite Gear Blaze 60, a pack that has thicker, bulkier shoulder straps that are less breathable than those of the Aura.
The sizing of the Aura 65 is different from past years. We noticed that the narrow contour of the hip belt caused significant discomfort for some testers.
Another unique aspect of the Aura is the hip belt design. Unlike most packs where the hip belt moves independently from the rest of the bag, the Aura's hip belt fits into the back panel in one fluid design, which restricts the hip belt from having a full range of motion outward. With a heavy load, this may present some discomfort in the hoisting process, but it otherwise feels comfortable as a single component if you size it right. Veteran users of this pack looking to upgrade should try on the newer model before purchasing to avoid buying the wrong size.
The Anti-Gravity (AG) suspension system is the star of this pack. Past models of the Aura featured mesh back panels that contributed to breathability and conforming support. The AG takes it to the next level with Exoform padded shoulder straps, a seamless stretch mesh back panel that wraps onto the hip belt, and an adjustable harness that features reinforcing load lifter bars. The pack has an incredibly lightweight perimeter frame. The continuous design of the back panel with the hip belt offers another degree of stability and support.
It conforms to your body while maintaining its initial tension, mile after mile. No other pack has a stable back panel design that is also soft and flexible. It also manages varying weight loads with incredible distribution. One concern raised with the Aura AG is how it handles heavier weight loads. The suspension system is designed to sit away from your back, as opposed to most stabilizing designs that rest the bulk of the weight against your back. No packs compare to the Aura in design, but a similarly comfortable suspension system comes in the Arc'teryx Bora AR 61; this model is incredibly comfy and boasts a more straightforward design (if the mesh back panel of the Aura doesn't fit the bill).
The new model of the Aura 65 weighs 4.63 pounds, which is only two ounces lighter than the previous model. This pack certainly isn't the lightest in our lineup, but when you are wearing the Cadillac of backpacking packs with all the bells and whistles, the weight adds up. The Thule Versant 60, the Osprey Renn, and Deuter AirContact Lite 60+10 SL were lighter than the Aura, as were some of the new, ultralight models, such as the Granite Gear Blaze 60 and the Gregory Octal 55.
Many of these packs do not provide the same level of comfort and support as the Aura does. On the heavier side are the Osprey Ariel 65 and the REI Co-op Traverse. The Deuter ACT Lite 60+10 SL weighs 4.31 pounds, making it the closest in weight to the Aura. The significant part about the Aura AG, and what sets it apart, is its ability to carry both large and small loads comfortably. This versatility is atypical with packs of this size and capacity.
OGL Measured Volume Bottom Line:
Total Volume = 73 L
Main Bag = 55 L
Pockets = 10 L
Lid = 8 L
Organizational systems test packing, ease of use, and additional features
We rated the Aura AG with 9 out of 10 for organizational features. The streamlined design has fewer straps, compartments, and adjustments — it is an overall smoother ride. All of the pockets offer easy access to your gear while on the trail and the compartments separate trail gear from camp gear so you can easily set up camp without having to unload the entire pack.
Versatility contributes to this pack's overall organizational systems and ease of use. It is suitable for all-day hikes to multi-day backpacking trips. It is easy to remove the lid and shrink the contender with compression straps to fill with only the essentials, or it can be packed full, expanded and stretched for those long trips in the mountains. Similar to the Thule Versant 60, it also has a large, removable brain that you can use on its own.
How simply the pack adjusts is another influential factor in this metric. The Aura scores highly in this category because it has a range of sizes the waist belt can adapt to quickly. The adjustable harness also allows you to change its size, too. The torso length can also adjust for an optimized fit using a slider. The Bora AR has a similarly easy-to-adjust harness. On top of the adjustment options for fit, the Aura AG has multiple compression straps on the sides, top, and interior, for securing gear.
Properly adjusting your gear lends to better stability and support while backpacking. When there is free space or moving gear inside of the pack, stability and comfort are compromised. Most models have these features as well, but the Aura and the Lowe Alpine Manaslu provide straps for fine-tuning adjustments. Final adjustments are straightforward with the smooth pull of each shoulder strap, load lifter strap, and sternum strap. This pack has a plethora of adjustment options without being pretentious or complicated. Each point of adjustment is simple and straightforward.
We loved the roomy mesh front pocket on the Aura 65.
The Aura still maintains a variety of useful features without being excessive. The majority of the pack's features are made up of the main body, the two zippered pockets on the outside, and the one large mesh stow pocket. Though this provides a lot of options for storage, it is relatively simple.
Although the main compartment appears to be too slim and curved to fit a lot, it performed well in our ping pong ball volume test. The main compartment has top and bottom access; the top cinches closed with a drawstring and has a small cover of fabric for trips where you remove the lid. The bottom compartment is ideal for a sleeping bag and has an internal separator to compress the sleeping bag down or to keep it separate. Our favorite pocket is the stretch mesh outer pocket that is similar, but larger than, that of the Osprey Ariel 65. It stretches out to accommodate a lot of essentials but remains tight against the pack when it is empty. We love how the mesh and fabric integrate, adding to the durability of the mesh pocket, without compromising volume (you can fit a helmet in there). The lid has two zipped pockets for storing identification, camera batteries, and other small, necessities. It is also removable for reducing the overall capacity and simplifying the pack. Though it seems like a lot, once we got the hang of it, we loved all the storage options this award winner has to offer.
There isn't anything the Aura 65 can't handle. The Anti-Gravity suspension easily handles tough loads and wide hip pockets give you ample room for snacks, gloves, hat, lip balm, what have you.
For a pack with fewer pockets, the Deuter ACT Lite 60 - Women's has only three enclosed compartments, and the Arc'teyrx Bora AR 61 has the main body, lid, and two small external pockets. In either case, we recommend stuff sacks for further organization of the gear and food that will stow in the main compartment. The Aura 65 has sleeping pad straps on the outside, which we liked. It can also accommodate a bear can. The Osprey Ariel or Granite Gear Blaze also carry a bear can well. You can load this pack down with everything you need for an alpine epic (rope, helmet, harness, and axes) along with a bear can and still have plenty of room for your gear. The stowaway ax carry dongles stay out of the way when you don't need them For a smaller, but similar pack concerning design, check out the Osprey Ktye 46, which has a more straightforward feature set and is much lighter weight but still offers the workhorse mentality of the Aura.
With a wide range of compression straps and the ability to remove the top lid, the Aura gets high marks for adjustability. We like that you can quickly cinch the pack down when you need it for lighter days, but it will expand quickly under bulkier loads. This pack can easily be suited for a quick weekend under the desert stars or be loaded up for a full-on winter alpine expedition. It's all about the compression.
The suspension system allows for an infinite range of adjustments with the torso heights, and it only takes a few seconds to move the shoulder straps. The added ability to elongate the hip belt helps out backpackers with more full hips and gives even more customizable options. We also like that despite all the straps, the pack keeps it's sleek design and doesn't snag on trees or obstacles.
The Aura AG has the widest range of applications of the packs in our test. We took it on long day hikes, and with the compression straps and adjustments, the pack carries comfortably under a light load. We scrambled through desert canyons and never felt out of balance. We even loaded it down with climbing gear for a heavy haul. The lid is removable for minimizing weight and any extra space that isn't necessary for shorter hikes. We experienced unmatched comfort on weekend trips with a moderate weight load not exceeding 20 pounds.
Long backpacking trips lasting a week or more demand a durable, stable, and comfortable pack, the Aura AG is capable of meeting all of these requirements. This competitor is ideal for single day hikes to overnight and weekend trips to 10 days on the trail. It adjusts to suit your gear needs appropriately and remains supportive even with additional weight. The ideal weight range for this pack is under 30 pounds, but it can sufficiently carry up to 40 pounds.
The Aura 65 offered plenty of support and we felt well balanced scrambling through the Canyons of Utah.
We want eco-conscious buyers to know about each manufacturer's stance on sustainability. Although Osprey does not offer the same transparency as other manufacturers in our lineup, such as REI, they are attempting to bring more awareness to the sustainability issues in recent years. However, where they lack in sustainability, they make up for it with their All Mighty Guarantee. They offer a solid repair program and are happy to replace parts and repair damage for as long as you have your Osprey.
Sold for $270, the Aura AG comes at a fairly good price, considering its durability, comfort, and long-standing popular design. It is an incredible value to invest in the highest regarded women's pack for a mid-range price. It comes with Osprey's All Mighty lifetime guarantee. It is also the smallest liter capacity in our test, but can be used as a daypack or can accommodate a week's worth of backpacking gear. The advanced suspension technology and lasting comfort make this versatile pack an incredible value.
The Osprey Aura AG 65 is the Editors' Choice awarded pack for women's specific packs. It offers excellent suspension and unparalleled breathability with the Anti-Gravity system. The stretch mesh has evolved from its previous models to be softer, more conforming and tensioned well for maximum comfort. The Aura AG is versatile throughout three seasons of day hiking and backpacking, with varying trip lengths. No other pack offers the same features and adjustment options for such a great value, and the reputation of Osprey backs it.