The temperature is finally warming outside — Flowers are blooming and birds are chirping, and all of this essentially means I desire to go backpacking and camping every single second of every single day.

It also means I have an excuse to lug out my coveted Osprey Aura AG 65 pack, which is why I figured there’s no better time than now for this review.

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My pack is on the left; Andy’s on the right.  He has the Aether AG 70.
  • Pros
    • Anti-gravity system carries weight well (I’ve stuffed forty-five pounds in this pack before then set off for difficult multi-day hikes)
    • One of my favorite aspects: Back mesh panel is truly breathable — My back is never hot or sweaty.
    • The material (therefore the pack) is super durable
    • Comes in various gender-specific sizes with multiple adjustments, making this fit perfectly (For example, there are adjustments at the shoulder, back, chest, and hip areas.)
    • Super easy to move and balance in (Some packs shift weight away from your body so you constantly have to battle feeling like you’re falling backward)
    • Well designed — There are two straps for a sleeping mat and behind that, a compartment to store a sleeping bag.  The large main compartment is roomy and simple, which is all it needs to be.
    • There’s a lifetime guarantee — Any reason, any product, any era.  That’s unbelievably awesome.
    • There’s a flat bottom, making items easy to store (Some packs have a slanted bottom, which drives my OCD tendencies crazy because nothing lays flat)
    • Once in, my three-liter hydration bladder fits perfectly (though there is a con about getting this in and that’s listed below)
    • The sixty-five liter is the perfect size for an overnight camp or extended backpacking trip
    • Top lid is removable, which can reduce weight.  Andy does this when we hike.  (Note: If sold at REI, the top lid can become a daypack too.)
    • This deserves to be listed: I’ve spoken with Osprey representatives a few times and they are super duper nice.  I like buying products from nice people at a nice company.

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  • Cons
    • Biggest and major con: The hipbelt is very painful.  True, I have bony hips but there is an extremely thick seam smack-dab in the middle of the hipbelt followed by a divet in the material.  It literally cuts into my skin like a knife.  Looking online for solutions, I sadly found many forums with people reporting the same painful problem.  Some said they have layers of skin that were rubbed raw; others, abrasions on their hips.  There are quite a few DIY propositions, many of which I have tried, so I put all information below in the hopes of helping others suffering.

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      Here’s the seam I am talking about: It joins the grey mesh with the black.
    • This is a general backpacking pack issue: It is heavy, weighing in at four pounds.  (Look at it this way: If you aim to carry a twenty-pound pack on a backpacking trip, the pack alone is practically a fourth of the weight, which is unnecessary.)
    • The hydration bladder is hard to get in due to the inside plastic back panel.  Mostly I can only get the bladder in if my pack is complete empty, which is annoying.  (Picture filling up your bladder in the middle of a hike and having to empty your pack to put the bladder back inside . . . )
    • It’s near impossible to run a hydration bladder hose through the shoulder straps because the straps are too tight.
    • There are a bunch of “extras”: hip pockets and whistles and ice tool loops and bungee tie-offs and trekking pole attachments.  True, companies are moving to “ultralight” packs, meaning they are doing away with these extras; however, what I see more is that the ultralight packs simply have less support, making them not carry weight as well.
    • Just an annoying note: The packs in the US do not come with a rain covers (However, they do in other countries, like the UK!)

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  • Rating: IMG_2397IMG_2397IMG_2397 out of Five Vistas
    I love this pack — love as in I get made fun of that I’m in a relationship with it because I care for my pack so much.  However, the overall rating is held down solely because of the serious hip-belt issue.

    • NOTE: There is a newer version of my pack available, though it is practically identical.

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  • More on this hipbelt issue
    • I mentioned above there are forums with people offering solutions to the hipbelt-seam pain.  The best Jerry-rigging methods range from wrapping clothing or Ace bandages or gauze bandages or moleskin or elastic wrap bandages or surgical tape around hips . . . to cutting material such as yoga mats or humidifier evaporator pads into chunks under the hipbelts.  It is overwhelming and essentially shows something is fundamentally wrong with this hipbelt.  I’ve tried practically everything and the best solution: Weathersealers.  I’ve used ones used around windows that are sticky backed and I’ve used ones around air conditioners (pictured below where I directly sewed them over the seams to prevent me from feeling it).

      Also it adds padding (another benefit) and the rubber aspect ensures the hipbelt does not move or slip (which cuts down on other hipbelt problems people report).  I know it’s not the most stylish solution but when you’re hiking in the middle of a forest, style doesn’t come into play.  What does is comfort.

    • Before the weatherstripping, I tried wearing my pack higher and lower, tighter and looser than it was meant to be.  It didn’t work.  Plus, don’t do that — The pack is intended to be carried a certain way to reduce stress on your body; don’t put unneeded pressure on it because of a different problem.
    •  Lastly, a note: When people hear a hiker is in pain due to his or her pack, they jump to wondering if the pack is the wrong size or the hiker is wearing it wrong.  I want to make it known I was sized for my pack by several REI reps on different occasions.  Also, I told Osprey about this problem and sent them tons of pictures; they confirmed I am in the right size pack, that I have the pack adjusted correctly, and that I am wearing my pack correctly.

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  • Tips when tracking down your own daypack
    • I mentioned earlier the top lid can become a daypack if you get your pack at REI.  My pack is from the UK so it does not become a daypack.  Be on the look-out for pros and cons of this:
      • Pros: If you do not have a daypack so if you are thinking of getting into camping and backpacking, this is a win-win because you can score two packs for the price of one.  Also, we’ve gone on hikes where we want to wander from the tent with a little pack so this makes that doable.
      • Cons: A lid that becomes a daypack means more weight (additional straps, zippers, and compartments).  If you can ever shed weight, do it.  Plus, if you’re like me, you already had a daypack.

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Happy trails!

2 thoughts on “Gear Review: Backpacking Pack

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