It’s funny how quickly you can become attached to a pack. They're like an old faithful friend, you know their ins and outs and they become a perfect fit. I guess it's partly because you use a pack through the best of times and sometimes the worst of times. Taking a new pack on an expedition is therefore actually a little bit daunting. You don't really know each other that well and despite a few test hikes you don't properly get to know each other until you're in the mountains.
Aura AG 50L Rucksack
My most recent expedition was a self supported trek in the Arctic Circle and unfortunately my beloved 36L pack wasn't going to cut it so instead I took the Osprey Aura 50L.
- The top of the pack is removable - an interesting feature but I'm not entirely sure whether I would ever take the top off, especially as it houses the rain cover.
- The pack comes with fully adjustable straps to allow for a comfortable fit each wearer.
- There is an outer mesh pocket across the lower have of the pack, ideal for stuffing with extra gloves or a hat for easy access.
- The Aura is a bespoke women's pack and the waist straps provide extra padding and support which was definitely welcomed when carry 20kg of kit and food.
- Side access to outer side pockets makes accessing drinks and snacks a little easier.
- The back panel allows adjustments so that you can fit it to your height.
- The Aura comes with the standard airspeed anti-gravity technology.
- It doesn't just come in pink!! The women's adventure community are pretty sick of the shrink it and pink it approach to female outdoor gear and thankfully Osprey are listening; the Aura comes in three colours, none of which is pink.
It's a great pack and testing it properly for the first time in extreme conditions was a big ask but it certainly performed. It had just the right number of outside compartments for easy access without making it too fussy. The padding on the shoulder straps and waist made it really comfy for full days trekking with lots of kit. The inside of the pack has helpful sections to allow compartmentalisation. This has the effect of making the pack wider at the bottom and narrower in the trunk, as I'm quite long in the upper body it wasn't a feature that I needed. Although I really loved and appreciated the padding around the waist and hips it had the effect of making the waist fastening too short - in that when I had clipped the fastening there was little to no room to pull the waist band tight. It wasn't particularly a problem as I was in the Arctic and had a number of thick layers on but I think I may struggle to secure it in the summer and it may cause difficulties for women with slim frames.
What My Friends Thought
It comes as great testament to a brand that 8 out of 14 of us on the trek, including one of the trek leaders, were using Osprey. Two other ladies in my group had the Aura too. Here's what they had to say after a week with the Aura in the Arctic.
Ali: I tried the Ariel and Aura before settling on the Aura and chose the Aura because it allowed me to carry more weight on my hips. I've got a shorter torso so liked that the back of the pack went wider at the bottom which is a much better fit for me and allowed me to carry the weight on my hips which is such a great feature. On the Ariel and some of the other other packs there is a front fill feature which the Aura doesn't have. I chose the 65L so there was a front load zip but only into a separate compartment, not the main pack. That wasn't really needed with the mesh section which made accessing kit really easy. I love the anti-gravity system. The snatch back on the hip belt makes it really difficult to get the hip straps around you when the pack is fully loaded. I like the colour and style but it was a little disappointing that the rain colour didn't match the bag. I have the grey pack which has the teal feature colours and it would have been a really nice touch if the rain cover had been teal in colour to tie in with the pack.
Victoria: I love Osprey and my husband and I have quite a few of their packs now. I got the Aura 65L new for this trip and whilst I like a number of the features I can't help but think that it's a little over complicated. There are a lot of straps on the outside which perhaps aren't all necessary. That said, I would however have loved a handle on the side of the pack. Once full of heavy kit, like any full pack it is hard to get on and so for carrying short distances a small handle on the side would have been great.
Trekking in the Arctic Circle