Backpack
Osprey Atmos AG 65 and Aura AG 65
$270, 4 lbs. 11 oz. (men’s medium)

Men’s Atmos AG 65 sizes: S-L
S 62L/3,783 c.i., fits torsos 40-48cm/16-19 ins.
M 65L/3,967 c.i., fits torsos 46-53cm/18-21 ins.
L 68L/4,150 c.i., fits torsos 51-58cm/20-23 ins.
backcountry.com

Women’s Aura AG 65 sizes: XS-M
XS 60L/3,661 c.i., 4 lbs., fits torsos 14-17 ins./35-43cm
S 62L/3,783 c.i., 4 lbs. 2 oz., fits torsos 16-19 ins./40-48cm
M 65L/3,967 c.i., 4 lbs. 4 oz., fits torsos 18-21 ins./46-53cm
backcountry.com

A backpack is a little like a relationship: It’s hard to tell what it’s going to be like when you first meet, and then you get to know each other much better over time. But in that sense, the Atmos 65 is different from most packs I’ve tested over the past 20 years: It felt very different, in a good way, the first time I put it on, and that positive first impression bore out as I carried it backpacking with my family for four days on the Rockwall Trail in Canada’s Kootenay National Park in August, on two hut treks in New Zealand’s Fiordland National Park in March, and on a family ski trip to a backcountry yurt in Idaho’s Boise Mountains in January. It has also been the most-read, single gear review at The Big Outside for the past several months—a testament to the popularity of the men’s Atmos AG and women’s Aura AG series.

The new Atmos carried very comfortably with 45 to 50 pounds on the Rockwall Trail, including two days of 10 and 12 miles and up to 3,000 feet of elevation gain; and over the course of three days on Fiordland’s Kepler Track (photo at bottom of review) and four days on the Dusky Track, carrying up to about 25 pounds on each. On our family ski trip to a backcountry yurt, I skied twice from car to yurt and back, about two miles with about 700 vertical feet of ascent and descent, with the Atmos AG full and weighing about 30 pounds. On one of those trips, I also pulled a gear sled (not attached directly to the pack) weighing 25 pounds.

The Osprey Atmos AG 65 suspension.
The Osprey Atmos AG 65 suspension.

My wife used her Aura AG 65 for the first time on the Rockwall Trail, carrying up to 40 pounds, and told me simply: “This pack feels awesome.”

Osprey’s new and innovative Anti-Gravity suspension in the Atmos AG and women’s Aura AG feels more like putting on a jacket than a backpack. It consists of a panel of lightweight, tensioned mesh extending from the top of the back panel to the hipbelt, fully wrapping around your back and hips while delivering ample air movement across your back, thanks to the trampoline-style mesh panel. It never shifted or threw me off balance, even when scrambling and clambering through thousands of vertical feet of tree roots, blowdowns, and very steep, muddy, and rain-slicked trail on the Dusky Track, or skiing downhill through heavy, mashed-potato snow.

An easily adjustable harness with perforated foam shoulder straps and a Fit-on-the-Fly hipbelt that can be adjusted (with a range of five inches/15cm) let me dial in a customized fit. The Aura’s hipbelt, shoulder straps, and pack shape are all designed to fit a woman’s body and shift the pack’s weight lower, closer to her center of balance.


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The Osprey Atmos AG 65 on New Zealand’s Kepler Track
Testing the Osprey Atmos AG 65 on New Zealand’s Kepler Track.

With an 18-inch torso, I’ve always fit medium Osprey packs in the past, and I used a medium Atmos AG 65 on my first three trips with it (the yurt trip and trekking the Kepler and Dusky). But then I tried on a small and it fit me better. Osprey tells me the AG suspension may fit differently than other Osprey models, so measure your torso length and try on different sizes before buying. My wife has a 17-inch torso and the XS Aura fit her well, at the upper end of its fit range.

The Atmos and Aura sport a couple of features I think should be standard on all packs made primarily for backpacking: hipbelt pockets (each big enough for three energy bars) and a stow-on-the-go attachment for trekking poles on the left shoulder strap. As a photographer, I like being to able clip my poles to my pack and quickly pull out my camera while hiking, but that attachment frees your hands for myriad purposes like grabbing a snack or water bottle.

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Osprey Atmos AG 65 inside cover (lid off) and front pocket.
Osprey Atmos AG 65 inside cover (lid off) and front pocket.

Stretch side pockets each hold a liter bottle, and a bladder sleeve inside. There’s a front, stuff-it pocket that can swallow a wet rainfly, and behind it, two voluminous, zippered pockets big enough for a rain cover, jacket, gaiters, and extra layers or snacks.

The lid has two pockets spacious enough for all your small stuff like headlamp, hats, gloves, etc., and is removable by threading two straps, shaving seven ounces. With the lid off, an integrated cover panel clips into the lid straps to shield the pack’s top opening.

Side compression straps snug down partial loads and let you carry items on the outside. External sleeping pad straps are removable. The sleeping bag compartment panel can be dropped out of the way but not removed. The pack fabric promises durability, with 420-denier nylon pack cloth on the bottom, and high-tenacity nylon elsewhere.

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The Verdict

With their unique, super comfortable harness and suspension, comfort with 45 pounds or more, and numerous backpacker-friendly features, the Osprey men’s Atmos AG 65 and women’s Aura AG 65 rank among the very best packs out there today for moderate to big loads. Call it love at first click (of buckles) or whatever you like, but I am confident of enjoying a long and harmonious relationship with my Atmos AG 65.

The packs also come in smaller versions, the men’s Atmos AG 50 ($230, 4 lbs. medium) and women’s Aura AG 50 ($230, 3 lbs. 12 oz. medium).

BUY IT NOW You can support my work on this blog by clicking any of these links to buy a men’s Osprey Atmos AG 65 or Atmos AG 50 at backcountry.com, moosejaw.com, ems.com, or rei.com, or a women’s Aura AG 65 or Aura AG 50 at backcountry.com moosejaw.comems.com, or rei.com.

Tell me what you think.

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See all of my reviews of backpacks that I like and all of my reviews of backpacking gear, plus my “5 Tips For Finding the Right Backpack.”

NOTE: I tested gear for Backpacker Magazine for 20 years. At The Big Outside, I review only what I consider the best outdoor gear and apparel. See categorized menus of all of my gear reviews at The Big Outside.

—Michael Lanza

 

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