At 13 years of age, I was first introduced to Osprey packs. Not knowing the brand, I remember trying to distinguish what kind of bird was on the back of the pack of an international Scout I met at a Provincial Jamboree. Curious minded, I asked, and this was the start of our friendship. I like to call it ‘pack bonding’, as I found that a person’s backpack very closely resembles their lifestyle and how they prefer to get active in the great outdoors.
Some key observations can reveal a lot, the more streamline the pack, the more likely they are to have travelled; rain cover, tropical or temperate climate; technical galore, they are backpacking enthusiasts. Generally speaking the smaller the pack, the shorter the trips preferred, unless they are absolutely avid lightweight backpackers, who I believe are greatly gifted to have that ability.
The name Osprey, is usually followed by a hefty dollar sign. But you have to consider why before you judge, a bag is an investment. Osprey bags are made with quality material, are made to have a custom fit, and are followed by a lifetime guarantee. Most of their bags also come in gender specific models, to mold to your shape and help alleviate any stress that may otherwise be put on your back. This is just one of the many details that make Osprey such a unique company.
The specific pack that I will be reviewing is the Ariel 55 AG, in Picante Red. At first impression, you could say it was love at first sight. There’s something truly unique about unboxing your very own Osprey. I loved how there was a ridiculous amount of straps for anything I could ever need to attach. But most importantly, it has water bottle pockets. Personally, I am not a fan of water bladders due to the hassle as well as the awkwardness of cleaning and filling. When I found out I would not have to sacrifice my trusty Nalgene, I was ecstatic! Another thing I found to be extremely useful was the implementation of hip belt pockets for quick access to necessities such as, a small trail map or a few band-aids for minor cuts.
The pack itself is made from a heavy duty nylon which can carry anywhere from 35 to 60 pounds. So you know when you embark on a great outdoor excursion, you will be able to carry a lot and it is very dependable. It also has a couple of cool features such as two huge compression straps across the front of the bag to help press in all of the weight closer to its internal frame. This frame does not get in the way in any form and the suspension system helps conform the bag to your body. AG stands for anti-gravity, which means the bag’s suspension system will help alleviate stress on your back while carrying heavier loads. This is also meant to make it feel like you’re carrying less, due to the correct weight dispersion across the back. And the custom mold hip belts and adjustable back make this bag a great fit for anyone.
Although the 55 is the smallest bag size in its range for the model, it feels rather roomy inside and there is no need for any additional baggage. Outside, you can find a large open pocket behind the straightjacket compression that can be used for items such as additional layers. With easy access to the main compartment along the side of the bag and this front pocket, it really is a time saver.
Speaking about top loading, this bags lid still has my mind blown. The main lid converts into a daypack in case you may need to venture off from your stationed spot for a shorter amount of time. This ‘Daylid’ or mini daypack features two zippered pockets separate from the main and has room for a water bladder. When the daypack is in function, the bag contains a second more basic lid so you don’t have to worry about nature moving in while you’re away.
The Ariel 55 AG has straps. Almost every bag has straps, right? These straps are different, they are strategically placed and are very ruggedly made, without looking like an army bag. There is even a spot to mount your hiking poles when not in use. As soon as I realized that was an option I wondered why other bag manufacturers hadn’t thought of this before.
Overall, I was very impressed with the fit, functionality, and style of the bag. I enjoy the fact that this bag is made gender specific, made to mold your shape for comfort. The hype is definitely worth it, and has a lot to offer. So if you’re on the hunt for your next bag, be sure to take a look at the Aether/Ariel series offered by Osprey. This is a bag made for you.
Buy your very own Osprey pack at the ScoutShop.