Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park

Gear Review: Osprey Aura 65 Pack

August 5, 2010, 12:33 pm

by Leyla Heckrotte

Among many naturalists of the past and present, John Muir knew well that wild places are essential to the health of human beings.

“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out going to the mountains is going home; that wilderness is a necessity...” he wrote around the turn of the last century. His words of wisdom ring even more true today.

Many people seek solace in a day-hike at a local public land, a retreat to one of the many deluxe park lodges, or even a car-side camping trip. These options usually do the trick for me, however, I increasingly feel the need to get deeper into nature and let the drone of our bustling society fade away. I have recently discovered that backpacking is a wonderful way to really and truly experience nature—and myself—for a few days.

My first backpacking trip taught me a very valuable lesson: the comfort and fit of your pack makes all the difference in the world to having an enjoyable adventure. On that trip, I naively borrowed my father's backpack from the 1970s—a steel-framed nylon pack that fit someone nearly a foot taller than me, not to mention had none of the modern comfort features available today. What was I thinking? The scenery was magnificent, but I lagged well behind the group, struggled to balance on the boulder field, and my shoulders and back needed weeks to fully recover.

For my recent trip to Yosemite, my goal was to go backpacking without any hindrance to my experience with nature. I researched and tried on many backpacks at my local outdoor retailer (you should not buy a pack until you have tried it on fully loaded—this should be standard procedure at any retailer). I fell in love instantly with the Osprey Aura 65, ($238.95, available in our gear store) and it served its purpose in the backcountry of Yosemite beautifully.

The first deciding factor was that this pack was designed specifically for women. Osprey makes different packs for men and women, which is crucial for getting the right fit. (The men's version of this ventilated pack is the Osprey Atmos 65). The Aura women's pack is perfect for one to seven nights. Depending on the size of the pack (small, medium or large), it holds 3,800-4,200 cubic inches, or 62-68 liters, and a recommended load of 35-50 pounds (different specifications apply to the men's pack). The Aura’s waffle foam hip belt is cut narrower to ride securely on a woman's hips, allowing for a shorter hip to rib measurement. The pockets on the hip belt were a great place to keep my camera and lip balm at the ready.

The main feature that differentiates the Osprey Aura and Atmos from other packs is their ventilated backs. There is space built into the pack at your lower back, with a mesh liner to allow airflow to help evaporate uncomfortable back sweat. Another key feature is the separate lower compartment that also serves as a sleeping bag stuff sack—straps tighten to compact fluffy items.

There are plenty of zippered compartments to organize your gear. Remember, this pack, like most backpacks of the same price range, is not fully waterproof, so if there is any chance of rain on your trip, pack everything into plastic bags and then into your pack. This is also a good method of organizing the main compartment, rain or shine.

Visit Osprey’s website for more detailed specifications and features of the Osprey Aura 65 and the Osprey Atmos 65.

Whatever pack fits you best, use it well. Get out into the wild and find the space to deeply connect with nature, your true home and your true self.