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The Improved Osprey Ariel 65L Backpack Review – 2020 Update

osprey ariel 65 backpack review

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Osprey packs are known for their comfort and durability, and the company hasn’t stopped improving on even their best features over the years. The Osprey Ariel 65L was a comfortable pack, especially for petites, when our friend Gemma bought hers back in 2011. 

The Osprey Ariel 65 has since been updated to the Osprey Ariel AG 65, with even more great features that we’ve noted in this review.

Read more about the latest upgrades and the new Anti-Gravity Suspension below.

Osprey Ariel AG 65L Quick Review

  • TOP PICK FOR: Long-term travelers carrying extra supplies and souvenirs, or hikers/outdoor enthusiasts with specialized or bulky gear.

PROS

  • Offered in XS and S
  • Torso size versatility and adjustability
  • Durability and Osprey’s amazing warranty
  • Top lid converts to a daypack

CONS

  • Fairly expensive
  • Verging on too large in size for many trips


Why I Chose the Osprey Ariel 65L

Gemma Tordoff and Osprey Ariel 65
Gemma Tordoff and her Osprey Ariel 65

I first went traveling in 2007 with an ill-fitting backpack, no blog and not nearly enough money. I’ve had the bug ever since, but after that first trip, I knew that I couldn’t continue without the perfect backpack

I had one main factor in mind when choosing my backpack and that was fit.

At 5’1” I’m vertically challenged, so finding a bag is more difficult. I found that the Osprey Ariel 65 was the only bag that fit me properly, including other Osprey models.

Pros and Cons

Osprey Ariel AG 65L front and back

Osprey doesn’t just make bags that fit, but it takes comfort a step further. The waist strap is made from special foam that can be heated up and molded to your body

I also like how practical the bag is. The compression straps help me shrink it down when it’s not full (which is most of the time), making it easier to carry. 

Its handy front-loading panel (zip) is also really useful for easily accessing items such as my shower bag, which I pack in the middle along with other heavier items. 

I suppose the only downside is the price. I definitely couldn’t pass it up, as it’s the only bag I could find that fit well. However, if I was a bit taller, I might consider buying something less expensive.

The Updated Osprey Ariel AG 65L 

The following includes some improvements that have been made over the last few years, that Gemma’s 2011 version didn’t yet have. 

Most notably, the Ariel AG 65 has Osprey’s Anti-Gravity (AG) Technology. According to the Osprey experts, the AG technology uses a Lightwire tension frame with a full mesh backpanel to transfer the load off your shoulders with the help of the fully adjustable harness.

  • The Anti Gravity Suspension makes the overall weight slightly heavier but with an increased level of comfort you can feel.
  • Lightweight suspended-mesh panel extends from the upper torso through the lumbar area to wrap your back in breathable comfort
  •  IsoForm5 harness and CM hipbelt provide outstanding fit and comfort for heavy loads and long miles; they are interchangeable to provide a custom fit
  • Removable top-lid converts to DayLid daypack (U.S. and Canada stock only)
  • Lower Inside-Out compression straps
  • Additional main compartment access
  • Integrated FlapJacket cover for lidless use
  • Internal hydration reservoir sleeve
  • Large front J-zip access to main compartment

Sizing

XS: 59L, 14-17 inch torso length, 24-28 inch waist/hips
S: 62L, 16-19 inch torso length, 27-31 inch waist/hips
M: 65L, 18-21 inch torso length, 30-34 inch waist/hips
L: 68L, 20-22 inch torso length, 33-37 inch waist/hips

Backpack Testing Period

When I first got my Osprey Ariel 65, I embarked on a two-week tour of the UK visiting friends and family. Then, I spent 6 1/2 weeks travelling Nepal and India with it, followed by Cambodia and Thailand. Finally, I did a fair amount of travelling through South America with it.

The lack of wear and tear is astounding.

Fit and Comfort

I’ve already talked a little about the fit for me and it’s perfect. But its adjustable back means it’s also good for my 6′ boyfriend.

The size is adjusted by sliding the back up or down and sticking it to a Velcro panel. This is great as it means you can get it to just the right spot, rather than the closest loop.

It also has a ventilation panel on the back, good for those days when you think it’s a great idea to hike 4km in the midday sun.

Backpack Size

osprey ariel 65

I haven’t tried to carry on this pack, but I doubt it would pass regulations. I don’t really mind though, as I just carry a small canvas day bag which I can easily pack in my big bag when not needed and fill with my travel-on treats when it is.

Editor’s note: The newer Ariel AG 65 comes equipped with a removable top lid that converts to a daypack, making the need to pack an extra day bag obsolete.

I would love a smaller backpack as I haven’t managed to fill it and it would also encourage me to pack more sensibly. But, this bag was the best fit overall… and there’s nothing worse than a backpack that rubs and pulls on your shoulders.

Backpack Recommendation

I would recommend it to anyone, but especially to small people. The comfort and durability of the Osprey Ariel 65 is unparalleled, and I’m glad to call it my home.

Osprey Ariel AG 65L in Picante Red

About the Author: Connect with Gemma on the blog, Same Same But Different.



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Gear We Use

Organization

Packing Cubes – Organize your luggage with the lightweight, durable and compressible Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Compression Cubes.


Backpacks + Daypacks

Pacsafe – Since they come with extra theft-resisting features, Pacsafe bags make you a more confident traveler. We especially love this bag.

Sea to Summit – Of all the Sea to Summit products, our most recommended is the fits-in-your-palm, super packable Ultra-Sil Daypack.


Personal Care

Nalgene Toiletry Bottles – These leak-free toiletry bottles and tubs come in all sizes – even super tiny, helping minimalists pack it all without bulk.

Turkish Towels – They’re thinner than most travel towels, and they actually cover your body! We can’t get enough of Turkish towels for travel.


Clothing

Speakeasy Supply Co. – They make the awesome hidden pocket infinity scarves that are perfect for stashing secret cash, lip balms, and passports.

Anatomie – Anatomie travel pants come with luxury prices, but they offer many benefits for travelers. See our review of the famous Skyler pants.

Travel Resources

Booking Airfare

Dollar Flight Club – Get flight deal alerts for your preferred departure airport. There is both a free and premium version (recommended for more sweet deals). Members save on average $500 USD per flight!

Skyscanner – Skyscanner is our preferred site for searching flights. They offer unbiased search results and are free from hidden fees. You can also book your hotels and rental cars.


Accommodation

Airbnb – Airbnb is the best place to book out apartments around the world. Sign up using this link to get $37 USD off your first stay booking + $14 USD towards an experience booking!

Booking.com – Search for hotels, hostels, and apartments using this one resource. Use it for flights, car rentals, and airport taxis as well.

Hostelworld – For hostels, Hostelworld remains our number one source for booking stays. Choose from straight up hostels, budget hotels and bed and breakfasts.

Trusted Housesitters – Save money on travel accommodation by becoming a housesitter. Housesitters often have extra duties, like caring for pets and gardens.

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. Hannah @ Getting Stamped says

    Yeah this is my pack! I bought this for our upcoming RTW trip, we leave in 4 months! I purchased this in January 2012 and used it on our 3 week honeymoon in Thailand & Indonesia and it worked perfect! I too had the hip belts molded for me. I am 5″9 and it fits me good too. Hopefully I love it after our 15 month trip!

  2. Marianne says

    I have this pack too and it’s so versatile! I bought it for a three week trip around China this summer and have since also used it as my main bag in my move to Portugal – I was amazed that I was able to carry almost everything I need for a one year move and that it still felt light and comfortable. I think it’s perfect and am looking forward to trying it out on more trips in the future!

  3. Christa Lei says

    This is the pack that I bought as well! I’m also vertically challenged and it was the only pack that properly fit me LOL! I like that the hip belts are replacable as I am a curvy girl!

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