The following Osprey Aura 65 backpack review was submitted by Gigi Griffis. Read more female backpack reviews here.
Hey, I’m Gigi—a full-time traveler, guidebook author, creative writer, and Europe-lover. I’ve owned three different backpacks over the last four years. The first was 80 liters, which is pretty hefty, the largest I could find for a woman. After a few years, I decided I didn’t really need all that space, so I downsized in a big way to a 40-liter pack. After a few months of that, I realized 40 liters isn’t quite enough, so I’ve now moved into the middle ground with an Osprey Aura AG 65.
What’s your backpack brand and model? How much does this backpack typically cost?
I’ve got an Osprey Aura AG 65, which typically costs $260. Osprey sent it to me for free for review (over at my own blog).
How long have you had your backpack and where have you traveled with it?
I received the package (and danced around it in joy) back in the early part of the year (January/February). Since then, I’ve taken the pack on a cross-country road trip from Arizona to Richmond, Virginia (passing through such interesting spots as Park City, Utah, Jackson, Wyoming, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania along the way). Then we road-tripped up to and back across Canada (from Quebec City to Vancouver). Now we (my partner and dog and I) are in Vancouver for four-ish months before heading to Italy.
What factors were most important to you in choosing a backpack?
I chose the pack for two big reasons: the first was size. 80 liters was too big. 40 was too small, so I went looking for good 60 – 65 liter options (which is what prompted my search). The second reason was reputation. Osprey gets great press. Reviewers love them. My outdoorsy friends love them. In all my research, all I found was love for the brand and the pack.
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What do you like most about your backpack? Any down sides?
I love backpacks in general because they leave my hands free while traveling (which is important when you’ve also got a small dog to lug with you and usually a carry-on).
I feel like I’m still discovering and exploring my Osprey (in part because we haven’t done a plane flight yet), but I do really like having those separate pockets on the outside. One of the hardest things about backpacks, for me, is the idea of shoving all my stuff in one tube and not having access to little things I need. So having a mesh compartment on the back, two extra zippered pockets behind that, two separate pockets in the top, and the little mesh pockets on the hip straps is a nice plus.
The one tough thing has been sizing it properly. I had someone at REI help me size it correctly, but the “correct” orientation feels weird and high on my back, so I may have to adjust it again, even if my own adjustment isn’t technically correct for me.
Tell us about the fit and comfort level of your backpack.
I’m a petite woman, 5’1” with broad shoulders and an average somewhat athletic build. The backpack is their extra small size, which works for me. When I went to REI for the first sizing, they also said the small at its smallest size would work okay. All the packs are adjustable within a range.
As I mentioned, I’ve had a little trouble getting the sizing to feel right for me. Currently it’s set up so that the hip straps sit above my hips, which is probably good for weight distribution, but feels like it restricts my breathing. I prefer having it sit a little lower, actually around the top of my hips, so I’ll be adjusting it as such. The comfort level on my back and shoulders is good.
>>Check out our guide to choosing a backpack.
If you want to take your backpack as carry-on luggage, can you?
Depends on the flight. Some international flights take larger backpacks (I’ve taken my 80-liter in the past, actually), but often they want it checked. I can’t take mine as carry-on anyway because I have a dog and she’s considered my carry-on.
Have you found the size to be too small, just right, or too large?
So far, the interior space seems like it’s going to work out really well for me. I’ve done a few test packs for Europe and everything fits nicely, even though I’m not the lightest packer.
Overall, would you recommend your backpack?
Yes. I’m still testing it out, still need to take it on a plane, and need to work out the sizing quirks, but I’m really happy with the quality of the pack, the design with all the extra pockets, and the look of it. I’m definitely planning on keeping this pack for a long time to come.
About the author: Gigi is a full-time traveler, guidebook author, creative writer, and Europe-lover. She’s been traveling the world full-time for over four years with her freelance business and small dog, Luna, and for about six months with her newly acquired partner, Chad. You can find her on her blog gigigriffis.com and follow her on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
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