Regardless of the current weather conditions, we are experiencing here in the northern part of the world, those passionate about hiking and being out in nature continue to partake in these activities. As long as you are doing so safely, more power to you!
Many continue to travel due to work and other personal reasons and we all know that traveling requires preparation beforehand, one very important thing to factor being carrying the belongings.
Suitcases and similar types of luggage are the most preferred choice, but those who prefer to keep their hands free and travel a bit more lightly turn to backpacks.
Backpacks come in a variety of sizes, builds, and performance levels, providing a good range of options depending on what you are looking for. They can be very casual in style, to those that are high-performance and designed for long carrying times, such as during hiking, for example.
With that being said, we are well aware that here we mostly discuss technical products, the majority of which are not meant solely for casual traveling, backpacks included. This is the reason you are here today.
However, a high-quality backpack is a backpack that will perform great whether you take it out on the trail or as your traveling pack when you are visiting new countries, cities, or towns.
A while ago, we looked at two very popular backpacks among hikers and backpackers, the Atmos and Aether packs by Osprey.
Today, we will discuss two similar designs also by Osprey, the Ariel and Aura backpacks, regarded as being the women’s versions of the Atmos and Aether designs.
Our aim is to provide an idea as to which one would be the best choice depending on design, performance, comfort, and other necessary features.
Let us get right into it!
- 1. Osprey – The Brand
- 2. The Reason for Men’s and Women’s Backpacks
- 3. Osprey Ariel AG Backpacks
- 4. Osprey Aura AG Backpacks
- 5. Comparison: Ariel AG vs Aura AG
- 6. Which One is Better? Which One Should You Choose?
- 7. Where To Buy?
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* Note: The availability of products on this page may change at any time. Please check the materials, features, colors, and sizes on the various shops (linked on this page) before buying, because sometimes our articles may contain errors. The product images you see here are for illustration purposes.
1. Osprey – The Brand
A brand that has been featured several times in our work, Osprey is an American brand that was founded in 1974 by Mike Pfotenhauer in California.
Specializing in packs of different types, Osprey has become one of the most popular brands among those who enjoy hiking, traveling, and backpacking in nature.
The brand’s backpacks are among the most preferred choices for those who require a pack that carries comfortably and can be worn for many hours on end.
Over the forty years of making and selling packs of all types, Osprey has not solely relied on technologies and innovations that were available but has also put great effort into creating remarkable features that would later be integrated into their designs.
Bears mentioning the Hydraulics™ Reservoir for its Manta and Raptor hydration packs, the custom molding hip belt technology, the StraightJacket™ suspension compression system, the ErgoPull™ hip belt, and many more, all of which have helped the brand create impressive packs that carry better and support increased weight without straining the wearer.
Some of those designs have been discussed in several of our previous comparisons and selections, and are among the brand’s most popular ones.
The focus of today, the Ariel and Aura backpacks, are two of the most beloved choices for women by Osprey. They are highly revered and frequently written about, with great reviews to attest to their quality.
2. The Reason for Men’s and Women’s Backpacks
Before we move on to the backpack designs themselves, let us first discuss briefly the reasons why backpacks moved from single-design, unisex versions, to the great variety and options that we see today for all needs. Firstly, separate backpacks for different body types are not a hoax!
Considering the physical differences between men and women, it is easily understandable how the difference in design came to be. After all, a backpack is meant to be worn, much like clothing and shoes. Thus, it makes perfect sense to adapt it.
Image: Couple Hiking in the Rain Wearing Different Types of Backpacks
With men typically having broader shoulders and being taller than women, a standard backpack design may not fit properly to either.
That is why designing packs that take into account the physical differences and how these differences require certain size and performance parameters is of such importance and the reason why so many quality backpack brands have put the amount of effort they have into ensuring that these requirements are catered to.
This is especially important for women, as the standard backpacks created for hiking and similar activities are either too large, distribute the weight uncomfortably for the average female frame, or present other issues that can quite literally, at the risk of sounding dramatic, ruin the experience entirely.
Thankfully, nowadays, most backpack brands out there provide backpacks specifically for women, as is the case with the Ariel and Aura designs.
With that out of the way, it is time to get started for real.
Read also: Backpack vs Rucksack: What’s the Difference?
Image: Woman Hiking in the Mountains Wearing a Backpack
3. Osprey Ariel AG Backpacks
Considered the women’s counterpart design of the Aether backpack, the Ariel backpack comes in different sizes and versions. We will look at the Ariel AG design, as it is arguably the most popular of the available options.
For the sake of clarity, the options currently featured on the Osprey website include the Ariel, the Ariel Pro, the Ariel AG, and the Ariel Plus.
As regards the general design that all the options share, this is a backpack intended for longer trips and heavier loads, which translates into a heavier pack, weighing approximately 2.2 kg on average. However, in this case, the added weight allows for added features and the Ariel backpack comes with many.
Image: Osprey Ariel AG 65 Women’s Backpack (from ospreyeurope.com)
In terms of capacity, the sizes vary from 55 to 75 (depending on where you are looking), corresponding to a carrying capacity of roughly 55 to 75 liters.
Being a backpack of large capacity, it of course requires good and comfortable suspension and load distribution in order to avoid putting extra strain on the body.
For that reason, the Ariel AG design comes with the AG Anti-Gravity suspension technology, a suspended mesh panel that provides two key benefits: eliminating pressure points by ensuring better lifting and facilitating ventilation, thus reducing perspiration and overheating.
The Ariel AG pack comes with an adjustable harness and the famous convertible top lid that transforms into a daypack.
This is especially handy for those who intend to do some sightseeing, or climbing to higher areas without the additional weight, as it allows you the freedom of having a practical pack that does not require extra space. The lid can also be omitted altogether if not needed, as the Ariel AG design comes with a FlapJacket™ top cover.
What bears particular mentioning is the IsoForm hipbelt. This is a moldable hipbelt made of 3D dual-density foam, which adapts to the shape of the body using heat, thus providing a custom fit that helps with better load support and adds comfort.
The waist belt, a common feature of both of the designs we are discussing herein, is the renowned Fit-On-The-Fly waist belt, providing a quick and easy fit.
This design is equipped with several pockets, including zippered hip pockets, and it can be accessed from the top, the side, or from the front, depending on the version.
For example, the Ariel 65 includes front panel access, whereas the Ariel 55 features side access to the main compartment. These are practically the only differences between the versions of the Ariel AG design.
The straps and bungee ties are additional features that allow for additional tools and equipment carrying, such as ice axes, etc.
There is a sleeping bag compartment included, as well as internal and side compression straps, which will optimize the use of space and weight distribution.
Lastly, it includes a hydration sleeve, which is a critical feature of a high-quality backpack design.
Don’t miss: Osprey vs Deuter Backpacks: A Comparison
4. Osprey Aura AG Backpacks
The Atmos backpack’s women’s counterpart design, the Aura packs are designed for comfort, practicality, and versatility. Here as well, we will be discussing the Aura AG series, the options of which include the Aura AG 50 and the Aura AG 65, corresponding to 50 and 65-liter carrying capacity.
While they are indeed quite similar, the Aura AG 65 includes two zippered pockets on the front, which are not part of the Aura AG 50.
Image: Osprey Aura AG 65 Women’s Backpack (from ospreyeurope.com)
Similar to the Ariel AG, the Aura AG packs also feature the innovative Anti-Gravity suspension technology, helping to carry the weight better and putting less pressure and load on the back. Moreover, the Anti-Gravity suspension ensures improved ventilation as well, making for a more comfortable and less bothersome experience.
This design features the ExoForm shoulder straps.
The Aura packs include a floating top lid with dual zippered pockets, handy for storing smaller belonging. The FlapJacket flap is also part of this design, used both with the top lid and when the top lid is removed.
Similar to the Ariel AG, it also comes with side water bottle holders. At the bottom, the Aura AG comes with a sleeping bag compartment. In addition to it, there are also removable sleeping pad straps.
There are numerous pockets in this design, mainly zippered ones, and the 3L hydration reservoir sleeve is featured as well.
5. Comparison: Ariel AG vs Aura AG
While we usually focus more on the differences, we thought it best to change it up a little, as these two designs do not differ too considerably.
As mentioned previously, the similarities between them are abundant. From the top lid to featuring numerous pockets, the hydration reservoir, the sleeping bag compartment, the straps/loops for ice tools/hiking poles, the Anti-Gravity suspension, and Fit-On-The-Fly waist belt, these two designs are more similar than they are different.
Their shoulder straps are another very similar feature, designed to prevent chafing and allowing for both ventilation and better wearing.
However, despite the fact that the Aura AG packs have so much in common with the Ariel AG design, their differences are distinct enough to set them apart.
For example, the IsoForm vs. the ExoForm, two similar-purpose technologies, are also similar in design and composition, but with slight differences.
The carrying capacity is another key difference, as the Ariel AG is designed for heavier loads; therefore it is more suitable for longer trips or multi-person trips, such as when traveling with children.
While the Ariel AG is one of the top long-hike backpacks currently on the market, and the features it includes are abundant, the Aura AG 65 is remarkably versatile and its features outnumber most contenders of similar capacity, including the Ariel AG.
Image: Woman Wearing an Osprey Backpack Hiking in the Mountains
Weight-wise, the Aura AG is the better option as it is lighter, although not by much.
However, the Ariel AG features two front compression straps in addition to the internal and side ones for stabilizing loads and optimizing space, which is a key element to look for in large capacity packs.
The Ariel AG also comes with a convertible top lid and more capacity options than the Aura AG, featuring a 75-liter capacity pack as well.
However, while at first impression a larger capacity might be more enticing to opt for, it requires consideration regarding the purpose of the backpack.
6. Which One is Better? Which One Should You Choose?
Ready for the frustrating answer “It depends”? Well, yes, indeed it depends.
A quick online search and looking at reviews will highlight the preference for the Aura AG design, and for good reason. It is lighter, highly versatile, with numerous features, and better ventilation.
While the Ariel AG is not lacking by any means, its heavier weight and the purpose of the design make it more suitable for those who require a pack that carries larger loads like a champ and does so comfortably and without added strain on the wearer.
Therefore, opt for the Ariel if you tend to carry heavier loads when hiking or traveling, or choose the Aura if you are looking for an all-around pack that is versatile enough to take on a variety of activities.
7. Where To Buy?
As for where to buy these two backpacks, you can search them on Osprey’s official website, or on your favorite online or physical store that sells outdoor gear, depending on where you live.
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