Last Updated: September 3, 2020

Osprey Ariel Vs. Aura (Best Backpacking Packs For Women)

Finding just the right pack for backpacking trips is not an easy task. And especially for the ladies – sooo many of the men’s packs are just not made to fit women, which can cause some unnecessary pain and soreness in your upper body. But not the Ariel and Aura packs – these were designed specifically for women.

They are slightly smaller than the men’s versions of these packs (Atmos and Aether), which is perfect because women generally have smaller torsos. Plus they are fully adjustable, and there is no doubt that you will be able to make them fit you perfectly.

If you are looking for the ultimate pack to take on your backpacking trip this summer, then you’ve come to the right place. Check out this detailed comparison of the Osprey Ariel and Aura backpacks, where I will tell you everything you need to know about them!

Osprey Aura AG 50 Women's Backpacking Backpack
Osprey Ariel AG 65 Women's Backpacking Backpack

Overview Of Ariel And Aura Backpacks

Let’s kick off this review with basic specs of these backpacks. There are two sizes for each version of the pack, and you can find all the basic information about them in the table below.

Osprey Ariel AG 55 Women's Backpacking Backpack
Osprey Ariel AG 65 Women's Backpacking Backpack
Osprey Aura AG 50 Women's Backpacking Backpack
Osprey Packs Pack Aura Ag 65 Backpack, Challenge Blue, X-Small

Dimensions (cm)

84 x 38 x 31

85 x 39 x 32

82 x 36 x 36

85 x 38 x 40

Capacity

55 liters

65 liters

50 liters

65 liters

Weight

2.19 kg

2.21 kg

2.01 kg

2.11 kg

What do those numbers tell us? Well, the Aura backpacks are generally lighter than the Ariel backpacks, but also larger at the same time. Both the 50 and the 65 versions have more depth than the Ariel packs.

The lighter weight is certainly a bonus. When looking at packs that are going to weigh 50+lbs when fully packed, you want them to be as lightweight as possible because every ounce counts. Especially when you have to carry that load on your back for 12+ hours at a time.

That’s it for the specifications of these Osprey backpacks. We’ll now move on to the features that they share, and later on we’ll take a look at what makes each pack unique. If one of those segments interests you more than the other, you can jump straight to it via the quick navigation.


Shared Features Of The Ariel And Aura Backpacks

The Ariel and Aura backpacks actually have a lot of common features. So, we'll check out all of those first, and that includes some common materials, pockets, straps etc. If you want to find out everything that they share, you'll have to keep reading! :>

Designed For Women And Adjustable Throughout

Women generally tend to have smaller torsos than men. Because of that, they usually have hard time getting a men’s backpack to fit them perfectly, which can have great consequences on the health of your back.

When a backpack doesn’t fit you the way it should, the load is not properly distributed among your entire torso. That basically means that one part of your upper body is carrying more load than the rest, and so it’s going to get sore and hurt more than the others.

Luckily for all the adventurous ladies out there, Osprey was kind enough to design awesome backpacking packs for women. These feature a smaller harness that is cut to perfectly follow the shape of the female body.

Also, everything about these packs is adjustable – the height of the harness, the width of the hipbelt and the length of the shoulder straps.  Each of those straps should be adjusted so that it doesn’t feel to tight or too loose. You will know that you’ve made the pack fit you right when there is no space between the back panel or the shoulder straps and your back.


AntiGravity 3D Mesh Backpanel/Hipbelt

Both the Ariel and Aura pack also have AG in their names, and that stands for AntiGravity. Basically, it’s the materials and technologies that went into the entire harness of the packs.

What is unique to this type of harness is that it incorporates a sprung-lumbar section that completely conforms to your body. That helps you not feel the weight of the backpacks, and keeps your torso from hurting.

Additionally, the AG harness is also ventilated incredibly well, and it won’t get smelly even if you do! Jokes aside, it is very breathable, which will certainly come in handy for July or August hiking trips.

Anti Gravity Backpanel

FlapJacket Top Cover

The US versions of these packs (the ones on Amazon) come with a detachable DayLid. That is the top part of the back that acts as a lid for the main compartment, but which can also be removed and used on its own. But wait, if you remove the lid how do you close the pack? And that’s where the FlapJacket cover comes in.

It is the topmost part of the pack that goes over the main compartment, and ensures that all your stuff is protected even when the lid is removed. Basically, you get two packs for the price of one – the main Ariel/Aura pack, and the small removable DayLid, which comes in handy when you only need to bring your wallet and phone.


Removable Top Lid

This features goes hand-in-hand with the previous one. It is the removable DayLid that I already talked about. It’s good for a few reasons; one, it means that you can separate this smaller pack from the main body of the backpack, and only carry a few items with you when you are going somewhere from camp or wherever.

The second reason why this is a good feature is that it allows you to make you pack lighter. I’m not sure exactly how much the lid weighs, but when you are carrying 50+lbs on your back, every single ounce counts. And with that FlapJacket closure, all of your stuff will be completely safe even without the original lid.

Top Lid

Included Raincover

On the European versions of these packs, you won’t get the detachable DayLid. Instead, you will get a raincover with the packs. I think that’s because Osprey knows just how much rain we in Europe have to deal with, regardless of the season.

The raincover can be a good thing or a bad thing. It’s good because it will protect your pack from getting wet, and also all of your belongings inside it. But if you already have one, or live in a very dry area then you probably won’t get much use out of it. However, I’m sure that you can at least appreciate the value that it adds to the pack, as a large Osprey raincover could set you back $30-50 on its own.

Raincover

Internal Hydration Sleeve

Both the Ariel and the Aura packs are designed for longer backpacking or hiking trips. They are perfectly appropriate for a 2 week adventure, and do you know what’s the most important thing that you going to need during it? Water! It’s very important to stay hydrated wherever you go, especially since we’re entering the warmer months.

The good news is that both packs have a hydration sleeve. And naturally, both are compatible with Osprey Hydraulics reservoirs. I don’t know if you’re familiar with Osprey’s hydration gear, but if you get all the little attachments, you can easily set up every backpack for hands-free hydration. That can definitely come in handy during longer hiking trips.

Hydration Sleeve

Sleeping Bag Compartment And Straps

For one thing, both of these Osprey packs have a dedicated sleeping bag compartment. I love this feature, because I really hate it when I have to put my sleeping bag in the main compartment. It takes up sooo much space, and I usually have to take everything else out of the pack when I need it.

Naturally, that one is a bonus. Another thing you’ll really like about these packs is the addition of removable sleeping pad straps. These allow you to attach your sleeping pad to the pack’s exterior, so they won’t take up any space inside.

Yes, I know that there’s a difference between a sleeping bag and sleeping pad. But the bottom line is that both packs are fully equipped to carry both those things, and your bag/pad preference won’t be the reason why you choose one over the other.

Osprey Ariel AG 65 Women's Backpacking Backpack

Trekking Pole And Ice Axe Straps

Ugh, don’t you just hate it when you no longer need your trekking pole but you have to carry it in your hands for the rest of the hike? And then your phone rings and everything just goes to hell. Well, that’s one less thing you need to worry about if you get one of these Osprey packs!

There are straps/loops for both the trekking pole and the ice axe. The first ones are called Stow-on-the-Go, and they allow you to easily attach the trekking poles to the sides of your pack. They won’t be in your way, and they side pockets will protect them from falling out.

The twin ice axe loops are at the front of the packs. They were designed to keep the ice axe in place, and you really don’t have to worry about it falling off or getting detached – if you properly attach it in the first place. So, you will be able to attach all of your gear to the exterior of your backpack, and you won’t have to carry anything in your hands!


Twin Hipbelt Pockets

One of my all-time favorite features of all backpacks, and especially these larger ones. How many times did you have to stop, take off your entire hiking pack just to get to your phone or wallet that were in the main compartment? And, especially women, who already struggle with finding pants and shorts that actually have functional pockets!

That’s why you will love hipbelt pockets. Both of these Osprey packs have twin zippered hipbelt pockets, which allow you to have all your necessities right there on your waist. They are just large enough to fit your phone, wallet, gps, sunglasses, chapstick and what not – all of those small items that you need every 5 minutes, and that are somehow never easily accessible.

Hipbelt Pockets

Sternum Strap With Emergency Whistle And Hipbelt

Nothing unusual here, just the standard sternum strap that you’ll find on pretty much every Osprey pack. Its main function is to connect the two shoulder straps and ensure that they won’t budge an inch when you are carrying the pack.

Now, when you have a very heavy backpack on your shoulders, it’s important that the weight is evenly distributed among them. Imagine if one of the straps slides off your body – one shoulder will feel that entire weight and that’s going to hurt. And that’s why you need a sternum strap. Plus, this one doubles as an emergency whistle, so you can easily call for help if you find yourself in a risky situation.

I also have to mention that both of these packs feature a hipbelt. There is a slight difference when it comes to the materials the hipbelts are made from, but their function is the same – to distribute the load of the pack evenly across your entire torso, and ensure that you don’t feel sore or hurt the next day.

Sternum Strap And Hipbelt

Stretch Side Pockets

I know that not all of you like to carry hydration sleeves in your packs, and actually prefer the old-school water bottle hydration style. Lucky for you, both the Ariel and Aura packs feature stretch side pockets that are perfectly built to fit water bottles.

There is a slight difference – the Ariel packs have InsideOut compression on these pockets, and the Aura ones don’t. This type of compression basically means that you can adjust the compression straps from both inside the pocket, as well as outside it.

Side Pockets

About The Osprey Ariel Backpack

First of all, you should know that there is a slight difference between the 55 and 65 versions of this backpack. The Ariel 55 has a single vertical zippered side access point through which you can get to the main compartment that the larger pack doesn’t have.

The Ariel 65, on the other hand, features a J-zip front panel access – a feature that no other Osprey packs in this review have.

And that is the only difference between the two. Everything else about the packs is pretty much the same, and now we’ll take a look at the features that set the Ariel pack apart from the Aura pack.


Compatible With Osprey Daylite Packs

If you are looking at these packs because you need something for a backpacking trip that’s going to last a few weeks, then you’ll love this feature. You know that you can’t carry the entire 50+lb backpack on you at all times, especially if you just want to go out for the night. Well, with the Ariel packs you won’t have to.

These two Osprey packs are compatible with the Osprey Daylite and Daylite plus – the two small packs that are perfect for your everyday adventures. If you already own one of those, that’s even better! Just attach it and you’re done. If not, you might want to consider getting one, since they can be very useful. And they’re not even expensive, which is always a bonus.

Osprey Daylite Daypack

IsoForm Hipbelt

The hipbelt of the Ariel packs is made from Osprey’s IsoForm. That is heat-moldable foam, which is designed to adapt to the shape of your body, and provides you with great comfort and support.

IsoForm is quite common in Osprey packs, and it’s one of the best materials they use. Packs that feature it are very soft and comfortable and have excellent ventilation, and you won’t have to worry about those things with the Ariel packs at all.

Ariel IsoForm Hipbelt

About The Osprey Aura Packs

The Aura 50 and the Aura 65 are almost exactly the same, the key word there being ‘almost’. The larger pack has one unique feature – twin zippered front pockets. These partially account for the larger capacity of the Aura 65, so that shouldn’t come as a big surprise.

They share all the other features that I’m going to talk about in this section, so let’s see what they are!


ExoForm Harness And Hipbelt

The Aura packs feature a harness and hipbelt that are made of ExoForm, rather than the IsoForm of the Ariel. What exactly is the difference? Well, ExoForm is one of the newer Osprey materials, and they are putting it in almost all of their 2018 packs.

Supposedly, it’s the new and improved IsoForm – foam padding with very high levels of ventilation as well as comfort. But honestly, it’s just nuances. The difference between the two padding materials exists, but it’s not drastic.

Aura ExoForm

Zippered Mesh Pocket Under The Lid

And last, but certainly not least, is the zippered mesh pocket that you’ll find under the lid of the Aura backpacks. It is not too big, but it’s not too small either – it’s just the right size for all the things you want to keep separate from the main compartment, but don’t know where to put them.

But, is it such an important feature that you should buy the Aura pack just because of it? I don’t think so. But how about we take all of the features into consideration, and then decide which pack is ultimately the better one? That’s what the next section is for!


Osprey Ariel Vs. Aura: Which One Should You Buy

This is a tough one. The packs are sooo similar! They have more features in common than not, but there is one I liked slightly better, and that’s the Aura pack.

First of all, it’s the lighter pack of the two and I find that to be a big advantage. Granted, the difference is not too big, but as I’ve sad countless times before, every ounce counts.

Sale
Osprey Aura AG 50 Women's Backpacking Backpack
  • Anti-Gravity suspension - feels like you are carrying less weight than is in your pack
  • Adjustable harness and Fit-on-the-Fly hipbelt to dial in perfect fit
  • Front stretch mesh pocket for quick storage of rain gear or extra layers
  • Removable floating top lid with dual zippered pockets and web attachment points
  • Internal hydration reservoir sleeve accommodates up to a 3L reservoir (sold separately)

Secondly, the Aura packs feature newer Osprey technology in their harness, which goes a step further at providing you with comfort and support. And, ExoForm is also the harness that features the best ventilation, which is a huge benefit.

Last but not least, the Aura 65 pack has the most features out of all these backpacks. So, if you are looking for the ultimate hiking/backpacking/trekking backpack, I would suggest you get the Aura 65.

Sale
Osprey Packs Pack Aura Ag 65 Backpack, Challenge Blue, X-Small
  • Anti-Gravity suspension - feels like you are carrying less weight than is in your pack
  • Adjustable harness and Fit-on-the-Fly hipbelt to dial in perfect fit
  • Front stretch mesh pocket for quick storage of rain gear or extra layers
  • Removable floating top lid with dual zippered pockets and web attachment points
  • Internal hydration reservoir sleeve accommodates up to a 3L reservoir (sold separately)

And remember, this is a purchase that you are going to have to live with for the next several years (at least). Osprey packs are expensive, but they are also a once-in-a-lifetime purchase, because they are very sturdy and last for years. That’s why they are all worth the high price tags.

But, before you make a final decision, be sure to check out the packs on Amazon. Maybe the price will be what makes you go one way or the other.

About the Author Roger Timbrook

Roger is a little obsessed with travel. He has been to over 40 countries, broken 3 suitcases and owned over 10 backpacks in 12 months. What he doesn't know about travel, ain't worth knowing!

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