A reliable backpack can make or break a multi-day trekking expedition. When you’re planning on living in the wilderness for days or weeks, you need a tough backpack that can survive anything. And your bag must be a comfortable fit to avoid aches and pains while carrying your gear.
After traveling around the world, there’s only one bag that I like to use for our hiking adventures. That bag is the Osprey Ariel women’s backpack. We’re going on 7 years using the Osprey Ariel, and it doesn’t leave our side when we set off on a thrilling multi-day hike.
The Osprey Ariel has benefited us so much that we decided to write this honest review of our experiences. This review focuses on the Osprey Ariel 55 & 65, as these models have a similar design. In our review, we’ll talk about our favorite features, personal experiences, and why we think the Osprey Ariel is the best backpack for hiking.
Our experience with the Osprey Ariel
Back in 2015, I bought the Osprey Ariel 55 as a present for Kelly. We were gearing up for a road trip in Canada and were itching to start our trip around the world. I wanted Kelly to have a reliable backpack for traveling, and it was a great purchase. I even added a custom-made embroidery of a world map as a special touch and Kelly loved using the Osprey Ariel for a long time.
The Osprey Ariel 55 was Kelly’s traveling backpack until she moved up to the Osprey Xena 70. Since I was using a cheap, crappy backpack that left my body aching, she passed it down to me. After sore shoulders, back pain, and hip abrasions, my life changed forever with the Osprey Ariel. With a solid hiking backpack, I was excited to pack my camping gear and food supplies for a 7-day multi-day hike.
And my aches, bruises, and abrasions were all gone thanks to the Osprey Ariel. Although hiking 25 km a day with a stuffed backpack was still a challenge, it was much easier compared to my old bag. That’s why I’ll never regret buying Kelly that amazing gift when our worldly travels began.
Why we love the Osprey Ariel
There are countless reasons to love the Osprey Ariel and it’s one of the best hiking backpacks out there. For our hiking adventures, these are the top reasons why we’re 100% satisfied customers:
Space for Gear
With 55 or 65 liters of packing space, the Osprey Ariel is made for long-distance hiking journeys. If you’re rugged travelers like us, then you’ll need plenty of room for sleeping gear, cooking supplies, and other bulky items. The Osprey Ariel has the capacity for all our essential belongings and food, to hike for upwards of 10 days.
From our experiences, the Osprey Ariel can survive any harsh condition you wish to explore. Whether you’re trekking around snow-capped peaks or the vast desert, the Osprey Ariel will survive.
Both models (Osprey Ariel 65 & 55) are made with 210D Nylon Dobby as its primary fabric, 210D High Tenacity Nylon Shadow Box accent fabric, and 500D Nylon Packcloth for the bottom. These top-notch materials allow Osprey Ariel backpacks to withstand wear and tear and last a lifetime.
After lugging a cheap backpack that was torture, the Osprey Ariel was a sigh of relief for its comfy fit. It evenly distributes weight and is specifically designed to fit a woman’s body. And once you’re wearing the backpack, the straps allow you to adjust it to your specific body type. When you’re hiking with heavy gear, the heat-molded hipbelt and harness ease the strain on your body.
Removable Top-Lid for Daypack
One of the handiest features of the Osprey Ariel backpack is the removable top-lid used as a daypack. It creates a comfy fit for long-distance hiking expeditions and a lighter option for day hikes.
To use the convenient daypack, you remove the lid and grab the straps from the invisible pocket underneath the lid. These straps let you place the lid around your hips as a pack.
Features of the Osprey Ariel
The Osprey Ariel has tons of features that put it among the top women’s backpacks on the market. Here are some of the best features that will help on your hiking trip:
- Front Panel Access. The front panel zipper provides easy access to the main compartment for efficient packing.
- Floating Top Lid. Secure belongings you want easily accessible while hiking.
- Side Mesh Pockets. The flexible side pockets have room for your water bottle.
- Internal Hydration Reservoir Sleeve. Secure your water reservoir and maintain its temperature.
- Hipbelt Pockets. Store smaller items that are essential when you’re on the trail.
- Compression Straps. 3 adjustable straps that let you adjust the backpack for a comfy fit.
- Sleeping Pad Straps. Use the removable straps to secure your sleeping gear.
- Sleeping Bag Compartment. The zippered compartment has a removable divider and easily stores your sleeping bag, or anything else.
- Trekking Pole Attachment. Easy storage and access to your trekking poles when you hit challenging terrain.
- Rain Cover. Although the backpack isn’t waterproof, the included cover offers protection from showers.
What is the difference with the Osprey Ariel AG version?
Osprey came up a while ago with their Anti-Gravity (AG) system. They implemented this system first in their women Aura backpack (male version: Atmos). It is a unique suspension system that provides maximum ventilation in the hipbelt. This seamless mesh and 3D cavity backpanel moves the weight away from your shoulders and back, towards your hips. This way the weight will be evenly distributed along your shoulders, back and waist and make it feel like the pack is hugging you instead of leaning on you.
So, AG stands for Anti Gravity and this suspension system of Osprey really defies with the laws of gravity. The weight feels lighter and with the maximum airflow of this system, it will make your pack feel lighter and it will help keep your back from becoming overly sweaty.
As we bought the Ariel backpack long before Osprey came up with this inventive system, we don’t have the AG version. Nevertheless, if one of our backpacks ever need to be replaced, I’ll be sure to pick an AG pack!
Is there anything about the Osprey Ariel we don’t like?
Although the Osprey Ariel is the best hiking backpack I’ve ever used on the trail, we’re giving an honest review. So, as with every product, there are a few things that will annoy some travelers. Here are some potential negatives we think you should know:
- Overall Size. If you’re flying to your hiking destination, the Osprey Ariel is typically too large to be a carry-on bag. For those on a budget, the check-in fees will add up over time.
- Weight. The backpack itself weighs about 5 pounds (2,25 kg) , which isn’t super light weight. Nevertheless it is made of very strong materials, so it can hold around 50-60 pounds (22 tot 27 kg) worth of gear. That’s some serious weight to carry around for several days, which we don’t really recommend.
- Tricky to Organize. While you won’t have any difficulty packing all your gear, organizing it may be a challenge. There aren’t many internal pockets, and you need to utilize its external zippers to pack efficiently. Luckily there are options to solve this problem, like using packing cubes! Recommendation: Eagle Creek Compression Cubes, as they don’t only organize, but also compress your stuff to create extra space in your backpack!
Interesting to read: How to pack a backpack?
The Osprey Lifetime Guarantee
One great thing about Osprey is that they offer a lifelong guarantee since they believe their products will last a lifetime. We hope you never have to use your lifelong guarantee, but a silly accident forced us to utilize it. Our backpack was on an airport trolley, and the sternum strap got stuck to its wheel. Well, the freak accident snapped the sternum strap, and we had to inquire about a new one.
Osprey has fantastic customer service, and they provided us a new strap at the closest service point. It was free of charge, and Osprey fixed our backpack in no time. Osprey’s guarantee is just another reason why we love having the Osprey Ariel 55 for our adventures.
For all the ins and outs of this backpack you can check out the owner’s manual from Osprey, where Osprey provide the right information on fitting your backpack, maintenance and explanation of all the features this versatile women’s backpack has.
What is the difference between the Osprey Ariel 55 & 65?
Although we purchased the Osprey Ariel 55, our review is also for the Osprey Ariel 65. The two backpacks are mostly identical and only have a few minor differences between them. While they’re both exceptional quality, your body size and amount of gear will determine which backpack is the better option.
The Osprey Ariel 55 comes in smaller sizes and fits shorter people better for multi-day hikes. If you’re a larger person, the Osprey Ariel 65 will likely be a more comfortable fit.
While both backpacks have a removable top lid, they have different zippers to access the main compartment. The Osprey Ariel 55 includes a side zipper to reach the main compartment, but the Osprey Ariel 65 uses a J-zip for easier access.
And with 10 extra liters of packing space, the Osprey Ariel 65 is more suitable for longer hiking expeditions when you need more gear.
Why trust our Osprey Ariel Review?
First, this is an organic review of Osprey Ariel that we wanted to provide our audience based on our personal experiences. We’re NOT paid sponsors of Osprey, and they did NOT pay us to write this review. We purchased our Osprey Ariel with our own money, and it has joined us on travels across the entire globe. We genuinely believe it’s one of the best women’s backpack on the market, and nobody influenced our opinion on this Osprey Ariel review.
And trust us when we say the Osprey Ariel can survive anything on the road. It was along for the ride on all our adventures, and the backpack faced extreme weather conditions. From multi-day hikes to backpacking for several months, our Osprey Ariel has aced the test.
Our Osprey Ariel conquered the Australian heat, Icelandic dirt, and the unbearable cold of the Arctic Circle. The backpacks also joined us for a 3,000 km bike trip across Iceland. We strapped them to our Ortlieb back panniers and had extra space for food supplies. It was crucial since we sometimes couldn’t buy anything for up to 10 days.
Our Osprey Ariel has stood the test of time, and it’s our top choice for a traveling backpack. We wanted to provide this Osprey Ariel 55 review to help you make the right decision when purchasing your backpacking backpack.
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We love to hear from you
Thanks for checking out our review of the Osprey Ariel 55 and 65 backpacks. Hopefully, this has provided the information you need to make your decision on your next backpacking backpack. If you have experiences with Osprey Ariel or other tips to recommend, please leave a comment below.
Don’t forget to check out our destination pages to see our favorite places to hike. For more travel tips and inspiration, check out more of our travel tips.