Di Broke A Major Hiking Rule Roadtesting The New Osprey Pack

By Di Westaway | Chief Adventure Chick | Wild Women On Top

Recently, I broke my number one rule of remote hiking.

I was trekking in the Oxley Wild Rivers National Park, carrying 18kg of ‘essentials’ - including lemon and coconut syrup cake (of course)!

I was hiking in dense and remote bushland with a brand-spanking new pack.

Big mistake.

You shouldn’t test new gear out on a remote hike. Least of all what is arguably your most important piece of gear for comfort, which is of course, your backpack. 

My brand-new Anti-Gravity Osprey Ariel 55L pack was shaping up to be less than ideal. 

The firmly-fastened hip harness wasn’t working well with my favourite tried-and-tested Salomon hiking pants.

My new harness was rubbing on the front hip-pocket zips of my trusty purple pants, creating welts. I tugged at my pants, shuffled my pack around, tightened and loosened every strap I could find and fiddled with my zips. 

No matter what adjustments I made, I simply could not find comfort. 

All the fabulous features the Osprey Ariel 55 is known for, such as the Anti-Gravity Suspension, the Anti-Gravity Back-panel, the Anti-Gravity Mesh Harness and the Isoform Hip-belt, and the petite 55-litre volume, did nothing to make this pack suddenly right for me.

Apart from the gorgeous picante red colour, I had been drawn to this pack because of the:

  • customised fit for my female frame
  • the adjustable back length
  • the hip-belt pockets for easy lippy access
  • the stow-on-the-go trekking pole attachment
  • the internal hydration reservoir sleeve for my CamelBak bladder 
  • the svelte 2.2kg weight

But I’d forgotten just how long it takes for a new multi-day backpack to mould to your body.  

For me, it was about 24 hours. 

By the end of day three, I was loving my new pack so much I forgot to take it off. When we reached our final night’s campsite, I frolicked around checking out our diggings with my now deliciously comfortable pack, fully moulded to my body.

Regarded by our local supplier and bushwalking icon, Paddy Pallin as one of the best backpacks for hiking and other heavy-load activities, this pack has everything you need for single to multi-day hikes. 

Made of 210D Nylon Dobby, the Ariel AG 55L’s new Anti-Gravity™ suspension system joins the IsoForm5™ harness to offer you a beautifully breathable, balanced load that distributes weight correctly over your body, as long as you know how to pack it correctly (see How to Prepare for World Class Treks to master this little challenge). 

This harness is fully customizable and includes chest and lumbar straps.

The chest straps include a safety whistle in case of emergency, while the lumbar straps include elastic zippered pockets to carry essential services like chocolate and Paw Paw cream. 

My only complaint with the Osprey Ariel 55 is that these pocket zips are a tight squeeze to get my I-phone in and out and the extra water bottle holders at the sides a little too snug to access once your pack is full.

Organisation and accessibility are key for long hiking adventures and it’s here that the Osprey Ariel 55 shines.

There are lots of attachment points, the lid has multiple pockets and is removable and adjustable, offering great versatility. Also, the deployable FlapJacket protects the pack if you decide to detach the lid for a day hike, and the rain cover stows neatly in a top flap with a cord to stop it flying away. 

To Wrap Up

All in all, the Osprey Ariel 55 is a great pack for multi-day hiking. Its compact size forces you to leave the “just-in-case” extras at home, which makes it the perfect pack for women in the wild.


Design: 4.5/5

Comfort: 5/5

Quality: 5/5

Price: RRP $419 currently on sale for $293 at Paddy Pallin

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