Home / Product Reviews / Osprey Packs Atmos AG 50 Backpack Review

Osprey Packs Atmos AG 50 Backpack Review

manufactured by :
Philip Werner
Version:
1
Price:
229.00

Reviewed by:
Rating:
5
On June 15, 2015
Last modified:August 18, 2015

Summary:

The Osprey Packs Atmos AG 50 might just be the most comfortable backpack you'll ever wear. Featuring the new Anti-Gravity ventilated suspension system, this backpack wraps around your upper torso, positioning itself properly on your hips for maximum load transfer and comfort. It's even adjustable, so you can dial in the torso length and hip belt for a custom fit.


The Atmos AG anti-gravity suspension system hugs your back an hips as one unit, providing exceptional load transfer that makes your pack feel lighter because it's working as it should.
The Atmos AG anti-gravity suspension system hugs your back an hips as one unit, providing exceptional load transfer that makes your pack feel lighter because it’s working as it should.

The Osprey Packs Atmos AG 50 might just be the most comfortable backpack you’ll ever wear. Featuring the new Anti-Gravity ventilated suspension system, this backpack wraps around your upper torso, positioning itself properly on your hips for maximum load transfer and comfort. It’s even adjustable, so you can dial in the torso length and hip belt for a custom fit. The first time I put on the Atmos AG 50, I turned to my wife and said, “this might be the most comfortable backpack ever made.”

The Osprey Packs Atmos AG 50 Backpack features a new ventilated adjustable suspension system that wraps itself around your torso and hips providing an exceptional fit.
The Osprey Packs Atmos AG 50 Backpack has a ventilated back panel that is suspended from the loop frame. The rear mesh flows from the back panel into the hip belt so it behaves like one integrated unit instead of two separate components that move independently from one another.

Backpack Suspension and Frame

AG stands for anti-gravity, an apt moniker for the new suspension system in Osprey Packs Atmos AG 50 backpack which is so effective at transferring loads to the big muscles of your hips that it feels like you backpack is lighter weight than it actually is. It’s pretty incredible actually. The pack feels great when it’s loaded up with 30 pounds of gear and water, enough to make you question whether a four pound pack with the Anti-Gravity suspension is more comfortable to carry than a 1.5 pound ultralight backpack with a less sophisticated shoulder harness and hip belt system.

The key design innovation in this revolutionary new suspension system is the fusion of the shoulder harness and the hip belt into single unit that wraps around your torso and waist, molding to your body shape like a bear hug. Throw in an adjustable torso length and hip belt, and there’s no reason why you can’t achieve a perfect fit with this backpack, one that gets the weight off your shoulders and onto your hips.

The ventilated rear mesh of the Atmos AG runs down the back of the pack and into the hip belt, adapting to your specific body shape and ensuring proper hip belt alignment.
The ventilated rear mesh of the Atmos AG runs down the back of the pack and into the hip belt, adapting to your specific body shape and ensuring proper hip belt alignment.

The Atmos AG 50 has a wire frame that runs around the top, bottom, and sides of the pack, including a horizontal reinforcement bar halfway down the back. The frame is tensioned to create a concave cavity behind the wearer’s back for ventilation and air flow, and then covered with mesh to preserve the air pocket and allow your clothes to dry when you sweat.

The shoulder harness on the Atmos AG 50 slides up or down to fit your torso length.
The shoulder harness on the Atmos AG 50 slides up or down to fit your torso length.

The shoulder harness is attached to a pair of webbing straps that run behind the mesh, enabling simple adjustment of the torso length of the pack by moving the back of the shoulder harness up or down to match your torso length. However, if there’s one quibble I have with this pack, it’s that Osprey hasn’t printed torso lengths indicators on the torso length adjustment, so there’s no way of knowing, other than by feel, if you’ve repositioned the shoulder harness so it matches your torso length.

If there’s one thing that hikers consistently get wrong, it’s buying packs that are to short or too long to match their torso length. If Osprey had printed torso length indicators on the adjustable harness, or even documented it in the product manual, they could have solved hiker fit issues once and for all. It’s a missed opportunity to put an end to ill-fitting packs and one that is still so easy to correct if Osprey revises the Atmos AG’s product documentation.

Fit on the Fly hipbelt extenders
Fit on the Fly hip belt extenders enable you to lengthen the hip belt if you have a few extra inches on your hips.

The pre-curved hip belt is also adjustable using Osprey’s Fit on the Fly system which has velcroed extensions built into the hip belt that you can pull out to lengthen it.

Internal Storage and Organization

The Atmos AG is a  top-loading, alpine style backpack with a floating top lid, main compartment, rear shovel pocket, and two side water bottle pockets. In addition, the hip belt has two zippered pockets with a solid face fabric that are large enough to store snacks and other odds and ends you want frequent access to.

Floating Top lid

The top lid on the Atmos AG 50 has two zippered pockets. The bottom pocket is larger than the top one and good for storing extra gloves, hat, or snow goggles. The top pocket is smaller and good for storing a map, personal locator beacon, compass, or GPS. The top lid is considered floating because you can raise it up above the main compartment by lengthening the webbing straps that connect it to the top of the pack. You’d do this if you need to wedge more gear between the top lid and the main compartment such as a rope or a bulky sleeping pad (see External Attachment Guide.)

The top lid can be removed and a simple fabric flap can be used to prevent rain from entering the main compartment.
The top lid can be removed and a simple fabric flap can be used to prevent rain from entering the main compartment.

The top lid can also be completely removed on the Atmos AG 50, reducing the pack weight by 5.5 ounces. Osprey provides an alternative fast packing top, called a Flap Jacket, which is a flap of fabric that covers the top of the main compartment to prevent rain entry but does not have any pockets. It’s permanently sewn to the pack and folds under the top lid when not in use. It has two plastic buckles that attach to the vertical webbing straps that are normally used by the top lid. These two buckles are tucked away in corner keeper pockets when the Flap Jacket is not in use.

The Atmos AG 50 has a very conventional organization with a top lid, main compartment, side pockets, and optional sleeping bag compartment.
The Atmos AG 50 has a very conventional organization with a top lid, main compartment, side pockets, and optional sleeping bag compartment.

Main compartment

The main compartment has an internal hydration pocket and hang loop, along with a central hydration port that comes out at the top of the pack between your shoulder blades.

There’s also an optional fabric shelf that you can deploy if you want to create a separate sleeping bag compartment at the base of the back as well as an external zipper that lets you access the compartment’s content. The shelf can be attached to webbing loops inside the pack or folds back when not in use, if you want to use the main compartment as one big storage space.

Shovel Pocket

The Atmos AG 50 has a mesh shovel pocket on the rear of the pack that’s open at the top but secured with a buckle. This pocket is good for storing a climbing helmet, wet items, such as a water filter, or extra layers that you want quick access to without opening the main compartment of your pack.

Side Pockets

The side water bottle pockets on the Atmos AG are made out of mesh and have a top opening and a side opening, if you want to be able to access them holster style. When wearing the Atmos AG 50, I can only grab a water bottle and replace it, if it’s holstered sideways, but not if it’s positioned vertically.

Water bottle can be stored vertically or sideways in an easy to access holstered style.
Water bottle can be stored vertically or sideways in an easy to access holstered style.

Compression System and External Attachment Points

The Atmos AG 50 has two tiers of compression straps, a back and forth strap along the bottom of the pack that runs over the side pockets and a single top strap. While these straps provide good compression, they’re not that great for attaching or securing bulky gear to the side of the pack, like a tent or snowshoes. While using a the back and forth bottom strap to lash great to the outside of the pack is awkward at best, the curvature of the frame makes it difficult to attach bulkier gear to the sides of the pack since they are far from rectangular in shape.

While the Atmos AG 50 has dual ice axe loops including shaft holders, it doesn’t have any external lashpoints for rigging your own compression/external attachment system using shock cord on around the perimeter of the shovel pocket, on the bottom of the main compartment, or on the top lid.

If there’s one area of weakness on the Atmos AG 50, it’s the external attachment system. Still it’s not a big deal if you use the pack for day hiking or moderate backpacking trips, but it does limit its utility for winter and more challenging expedition-style hiking. Incidentally, the Osprey Packs Atmos AG 65 does come with optional add-on straps that let you attach additional gear to the back of the pack, so check that backpack out if strapping a bulky sleeping pad, tent, or additional winter gear to the rear of your pack is a priority.

The Atmos AG 50 may be the most comfortable and best fitting backpack ever made. Will Osprey starting using it in all of their backpacks?
The Atmos AG 50 may be the most comfortable and best fitting backpack ever made. Will Osprey starting using it in all of their backpacks?

Recommendation

Most backpacks have separate hip belts and shoulder harness systems that complement one another but don’t work together as a single unit. That’s why the new Anti-Gravity suspension system used by Osprey Packs Atmos AG 50 is so revolutionary. By integrating these two components into one uniform system that molds to your body shape, with an adjustable torso and hip belt, hikers need never suffer a poor fitting pack again. While the Atmos AG 50 is a bit heavy at 4 pounds 2 ounces, it’s hard to argue with the comfort that this back provides.  If your current overnight backpack doesn’t fit you well or is uncomfortable, I’d encourage you to try on an Osprey Packs Atmos AG 50. It may be the last backpack you ever buy.

Likes

  • Adjustable torso length and hip belt size
  • Superb load to hip transfer
  • Integrated frame and hip belt system – unique
  • Hip belt pockets are large enough to be useful
  • Lidless weight-saving option

Dislikes

  • Heavy. Weighs over 4 pounds
  • Cluttered with all kinds of zippers and straps
  • Difficult to attach bulky gear to the sides or rear of the pack
  • Mesh side pockets are prone to ripping

Manufacturer Specs

  • Weight (size large, tested): 4 pounds 2 ounces
  • Volume: 53L (in a size large)/3234 cubic inches
  • Maximum recommended load: 40 pounds
  • Material: 100-denier x 630-denier nylon dobby/420HD nylon packcloth

For full manufacturer specs, visit Osprey Packs.

Disclosure: Philip Werner bought the backpack reviewed here with his own funds.

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44 comments

  1. How do you think it compares to the GG Mariposa? I think it would be hard to get around that 4 lbs weight which is almost half my current base weight. I will say I have seen several of them on the trail worn by more traditional backpackers and they seem to really like them.

    • I find the Atmos AG pack bag overly fussy and awkward to use, but if you like the Osprey Packs “style”, then you’ll adore this pack. It has 19 webbing straps on it for example. Not my cup of tea. On the flip side, you can carry much more gear weight (40 pounds) with this pack than the Mariposa which has a 30-35 pound limit before the hip belt collapses on itself.

      • Looking for a pack for my wife who has recently expressed an interest in going on short trips with me. Looking at the Mariposa or Gorilla for her since I doubt she will ever carry more than 20-25 lbs max. This pack was my third option.

  2. I find the AG packs amazingly comfortable up to about 25 or 30 lbs and surprisingly less comfortable at 35 or 40 lbs, seemingly due to the tention mesh no longer being efficient at transferring that amount of weight to my hips when there is not firmer padding around the back of my hips to take the weight.

    So, as a lightweight pack, these carry fantasticly, but, they’re not lightweight themselves. A dilemma especially troublesome given lightweight loads can carry quite well with less sophisticated and lighter suspension systems.

    Now, if Osprey can get AG packs down to the weights of their Exos line, we might be have a real gem!

    • Of course adjustible packs will always be heavier than non-adjustible ones because there’s more frame/suspension weight required to fit anyone. It would be nice to have this frame on an Exos. It might actually happen.

      • Yes. I am disappointed with the awkward middling design of comfortable with light loads, but the pack is heavy. With further recanoitering, I’m thinking the real sweet spot might be firming up the lower back and hip support to cary loads up to 40 lbs comfortably instead of trying to make the complex system lighter where the plush comfort is less necessary.

      • For what is worth, interestingly, the new Atmos AG bags are a couple ounces heavier than last year’s non-AG versions. The weight isn’t just adjustability.

  3. I replaced my old Osprey with this one.a very good option but the Velcro adjusting hip belt tends to slip when I tightly tighten the belt to get a firm fit . Did you or anyone find this an issue and can suggest a fix here? Regards Steve .

    • No slippage here, although i do find that the hip belt will buckle a little if it’s fully extended.

    • Steve, I had the same problem and contacted Osprey. They immediately shipped two new buckles for the hip strap (one as a spare). They claim the single bar hipbelt buckle can create too much tension against the Velcro side. Their solution is a dual bar hipbelt buckle which they claim eliminates the slippage. I have received the new buckles, but yet to test if it solves the problem. Good luck.

  4. Sorry to read your Con’s comments. I have the Osprey Kestrel 68 and it is going on 6 years old now and I have not had one single problem with it…I truly like this Pack and will not give it up.. I enjoy the zippered Pockets on the Belt where I keep items I pull out over the day such as Magnifying glass, Camera, Cellphone in some areas, hard candy, Watch, Small can of Bug Spray, Victorinox Work Champ and a number of other items… I also like the built in Rain Cover especially down here where I live now and you did not mention that in your review? Is that no longer available? Though I do agree on the side pockets but not being flimsy but needing to be a bit taller to fit water bottles in and keep them from popping out when I bend over to take a picture or adjust a Boot Lace… A friend who just completed the AT not to long ago swears by the Osprey 35 and used it for his entire hike..He is now looking at a bigger bag because he relied upon Shelters and Tarp for his AT hike and now is adding gear to be more comfortable than being Spartan. So I will forward him your review of this Osprey Pack….Thanks for you work and unbiased reviews mucho appreicado…

    • That is a full backpacking load for me, including all my fishing gear. I actually found the Atmos 50 small for my purposes and had to bring a smaller shelter on my testing trips with it to get everything inside.

      I like that large kestrel you mention. I think Opsrey stopped making it. It has great external storage if I recall.

  5. Philip, excellent detail in your review as usual. What I need to know is if you did several days of 12-15 miles at 28-30 lbs and found the waist belt worked for you?

    I used my 4 or 5 year old Exos 58 on a long section of the JMT last year under these
    conditions last and it was a disaster. I had to bail after 3 days due to waist belt slipping and shoulder straps cutting into shoulders because of it. This was a long hike with resupply waiting, a real fiasco.

    I’d be real interested in review of Osprey’s heat moldable waist belt, if it’s still available, or any other belt. I’ll retrofit it myself.

    The tramp back on the Exos felt so good that I said I’ll never use anything else and the weight’s worth it. Felt fine on day hikes with the full weight last year but it wasn’t. I knew better but in the rush failed do a full up prep backpack of several days. Never again.

    I couldn’t carry 25 lbs on multi day hikes with the current waist belt. 20 lbs maybe. But sometimes I carry 6 lbs of camera gear so there you are. On long Sierra hikes with a full bear can and water, I will exceed that a bit and get close to 30 lbs setting out. I’m going to be very disappointed if I can’t get this pack to work for me at these weights. The mesh back is genius.

    • I’ve been testing out the Atmos AG for about 6 weeks and I’ve taken numerous hikes/backpacks with it with different gear combinations in different terrain to understand how it ticks. I’m rather proud of the way I review packs and backpacking gear, you know, by actually using it instead of posing it in my back yard or repeating what the manufacturer’s PR firms want me to say. I normally carry 20-30 pounds on hikes (even day trips because I use them to train) because I carry comfort items (mainly electronics) or extra review gear on my trips and lately some fishing tackle (and even bib waders). On all of those trips, The Atmos AG 50 hip belt has performed flawlessly for me. The fit is fabulous for me because the pre-curved hip belt fits my hips perfectly without requiring extra adjustment. I’ve lost a few pounds this year from all of the hiking too – just got back from 4 days in New Hampshire and doing some epic routes.

  6. One item that deserves mention is Osprey’s All Mighty Guarantee. On its maiden voyage on the Long Trail, my Exos 48 suffered numerous holes in the front mesh pocket and one of the hip belt pockets. I sent the pack to Osprey, and they patched the large holes, sewed up the smaller ones and shipped the pack back to me, all free of charge. I’ve also had excellent experiences with Patagonia’s Ironclad Guarantee.

    Philip, I agree that you’d have to be a contortionist to be able to withdraw and replace a water bottle stored vertically, but do you find that a bottle stashed holster style in the Atmos AG 50 has the tendency to fall out at the slightest provocation? The Exos 48 also has side and top access to the side mesh pockets, but both openings have small reflective tabs located at the centerline of the edges of both openings. I prefer to store my water bottle holster style, so I attached a loop of shock cord to the tab with a lark’s head hitch. The shock cord securely retains the water bottle in the pocket, and I’m able to easily remove and replace it whilst wearing the pack. I don’t see the tabs on the Atmos, but they’d be easy to fabricate with a scrap piece of grosgrain.

    • I’m not familiar with the old Atmos, but I showed the pack to a hiking friend who owns the previous version over the weekend and he also noted the lack of the water bottle feature you mention. My water bottles don’t fall out, but that might have something to do with the way I pack them or their shape. I use Aqua Fina 1L bottles, not Nalgenes.

  7. Hi, Philip: I use one liter Smart Water bottles. They’re tall and smooth-sided, so those indeed may be contributing factors. It’s difficult to tell, but in reexamining the last two photos in your review, there appears to be a green loop sewn into the top edge of the side pocket’s side opening.

    • There is a small fabric loop on the hem of the water bottle pockets. Is that really used to tie your bottles into the pockets. What a kluge!!!?*&^#@

      • Hey, Philip! I think that was Osprey’s intent. It may be a kluge, but it works for me! Before hitting upon the idea of using a piece of shock cord to retain my water bottle within the pocket, it would frequently fall out, usually at the most inopportune time. Imagine chasing after a water bottle merrily rolling down a rock slab or plopping contentedly into a mud puddle. By the way, thanks for the tip on TentPole Technologies in your Eureka Solitaire review. With a new set of poles and some other minor modifications, I’m fairly certain that I’ll be able to get the total packed weight of my Sierra Designs Flash Magic tent well below 3 pounds.

  8. Thanks for the review Philip. I happened to be in REI yesterday and checked one out. Purely as a design and sewing project the pack is very impressive. Even with Asian labor its amazing Osprey can sell these for so little. Sewing the hipbelt and backpanel complex together must require quite a bit of training.

    The load transfer is very good. 40 pounds (all the sandbags REI had) didn’t faze the frame in the least. Unfortunately, the trampoline backpanel moves the COG about 2″ off my lumbar, which was very noticeable. I understand the desire for sweat mitigation, but I just don’t see how it will ever be an acceptable compromise for anything above 30 pounds.

    I wish REI had had a few waterbags or rocks on hand, I’m curious if at 60+ lbs the suspended lumbar mesh would start to buckle. I can certainly see the pre-loaded hipbelt technology working well in some of Osprey’s less-fatty packs, which would be nice to see.

    • Exactly. The Downside of a trampoline suspension is that it puts the load too far away from your back, pulling you backwards the heavier you load it. Still the pack is impressive for lighter loads.

  9. I know that you like packs like the Mariposa that have the external storage. Was this pack comfortable enough sacrifice some of that external storage?

    • Borderline. If I already owned an Atoms I’d want to upgrade. But I can’t really use a wood stove with the Atoms because there’s no place to put the pot i use with it except inside the pack where it will smell up all my clothes.

      • You must really like the external storage options. I will have to experience a pack with these options. External storage does look pretty awesome.

  10. Paula turned in her unused, last-year’s model Aura for the new version. Curiously, the pack bag looks huge, much bigger than my 4-year-old Atmos. We’re eager to take it for a test drive.

  11. I have an Osprey Kestrel 48 which I like. How does the Atmos 50 compare. Is there a difference great enough to consider going with the Atmos?

  12. Scott Dirkschneider

    The AG 50 is my third pack. I started with an Osprey Aether but it was to big. Purchased the ULA Circuit and although it was lighter it wasn’t as comfortable. The AG 50 has proven to be the most comfortable pack I have worn (Hiked just over 200 miles on the AT in May with this pack) but… I find little use for the double lids and extra top compartment. I was ready to return because it didn’t include sleeping pad straps. But I decided I would make due. I have since sew on pad straps and have taken off the extra top lid. I think I will be hiking with this pack for a long time. Its just that comfortable!

  13. I’m an osprey guy. My current largest pack is the Talon 44 which I love. But I’m looking to add a slightly larger pack for when I need the extra space. It’s between the Atmos AG 65 and the Exos 58. I was also thinking about the Atmos AG 50, but it may be too close in size to my Talon. Both the Atmos & Exos have similar features. The Exos is lighter but the Atmos 65 has those two outside zipper pockets that will come in handy. Although I found both packs to be very comfortable loaded, the Atmos AG really blew me away with how it felt and carried.

    • I just upgraded from my Talon 44 to the Atmos AG 50… It’s way bigger! I was a little disappointed with the lack of pad straps as mentioned by others, but I moved all my gear from the 44 over to the 50 and have room to spare, even without the external pad straps, which I was using before. My wife is going to use my 44 for a couple days out on the AT later this month, I was worried that a 30L that she has wouldn’t handle all of the necessary gear, even if I overload my 44L. So now we have a 50 and a 44 for the trip, I think we’ll be fine, even with some luxuries like pillows!

  14. Cool. Good to know. The local store here only had the Atmos AG 65 for me to try on, so I just guessed the AG 50 was similar in size to my Talon 44. But I loved how comfortable the AG 65 felt. I can only assume the AG 50 is as comfortable. I’m a big guy, so the large size would actually be 53L according to Osprey’s specs. Soon as a get a chance to try on the AG 50, I just may go for that.

    I don’t know why Osprey left off the sleeping pad straps on the AG 50. But since I use a hammock, I don’t really need it.

  15. As a disclaimer for my/our opinions I must first say that we are only this year prepping for potential selected AT section hikes. As yet we have not done any multi-day trips. On day-hikes, we have covered all of the NJ AT south of Culver Lake. We have hiked the Delaware Water Gap area for the last 3 years. So, please take our comments with a grain of salt.

    I have the Atmos AG65 and my wife has the Aura AG50. Previously we used Bean’s AT 35 and 55, which we subsequently found to be inadequate for various reasons, but we became partial to the mesh suspension systems. Though she tried on many packs of varying brands and configurations, the Aura was the ONLY one that she could tolerate on her back.

    Oh yeah, she had an extreme case of scoliosis as a kid and has suffered with a titanium rod and markers in her spine ever since. All but 3 vertebrae are fused. She also has hip problems and type II. She’s the last person on earth who should be out in the woods carrying a pack (I limit her to 15-20lbs). She’s probably the toughest person I know, and refuses to accept defeat. Our first time out with the Osprey’s, we made one or two minor adjustments for her and she has been happy as a clam ever since, saying she is perfectly comfortable with her pack as is.

    However, on that same first outing, I tried many many adjustments to my AG65 to no joy, concluding that I needed to get the next larger torso size. At 5′ 4″ and 145lbs or so, I always seem to be right at the edge of sizing, no matter what the gear or clothing. Returned the small to REI and picked up a medium. Next time out, a few minor adjustments and now I’m very happy. It truly is *very* comfortable. All trials have been with what I consider to be full loads. I do try to limit myself to 30lbs total though, but for multi-day hikes I’ll probably have to carry a bit more to keep her as light as possible.

    For newbies, I’d like to add that when “fitting” a pack on at a retail store, you should take a full load of your own gear with you to fill the pack and then pack it as you would for a real trip. The bean bag weights are NOT the same and don’t carry the same.

    BTW, on both my digital and analog postal scales, the 65 weighs 4lbs 3oz without the “brain”. However I have to balance the pack with my hand on the small scales, so accuracy likely suffers a bit.

    I also found the side pockets to be inadequate for smartwater bottles, they do fall out if you bend over to tie shoes or pick up a dropped pole, knock a tick off yer leg etc. I also tied a shock cord loop to hold the bottles in but I tied it to the lower compression strap right near the fitting above the pocket. Without it, even empty bottles in the upright position will pop out due to the compression of the stretch pocket. I find the pockets to be too short for the taller, narrower, straight sided bottles. The REI “expert” told me those pockets are optimized for 1L nalgenes…does anyone still carry those boat anchors?!

    I don’t understand the compression straps crossing the side pockets. Surely there is a better method. I find the straps make it nearly impossible to get the bottles to seat back in the pockets while wearing the pack. That said, I no longer have the mobility I used to have, especially in my arms/shoulders. I would think those straps should be routed through the inside of the pocket, or at least Osprey should/could provide that option. Otherwise the straps must be left so loose as to be virtually useless for compression.

    I have girly-man size hands and I find the belt pockets to be woefully inadequate. They’re just too tight to easily remove anything. Pretty much once something goes in, it stays in. Makes ’em kinda useless, I think. Given the last few decades of incompetence being promoted, I’d bet whoever designed those must be CEO by now! Because of those poor belt pockets and the awkward side pockets, I’m seriously considering some add-on shoulder strap pockets and/or a small fanny pack to hang over the waist belt for carrying a 500ml bottle and a few pcs of trail grub. We have Camelbak bladders but lately they developed a horrible taste in spite of never having anything but plain water in them, and always being rinsed and well aired out after use. Having tried Phillips cleaning methods and thus far failing, we’ll stick to bottles instead.

    At first I thought the separate sleeping bag compartment was a neat “feature”, but now I’m viewing it as an unnecessary cost and primarily a weight penalty.

    I keep looking at lighter weight alternatives, but since I swelter like a pig without the mesh suspension, I wonder if loosing 2lbs or so would be worth a potential trade-off in comfort. I’ve been eyeballing zpacks (online) due to use of a similar suspension and very light weight, but long term durability seems to be questionable. GG looks interesting, but without the ability to try one out…maybe we can make it to next years trail days.

    Well that turned out to be rather long winded. My apologies!

    • Tim, good info not too long for me!

      On stuff growing in water bladders and bottles, it has nauseated me and almost aborted an 11 day backpack.

      Best solution I found, confirmed by a biofilm expert, which is what it is: use Aqua Mira (chlorine dioxide) in those containers on trail to sanitize them. Chlorox wash at home is not sufficient for longer hikes.

      I use Aqua Mira at least every other or every third fill even when water is OK without it making sure to run it thru line and bite valve right after mix. No bad taste.

  16. Hey Todd, thanks for the heads up on the Aquamira, I’ll give that a try. In fact, I’m going to go try it out right now! Just to be clear, so far we’ve only used the bladders on day hikes with tap water (from an under-sink filter). The same tap water is used to refill the bottles, so far no issues.

    • You’re welcome Tim. Yeh biofilm slime is fended off by most people with a sanitizing wash of some kind then air drying completely, tubing and all for storage. How to do this on hikes, especially long ones is neatly solved automatically with Aqua Mira water treatment on trail, no drying done of course. Other stuff may work fine too but this I know works.

  17. Hi Philip,

    I ran across your review and would like to ask your opinion. My wife and I are just getting into backpacking and opted to buy lightweight gear instead of upgrading later. Before this decision, I picked up the Atmos AG 50 assuming I would carry more weight. I do like it a lot, but I’m finding that my base weight with it is around 13 lbs. and my total weight for our first trip will be ~ 26lbs. This includes a bit of water as the trail will be dry and I will be carrying about three liters a day in between caches so I suspect this will be the most weight I will ever carry. As such, I’m now debating on if this pack is overkill. You said it’s the most comfortable pack you’ve worn. Is that considering the extra weight? I’m strongly considering the GG Mariposa but am having a hard time deciding if the weight savings will be worth losing the Atmos’ incredible comfort. With a Mariposa, my base weight would be down around 11 lbs. and my total weight around 23.7 lbs.What are your thoughts? Thanks in advance!

    • It really comes down to fit and pocket architecture and what you prefer. Weight is somewhat secondary (but don’t tell that to the UL priesthood). I’d try both on and take them for a walk fully loaded before you decide. The Atmos has an adjustable length torso and hip belt, while the Mariposa has neither. That may be the determining factor right there. After that you have to decide whether the pockets work for you. Osprey tends to favor closed pockets while Gossamer favors open pockets. If your total gear weight plus water and food exceeded 30 pounds I’d steer you away from the Mariposa where the carry starts to deteriorate when the load gets heavy.

      Hope that helps. Buy both and try them. They have return policies for a reason.

      • Wow, thanks for the immediate response! I will definitely order the Mariposa and try it out. I was just trying to avoid the shipping costs if you had an opinion on comfort between the two. In reference to the pockets, I think I would MUCH prefer the configuration of the Mariposa but that won’t matter much if I don’t find it as comfortable. Thanks again!

  18. Has anyone had issues with the velcro adjustable hip belt ? I like to do my hip belt up fairly tightly and I have found that it tends to slip away from the velcro and I need to readjust quite regularly.
    I do like this pack but this is a bit of an issue for me.

    • The webbing routinely slipped in the buckles on my AG65, not the velcro. I returned it to REI for that and various other reasons. I then bought the AG50 from Philip and have not had a single problem. Contact Osprey for a fix or exchange for another if you can.

  19. Hi, I’m stuck between getting a 50/65 litre aura AG; the features list on the Osprey website mention that the lower compression straps on the 50 can convert to hold a sleeping mat, as it does not have the same detachable sleep mat straps the 65 has. However, I can’t find anything to demonstrate/confirm this, do you know if it’s actually possible?

    • Having both the Atmos and Aura 50, the most likely way to carry a pad near the bottom is to attach to the ice axe loops using strap-its or such.

  20. Eimear,

    The only mention I see that comes close to your findings is this:
    Dual upper side compression straps stabilize loads while lower, cross functional compression straps also serve as external gear carry straps.

    If that is what you are referencing then I will clarify that they are stating that you can use those compression straps to carry gear on the die of the pack. Namely, you could put your tent poles in the side water bottle pouches and the compression straps would keep them taught. However, I can confirm that the lower straps cannot be converted to sleeping pad straps. Most people with this pack just put their pad between the top lid and the body. The top lid can be cinched down tight to hold large gear up top. Hope this helps.

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