Not all backpacks feel unique the moment you put them on. With most, it takes many miles to know what you think of this piece of gear that becomes like a part of your body for several hours a day.
The new Osprey Atmos 65 AG for men, though, felt different the instant I buckled it on (and I say that as someone who has tested dozens of backpacks over the past 20 years). While I’m still eager to use it on a backpacking trip, I wanted to give it a preliminary test drive, so I carried the Atmos 65 AG on a four-day family ski trip to a backcountry yurt in Idaho’s Boise Mountains in January.
Wearing the pack loaded to about 30 pounds, I skied two trips from trailhead to yurt and back, on two miles of groomed trail with about 700 vertical feet of ascent and descent. On one of those trips, I carried my skis and my son’s skis in the Atmos’ side compression straps for about a mile; on the other trip, I also pulled a gear sled (which had its own hipbelt and was not attached directly to the pack) that weighed about 25 pounds.
The pack’s lightweight mesh suspension wrapped around my hips and torso less like a pack on my back than like a sock on my foot. The open-mesh, trampoline-style back pad, hipbelt, and peripheral-wire frame are integrated such that the suspension truly hugs your torso from shoulder blades to hips. The hipbelt even has built-in tension that closes the belt around your hips as if it were spring-loaded. The result is a fit that feels like the pack has been stitched to your back. Though full, the Atmos never shifted or threw me off balance, even when I skied downhill through heavy, mashed-potato snow dragging a loaded gear sled behind me—conditions more difficult than typically encountered when backpacking on trails.
True to the Atmos—and women’s Aura—pedigree, the frame is built for loads of 40 to 50 pounds, with shoulder straps made of soft, open-mesh foam, rigidity to keep the hipbelt from folding over, and air flow behind the trampoline back pad. And the Fit on the Fly hook-and-loop adjustment allows several inches of play for customizing the hipbelt’s length.
Features and organization are backpacker-friendly, including a removable two-pocket lid and a sewn-in nylon cover that buckles over the main compartment to protect contents when the lid’s off. Stretch-mesh side pockets hold liter bottles, and a front stuff-it pocket of the same material swallows a wet rainfly. Two deep, roomy front pockets provide quick access to items like a jacket and rain cover, and hipbelt pockets fit snacks or a GPS. As a photographer who often grabs his camera while hiking, I like the trekking poles holder on the left shoulder strap so I can free both hands without having to drop my poles. The pack also sports standard features like a zipper-accessed sleeping bag compartment and ice-axe attachments.
The Atmos and Aura take a new approach to fit and comfort in big packs while remaining very functional. Osprey also offers a men’s Atmos AG 50 (4 lbs. for medium); women will find the Aura AG 65 (4 lbs. 2 oz. for medium) and Aura AG 50 (3 lbs. 12 oz. for medium). All Atmos and Aura packs come in three sizes with fixed suspensions.
Shop the Osprey Atmos AG 65 at REI.com.
The Osprey Atmos AG 65 is a 2015 Backpacker Magazine Editors’ Choice Award Winner. Watch Backpacker’s video review.