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Written by
FionaOutdoors
FionaOutdoors

Kit review: Osprey Ariel Women’s Rucksack

Osprey is a big name in rucksacks for walking and cycling. Established in the US in 1974, they are highly rated for good quality, award-winning packs. They also design women-specific back packs, which is great news for female walkers.

Why buy a women-specific rucksack?

Women, in general, have slimmer shoulders and waists and wider hips, as well as bosoms. They are shorter than men on average and weigh less. So wearing a rucksack designed for a guy will not always be a great fit. Some women have found that men’s and unisex rucksacks are okay if they make a few adjustments to them but why bother when you can buy a rucksack designed specifically to suit a women’s physique?

Osprey’s Ariel series of rucksack

The gender-specific packs have been tailored with the female physique in mind.  For example, the shoulder straps have a much narrower opening (as opposed to a wider shoulder allowance on a men’s or unisex pack) and the custom-heated moldable hip belt is curved to accommodate a woman’s hips, making it the perfect pack for walking. The Ariel packs are also lightweight and ventilated. They feature a new and improved AirSpace™ back panel to allow free-flowing air to reach the wearer’s back with improved lateral ventilation.  The quick-release hip belt pockets make it easy to remove the hip belt when needed.  The Neo-spacer™ harness system, which also offers ventilation, has been adapted for women to offer an even better fit. Other Osprey Ariel rucksack  features:
  • Stow-on-the-Go attachment system so trekking poles can be safely stowed while not in use.
  • “V” compression straps and straight jacket compression make it easy to manage the load when filled at smaller capacity.
  • Removable lumbar pad provides a short distance pack solution.
Complete with integrated raincovers the Osprey Ariel comes in a bright Vermillion Red and Deep Sea Blue in two capacities – 65L (SRP: £160) and 55L (£150). See www.ospreypacks.eu

Osprey Ariel 55l on test

I am slim and around 5ft8in. I choose female specific rucksacks if I can because I have found them to be far more comfortable than men’s or unisex. This rucksack is perfect for multi-day walking adventures or for a big day of mountain walking with all your kit and safety equipment. Equally it would be a great rucksack for a weekend’s break if you were travelling by train. The pack feels immediately “right” when I put it on. The shoulder straps don’t dig in and they are positioned perfectly on my shoulders and around my chest.  The chest strap sits nicely above my boobs (this is always a problem with men’s packs because the chest strap ends up over the top of my boobs. Uncomfy!). The waist strap is so, so comfortable. It springs on to my hips and fits neatly to my body. The padding is uber luxurious and the strap system allows for the perfect fitting. The length of the pack is also excellent so that the pack sits really well on my back. The one thing that my partner – who owns a larger Osprey pack – isn’t so keen on is the amount of straps and toggles. I like the idea of being able to adjust everything and having full flexibility but I can see that if you’re on the slim side there will be lots of hanging straps. A solution is to tie up the strap ends or cut them shorter and sew over. The ventilated back on the Osprey Ariel is brilliant. It feels springy and light and prevents the usual pool of sweat trickling down the back. And there are so many useful pockets. I love lots of pockets in a pack (so long as I can remember where I’ve stowed each item!). Walking with the pack, even when laden with a heavy load, feels as comfortable as you will ever feel with a rucksack on. The weight is distributed high on your back, which is where I like it, and the straps cushion the weight on your body. There are many ways to adjust the pack to get it feeling just right on your back. Having lots of pockets and easy access to the pack is a great asset, too. In conclusion I think the Osprey Ariel walking rucksack is an excellent, well-fitting female pack for £150. I know Osprey packs last a long time and so I think it would be a good investment. But make sure you try one on for size before buying because what fits and feels good on me might not feel so brilliant on you. There is also a male version.
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