Expert Review: Osprey Ariel 65L Backpack

This review is my own honest opinion of the backpack, which I purchased with my own money in 2015.

A woman with a red Osprey Ariel 65 Backpack walks down a trail. There is grass and some trees on either side of the trail and a large mountain in the distance.

Backpacking in Kootenay National Park. All photos courtesy of Amy B.

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About this Review: This review is my honest opinion of the backpack which I purchased with my own money in 2015.

My take

The Osprey Ariel 65 Women’s Backpack is a versatile and durable pack suitable for backpacking or mountaineering trips. It carries heavy loads efficiently and comfortably with a dialed-in custom fit to suit a wide variety of body types. This is a great women’s-specific pack for backpackers of all levels.

A woman with a red Osprey Ariel 65 Backpack stands in a grassy area looking out at a mountain range.

About the gear

  • Model: 2015 Osprey Ariel 65
  • Gender: Women’s
  • Size: Women’s Small *the sizing options were different when I purchased my backpack. The current sizing options on the updated model are XS/S and M/L.
  • Pack capacity: 65L

About me

  • Height: 5ft 8in
  • Weight: 135lbs
  • Experience: 8 years backpacking; hiking and camping for my entire life

Test conditions

  • When I bought it: 2015
  • Length of trips: 2-6 nights
  • What I carried:
  • Total pack weight: To be honest, I typically don’t weigh my backpack, but the Ariel 65 is designed to comfortably hold loads of up to 60 lbs.
  • Used for: Backpacking
  • Where I’ve used it: Washington state and Canada: Kootenay National Park, Strathcona Provincial Park, and Squamish
  • Terrain: Trails and snow
  • Seasons I’ve used it in: Summer and winter

How it Performs

Back Breathability
4/5
Comfort
5/5
Design
4/5
Durability
5/5
Versatility
5/5
Weight
4/5

What I was looking for

When I purchased this backpack, I was looking for a pack that would fit well, carry gear for trips up to a week long, and be comfortable doing it. I had previously been on a few backpacking trips with packs that didn’t fit quite right and caused a lot of shoulder pain so I knew it was time to invest in a backpack that would offer improved fit and durability to last.

A woman with a red Osprey Ariel 65 Backpack stands on a trail looking out. There are many trees around and you can see mountains in between the trees.

Why I chose this gear

At the time I purchased this backpack, I knew multiple people who owned and recommended it to me as a great option. When I tried it on and had it fit at the store, it seemed like a no-brainer! It offered all the features I knew I wanted, it was comfortable, and people I knew and trusted spoke to its value. I’ve been happy with the purchase ever since.

A woman with a red Osprey Ariel 65 Backpack walks down riverbed. There are a lot of rocks and some water flowing.

What I love about it

  • Durability: In my seven years owning this backpack (and the many trips we’ve gone out on together), I have never had any issues with it—not one—no broken buckles, no sticky zippers, no rips in the fabric; it’s holding up incredibly well. Osprey uses quality materials in its packs, and if I do ever have an issue with it, I know I’ll be covered by their All Mighty Guarantee.
  • Suspension and comfort: The hand-me-down pack I used before purchasing this one caused a lot of shoulder pain throughout my backpacking trips. When I upgraded to the Ariel, that went away and has never been an issue since. There is a huge amount of adjustability to find exactly the right fit, plus the padding on the hip belt and shoulder straps makes it really comfortable. The Ariel uses AirScape suspension with a breathable back panel and fits close to the body.
  • Adjustability: This pack has a lot of adjustability. It’s sold in two sizes but it also offers plenty of custom fit features. Not only does it have “Fit On The Fly” adjustable hip belt and shoulder straps, but it also offers an adjustable torso panel to really get a fine-tuned fit. A well-fitted pack makes such a huge difference. My previous backpack didn’t fit well and caused a lot of shoulder discomfort because of it.
  • Weather Resistance: While my 2015 version of this pack didn’t come with an included rain cover, the current models do. I purchased an Osprey rain cover separately and have used it in heavy rain, wind, and even snow, and my gear inside the pack has consistently stayed dry (including my down sleeping bag).
  • Features: This pack has so many features. It’s hydration-system compatible, has tool attachment tie-offs (for gear like a shovel or an ice axe), plenty of pockets to keep things organized (including hip-belt pockets, which I love!), multiple access points (it’s top-loading, but you can also access the main compartment through a zipper on the front of the pack), it has a sleeping-bag compartment with removable divider, removable sleeping pad straps, and it comes with a rain cover!
  • Pack Access: The Ariel is a top-loading backpack with a floating lid but I can also access the main contents of the pack via a zipper on the front. This is a nice feature that enables me to get at gear without having to unpack everything packed on top of it.

A woman with a red Osprey Ariel 65 Backpack sits on a lookout. There are some rocks around and snowy mountains in the distance.

Issues I’ve encountered

  • Weight: While not a dealbreaker, this backpack does weigh nearly 5lbs, making it on the heavier side. A lighter backpack is always nice on the trail, and if I could change one thing about this pack, this would be it.
  • Other: On my 2015 version of the Ariel 65, the top lid is removable and converts into a large hip belt, which is awesome for day trips from camp and I absolutely LOVE this feature. Unfortunately it is no longer included on the current version of the pack.
A woman with a red Osprey Ariel 65 Backpack walks down a trail. There are mountains in the background.

Favorite moment with this gear

The coolest thing about a good pack is that it enables you to be more present on your adventures without worrying about your gear or focusing on how uncomfortable you are. While my pack may not be a focal point of any one specific favorite moment, it’s allowed me to go on some super-memorable trips.

A few years back, my mom and I backpacked the Rockwall Trail in Kootenay National Park in Canada. It was a pretty neat mother-daughter adventure and one that my mom had actually done with her own mom back in the day! The scenery along this route is stunning, and we lucked out with blue skies and warm weather the entire trip (not something I’m used to)!

Value for the money vs. other options

Osprey makes high-quality, durable gear, and they back that gear with their All Mighty Guarantee for life. Investing in a comfortable and well-performing backpack has a direct impact on trip enjoyment, in my opinion.

Final verdict

The Osprey Ariel 65 Women’s Backpack is a reliable and incredibly durable option for all levels of backpackers. It’s a great pack for longer trips, and with its incredibly customizable fit, weight is carried efficiently over the hips as opposed to weighing down on shoulders. The only downside in my eyes is the weight; at nearly 5lbs this is not a suitable option for thru-hiking or ultralight backpackers.

Selling Osprey on Curated.com
Osprey Ariel 65 Backpack- Women's
$280.00
$290.00 to $315.00
Up to 11% off
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Written By
Growing up on the west coast, camping and getting outdoors in general was always (and continues to be) a priority. Whether it's skiing, hiking, camping, or something a little more off grid, it seems like we're always looking for the next adventure. ​ I've hiked and camped all around British Columbia...

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