Let’s face it – we love our backpacks. We give them names, and they literally become part of us on the trail. Next to footwear, a pack is one of our most important choices of gear. And if you’ve chosen well, your pack will fit properly, provide ample storage capacity, and serve you well for years to come.
I was reticent to let go of my older Osprey Atmos 50, but I needed a bigger pack for some longer trips. After trying on numerous brands and models, I found myself continually impressed with Osprey’s latest designs. Here’s my take on the final selection: Osprey Atmos AG 65, and how I went about finding the right pack with the right fit.
Where I bought my Osprey Atmos AG 65
Shopping for gear is half the fun of hiking and I could scroll through gear websites for hours. But when it comes to things like packs or shoes, getting the right fit is critical. I found Eastern Mountain Sports to be an excellent source for gear selection and expert, relevant advice.
Their staff guided me through the process of comparing different styles and manufacturers, before landing on the right pack. This is important, do not rush the process, and open your mind to different styles you may not have considered before.
Fit and sizing for an Osprey backpack
Fit is critical, and while this varies from person to person, there are three basic steps. First- basic physics apply, next your unique torso measurement, followed by fine-tune adjustments. Osprey’s packs, like the Atmos AG 65, offer numerous ways to fine-tune the pack to your unique size and shape.
Physically, the weight of your pack should come to rest on the structure of your hips. The shoulder straps will help hold the pack close to your body, but should not carry the brunt of the load. Like a building structure- you want the load resting on the skeletal frame.
Torso Measurement – Finding your torso length is key, and Osprey has a helpful torso sizing tool utilized by store staff to find the right size pack for each person. This will identify your torso size with the hip belt correctly aligned at the midpoint of your hips for a proper fit.
You will know whether you are solidly a small, medium or large pack size, or somewhere between. I’m 5’-11” and I figured I was a size large pack like my last bag, but not so. Medium was the best fit for me, and I’ve been very happy with it. Again, keep an open mind when you’re looking at options.
Fine tuning – The Atoms 65 AG comes in three sizes: S-M-L, which gives you good range off the bat. Some packs combine these sizes into S/M and M/L, but the Osprey torso adjustment system allows you to fine-tune the length. This means you can raise/lower the shoulder straps to suit your specific torso.
Additionally, the hip belt has built-in adjustments in addition to the basic belt strap, so you can be sure the belt fits comfortably on your hips.
Important: While you’re still in the store, load the pack with weight and wear it around for a while. The staff will likely have a series of sand bags of different weights for you to simulate a full load. You may find you choose or rule-out a pack altogether when you see how it really feels.
If you don’t have access to an in-store fitting tool, check out Osprey’s torso measuring recommendations here.
Women – Osprey has women-specific designs, which may offer more comfortable options for a women’s frame and body alignment. This includes a narrower pack, shoulder straps that account for a women’s chest, and a narrower hip belt.
Again, keep an open mind. One of my previous packs was technically designed for women, but it fit my narrow frame well. It’s all about the right fit for your body.
Kids – Osprey has some really nice kid-specific packs. The same fitting process should be followed, noting your child’s torso length. However, when shopping with my daughter, who is 14 years old and 5’-5”, we found that an adult women’s pack worked best for her. Be sure to look at all of your options.
Atmos AG 65 Key Features
- AG – Anti-gravity system (hip belt)
- Large internal compartment, with removable divider to separate sleeping bag storage
- Sleeping bag compartment
- Two exterior access compartments on either side of the mesh pouch
- Thick, padded shoulder straps
- 3L hydration reservoir compatible
- Dual access water bottle pockets
- Quick access exterior mesh pocket
- Removable, dual pocket lid. Pack has an extra flap to keep it closed.
- Exterior sleeping pad straps
- Dual ice tool loops
- Hip belt pockets on each side
- “Stow-on-the-go” trekking pole attachments
ALSO READ: Our 12 Top Picks for Ultralight Backpacking Packs
On the trail with my Atmos AG 65
I recently took this pack on Mount Pierce in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. The route follows the famous Crawford Path to the summit of Pierce at 4,312 ft. We returned via a steep descent to Mizpah Spring Hut before returning via the Crawford Path.
This trail gave me a sense of how the pack felt on a gradual ascent/descent and some steeper sections. Overall the pack felt good and fit very well from beginning to end. It held plenty of gear, with room to spare for those longer trips. I also noticed several features I particularly liked, and one or two areas for improvement.
What I like:
- Anti-gravity (AG) system
This system ostensibly compresses the hip belt into your hips for a tighter fit and to hold the weight more directly on your frame. It felt strange at first, but once the pack was loaded it settled onto my hips very well.
- Hip belt
Thick padding, and you can adjust the actual padding for a good fit- even while you’re walking.
- Thick padding on the straps
My last Osprey pack had thin straps with vent holes, and it rubbed my shoulders after a long day. My shoulders did not get nearly as sweaty, but I do prefer the new system with extra padding for a comfortable fit, especially for my bony frame.
- Dual access water bottle pockets
No more asking your hiking buddy to retrieve or replace your water bottle. I really like this feature.
- Removable lid compartment
The lid has a ton of space, which is good for me because I like a lot of items at-hand. It is also removable and there is a separate flap beneath that buckles closed.
- Sturdy material
The bag has sturdy, woven nylon fabric, including a stronger grade in certain areas like the bottom.
- Two exterior access compartments
My last Atmos had these and I really liked them. The two compartments are oriented vertically on either side of the mesh pocket, and have plenty of space for things like rain gear, maps, bio items, anything you want to access without opening the main compartment.
What I would improve:
- Include a rain cover
For what the bag costs, I was hoping a rain cover was included. This is an important item for those taking longer journeys. See below for a recommendation.
- Make the lid a daypack
I like the removable top lid, and you can certainly carry it as a satchel, but it would be great if this transformed into a light daypack for little side trips or summiting.
How I pack and distribute gear with this pack
I begin by loading the heaviest weight in the center of my back, and radiating outward from there. This vertical “rainbow” approach keeps the heaviest items close to your body, and the lighter ones further out. By keeping the heaviest weight mid-way on your back, it keeps the load directed to your frame and is less likely to swing-about while you walk.
I then use any outer compartments/pockets for lighter items, and items I like to have at-hand. (Like rain gear)
We all have our methods, and might prioritize items differently for different trips, but here is how I generally pack the Atmos AG 65.
Lid upper – keys, electronics, headlamp, sunglasses
Lid lower – hat, gloves, extra socks, lunch
Main Compartment – food, clothes, stove, sleeping bag or tent, extra water (heavy items)
Outer left – rain gear, guidebook
Outer right – bio trowel and bio items, possibly tent poles if necessary
Bottom compartment – sleeping bag or tent
Hip belt pouches – snacks, headlamp, pocket knife, compass
Sleeping pad – on outside with straps
How to waterproof the Osprey Atmos AG 65
Osprey packs are at least water-resistant, but you’ll definitely want a pack cover. This pack is designed for multi-day trips and you definitely want assurance that your gear will stay dry in heavy rain.
Osprey does make a nice cover, its lightweight and reflective, but after reading some reviews I went with the Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil, size large. I found this fits nice and snug, and I’ll be looking forward to testing it in the first downpour.
Does this pack hold a hydration bladder? Yes – up to a 3L reservoir. It also has a nice little strap to suspend the reservoir so it doesn’t bunch up at the bottom. This also means you can use any size bladder, and it will hang nicely.
One nice alternative with Osprey packs is that you can opt to hang the bladder inside the ventilated back, which will save space inside the main compartment. Just keep in mind, on a hot day your body heat may warm up the water sooner.
How do you pack a tent in this backpack? If my tent is dry, I place it inside the main compartment. If it’s wet, I would stuff it in the sleeping bag compartment which has exterior access and is separated enough from the main load that it won’t make everything else wet, too.
Final thoughts – I tried a lot of packs before I chose the Atmos AG 65, and so far, I have been very happy with it. It has plenty of storage space, internal/external access compartments, comfortable straps, and numerous ways to fine-tune the fit.
The anti-gravity system really helps keep the weight on my frame, and the snug fit makes it feel like a part of my body while hiking. I look forward to longer and longer journeys ahead.
So, the next time you’re looking for the right backpack:
- Properly measure your torso
- Visit a store and try the pack with full weight
- Fine-tune the fit
- Test a lot of different packs!
I wish you happy pack hunting, and happy trails.
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Bryce is a freelance writer and preservation consultant who lives in Southern Maine with his wife and their two awesome kids. Previously from Upstate NY, he climbed the 46 High Peaks in the Adirondacks before discovering the mountains of New England. When he’s not exploring the outdoors, Bryce can be found writing, teaching, photographing old buildings, or getting crushed by his daughters in Monopoly.
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