I confess to being a backpack virgin: Really… I know, at the age of 48 too!
But one advantage to ageing is being able to spend a little more on gear for trips these days and afford some luxury: £180 seemed like a lot of dosh to me and so I was expecting quality and full of Osprey anticipation once ordered. And the Aura does not disappoint on either quality or the luxury front. Heading off to backpacker heaven (Australia) for a month with this baby was as close to designer anything I’ve ever come.
My ‘Silver Streak’ – (colour of pack – not my hair) is beautiful – it looks and feels like something designed by and for women. It appears lightweight – because it is (2.08kg) – and the lilac mesh, which allows for ventilation, gives it sex appeal. So, aesthetically pleasing, YES!
After excellent initial impressions of my beauty’s looks I studied the numerous array of straps and zips. Like I said, I know nada about backpacks and needed to get to know my way around the seemingly adjustable everything, which was intuitive. There are plenty of side pockets and the base zip entry is super practical for sleeping bag – or in my case, shoes!
Its capacity is 65 litres max – I filled it with 11kg of clothing and toiletries for my gentle ‘trek’ but despite appearing decidedly svelte in comparison to my buddies packs, was able to squash everything down and, to my utter joy, fit even more clothes in on the return trip. The top-loading makes for excellent access for regular unpacking/re-packing and the stretch front pocket is extremely useful for anything you need to get at pronto – sun hat in this instance.
On a practical note, I was also somewhat concerned for my ageing frame on walkabout… back and hips especially. Once loaded I was a little worried I’d overdone it but once I’d got her (it is definitely a she) on, straps adjusted and done up, I really couldn’t believe it was the same load.
The wide waist-belt/load lifter bar sits very comfortably and something magical happens with the weight distribution. The ‘anti-gravity’ technology does indeed work. Initially, I struggled with hoisting on and off but once I’d nailed my technique, had no difficulty. The harness is super comfy and adjusts quickly and easily. And the mesh also does its job – no sweaty back for me. Thankfully I didn’t need the rain-cover, neatly stowed in the top or an ice-pick (loops on side) during this trip.
My baby got kicked around airports, railway stations and hauled on and off trams and she’s pretty darned tough. Toggles and straps are durable as is the fabric and she shows little sign of use at all. Whilst I confess to not putting her through bad weather, I reckon she got a good testing on our first trip together. There are still a good few miles in us both and glad as I was to be home, was sad to take her off for a while – until the next adventure.