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Reviews > Packs > Internal and External Framed Backpacks > ArcTeryx Bora 80 > Owner Review by Braeden Kepner-Kraus

Arc'teryx Bora 80 Pack (2008)
Owner Review
March 24, 2008
Name: Braeden Kepner-Kraus
Age: 20
Gender: Male
Height: 6 ft 0 in / 1.83 m
Weight: 165 lb / 75 kg
Email address: BKepner at Princeton dot edu
City, State, Country: Princeton, New Jersey, USA (Originally Cleveland, Ohio)
Backpacking Background: I have been backpacking in various forms since I was 13 years old. I backpack mostly in the Northeast, Midwest, and Canada, where wet and cold weather is the rule. I do some day hiking, but my real passion is for longer treks. Winter is my favorite season for backpacking, and I consider myself a midweight backpacker. I also enjoy survival camping, and take 2-3 trips each year where my partner and I bring only clothing and rudimentary tools.
Product Information:

Manufacturer:  Arc'teryx     
Model:  Bora 80L     
Color:  Gray (also available in Blue)
Frame Size Received:  Tall   
Hip Belt Size Received:  Medium   
Capacity:  84 L / 4900 cu in (tall size)      
Fabrics used:  420D ripstorm, 630D superpack nylon reinforcements, Hypalon trim
Listed weight:  7.0 lb / 3.18 kg (Tall)
Measured weight:  7.0 lb / 3.18 kg
Comfortable Loading Range:  40-75 lb / 18-34 kg     
Year of Manufacture:  2008          
MSRP:  $375 USD

Photo Arcteryx
Picture courtesy of Arc'teryx

Product description:

    The Arc'teryx Bora 80 is a full-featured trekking pack suitable for hiking and mountaineering  that can carry everything from thru-hiking to moderate expedition loads. The pack is equipped with all the standard fare – zip-close partition for the sleeping bag compartment, full length side-access zipper to the main compartment, a cavernous kangaroo pocket and much more. The lid can be detached and used as a lumbar pack with ample room for water bottle, emergency first aid kit, food, and any other extras that are desired.

    The main compartment is made from a pale yellow-colored fabric that provides high contrast to help locate objects even in bad light, and this fabric also serves as the backing for the kangaroo pocket. The kangaroo pocket is spacious, and has the ability to zip completely open down its center. This pocket can be compressed to the pack with a clip draw cord that also serves as a vertical compression strap. There are six external compression straps as well as daisy chains and ice axe holders on each side, and the two straps meant to secure a sleeping pad can also function to compress gear in the sleeping bag compartment. All externally exposed zippers are waterproof and the fabric is coated with a strong DWR.
The back panel of the pack is thermoformed HDPE and two 6061 aluminum stays in a V shape. The hip belt and shoulder straps are both interchangeable for customized fit. There is firm lumbar support and a ridged foam back panel for ventilation.
 Field information:

    I purchased this pack in early January, and I’ve taken it on two trips so far, one 7-day winter trip in Vermont on Mt. Mansfield, and a 4-day backpacking trip on the Chuck Keiper Trail in Central Pennsylvania. I ordered the Tall sized pack with the medium hipbelt online, and I was able to fit it to myself at home.

    Upon receiving the Bora, I was immediately struck by its neatness. All the major straps have sliding clips so that the tails don’t hang loose, a big help in very thorny or brushy situations. In addition, while the pack compresses very well, and the dual daisy chains provide ample attachment points, there are no unnecessary straps. This creates a cleaner look and makes the Bora easier to use.

    I took the trip to Mt. Mansfield with a very good friend from high school. He is in Army ROTC, and was in Vermont to attend Mountain Warfare School, and we thought it would be an excellent time to get in a trip beforehand. We hike hard, usually for approximately 10 hours each day not counting meal and rest breaks, and previous packs had left my back in painful condition and my hips bruised.

    Mt. Mansfield is the highest mountain in Vermont, with a peak elevation of 1339 m (4393 ft). The terrain is extremely rugged. Not counting wind-chill, the temperature varied between a high of around 34 F and a low of around 0 F (1 to -18 C). Snow was plentiful.  

    Fully loaded, the pack weighed around 55 lb (25 kg) for the Vermont trip, and was at about ¾ of absolute maximum space capacity. With the compression straps tightened, the pack fitted snugly against my back and felt well-balanced during climbs. The first day we had a 7 mi (11 km) hike with approximately 3300 ft (1000 m) of total elevation. The thermoform hip belt and shoulder straps had begun to mold themselves after about an hour on the trail, and by the end of the day had completely molded.

    We brought a ground-cloth/tarp setup with us, and stopped to set up camp and cook about 40 minutes before dark. Since all the external zippers on the Bora are waterproof, Arc'teryx was able to put the side zip literally on the outside of the pack, which is much more convenient than attempting to place it somewhere semi-internal (i.e. inside the front pocket). This turned out to be a great help in quickly setting up camp and preparing food.

    The fifth day out, we awoke in the middle of heavy snowfall, and by that night it was clear that we would be unable to make an effective tarp shelter. We dug snow caves, but I was so exhausted that I forgot to cover my pack before going to sleep. Despite this fact, no moisture had penetrated the pack fabric by morning, and all of my gear stayed dry as a result.

    Despite the elevation and distance covered over the course of the week, I experienced no back pain any time during the trip. Over the course of the 7-day trip, the pack consistently performed under the most adverse conditions.

    The Pennsylvania trip on the Chuck Keiper Trail was significantly warmer, with temperatures between 22 and 45 F (-6 and 7 C) and extremely wet. Over the course of the 4 days there was constant precipitation, mostly freezing rain with some light snow showers mixed in. The trail was very icy and slippery, but the Bora offers remarkable freedom of movement in the hip area by allowing the hip belt to pivot semi-independently of the pack body. This was remarkably helpful in icy scrambles up and down slopes.

    On the third day of the trip, the trail made multiple crossings of a flooding run. Despite being about 3/4 submerged for a period of several seconds, the Bora suffered minimal internal wetness, and in fact, nothing in the main compartment was even damp. This is partially due to the fact that not just the outer fabric, but all internal fabrics are coated with DWR, which also prevented a leaking water bladder from soaking the rest of the pack.

Me with the pack all loaded up on the second day.

    On the whole, this pack has been bombproof. The fabric has turned out to be very abrasion resistant, and I have not detected any wear in the stitching or webbing. The gray fabric does show dirt, but it washes clean with water and a wash cloth.

    This brings me to my one complaint about the Bora. While it does have two very effective water bottle holders, there is no built-in compartment for a water bladder, nor is there a hose port (oddly, there is a hose clip on the shoulder strap). I ended up putting my bladder in the kangaroo pouch, but this is less than ideal both for weight distribution and hose reach. This problem is easily solved by bringing water bottles, but anyone who loves the convenience of hands-free water will need to get creative.

    There are three things about this pack that have consistently stood out to me. First, the comfort and fit of this pack have been great for me, even after long hard hikes with a lot of weight. Second, I can’t overemphasize the water-repellent capabilities of this bag. While I wouldn’t suggest putting it uncovered in the bottom of a kayak, it always keeps all my supplies dry, which is a huge help to my camping in the Northeast. Finally, while the pack is packed (no pun intended) with features, they reveal themselves naturally, so it’s not a pack that I’ve felt unfamiliar with after the first few days. I’m sure as time goes on I’ll discover various idiosyncrasies, but the combination of simplicity and features on the pack is a major plus. The lack of a water bladder pouch is disappointing, but that’s really the only bad thing I can say about the Bora.

1. Very Comfortable
2. Very water-repellent
3. Ease of Use

1. No water bladder pouch

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Reviews > Packs > Internal and External Framed Backpacks > ArcTeryx Bora 80 > Owner Review by Braeden Kepner-Kraus

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