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OSPREY ARIEL 52 L (3200 CU IN) BACKPACK
TEST SERIES BY JENNIFER KOLES
LONG-TERM REPORT
March 19, 2007

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TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Jennifer Koles
EMAIL: jennksnowy at yahoo dot com
AGE: 32
LOCATION: Salt Lake City, Utah, United States
GENDER: F
HEIGHT: 5' 5" (1.65 m)
WEIGHT: 140 lb (63.50 kg)

I started taking overnight backpacking trips last year in the Uinta Mountain Range in Utah. I found myself taking entirely too much gear. I am finding out slowly how to minimize my needs and not require extra luxuries. My previous outdoor experiences consisted of 4-wheel-drive camping in primitive areas and day hiking. I use a four season convertible tent or a three season tent for my shelter. I plan to take more trips, increase my duration, and reduce my two to three day backpack base weight below 17 lb (8 kg).



INITIAL REPORT
November 8, 2006


 

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

Osprey Ariel Backpack
Osprey Ariel Backpack-Photo Obtained from Manufacturer's Website

Manufacturer: Osprey
Year of Manufacture: 2006
Manufacturer's Website: www.ospreypacks.com
MSRP: Not indicated on website
Listed Weight: 3 lb 11 oz (1.67 kg) for the 55 S size
Measured Weight: 3 lb 14 oz (1.76 kg) measured on digital scale
Colors Available: Guava (red) and Havasu Blue
Color Tested: Havasu Blue
Models Available: 75 L (4,600 cu in), 65 L (4,000 cu in), and 55 L (3,400 cu in)
All models are available in a small or medium pack size.
Tester Torso Measurement: 17.75 in (45 cm)
Tester Hip Measurement: 32 in (81 cm) (this is measured where the belt would actually sit on me over the iliac crest)
Hipbelt Sizes Available: WXS < 28 in (71 cm); WS 27-31 in (69-79 cm); WM 30-34 in (76-86 cm); WL 33-37 in (84-94 cm)
Hipbelt Size Tested: WM
Sizes Available: S (Small) torso length of < 18.5 in and M (Medium) torso length 18-20.5 in
Size Tested: 55 S (which is the 55 L (3,400 cu in) model in a size small 52 L (3,200 cu in))
Warranty: Lifetime (void if molded by a non-authorized heating or fitting method)

The Manufacturer States: "The Ariel 55 provides a realistic volume and custom fit for most women that want to go fast and light on their weekend adventure."

* Lightweight women’s design
* AirScape suspension
* IsoForm harness
* IsoForm CM™ hipbelt


INITIAL IMPRESSION/PRODUCT DESCRIPTION

Initial ImpressionIllustration from owner's manual

I reviewed the manufacturer's website prior to receiving the product. The website had a picture of the pack with a few key features listed on the main page for the Ariel backpack. There were other links on the site that provided me thorough sizing and fit information. The website also contained a PDF file of the owner's manual that had very detailed information of all the features of the pack. This manual provided me with the most information on the pack.

When I received the pack I was very pleased with the quality of the item. The owner's manual was located in the top pocket. This was the same manual that I was able to download from the website. The color of the pack on the website was very true to the color of the pack I had in my hands. There were tags on the pack describing the custom molding of the hipbelt and other Osprey packs that are available for purchase. The warranty information is listed on the tag along with the manufacturer's phone, website, and address information. The tag also indicated that if the hipbelt is molded by a non-authorized heating or fitting method the warranty is void.

Product Description

The Osprey Ariel women's backpack appears to be very well constructed. I am testing the Havasu Blue color. This color is a medium shade of blue. The pack material is constructed of 420D Nylon pack cloth in the Havasu Blue color and grey 210D double ripstop nylon. The front pocket is black in color and is constructed of a stretch woven Nylon with Lycra. The pack bottom is grey in color and is constructed of a 500D plain weave Nylon oxford material. The pack is constructed of black and grey webbing straps with black buckle fasteners.

The top pocket on this pack model is detachable, but it can not be used as a lumbar pack. A single zipper provides access to the top pocket. This is a regular type zipper with no apparent waterproof properties. There are load lifter straps attached to the top pocket that are designed to make my carrying load more comfortable.

The main compartment of the pack is top-loading only. There is a plastic pull cord piece that slides to open and cinch the compartment closed. There is no sleeping bag compartment on this model. However, it is available on the Ariel 75/65 models.

Zipper pull
Zipper pull to open top pocket

Cord lock
Cord lock to open the top-loading main compartment



Inside of the pack is a hydration sleeve and a hanger. There are two hydration ports to route my hydration hose through to the outside of the pack. There is one port on each side of the pack near the top of the main compartment. There is one elastic hose router on each side of the chest harness.

There are cord loops on the front of the pack hidden by the ripstop Nylon fabric by the front stretch pocket. These cord loops are used for the Excessory Attachment that is designed to use a Solo, Daylite, Alpine, or Crampon Excessory.

There is a side pocket on each side of the pack that is made from a stretch woven fabric. The instructions for the pack indicate that the pockets are capable of carrying a 32 oz (1 L) bottle of water, tent poles, or similar gear. The pockets have an entry opening at the top and a small opening near the frame of the pack. There is a buckle on each pocket that is designed to StraightJacket the pack when carrying a minimal load.

The internal compression of the pack is achieved by tightening a red strap inside the pack after the pack is loaded. On the outside of the pack there is a 3-strap compression system. The straps were easily adjustable to compress the initial load I placed in the pack.

The hipbelt is a heat moldable belt that is supposed to provide a more custom fit. The hipbelt can be molded in a Osprey Custom Molding Oven at a Osprey dealer. The hipbelt has an ErgoPull adjustment. This adjustment is made by loosening the center buckle, then by pulling the loose ends of the webbing on either side. This adjustment is achieved by pulling in and across, holding the webbing with both hands at the same time.

The IsoForm harness is constructed of dual density, spacer mesh foam that has all the seams located away from the body. The harness can be adjusted up to 4 in (10 cm) of variance in each torso size.

Back of pack
Back view of pack
The Airscape Suspension System is constructed of twin peripheral 7075 AL rods with a ventilated nubbed foam backpannel and an internal framesheet with a single stay. The nubbed foam backpannel is ventilated with mesh. The rods are sewn into mesh sleeves, one on each side of the pack . The rods are made to flex with the pack as the load lifters and the compression straps on the hipbelt are adjusted.

There are top and bottom ski carry webbing straps located on both sides of the pack. The top strap is adjustable.

READING THE INSTRUCTIONS

The owner's manual on the website and the one that arrived with the pack are very detailed and informative. All the features of the pack from top to bottom are described with illustrations. The instructions are written in English only. The manufacturer's website is listed in this printed material along with address and phone contact information.

The warranty information is on the instructions along with information on how to load the pack and the sizes, weight, and capacities that are available for the Aether (men's) and the Ariel (women's) models.

The instructions also have information on how to care for the pack. It is suggested that the pack be cleaned out every trip by removing gear, shake the dirt out, and wipe/scrub any stains out with a mild detergent. The pack should be hung to dry out of the sun. The straps should be loosened. It should be stored in a cool, dry location. The pack can be washed in a tub using a mild detergent.

The inside of the pack has a tag that lists the Leave No Trace Principles. The website for Leave No Trace and Osprey are printed on the tag. One side of the tag is printed in English and the other side is printed in a language that is unknown to me.


TRYING IT OUT

Side of pack
Side view of pack
I tried on the pack initially with no load to obtain an initial fit. I made an adjustment to the harness to obtain a good fit for my torso length. I then loaded the pack with 30 lbs (14 kg) of gear and made adjustments to the hipbelt and the load lifters. I then loosened the straps to make a few more adjustments to the harness. The harness is adhered to the inside of the backpannel with a hook and loop type of fastener. This was easily adjusted by placing my hand between the backpannel and the fastener of the harness. Then I slid the harness to the desired location and used pressure on the backpannel to secure the fastener. I reloaded the pack and I found that it fit comfortably.

I took the pack to a local retailer that has the Osprey Custom Molding Oven for the hipbelt. The hipbelt is fastened to the pack with a hook and loop type fastener behind the bottom of the backpannel. I was able to remove the hipbelt easily. The retail employee placed the hipbelt in the oven for 10 minutes. He then removed the hipbelt from the oven and had me don the hipbelt where I would usually wear it for 10 minutes. There was a small foam like piece attached to the hipbelt before it was placed on me. It was like a small lumbar support. I was advised that I can walk with the hipbelt on but, I should not sit.

After 10 minutes I then removed the hipbelt from my body and placed it back on the pack. This was easily done, but required a few adjustments to get it centered. The hip belt was definitely more contoured looking when placed back on the pack. I did notice a more snug and custom fit when I donned the pack again with a full load.

The sternum strap has a whistle on the buckle and has an adjustment of 5 in (13 cm) on the harness. I was able to adjust the strap to a desirable and comfortable location on the harness. I found that it did not put too much pressure on my chest or begin to choke me.

I found the initial fit to be quite comfortable. However, I did only wear the pack for about 15 minutes while walking on a concrete surface. I will continue to test the fit of this pack during the field reporting stage of this test series.



January 9, 2007


FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

During the first two months of testing this backpack was used in the following locations and conditions:

Zion National Park, Utah USA: 2 days
Elevation: 4,900 ft to 7,200 ft (1,500 m to 2,200 m)
Average Daytime Temperature: 50-64 F (10-18 C)
Weather on various days: Sunny, partly cloudy, rain, and snow.

Paria River/Buckskin Gulch (Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument), Utah USA: 3 days
Elevation: 4,100 ft. (1,250 m)
Average Daytime Temperature: 60 F (16 C)
Weather on various days: Sunny and partly cloudy during the daytime, rain and snow in the nighttime. In the nighttime the pack was exposed to the precipitation outside my tent. One of the evenings I did cover the pack with my 45 L (2,700 cu in) pack cover. Even though this pack cover is not the correct size for this pack, it fit well.

Paria River
Using the StraightJacket compression for a day hike.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

Ease of use of the pack: The pack proved to be easily adjusted while hiking on the trail. I did find myself reaching and searching for the load lifters until I became familiar with their location on the pack.

I am unable to open the lid and access my gear while wearing the pack. However, I am able to strain slightly and access my gear in the side pockets while wearing the pack.

I have not encountered any difficulty using the pull cord system to compress the main compartment of the pack. I have been able to get the desired compression for various pack loads. The cords have not twisted on the pull cord.

I am used to having a dual entry lid with a two compartment separator on my packs. I do miss this feature on this pack. I did find myself wishing in the field that this pack had a lid constructed like my other packs. I have used the pack without the lid attached and I found it to be easily removed and placed back on the pack.

Fit: The pack seems to fit me well. I have not experienced any discomfort while wearing the pack. I did not experience any pressure points on my shoulders, pelvic girdle area (iliac crest or the anterior/posterior superior iliac spine), or other areas while wearing the pack. The sternum strap was able to be adjusted to a comfortable position. There was no restriction while having the sternum strap fastened. I did not experience it sliding and migrating towards my throat.

The pack has been loaded with 32 lb (15 kg), 24 lb (11 kg), and 12 lb (5 kg) (with the StraightJacket compression) of gear (with food, water, and consumables included). The pack felt comfortable with all these weights. I did not experience any shoulder or back fatigue. While high stepping and scrambling rocks I did find myself needing to adjust the hipbelt.

Top pocket: The items in the top pocket are easily accessed when I am not wearing the pack. The zipper has not snagged, broke, got stuck, or got off track. Water does enter in through the zipper. The zipper pull has not broke and I find that I can easily place my fingers on it to open the compartment.

Front pocket: The mesh material has not snagged or torn. I have scrapped it across rocks and set it against rocks and tree stumps. The front pocket does stretch out when it is filled with gear, but I found that it returns to its original shape when it is empty. Nothing has fallen out of the front pocket. A very small amount of dirt particles did enter through the mesh. This was no significant amount. The area I was hiking in was dusty, muddy, and was windy with blowing dirt. I used the front pocket to store my pack cover, tent rain fly, and my neoprene shoes when hiking the Paria River trail.

Suspension: The mesh back panel has proven to dry quickly and does offer excellent ventilation. I do like the feeling of the mesh against my back. I am unable to feel the foam bumps against my back. Some dirt did enter through the mesh on the back panel and some fuzz has stuck to the mesh. I have not experienced any wet spots on my back.

The aluminum rods do flex to bring the load closer to my back. They have not broke or torn the mesh. When the pack is removed they appear to return to their original shape.

Hipbelt: The hipbelt was very comfortable and was easily adjusted. I wore the pack for a minium of seven hours each day for three days straight and I did not experience any discomfort. The belt has not become undone while hiking and seems to snap securely into place. I believe that while wearing this pack my load weight is distributed properly. I have not experienced any low back, hip, neck, or shoulder pain while wearing the pack.

Harness: I was able to adjust the harness to fit my torso as perfectly as I could get it. I find the harness to be comfortable with no pressure areas noted. The hipbelt did ride up some while high stepping and scrambling over rocks. I did re-adjust the harness to a more comfortable position while and after scrambling with no problems noted.

Hydration compatible feature: I am able to fit my 2 L (68 fl oz) Platypus and 2 L (68 fl oz) Camelbak hydration system into the hydration sleeve. The hydration systems fit nicely into the sleeve. There was not too much pressure from the gear on the hydration sleeve causing the hydration systems to burst. I like the location of the sleeve inside the pack. I also like it that the sleeve covers the entire hydration bladder. There was no transfer of moisture out of the hydration sleeve onto the items in my pack from the hydration bladder sweating. The hydration sleeve is made of a water resistant material. The hoses on my hydration systems fit easily through the hydration ports. The elastic hose routers work well in keeping the hydration hose in a desirable location.

Side pockets: I was able to fit a 1 L (34 fl oz) Nalgene wide mouth bottle into the side pocket. I however do not carry this type of bottle for hydration. However, for fit purposes it worked. In the side pockets I carried my tent poles/stakes, my Therm-a-Rest chair sleeve, accessory cord, and a headlamp. I can reach into the pockets to access the gear while wearing the pack. None of the items slid out of the pack.

Durability: The pack material has not torn, punctured, or shown signs of abrasion. The frame did not break and the material did not tear when the pack was dropped for down climbing in a canyon. The pack can be exposed to light moisture and light rain without wetting out. The pack does wet out in a down pour of rain. The pack is not claimed to be waterproof. The straps have not frayed, and the buckles have not broke during the past two months.




March 19, 2007


LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

During the last two months of testing, this backpack was used in the following locations and conditions:

Wasatch Mountain Range, Utah USA: 3 days
Elevation: 5,900 ft to 8,300 ft (1,798 m to 2,530 m)
Average Daytime Temperature: 40 F to 60 F (13 C to 16 C)
Weather on various days: Sunny with snow ground cover.

Canyonlands National Park, Utah USA: 2 days
Elevation: ~5,100 ft (~1,554 m)
Average Daytime Temperature: 72 F (22 C)
Weather on various days: Sunny, rain showers in the evening.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

The Osprey Ariel has performed very well during the entire four months of testing. I really like this pack and I will continue to use it on 3-4 day trips. I am planning on attempting to use it on one weeklong trip this summer.

I did have difficulty using this size of a pack during the winter months in cold weather. My winter gear takes up much more volume than my spring and summer gear. So I did find out that I need a larger pack for winter use. However, this pack was the perfect size for weekend trips in warmer climates during the past four months.

I am able to load the pack with warm climate overnight gear and climbing gear weighing in at 45 lb (20 kg). The climbing gear consisted of a 60 m (197 ft) rope, harness, shoes, and a gear rack of cams, friends, quick draws, and nuts. This pack will be nice to use in the summer on climbing/backpacking trips. It was the perfect size for my backpacking and climbing gear.

The pack continues to fit me well. I have not encountered any pain in the shoulders or irritation from the belt. I did notice though on two occasions that the hip belt came undone while I was hiking. It was not while I was bending over or high stepping, just as I was walking on almost flat terrain. I know that when the hip belt is fastened properly there is a click when fastening the buckle. I was not able to recall if I heard the click. The suspension of the pack does bring the load close to my back and it is comfortable. It is not causing my back to become sore when the pack is loaded with 45 lb (20 kg). I have only found myself making minor adjustments to the fit of the pack on the trail.

There is no noticeable wear on the pack just a few snags on the outside mesh pocket. I did rub the pack up against a rock wall and some branches in a canyon that may have caused the snag. Other than that the pack is in excellent condition. The buckles and the webbing straps are still in excellent condition after four months there is no fraying of the webbing noted.

I did carry my sleeping pad on the outside of my pack to increase the interior volume. The pad did not slide or shift out of the loops. I also attached my skis to the pack by using the ski straps and they stayed in place while hiking. My snowshoes were attached to the pack during a day hike and they remained securely in place.

The suspension of the pack is still comfortable and my favorite part of the pack is the mesh back panel. I have not experienced a wet spot on my back yet from the pack. But, I only used it to temperatures of 72 F (22 C). However, the panel does seem like it ventilates well.

I did find that the side stretch pockets do not stretch well when the pack is full. I am still afraid that items are going to fall out of the opening in the side of the pocket. To this date no items slid out of the pockets. I do find myself reaching back to the pockets frequently making sure everything is there.

Overall I think this is an awesome pack. It is very comfortable and durable. I anticipate that I will get many more trips out of this pack.

THINGS THAT ARE GREAT

The pack is comfortable (including the harness, hip belt, and the suspension).
The front stretch mesh pocket.
The durability of the pack.
The adjustment system of the hip belt.

THINGS THAT ARE SO SO

There is no dual entry into the lid.
There is no pocket on the hip belt to access heavily used items.

REMARKS

This concludes testing of the Osprey Ariel Backpack. Thank you Osprey and BackpackGearTest.org for providing me the opportunity to test this backpack.

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2007. All rights reserved.

Read more reviews of Osprey gear
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