Hello, fellow hikers. This is probably the kind of a question that has been asked numerous times, but I am just cannot make a decision and hope that someone will provide an insight. I am switching from dayhiking to backpacking and am currently in the process of choosing a backpack (at least 60L, to accommodate a bear container). After multiple visits to the local REI, I narrowed it down to two backpacks, Deuter ACT Lite 60+10 and Osprey Aura 65 (I am female, 5'6", slim). Both packs were tried with 30 lb of weight. The Deuter feels like a part of me, not as a separate thing, even when I tried to jump, turn and lean forward, it just does not move. The only problem that already after 15-20 min. of wearing it in the store, the protruding parts of my hip bones felt the pressure. The Aura belt hugs my hips gently, and I felt those 30 lb much less than when trying on Deuter, but there is no that "part of me" feeling. If there was a way to modify the hip belt to reduce the pressure and increase the hip comfort, I would choose Deuter. If not, then Aura it is. I would really appreciate any help. Thank you in advance.
Loc: Portland, OR
Packs, including their hip belts, must be designed for some 'normal' shape of body, but of course there really is no such thing, only approximations that are either closer to your own body's shape or further away from it.
I know of no simple, quick or foolproof way to modify a hip belt. Because the Deuter started to feel uncomfortable after 20 minutes, it most likely will repeat that performance out on the trail, too. Because the Aura fit your body more comfortably, that is probably the one that will be most comfortable out on the trail.
Luckily, you won't need to leap around very often with your pack on your back. Mostly you'll just walk. When you do need to leap about, temporarily cinch the belt and straps a bit tighter, then readjust it again when you resume walking.
The fit difference you're feeling (part of you, versus not part of you) is because you're comparing apples to oranges. The Deuter ACT line are true internal frame packs; the Osprey Aura is an external frame pack (the giveaway is the mesh backband (also called a "trampoline suspension.") Neither type is inherently superior to the other, but the feeling you're describing is the classic difference between internal and external: an internal frame pack hugs you, and the external fights you (the new breed, exemplified by the Aura, is a huge improvement over the old-style.) I agree with Aimless - you won't be doing acrobatics, or even very much exaggerated twists and spins, so the hipbelt fit is probably more critical than the hugging.
Just to see if you can have the best of both worlds, go back to the store and try an Osprey internal frame pack (the Volt might be a good choice - however, it's a unisex pack, so the harness may give you problems.)
I've used the ACT Lite and ACT Zero (same suspension, bag and feature set is different), and liked them both. You really can't go wrong with either of the packs you selected.
My wife prefers her Deuter ACT to her Osprey, though hers is not the Aura. I have an Atmos (the male version of the Aura) and LOVE it. Make sure the harness adjustment is dialed in (see pack fit) as it will effect how it rides on your hips. The hipbelt adjustment on the Aura is very easy and effective. It really depends on body type. My wife's Deuter has held up very well, by the way. I've only put 300 miles or so on the Atmos, but it shows zero wear. Basically, both great packs, just need to find the perfect fit.
Good point, Bluefish - the Atmos/Aura suspension does have some unique design features (particularly the lift loaders being integrated into the shoulder straps as "bars") that make getting the right fit a bit tricky. The first person who fitted me with an Atmos was clueless about it, and the fit was horrible. The second person knew how to balance the load lifters and hipbelt fit, and dialed it in perfectly. I still got a little bit of the old external "I pivot left; pack pivots right", but it was barely noticeable. The only reason I'm not still using it is that my Kestrel 48 is half a pound lighter, and I never carry more than 25 pounds.
However, I'll be cutting back at work next year, and look forward to taking more long-weekend trips - if extra food, clothing and water drive my weight up a few pounds, I could easily see myself switching back to an Atmos 50.
Glen, I went through the same scenario- clueless salesperson insisting on a poor fit, then a re-go months later with a knowledgeable , experienced person that helped me get dialed in. Mine now has handled winter and dry camp water loads, class 3 scrambles and light weekend use. I throw the thing on and go. Haven't thought about touching a single adjustment.
Thanks a lot, Glenn. That is quite interesting: I have never thought about Osprey packs as external frame. I thought that external frame is when you can see it (you know, the old-style packs). I was not thinking acrobatics, I thought that if the backpack does not hug your back well, then you might get a back pain after several day hike or after climbing over a fallen tree, for example. The Volt is not sold in any stores in my city, so I cannot try it, but I tried Atmos (the men's version of Aura) and, yes, the problem with the hip belt returned. So, probably, men's packs are not for me and I better stick with Aura. Everyone, thanks a lot for helping me to decide.
Hi, bluefish and Glenn: Just wanted to share my store experience with Osprey Aura 65. The first time I tried Aura (with 30 lb of weights) it felt very top-heavy: it was pulling me backwards heavily, so I decided to try something else. The next time I was in the same store I decided to try it again (for comparison purposes), and it was pulling backwards again. But then a salesperson there adjusted the back plate (between the trampoline mesh and the backpack) up, and this "pulling backwards" feeling practically disappeared. Just thought that this piece of information might be useful for others. Thank you again. Olga
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
Note that with your actual gear inside the pack (rather than weights). it's going to be a whole new ball game. This is why it's generally advised to wait to buy your pack until you have most or all of your other gear. If you can box up your other gear, plus the weight/bulk equivalent of a week's food and water, and take it to the store (preferably by appointment at a non-busy time), you will probably have better results.
Pack fit is almost as individual as shoe fit. For example, I have not yet found an Osprey hip belt that wasn't extremely painful to my hip bones. I've never tried a Deuter pack (too heavy for me) so don't know how that one would work for me.
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey
I have carried my Osprey Aura 65 on many backpacking trips now and it has never disappointed me. I tend to carry a heavy load (35+ lbs) and it is well distributed and I have never had back or shoulder pain as a result of this pack. My SO was a big Dana Designs guy from way back and I bought him a Mystery Ranch Terraplane which he ended up selling and bought the Atmos 65 after watching me carry my load with ease while he was in misery in his Terraplane. He's now a convert as well. The anti-gravity suspension is just awesome.
Another thing to consider is the weather. The Osprey provides a lot of back ventilation which has really helped keep us cool in warm/humid conditions.
As others have said, backpacks are very personal, but as a woman especially, I think Osprey has a good thing going. For reference, I'm 5'1", 128lbs.
I have an REI Flash 62. Its very comfy and pretty light but the frame has a tendency to slip out of the pack. Its considered an Ultra light pack (Maybe) at 2.5 lbs. From what I have read it isn't comfortable with a load above 35 lbs. I haven't carried a load over 18 lbs.