My usual winter overnight pack is 40 litres and I’ve even been known to stretch to 50L to make room for more pies and whisky, but I’m supposed to be all about dropping weight and upping enjoyment, so what the dickens am I doing with a monster 65 litre pack?
This is the Osprey Atmos AG 65.
The Atmos (and the women-specific version, the Aura) is marketed as ‘ground breaking’ due to the new AntiGravity back system. As you know, I’m not one to truck with the marketing flannel so I had to take a look for myself.
The first impressions when I pulled it out of the box were twofold:
1) It’s MASSIVE
2) It weighs a TON.
I’m not kidding. So noticeable was the weight that I got the luggage scales out and gaped as it racked up to 2330g for my long back version. Yup, thats over 2kg just in the empty pack. Lightweight my arse. I’ve spent many years whittling down the weight and bulk to find the wonderful sweet spot of joy (which is somewhere in the middle of the spectrum between hauling a load like a mule and sleeping under a polythene bag in your pants) so the prospect of going back up the scale to a monster bag seemed counter intuitive, to the extent that I was sure I was going to hate it. It mainly reminded me of my old Karrimor Jaguar and that was a step too far back into the past. I left it in the box for some time.
Eventually the guilt kicked in and I pulled it back out, loaded a box of gear into the car and headed out. Then did it all over again and again over the course of 4 months.
Out on the hill, the most obvious piece of interest was the harness, and in particular the hip belt. Putting it on resembles triggering a man trap. It clamps round your hips and won’t let go. So much so, that you don’t even need to put your arms through the shouder straps to keep it attached to you. Interesting.
Even more interesting was that the 2-and-a-bit kilos just vanished as soon as I put it on and cinched the belt together, the load transfer is outstanding. What felt like a ton weight coming out of the box was suddenly unnoticed on my back. I get why they call it AntiGravity.
In terms of features, there are other elements worth checking out. There’s a split main compartment with divider, they say it’s so you can put your sleeping bag in the lower part and keep it segregated, but it’s handy for storing wet kit too. There’s a detachable lid which had a large pocket that houses the raincover. Take the cover out and the pocket is very large. If you ditch the lid, there’s a flap cover to take it’s place. The belt features some good-sized zip pockets, and is super-adjustable.
There’s the usual Osprey bits and bobs, like the elastics to store walking poles, stretch mesh pockets and the like. It’s hydration compatible too, with an internal sleeve. So much, so good but quite frankly it’s all about that back system.
And when it comes to hauling big loads, I’ve never worn a more comfortable pack. It’s super comfy. Load transfer is excellent and the ventilation is good. The first few jaunts were with my usual load out, somewhere between 8 and 10kg and it was great. To push it, I loaded up with multiple tents and stuff just for fun to see how it coped with 20kg and despite feeling it in my legs, it handled it very comfortably. If I really had to haul some heavy loads, this would be my go-to pack.
There are some downsides, the weight of the pack itself being the most glaring, that back system comfort comes at a cost in grams. The rain cover is an utter waste of time in the Scottish mountains, it flaps like a sail in the wind and basically works as a rain gatherer to help swish water around the base of your pack. If you lose the cover (and you should) then the lid becomes a questionable item too, you don’t really need the large pocket when you have 65 litres to work with, so it can go and just use the top flap cover instead.
My advice, go for the 50 litre version and strip it down. If you do, you’ll get one of the most comfortable carries available, the back system really does live up to the marketing which is a rare and wonderful thing. Bothymongers will love it, loads of room for whisky and no sore shoulders when you get there.
If you are a hauler of loads, the Atmos comes highly recommended.