Vegan Gear Review: Osprey Packs
My Love for Osprey Backpacks – Go Vegan!
a Gear Review by Kristin Wuhrman
I’ve always been enamored to the nature of hiking and backpacking: you pack everything you absolutely need and can carry, and then you take off on your adventure. Whether you enjoy day hiking, tackling switchbacks, climbing mountains or thru hiking, its pure peace of mind that pretty much everything you need in life you can actually carry on your back. It’s extremely important and a wise investment to own a few options of both durable and comfortable packs that align with your different adventure needs.
As a vegan, I’m happy to say that the Osprey line of packs uses all synthetic ingredients! Outside of their impressive range of numerous styles and sizes, they’ve developed a women-specific line –including everything learned from 20 years of building and testing packs specifically geared towards the female anatomy. Their women-specific line includes better fitting hip belts, narrower shoulder straps and overall narrower design. I’m also thrilled that Osprey offers an option for petite women like myself (I’m 5’1”).
Before I decided on which packs to purchase, I spent a lot of time researching online, talking with Osprey direct (fabulous customer service), and then visiting my gear stores so I could try on the packs and talk with trained staff.
Size of pack: You must know your size when shopping for a backpack. If you don’t, have someone measure the length of your torso – you can easily do at home with a flexible tape measure. You will need to measure from the little bone that protrudes form your spine on the back of your neck down to you hips. If you go to your local outdoors store, they have a special instrument to do this as well.
Durability: When you do your research, you will find a large variety of options. It was important to me to purchase from a manufacturer with an excellent life warrant – hi 5 Osprey!
Convenience Features: What matters most to you? What’s your style? For me, it’s really important to have a comfortable hip belt with wide necessity pockets (camera/smart phone, lip protectant, snacks, etc.) as well adjustable hardness system and load straps.
My Osprey Collection:
Men’s Version: Aether Series
65 Litres / ~ 4,000 Cubic Inches
I was first turned onto this pack because RMI Expeditions recommends it as one to summit Mt. Rainer. For my height, 5’1”, it is extremely comfortable and a great fit making heavy loads feel lighter. Also, I don’t experience any of the head hitting at the back that has occurred with other packs I’ve carried. It has plenty of room for a sleeping bag, clothes and food inside the main part of the pack. The hip belt fits snug, the side pockets hold a 1-liter of water well and the front pocket works very well for essentials like wipes, hand towel, sunscreen, compass, etc. There is ample storage space in many different pockets. The other beauty of this pack is that it does not go super wide which I like for balance and the fact that it draws in well is fabulous when packing less. My absolute favorite feature of the Ariel 65 is the accessibility of the main compartment!
You can access your things from the top, the sleeping bag “compartment”, and through a zipper located in the center. It’s a miracle when you never have to dig to the bottom of my bag to get something out because of the many zipper features. I look forward to summitting Mount Rainier with this soon!
Men’s Version: Stratos Series
Overnight Backpacking/Day Hiking
36 Litres / ~ 2,200 Cubic Inches
The Sirrus 36 is a women’s specific design and my go to pack for ½ day to full day hikes where there is elevation gain that demands multiple layers and some mountaineering gear. I also call it my Mt. Rainier Basecamp (Camp Muir) pack. The fit is marvelous! I love the mesh back system (keeps pack away from your back), the super padded hipstraps prevent soreness that I’ve experienced with other packs and has all of the bells and whistles needed for practicality. Some key features included a hiker-friendly stow-on-the-go system for poles, easy to use water bottle mesh pockets, larger hip belt pockets and a convenient main upper part that holds the layers I change in and out of during elevation gain.
Seattle Area hikes used with this pack: Camp Muir, Mount Rainer
Men’s Version: Talon Series
Overnight Backpacking / Day Hiking
30 Litres / ~ 1,800 Cubic Inches
The Tempest 30 is my pack of choice for a mountainous day hike, quick pack-up-and-go hike or even an overnight hike. It has superb pack stability and a body-hugging design (fully adjustable BioStrech™ shoulder straps and hipbelt) helping keep the load close to your body with the weight on your hips. The ventilation, called AirScape™ is also impressive which consists of molded foam ridges with air channels and a vertical mesh “air chimney”. It does a great job keeping me as sweat-free as possible. As far as functionality, big thumbs up! My absolute favorites are the adjustable harness system and the rockin’ load straps that I adjust with ease while trekking. Not to mention the convenient “shove-it” pocket is a feature I didn’t think I’d use and now I can’t live without. Each side of the hip belt has a stretchy pocket that comes in handy, which works well to hold lip protectant, nutrition bar, gloves or hat. However, they are a little too small for my smart phone. Finally, the side water bottle pockets are convenient and my water bottles slide in and out of them easily even when wearing the pack.
Seattle Area hikes used with this pack: Mount Si, Mailbox Peak, Mount Washington
Men’s Version: Talon Series
Day Hiking / Adventure Racing
20 Litres / ~ 1,200 Cubic Inches
The Tempest 20 is my go-to pack for higher speed adventures, like mountain biking or sprints by foot up smaller mountains. It also makes for an excellent snowshoeing pack. It is extremely lightweight with plenty of room for my Nano Puff, light rain jacket, food, gloves, hat and snacks. A super top panel loading design! It has a supportive ventilating Airscape™ Backpanel that really keeps me cool through long day hikes or mountain biking excursions. When on the fly, the hip-belt’s ErgoPull™ adjustment makes it easy to tighten or loosen, and the harness position, shoulder straps, and sternum strap can also be adjusted for a perfect fit. For mountain biking, I love the practical pullout helmet attachment, which fits through the vents on my bike helmet to secure it to the front of the pack. There are multiple smaller pockets which come handy for quickly access, as well my favorite – a stretchy shoulder strap pouch for my energy foods.
Seattle Area hikes used with this pack: Mailbox Peak, Cableline, Tiger Mountain, Iron Horse Trail, Rattlesnake
Having the right packs that work right for you, your preferences and your adventures make the experience that much better! Also, planning and packing your pack become more and more fun because your packs really become you.
Backpacking Tip 1:
When you purchase a new pack – practice at home first! Pack it correctly, play with the adjustments, take it around the block, etc.
Backpacking Tip 2:
Organizing your gear in color-coded stuff sacks makes packing easier and helps you locate supplies quickly on the hiking trail.
Backpacking Tip 3:
For maximum stability, load your backpack so the heaviest equipment is next to your back and centered in the pack. Medium-weight gear should be carried toward the top and outside portion of the pack and lightweight gear, like your sleeping bag, should be packed in the bottom.
About Kristin Wuhrman:
Vegan Athlete and Outdoor Enthusiast
Owner BEVEGAN® Plant-Based Health Coaching
Kristin resides in the Seattle, WA area where she is joyously surrounded by mountains, trails and water. As an animal lover (she has 6 cats, all rescues), a vegan athlete and an outdoors enthusiast, she feels lucky to live her many passions every single day. Kristin and her husband enjoy canoeing, mountain biking, hiking, mountaineering, golfing and playing pickleball together. She and her husband feel very fortunate to have so many natural options around them in the Pacific Northwest, as well as their friendly neighbor British Columbia, Canada.
Kristin (aka Miss Bellevue Vegan) owns BEVEGAN® Plant-Based Health Coaching where she helps people transition into or understand the benefits of a whole-food, plant-based diet. She works with health nuts, athletes, outdoor enthusiasts, families and those interested in long-term health. She’s a proponent of living authentically, developing mindfulness, following your dreams, and creating lasting healthy habits.
“By living a plant-based lifestyle, my performance, recovery, and energy levels are always at their highest. I am a strong believer that this lifestyle enhances health, physical performance, and mental clarity.” – Kristin Wuhrman
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