Osprey's new Atmos 50 AG is all about the back system. It's a mildly dramatic, almost sprung, ventilated 3D mesh affair that aims to give the benefits of a trampoline-type vented system, but with the sort of carry you'd expect from a top-end backpacking sac - or maybe even a better one.
- £160 / 1990g
- Suspended AG Anti-Gravity back system
- ExoForm™/BioStretch™ harness with load lifter 'bar'
- Adjustable AirSpeed™ trampoline suspended mesh backsystem
- FlapJacket™ top cover for use without lid
- Numerous pockets including lid, stash, front, hip-belt etc.
- Stow-on-the-Go™ trekking pole attachment
- Fit-on-the-Fly™ adjustable hipbelt
- Integrated & detachable raincover
Mesh and lots of it! The Anti Gravity back system is like a vented trampoline-type affair but on steroids. Effectively a tensioned mesh panel sits over a 3D cavity - we guess it would be 3D - and against your back, but it also continues on into the fins of the hip-belt meaning that too is vented with an air-gap between belt foam and body.
There's more too: the hip-fins are sprung so they wrap around your hips in a sort of gentle, load-bearing hug. It's a lll very 21st Century curved lines and svelte contours. Support comes courtesy of an arched frame plate and a peripheral, lightweight metal tubed frame.
The idea is to give the cooling characteristics of a vented pack on a large scale - there's also a 65-litre variant - but without sacrificing load-carrying support and comfort.
To get an idea of how well it works, we loaded the pack up with around 14kg of weekend-packing kit and went for a walk. What we noticed immediately is that the pack is uncannily comfortable thanks to those suspended contact surfaces, very cushioned, but still supportive.
In a nutshell, the pack simply felt stable and comfortable, with a weekend-packing sort of load. In late winter conditions, it was impossible to tell how well the venting works - mesh isn't always quite as cooling as you might think - but so far at least, there doesn't seem to be any negative impact on comfort or stability. Just a nice carry.
There was one downside: the world's first sprung and ventilated hip-belt is also quite wide particularly with anything in the twin pockets and squeezing through narrow gaps could prove to be problematical. We can think few scrambly backpacking routes that could be 'interesting' as a result, though for normal walking use it's not really an issue.
We were also bemused by the sheer length of tails on the hip-belt and if it were our pack, we'd consider cutting them down and restitching the ends to reduce flappage.
Bells and Whistles
So what about the rest of the pack? In short, classic Osprey with a relentless attention to detail. There are pockets everywhere including stash ones at the sides shaped to allow you to reach them without removing the pack, there's a bottom access zip allowing you to get to the base of the pack easily plus Osprey's own pole carrying system and axe loops too.
If for some reason you want to do without the lid - two pockets and a rain cover - you can whip it off by undoing three buckles and use the integrated FlapJacket top cover instead for a neat solution.
The rain cover sits in the top pocket of the lid and can be deployed in seconds with an adjustable elastic closure covering the bulk of the pack though not the harness. It does struggle a little with the integrated hip-belt design since there's no defined border between pack and belt so you need to tension it up thoroughly.
Mostly though, things are neat and they work with plenty of storage and stowage options. One other thing, while we were photographing the pack, it blew off the edge of a crag and tumbled 10 metres or so over rocks. The only visible sign of that was some mild scuffing to the lid, which was reassuring.
Regardless of whether it works in hot conditions or not - we'll have to wait for summer for that - the Atmos AG 50's unusual back system does give an impressively comfortable and stable carry, at least with the light-packing loads we've used so far.
Contact points feel cushioned and natural and there's no swinging about, hot-spots or other oddness. In other words it just works. If it turns out to be decently ventilated in hot conditions, that'll be the icing on the cake.
Otherwise Osprey has done its usual, impressively efficient gig on details and features which are hard to fault bar the wide-ish dimensions of the hip-belt and those overly long waist-strap ends.
Then again, the pack isn't a technical climbing unit and webbing can be cut short if needed. Overall then, promising stuff. Not cheap, but top notch quality and design where it matters.
The Atmos AG is also available in a 65L size for £180 and as the women's-specific Aura AG50 and AG65 same prices. Full details at www.ospreyeurope.com/gb_en/atmos-aura