AARN backpack a good option?


2018 edition Camino Guides
Camino(s) past & future
First timer
#1
Hi there. I'm walking my first Camino (Frances) September/October 2014. I have heard good things about different packs .... and in particular the AARN packs. Has anyone used these packs? Any advice/info would be most appreciated. Cheers, Trish.
 

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falcon269

sidra; no commercial interests
Camino(s) past & future
yes
#2
I think I am permanently back to my Aarn pack. It is really great, but a bit large, so I used a smaller traditional pack for the last two caminos. I am going back to the Aarn. It is just a "better mouse trap" if you refuse to fill it!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Aragones (2008), Frances (2008 & 2010), Le Puy (2010), Portuguese (2013), Finisterre/Muxia (2010, 2013, 2016) & Del Norte (2016)
#3
Hi Trish,

I've just come back from my third Camino with my trusty Aarn and yet again I am so grateful for such a comfortable pack! I would recommend trying on a few different brands before settling on anything, I took the time to do that and kept coming back to the Aarn as it simply fits my body best and I've never had a problem with it.

Buen Camino,
Kat
 

grayland

Moderator
Staff member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Yes
#4
I think I am permanently back to my Aarn pack. It is really great, but a bit large, so I used a smaller traditional pack for the last two caminos. I am going back to the Aarn. It is just a "better mouse trap" if you refuse to fill it!
What is the empty weight difference between the Aarn and the one you were using?
 
Camino(s) past & future
First timer
#5
Hi Trish,

I've just come back from my third Camino with my trusty Aarn and yet again I am so grateful for such a comfortable pack! I would recommend trying on a few different brands before settling on anything, I took the time to do that and kept coming back to the Aarn as it simply fits my body best and I've never had a problem with it.

Buen Camino,
Kat
Great thanks for that Kat. I'll still got a wee while to make up my mind but at 52 there are a few aches and pains creeping in so obviously comfort is paramount. Cheers,Trish
 

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Camino(s) past & future
First timer
#6
I think I am permanently back to my Aarn pack. It is really great, but a bit large, so I used a smaller traditional pack for the last two caminos. I am going back to the Aarn. It is just a "better mouse trap" if you refuse to fill it!
Thanks for the feedback Falcon. Cheers Trish
 

gittiharre

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2006
Jakobsweg Austria and Czech Greenways 2008
Le Puy Route 2009
Via Gebenennsis and Robert Louis Stevensen 2010
Le Puy Route 2012
Via Jakobi 2013
Via Regia 2014
Via Baltica/Scandinavica 2015
Camino Portugues and Camino Finesterre 2016
Via Gebenennsis 2016
#7
Hi, I have the Aarn Liquid Agility with front balance pockets, which I used for 1 Camino and wish to sell, do you live in NZ Trish.? I liked it, but for me the Deuter Groeden is a better fit....
Happy to sell it for 50 per cent of the new price. it is in perfect condition. Just check the new price on the Aarn Company website and get in touch if you are keen.
It was just right in terms of space for a early to end of summer walk on the Geneva/ Robert Louis Stevenson Trail, cheers, Gitti
 

jl

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances('05, '07), Aragonese ('05), del Norte / Primitivo ('09), Via Tolosana (Toulouse '05), Via Podiensis (Le Puy '07), Via Lemovicensis (Troyes '09), VF ('12), Winter Camino ('13/'14) Cammino d'Assisi ('14) Jakobseweg (Leipzig - Paris '15) San Salvador/Norte ('15) Ignaciano ('16) Invierno ('16)
#8
What I like about my Aarn natural balance pack is that it has two top opening pockets and a bottom one - all water proof. This makes for comfort and ease of management on longer trips of 3 months +. Comfort (when it comes to daily access) and ease is also a consideration as well as weight. Janet
 
Camino(s) past & future
First timer
#9
Hi, I have the Aarn Liquid Agility with front balance pockets, which I used for 1 Camino and wish to sell, do you live in NZ Trish.? I liked it, but for me the Deuter Groeden is a better fit....
Happy to sell it for 50 per cent of the new price. it is in perfect condition. Just check the new price on the Aarn Company website and get in touch if you are keen.
It was just right in terms of space for a early to end of summer walk on the Geneva/ Robert Louis Stevenson Trail, cheers, Gitti
Hi Gitti ....yep I live in Christchurch. I see they sell the Aarn packs at R & R Sport so will pop in on the weekend and try one for size. I can't seem to find a price on the website but can you give me some indication of what you would like? Thanks so much for getting in touch ... I'm not off to Camino until September next year but I definitely need to get something soon to practice!! Cheers, Trish.
 

falcon269

sidra; no commercial interests
Camino(s) past & future
yes
#10
What is the empty weight difference between the Aarn and the one you were using?
There is a noticeable difference empty, but the Aarn has the front packs and pack liners. When those are removed, my Featherlight is about the same as my traditional Lowe Alpine ultralites.
 

Harington

una abuelita inglés
Camino(s) past & future
Vézelay/Francés 2011, Primitivo 2012, VdlP 2013, Via Domitia 2014, Inglés 2015, Francigena 2016
#11
Hi there. I'm walking my first Camino (Frances) September/October 2014. I have heard good things about different packs .... and in particular the AARN packs. Has anyone used these packs? Any advice/info would be most appreciated. Cheers, Trish.
If anyone in the Uk is looking to sell an Aarn backpack with front balance pockets suitable for 6-8 weeks' trek please message me. Thanks!
 

Magnara

Maggie Ramsay
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago de Compostela (2005) Via Francigena (2010) Le Puy to St Jean (2014)
#12
Hi there. I'm walking my first Camino (Frances) September/October 2014. I have heard good things about different packs .... and in particular the AARN packs. Has anyone used these packs? Any advice/info would be most appreciated. Cheers, Trish.
Hi Trish
We both have Aarn backpacks and a big fans of them. We both have 35 litre Featherlite. They are completely waterproof - that means you dont have to carry (or use) a backpack cover. They have an aluminium bar in the back which you actually bend to fit your back, so your backpack fits perfectly. (There is even a dvd to show you how to get the best use out of all the features) It gives nice air flow between your back and the pack. Ours have gone a long, long way (more than 2000 km now , in all weathers) without a rip, fray or any need of repair. My husband uses the balance packs, I don't.
We are very happy we made that choice - they are expensive but we bought them on special.
Maggie Ramsay
The Italian Camino (Amazon)
 
Camino(s) past & future
First timer
#13
Hi Trish
We both have Aarn backpacks and a big fans of them. We both have 35 litre Featherlite. They are completely waterproof - that means you dont have to carry (or use) a backpack cover. They have an aluminium bar in the back which you actually bend to fit your back, so your backpack fits perfectly. (There is even a dvd to show you how to get the best use out of all the features) It gives nice air flow between your back and the pack. Ours have gone a long, long way (more than 2000 km now , in all weathers) without a rip, fray or any need of repair. My husband uses the balance packs, I don't.
We are very happy we made that choice - they are expensive but we bought them on special.
Maggie Ramsay
The Italian Camino (Amazon)
Hi Maggie ... thanks for all the info. Just one question ..... is it a backpack I can buy second hand? Why I ask that is that once the bar in the back is bent to fit your back, is it able to be bent again to a different shaped back or is it unable to be manoeuvred again. Cheers, Trish
 
Camino(s) past & future
Aragones (2008), Frances (2008 & 2010), Le Puy (2010), Portuguese (2013), Finisterre/Muxia (2010, 2013, 2016) & Del Norte (2016)
#16
Great thanks for that Kat. I'll still got a wee while to make up my mind but at 52 there are a few aches and pains creeping in so obviously comfort is paramount. Cheers,Trish
haha oh Trish at 31 I have aches and pains too! If you have any in your kneck or shoulders this is where the Aarn is fabulous, the unique shoulder pully system is heaven for me as I can put almost all the weight of my bag onto the hips on bad days. My Dad (who's age I can't mention!) also swears by the Aarn due to his shoulder being a bit stuffed. The great thing is there are so many ways to adjust the bag it caters for almost all niggles, except for foot blisters. Sadly there's no magic cure for those ;)
 
Camino(s) past & future
First timer
#17
Hi, I have the Aarn Liquid Agility with front balance pockets, which I used for 1 Camino and wish to sell, do you live in NZ Trish.? I liked it, but for me the Deuter Groeden is a better fit....
Happy to sell it for 50 per cent of the new price. it is in perfect condition. Just check the new price on the Aarn Company website and get in touch if you are keen.
It was just right in terms of space for a early to end of summer walk on the Geneva/ Robert Louis Stevenson Trail, cheers, Gitti
Hi Gitti .... I've been having trouble with my home emails and can't receive messages at the moment. I'm really keen on your pack ... I'd just like to know how many litres it is and is it big enough? My work email is trish.macgregor@srblaw.co.nz I'm up in Auckland in May so could pick it up then so save the hassle of posting it? Anyway, just get in touch when you've got a minute. Cheers, Trish. xx
 

RobertS26

Active Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, Oct 2013
Camino Frances, Aug 2014
Camino Frances, Apr 2015
#19
This is a good backpack for you if a professional, who is trained to fit people for backpacks, says it is a good backpack for you. Buying a backpack because someone else recommended it is a little like buying shoes in their size. They may or may not fit you.
 

TioRay

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Preparing to be on the Camino April 2014
#20
Granite Gear is well known in the long distance hiking community and is top of the line. As Robert26 says, getting it fitted is important. Should be lots of help with that in Toronto.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Portugués...April/May (2014)
Camino Ingles..........Sept. (2015)
#21
This is a good backpack for you if a professional, who is trained to fit people for backpacks, says it is a good backpack for you. Buying a backpack because someone else recommended it is a little like buying shoes in their size. They may or may not fit you.
Chosen and fitted in store to suit my needs....the suggestion of the make, Granite Gear, based on his experience.
 

Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid.
#22
Yes, yes!

My beloved Aarn Featherlite Freedom is probably the most adjustable pack made; I've tried it on numerous people and never failed to get it to fit perfectly. It takes some patience to get the pack set up f each individual and the fit perfect because so many adjustments are possible - everything from the length of the waistband, where the pack sits in relation to the harness, the internal metal stay that should be bent to provide a perfect contour of your back, the effect of tightening or loosening multiple different straps. In addition it comes as a large or short pack, with large or short sized waistbands and large or small harness sizes (so you could have any combination you want - I find the standard large is fine for everyone I've tried it on. Once everything is set up it is great.

It is also unique, not just because of the balance pockets but because of the way the pack harness integrates with the waistband.

The front balance pockets add a bit to the overall weight but I keep going back to using them because they are so handy and they do indeed "balance" the body so there is no strain on my back, shoulders or hips.

The Featherlite is a bit bigger than I need on Camino but has more features than the smaller packs and I think more comfort. I don't fill it unless carrying a tent, which I sometimes do. With ease!

Took it out for a bush walk last weekend, fully laden, and as soon as I put it on it felt like I was snuggling into a comfortable pair of old shoes!
 

taozenqi

Active Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances: Sept/Oct (2014)
#23
In many ways the Aarn packs are a better mouse trap as Falcon stated. Please look at grayland's comments as well and consider the impact. I heard Aarn is looking at an Ultralight version in the near future and until they accomplish significant weight loss I prefer other options. Zpacks has light weight multipacks that can be attached and carried in the front of their packs as well as others to help balance the load without the additional weight penalty. IMO, the Gossamer Gear KUMO with the Zpacks addition mentioned above works great. The result is > 6L additional capacity and Total weight , (with a bit of OCD strap trimming ) is 16 oz. vs. 40 oz. for the Aarn MM33.
The Zpack Multipack can also quickly be unsnapped and used as a fanny pack, shoulder satchel, grocery bag, shower bag for valuables, etc..
All that said, several of my hiking partners love their Aarn BPs.
Hike your own hike (HYOH), have fun and hope to share some dust with you along the way in Sept. 2014.
 

Donna Sch

Active Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
VdLP - Sanabres - Fisterra (Summer 2015); Future? Alicante-Astorga- SDC (2019);
#24
I just bought an Aarn and I love the shoulder movement that is possible. I couldn't believe what weight I was traipsing with around the shop until I took it off. Over 10 kg and nothing dragged. I'm aiming to carry 7 kg. But It's nice to know I can carry 3 litres of extra water on the long days on the VDLP.
 

Vivienne

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
2012 Camino Frances, Camino FInesterre, Camino Muxia
2014 Via de la Plata
2016 Norte
2017 plan to walk Portuguese, san Salvador & Primitivo
#25
I have an Aarn backpacks with the front balance pockets. Amazing pack wouldn't use anything else.
 

ebrandt

LizB
Donating Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2013), Primitivo (2015), Muxia/Fisterra (2015), Haervejen (2017)
#26
Hi Kanga and others on this Aarn Pack list,

I'm just starting researching pack alternatives for my husband (he detests doing this kind of background himself and I like to because I feel like I'm taking action!). Anyway, we recently had to stop our walk on the California Mission Walk because he had extreme neck pain and started losing muscle control in his right hand. An emergency room visit, and several MRIs later, we are thinking about "lifestyle" changes that will protect his cervical vertebrae (described to us by the neurosurgeon as "complicated" and "icky"). The doc thinks he will be able to carry a pack again once he has rested and possibly after surgery but he will need to limit the weight and take any actions he can to limit the pull on his shoulders.

I immediately thought of the Aarn packs I have seen others endorsed in this forum. I'm curious -- which version of the pack do folks use? Which version of the front pockets do folks use? Are there any considerations those who have used these packs might pass along to someone considering one? Its going to be a while before Tom is ready to carry anything again, and I'll ask these questions to the Aarn company also. But, as I said, it feels good to be taking action in the meantime. We are in the US and will have to order the pack without trying on firs, so I could use all the tidbits of info I can get!

Liz
 

Donna Sch

Active Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
VdLP - Sanabres - Fisterra (Summer 2015); Future? Alicante-Astorga- SDC (2019);
#29
I used the Natural Exhilaration with compact balance pockets. Worked well. Carries 30-33l and weighs 1300g. Perfect for a summer camino. I used one pocket for food/drinks and it holds an amazing amount of food if you are careful and the other had my phone, gadgets, sunglasses, rainjacket - all those bits and pieces you may want to pull out in a hurry. The top pocket in the top flap I used for my credencial, writing gear etc. My big camera I had attached to a Peak Design camera clip while walking. It doesn't quite fit in the front pocket. Otherwise it went in the pack itself. A friend of mine is a backpacker with a stuffed back and he swears by Aarns. He thinks he probably couldn't keep bushwalking without it. My neighbour has SIX Aarns. Admittedly everyone in that household is a different size and build. They go bushwalking regularly and he works out bush at times.
 

ebrandt

LizB
Donating Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2013), Primitivo (2015), Muxia/Fisterra (2015), Haervejen (2017)
#30
....My big camera I had attached to a Peak Design camera clip while walking.
thanks for the info Donna -- especially for mentioning the peak design camera clip. My husband uses one and I hadn't thought to ask but its good to know it can fit the Aarn straps if we go that route. Liz
 

Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid.
#31
Liz, @ebrandt sorry did not see your post, mine is the Featherlite which, at 50 litres, plus the balance packs is bigger than needed for a "normal" camino, but very easy to use - no need for surgical packing. I have sports balance packs in the regular length which gives another 10 litres.

If I was walking a summer camino, and paricularly if my back was a problem I would buy the Natural Exhilaration, which is 33 litres. I'd stick with the sports balance packs in regular - not the compact (which only take 6 litres). The idea is to put your small but heavy stuff in the balance packs - so my water, toilet bag (including first aid), phone, charger, camera if I have one. I used to keep my passport, credentiale and wallet there but now they go in my pockets (thank you Maccabi).

There are packs with sizes between the Featherlite and the Natural Exhilaration (Marathon and Mountain Magic) but, having looked at them in my local shop, they don't have the same torso system and hip-belt. I dont really know what they would be like. The Natural Exhilaration is very similar to my beloved Featherlite.

If you are interested you do need to trawl through the Aarn website. The most important thing is to get the right backlength and hipbelt size - the website explains how to measure.

Here's the web page for the Natural Exhilaration and the balance packs
http://www.aarnpacks.com/#!natural-exhilaration/c227d
http://www.aarnpacks.com/#!pivoting-balance-pockets/csr5

Send me a PM if you need any further info. And no, I still have no commercial interest in the company!
 

ebrandt

LizB
Donating Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2013), Primitivo (2015), Muxia/Fisterra (2015), Haervejen (2017)
#32
Liz, @ebrandt sorry did not see your post, mine is the Featherlite which, at 50 litres, plus the balance packs is bigger than needed for a "normal" camino, but very easy to use - no need for surgical packing. I have sports balance packs in the regular length which gives another 10 litres.

If I was walking a summer camino, and paricularly if my back was a problem I would buy the Natural Exhilaration, which is 33 litres. I'd stick with the sports balance packs in regular - not the compact (which only take 6 litres). The idea is to put your small but heavy stuff in the balance packs - so my water, toilet bag (including first aid), phone, charger, camera if I have one. I used to keep my passport, credentiale and wallet there but now they go in my pockets (thank you Maccabi).

There are packs with sizes between the Featherlite and the Natural Exhilaration (Marathon and Mountain Magic) but, having looked at them in my local shop, they don't have the same torso system and hip-belt. I dont really know what they would be like. The Natural Exhilaration is very similar to my beloved Featherlite.

If you are interested you do need to trawl through the Aarn website. The most important thing is to get the right backlength and hipbelt size - the website explains how to measure.

Here's the web page for the Natural Exhilaration and the balance packs
http://www.aarnpacks.com/#!natural-exhilaration/c227d
http://www.aarnpacks.com/#!pivoting-balance-pockets/csr5

Send me a PM if you need any further info. And no, I still have no commercial interest in the company!
Kanga -- thanks so much for this input -- especially confirming that the torso system is different on the Marathon and Mountain Magic packs. Tom thought that was the case but we were't sure. Its still early days in figuring out Tom's back situation so when we get closer to buying I may message you. I'm hoping we can do some walking this summer... Its a bit nerve wracking buying something without trying it on and examining it! Liz
 

domigee

Veteran Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
2018: 'Via Lemovicensis or maybe Via Francigena, again....
#33
Hello all Aarn backpack fans!
I'm thinking of replacing my trusted Osprey Exos , it has now done around 7000 km and is looking a bit the worst for wear.
I really, really like everything I read and hear about the Aarn but....I am extremely reluctant to buy a pack without trying it first. It's like shoes, might not work for me....and at that price I can't really afford to make a mistake :eek:
So I have 2 questions:
- did you all manage to try one on in a shop before buying?
- My Exos is 48l, never full on a 'normal' camino but roomy enough to fit a tent in when needed. Would the Featherlight be the equivalent in Aarn packs? Not having even seen one, only on the websites, I get confused with what I could fit in the front pockets, the double body pack etc :confused:
Thank you for any answers :)
 
Last edited:

ebrandt

LizB
Donating Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2013), Primitivo (2015), Muxia/Fisterra (2015), Haervejen (2017)
#34
Domigee -- it is so funny that you posted today. I have been of the forum for a while because of health issues and just got back on today! Also yesterday Tom and I reached out to Aarn to start the process of buying a pack. It is scary to buy an untried pack. But I think that is what we are going to do. We have really researched and the Aarn packs seem like the best bet for managing Tom's issues (he has significant spinal stenosis in the cervical vertebrae).
 

domigee

Veteran Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
2018: 'Via Lemovicensis or maybe Via Francigena, again....
#35
Domigee -- it is so funny that you posted today. I have been of the forum for a while because of health issues and just got back on today! Also yesterday Tom and I reached out to Aarn to start the process of buying a pack. It is scary to buy an untried pack. But I think that is what we are going to do. We have really researched and the Aarn packs seem like the best bet for managing Tom's issues (he has significant spinal stenosis in the cervical vertebrae).
Camino magic at work again! :D
Yes it is scary to buy an untried pack but it does sound good doesn't it, especially if you have back issues...
They have a retailing branch in the UK but very far from me and I think it is probably only an on-line business. I have yet to contact them, I thought I'd ask here first.
Let me know how you get on :)
All the very best ,
Dominique
 

Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid.
#36
@domigee I have bought two Aarn packs without trying them on, but I am familiar with them. I agree the Featherlite would be the one if you occasionally want to pack a tent. Where I buy my Aarn the Festherlite comes with the sports balance packs included in the price - not so the Natural Exhilaration, for which the balance packs are an extra cost.

I have to emphasize the importance of getting the right backlength (the Aarn website telks you how to measure) and if you are between two sizes or have a choice go for the larger one. As I've said before, don't be tempted to remove any of the stays to save weight - they are all there for a purpose. As are the straps.

I am fussy and make lots of adjustments to make the pack fit exactly, my husband plonks on the pack as it is and makes a few adjustments as he walks.

I did come across one pack in a shop that had been put together wrongly (straps that were meant to go under had been threaded over) and the harness did not "run" as it was meant to. If anyone who buys an Aarn pack is disappointed I'd strongly recommend an email to the maker (Aarn Tate - see their website) with photos of your pack showing the fittings, and on your back.
 

mal kiwi

New Member
Donating Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
2013, 2015, 2016
#37
I too purchased an Aarn pack (in 2013) without trying it on, for my caminos I purchased an "Aarn Agility pack 30 litres, with two balance pockets. As Kanga says, Note the size details and be fussy about getting the adjustments right for you! Early on I decided I didn't need both "balance pockets", I use only one "balance pocket" now to hold, guide, pen, camera, medical items, LED torch, hat, phone etc. I know that the point of the balance pockets is to move the centre of the weight forward, but this system works for me. All up, I would be carrying approx 6.5 kgs plus water. I am not experienced with any other packs, my last one was purchased in the 60's (that is 1960's), so can't offer any comparative advice on which pack suits, but I am very happy with this one. I do my best to have all the weight sitting on my hips and the shoulder straps don't take any weight, perhaps this is normal for all modern packs.
 

domigee

Veteran Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
2018: 'Via Lemovicensis or maybe Via Francigena, again....
#38
Thank you so much for your answer, Kanga, very helpful.
I think that's me sold.
Now I just have to convince my husband I NEED the new backpack and ignore the 'whaaat for?' exclamations .
Maybe I'll sell my car ...
Or my tent... (Probably costs more :D)
Thank you also for mentioning the balance packs are not always included....Just checked and they're not with all of them.
To be followed ...;)
 

domigee

Veteran Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
2018: 'Via Lemovicensis or maybe Via Francigena, again....
#39
I too purchased an Aarn pack (in 2013) without trying it on, for my caminos I purchased an "Aarn Agility pack 30 litres, with two balance pockets. As Kanga says, Note the size details and be fussy about getting the adjustments right for you! Early on I decided I didn't need both "balance pockets", I use only one "balance pocket" now to hold, guide, pen, camera, medical items, LED torch, hat, phone etc. I know that the point of the balance pockets is to move the centre of the weight forward, but this system works for me. All up, I would be carrying approx 6.5 kgs plus water. I am not experienced with any other packs, my last one was purchased in the 60's (that is 1960's), so can't offer any comparative advice on which pack suits, but I am very happy with this one. I do my best to have all the weight sitting on my hips and the shoulder straps don't take any weight, perhaps this is normal for all modern packs.
Thank you for your answer mal kiwi! When I first posted I thought you'd all think me mad for thinking of buying without trying it on first.
I will look again at all the models available, not sure I saw the Agility before. More homework needed.

Thanks again!
 

Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid.
#40
I know the Featherlight and the Natural Exhilaration - the Liquid Agility I'm not familiar with but it looks like an interesting option. Some of the other models have a different harness system. The one that is recommended here for Camino walkers is the Natural Exhilaration.
 

GettingThere

Active Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Roncesvalles-SdC Apr-Jun 2015
(Going again Sept 2017)
#41
I had an odd experience with an Aarn pack which I thought I should relate here as something worth checking before purchasing. Shortly before heading off on my Camino last year I had one of those pre-Camino panic moments when I loaded up my Osprey pack with more weight than I'd been training with previously, and thought it seemed really uncomfortable. Panic ensued - and having heard good things about Aarn I thought "Right, nothing else for it, I have to get an Aarn pack instead!" Off I went to the local retailer that stocks them. I wanted one of the smaller models as my Osprey was a 36L and was plenty big enough for me. Well, I will freely admit that I am somewhat round in the middle regions, but I'm not massively huge. The hip strap on the Aarn wouldn't even meet around me! Even at its longest. This was somewhat mortifying, standing there with this fit young man in the shop trying to pull it closed around me and making helpful suggestions like, there's a shoe repair place down the road, they might be able to cut it and splice in a bit of extra webbing. And no, they didn't have any longer straps. As I say, I'm not exactly svelte myself, but I have tried on many, many packs over the years and have never had this problem before. My Osprey pack has plenty of length to spare in the hip belt, as did every other one I had tried.

Needless to say I left the shop empty-handed, as quickly as I could manage and still red-faced. And of course, once the panic had subsided I found my Osprey pack was really fine, and i took that and it was very comfortable all the way.

I don't know if anyone else has ever had this experience with the waist/hip belt on an Aarn pack - maybe the one I tried had a manufacturing flaw, and I could probably have got a longer strap if i'd contacted the company. But I didn't think that should be necessary. And maybe it was the universe (or whoever) stopping me from making an unnecessary last-minute panic-purchase!! But it would be worth anyone who isn't skinny checking what length the hip belt is if buying online.
 

Kanga

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Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid.
#42
My Aarn model (the Featherlite Freedom) can be ordered in three different hip belt sizes - small, medium and large. I can't imagine someone being too large for the large size. Plus the hip belt is fitted to detach and attached to the harness with velcro, in two separate pieces, so that it can an be lengthened and shortened. I suspect the sales person did not know the range, as it seems he did not try to remove the waistband and lengthen it, or suggest another model. It may be that the smaller, simpler, models don't have the same multi-size hip belt.
 

GettingThere

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Camino(s) past & future
Roncesvalles-SdC Apr-Jun 2015
(Going again Sept 2017)
#43
My Aarn model (the Featherlite Freedom) can be ordered in three different hip belt sizes - small, medium and large. I can't imagine someone being too large for the large size. Plus the hip belt is fitted to detach and attached to the harness with velcro, in two separate pieces, so that it can an be lengthened and shortened. I suspect the sales person did not know the range, as it seems he did not try to remove the waistband and lengthen it, or suggest another model. It may be that the smaller, simpler, models don't have the same multi-size hip belt.
Thanks Kanga - I suspect you're right and he either didn't know the range or they had the pack fitted with the smallest size and didn't know there were options. Or maybe as you say, that model doesn't have the multi-size option. I am not sure which one it was now - possibly the marathon magic as that looks like a smaller (in litres) size. I kind of knew at the time that this couldn't be right, but was so overcome with embarrassment I just couldn't wait to get out of there! I do like the principle of the Aarn packs, and I may try again in future. Possibly with the Natural Exhilaration you mentioned above.
 

Kanga

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Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid.
#44
I've just looked at the website and see that the Natural Exhilaration only has a one size hip belt. So that would be something to watch. The options given for the Featherlike include a S and L hip belt (the standard comes as an M).
 

GettingThere

Active Member
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Camino(s) past & future
Roncesvalles-SdC Apr-Jun 2015
(Going again Sept 2017)
#45
I've just looked at the website and see that the Natural Exhilaration only has a one size hip belt. So that would be something to watch. The options given for the Featherlike include a S and L hip belt (the standard comes as an M).
Thanks Kanga, I had a look and see what you mean. It does seem odd though - as I say, I've never encountered too-short hip belts on any other brand of pack. Which probably means that skinny people often find pack hip belts annoyingly long with too much extra length! Manufacturers can't please everyone. Ah well. Currently losing weight so we'll see...!
 

Kanga

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Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid.
#46
I wonder if he just did not know to lengthen the fastening straps? Whatever - their failure, not yours! We come in all different shapes and sizes, and thank goodness for that. Diversity.
 

ebrandt

LizB
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Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2013), Primitivo (2015), Muxia/Fisterra (2015), Haervejen (2017)
#47
Camino magic at work again! :D
Yes it is scary to buy an untried pack but it does sound good doesn't it, especially if you have back issues...
They have a retailing branch in the UK but very far from me and I think it is probably only an on-line business. I have yet to contact them, I thought I'd ask here first.
Let me know how you get on :)
All the very best ,
Dominique
Tom ordered his pack and we should have it by weeks end. I'll report!
 

domigee

Veteran Member
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Camino(s) past & future
2018: 'Via Lemovicensis or maybe Via Francigena, again....
#48
Tom ordered his pack and we should have it by weeks end. I'll report!
How exciting! Can't wait to hear about it!
I'm still debating which one to choose: theNatural Exhilaration or the Mountain Magic....
I used to be undecisive but now I am not too sure :D
 

ebrandt

LizB
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Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2013), Primitivo (2015), Muxia/Fisterra (2015), Haervejen (2017)
#49
We got it! Based on Kanga's advice and recommendations from Aarn -- we got the Natural Exhilaration with the sport packs for the front. We worked on getting it fitted on Saturday and will try to take a walk with it as soon as the weather around us clears up (its snowy and a bit slippery at the moment! But the initial report is great. The pack is complicated. I think once its fitted and we have figured out what every thing on it is, it will be good. But I can see that we definately want to take some time to read the web site,watch the videos and experiment with the fit. Our first real test will be in June when we plan to walk four days on the California Mission Walk. Before that, it will just be day hiking. Liz
 

domigee

Veteran Member
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Camino(s) past & future
2018: 'Via Lemovicensis or maybe Via Francigena, again....
#50
I'm sure you'll have it all figured out by then. Happy day hiking and take care :)
 
Camino(s) past & future
Francis 2016
#51
I've just looked at the website and see that the Natural Exhilaration only has a one size hip belt. So that would be something to watch. The options given for the Featherlike include a S and L hip belt (the standard comes as an M).
My husband and I just received our Natural Exhiliration packs in Size L. He is 6'4" and about 260 lbs. the waistband fits around just fine. Thanks for the recommendation Kanga!
 

zzotte

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2012 Camino Frances, 2014 Lourdes to SDC, 2016 Camino del Norte
#52
I used my Aarn Natural Exhilaration for two caminos, a great pack supper comfortable but in order to reduce weight (Aarn 3.5lb) I move on to Elemental Horizons 19oz

zzotte
 

domigee

Veteran Member
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Camino(s) past & future
2018: 'Via Lemovicensis or maybe Via Francigena, again....
#53
Thanks Kanga and everyone for your kind help and advice.
In the end I just couldn't make the leap of buying without trying it on first, especially as the Aarn is so unfamiliar to me so went for the tried and tested.
Bought the new version of the Osprey Exos 48. I prefer the larger size as it allows me to take camping equipment, should I ever need it again and it is only a few grams more than the 38. I am very good and don't overpack, it's about the only thing I do right :D:D
Buen camino all :)
 

Donna Sch

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Camino(s) past & future
VdLP - Sanabres - Fisterra (Summer 2015); Future? Alicante-Astorga- SDC (2019);
#55
I bought a Marathon Magic 22l for dayhiking and to use rogaining and on the Oxfam. It certainly is a bit different to my other Aarnpack. Straps everywhere. But I definitely like it. Minimalist peregrinos who are not carrying a sleeping bag probably would like this option!
 

Kanga

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Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid.
#56
@Donna Sch and @smj6 I'm very interested to hear your opinions about these packs, which are quite different to my Featherlite. When next I need a new pack (which may be never - the old one is hanging together fine) I was thinking about the Mountain Magic.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances & Finisterre (Sep-Oct 2016)
#57
I was thinking about the Mountain Magic.
If looking at the Mountain Magic, definitely try it out first.
It is quite different from the other AARN packs. So different, that I couldn't bring myself to buy one and bought the Peak Aspiration (more traditional).
 

Kanga

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Camino(s) past & future
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid.
#58
If looking at the Mountain Magic, definitely try it out first.
It is quite different from the other AARN packs. So different, that I couldn't bring myself to buy one and bought the Peak Aspiration (more traditional).
Yes, it is. I've tyre kicked it a few times. It closes the same way as my Featherlite.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances & Finisterre (Sep-Oct 2016)
#59
Yes, it is. I've tyre kicked it a few times. It closes the same way as my Featherlite.
Cool, so long as you are aware :)

I was quite keen on the Mountain Magic, but the fit and feel of the Peak Aspirations just made me feel more comfortable.
 

smj6

Siempre hay que ver el positivo
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
October 2016 (Via Podensis/ Frances)
#60
@Kanga
One downside I've just discovered (by writing to the Aarn Directors): The small Marathon packs are not waterproof because Aarn has designed them for top marathon runners for whom ultralite is critical. Therefore the pack can leak along the seams. You need to use the Aarn daypack dry liner to make it completely waterproof, or pack gear in waterproof bags.
Suzanne :)
 

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