Arc’teryx Bora AR 50
- Best water resistance in set
- Unparalleled durability
- Strong hip pivot action & comfort
- Very expensive
- Heaviest in set
- No gear loops on bottom
With its unmatched durability and strong performance in every category, the Arc’teryx Bora 50 took home the top spot in this test. The best characteristic is this pack’s comfort, with a good harness and hip belt pivot action. Its biggest limitation is its price, which sets it out of range for most users.
With the Bora AR 50, Arc’teryx employs shoulder straps that are adjustable along two dimensions, which is easy by pulling the Velcro back and adjusting the strap to choose a new set of coordinates. This technology allows easy in-the-field adjustments. And once it’s set to a back, it remains a customized backpack. The padding on the waist belt is extraordinary, and this pack is the most comfortable in the set, by a healthy margin, full stop.
The Bora has simple and efficient storage. On the back there is a full-length sleeve for accessible items, which is fastened by a button on the top and a waterproof zipper along the back. The body compartment has a small zippered pouch and a water bladder sleeve. The brain has one large-ish pocket on top and a small zippered pouch on the bottom
The Arc’teryx Bora AR 50 earns high marks in stability. The flat carbon fiber frame provides a rigid structure upon which is mounted the waist belt, which pivots nicely on its circular mount. This provides unmatched comfort and stability when it’s loaded down with loads up to 40 pounds, because your back is able to stretch and move in a natural way, unlike pivotless packs. There are two linear straps on each side, which allows the user to lock down loads to prevent shifting or imbalance.
This pack has unmatched durability. The durable water resistance treatment provides reliable water resistance. This beefiness does add to the weight, which is this pack’s only real non-price drawback.
The Arc’teryx Bora AR 50 has few extras, which highlights its simplicity. It does have two gear loops that can be used for trekking poles, ice tools, or other technical gear. The toggle that fastens the gear is adjustable. Both hip pockets have tight elastic mesh pouches.
How We Tested It
The packs in this test were used throughout the winter and spring of 2017, during day hikes ranging from a few miles to a summit attempt on Mount Hood. Tests were conducted on Maryland’s Western Shore, in the Olympic Range of Washington State, and in the Cascades of the Pacific Northwest. This geographic diversity of conditions allowed for a look into each pack’s strengths and weakness. Each pack was loaded down with at least 15 pounds.
For more reviews beyond this 2017 test, check out our other backpack tests, our Best 3 Person Backpacking Tents of 2017, along with our sleeping bag tests, and other related hiking and camping gear tests.
The products featured in this test have been loaned to the Gear Institute. For more on our policies regarding editorial objectivity and sample returns, see here.
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- Type of Backpack: Weekend Pack
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