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Even after plans to Zion fell through, I committed to buying a backpacking pack. If these next plans don't fall through, I'll be scaling mountains in the Rockies this summer.

I went with the Osprey Aura 50 AG Pack, outfitted with a contoured frame, top and bottom loading compartments, a removable lid and adjustable straps. Name brand, you may scoff. But I actually tried a comparable women's Gregory pack, that felt OK but didn't form to me quite as well as the Osprey. Reviewers have lauded the brand's comfortable fit and I could really tell a difference even without weight. With a removable pouch, I can carry less on shorter adventures. Bungee tie-offs give me the option to attach stuff to access easily. The bottom and top zips make for easy packing.

I'll update this post with even more comments after I give it a whirl this summer. For now, it's sitting pretty and patiently in my apartment.

Update after summer 2016: 

I love this backpack. I've used it even when I'm not backpacking. Right now, it's hanging from my door and holding extra shoes, a beanie and my headlamp. I don't even know where to begin if I'm starting with my favorite aspect. Normally, I shove my extra shoes up through the bottom zip. I push my sleeping bag through the top, topping it with extra clothes and such. The bigger top zip fits my rain jacket and the smaller zip fits my headlamp, chapstick, keys, etc. On the exterior, I love the stretchy extra compartment. I usually stuff a beanie or map inside. And finally, around the waistband, there are tiny little compartments for snacks!

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