Before I dive into the review of the Osprey Mira AG 26 ($165), a gratuitous rant is needed. So much of the outdoor industry’s spin on women-specific gear feels like a pervasive marketing gimmick to “reach women” and “engage them in the outdoors”. Don’t get me started on swirls, pastel colors and cute graphics.
When it comes to backpacks (and bike saddles), there is some validity. Compared to men, women tend have narrower shoulders, shorter torso lengths, and different hips (for some archaic, barbaric, biological practice called “child bearing”). It makes sense that backpack design is sensitive to that.
But are narrow shoulders, shorter torsos and hip size limited to only a woman’s body type? No. There are lots of scrawny dudes and broad-built women out there.
That being said, the Osprey Mira AG 26 looks unisex in its design until you put it on. Then it oozes gender-specificity. It was the pack I took to Scotland and the Faroe Islands because its 26-liter capacity was the right amount of cargo capacity for day hikes and as an airplane carry-on.
What I liked
- Front-loading design: Front-loading vs top-loading will almost always be a subject for debate, even among the best of friends. There’s merit to each depending on the objective of the mission. The Mira AG’s main compartment opens with a convenient, two-way, clamshell zipper that extends about halfway down the pack bag to gives me easy access to the jambalaya of rain jacket, rain pants, an AMK Ultralight/Waterproof .9 first-aid kit, two packs of Glacier Gel, an extra pair of hiking socks, a can of haggis and a box of Wasa bread.
- AG (“Anti-Gravity”) system. The AG system is composed of a seamless suspended mesh back panel that does an excellent of job of balancing the pack’s load and dispersing it so that you can move freely and not feel off-kilter or off-balance. The frame itself offers enough flex to allow the pack to move with your body but never enough to cause discomfort. I found all this to be true. It’s not one of those features that makes you think you aren’t carrying a pack at all – I definitely knew I was carrying a pack – but it certainly made it a comfortable pack to carry on hikes ranging from 10 miles to 16 miles that was loaded down with all the gear I needed for the day.
- Hydrapak hydration bladder! This is a big deal. A really big deal. Osprey’s earlier bladders were the one and only point of contention I had with them. They were attached to a hard plastic plate to provide structure, the openings were tiny and they were tough to clean and air out. I’ve thrown plenty away that had biohazards growing inside.
Enter the Osprey/Hydrapak partnership! The Hydrapak bladder is soft (but strong) with a gaping-wide slide-top opening (think giant ZipLock baggie) to open or close. This system allows you to turn it inside out to clean and dry. What’s also nice about this bladder is that it is adaptable to just about any pack you have. If you want to use it in a mountain bike hydration pack, it has a center baffle that reduces water sloshing and other movement.
- Comfortable shoulder straps: This is one of the spots where a women’s-specific design is appreciated. The Mira AG’s straps are made with a soft foam that is not too thick, not to thin and are curved to create a nice and comfortable fit for a woman’s shoulder and chest. They’re also perforated to allow for decent ventilation.
- Comfortable hip belt: Like the shoulder straps, the hipbelt is made with a soft foam that conforms to hipbones (somewhat) and allows for a comfortable load transfer. I hiked for ten days when I was on vacation and the hikes were anywhere from 10 miles to 16 miles carrying a full day’s supply of gear. It took some initial tweaking and fiddling but within a few miles of the first day of hiking I was able to get the right comfort balance employing the adjustability of the hip belt, shoulder straps and load balancer straps.
- Good organization: The Mira AG 26 has a large main compartment (clamshell-style), a soft-lined internal stash pocket for sunglasses or smartphone, zippered front panel pocket with internal mesh pockets for smaller items, two side stretch pockets to hold water bottles (or in my case, a flask of wine) and two zippered pockets on the hipbelt. Also comes with a helmet attachment loop and hiking stick stash loops. It also has a separate hydration compartment that is super easy to access.
- Outstanding ventilation: But keep in mind I was in the Scottish Highlands and the Faroe Islands where the warmest day temps were in the mid-60’s and that was only one day of the entire trip. If you want beautiful weather, don’t go to Scotland and/or the Faroe Islands. Osprey calls it the “Airspeed Backpanel”. It’s a lightweight, suspended mesh screen that allows for maximum airflow between pack and back. I have a larger multi-day Osprey pack that also has the Airspeed Backpanel and I’ve used it plenty on warmer days with excellent results. So it works.
- Lightweight. Weight is a nice petite 2lbs, 6oz.
- Integrated rain cover: It rained thirteen of the fourteen days of my trip and the rain cover kept pack and the contents completely dry.
- Size is accurate and allows room for error. I went with the S/M. It wasn’t until I began writing this review that I learned that my torso is actually 17.25 inches. According to the Mira AG 26’s official sizing (XS/S 15-18″/S/M 17-20″) I can wear either or. Obviously, I have no complaints from a size S/M on a 17.25-inch torso loaded with a full water bladder, rain gear, snacks and other necessities so it turned out to be right size. If you ever wonder how to measure your torso length, check out this neat little vid from Backpacker mag.
What I didn’t like
- Thanks to the addition of the Hydrapak bladder, nothing!
Final parting thoughts
I’ve always liked Osprey because their packs are durable and comfortable and pretty forward-thinking. The Mira AG 26 seems to be no exception. Its cargo capacity of 26L is plenty for day hiking as long as you’re not carrying super-bulky items. Like maybe leave the large puffy down jacket home?
As far as durability and Osprey go, a story comes to mind.
I once toured the Osprey facility in Cortez, Colorado. A horrible hick of a town but the Osprey corporate headquarters is the one beacon of hope in an otherwise bleak landscape. But oh-so close to the beautiful and epic San Juan mountains!
One stop on the tour was the “Warranty Repair Section”. Osprey offers a pretty stellar warranty as it is and there really weren’t a ton of packs in queue for repair. But one stood out. It was ancient. Like at least 30-years-old ancient. It was made of heavy canvass, the zippers looked like they weighted 10 pounds each, etc. It even had the old Osprey logo on it. It also looked as if it had entered into a battle with a bear.
The seamstress (because they employ locals to do all repairs) explained that Osprey offered the customer a full replacement, at no charge. The customer refused. He wanted his original, ancient, Made in the USA Osprey fixed and returned to him.
The Osprey Mira AG 26 is a Gear Gals Piece of Recommended Gear.
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