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—Courtesy of Paul Miller

Pack to the Future

Osprey's new backpack helps carry itself.

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Backpacking into the James Peak Wilderness sounds like a tranquil summer retreat—until your hiking companions con you into carrying the water. Next thing you know, you’re a mile in, sweating through your shirt, and your overstuffed pack is carving into your shoulders and waist. You can surrender and car camp next to the family that couldn’t go a weekend without a flat-screen. Or you can pony up for Osprey’s 2015 Atmos AG pack or the Aura AG for women ($230 to $260). The Cortez-based company solved the drenched-shirt situation back in 2005 when it debuted the Atmos series, the first pack to feature ventilated back panels. The new, fourth-generation Atmos AG expands the concept to the shoulder straps and hip belt, employing high-tension mesh that’s not only breezy but also actually lifts the pack off your body—like it’s helping carry itself. The technology (dubbed “Anti-Gravity”) had been camped out in Osprey founder and lead designer Mike Pfotenhauer’s brain for 10 years, but only recently have manufacturing advancements allowed Osprey to create the right amount of tension in the mesh. The result, says spokesman Jeff Fox, has been the most successful product launch in the company’s 41-year history, as well as an embarrassment of awards, including a 2015 Editors’ Choice Award from Backpacker magazine. Us? We’re just happy someone’s finally offering to share the load.

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