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hike essentials and two backpacks

Osprey Atmos AG 65 vs Osprey Stratos 34

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I switched my backpack from a 34 liter model that’s great for day hikes to a 65 liter model that’s more suited to overnight adventures. I’m really happy with the upgrade.

My Ospreyimage hiking trail Stratos 34 is a marvel of good design. It’s roomy and hard-wearing, and it has tons of functional nooks and crannies. It’s a great day pack.

However, this year I’m planning a series of overnight stays in the Catskills and Adirondacks — and for that purpose 34 liters is not quite enough storage space.

red backpack
Fully packed Osprey Stratos 34

I also seem to carry a slightly larger kit than most people (see below), so the Stratos 34 was starting to feel a little crammy, especially in winter.

unpacked backpack
Osprey Atmos AG 65 and my hike essentials

I took these photos in the shoulder-season — which explains the LL Bean puffy and the Hillsound trail crampons — but everything else is what I take on every hike. (How do people get away with less?)

Compartment Syndrome

The Stratos 34 has a ton of small compartments, which is great for compartmentalizing your gear — until you realize some of the compartments are not quite big enough to hold everything in an organizational category. I always ended up trying to figure out if my headlamp was in this pocket or that pocket.

The Atmos AG 65 has fewer compartments but they’re much roomier. Now I keep all my food and snacks on my right, in a single compartment, and all my electronics and most useful kit on my left, in the other side compartment. My emergency supplies are stored in the bottom compartment. The main/largest compartment is where I keep things I rarely use: webbing, cordage, extra clothes, the pack’s top lid — and, of course, my reservoir is in there too.

Bonus: getting a full water reservoir in and out of a backpack is one of the few pain points in packing for a hike; it’s so annoying. With the 34L Stratos, it was a wrestling match that always ended with me having to unpack half the main compartment so I could shim the reservoir into position. With the 65 liter Atmos, there’s so much extra room it’s now a breeze to load the reservoir.

hike essentials and two backpacks
Osprey Atmos AG 65 vs Osprey Stratos 34

An In-Between Size

In the pic below, I have everything above packed — and there’s still a ton of space to pack even more.

packed backpack, blue
Osprey Atmos AG 65 — fully loaded but with plenty more room

This 65L pack is an an in-between size: it’s a little bigger than a standard overnight pack but it’s still a lot smaller than a thru-hiker’s pack. It’s definitely a little too big for a typical day hike. But it means I don’t have to switch packs if I want to go camping, or if I just want to carry some extra stuff when I’m hiking with friends. I can see this pack being perfect for 2-3 nights in the wilderness.

The smaller Ospreyimage hiking trail Stratos comes with a rain cover as standard. The larger Atmos does not, which means you have to buy one separately. But I found that the rain cover for the Stratos actually fits over my Atmos as I currently have it configured: no top lid and only ½ full — so I can hold off buying that cover for a while.

An upgrade like this is so welcome, I only wish I’d done it sooner.

Get More Backpack Info

If you want to know more about how to choose a backpack, read this post on backpack basics, or you can flesh out your current hiking kit with this master checklist.

This post is filed under hiking gear.

Check out Ospreyimage hiking trail for their full range of backpacks.

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