Backpacks are a hiker’s best friend. When you find one you love, you develop an odd yet totally natural relationship with your new piece of equipment. It becomes your companion. If you don’t know what I’m talking about then you haven’t found the right backpack… either that or I’m completely crazy. But, let’s just assume that you haven’t found your pack friend yet.
If you’re still on this inevitable quest, well, you’ve come to the right place. Recently I had the good fortune of testing the Osprey Mira 18 women’s-specific daypack. Having already found a daypack that came with me on all of my adventures, it was hard to leave her behind and take out the Mira. But life is hard and I had to suck it up, so off I went with the brand new pack. To my great surprise, the Mira actually gave my current backpack a run for its money!
Osprey Mira 18 Specs and Features
I love when a backpack has plenty of useful extras. Osprey’s Mira 18 delivers just that, with plenty of product features that left me feeling completely satisfied.
Of course, the Mira is first and foremost a hydration pack. Osprey has designed its own reservoir, the Hydraulics Reservoir, which is meant to keep you going even on the hottest day. This particular reservoir has a 3L capacity, which well exceeds the general rule of 2L of water per hiking day. The Hydraulics Reservoir has a lightweight handle attached that allows for easy filling and easy storing.
But the extras far exceed a 3L water reservoir. My favorite accessory has to be the built-in rain cover. I never had to worry about my cargo getting wet, or making sure I packed a cover, because it’s always with me! A small, barely noticeable pocket exists at the bottom of the pack where the cover is always stored. That neat little cover has already come in handy multiple times on the trail.
Another extra that’s top on my list for any backpack is pockets. I love lots and lots of organizing pockets, and the Mira certainly doesn’t come up short in that aspect. There is, of course, the main storage pocket that can hold food, jackets, extra clothes, and the like. It’s not a huge pocket–it’s the perfect size for a day hike–it gives you room, but not too much room to where I felt like my pack was empty.
Then there is the front zipper pocket which holds plenty more pockets inside. Think pocketknives, compasses, cell phones, GPS, and any other small items that you’d like to have organized inside your pack. But what about things that you need quick access to? Well, Osprey thought of that too, with the easy-access mesh pocket located on the back of the backpack.
My favorite pockets, however, have to be the hip belt pockets. I know every hiker/backpacker will agree with me when I say that it’s extremely annoying whenever you have to take your backpack off to get something you use fairly often. Enter the hip belt pockets. They’re well-placed pockets on the, you guessed it, hip belt which allow you to carry small items such as food or a small camera right up there with you.
An easy “Stow-on-the-go” system makes storing trekking poles super easy. Normally, storage for trekking poles is located on the back of the backpack, making it difficult to transition from poles to no poles. However, the Mira 18 has the storage located on the front in the shoulder straps–this makes storing poles for quick scrambles or breaks on the trail very convenient.
Another nifty little accessory is the magnet clip on the chest strap to keep your water hose in place. It was one of the most exciting features for me, if I’m being honest. A lot of backpacks have an awkward placement for the water hose, if they provide placement at all. This magical little magnetic clip made it so that with just a turn of my head I could be drinking beautiful, refreshing, delicious water. It’s the little things, I guess.
One of the most important features this backpack offers is the “BioStretch” harness and hip belt. Basically, the way the hip belt and the shoulder straps are made leaves the fit of the backpack both comfortable and breathable. Osprey’s mesh-covered EVA foam helped the pack sit really comfortably on my hips and shoulders. Normally, that’s where I get the most tension, but even on a 10-15 mile hike, the pack didn’t leave me sore.
The “AirSpeed” Suspension also helped. AirSpeed Suspension is basically the space between your back and the backpack. A thin layer of mesh sits against your back so the rest of the backpack is elevated away from you by the frame, which leaves you with a comfortable and breathable fit.
Okay, okay, so the backpack performs well, but what about the size and weight? The Mira 18 has 1098 cubic inches of space and can hold 18L. It’s a fairly small backpack and weighs in at a total of 2lbs with an additional 11oz for an empty reservoir.
Although I’ve really enjoyed this backpack, it does have a few drawbacks. The first would be the weight. It’s slightly heavier than other comparable packs, which can weigh up to a pound less. However, once you put this baby on, you won’t be able to feel a thing. The construction of the frame, the women’s specific design, and the BioStretch harness and hip belt all help to make this a comfortable fit no matter the weight.
Although I’ve raved about the Mira 18’s many pockets, it is lacking in one area–there are no side pockets. I almost always hike with my dog, which means I need to carry extra water bottles for her. The Mira 18 doesn’t have any side pockets for me to store those water bottles in, so I have to use the room inside the pack to do so. It’s a minor setback, but it does make a difference.
The only other problems I’ve found with this pack revolve around the hydration pack and its design. The water hose is not easily detached from the reservoir, which makes refilling a hassle. Normally, a day hike doesn’t require refilling, so it’s not a huge problem, but even when you’e filling up at home, it can become a nuisance. Also, there’s no hole for the water hose in the backpack, so it needs to come between the zippers, which means you can’t completely close the pack. This isn’t a huge deal, especially with the Mira’s rain cover.
Overall, Osprey’s Mira 18 backpack surpassed my expectations. With only a few minor setbacks, this backpack is perfect for any day hike adventure. A lean, comfortable, and breathable system with plenty of product features puts this pack high on my list. And it just may become my new backpack friend.
Thanks to Osprey Packs for providing the Mira 18 for review!