The Aarn Natural Balance pack can carry 10+ days of ultralight gear. It is an excellent, award winning bag that’s received rave reviews from major sources including Outdoor Magazine, Germany. This lightweight backpack is perfect for all outdoor adventures, as it has attachments for ice axes, trekking poles, caritools, and ice clippers.
This is the best hiking backpack for the versatile nature lover. Take it on hikes, treks, and camping trips. This lightweight daypack feels like virtually nothing on your back, so you don’t have to worry about the weight on your back when traveling up a mountain.
We recommend using Expedition Front Balance Pockets, which provide greater stability and balance, and a more upright posture. This translates to much less fatigue and strain. Front pockets have accessible zip flaps to protect items from the rain, gear clips and mesh exterior pockets.
Pelvic form hipbelt, True-fit shoulder straps, and Flow-thru stabilizers help to make the bag feel lightweight and comfortable on your journeys.
Waterproof Dri-liners and Cord-loc compression work to protect your belongings from the weather.
On-Adjust 2 Back lengths to shift loads up and down, with a 15 cm range.
Materials: 500D Kodura nylon, 210D, 70 x 100D, and 40 D ripstop nylon
Colors: Green and grey combination for a natural look
Front Balance Pockets allow for high weights without feeling intrusive
The Front Balance Pockets attach easily to Aarn’s comfortable backpacks and convert easily into a daypack after clipping on the shoulder and sternum straps. Hiking, backpacking, and exploring the outdoors has never been easier!
The15 liter or 18 liter Expedition Balance Pockets provide greater stability and balance, and a more upright posture. This translates to much less fatigue and strain.
Shoulder and sternum straps are included for converting the pockets into a daypack, which is carried on the front of the body for maximum security and easy gear access.
Front pockets have waterproof Dri-liners, accessible zip flaps to protect items from the rain, and four mesh exterior pockets with compression cords.
The design of the Front Balance Pockets, which includes four mesh exterior pockets with compression chords, is to provide maximum comfort, organization, and accessibility. Attach to the Aarn "balance pack" for an unmatched outdoors experience.
The Aarn Natural Balance Bodypack features a unique design that helps maintain the wearer’s posture. After it won gold at the Outdoor Industry Awards in Germany last year, Laura Waters was determined to give it a long distance trial.
"I have a nickname for this pack: I call it my Magic Pack.
From the moment I first tried it on I’ve been amazed at how weight seems to magically disappear once I’m wearing it. Whether I need to carry ten days of food over a long section or seven kilos of water for a desert stretch, it turns a sizeable load into something very manageable. In fact, my pack has felt so suspiciously light at times that I’ve actually taken it off mid-walk to check I haven’t inadvertently left something behind at the last break.
I carried the Natural Balance for over 3000 kilometres hiking the Te Araroa Trail from one end of New Zealand to the other, and its absolute comfort gave me one less challenge to deal with. Gone were the aching shoulders and hot knots of pain in my back that I used to suffer with a traditional backpack.
So what’s the secret to this ’magic’? It’s the way you carry your load that makes all the difference. Aarn Tate has spent 30 years perfecting and testing the Flow Bodypack system in the tough terrain of his homeland, New Zealand. The key to its design is a set of pockets on the front in which you carry all your compact, heavy gear and thereby counterbalancing the load on your back. The result is an energy-efficient system that maintains the natural curve of the spine and leaves you standing upright and perfectly balanced.
Why It Works
A backpack magnifies the forces acting on your body. Without going into the detailed physics of it, a 16 kilogram load plonked on your back with a traditional backpack could end up exerting a force on your body that feels more like 20-24 kilograms. The Bodypack system however removes all leverages on your back from your pack and brings your posture as close to upright as possible. In doing so most of the load is shifted off your shoulders and spine and transferred evenly around the pelvis.
It Looks Different
I get a lot of comments from hikers I pass on the trail, dubious of the design of this newfangled pack. Here are a few examples:
Yeah, but can you see your feet? The Natural Balance has two separate front pockets so you can see your feet in the gap between them if you want to. Having said that, I discovered that I didn’t actually watch my feet hit the ground, I looked ahead at the ground where I intended to put my feet and then my feet simply followed.
What about tricky terrain? The pack has a fantastic hip belt and shoulder harness that allows the load to shift as you move so you stay centred and balanced always. The front pockets do not hinder manoeuvrability when scrambling over rocks on all but the very tightest of ledges.
Isn’t it hot to wear? No. The front pockets hang away from your body allowing air to flow, plus ventilation mesh is used in the back panel.
You’re carrying all THAT? Having a large load is not a pre-requisite to wearing this pack Aarn make smaller volume models that an ultra-light hiker probably wouldn’t even notice they’re wearing, but if you like to take enough gear to stay warm and safe, if you need to carry lots of water, or if like me you’re partial to a bit of fresh fruit and veg on your hike, then this pack will allow you to carry your load in comfort.
Another significant bonus is having camera, sunscreen, maps, snacks, PLB, etc. readily available in the front pockets. Pockets are interchangeable too so I swapped one standard pocket for photography specific one, padded for my equipment. The pack has a removable dry bag lining and the tough nylon exterior sheds water well so you won’t need a pack cover. And the whole pack is fully adjustable for a precise fit.
If I could change anything it would be the plastic clips and buckles. They are lightweight but not the strongest. I’ve broken two over 3500 kilometres of hiking and while spares are provided I’d like to see a tougher material used here. Also after 1000 kilometres the dry bag lining was, perhaps unsurprisingly, no longer completely watertight though a few bin bag liners inside the pack avoids any dampness in a downpour (note: the dry bag liners are replaceable).
The Natural Balance has won a string of awards, most recently Germany’s Outdoor Industry Awards in 2015 where it earned the Gold Winner title for best backpack. It may look odd and a tad on the bulky side, but to wear it is to experience its magic."
Expedition Balance Pockets - Come Standard and Included in price
The large volume of the Expedition Pockets hold large loads effortlessly
Aarn's Expedition pockets are recommended for use with the Natural Balance lightweight daypack from Light Hiking Gear, complete with four mesh exterior pockets and one map pocket.
Comes with compression straps and pocket can convert to a daypack with shoulder and sternum straps.
The length of the expedition is 5 cm longer and is suitable for back lengths longer than 42 cm.
Expedition pockets are made from 500D Kodura, 210D, 100d x 70D, and 40D ripstop nylon
The colors are a natural green and grey combo
These pockets can be removed at any time. Shop and see why Aarn is one of the best hiking backpack brands on the market.
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These allow you to clip climbing hardware on the larger models with Pelvic Form Hipbelts.
Hold tent, poles, foam pad, etc. on pack sides.
Attach skis to the pack sides and lock to prevent movement
Lock skis to prevent movement
" I'm a long time customer (since 1995) and enthusiastic fan of your pack designs, every since I took an Aarn Natural Balance to Europe in 1995. Wearing that pack (with the "Balance Buddies" as they were called at the time) I have climbed in the Dolomites in Italy, hiked in the French and Swiss Alps, and scrambled and climbed all over mountains near my present home in Seattle, WA. I've worn your pack on every conceivable kind of trip, from long hikes over flat ground to "light and fast: alpine climbs going straight up, AND, having formerly worked in the outdoor industry, I've had the opportunity to fit and wear almost every kind of pack design there is. To this day, nothing compares to my good 'ol Aarn Natural Balance pack.
I wanted to send this note to personally thank you for the enjoyment I've had over the years thanks to your groundbreaking design. Very few packs are equally well suited for hostel-hopping around Europe and summiting Mt. Rainier. Yours is. And, after 15 years, it's still holding up pretty well, all things considered. Anyway, I wanted to say thank you.
If I was still in the outdoor retail industry, I'd still be selling your packs. There is nothing to compare to them, (as you know!!) It's a shame that they're still so hard to find, here in the US, but I'm glad you're still making them. Best of luck to you, and thanks again for doing what you're doing." Eric Fredrickson, Seattle, WA, USA
" Background: After 10 years of marriage we had twins. We were farmers I was accustomed to working on the farm. I started carrying one twin on my back and one on my front - perfect balance.
Years later I started tramping with friends. I bought a backpack. I always ended up with things dangling on my front. A large camera bag was best: it held everyone's snacks, camera, water, elastoplasts. Then I found an Aarn pack sitting on the floor of our local outdoor shop that actually had front bags, called Balance Pockets, it was called Load Limo. The pack was huge - 85kg, but it balanced me perfectly. I managed with heavy loads (I often take a tent). I stood upright, and had no back or knee problems.
Age has crept on, the body changes, bones protrude, flesh disintegrates, carrying weight becomes a burden.
Then I bought a Natural Balance. It weighs a kilo less than my old pack. I climbed in the hills around me, crawling in places, I packed it to the limit, I tramped out in heavy rain, it was faultless. I have done some real bush whacking with it, thinking the fine fabric would tear: it did not. This for me is the perfect pack.
The Aarn design is the most intelligent and ingenious pack I have had anything to do with. I would never consider another type of pack. The design has thought carefully about the body and how it reacts to weight bearing. The pockets are in all the right places - maps, cell-phone, water, food - everything in perfect position to reach without having to take the pack off.
I congratulate Aarn. His engineering and design skills are superb. And thank you for the extra years of freedom this pack will give me.
Having just come back from a 14km. hike in the hills in perfect shape and able to spend the rest of the day at work and still feel OK I am elated. Jo Speedy, Hastings, NZ
I recently took the Natural Balance Bodypack to the UK where I completed the Lands End to John O’Groats Walk 1,050 miles in 57 days, i.e. an average day of walking 18 to 24 miles. The Bodypack did the business! I’m enormously impressed with the pack which I have no doubt helped me to complete the journey without any notable incidents or setbacks.
Having had a lumbar discectomy a few years ago, and a history of neck and upper back problems, it was essential that the pack and hipbelt put minimal strain on my lower back, neck and shoulders. I found that at the end of each day, I had no soreness or tiredness in these areas. Further, my overall fatigue level after 8 to 10 hours walking was surprisingly low, given that I was carrying an average daily load of about 13 kg.
The fore and aft balancing worked well. I found that I had good balance when it was really needed; going up or down steep gradients, rock-hopping, crossing streams or on slippery surfaces. The backpack proved 100% waterproof. Thanks for helping me to realize a dream!
Richard Hipgrave, Wellington, NZ
Hi. Not something that I usually do, but I just could not let the event pass without comment. An unsolicited recommendation!
I am 59 years old and my wife is 56. In February 2004 we had a serious bike accident where my wife broke her collarbone, her pelvis and a rib. I fortunately suffered more minor injuries. We are both keen trampers and planned to continue but were worried about being able to carry our old packs, which always gave problems mainly on our shoulders. We purchased two of your Natural Balance packs (mine the 75L, my wife's the 70L).
We have just returned from 4 days of tramping round Lake Waikaremoana and what a revelation! Both of us just could not believe that you could spend days with the pack on and have absolutely no issues with the weight. These packs just have no impact on you shoulders. This particular tramp requires a lot of clambering up and down a 'root' based track but the packs were just great to carry. I cannot recommend the packs more highly and regardless of whether you have problems I am sure that you will benefit from using these amazingly designed packs. Thanks for saving our outdoors life! David & Margaret Ivory, North Island, New Zealand
Thanks for such a wonderful pack! It was a big investment, but I've never been happier with a piece of adventure equipment. The fantastic design and great build quality make it a pleasure to handle and has saved me in some tricky situations. When scrambling up vertical inclines with a previous pack the awkward and scary sensation of falling backwards down a steep cliff makes me appreciate the Natural balance so much more- I use it for all my treks now- even day walks. I love the balance pockets to store my water bottles - what a fantastically versatile unit! Ben Campbell, Ashford, South Australia
" I have been using a Natural Balance for years. It is still going strong and is without a doubt the best, most comfortable pack I have ever used. I've done lots of backpacking the Sierra here in California and it never fails to get people's attention on the trail. I always tell them, "You are looking at the backpack of the future." David Nelson, California, USA
" Tested: June 2008, northern Australia, solo walk over 23 days (full pack, no re-supply possible). Environment: tropical; dry season; slow country=deep gorges, loose rocks, exposed ledges, spinifex/sandstone ridges, screw-pine cluttered valleys, open woodland, vine thickets, speargrass hells Exposure/time: (from Easiest to Hardest): strolling over horizontal, open, flat ground (1%), walking in woodland, feet mostly visible (25%), rock-hopping along creeks, feet visible (35%), river crossings (1%), high-stepping through over-head-high vegetation, feet not visible (25%), pushing/scraping through distorted spinifex/sandstone labyrinths, feet often not visible (7%), gorge climbing (6%) Weights: body: 64 kg (141 lbs) skin-out at start: 24 kg (53 lbs) (of which 2 kg clothes/shoes/hat) complete pack at start: 22 kg (46.3 lbs). Other packs used on previous walks: On earlier walks (over 14/20/21 days) in various parts of the Australian Kimberley, I used a very light (710 g=25 oz) frameless pack, the ’Starlite’ (Six Moon Designs, recommended for 16 kg/35 lbs loads max; I carried 16-19 kg. During those 3 walks, obsessed with the idea that ’light is always better than heavy’, I pushed myself through difficult country (with stays added to the pack on the 3rd trip). I took it for granted that my daily exhaustion, especially during the first 2 walks, merely reflected the hard terrain. I was physically in above-average condition. Trip #4 (2008) changed my mind: I now had an Aarn. My experience: At first, I felt like a bicycle rider in the seat of a Ferrari. Starting out with the ’Natural Balance’ crammed and heavy (=1/3 of my body weight), I spent the first 2+ days fiddling with adjustments; numerous possibilities meant that I had to *learn*. I carried most of the dense, heavy stuff in the front Balance