It’s no secret that I’m a fan of backpacks. I have far more packs in my gear closet than any one person ought to, but they each fill a specific need, and depending on where I’m going, and what I’m doing, I can rest assured that I have the perfect pack to fill my needs. My favorite pack is definitely my Atmos 50 from Osprey, as it is the perfect size for traveling light, while still carrying all of your necessary equipment. That pack has been with me on multiple continents and on multiple adventures.
I had hoped to carry the Atmos 50 with me when I went to Nepal recently, but it was just a bit too small for carrying all of the gear that I needed for that trip, which included a 4-season sleeping bag, down jacket, and multiple fleece layers. I knew I needed something a bit larger, and with that in mind, I was excited to try out the Aether 70 pack, also from Osprey.
The first thing I noticed about the Aether was that it shared the same high quality fabrics, belts, and padding as the Atmos, a good oman in my mind. It also offered plenty of room for all the gear that I would need to carry with me, with room to spare for a few extras. But the Aether had a few tricks up its sleeve that set it apart from its older, smaller sibling. For instance, it’s “InsideOut” compression system makes it easy to balance your load and carry it comfortably, and the front panel has offers access to all of your gear, no matter where it is at in the main compartment, thanks to a unique zipper system. Better still, the top pocket easily clips off and converts to a lumbar pack for carrying smaller loads on shorter day hikes.
To say my first impressions were favorable would probably be an understatement, which is why I was a bit surprised when I filled up the pack with gear, and tried it on for the first time, only to find that it wasn’t quite a comfortable as I had hoped. In fact, it was no where near as comfortable as my Atmos 50. But, that was before I took it into the local REI store for a custom fitting with the belt. Yep, that’s right the thickly padded hipbelt on the Aether can be custom molded by a specialist using a heat gun to achieve a better fit, and I can tell you that it makes all of the difference. Once the custom molding was complete, the pack fit much better, and was very comfortable to wear. It also helps to properly place the load on your hips, where it belongs, making this pack comfortable to wear on longer treks.
The Aether also has a newly designed suspension system that offers better airflow behind the back as well, helping to keep you somewhat cooler, and dryer, while on the trail. The pack comes with built in straps for carrying your sleeping pad, and additional straps for carrying ice axes or trekking poles. Of course, the pack is also hydration compatible, and it’s a cinch to get your bladder in and out when needed. In short, it pretty much has everything you could ask for in multi-day backpack with plenty of room for your gear, but not so large as to be unwieldy or uncomfortable.
There were a few nits to pick however, as I’m sure you can imagine. Coming from the Atmos, I missed the zip pockets on the hipbelt, which really come in handy for holding snacks or keeping a small camera close at hand. That minimalist design holds over to the rest of the pack as well, which could have used an extra external pocket or two to keep some essential gear close at hand or to offer further organizational options. Aside from that, it is difficult to find anything wrong with Aether 70 in my opinion.
If you’re looking for a very comfortable pack, that can handle a full load with ease (especially when custom fit!), then I can’t recommend the Aether highly enough. It is definitely a worthy successor to my Atmos, and the added space and extra features are welcome additions. Osprey’s legendary quality and excellent design is intact with the Aether, and you can’t go wrong with adding it to your gear closet. (MSRP: $259)
Disclaimer: This pack was provided to me for review purposes by Osprey Packs.
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