We wanted to give the new Osprey Aether 60AG the absolute berries, so we sent it up north to Explorer Dan Parkes. Known for his burly adventures and not afraid to load up on a bit of weight, Dan was the perfect choice to test the fancy fabrics and obscene amount of features stuffed into this backpack. So how did he find it? Let’s just say he was comfortable…


The Osprey Aether 60AG

Morale in the bush can often be dictated by the comfort of your pack. After months of testing, I can say that Osprey have taken backpacking in Australia to a whole new level of comfort with the Aether Anti-Gravity Range.

The Osprey Aether pack looks as solid as it is comfortable and is chock-a-block full of ripper features. I decided to test it out and stomp around the New England Highlands and Main Range National Park to give it a whirl. I became familiar with big weight, multi-day packs during my time with the Australian Defence Force, however those days remind me of sore shoulders and an aching back.  With my new Osprey, those morale killing aches and pains have taken the backseat.

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As soon as We Are Explorers trusted me to provide a review of the Osprey Aether 60AG I jumped at the opportunity. Here’s what I thought:

Design and Features

The AG in Osprey Aether 60AG stands for ‘anti-gravity’ and refers to its padded and meshed suspension frame. Not only is the mesh super-lightweight but it also allows for rear ventilation.  The anti-gravity frame has a velcro back insert that gives a little bit of wiggle room with the shoulder straps to ensure personal comfort and a broader application for those that have larger torsos.    

Dan Parkes, bushies untamed, osprey aether 60ag, gear review, main range national park, new england highlands, backpack, queensland, waterfall

Exploring the Never Never

The pack also comes with a removable lid (detachable compartment)–perfect for those instances when you want to branch off the main track. I haven’t needed to utilise this feature yet for trekking, as it isn’t big enough to stow what I would call the non-negotiable essentials, but it is awesome to know that the option is there if I am on other smaller adventures or beach days.   It’s important to note that for models outside of the US (including Australia) the removable lid does not transform into a daypack, rather the pack is equipped with a rain cover in lieu, which is a pretty important inclusion for the Australian climate.

Other notable design features include:

  • Spare pre-connected clips so you can configure your pack to your liking
  • Illuminating brand logos (similar to what is found on hi-vis vests)
  • Stowable walking pole loops
  • Hipbelt pockets
  • External meshed pockets
  • External zip pockets

Dan Parkes, bushies untamed, osprey aether 60ag, gear review, main range national park, new england highlands, backpack, queensland

Comfort And Weight

Here’s where we say “bugger off” to aches and pains. If there is one take-home message I want to be very clear about with this pack, it’s that comfort is by far it’s best feature. Put simply, it’s made for comfort. After clocking plenty of kilometres with it on, in a variety of terrains and goings, I always found myself so stoked with how comfortable it was, despite the weight. For me, this is the selling point. A pack can have all the bells and whistles in the world but if it isn’t comfortable, then it’s as useless as tits on a bull, and is usually the difference between a good trek and a rubbish one.

Dan Parkes, bushies untamed, osprey aether 60ag, gear review, main range national park, new england highlands, backpack, queensland, waterfall

The anti-gravity, super-light, mesh frame with padded hip belt

The pack carries 60L which is a perfect size for how I used it, and I’ll continue to use this size on multi-day treks. I was able to stack it with weights of up to and including 30kg and still, comfort wasn’t compromised. I believe the adjustable hip belt provided the source of comfort as it’s well padded and has a purposefully designed, natural shape that hugs your hips. In addition, the Anti-Gravity suspension helped spread the weight more evenly across my back.

Adjustable padded straps for the chest and shoulders and the adjustable back pad helped dial the perfect fit, just make sure you get the right size.

Functionality And Ease Of Use

The first feature I look for in a pack is functionality and if it’s easy to use. There’s a bucket load of external access points and one left-side, full-pack-length zip that allows you to access your gear without having to pull anything out or dig for it. Woo-hoo!!

There are two external hip-belt pockets to stash your phone/PLB and food, so I could eat on the go. There are two external zip pockets on the lid and three stretchable mesh pockets (two on the sides and one on the back) that are also easily accessible.  There’s also an internal separator between the sleeping bag area and the rest of your gear and a zip that allows external access to your sleeping bag, ensuring your bag packing Tetris remains compact. There’s also a hydration port. Safe to say that the Aether 60AG is pretty stuffed with features designed to make life easier on the track.

Dan Parkes, Gear review // osprey aether 60ag, Half-packed in the Never Never

Large Hip-belt pockets – One of many useful features

Durability

The big question is–is it worth the moolah? Short answer–absolutely. Although the pack is loaded with lightweight mesh and nylon, it has withstood many rough goings and yet its quality and features have not been compromised or damaged. Nylon is a light pack fabric built to endure big weight for long distances and durations over easy to moderate goings.

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The rain cover in use on a rainy day in Dorrigo National Park

This fabric varies from other pack types, namely canvas, which is a heavier fabric but designed to withstand harder goings. Through my experience with the Osprey Aether 60AG and in light of the fact that I have scuffed it and bumped it through some very hard goings, it has remained immune to damage. Even Australia’s infamous wait-a-while tree hasn’t caused an issue. I don’t have a crystal ball but I’d bet my bottom dollar this pack will see me through a very long time.  

Conclusion

The Osprey Aether 60AG greatly exceeded my expectations and while I spent some time humping it all over the shop*, not once did I whinge about having sore shoulders or a sore back. I am sure the lads I was hiking with would attest to my annoying proclamations of comfort as they battled with their less comfortable packs.  The Aether has definitely opened a world of possibility for multi-day trekking and I can’t wait to take it here, there and everywhere.

*The bush, not an actual shop.

This review was not paid for but the author was allowed to keep the Osprey Aether 60AG after the review.

Dan Parkes, bushies untamed, osprey aether 60ag, gear review, main range national park, new england highlands, backpack, queensland, waterfall

Half-packed in the Never Never

 


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Osprey Aether 60AG
"Morale in the bush can often be dictated by the comfort of your pack. Osprey have taken backpacking in Australia to a whole new level of comfort with the Aether Anti-Gravity Range."
Design and Features95
Comfort and Weight100
Functionality And Ease Of Use100
Durability100
Pros
Comfort, comfort, comfort!
Extensive access points to gear
A shit-tonne of  practical features
Cons
The removable lid straps aren’t long enough to wear as a backpack
Providing the daypack and rain cover combo option for Australians would be the icing on the cake
99