What if your day pack and 70L hiking pack were all housed in one compact unit? Osprey is changing the game with the Aether Plus 70 pack design.
When the new Osprey Aether Plus 70 arrived at the office I felt like a kid in a candy store, and though I’ve seen many Osprey packs out on the trails, I’d never actually had the chance to test one both on and off the trails. So after putting it to the test on its fair share of adventures, here’s how the pack held up in the field.
Comfort and Fit
There’s nothing worse than a pack that doesn’t mould to fit your body but the Osprey Aether Plus 70 is stacked with features that ensure the pack is fine-tuned bodies of all shapes and sizes.
The Fit-On-The-Fly hip belt and shoulder straps are quick and intuitive to adjust. Couple that with the adjustable torso strap and even our Editor Timbo thinks ‘It’s hugging my back like a lil turtle’.
I put these features to the test on my most recent overnight hike to the summit of Mt Barney in Queensland and can say it worked a treat. Being that this was one of the hardest hikes I’d done in Australia and that a significant portion of the south east ridge we took was rock scrambling rather than actually hiking, I was very stoked that my pack was snug as a bug on my back.
I was especially grateful for the Airscape back panel which allowed plenty of ventilation for my sweaty back during the hotter parts of the day.
Weight and Carry
We all know that with larger load capacities, weight distribution can start to affect the comfort of the carry. The heaviest load I put on my back was roughly 16kg, and though I can’t speak to the carry at the 27kg maximum load suggested by Osprey, at 16kg, the Fit-On-The-Fly hip belt definitely helped redistribute the weight away from my shoulders into the lumbar region when secured.
I also found that the mesh-covered foam on the lumbar and hip belt created a soft padding that was both comfortable and supportive while hiking. Though I’ll admit my traps and shoulders were still slightly sore after longer hikes where I was carrying a heavier load, there weren’t any pain points or rubbing on any contact surfaces along the way which is a big bonus.
Being on the larger end of Osprey’s pack range in terms of volume, you won’t be pressed for space in this bad boy. As I’ve used this pack on trips both on and off the trails I can attest that even when the pack was chock-a-block, the many compression straps on the pack will help to create a nice compact nugget to pop on your back.
If you love pockets as much as myself, you’re gonna love the Aether Plus 70. Compartmentalising your gear in different pockets in the pack makes losing track of where you put that pesky toothpaste a thing of the past.
One of my favourite features of any pack is a front panel zip that gives you access to the main compartment of the bag and I’m happy to say the Aether Plus 70 is packing the goods. An added bonus of the pack is the ability to remove the divider separating the main compartment from the sleeping bag compartment below, so you can supersize your main compartment when need be.
Having used the Aether Plus 70 in situations varying from rugged trails to overnight hikes and even travelling through airports, I’m yet to notice any real superficial damage on the pack.
Even after hiking rugged trails where branches reach onto the path to grab at the pack or scrambling up and down rocky sections where I could actually hear abrasions on the outside of the pack, nothing has seemed to be able to make a mark on the bag.
Osprey have gone out of their way to use a sustainable bluesign-approved high tenacity nylon which has held up very well so far on all of my adventures. What’s more, the included raincover made with PFC-free DWR ensures you’re ready for all conditions without any hassle and minimal impact on the environment you’re exploring.
Heading out without a hydration bladder for your trip? Having dual access stretch mesh bottle pockets mean you can reach your hydration stations on the go with ease and without stopping to access the side pockets. Though I liked the idea of these in theory and it was very easy to grab my bottles while the pack was still on my back, it was still a little tricky to feed my bottles back through the bottom access point on the move with a full pack.
One of the pack’s most unique features is the ability to remove the top lid, the ‘brain’ of the pack, and convert it into a day pack. Not a bum bag or sling like many multi day packs, a proper little backpack.
This is super handy for any quick side trips along your hike where you don’t need to carry all of your gear, like getting up for sunrise on the summit of your favourite mountain. I made use of this on my Mt Barney hike for my camera and essentials, leaving the rest of my gear at camp. Trust me, your shoulders thank you after your adventure.
Osprey has built a reputation for producing quality packs since their inception and the Osprey Aether Plus 70 is no exception. I’ve owned quite a few packs in my day and can safely say this is my favourite so far in terms of quality of the construction, design and performance.
With a $500 price tag, I know every hiker would like to be comfortable that they’ll get their money’s worth before even thinking about burning that hole in their wallet. I can say that after my experience with the pack, I don’t see how you could go wrong by investing in this as your go-to multi day hiking pack for years to come.