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Osprey Aether AG 60 Review

Price:   $290 List | $216.00 at Amazon
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Pros:  Packed full of features, great pockets, comfortable and solid ergonomic design
Cons:  Slightly on the heavier side, not the best for super heavy loads
Bottom line:  An extremely comfortable and feature-rich design that handles heavy loads, while only being marginally heavier than average.
Editors' Rating:   
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Manufacturer:   Osprey

Our Verdict

The Aether AG takes the cake for finishing towards the top of the pack for feature-rich contenders. When testing, we determined that if there was one pack that had it all, this would likely be it. While this competitor is heavier than average, it is only just barely so. Even beyond its features, it has a supportive frame and is certainly on the more comfortable side of packs included in our review. The Aether AG 60 also sports nicely padded and ergonomically designed shoulder straps, as well as a respectable suspension, helping justify its marginally heavier than average 5 pounds 3 ounce weight. While there were packs that could handle mega heavy loads better, the Aether AG 60 held its own to around 50 pounds - something that many options that were significantly lighter often struggled with.


RELATED REVIEW: The Best Backpacking Packs of 2017


Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results

Review by:
Ian Nicholson

Last Updated:
Tuesday
May 16, 2017

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The latest version of this pack is stacked with features, pockets, and a stowable day-pack built into its lid. While not the lightest pack, the Aether isn't overly heavy and still offers a comfortable waist belt and shoulder straps, as well as a suspension system that is more robust than most. The Aether is a pack that will excel at single overnights but still has the suspension for those week-plus long adventures - where you might be starting your trip in the neighborhood of 50 pounds.

'Performance-Comparison'>

Performance Comparison



Comfort


New for 2017, the Osprey updated their Aether packs with the AG or "Anti-gravity" suspension. The AG" or anti-gravity suspension makes a sort-of "trampoline style" suspension (or "suspended suspension"). Unlike most other models that use this design, the Aether not only suspends its back panel, but also suspends a portion of its hip belt as well. The result of this design impressed us; despite a fair bit of initial skepticism, our review team agreed it was effective at spreading the weight out evenly across our body, helping to eliminate hot spots. This is a similar design to the Osprey Atmos AG 65, but the back panel isn't quite as suspended. This makes the Atmos a little more breathable and cushier feeling when carrying lighter loads, while the Aether felt more supportive and better overall with loads of around 40 pounds or more.

The shoulder straps of the Aether are well articulated  nicely padded  and featured a pleasant face fabric. Most of our review team thought these features were more comfortable than average and the pack was soft enough to wear  even with only a tank top or while going shirtless.
The shoulder straps of the Aether are well articulated, nicely padded, and featured a pleasant face fabric. Most of our review team thought these features were more comfortable than average and the pack was soft enough to wear, even with only a tank top or while going shirtless.

Overall, the Aether has above average shoulder straps that are ergonomically designed and just plain feel nice. The face fabric Osprey uses is also comfortable and felt pleasant against our skin while wearing a tank top or not wearing a shirt.

Unlike the Atmos the "AG" or anti-gravity suspended suspension isn't built into the waist-belt (see photo below for additional perspective). While this isn't as cushy a feel  it is more supportive and better for heavier loads. Overall  we felt the Aether offered above average support and comfort and could handle heavier laden loads than the similarly designed Atmos AG 65.
Unlike the Atmos the "AG" or anti-gravity suspended suspension isn't built into the waist-belt (see photo below for additional perspective). While this isn't as cushy a feel, it is more supportive and better for heavier loads. Overall, we felt the Aether offered above average support and comfort and could handle heavier laden loads than the similarly designed Atmos AG 65.

The other difference between the Atmos 65's waist belt and the Aether is the AG portion is only in the center of the back panel, unlike the Atmos, where it makes contact against the wearer's skin. The advantage to the Atmos is its cushier feeling; it also offers better ventilation, though we found that the Aether was more supportive overall. Anytime we were carrying more than around 40 pounds, our review team easily favored the Aether, earning it a near perfect 9 out of 10 in the comfort metric. Other top scorers in this metric include the Arc'teryx Bora AR 63, Osprey Atmos 65 AG, Gregory Baltoro 65, earning perfect 10 out of 10s, with the Osprey Xenith 75 scoring on par with the Aether.

Suspension


The Aether has a decent suspension system, though it is not top tier. We found the frame was more robust and supportive than the Osprey Atmos 65, Gregory Paragon 68, or The North Face Banchee but not by a significant amount. Our testing team found little difference in the comfort of these models with loads below around 35 pounds; however, once we climbed above that, the Aether started to stand further apart regarding its ability to comfortably handle the load, earning it a 9 out of 10 overall.

The Aether's suspension gets an upgrade with Osprey's AG suspension. The AG stands for "anti-gravity" and is basically a trampoline or "suspended suspension"; the advantage is it does a great job of distributing the load even over the entire surface of the pack  helping to reduce uncomfortable pressure points and hot spots. Though the Aether's design isn't as dramatic as the Atmos AG 65; the Atmos is a little cushier  but the Aether is more supportive and will handle slightly heavier loads better.
The Aether's suspension gets an upgrade with Osprey's AG suspension. The AG stands for "anti-gravity" and is basically a trampoline or "suspended suspension"; the advantage is it does a great job of distributing the load even over the entire surface of the pack, helping to reduce uncomfortable pressure points and hot spots. Though the Aether's design isn't as dramatic as the Atmos AG 65; the Atmos is a little cushier, but the Aether is more supportive and will handle slightly heavier loads better.

We do think there are models that handle super heavy loads better (50+ pounds). The Aether is noteworthy for loads of a higher mass, particularity if it's only once and a while, but isn't what we would recommend if you plan to go on numerous loads in which you will be carrying 40+ pounds. If you plan on partaking in heavily ladden trips in the future, we'd recommend the Osprey Xenith 75, **
Arc'teryx Bora AR 63, or the Gregory Baltoro 65**.

Weight


The Aether AG 60 weighs in at 5 lbs 2 oz, which is just slightly heavier than average among other competitors in our review. While it's far away from being heavy, it's certainly not light. Compared to other models we tested, the Aether has a more robust suspension than most. It's certainly packed full of features, but a lot of the other packs in its weight range, like the Osprey Xenith 75, Arc'teryx Bora AR 63, or the Gregory Baltoro 65, are all similar in weight (all 5 lbs to 5 lbs 3 oz), but will carry monster loads better. The Aether remains a comfortable pack that brings a lot to the table, allowing it to make up for tipping the scales.

The sleeping bag compartment feauted on the Aether. Like most packs the sleeping bag features a removable divider that can make the pack easier to load but doesn't allow for as precise organization.
The sleeping bag compartment feauted on the Aether. Like most packs the sleeping bag features a removable divider that can make the pack easier to load but doesn't allow for as precise organization.

Features and Ease of Use


The Aether AG 60 is easily one of the most feature-rich packs we tested. Overall, we think the features are (mostly) well-designed to help any user have a more enjoyable time in the backcountry - without too much of a weight penalty.

Like many packs  the lid of the Aether is removable. What sets it apart is that it turns into a functional daypack that is solid enough that you can use for shorter hikes or around town. If you leave the lid behind to save weight  the draft collar of the Aether features a little bit of extra material; Osprey calls their "Flapjacket"  which can be pulled over the opening in the draft collar to serve as a lightweight lid - keeping the contents of the pack dry.
Like many packs, the lid of the Aether is removable. What sets it apart is that it turns into a functional daypack that is solid enough that you can use for shorter hikes or around town. If you leave the lid behind to save weight, the draft collar of the Aether features a little bit of extra material; Osprey calls their "Flapjacket", which can be pulled over the opening in the draft collar to serve as a lightweight lid - keeping the contents of the pack dry.

We liked the Aether's lid, which sports two separate zippered pockets on the top of the pack. Most notable is the third zipper that features a stow-away backpack. This separate pack is attached and tucks away in the Aether's lid. When you want to go for a day hike or a summit push, simply leave the main pack behind and strap the lid on for your part-day adventure. This included pack is an excellent perk and is nice enough to use on short day hikes or on trips where you are going out and not even entertaining the thought of bringing the main pack. If you leave the lid behind entirely, there is a separate flap that covers the main opening of the pack, helping to keep your items dry.

One of our absolute favorite features of this pack is its back stretchy beavertail style pocket. This pocket is made of a stretchy mesh and is a great place to dry things out or store oddly shaped items like flip-flops  a fry pan  or a fuel bottle. This pocket is a sweet place to store items you want to be easily accessible  like a waterproof jacket  gloves  or a wind breaker.
One of our absolute favorite features of this pack is its back stretchy beavertail style pocket. This pocket is made of a stretchy mesh and is a great place to dry things out or store oddly shaped items like flip-flops, a fry pan, or a fuel bottle. This pocket is a sweet place to store items you want to be easily accessible, like a waterproof jacket, gloves, or a wind breaker.

While we think that this little backpack is sweet and well-designed we do wonder that as the Aether just gets heavier and heavier with each update, how many bells-and-whistles does this already featured pack need (and we are hardly minimalists)? One of our review staff's favorite features was the stretchy back beavertail style pocket, which was a great place to stash items that you wanted to keep close by (like a rain jacket) or things we wanted to dry out (socks, damp base layers, rain jacket, etc.). It's also the perfect place for oddly shaped items that don't fit in the main compartment easily, like a fuel bottle or flip-flops.

The Aether features large zippered pockets on either side of the waist-belt. Our reviewers found the pocket was a convenient place to store snacks  sunblock  lip balm  or a camera. This model's design was among the easiest to open and close while on the go. It's worth noting that we found them to be secure  never opening on their own - they are pretty deep  which means it is more difficult for items to fall out of unexpectedly.
The Aether features large zippered pockets on either side of the waist-belt. Our reviewers found the pocket was a convenient place to store snacks, sunblock, lip balm, or a camera. This model's design was among the easiest to open and close while on the go. It's worth noting that we found them to be secure, never opening on their own - they are pretty deep, which means it is more difficult for items to fall out of unexpectedly.

The dual zippered hip belt pockets are among the better designs in our review. They are slightly larger than normal and are one of the easiest to open and close while hiking. The Aether features one side access zipper, a sleeping bag compartment, and compression straps on the back and sides of the pack. The back compression straps can also be brought all the way across the back to fixed buckles when carrying the pack (when it's mostly empty). We liked the dual directional stretchy water bottle pockets so your bottle could be carried vertically in a traditional fashion or diagonally forward so it's easy to grab. We also appreciated that the straps over the sleeping bag compartment are long enough to buckle over most closed cell foam sleeping pads. Top scorers in this category, along with the Aether, include the Osprey Atmos 65 AG, Osprey Xenith 75, and The North Face Banchee 65.

The Aether features two straps at the bottom of the pack above the sleeping bag compartment for a sleeping pad or other oblong-shaped items. We particularly liked how long the Aether's straps are and found they were able to fit around nearly any sleeping pad (something that can't be said about the majority of backpacking packs). So while this feature is a pretty small feature  it remains nice to have.
The Aether features two straps at the bottom of the pack above the sleeping bag compartment for a sleeping pad or other oblong-shaped items. We particularly liked how long the Aether's straps are and found they were able to fit around nearly any sleeping pad (something that can't be said about the majority of backpacking packs). So while this feature is a pretty small feature, it remains nice to have.

Adjustability


This pack offers around 4 inches of vertical height adjustment, using a design where the shoulder straps are attached to a velcro flap that can be slid up or down on the inside of the back panel. This simple design has been copied by several other pack manufacturers and for good reason; it's easy to fine-tune, and it's simple, lightweight and reliable. We have never felt the pack's shoulder straps slip or slide out of place at any time, which allowed the Aether to earn an 8 out of 10 for adjustability. Other high scorers for this metric include the Osprey Volt 60, Deuter Aircontact 65+10, and Arc'teryx Bora 63.

The Aether features roughly four inches of vertical adjustment to help fine-tune the fit of the pack to its wearer. This vertical adjustment is achieved by sliding a Velcro covered flap (that the shoulder straps are attached to) up or down in a gap behind the back panel. While basic  in hundreds of days of use  we found this design was secure and we never experienced this flap slipping.
The Aether features roughly four inches of vertical adjustment to help fine-tune the fit of the pack to its wearer. This vertical adjustment is achieved by sliding a Velcro covered flap (that the shoulder straps are attached to) up or down in a gap behind the back panel. While basic, in hundreds of days of use, we found this design was secure and we never experienced this flap slipping.

Best Applications


The Aether 60 is a solid backpacking pack or occasional mountaineering option. This contender will even work for occasional multi-day ski touring trips. Most folks will find it performs well for around 2-6 days without having to obsess over packing to your fullest potential, while others will find it can last for week long trips. The nice thing is the Aether has a stout enough suspension that it can pretty much handle anything (within reason) that you can fit into its 60-liter capacity. It will work well for people who like to enjoy a little more of the creature comforts while traveling in the backcountry.

Value


At $290, the Aether is towards the more expensive end of the spectrum, but not by much. It does serve up a lot of extra features for its cost, as well as a solid suspension and great overall comfort. It is a little more expensive than the Osprey Atmos ($260), Gregory Paragon ($250) or The North Face Banshee ($240) but not but lots. It remains less pricey than our Editors' Choice winner, the Arc'teryx Bora, $550, the Osprey Xenith, $330, or the Gregory Baltoro, $300.

Another small but unique (to Osprey packs) feature is the two mesh water bottle pockets found on either side of the pack (which have two openings). One opening is on the top for carrying a water bottle (vertically) or other oddly shaped items (like tent poles)  but also a second opening facing towards the front of the pack. This opening points the water bottle diagonally forward making it far easier to retrieve and stow while wearing the pack and without any help.
Another small but unique (to Osprey packs) feature is the two mesh water bottle pockets found on either side of the pack (which have two openings). One opening is on the top for carrying a water bottle (vertically) or other oddly shaped items (like tent poles), but also a second opening facing towards the front of the pack. This opening points the water bottle diagonally forward making it far easier to retrieve and stow while wearing the pack and without any help.

Conclusion


The Aether is a fully featured pack that has everything most backpackers would want - at a minor weight penalty. Another plus is that the Aether also has the suspension to back it up. While it's not what we'd call the best load hauler, it performed above average, and sports some of the most comfortable shoulder straps, waist belt, and back panel in our entire review.
Ian Nicholson

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Most recent review: May 16, 2017
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