Osprey Aether 45
As the other review noted, this little pack is excellent…
Max. Load Carried: 40+lbs
Height of Owner: 6'1''
Price Paid: $99
As the other review noted, this little pack is excellent for what it offers. It's really a bummer that Osprey discontinued this small size of a Aether line. (You can still buy 60, 70 and 85L versions). Not sure why they discontinued this one.
The primary reason I bought mine was that I needed a way to haul library books back and forth on a 50 minute commute on public transportation. Considering that was probably not what it was designed to do, it actually performed quite well. There were days I had easily 40+lbs of stuff in there. While I wouldn't advise hiking for hours/days like that, there was never any discomfort. I did this quite regularly for a year, and barely any signs of wear.
More recently, it worked great as a carry-on to Cayman.
Now, it will primarily serve as a weekender bag. You might even be able to stretch this one out into 4 or 5 days, if you an extremely light packer. I've never done more than a 2-nighter with this pack, but it easily handled 30-35lbs over that time with no back and waist irritation.
Too bad you can't buy this one any more. The Talon 44 and Kestrel 48 appear to be the closest packs to this one now...but I'm glad I got my Aether 45 when I did.
After continually shaving bulk and weight off my other…
Size: approx. 2700 cu. in.
Number of Pockets: 2
Max. Load Carried: 35+ lbs.
Height of Owner: 5'11"
Price Paid: About $60
After continually shaving bulk and weight off my other gear through endless upgrading, as well as removing every unnecessary strap, buckle, top pocket, etc. from my long-term favorite Gregory Shasta, I decided it was time to finally purchase a new pack. I wanted something that would allow me to effortlessly carry 25 pounds or less and didn't weigh much more than a couple of pounds, but would also be able to carry more weight for longer trips without requiring Physical Therapy. For me, this ruled out Go-Lite and GVP packs with their less than robust suspension systems and sometimes flimsy pack cloth. I had always heard that Osprey made excellent packs so when I found the Aether 45 on super close-out, I snapped one up.
The pack is fairly simple in design and execution, just like my Shasta. But the brilliance of its design comes from its less obvious details, like the hip belt adjustment system. The dual strap tensioner creates a stress-free zone, with no pinch points or "hot spots" on your hips. It is supremely comfortable. Even though I had the Shasta down to a carry weight in the 25 to 30 lb range, I find the Osprey gives me none of the next day shoulder or hip soreness that my Gregory inflicted upon me. Not to say my Gregory was a bad pack, either. The Osprey is just that much better.
The pack is bomb-proof, even though I tend to be fairly rough on my gear. The only casualty after many trips is an easily repaired separation of the mesh side pocket from the elastic trim along the top of the pocket. My only regret is that I didn't buy two when I had the chance, because the pack seems to have been discontinued. If other Osprey products are anywhere near as functional, light and durable as my Aether 45, I will be sure to find the closest equivalent in their line when mine finally goes to the Great Trailhead in the Sky. I honestly can't think of anything they could have done differently to improve this pack. It is a perfect pack for ultralight use.