User Review: Osprey Aether 70
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $270-ish
Ultra comfy, ultra adjustable pack able to handle significant weight.
- Relatively lightweight
- Huge capacity
- Access features
- Compression straps
- Water bottle pockets
- Bear spray slides off hip belt when unbuckled
When it comes to packs, it either feels good or it doesn't. I tried on numerous packs and even though most technically fit, this is the only one that felt good. I'm shaped kinda weird (narrow shoulders, thick chest) and needed significant finagling to come up with a pack that fit and felt good. The result was well worth the wait.
The harness can be switched around with the pack which makes for a very versatile fit. I ended up with a medium pack coupled with a small harness. It's arguably the most comfortable internal frame pack I've ever worn.
All the requisite straps are present and fully and easily adjustable. Nothing unusual here except there are tons of them. You can compress your gear in so many different ways you'll probably need a moment to reflect. Go ahead...
As with every internal frame pack I've ever worn, you will sweat and the pack will not vent enough to keep you comfy in this regard. All these pack designers coming up with new high-tech names for their back panel venting systems (the Aether 70's is the "Airscape"...oooo!) should spend their time and money elsewhere. As far as I've been able to tell none of them are particularly effective at venting and the Aether 70 is no exception. You will sweat. Embrace it. Revel in it. Let it make you feel like a hero from the dim recesses of history. Or a tax accountant from Jersey, whichever you prefer.
There is a sleeping bag compartment accessible from the bottom of the pack via a zipper and compressible with two straps. I'm sure your sleeping bag will approve but if it complains you can remove the divider between the sleeping bag compartment and the main body cavity of the pack which will allow your sleeping bag to socialize with the rest of your gear.
There is a huge main compartment and a stretchy front pocket for your toilet paper, though you'd need to bring lots of toilet paper to completely fill it up. There is a zipper opening on the pack body which allows you to access the main compartment from the outside of the pack in kind of a pseudo panel-loader way. This helps if you dropped something small inside the main compartment and don't want to upend your pack to get at it (you know it dropped way down and is now chillin' with your sleeping bag, right?).
The pack lid is huge and very adjustable. You could put anything from a pair of long underwear to a large stuffed animal to scare away bears from your camp at the end of the day in there. The lid can be disengaged and worn as a fanny pack. Or a large ugly hat.
The hip belt is special. You can take it in to any one of a number of authorized Osprey retailers and they'll heat it up for you in a special little oven (don't try this at home) and you can wear it around the store for 15-20 minutes or so. This molds the hip belt padding to your hip bones for a custom fit. This makes for a supremely comfy pack ride, even with a large, heavy load.
The pack is also very durable. You could run over it with a truck or verbally abuse its ancestry and it'll just sit there and look at you. Well, I'm not sure about the truck part, but if you did and something broke Osprey would probably replace/repair it. Their guarantee is outstanding.
The water bottle pockets suck. They're oddly shaped and not accessible while the pack is worn. Whatever I put in them I always feel like it's vulnerable to falling out. This is my only real complaint. For such a well-thought-out pack to neglect the water bottle pockets, well, that's just disappointing.
Overall, if you're looking for a heavy-duty, long-range pack that can handle the load and not offend you, buy this one.