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Hands-on Gear Review

Osprey Aether 70 Review


Backpacking Backpack

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Price:   Varies from $217 - $290 online  —  Compare at 7 sellers
Pros:  Super comfortable; shoulder straps have excellent ergonomics, padding and an overall great feel; solid suspension, nice features, fits a huge range of users very well
Cons:  Lower straps are a little short, top lid pocket isn't as easy to access as other models, slightly on the heavy side for what it offers
Editors' Rating:     
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Manufacturer:   Osprey

Overview

The Osprey Aether 70 is the big brother to the Osprey Aether 60 liter version. These two packs remain some of the most popular backpacking packs of the past decade and for a good reason. The near identical 60 liter version is a former OutdoorGearLab award winner; while it didn't win an award this year, it remains a capable, comfortable, and versatile pack. The 70 liter version is virtually identical, but you have 10 additional liters to work with and the pack is two ounces heavier.

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Analysis and Hands-on Test Findings

Review by:
Ian Nicholson
Review Editor
OutdoorGearLab

Last Updated:
Thursday
May 12, 2016

Performance Comparison


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Aether 60

Comfort


Our testers loved this pack's super ergonomically designed shoulder straps and waist belt and determined that it was one of the most comfortable packs in our review. The 70 liter Aether was comparable to even the highest scoring packs in this category (the Osprey Atmos 65 AG, Osprey Xenith 75, Gregory Baltoro 65, and Arc'teryx Altra 65) and outperformed most of the other packs in the review.
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Osprey Aether 70
This pack's waist belt has been molded by heat; while a seemingly cool feature, it is not one that is necessary. One of our testers who has molded many a hip belt felt that while the hip belt is an overall sweet feature, the "heat moldable part" was gimmicky and didn't do anything that wearing and breaking the pack in (over 2-3 days) wouldn't do equally or better.

Weight


At 4 pounds 13 ounces, this pack is rather average in the weight category and is two ounces heaver than the otherwise identical 4 lb 11 oz Osprey Aether 60. While the 70 isn't as light as The North Face Banchee 65 or the REI Flash 65 (both 3 lbs 10 ozs), it is a more durable pack overall that can manage heavier loads (>45lbs) on a higher performance scale. It also weighs the same as the Arc'teryx Altra 65 and performs very nearly as well.

Suspension


This model's suspension system is quite robust and will easily carry loads up to 50-55 lbs. The total weight that we felt comfortable carrying in this pack equated to more than our award winner, the Osprey Atmos 65 AG; for heavier loads, we would take the Aether 70 over the Atmos 65. The Aether performed better than the similarly designed North Face Banchee or REI Flash 65. With 40 lbs or less, it carried as well as any pack in our review. With heavier loads (45-50 lbs or more), it carried weight better than most options and was comparable to the Arc'teryx Altra 65, though it wasn't quite as nice as the Osprey Zenith 75 or Gregory Baltoro 65 when fully weighted down with a heavy load.
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Our testers really like the zippered waist-belt pockets on the Osprey Aether 70. We found them easy to open and close with one hand and big enough to fit nearly all smart phones, a camera or some snacks.

Features and Ease of Use


This pack is a fully featured backpacking pack that has many of the features that most backpackers look for in a pack. Our testers appreciated the stretchy mesh beaver-tail-style pocket on the back that was a perfect place for drying out wet clothes, was a sweet place to carry flip flops or camp shoes, and was a nice place to quickly ditch a rain jacket. Another feature that nearly all of our testing team commented on was the large zipped hip belt pockets. These were among the biggest in the review (but weren't too big) and were perfect for a smartphone, camera, or snack collection. This contender features okay (but not amazing) access via a zippered back panel that is shaped like an upside down "L". Nearly all of our testers thought this was a completely acceptable amount of access, but if you wanted more, that there were several options out there that would suit your needs better.
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The large zippered lid pocket on the Osprey Aether 70 shown here is big enough to allow fairly easy access to most items, but it wasn't quite as easy as as other models.
We loved the back compression straps that are featured in addition to the more traditional side compression straps; these straps really helped bring the load in tighter against our back and helped the pack carry loads better when tightened. They also doubled as sweet lash points. The zippered lid pocket is easier to get into than some packs that feature the same design (with the zipper on the side rather than the top), but we didn't find that it was easy to actually search for items in the "brain pocket" as say, the Baltoro 65 or Arc'teryx Altra. Both of these packs feature zippers on the top of the lid. Our only gripe with with the 70 liter model is that the sleeping bag compartment external straps could have been a little longer.
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The stretchy mesh pocket on the back of the Osprey Aether 70 was the perfect place to stash a rain jacket, dry wet cloths or pack oddly shaped items like flip flops.
The two stretchy mesh water bottle pockets featured on either side of the pack is another small, but useful feature. The pockets easily fit most traditional one liter Nalgenes (or similar size bottles) in a very secure vertical orientation. Even cooler, the pocket has another set of holes that allow the water bottle to also be oriented forward so you can (fairly) easily access your bottles without taking your pack off.
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The latest round of Osprey packs feature long enough lower straps to fit around most closed-cell foam pads or other oddly shaped items.

Fit and Adjustability


This pack offers around 4" 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.
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The Osprey Aether 70 offers around 4" of vertical toros length adjustment using a velcro flap to attach the shoulder strap that can be slid up or down on the inside of the back panel to adjust the length. This simple design is easy to fine tune and super reliable. We have never experienced the pack's shoulder straps slip or slide out of place at any time.
Fit
The Aether series of packs fit most people extremely well; along with their high level of performance, this is one of the biggest reasons that they are so popular. It is worth taking note that this pack, like the Osprey Zenith or Osprey Atmos 65 AG (our Editors' Choice award winner), is one of the few packs that we tested that was intended for users with torso measurements between 19.5 and 21 inches. Osprey advises that users could go with either a medium or large, but we found it more comfortable to size up to a large (rather than stay with the medium). After speaking to several shop employees, users, and experienced pack fitters, we would estimate that well over 80% of the in between size folks are happier with the longer torso length. Though it may not make a huge difference with lighter loads (>40 lbs), we found that it was necessary and way more comfortable for those heavily laden trips.

Best Application


This competitor is a fantastic backpacking pack that will do almost everything extremely well. The 60 liter version would also be a good option for almost any type of backpacking or trekking trip and will even perform well for more basic mountaineering objectives or multi-day ski touring adventures; this is due to its relatively slim design that has a slightly more flexible frame, which allows the pack to smoothly move with your body.

Value


This pack retails for $260; while this is slightly more than average among packs in our review, this pack offers the best cost to comfort ratio of any model in our review, remaining a great value. While this pack is slightly more than the The North Face Banchee 65 ($240) or the REI Flash 65 ($200), we think the features are worth the cost.
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Osprey Aether 70

The Bottom Line


While not quite an award winner, the 70 liter Aether is a fantastic all-around backpacking pack for folks who frequently take trips of up to a week or more and might want to occasionally use their pack for climbing or skiing. This pack is a great backpacking pack for the majority of people out there and is less expensive, lighter, and in line with many backpacker's needs, than say the Baltoro 65 or Xenith, which are slightly overkill for some.

Other Versions


Osprey Aether 60
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  • Cost - $260
  • Weight - 4 lbs 15 oz
  • Features are similar to the 70.

Osprey Aether 85
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  • Cost- $310.00 ($60 more than the 60)
  • Weight- 5 lbs (4 oz heavier than the 60)
  • Size- 15 L larger than the 60.
  • Features are the same as the 60.

Accessories


Osprey Hydraulics Reservoir
  • Cost - $34
  • Very easy to slide in and out of your backpack
  • Easy to hold the entire bladder level while filling
  • Available in 1.5, 2, 2.5, and 3L versions.

UL Raincover
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  • Cost - $35
  • Can be used to keep your gear dry from the elements
Ian Nicholson

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: May 12, 2016
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
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 (4.0)
Average Customer Rating:     (0.0)
Rating Distribution
1 Total Ratings
5 star: 0%  (0)
4 star: 100%  (1)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)


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Unbiased.