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Osprey Aether 65 Review

This highly adjustable pack may be one of the heaviest in the review but carries large loads in comfort
Osprey Aether 65
Photo: Osprey
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $280 List | Check Price at REI
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Durable, lots of features, plenty of adjustments to dial in the perfect fit, supportive
Cons:  Heavy, attached hipbelt, water bottle pocket can be inconvenient
Manufacturer:   Osprey
By Bennett Fisher ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  May 11, 2021
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74
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#6 of 15
  • Suspension and Comfort - 45% 8
  • Weight - 20% 4
  • Features and Ease of Use - 20% 8
  • Adjustability - 15% 9

Our Verdict

Osprey's new Aether 65L builds on the company's well-known pack adjustability by adding the ability to extend the cushioning of the shoulder strap. This pack's suspension and customizable fit make carrying a heavy load much more comfortable. This pairing earned it recognition as our choice for the best pack for heavy loads. Even though this pack is among the heaviest in our test lineup, we found that the feature-rich and durable design offset that. If you like to carry a little extra and appreciate easy access to your gear, then this pack has you covered.

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Osprey Aether 65
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Osprey Aether 65
Awards Top Pick Award Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award Best Buy Award  
Price Check Price at REI
Compare at 3 sellers
Check Price at REI
Compare at 3 sellers
$280 List$199 List
Check Price at REI
$153.65 at Amazon
Compare at 2 sellers
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Pros Durable, lots of features, plenty of adjustments to dial in the perfect fit, supportiveLight-weight, comfortable with heavy loads, perfect pocket combinationLight-weight, comfortable, supportive, functional feature setLight-weight, comfortable, easily personalized, inexpensiveVery lightweight, good value, great features
Cons Heavy, attached hipbelt, water bottle pocket can be inconvenientTiny buckles hard to operate with glovesNo lid, back-panel lacks ventilationlacks durabillity, not made for heavy loadsPoor support under heavy loads, fixed torso and waist belt
Bottom Line This highly adjustable pack may be one of the heaviest in the review but carries large loads in comfortA lightweight load hauler that is both comfortable and full of featuresThis pack blends excellent carrying comfort with arguably the best-executed set of features, all in a light-weight packageIt may not be a heavy load hauler, but for moderate loads, this pack is comfortable and has an amazing set of features, all at a great priceThis is a great borderline ultralight pack that performs well when used for lighter loads
Rating Categories Osprey Aether 65 Granite Gear Blaze 60 Catalyst REI Co-op Flash 55 Gregory Optic 58L
Suspension And Comfort (45%)
8
8
8
7
7
Weight (20%)
4
9
9
10
10
Features And Ease Of Use (20%)
8
9
8
9
9
Adjustability (15%)
9
8
5
5
5
Specs Osprey Aether 65 Granite Gear Blaze... Catalyst REI Co-op Flash 55 Gregory Optic 58L
Measured Weight (pounds) 5.0 lbs 3.0 lbs 3.0 lbs 2.6 lbs 2.5 lbs
Volume (liters) 65 L 60 L 75 L 55 L 58 L
Access Top, front +sleeping bag compartment Top Top Top Top
Hydration Compatible Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Materials 420HD nylon, DWR treatment 100D robic nylon w/ DWR coating 400 Robic fabric Main body: 100D ripstop nylon
Bottom: 420D nylon
Main Body: 100d High Tenacity Nylon Bottom: 210D High Tenacity Nylon
Sleeping bag Compartment Yes No No No No

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Osprey Aether 65 may be among the heaviest packs in our review, but it knows how to carry a load. With its Fit on the Fly shoulder strap pads, hip belt, and adjustable torso length, the wearer can dial in the fit for maximum comfort even while walking down the trail. Osprey has always been a household name in backpacking, and with this addition, they continue to build on what works.

Performance Comparison


The trails in the mountains of northern Utah put this pack to the...
The trails in the mountains of northern Utah put this pack to the test.
Photo: Bennett Fisher

Suspension and Comfort


The Aether 65 has a sturdy suspension system that can carry heavy loads while still allowing ventilation. The Airscape back panel features dense foam that supports the back and creates plenty of space for air to pass through. This is all covered by a mesh that keeps your shirt from filling the gaps that would block airflow.


The injection-molded framesheet is very sturdy and comes down to a fabric-covered lower lumbar pad that creates a comfortable contact point when the load is properly transferred to the hips. When the hip belt is cinched tight, this extra lumbar padding supports the lower back creating a comfortable close-to-the-body feel. We found the only downside to be the attached hip belt can cause the pack to sway side to side while you walk and flex your hips. This is more noticeable the more heavy and bulky the load.

The waist belt uses pull together straps that are quick and easy to...
The waist belt uses pull together straps that are quick and easy to pull snug.
Photo: Bennett Fisher

The shoulder straps on this pack use a soft-supportive foam on the upper shoulders that taper down to an adjustable dense foam. We found that this extra cushion at the apex of the shoulders helped keep the pack comfortable during extended use under heavy loads.

The shoulder straps use extra cushioning at the apex of the...
The shoulder straps use extra cushioning at the apex of the shoulders that taper down to a firm supportive foam.
Photo: Bennett Fisher

Features and Ease of Use


This pack makes accessing all of your gear a breeze, whether it's inside or out. It is an excellent choice if you find it as hard as we do to see that other camp sock in the dark abyss of your pack. Plus, with all of the straps and buckles, we found that our gear was always secure.


The pack has three entry points making it easy to grab exactly what you need from inside. It is quick to load using the drawstring top opening, but once everything is inside, we found it easiest to use the large front zipper to access the main compartment. This large opening makes it quick to grab out a rain jacket or mid-layer when the weather turns. The zipper panel is huge and allows access to everything in the pack above the sleeping bag compartment.

The Aether 65 features  a large dual zipper access on the front of...
The Aether 65 features a large dual zipper access on the front of the pack to swiftly find what is needed.
Photo: Bennett Fisher

The third opening is the sleeping bag compartment from the bottom, which keeps the bag safe and clean from the rest of the gear. If your sleeping bag is small enough, then this space is also perfect for camp clothes. The flap separating the compartments can be undone if you prefer a non-divided pack.

Bottom access to remove your sleeping bag as soon as camp is set up.
Bottom access to remove your sleeping bag as soon as camp is set up.
Photo: Bennett Fisher

The shove-it front pocket has reinforcement, so there is no worry of the elastic getting holes in it. While this doesn't allow it to stretch as much as some packs, we still found it very useful for a wet groundsheet or to throw a jacket in after the first climb of the day. Two compression straps go over the shove-it pocket and are great for keeping all of the gear nice and tight to the body. They can also perform double duty by lashing camp shoes or dirty socks to the pack.

The Osprey Aether has a reinforced stretch front pocket that is a...
The Osprey Aether has a reinforced stretch front pocket that is a great place for a wet groundsheet or other dirty gear.
Photo: Bennett Fisher

The hip belt pockets on this pack can fit several bars or a phone and chapstick. We like how smooth the zipper is to open and close with one hand allowing us to grab a snack without having to stop and either tuck or put our trekking poles down. For those larger quick access items, we found the top lid, with two zipper pockets, an ideal space for a headlamp, sunscreen, and toilet paper. The top zipper pocket has an included rain cover inside it, which takes up most of the room but can be moved to the pack's main body to free up the pocket.

The top pocket on the lid is marked for the raincover, but the cover...
The top pocket on the lid is marked for the raincover, but the cover can be moved freeing up space for more frequent use items.
Photo: Bennett Fisher

The dual access water bottle pockets keep a bottle very secure with no fear of dropping a bottle when bending over. They are convenient to grab a bottle out of, but any bottle taller than a Nalgene touches your side in the leaned forward position. If the bottle is left upright, it is still easy to retrieve with one hand but will need the help of both hands to return the bottle to the pocket.

Weight


Reaching the top of the scale at 5 pounds, this is one of the heaviest packs in the review. Due to its beefy suspension and reinforced features, it racks up a few pounds that allow it to stay solid and comfortable under heavy loads. Osprey has chosen to forgo some weight savings by adding reinforcements to the back and side stretch pockets to increase the product's lifespan.


With such a feature-loaded pack that is so adjustable, it makes sense that the weight adds up. We found that even though it starts at a disadvantage, it can handle the penalty and still carry heavy loads.

A closer look at the reinforced front and side pockets, plus a good...
A closer look at the reinforced front and side pockets, plus a good view of the compression system.
Photo: Bennett Fisher

Adjustability & Fit


This is the only pack in the review that can lengthen the shoulder straps, extending the padding down to get the perfect custom fit. While wearing the pack, you can un-velcro the cushioning and extend or shorten it using Osprey's new Fit-On-The-Fly. We found this feature to be convenient to adjust and a nice step up to dial in the fit of the pack.


The torso length adjuster is a slide lock and webbing that can be tightened or loosened to match your height. We measured its verticle adjustable range at 4 inches.

Using the Fit-on-the-Fly shoulder strap to dial in the perfect...
Using the Fit-on-the-Fly shoulder strap to dial in the perfect length for the padding.
Photo: Bennett Fisher

The pack uses a Fit-On-The-Fly hip belt as well that works like the shoulder strap. It is easy to adjust and allows plenty of range for different body types.

The waist belt's padding can be adjusted to customize the comfort...
The waist belt's padding can be adjusted to customize the comfort for your specific body.
Photo: Bennett Fisher

Value


In our experience, Osprey packs are an investment that will last years and still look like new. If this pack holds up to that standard, then this custom adjustable pack is worth the price. Looking at the increased reinforcement to this model, we feel it will live up to our expectations. This pack has the most features to dial in the perfect fit for each user, along with high-quality materials. If you plan long stretches without town stops or are the pack mule of the group, this pack is definitely worth considering. There are lighter packs at the same price point, but no others on the list carry the weight, have all the features, and are as sturdy as this one.

The Osprey Aether 65 is a tank that is loaded down with convenient...
The Osprey Aether 65 is a tank that is loaded down with convenient features to comfortably take your gear wherever you go.
Photo: Bennett Fisher

Conclusion


Osprey is sold in every big outdoor store you walk into, and there is a reason for that. They make packs that suit all types of backpackers. If you are looking for a backpack that can handle the weight of a long trip or some extra items around camp, then this pack can go the distance and has a spot to store your gear. With the Fit-On-The-Fly custom-fit features, this one pack can be passed down between kids or used for years by several members of your boy scout troop.

Bennett Fisher