Osprey Aether AG 60 Review
Cons: Slightly on the heavier side, not the best for super heavy loads
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Our Analysis and Test Results
This pack has loads of features, pockets, and a stowable day-pack built into the lid. While the Aether AG 60 is one of the heaviest in our test, it does offer a comfortable waist belt and padded shoulder straps, as well as a suspension system that is more robust than most. The Aether AG 60 is a pack that excels at luxury overnights as well as week-plus long adventures that require 50-pound loads.
Suspension and Comfort
This pack offers a great suspension for comfortably carrying large loads. The AG denotes Osprey's anti-gravity suspension system that looks sort of like a trampoline on the back of the pack. Unlike most other models that use this design, the Aether AG 60 not only suspends its back panel but a portion of the hip belt as well. 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, but the AG back panel and hip belt were slightly less breathable than some of the other trampoline style suspensions in our pack test. Overall, the Aether AG 60 has plush, open-mesh shoulder straps that are ergonomically designed and just plain feel great.
The Aether AG 60 has a great suspension system. We found the frame was slightly more robust and supportive than some similar models featuring a trampoline suspension, and in our testing, we found little difference in the comfort of these models with loads below or around 35 pounds; however, once we added more weight, the Aether AG 60 started to stand out as a true workhorse with its ability to handle the load comfortably.
When you load 50 pounds or so, the suspension loses its edge and the pack starts to feel overloaded. If you plan on regularly taking more than that, we'd recommend considering a model known for its load-hauling capabilities.
The Aether AG 60 weighs in at 5 lbs 2 oz, which is heavier than average in our review. To most light-weight backpackers, this pack will feel, overbuilt and burly. When compared with other models we tested, the Aether uses more robust materials and suspension than most. It's certainly packed full of features, but a few of the other packs in its weight range 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.
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 well-designed and help any user have an enjoyable time in the backcountry.
The lid of the Aether AG 60 sports two separate zippered pockets on the top. Most notable is the third zipper that features a stow-away summit backpack. This separate pack is attached and tucks away in the lid. While this is great for when you want to go for a day hike or a summit push, it also contributes to the overall heaviness of the pack. If the weight concerned you, you can also just ditch the true lid, and use the separate flap that will cover the opening of the primary pack.
We love the features of this pack, but it also seems to be a test balloon that is meant to push the limits of bells-and-whistles. 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, etc.). It's also the perfect place for oddly shaped items you wouldn't necessarily want in the body of the pack, like a fuel bottle or flip-flops.
The zippered hip belt pockets a good size and super handy for keeping small things on hand. They are slightly larger than usual and are one of the easiest to open and close while hiking. The Aether AG 60 features a side access zipper, a sleeping bag compartment, and compression straps on the back and sides of the pack. We also appreciate that the straps over the sleeping bag compartment are long enough to buckle over most closed-cell foam sleeping pads.
The dual-directional stretchy water bottle pockets are tough to use. The top-down orientation is so deep it's difficult to get the bottle in and out. When used in the forward-facing orientation, you still have to reach across your body to use two hands to insert the bottle. We also found that narrow bottles didn't go deep enough in this orientation, and Nalgene-sized bottles fit well, but still got it the way of our natural arm/elbow swing.
Adjustability and Fit
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. Several other pack manufacturers have copied this simple design, and for a 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 earns the Aether AG 60 high marks.
The Aether isn't the highest priced pack in our group, but it will still make you think twice. It does serve up a lot of extra features for the expense, as well as solid suspension and above-average overall comfort. It does cost more than some similarly featured models, but overall this is a great pack with a good value.
The Aether AG 60 is a full-featured pack that has everything most backpackers would want with just a minor weight penalty. Another plus is that the Aether AG 60 also has the suspension to back it up. While it's not what we'd call the best heavy-load hauler, it performed above average, and sports some of the most comfortable shoulder straps, waist belt, and back panel in our review.
— Ian Nicholson