Hands-on Gear Review

Osprey Aether Pro 70 Review

Top Pick Award
Price:  $375 List | $375.00 at REI
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Lightweight, stout suspension, comfortable and nicely shaped shoulder straps, several features are removable to further reduce weight, handles heavier loads fantastically
Cons:  On the more expensive side, poor access options, not many features
Bottom line:  An extremely robust suspension and simple design give this model the best ratio of pack-weight to load capabilities of any model we tested.
Editors' Rating:   
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Measured Weight (pounds):  3.96 lbs
Volume (liters):  70 L
Access:  Top
Manufacturer:   Osprey Packs

Our Verdict

Does your interest lie in finding the perfect lightweight pack, with excellent comfort and suspension? If this sounds like you, the Osprey Aether Pro 70 should top your list. With only one zipper and exceptionally durable fabrics, this simple model is built with low weight and durability in mind. While this Top Pick is straightforward from a features perspective, it doesn't sacrifice anything when it comes to its ability to carry heavier loads. The Pro boasts a robust suspension and has dramatically-shaped shoulder straps and top-tier foam; both were incredibly comfortable and supportive. While this model doesn't have lots of features, it has the most important ones; and, whats cool is that most of these features are removable in what is already the best ratio of pack-weight to load carrying capabilities of any model we tested.



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Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
Ian Nicholson

Last Updated:
Wednesday
April 4, 2018

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The Aether Pro is best for someone looking to save a little weight without giving up any support or comfort. It's certainly geared more towards mountaineering but remains suitable for backpacking, so long as the user knows that they are buying this pack for its functionality and weight and not for an abundance of bells and whistles.

Performance Comparison


The Aether Pro gets a Top Pick award for being the lightest pack that can still handle a bunch of weight super comfortably. It's perfect for those that want to shed a few pounds but still need a robust enough suspension to handle heavier loads.
The Aether Pro gets a Top Pick award for being the lightest pack that can still handle a bunch of weight super comfortably. It's perfect for those that want to shed a few pounds but still need a robust enough suspension to handle heavier loads.

Comfort


Despite being on the lighter side of packs in our review, the Aether doesn't cut any corners when it comes to comfort.


The Pro's shoulder straps are one of the more dramatically shaped and ergonomic designs we tested, and our team felt that it paid off when it came to keeping us comfortable.

While many of the pack designs are minimal  the suspension and the attention to detail is not. In the photo  you can see how ergonomically-shaped this model's shoulder straps are  which were one of our testers favorite.
While many of the pack designs are minimal, the suspension and the attention to detail is not. In the photo, you can see how ergonomically-shaped this model's shoulder straps are, which were one of our testers favorite.

The foam is a little stiffer than average which will help move with its users over uneven terrain. It also proved more supportive while carrying heavier loads, which is what this pack is geared toward. You can purchase cushier feeling models like the Osprey Atmos 65, and to a less extent, the Arc'teryx Bora AR 63. However, the Atmos, which features trampoline-style suspension, would bottom out with loads higher than about 40 pounds. The Pro was not only comfortable but is well-suited to carrying heavier loads.

Suspension


The Aether Pro's suspension is stout and built to support loads up to 60 pounds. Often we've found that when a pack offers a stripped down or no-frills design, it generally means the suspension is minimal. This idea is not the case with the Aether Pro.


The Aether Pro has an incredibly robust suspension, which is in line with the highest performing in our fleet. If we knew heavier loads (greater than 40-45 lbs) were in our future, this model would be at the top of our list with only a small number of other options.

At a hair under four pounds  this pack is lighter than average - and is far lighter than most models that can handle similar loads. While this pack has fairly minimal features  if you want to strip even more weight  many of those features are removable (like its compression straps  hip-belt pockets  ice axe loops and more).
At a hair under four pounds, this pack is lighter than average - and is far lighter than most models that can handle similar loads. While this pack has fairly minimal features, if you want to strip even more weight, many of those features are removable (like its compression straps, hip-belt pockets, ice axe loops and more).

Weight


Despite sporting one of the burlier suspensions and ample padding, this packet remains light weight.


At 3.94 pounds, this is the lightest of the models that we would consider aload hauler, which is a pack we would opt for when the going got tough. We compared the Aether Pro's weight to the Gregory Baltoro 65 (4.84 lbs), Arc'teryx Bora 63 (5 lbs), Osprey Xenith 75 (5.45 lbs), and Xenith 105 (5.67 lbs).

Another example of how this pack is "stripable" or how many of the Aether Pro's features are designed to be removable. In the photo  we show how easily one of its twin large hip-belt pockets comes off.
Another example of how this pack is "stripable" or how many of the Aether Pro's features are designed to be removable. In the photo, we show how easily one of its twin large hip-belt pockets comes off.

It's even lighter than several of the all-around moderately-heavy load-hauling packs like the Thule Versant 70, (4.19 lbs), Deuter Aircontact Lite 65+10 (4.38 lbs), or Osprey Atmos (4.56 lbs). While this pack is already one of the lighter models in our review, several of its features can be removed to reduce weight further. The features that can be removed to save weight are the side compression straps, the lid, the waist-belt pockets, both ice tool loops, and the lower accessory or sleeping pad straps.

Features and Ease of Use


For what is a reasonably simple pack, we have to lot of positive things to say about the well-thought-out feature set.


Osprey did an excellent job with the Aether Pro, as they included all of the essential features that the majority of backcountry travelers want. They've also added a few extras and made nearly all of them removable, which to some extent, means people can pick and choose what they want.

Of all the features that can be left behind to save weight comes from leaving the lid. During day hikes  summit pushes  or those trips where every gram matters  Osprey has a built-in flap (which they call FlapJacket) that covers the pack's primary opening (to protect it from the elements or from accidentally falling out).
Of all the features that can be left behind to save weight comes from leaving the lid. During day hikes, summit pushes, or those trips where every gram matters, Osprey has a built-in flap (which they call FlapJacket) that covers the pack's primary opening (to protect it from the elements or from accidentally falling out).

The lid can be left behind (either in camp or at home) to save weight. This model sports a built-in flap (which Osprey calls their FlapJacket); when the lid is left behind, the flap closes the primary top-opening to better protect and keep your gear dry. The top zippered lid pocket was fine; items didn't fall out of it, but it wasn't nearly as easy to search through as other models.

The Aether Pro features two large (removable) hip-belt pockets. One is geared to fit a 1-liter Nalgene sized water bottle (seen in this photo) and the other is a zippered.
The Aether Pro features two large (removable) hip-belt pockets. One is geared to fit a 1-liter Nalgene sized water bottle (seen in this photo) and the other is a zippered.

One of the most notable features of this pack is the two huge, removable pockets that sit loosely on top of the waist belt. These "wing" pockets seem a little over the top at first; after testing, a majority of our testers, who initially viewed this feature with skepticism, ended up loving them. They fit almost any small or medium sized item you would want to keep handy, including a 1-liter Nalgene bottle. Best of all, if you don't like the pockets, you can remove one (or both of them), and further save weight. These dual pockets are not identical either; one has a zippered closure, and one has a cinch, which adds to their versatility.

The Aether Pro has two built-in straps (also removable) that provide an excellent place to strap a sleeping pad or other funky shaped item.
The Aether Pro has two built-in straps (also removable) that provide an excellent place to strap a sleeping pad or other funky shaped item.

The side compression straps cinch the pack down adequately when used as a day, or summit pack. Compared to other models in our fleet, they weren't as nice for strapping items to, but the Aether has lots of other strapping options. Most notably of those is Osprey straight-jacket compression, in which two compression straps go all the way around the back of the pack. They are excellent at compressing the pack and make for a convenient place to attach oddly-shaped items. Our review team appreciated this model's removable sleeping pad straps, which fit most average-sized closed cell foams pads.

The Aether Pro has no side or panel access zippers. Instead  the only way to pack items in or retrieve your gear is through the primary entrance at the top of the pack. Those looking at this type of pack are very likely the ones willing to sacrifice ease of access for weight.
The Aether Pro has no side or panel access zippers. Instead, the only way to pack items in or retrieve your gear is through the primary entrance at the top of the pack. Those looking at this type of pack are very likely the ones willing to sacrifice ease of access for weight.

The only feature that not one tester used was the Stow-on-the-Go trekking pole attachment. It was a touch overthought and overbuilt; we also usually had snow baskets on our trekking poles and would get caught on trees or our calves. Fortunately, this isn't a significant drawback, as you can tuck your poles under your shoulder strap or attach them to the pack in any number of ways.

The shoulder straps on this pack are sewn into a floating Velcro panel that can be positioned up or down depending providing around four inches of vertical adjustment. This simple system is super effective and we never experienced this design flipping unexpectedly.
The shoulder straps on this pack are sewn into a floating Velcro panel that can be positioned up or down depending providing around four inches of vertical adjustment. This simple system is super effective and we never experienced this design flipping unexpectedly.

Adjustability and Fit


Like most of Osprey's backpacking line, the Arther Pro has about four inches of vertical adjustment and is available in three frame lengths which include small, medium, and large.


Adjusting the pack is easy as it gets - unless the pack is full, then it feels nearly impossible. The shoulder straps are sewn into a floating Velcro panel that can be adjusted up or down, depending on the user's height. This simple but effective system allows the pack to be fine-tuned to its user. After using this system for over a hundred days, we can say we never felt it unexpectedly slip or slide out of adjustment.

The pack's overall design is slightly geared towards mountaineering; like any good mountaineering pack  it sports two simple but effective ice axe attachments - as seen in this photo.
The pack's overall design is slightly geared towards mountaineering; like any good mountaineering pack, it sports two simple but effective ice axe attachments - as seen in this photo.

Durability


We did not experience any durability issues during testing. While marketed as a lightweight pack, it isn't made of a super light fabric, which is a good thing when assessing durability. This pack is built with 200D fabric and 315D in the accent/high-wear areas which is relatively similar in thickness to most of the models in this review. We will continue to update this section as our testers use this pack over the months and years.

The Aether Pro features two large (removable) hip-belt pockets. One is zippered (seen in this photo) and the other is more geared to fit a 1-liter Nalgene sized water bottle.
The Aether Pro features two large (removable) hip-belt pockets. One is zippered (seen in this photo) and the other is more geared to fit a 1-liter Nalgene sized water bottle.

Best Applications


This pack certainly is designed with mountaineering oriented features in mind. Its streamline cut allows it to move with its wearer and it boasts an excellent suspension system, which is particularly useful for rough and rugged terrain. The Aether Pro also has an impressive feature set in addition to a supportive suspension system. It's also light enough for glacier mountaineering routes in the lower 48, or further away ranges like the Himalaya or the Southern Andes. The Aether Pro is an excellent choice for both mountaineers and backcountry travelers looking to save weight, without sacrificing any comfort or suspension.

Value


At $375, this pack isn't cheap. It joins the Osprey Xenith 105 ($400) and Arc'teryx Bora 63 ($550) in being towards the top of the pack when it comes to price range. However, in this case, the Aether Pro offers remarkable price to value. It's simple, but built with purpose. Osprey did not cut any corners when it comes to performance; for the right user group, this is a perfect pack, as it has few, if any, downsides.

The Aether is perfect for folks who want a lighter option but aren't able or willing to sacrifice much when it comes to comfort and suspension. It has the right amount of features for someone looking for a more minimal design; luckily  if you don't like some of the features  or you want to reduce weight  most of them are removable.
The Aether is perfect for folks who want a lighter option but aren't able or willing to sacrifice much when it comes to comfort and suspension. It has the right amount of features for someone looking for a more minimal design; luckily, if you don't like some of the features, or you want to reduce weight, most of them are removable.

Conclusion


The Osprey Aether Pro is geared for mountaineering or adventurous backcountry travelers. The Aether is perfect for folks who want a lighter option but aren't willing to give up comfort or suspension. It has the right amount of features; most of which are removable, which further reduces weight. While this pack isn't for everyone, it's an excellent option for those burdened with heavier loads on extended adventures where ounce counts.

Ian Nicholson

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Most recent review: April 4, 2018
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