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.
Osprey Aether Pro 70 Review
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
Manufacturer: Osprey Packs
Compare to Similar Products
Our Analysis and Test Results
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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