The Osprey Aether AG 70 Backpack is designed for multi-day loads that demand capacity, support, and versatility while maximizing comfort. This internal frame backpack has adjustable torso length, is available in a variety of sizes, and is customizable if the off-the-shelf sizes aren’t appropriate. Its suspension system is one of the most comfortable ones I’ve used, handling higher loads easily. Compression straps keep the load tightly centered to the body, and a well-designed lid that converts to a daypack encourages excursions away from camp. While this pack will not appeal to the ultralight backpacker, its outstanding performance under higher weights will satisfy most other users.
Specs at a Glance
- Type: Internal frame backpack
- Adjustable Torso Length
- Rain Cover: None
- Hydration: bladder can be stored between shoulder straps and pack body or in internal sleeve
- Trekking Pole Holder: yes
- Bear Canister Compatible: yes, vertical or horizontal
- • Top Lid: removable lid converts to day pack (12 ounces for medium), cover allows use without lid
- Materials: 210D nylon (body), 500D nylon (bottom)
- Size/Volume/Weight/Torso/Hip Belt
- Small: 67L capacity, 5.162 pounds, torso range 16”-19”, hip belt range 29”-31”
- Medium: 70L capacity, 5.168 pounds (as measured)/5.214 pounds (per manufacturer), torso range 18”-21”, hip belt range 30”-34”
- Large: torso range 73L capacity, 5.266 pounds, 20”-23”, hip belt range 33”-37”
- Extra Large: 76L capacity, 5.319 pounds, torso range 22”-25”, hip belt range 36”-60”
Backpack Frame and Suspension
The Aether AG 70 pack features Osprey’s AG suspension system, designed to maximize load transfer and breathability of their packs. The heart of the system is a wire tensioned frame that transfers the load to the hip belt without the large flat metal stays of a traditional internal frame. The tension in the AG suspension and mesh back panel keeps a ventilated space between pack and body as well as cushioning the load. The continuous mesh that is integrated into the pack body and hip belt gives a wraparound feel and allows the pack to stay balanced comfortably, avoiding the feel of a shifting load.
Part of the comfort of the Aether AG 70 is its superb ventilation. All the mesh materials are very breathable, and the non-mesh parts in contact with the wearer’s body are kept to a minimum. The tension inherent in the frame and panel design creates airspace along the back. This leads to better thermal regulation as I hike and also helps with skin health and chafing prevention by keeping sweat from pooling.
If the Aether AG 70 does fit you out of the box, there are replacement shoulder straps and hip belt available replaceable for multiple body styles which can be custom ordered from Osprey to dial in a custom fit.
The hip belt wings are made of a padded mesh material. The large weave of the mesh maintains ventilation. The attachment points have a little bit of tension; as the wings are spread, the mesh panel of the suspension flexes outward from the body of the pack. This feature also makes the hip belt naturally circle the waist. There’s a definite “hugging” feel as soon as I put the pack on, and it creates lumbar support from the flex of the mesh. The hip belt assembly is heat-moldable for a custom fit. Mine felt properly fit off the shelf, so I didn’t need to do any molding, but it can be done at an outdoor store or with a heat gun.
The shoulder straps feature the same wide mesh as the hipbelt and have sufficient foam padding to be cushiony. The torso height is adjustable with a hook and loop system and markers on the adjustment allow for repeatable placement. The straps come straight over the shoulders and then curve outward under the armpits.
The load lifters are the beefiest ones I’ve used. The attachment to the pack body is a thick, semi-rigid strap that slides into a pocket on the shoulder straps. A webbing adjustment on the outside of the load lifter pocket controls how tight the straps are. The advantage of this system is that the buckle is not directly on the body of the pack, so it is easier to reach. The thickness of the attachment point provides enough resistance to make it easy to loosen the buckle even under heavy load.
The sternum strap is height adjustable by sliding it up and down. It takes some force to move the strap up and down, but it holds securely when it is in place. The buckle for the sternum strap has an integrated whistle. One minor gripe is that the adjustment is opposite every other Osprey pack I have, with the fixed buckle on the left and the adjustable part on the right. The magnet attachment for the tube of my hydration bladder doesn’t fit on the left part, so I had to re-route that over the right shoulder. This old dog doesn’t learn the new trick of using his right hand to adjust the sternum tension or get a drink very easily!
There are two elastic loops on each shoulder strap. These can be used to hold a hydration tube, install a strap pocket, or clip small items like a Garmin InReach Mini or a notepad.
The pack also has a carry strap attached where the load lifter straps join the body. It’s a thin tubular mesh that has been flattened, and the rounded edges don’t cut into your hand even when moving a hefty load.
Backpack Storage and Organization
The lid of the pack has two pockets. The smaller zipper opens a flat pocket that is good for storing maps, plastic storage bags, or similar items. Inside this pocket is a fob with a clip to securely hold keys. The larger zipper opens into a bigger pocket, where I try to keep the items that I’m likely to need along the trail, such as trowel and journal.
The way the lid attaches to the pack tends to sandwich the free end of the adjustment strap between the tensioned part and the pack body, making them hard to change. Changing the volume of the pack body is one of the regular fundamental tweaks of a pack, as it varies as food reduces, the clothing carried vs. worn changes, and group gear is redistributed, and a pet peeve of mine is a floppy lid on a backpack. I reversed the buckles and had a much easier time adjusting it afterward: fold the free end perpendicular to the strap and feed the fold through both slots in the buckle.
The main body of the Aether 70 pack has three openings.
- The top has a large drawstring closure, and the closure mechanism is easily operated with one hand: pull the cords to tighten, pull the fob on the closure to release.
- An upside-down J-shaped zipper opens the central part of the body behind the front panel pocket.
- An upside-down U-shaped zipper opens the sleeping bag compartment at the bottom of the body.
The sleeping bag compartment is separated from the main body by a divider panel that can be unfastened from the back of the pack. I think this panel would be better if it were either completely removable, unfastened from the front of the pack, or had a small clip that would keep it rolled or folded up when not in use. When it’s unfastened, its natural hanging position drapes down over the top of the lower access zipper to the pack. The divider does not block longer items like tent poles from lying vertically along the full length of the pack even when fastened.
On the front panel of the pack, a large stretch mesh pocket gives a good storage area for the fastest-access items or drying area for wet jackets, clothes, and rain flies. The two side pockets (my usual water bottle storage) on the bottom half of the pack are the same stretch mesh as the front panel, and they can hold items inserted from the top or the side. Zipper closure hip belt pockets on either wing of the hip belt make great storage for the items I want to be able to access without taking off the pack or asking a hiking partner to retrieve.
External Attachment Points
Several attachment points round out the pack’s storage and organization capabilities. Two ice ax loops are just above the sleeping bag compartment, and they line up with the bungee attachments at the top of the storage flap for proper stowage. The loops can be tucked into the flap above to keep them from snagging when not in use. Loops for securing trekking poles are on the left shoulder strap and left base of the pack, an arrangement that allows them to be stowed and deployed while walking.
Small attachment loops, perfect for clipping a carabiner, are on the face of pack, on either side of the front panel at the top and bottom. A loop is on the backside of each side pocket, a curious location for anything that might hang but useful as a tie point or for retaining straps for water bottles.
Two sleeping pad straps are at the base of the pack, stretching across the sleeping bag compartment opening. These are easily removable and fit a folding foam pad very well. Four tie loops on the lid allow attaching items to the top of the pack.
There are multiple compression straps to reduce the volume of the pack: two on the face, a diagonal one high on each side, and a Z strap setup low on the side. The Z strap can be routed either over or under the side pocket. Off the shelf, one is typically routed over the pocket and one under the pocket (I usually route both underneath the pocket).
Osprey puts a lot of thought into making their products versatile. A nice example of that is the lid of the Aether AG 70, which is removable to make a day pack that is useful as a summit bag or excursions from camp. The day pack is nicely featured in its own right as well, featuring a hydration sleeve, sternum strap, and ice ax loop complete with bungee attachment. It’s a great little feature on an extended trip for a water run or day hike.
The downside of the convertible day pack lid is that it adds weight—about 12 ounces. If you’d like to travel in a more minimal mode, the lid can be left off entirely, making the pack weight for the medium about 4 pounds, 7 ounces. A cover attached to the pack allows it to be used without the lid.
Another example of the Aether AG 70’s versatility is the hydration bladder options. The bladder can be held in a sleeve within the main compartment of the pack or slid between the shoulder straps and the pack body.
I had a very positive feel from this pack the moment I put it on. The weight rides very nicely on the hips and the frame does a great job of transferring load via the load lifters. The way the slight tension in the mesh back panel creates a bit of pressure against the back feels supportive. I especially like the wraparound feel of the pack; it moves with me extremely well even over rough terrain. The overall feel of the pack under load is that it is snug and secure. The design of the pack keeps it well ventilated, making this an extremely comfortable pack.
Its volume is also more than adequate for a full week trip. The numerous organization options keep me from rummaging too much for gear. A BearVault BV500 fits both vertically and horizontally within the body of the pack. I got the green color, and occasionally the darker fabric made it harder to locate an item because of the lower contrast. However, I like the green tones in the outdoors, and it doesn’t show trail dirt readily.
Osprey packs have a reputation for toughness and durable construction, and the Aether AG 70 is no exception. The pack material is substantial, and the seams are all solid. The stress points such as the bottom shoulder strap and load lifter attachments are substantial and reinforced. The bottom of the pack is even more heavily reinforced with heavy-duty nylon. Zippers operate smoothly with no snags, and their stitching is durable.
A lot of little details go into the design that contribute to its usability and comfort. The top of the frame is bent to provide a “scoop” at top of the pack that gives a little bit of extra headspace, keeping me from feeling like the pack is pushing my head forward. The one-handed operation of the drawstring closure is a great feature. The main zipper pulls have a rubberized spreader to form a ring, which is very convenient when wearing gloves. Elastic on the lid keeps its contents firmly held. The loops at the end of the shoulder strap adjustments are easy to hook with a finger to shift the weight a bit. Buckles and ice ax loops can be tucked away in little pockets to keep them from snagging. Such thoughtfulness of design is evident throughout.
|Make and Model||Price||Weight||Volume||Access||Pockets|
|REI Traverse 70||249||4 lb. 14 oz.||35, 70L, 85L||Top, front||11 exterior|
|Gregory Baltoro 75||330||4 lb. 15.4 oz.||65, 75, 85L||Top, front||10 exterior|
|Osprey Aether AG 70||310||5 lb. 3.4 oz.||60, 70, 85L||Top, front||7 exterior|
|Deuter Futura Vario 50+10||230||4 lb. 9oz.||60L||Top, front||11 exterior|
|Deuter Aircontact Lite 65+10||220||4 lbs. 6 oz||75L||Top, front||7 exterior|
|Osprey Atmos AG 65||270||4 lb. 9 oz.||50, 65L||Top||8 exterior|
The Osprey Aether AG 70 is a flagship pack for extended expeditions, designed for those who need a backpack capable of carrying the weight required for longer trips, rugged enough for dependability deep in the backcountry, and comfortable enough to lighten the load. I have this pack both backcountry and car camping situations and I am thoroughly impressed with its weight carrying ability. The pack ventilates well, and I was very pleased with the way it kept the load from shifting as I moved through a variety of terrain. The Anti-Gravity Suspension system is a best-in-class feature that deserves serious consideration for backpackers. I am extremely pleased with this pack, and I highly recommend the Osprey Aether AG 70 for anyone needing to handle a large load.
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