Osprey Aether 70 litre Pack                                                                                   

I took the Osprey Aether 70 litre Pack to India with me recently, so it got a good 2 month workout, carrying around 20kg up into the Himalaya on multi day hikes and also having to cope with being stuffed into a variety of bus and train holds.



Here's what Osprey say about their pack, and what I think of it.­


They Say 'The Aether 70 is an ideal size for a variety of backpacking adventures. With added features like J-Panel access, Stow-on-the-Go trekking pole attachment and an improved suspension technology, this backpack remains the #1 choice for adventurers of all calibers.'




I Say 'The pack coped well with the demands of a varied journey. I was packing for the mountains and the desert, plus I had a few old style box cameras with me, so there was a lot to fit in. The J-Panel access is basically a zip that runs down the length of the front of the pack, so you can just sit it down on its back and access all your kit quickly without fumbling with the lid. This came in handy a few times, most often when I was on the over night trains and the pack was stored under my bunk. When I needed stuff I just pulled the pack out a little and reached in, which was better than hauling it all the way out, standing it up and then delving around for what I wanted. I don't use trekking poles so never needed the attachments.'


Osprey also mention on their website the following features; Convertible Top Pocket - Lumbar Pack, Hydration Compatible, Sleeping Pad Straps, Tool Attachment, Red Internal Compression Strap and custom moulding of the hipbelt.


I Say 'The Convertible top pocket is a neat idea. The lid of the pack just unclips from the main body, you take out the belt that hides inside the lid and then you have a day pack that fixes around your waist. I rarely used it; because of my many cameras I generally need more space in my day pack that this gives, but it'll be perfect if all you need to carry is a map, a sweater and some water and snacks.


The red compression strap is a nice touch as well. It helps push down your gear so the lid can fasten more easily but also, it's a bit of a deterrent for thieves wanting easy access. It won't stop somebody who breaks into your room or tent when you're not around, but it will put off the opportunist.


The custom moulding of the hipbelt is another nice touch. When I got the pack the shop staff removed the hipbelt, put it into a mini oven (the oven looks like this)...


...to soften it up, and then asked me to put it on and wear it for 10 minutes whilst it cooled to the shape of my own waist.


The procedure seemed to work well. During the first few weeks of my using the pack I regularly carried its full packed weight, around 20kg, on long hikes, and a couple of times up to around 3000 metres, and despite my not having put on a pack of any type for a year or so I never had any problems at all, in fact I felt very comfortable on the trail. That's all I have experience of, as I never use a hydration system apart from a simple water bottle, or tools, or a sleeping pad (not on this trip, anyway).


To sum up, bad points are the light coloured front oval, which got dirty really quickly. Like many backpackers I use my pack as a seat whilst waiting around in stations, and the oval is bang in the middle of the side of the pack that always touches the ground. Maybe Osprey should make this oval darker, rather than lighter, to improve the pack.



The other bad point was that my pack is now a little torn around the edges, which I don't think it should be after just a few months use. Sure, it's been thrown around, in and out of luggage racks, many of which had sharp edges, but that's not really an excuse. It's really great to have such a lightweight pack but I'd rather carry a little bit more weight and have the material slightly more robust.



The Aether's good points outweigh the bad, however, and it has stood up very well overall to the test of a varied backpacking trip. It distributes its load well and the many zips and openings make access a synch.


A final point, the packs's dusky blue colour is a well thought out feature, and one I appreciated a lot. So many packs today are dark green, which isn't a great colour to be wearing when you're travelling through countries where the authorities are touchy about foreign military activity. You may just be a traveller but if your pack screams 'military' then what are the locals supposed to think? I've seen a fair few travellers detained by local police for wearing military style gear/packs. Another colour often used in packs is bright red. What reaction do people expect to get when they walk into a small village with this on their backs? They look immature (oh, notice me, please, please!), vulgar and clueless (most of us go into the mountains to escape the hand of mankind, not have it follow us in the shape of bright red dots crawling up the mountains all around us) so what are locals expected to think? It may be easily seen in the event of accident, but so is a space blanket, which every sane trekker should be carrying anyway. So, a big thumbs up for the Aether's muted blue colour; it's classy, non confrontational and non flashy - good stuff.



I just want my pack to carry my kit and allow me to pass through other lands with the minimum of fuss, and the Osprey Aether 70 allows me to do this. After giving it an intensive 2 month test I say that I'm happy with the pack, and would definately recommend the brand to my friends.



To find out more about Osprey Packs and to see their full range check their website out by clicking below