|Rating:||8 / 10|
|Durability||1.8 / 2|
|Versatility||1.5 / 2|
|Weight||1.4 / 2|
|Comfort||1.7 / 2|
|Value for Money||1.6 / 2|
For many years my goal has been to lighten my pack weight as far as possible to minimise the impact on my ageing body. To a great extent everything I now carry has a place in my pack and I’m not carrying gear just for the sake of it. Why then would anyone want a beast of a pack like the Aether Plus? I must admit I was a bit apprehensive when I had the opportunity to test out this range which comes in 60, 70, 85 and 100 litre sizes so I opted to test out the Aether Plus 60 which even though its the smallest pack in the range, at a 60 litre for capacity (the L-XL size) its more than I am ever like to need with my preferred pack Sie being around 50litres for multi-day hikes.
The first thing you notice with the Aether Plus 60 is that it has pockets and zips everywhere. In fact if you can think of a feature that is possible to add to a pack then this pack has it. This really is a full featured pack. Starting from the bottom the Aether Plus 60 comes with the split zip system and compartment that allows you to store items like tents or sleeping bags and other accessories in the bottom of the pack without having to pull everything else out to access them. Not only does it have this lower segregated compartment, you are also able to unzip the front of the pack to access everything like an open suitcase. Still working your way up the pack there is a seperate zip pocket in front of the main compartment and then on top of that is a small stretch pocket at the front which is pretty standard on many packs these days. This stretch pocket is actually reasonably small and in all honesty, I would probably end up keeping my rain gear in it just for easy access.
Again moving upwards you come across the pack brain which at first I didn’t realise was actually a proper day pack that can be detached from the main pack and used on small side trips while leaving the main pack behind. You can also just use the pack brain closure flap if that’s what you prefer leaving the brain at home if need be. Still on storage, the main pack contains an internal water bladder pocket. I must admit I prefer an external access pocket for my water bladder because if my pack is fully loaded it just makes it a bit easier to get in and out of the pack. The hip belt pockets are large and easy to access as are the side stretch pockets for your water bottles if that’s what you prefer.
Moving on from the storage, this pack has loads of features that you would expect from a high-end pack. At the base of the pack is an integrated rain cover and removable sleeping pad straps. The standard ‘Stow on the Go’ trekking pole loops so that you can store your poles without too much difficulty as well as ice axe loops.
As far as fit goes you need to purchase the correct size pack based on the length of your torso and this was something that I didn’t really need to think about as I firmly sit in the L-XL size range. From here these is an easy to adjust suspension system that you set up by lengthen or shortening the length of the suspension – easily done with the velcro adjustment system. Once you done this once you really don’t need to adjust it every again unless you loan your pack to someone else. The padded hip belts are the same and you can lengthen the padding section to the correct length for your waist. One thing that was new to me on this pack is that the padding on the shoulder straps is also adjustable. I have never used a pack with so much adjustment before and if there was ever an off-the-shelf pack that was going to provide you with a perfect fit, then this is it.
The material used in this pack is a 210 Denier high-tenacity nylon which is a nice way of saying its tough and durable so will last you for many years even in the toughest conditions. Colour choice is limited to Black, Axe Green and Eclipse Grey which shouldn’t upset anyone’s taste.
Now with all these features on this pack as you would expect one obvious downside is the weight with the 60 litres size in L-XL weighing in at just under 2.7 kg. You will definitely notice the weight when you pick it up for the first time. So why the would you choose this pack? This pack is best described as a workhorse and it is rated to comfortably carry weights of between 14-27 kg. As much as I love my Osprey Atmos 50 pack it does become uncomfortable with loads over approximately 19 kg. The heaviest I have used that pack with 12 days of food was 22 kg and the comfort I normally associated with the Osprey Atmos was definitely missing.
The Aether Plus 60 is a very different pack. My testing on this pack was done over a three month period and I tried this in a range of different range of conditions, carrying loads of between 7-27 kg. The recommendation for this pack is 14-27 kg and that’s about right. This pack, like many other heavy grade packs, doesn’t perform well with small loads. At the other extreme I also loaded my pack up with 27 kg and while my ageing body wasn’t happy with that load, it was very comfortable which wasn’t surprising given all the plush padding integrated into the suspension and harness systems.
Price wise at AUD $5499 RRP this pack isn’t cheap but given all the features and that it’s designed to haul big load comfortably it’s good value for money. Having said that you will often find this pack at a much cheaper price so unless you are in rush wait for one of the sales.
While this pack is never going to be my pack of choice for most of my hikes, it will be ready to deploy on the occasions I’m needing to carry large heavy loads and when I’m not willing to sacrifice comfort. If you regularly carry heavy loads then this is defiantly a pack you should consider.
Hikers who carry a loads up to 27 kg and want to do so comfortably from day 1 to week 5
AUD $549.99 RRP – check out the sales and you can purchase at a much cheaper price
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Osprey Aether Plus 60 in Axe Green
Osprey Aether Plus 60 in Black
Osprey Aether Plus 60 in Eclipse Grey
Tim with Osprey Aether Plus 60 pack going bush
Osprey Atmos bottom access point
Rain cover pocket Osprey Aether Plus 60
Pack front open on Osprey Aether Plus 60 showing what’s inside the pack
Aether Plus lumbar pad – its not heavy padding but enough to make the heavy loads feel comfortable
Aether Plus waist belt pocket – these pockets are a good size
Hydration port on Aether Plus 60
Aether Plus 60 front pocket opening
Osprey Aether Plus 60 pack suspension
Trekking pole holder
Aether 60 shoulder strap adjustment
Brain pocket image
Brain pocket image
This review was done with product supplied by the Australian importer of Osprey Packs