In my previous text a few months ago, I have given a few details about the new Aether AG series, and in this Osprey Aether AG 60 review, I give more information about this particular pack from the series. This is the ultimate backpacking tool with some extraordinary features, so keep reading.
- The most advanced suspension system so far.
- Adjustable torso length.
- Moldable hip belt and harness.
- Interchangeable both the hip belt and the harness.
- Attachment points for the Osprey Daylite pack.
- The top lid converts to a fully functional daypack.
- Three sizes to choose.
- Rain cover.
The most important changes introduced in the new model
There are three important, plus some small changes:
- Completely redesigned harness.
- Completely redesigned daypack.
- Extra side entrance in the new model as compared with a J-shaped zippered extra front entrance in the previous version.
- A few differences in numbers (size and weight).
The first change is very visible. The second becomes obvious only after you remove the lid, and then what you see is truly amazing.
Aether AG 60 – description
When you have so many things to describe, it is hard to choose where to start from. Aether AG 60 is the smallest in the series which also includes the packs of 70 and 85 liters. The number 60 in the name describes it official volume, but in fact, the pack comes in three different sizes/volumes, of 57, 60, and 63 liters.
In addition to this, its harness is adjustable. If this is not enough, its harness comes in 4 different sizes to chose in the moment of purchase, S, M, L, XL, and the same holds for the hip belt. So imagine, you have so many options to choose and to adjust for an optimal fit.
This is a top loading pack with a removable lid, but it has an extra access point on its left side.
But, I guess it is the AG suspension that has caused most excitement, so to say a few words about this first. You can compare it with the previous version described in my earlier post.
You can see very easily that this version of the Osprey’s AG system is quite different from their starting design used in the Atmos and Aura series, and in some smaller packs like Mira and Manta. This is definitely not the continuous seamless mesh which you have in the original AG design. In fact, I am not completely sure why they call it AG, perhaps it was just a shortage of proper terms.
Have you seen the latest version of the Osprey Stratos and Sirrus packs? Well, have a look in my another text, and you will realize they call the design used there ‘AG inspired‘. I must say that what I see in the Aether 60 AG, looks less AG than what I see in the Stratos and Sirrus packs.
But this aside, the tensioned mesh on the back of Aether AG 60 looks really cool and it is completely different by the structure. In fact, what I see here, looks more like the mesh in the Deuter Futura series, but do not understand me wrongly, this is a completely different system in general.
The hip belt ISOFORM 5 CM is with custom heat molding, and interchangeable, so you can choose your best fit in the moment of purchase, and it will then mold naturally by your body heat to fit you perfectly.
The same is with the ISOFORM 5 AG mesh harness, which is thus interchangeable and you can choose the size. The actual meaning of the word ISOFORM is that the harness and the hip belt have some break-in time and they accommodate and form to your body shape after a few wears.
But you can speed this up if you wish. Good shops with outdoor equipment usually have an Osprey’s oven for this purpose. See this one in the picture, from the place where I live in Belgium. It is of the size of a micro oven, though a bit higher.
The frame of the pack is a LightWire peripheral aluminum alloy structure. So all in all, this suspension looks really good, but I miss to see what makes it ‘anti-gravity’. See more about it below.
See here how Osprey’s oven works:
How to adjust the harness
All you have to do is to slide your hand between the back panel and harness and to release hook and loop attachment. Then move the harness into the desired position. There are indicators which will guide you.
Interchangeable harness and hip belt
The hip belt in this new pack is removable/replaceable just as it was in the “old” version of Aether. So, as you realize this is an advantage and an extra bonus of this series (in both old and new versions).
Family members or partners can use the same pack, but they may use their own specific (molded) hip belt and harness to ensure a perfect fit. How better can it be?
Attachment points for Osprey’s Daylite pack
On the front of the pack, you can see two vertical flaps with horizontal straps, this is the part of what they call dual front compression system with StraightJacket compression. This is visible in the first picture above. So, when you undo them, you will see that underneath the flaps there are 4 attachment loops.
These loops are there to attach Osprey Daylite pack, which itself is designed for such a purpose and it can be added to many of Osprey’s packs. So the Aether 60 AG is not an exception in this sense, but it is important to point out this bonus with the pack. When the Daylite pack is attached, you can additionally secure it with the mentioned two horizontal flaps and the straps.
Top lid – a real gem: convertible to a daypack
On the top of the lid you have an external zippered pocket, and on the top of this pocket, you have yet another small pouch. I am simply delighted with what they have done here.
Contrary to the previous Aether version where you have the removable lid that serves as a lumbar pack for short tours, in the new version you have a fully functional backpack. This is what they call the DayLid daypack, with no less than 16 liters of volume.
The DayLid pack includes some incredible features:
- Shoulder straps with mesh and edgeless wrap.
- Dual access to the main compartment.
- An adjustable chest strap.
- Apart from the main compartment, you also have a zippered pocket.
- There is even an external hydration sleeve with a hanger for the water bladder.
- On the bottom, there is a tuckaway attachment loop which is paired with a bungee cord on the top, to attach an ice axe.
- 4 attachment webbing loops.
The sternum strap of this DayLid pack can be fixed to three different positions, you have loops for this purpose on both shoulder straps. So those loops that are not currently used for the sternum strap, can be used for attachment of equipment.
Since this pack is the lid itself, the attachment loops that are normally on the top of the lid, are now on the front of this daypack, so imagine, you have 4 extra attachment points of course. This all is simply ingenious.
When the lid is removed you have an additional flap with buckles to close the big pack properly. So it again looks like a normal top loading pack, yet considerably shortened.
There are many other useful features here, but this is the same what you have in the previous version as well. Here are some most important.
Internal reservoir sleeve is with a buckled loop to clip the reservoir and to keep it upright, see more below. There is a bottom compartment with the usual zippered entrance. The divider between the main compartment and the bottom section is collapsible.
The pocket organization is standard; dual side stretch mesh pockets, dual zippered hip belt pockets, the mentioned pockets on the lid, and you have one large stretch mesh pocket on the front. So you have 7 pockets in total.
Attachment points and straps
Numerous attachment points are on the pack, and they include the mentioned webbing 4 loops on the lid, two big attachment loops on the bottom and those are paired with bungee cords higher up, so you can attach two ice axes.
Of course, the Stow-on the-Go trekking pole attachment system is available here as well. This is useful to have when you need free hands on the fly, to take a photo, to eat and drink something, or when you have some scramble to do.
Dual compression straps are available on the sides. The lower compression straps on the sides are with InsideOut features. So they can be routed inside (to compress pack when not full to ensure its stability) or over the side mesh pockets (to secure items in them).
Dual removable compression straps are on the bottom. On the front, you have the already mentioned StraightJacket compression straps and two vertical flaps.
Pros and cons
Here is my short summary:
The pack is indeed on the heavy side, but this is not a true objection. Just see what it offers, so the weight is the consequence of so many useful features. However, I have some doubts, so please keep reading…
a. The issue of ventilation
The original AG suspension and the body-hugging mesh introduced there has its purpose, and the awards received for it are surely justified. But I am convinced that none of these AG versions (at least three variants are available now) can provide ventilation which you have in the tensioned mesh systems available in Deuter packs and in some other packs of Osprey, as well as in some of Gregory packs.
But no need to compare with other brands, let’s keep it in the house. See below the Osprey Sirrus 50 pack on the left, and the Osprey Aether AG 60 on the right. Observe how much space you have between the pack body and your body in the Sirrus design. Clearly, the AG 3D mesh system cannot provide as good ventilation in the central back zone, and for such huge packs, this is essential.
I know that not everybody likes the tensioned mesh system because it implies a curved shape of the pack, just see the Sirrus pack above as an example. The pack’s center of gravity is shifted back from your body. Some even claim this is not good for balance and stability, but I disagree. I have been using such a system in Deuter packs in the past 15 years.
Let’s see this more closely. Nobody can walk like those people in the pictures. Under the heavy pack, you will tend to lean forward. How much exactly? Well, this depends on the load, you will bend your upper body to counterweight the pack which pulls you back. But see the picture on the right; this means that the AG pack will make even more pressure everywhere on your back. So ventilation will be reduced even more on the back section.
This is completely impossible with the tensioned mesh system in the picture on the left. The gap between the mesh and the pack will always be there, this is how this tensioned system works; the back of the pack is pre-curved by its frame, and this is supported by the mesh.
But the situation is quite different around the hip belt area, see the “blue” picture below. There is a gap between the belt and the structure with the hip belt pockets, so the AG ventilation in this zone is better than in any other system.
There is more about this, please see below about the issue of “external” hydration sleeve.
b. Is there really any anti-gravity?
Some “explain” the AG effect as the difference between when someone is leaning on you and someone hugging you. Apparently, the latter should be better. But hey, do I really want that a 27 kg pack hugs me so tightly? I think I would rather have some space between it and my body.
To answer this question about the (anti)gravity, see again the pictures above. The pack’s gravity only acts vertically, and there is a momentum of force so the pack will effectively pull you backward. This is a bit of physics, my favorite subject (I am a theoretical physicist).
So, when you carry a heavy pack you cannot walk upright as the person in the picture. You will have to lean forward. This means that the pack’s gravity center will be shifted forward and it can even come to a position above your bottom, or very close to your body in general. Now, when this happens, the whole pack’s surface which is in contact with your body, will distribute the weight. The bigger distribution, the better. This reduces the usual hot spots (but as mentioned above, this also reduces ventilation).
From this, it can easily be concluded that the mesh in the Aether AG 60 pack will indeed work. It hugs your back and it will distribute the weight.
But guess what? The same holds with any back system of any pack. The same will work with the Sirrus pack shown above, or with any of Deuter’s packs with suspended mesh. The mesh will get more in contact with your back, but the ventilation in packs with suspended (tensioned) mesh cannot be reduced due to reasons explained in the item a. above. Though, the effective surface in contact with your body, as created with the AG mesh, is indeed larger.
On the other hand, I am convinced that a pivoting hip belt and harness (available in some top brands) makes more difference than this hugging AG belt. These pivoting systems truly follow your body movement.
My conclusion: the mesh system on the harness and on the hip belt of the Osprey Aether AG 60 pack looks really great by appearance, but I am convinced that the anti-gravity here is more a phrase than a physical fact. We simply shouldn’t attribute to it effects that do not exist. In the end, it is always the hip belt which is supposed to carry the load, and not the rest of the harness. You do not want to feel it too much on your back or on your shoulders.
See a bit more related to this issue in the next item.
c. About lumbar support
I am a bit puzzled with what I see in the lumbar zone of the pack. I am not fully convinced that this can work for packs of this size. See how this looks like in the Aether AG 60 (and in the bigger packs in the series):
Such a structure has been in Deuter’s packs for many years, but only in their small packs. See one of them below, from Deuter Futura 32 (the picture on the left). So this design is nothing new. But with bigger packs, such tensioned mesh systems always include a generous padding, which you can see in Deuter Futura Vario 60 (the picture below on the right), and also in Gregory Zulu 65.
Comparison with competitors
See here some basic features of the Aether AG 60 compared with two of its top-ranked competitors:
|Side zippered pockets||no||yes||no|
|Access||top, side, bottom||top, front, bottom||top, front, bottom|
*This is for the M size.
**In the moment of writing this text; please follow the links for updates.
***See below some comments on this issue.
I am a bit puzzled with what makes the Aether pack so heavy. Both Deuter and Gregory packs are with steel frames as opposed to aluminum in Osprey. On the other hand, Deuter Futura Vario has some features missing in the Aether pack (for example, side zippered pockets with zippers which add weight). Also, as you have realized, there is no massive lumbar padding in the Aether pack, as you have in both Deuter and Gregory packs.
The prices for the packs in the table at the moment of writing this text are around $290, 230, and 230. So the Aether AG pack is indeed expensive. I still rank it the same as the Deuter’s pack, so many great features cannot be ignored.
There seems to be a lot of confusion in the description of this pack on the Internet. The main issues are about:
- the rain cover
- the hydration sleeve
- the daypack (big thanks to Vik for pointing this out).
See below about these issues.
♦ It is possible that on the US market the pack comes without a rain cover, I am from Europe and cannot check independently. I have seen a YouTube video with the statement that the pack bought at REI is without the cover. In the description of the pack on Amazon there is no rain cover mentioned. So it is possible that the cover is not there.
However, in my local shop in Belgium, the Aether AG 60 pack comes with the rain cover stored in the top lid pocket, see the picture. The price of the pack with the cover is 249 Euro.
♦ About hydration sleeve: Equally confusing is the issue of the hydration sleeve. Even in the Osprey’s video (given here in the text), there is a statement that the pack comes with an external hydration sleeve. However, I have had the pack in hands and can confirm that there is no external sleeve in this pack.
However, there is a space behind the harness, see the picture above, but this is not a water bladder sleeve. If you put anything there, you will not have proper ventilation on the back. Besides, there is no hook or loop to attach anything there, so whatever you put will slide all the way down to the lumbar zone.
The pack available on EU market is with standard internal hydration sleeve, with a hook on the top.
I have contacted Osprey about the sleeve issue, and here is their answer:
“Hi Jovo, thanks for your inquiry. I understand that in the images there is no clip showing in order for the reservoir to be hooked onto. However, this pack does have this loop and does enable you to attach your reservoir to it and use the external hydration sleeve.
I hope I have answered your question, please let me know if you mean something else and provide any pictures so I can better understand where this information is displayed.”
I have checked again and informed them, there was no loop. Here is another answer I received:
“Hi Jovo, thanks for your reply.
The reservoir loop on the internal hydration sleeve is used for both the internal and external hydration sleeve. There is a small gap where this loop is located on the inside that this can be pushed through towards the back and the reservoir can then clip on and hang in the external sleeve. Please see the image I have attached. I hope this helps.”
Yes it does, see the picture below which shows how to use the so-called external sleeve with the internally positioned loop, compare this picture with the picture above:
If you put a water bladder in that space behind the harness, you will not have enough ventilation.
This still does not explain how they missed to mention (both in the description and in their video) the proper internal sleeve, but OK we have an answer after all.
♦ The issue about the daypack was mentioned by Vik in the comments below. So I contacted Osprey and here is what their representative Megan writes, this solves the puzzle of the rain cover as well:
Hi Jovo, thanks for your enquiry.
The Aether that is sold with the lid-daypack conversion feature, is only sold in the US. The Aether sold in Europe comes with a rain cover instead. The US version is only available to buy outside of Europe, unless you can find it on an e-commerce website that ship internationally.
The owner’s manual on our website is showing the correct information for the European version that we sell. This does not include information about the lid- daypack feature or suggest that it includes this. This is to avoid confusion. Please see this manual here:
If you need any further assistance, please don’t hesitate to reply or visit www.ospreyeurope.com for any general questions. Kindest regards.
In a separate message, she also wrote that she passed our conversation about the sleeves to their team. So perhaps the description of the external sleeve (and about the never mentioned internal sleeve) will be updated. Hopefully, they might also change their promotion video about this series.
This is an addition in May 2017, they have modified the promotion video and published on May 26, so here it is (but the previous confusing video version is still available):
- Gender: for men.
- Frame: peripheral wire plus a central stay.
- Purpose: backpacking, thru-hiking, travel.
- Three sizes:
– S: 57 liters (3478 cubic inches).
– M: 60 liters (3661 cubic inches).
– L: 63 liters (3845 cubic inches).
– S: 2.26 kg (4.97 lb).
– M: 2.34 kg (5.15 lb).
– L: 2.53 kg (5.59 lb).
- Carry weight: up to 27 kg (60 lb).
- Torso fit:
– S: 16 – 19 inches (41 – 48 cm).
– M: 18 – 21 inches (46 – 53 cm).
– L: 20 – 23 inches (51 – 58 cm).
- IsoForm harness sizes to choose: S, M, L, XL.
- IsoForm waist belt sizes to choose:
– S: < 31 in (79 cm).
– M: 30 – 34 in (76 – 86 cm).
– L: 33 – 37 in (84 – 94 cm).
– XL: > 36 in (91 cm).
- Maxium pack dimensions (H x W x D):
– S: 30.71 x 15.35 x 12.2 in (78 x 39 x 31 cm).
– M: 32.68 x 15.35 x 12.2 in (83 x 39 x 31 cm).
– L: 34.65 x 15.35 x 12.2 in (88 x 39 x 31 cm).
– Main: 210D Nylon Dobby.
– Accent: 210D High Tenacity Nylon Shadow Box.
– Bottom: 500D Nylon Packcloth.
- Adjustable torso.
- The lid transforms to a daypack.
- Access: top, bottom, side.
- Sleeping bag compartment with a removable divider.
- Front stretch mesh pocket.
- Adjustable sternum strap with emergency whistle.
- Integrated FlapJacket to use when the lid is removed.
- Dual zippered hip belt pockets.
- Dual upper side compression straps.
- Dual front StraightJacket compression.
- Dual access side stretch mesh pockets with Inside-Out compression straps.
- Stow-on-the-Go trekking pole attachment system.
- Dual ice tool loops with bungee tie-offs.
- Removable sleeping pad straps.
- Internal hydration reservoir sleeve (and perhaps even an external?).
So, to summarize my Osprey Aether AG 60 review, this is one of the most sophisticated backpacks ever built. I believe nobody can deny this. I love the pack, and I wonder who wouldn’t. In my view, the best part of it is the convertible lid, I have no words to express how much I love it. As for the rest, everything is the top notch what you see here, I have no doubts about it.
Though I have some objections, there are a few things which I am not happy with, but the time will show how this pack really works in practice. Its price is really high, but most likely it is worth the investment. The corresponding women’s version is the Osprey Ariel AG 55 described in my another text.
Did you ever think about Osprey Atmos AG vs Osprey Aether AG, which is better? Read here.