This Osprey Aether AG 85 backpack review is about the largest pack from the new 2017 Aether AG series designed for multi-day backpacking and for carrying significant loads. The back system in this pack is a combination of the award-winning Anti-Gravity system and the custom-moldable IsoForm hip belt.
- An advanced suspension system.
- Adjustable torso length.
- Moldable hip belt and harness.
- Interchangeable both the hip belt and the harness.
- Attachment points for the Osprey Daylite pack and Osprey Daylite Plus pack.
- The top lid converts to a fully functional daypack (but not for all packs see more below).
- Flap for lidless use.
- Three sizes to choose from.
- Integrated rain cover (not in all packs, see more below).
The most important changes introduced in the new model
There are essentially two:
- Completely redesigned harness.
- Completely redesigned daypack, but see more about this below.
The Aether AG 85 comes in three possible sizes/volumes, 82, 85, and 88 liters. So this is something you can choose in the moment of purchase. This is a top loading pack with a removable lid, but it has an extra J-shaped zippered access point on the front.
Its AG suspension is the most important feature, so to say a few words about this first. You can compare it with the previous version described in my earlier post.
The new AG suspension
The frame of the pack is a LightWire peripheral aluminum alloy structure and the harness is adjustable. 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, and press firmly to re-engage the Velcro connections. The indicators will guide you, see the picture:
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.
But you can speed this up if you wish. Good shops with outdoor equipment usually have an Osprey’s oven for this purpose. See here how Osprey’s oven works:
Attachment points for Osprey’s Daylite and Daylite Plus packs
On the front of the pack, you can see two vertical flaps with horizontal straps, this is the part of the dual front compression system with StraightJacket compression. So, when you undo them, you will see that underneath the flaps there are 4 attachment loops.
Here you can attach Osprey Daylite pack and Daylite Plus pack which are designed for such a purpose. When the Daylite or Daylite Plus pack is attached, you can additionally secure it with the mentioned two horizontal flaps and the straps.
Top lid convertible to a daypack
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 16 liters of volume.
The DayLid pack includes the following 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.
Because 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 you have 4 extra attachment points of course.
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, see the picture below.
Other features of the Aether AG 85 pack for men
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, two mentioned pockets on the lid, and you have one large stretch mesh pocket on the front. So 7 pockets in total.
Attachment points and straps
The already mentioned 4 webbing loops are on the lid, two big attachment loops are on the bottom and those are paired with bungee cords higher up, so you can attach two ice axes.
The Stow-on the-Go trekking pole attachment system is available. 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, and the lower straps are with InsideOut features. see the picture above. 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. Note that these compression straps can be routed all the way to the sides of the pack; there are two extra buckles on the right side of the pack, they serve this purpose. You will use this when you do not have much stuff in the pack, so you can cinch it down dramatically. The result perhaps does not look so great, see the picture above, but it is effective.
Good and less good features
Here is my short summary:
- Great suspension.
- Very modern design.
- Bonus daypack.
- Three access points.
- Many attachment elements.
- No side zippered pockets.
I have some doubts about ventilation and I discussed it in my text about Aether 60 AG so please have a look there. I am also not convinced that the mesh on the back in the lumbar zone is the best option for packs of such a size, see the picture below. But this is a new design and only time will show how it performs in real life.
Please see how I rate this pack:
My rating breakdown of the Aether AG 85 pack
Comparison with competitors
Here is the Aether AG 85 compared with two other giant packs from the same size range. I show only a few basic features, but thise packs are loaded with them so please follow the links to read more, this can help you in making an informed choice:
COMPARE PACKAGE FEATURES
Hip belt pockets
Aether AG 85
Payable Every Month
top, front, bottom
no & yes
Payable Every Year
top, side, bottom
Payable Every Year
top, front, bottom
- Gender: for men.
- Frame: peripheral wire.
- Purpose: backpacking, thru-hiking, travel.
- Three sizes:
– S: 82 liters (5004 cubic inches).
– M: 85 liters (5187 cubic inches).
– L: 88 liters (5370 cubic inches).
– S: 2.41 kg (5.32 lb).
– M: 2.44 kg (5.37 lb).
– L: 2.46 kg (5.42 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 waist belt sizes to choose:
– S: 29 – 31 in (74 – 79 cm).
– M: 30 – 34 in (76 – 86 cm).
– L: 33 – 37 in (84 – 94 cm).
- Maximum pack dimensions (H x W x D): 34 x 17 x 15 in (86 x 43 x 38 cm).
– Main: 210D Nylon Dobby.
– Accent: 210D High Tenacity Nylon Shadow Box.
– Bottom: 500D Nylon Packcloth.
- Adjustable torso.
- Rain cover included*.
- The lid transforms to a daypack.
- Access: top, bottom, front.
- 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.
- 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.
- External hydration reservoir sleeve**.
- Colors: 3, see the pictures.
- Guarantee: Osprey’s All Mighty applies here.
*Not in US version, see more below.
**See more below.
There is some confusion in the description of this pack and the whole series. The main issues are about:
- the rain cover
- the daypack
- the hydration sleeve.
I have discussed these in detail in my text about Osprey Aether AG 60, so please have a look. Here, just to stress the following.
- The rain cover comes with the pack on the EU market but not on the US market. This I was told by an Osprey’s representative.
- The daypack on the US market is the new version, the DayLid daypack. On the EU market, the Aether AG packs come with the old version of the lid, which transforms to the well-known lumbar pack. This is again from the Osprey’s representative.
- The Aether AG and Ariel AG series packs come with an internal water bladder sleeve. But this sleeve has never been mentioned in the official description of the pack. However, there is a space behind the harness, and this is mentioned in the description as an external sleeve. But this sleeve has no hook or loop to attach the bladder. So you have to pass the loop from the internal sleeve, through the water hose port, in order to attach a sleeve externally. But if you do this, you will not have a proper ventilation.
Here below is an image I received from the mentioned Osprey’s representative, showing the internal sleeve loop used for the “external sleeve”:
I have warned them that the internal sleeve has never been mentioned, neither in the description nor in the promotion video. So hopefully, they might change these things. I checked at the moment of writing this text, nothing has been done about it.
This is an addition in May 2017, they have modified the promotion video and published on May 26, so here it is:
The differences between Aether AG 60, AG 70, and AG 85
Obviously, there are differences in volume and physical size. But here are a few more:
- The biggest pack AG 85 has 3 horizontal front straps, the other two packs are with two straps.
- The AG 85 and AG 70 are with J-shaped front zippered access. So this is the same what you have in the previous version of these packs.
- The smallest, AG 60 is with the side vertical zippered entrance.
- The AG 85 and AG 60 come in three sizes, S, M, and L. The AG 70 pack comes in four sizes, S, M, L, XL.
As far as I know, there are no more differences. Please let me know if you notice any.
So, to summarize my Osprey Aether AG 85 backpack review, this is a really sophisticated design, and the pack is loaded with features. Most likely, the convertible lid is the main attraction of this pack. But clearly, the benefits of having this option is presently reserved for the US market only. I have seen some people disappointed with what they find in EU shops. It is hard to understand why Osprey has been doing this.
I do have some serious concerns regarding the ventilation and the lumbar support. Only time will show how this design is going to work. I have feeling that they did not know what to do with the space behind the harness and decided to call it the external sleeve, and forgot about the true internal sleeve which is still there.
But this is a great pack, I have no doubts about it. Is it the best tool on the market? I think it is early to speak about this. There are many great packs in this size range described here in the site.
How would you compare Aether AG series with Atmos AG series? You can read about this in my another text.
Thank you for reading. I hope this text has been useful to you. If this is so, please share it with others. If you have any question or comment, please use the comment box below. Have a nice day.