The Osprey Aether 60 is an ultra-comfortable, full-featured backpack that blends great features and ample storage. It’s our go-to pack for multi-day backpacking adventures in the South.
We’ve hiked with an older Osprey Aether backpack, the 70L, over the past 10 years. It’s our tried-and-true favorite backpacking pack: we’ve always loved the pack’s fantastic storage, comfort and durability, and over the past decade, it has seen us through some incredible adventures and through some stunning scenery on our favorite trails in the South. Osprey recently released an updated Aether lineup, and we were excited to test out the newest features on the slightly smaller 60L size.
We still love our older Aether 70. But we’re thoroughly impressed by the updates on the new Osprey Aether 60. The 60L pack loses a bit of volume compared to the 70 but offers a much more streamlined profile. The smaller 60L bag is lighter, more compact, and feels comparatively more nimble and less bulky than the older, larger version. We’re seriously stoked about the updated features and have nothing but positives to report in our trail tests.
Osprey Aether 60: our trail-tested review
The design of the Aether 60 support system is fairly incredible: strapped on, the backpack’s cargo weight just melts away, thanks to its weight distribution and padding systems. After a long hike, unstrapping the pack is a usually a huge surprise: we’re always shocked at how heavy the backpack is when we’re dropping it to the ground, a testament to the pack’s outstanding support and suspension system.
The pack’s storage capacity is 60 liters, which is more than enough room for our hiking and camera gear, food and water on multi-day backpacking trips. (Check out our backpacking gear list for details on our favorite backpacking tents, sleeping bags, and gear for adventures in the South.) And the Aether offers plentiful pockets to stash gear and keep everything organized: the bag features a number of pockets to keep gear close at hand, with a quick-access, stretchy back panel, side pockets, and dual zippered hip belt pockets.
The two hip belt pockets are an upgrade from our older Aether. We weren’t sure we’d use them, but we’ve loved the convenience of packing a mobile phone, snacks, and small gear (like camera filters) in the hip belt for quick and easy access. The backpack also features multiple lash points and trekking pole holders to provide external storage, and we’ve found the combination of side pockets and compression straps perfect for storing our favorite Gitzo GT1544T Traveler Tripod.
On our older Aether, the pack’s main compartment was only accessible from the top-loading opening, which made it difficult to acccess gear towards the bottom of the pack. The updated Aether adds main compartment access from a zippered flap that runs the length of the pack. The new access flap is really convenient for finding buried gear, avoiding the dreaded need to unload everything for access.
Osprey also updated the pack’s hydration reservoir storage on the new Aether, moving the hydration pocket to the outside of the pack. Our older Aether model stored our hydration reservoirs inside the pack – but the new model keeps our Osprey Hydraulics Reservoir conveniently located, allowing us to refill the reservoir without opening up the backpack. And the hydration pocket’s new location also keeps potential leaks away from clothes and water-sensitive gear in the main cargo area.
As with many Osprey packs, the Aether incorporates a system of mesh and molded pleats to help increase the pack’s breathability, a feature we fully appreciate in the South’s warm-weather climate. The new model upgrades the pack’s Airscape design, adding more open area and channeled mesh for more breathability. Comparing the two, the new Aether noticeably increases airflow on our backs, which is welcome on extended climbs and in warm summertime months.
Fit and comfort
We love the fit of the Osprey Aether 60: even on high-mileage days, the pack remains ultra-comfortable and feels balanced. The pack’s lightweight metal frame transfers cargo weight to the hip belt, where densely padded foam absorbs shock and the majority of the pack’s weight. The Aether’s hip belt is moldable for a custom fit, though we found the backpack to be a fantastic fit right off the shelf.
The pack’s strap system is easily adjustable on-trail, helping us keep the pack balanced, comfortable and centered. The Aether’s fit is very comfortable, even when it’s fully packed with heavy loads of 30+ pounds. The pack stays comfortably contoured to the body, and remains stable even when we’re scrambling over trees or through tight passes. And the Aether’s thickly padded shoulder straps and hip belt stay comfortable on long hiking days under the pack’s weight. Compared to the older Aether, the new Aether 60 features wider, thicker-padded shoulder straps and waist straps for even more comfort.
The Aether also features a top zippered pocket, which we use to store our Adventure Medical Ultralight Watertight First Aid Kit and other small gear within easy reach. And a sewn-in key clip helps prevent the (unthinkable) loss of keys on the trail. The top pocket is also detachable for use as a waist pack, a feature we haven’t used, since we almost always carry a Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Day Pack for hikes away from base camp. And we purchased a Osprey UltraLight Raincover to cover our packs in case of the all-too-common unexpected downpour on the trail.
The Aether 60 is available in three sizes, sized by torso length. The pack weighs just over 4.5 pounds, which varies by size. And it’s available in three colors: red, blue, and our favorite, Bonsai Green.
The backpack also features:
- a bottom-access sleeping bag compartment that fits our Big Agnes Wiley SL 30 Sleeping Bag
- easy-to-cinch compression straps on the bag’s exterior to keep the pack’s contents compacted and balanced
- zippers that glide smoothly, don’t snag, and feature large, easy-grip pulls
In ten years on the trail with our older Aether, and three on the trail with the newer version, we’ve had zero issues and zero failures with the packs. But while we’ve never have needed it, we love that Osprey backs these backpacks with a lifetime warranty.
2017 updates: the Aether 60 AG
The Aether was recently updated to a newer model, the Osprey Aether 60 AG. While haven’t had a chance to test the newer model, it offers a few upgrades to our 60L:
- the detachable top pocket waist pack has been upgraded to a detachable day pack
- an updated harness system
- Osprey’s new Anti-Gravity (AG) suspension system
Osprey Aether 60: review wrap-up
This pack balances size, weight, features and convenience, and our 10-year success with our older Aether 70L is a testament to the quality, design, and durability of the Aether line. The newer Aether 60 features significant improvements for convenience and comfort, and features a more compact, streamlined design. We’re thoroughly impressed, and we can’t wait to burn many more miles in this outstanding backpack.
So where can I find them?
While we were provided with a sample backpack for testing, all opinions above are our own, and based on our own, trail-tested experience. Some links on Trailful are affiliate links, which means that the merchant might pay us a commission if you purchase a product after clicking our links, at no extra cost to you. We only recommend gear that we personally use and love.
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