Osprey Aether 65 Review: Best Midrange Heavy Hauler [2022 Guide]

To begin with the reason why we conducted Osprey Aether 65 Review, the new generation Aether 65 has lots of updates, and we don’t like some of them! Since the Osprey Aether line is far from cheap, we strongly recommend reading all the passage (5 min) or at least the short summary before choosing your backpacking backpack. If you are not familiar with this pack, here is the warm up! The Osprey Aether 65 is the midrange heavy hauler which is one of the most comfortable packs on the market.

The Osprey offers 55 liters option as well. Depending on which volume option you prefer the price is changes a bit. The Aether 65 is around 280$ and the 55 liters option is 260$. We will review mostly the Osprey Aether 65 option in this post, since we thought an additional 10-liters volume is better (everything else is the same).

Osprey Aether 65 Review for the Latest Revision
Osprey Aether 65 Overall Score
84%

Further, you can check our Osprey Aether 55 vs 65 review and have an in-depth understanding why we pick and focus on the Aether 65.

Review of #Aether 65
Overall Score84/100
Comfort8/10
Load Carrying Capacity8/10
Features & Organization8/10
Breathability & Ventilation8/10
Versatility8/10
Adjustability & Fit10/10
Weight6/10
Accessibility10/10
PriceCheck Latest Rates

One more point, there are also Plus 60/70/85/100 and Pro 70 variations of the Aether line. In the past generation of Aether (AG 70), it was perfectly feature-rich. It had a removable top lid which was convertible to Daylite Pack, Stow-on-the-go trekking pole attachment and lots of pockets. Osprey transferred these features to the Plus variations. So the new standard Aether 65 is poor compared to the prior Aether AG 70 generation (considering the feature & organization, but the suspension is better). About the Pro 70 variation, this version is for thru-hikes, alpine climbing. Its features are strippable, since the design intention is driven by the needs of expedition. It lacks lots of features as well.

To understand the differences between these versions, we strongly encourage you to check out our Aether 55/65 vs Plus 60/70/85/100 vs Pro 70 comparison

Short Summary for Osprey Aether 65:

For the ones looking a short answer for the Osprey Aether 65 Review, here is the complete list:

  • Osprey split Aether line to into three groups. Standard models (55/65) and Plus models (60/70/85/100) and Pro 70. The Plus models are feature rich but pricier. The Pro option is designed for thru-hikes and alpine expedition (has strippable features)
  • The Aether 65 has two available size options; those are Small/Medium and Large/XLarge. The 65-liter volume is for the medium frame size. So, you should expect that the volume may differ around +/-3 L, depending on which size you order.
  • Has no longer Anti-Gravity Suspension, instead uses the AirScape. This suspension system is very strong, comfortable, and relatively lighter than the previous version. But it provides less ventilation compared to the older version (still fairly enough).
  • Convertible top lid to daylite pack and stow-on-the go trekking pole attachments transferred to Plus variations. Standard model has anchor loops to attach a daylite daypack.
  • The carrying capability is excellent (30-60 lbs). We loaded it to 60 lbs, there were no problem on the fit & comfort.
  • It weighs 4 lbs and 14.7 oz (let’s say 5 lbs) for S/M size.
  • The build in materials are highly durable (420-D on critical areas).
  • Although the Aether 55/65 is a bit heavy; it is worth for this 4 season heavy hauler. (It is lighter than the previous version Aether AG)
  • Premium build & Osprey’s Life time Warranty
  • Perfect choice for midrange (3+ days up to a week)
  • Adjustable harness (Fit-on-the-Fly system on both Hipbelt & Shoulder Straps)
  • Sustainable – ecofriendly material

Here is our expert review for Osprey Aether 65, after using it for a long trip in Europe:

Review of #Aether 65
Overall Score84/100
Comfort8/10
Load Carrying Capacity8/10
Features & Organization8/10
Breathability & Ventilation8/10
Versatility8/10
Adjustability & Fit10/10
Weight6/10
Accessibility10/10
PriceCheck Latest Rates

This chart we have put together may also be helpful for you to understand its intention better:

Review of #Aether 65Aether Plus 70Aether Pro 70
AccessTop, front, sleeping bag compartmentTop, front, sleeping bag compartmentTop
Volume (M Size)65 L70 L70 L
Weight (M Size)5 lbs5.6 lbs3.3 lbs
Load Carrying Capability60 lbs70 lbs60 lbs
Hydration CompatibleYesYesYes
PocketsFabric reinforced front shove-it pocket (1),
Dual-access stretchy mesh side/water bottle pockets (2),
Dual zippered hipbelt pockets (2)
Fabric reinforced front shove-it pocket (1),
Dual front panel zippered pockets (2),
Large dual-access stretchy mesh side/water bottle pockets (2),
Dual zippered hipbelt pockets (2)
2 removable hipbelt pockets;
One zippered and one with a cinch closure
PriceCheck the latest RatesCheck the latest RatesCheck the latest Rates
Trip LengthUp to 1 WeekMore than 1 weekAll Day + Up to 1 week
TypeStandardExpeditionExpedition/Alpine
Women’s Counter PartsAriel 55/65Ariel 60/70/85Ariel Pro 65
CampaRest Expert ReviewAether 55/65 ReviewAether Plus Variations ReviewAether Pro 70 Review

Deep Dive to Our Osprey Aether 65 Review

Aether AG 70 vs Aether 65 – Updates

We would like to start our in-depth Osprey Aether 65 review with the updates and compare the current revision with the older generation. So, gather the major updates on the latest version in the following groups: The suspension system, core offerings and material & construction.

Here is the full list of updates:

Anti-Gravity Suspension is Replaced by AirScape (Anti-Gravity vs AirScape)

The Aether Series are used to have Anti-Gravity (AG) suspension. By the latest revisions, both Aether 55 and 65 are using AirScape Suspension now.

To begin with, this is an injection-molded, die-cut foam backpanel. The AirScape Suspension is very breathable and ensures close to body fit.  Basically, this lightweight mesh-covered 3D foam sets the standards so high in terms of suspension.

The stability is increased owing to AirScapeTM, the weight of the pack is very close to the body. Although, there is less suspended mesh along the back, it features large cutouts in the foam to increase the breathability. The ventilation and the cushioning still provide a great gear-carrying experience.

Core Offering of Aether: Standard & Plus & Pro Variations

Osprey decided to split their core offering into three models. The first offering is the standard models (Aether 55L and 65L).

The second offering is the expedition, long range & feature-rich models Aether Plus 60/70/85/100 models. The Plus variations are pricier than then the standard versions. For instance, the Aether Plus 70 is $80 more expensive than the standard Aether 65.

The subject we criticize here is the feature transfer from standard version to Plus variations. The past generation Aether AG 70 had convertible top lid to daylite pack, and trekking pole attachments as well as some other features. The new Aether 65 lacks these features, and it makes Aether 65 poor considering the feature and organization.

The third, there is also Pro variation, this is extremely comfortable and lighter compared to Aether 65 and the Plus variations. Yet, it lacks most of the features that Aether 65 have. The Pro series are expedition type of backpacking backpacks, and you can get more detail on this via our Aether Pro 70 review.

Material & Construction

The new version of Aether Series is made of PFC-free DWR coating and bluesign-approved fabrics. The PFC stands for perfluorocarbons which was used in the pack’s water-repellent treatment. It is a harmful material to the environment and takes a long time to break down. Osprey eliminated it in the new version; it is PFC-free now.

Also, the pack is bluesign-approved. The Aether is more eco-friendly now and safe for workers, consumers and the environment.

Carrying Comfort

Durable frame can easily accommodate up to 60 lbs (30 lbs to 60 lbs), and distribute the weight close to the body. There are no exceptional pressure points! The hipbelt and shoulder straps are a bit firm but have very supportive padding and they do no compromise on the comfort.

The Fit-on-the-Fly system of Aether 65L ensures the greatest adjustability. This system has been implemented on both hipbelt and the shoulder straps and maintains close-to-body position of the pack on any technical trail.

So, how does the Fit-on-the-Fly system work? The quick answer: Hipbelt and Shoulder straps have a rip-and-stick Velcro design. You can move the padding via this feature to the place where you meet the best support and comfort. Long story short, they can accommodate different size very well.

The older version – Aether AG was using Anti-Gravity (AG) suspension. Osprey replaced the Anti-Gravity with its AirScape design. The company placed lumbar cushioning and airy mesh in the backpanel, the AirScape design also contributes a snug fit to body.

 The Aether 65 is not the lightest option out there, especially compared to the Osprey Atmos AG 65 line. The Atmos AG 65 is very comfortable up to 40 lbs and we found it better than the Aether considering the comfort and the breathability. Yet, the main reason behind the design of Aether line is to built a heavy hauler (up to 60 lbs load carrying capacity) which is eligible for 4 season use as well as long or gear-intensive expeditions. We prepared a quick guide, if you want to compare the Atmos with the Aether line.

Weight

The new Aether 65 is lighter than its older version Aether AG 70. It is 4 lbs 14.7 oz but it still prioritizes the durability and comfort over the own weight of the pack. On the other hand, it is very competitive among the heavy hauler category (check out our Best Backpacking Backpack list of the year). The Plus version of the Aether are over the 5 lbs and half, due to their feature rich design.

Load Capacity

On the technical trails, the Aether 65 is an ideal choice for carrying heavy loads. There is no restriction of the mobility or the movement.

The weight is very well distributed, and there is no exceptional pressure point.

As we stated before it can be loaded up to 60 lbs, and its design still allows for a stable close-to-body carry.  This is very important for managing the heavy loads.

One more point, while managing the heavy loads, the Aether 65 does not compromise on the durability nor the comfort. Yet, it is not as comfortable as the prior generation Aether AG 70. (By the way, up to 40 lbs, the Atmos AG 65 is the best considering the comfort)

Organization & Features Review for Osprey Aether 65

Before going any further, we would like to share the full list of Osprey Aether 65’s features, and then share our organization review of Aether 65:

Aether 65 Features
Pockets
Fabric reinforced front shove-it pocket
Dual-access Stretch mesh side water bottle pockets
Dual zippered hipbelt pockets
Straps & Attachments
Dual upper/lower side compression straps
Removable sleeping pad strap
Dual ice axe loops with bungee tie-offs
Other Features
Internal hydration reservoir sleeve
Raincover (removable)
Main Compartment has large front panel zip access.
Floating top lid with lash points
Fit-on-the-fly Hipbelt & Shoulder Straps
Zippered sleeping bag compartment with removable divider
Dual front panel compression straps with StraightJacket compression
Anchor loops for an optional Osprey Daylite® daypack for short forays

The Aether AG 70’s organization is used to be fairly enough. But, most of the useful features are transferred to the Plus variations. However, Aether 65 still works.

There are three ways to access to main compartment in both Aether 55/65 and Plus 60/70/85/100 which is great. The first and quick way is to use the drawstring top opening. The second and easiest way is to use the large front zipper to access the main compartment.

The third and the final way is to use the sleeping bag compartment from the bottom. You can easily access your stuff from the this bottom compartment and don’t need to mess up your backpack organization.

At the front, there is shove-it pocket, which is large and resistant to tears and abrasion (made of burly nylon). This space is very useful for anything from a rain jacket to compact set of snowshoes:

Aether's Reinforced shove it pocket
Reinforced shove it pocket

It is very easy and secure to access the main compartment via J-shaped lockable zipper:

Aether 65 has Large front panel zip access to main compartment
Large front panel zip access to main compartment

Moreover, it has two hipbelt pockets which are fairly large to accommodate a plus-sized iPhone:

.

dual zippered hipbelt pockets which provide a secure storage. They are also pretty large to store a plus size iPhone.
It has dual zippered hipbelt pockets which provide a secure storage. They are also pretty large to store a plus size iPhone.

At the bottom of the pack, there is a sleeping bag compartment with a removable divider:

Aether 65's The sleeping bag/lower compartment, the sleeping bag compartment is zippered, and has a wide mouth access with removable divider.
The sleeping bag/lower compartment, the sleeping bag compartment is zippered, and has a wide mouth access with removable divider.

The Aether 65 has two water bottle pockets with an easy access from top and side. This is so good, since you don’t need to take off the pack to grab a bottle. One more point to water bottle pockets of Aether, they are so stretchy. Although we fully packed the interior, the stretchy material still allows holding a Hydro Flask:

Aether 65's Stretchy side mesh/Water bottle side pockets are pretty large. These pockets offer easy access to external storage.
The Stretchy side mesh/Water bottle side pockets are pretty large. These pockets offer easy access to external storage.

The removable rain cover (integrated) is included. It deploys from the zippered bottom compartment:

Fully weather protection of the Aether 65 - DWR coating and Integrated Rain Cover
Integrated rain cover

To secure things like pole or ice axe, the Aether standard models (55/65L) have two sets of loops and bungee cinches along the front:

dual ice axe loops with bungee tie-offs
dual ice axe loops with bungee tie-offs

The Aether 65 has dual ice axe loops with bungee tie-offs, but there is no trekking pole attachment (the previous version Aether AG 70 had this feature)

Removable sleeping pad straps:

Removable sleeping pad straps:

Internal hydration reservoir sleeve:

Internal hydration reservoir sleeve:

All that said, we need to mention about the trekking pole attachment. The older version (Aether AG 70L) had Stow-on-the-Go Trekking pole attachment on shoulder straps; however, the latest pack (Aether 65L) lacks it. Moreover, the Aether AG 70 had convertible top lid (to daylite daypack), the new generation do not have a convertible top lid. These options are still available on the Aether Plus variations.

Ventilation

The ventilation of backpacks is related to the breathability mostly. Speaking of which, we need to compare the Anti-Gravity vs AirScape design of the Aether. The previous version of the Aether line (AG 70) was using the Anti-Gravity (AG). However, Osprey replaced this system with the AirScape design in the new Aether line. The difference between them is the amount of the suspended mesh. At the middle of the back, the AirScape design features less suspended mesh compared to the Anti-Gravity. Therefore, it allows less airflow between the pack and your back. But it is still enough to keep air moving. On the plus side, the breathability is increased by the cutouts in the foam along the back. These cutouts are pretty large enough to provide a decent breathability.

Compared to the Atmos line (which still uses the Anti-Gravity system), the Aether line is less breathable. However, for the intended uses (4 seasons heavy hauler – expedition pack), this is not a deal-breaker.

So, why the Osprey switch to AirScape in Aether line? Basically, it is all about the load carrying capability. The AirScape provides better suspension for heavy hauling compared to the Anti-Gravity suspension.

Weather Protection

Osprey's WEATHER PROTECTION

This pack has fully weaterh protection. The Aether 65 has 4-seasons design and very exceptional option for the trips in inclement weather. It is made of PFC-free durable water repellent (DWR) coating and bluesign®-approved materials. Also, it features an integrated rain cover (removable).

Durability

The Aether 65 has durable 420-denier (D) and 210D nylon on its fabric construction. Osprey placed the 420-denier (D) nylon along the front, top and bottom of the pack where it is needed the most. This way the tear and abrasion resistant is being maximized. The 210 D nylon is lighter and it is placed elsewhere to trim away the weight.

Usually, most of its contenders have standard mesh on their pockets which is usually the weakest point of the packs. Instead, the Aether 65 has thick nylon on its large front pockets.

All in all, the Aether 65 is extremely durable and tough, and we do not encounter with any potential areas of concern.

Fit and Sizing

The Aether 65 have two size options available; Small/Medium to Large/XLarge.

Fit-on-the-Fly technology has been implemented on both the hipbelt and the shoulder strap. For the hipbelt, the pad can extend 6 inches or 15 cm to accommodate different sizes and provides a custom fit.

Further, it is very easy to fine-tune the fit via adjusting the torso length for variety of body shapes and sizes.

Therefore, despite it was being offered in two sizes, the customization options provides a close, snug and comfortable fit for the most backpackers.

Osprey Aether 65 – Likes & Dislikes

Pros

  • Strategically placed extremely durable fabric: 420-denier (at the front, top and bottom), elsewhere 210-D.
  • Weather Resistant
  • Anchor loops for an optional Osprey Daylite® daypack for short forays
  • 3 Ways of access to main compartment (From Top, Side and Sleeping bag compartment)
  • Ease of movement on the technical terrain
  • Snug & comfortable fit
  • Heavy load carrying capability on the rough terrain
  • Tear & abrasion resistant material application on the Shove-it pocket
  • Sustainable material (PFC-Free DWR & bluedesign), it is eco-friendly
  • Easy access to the main compartment via J-shaped zipper along the front

Cons

  • 5 pounds-heavy
  • Less exterior storage (more is available on Aether Plus – 7  pockets in total)
  • Stow-on-the-go Trekking pole attachment and convertible top lid to daylite daypack has been transferred to the Plus variations.
  • AirScape backpanel offers decent breathability but not as great as the ventilation of past generation Anti-Gravity design.
  • Limited to 65-liters, (Yet, the Plus variations go up to 100L)

Women’s Specific Options – Osprey Ariel

The women’s counterpart of Aether is the Ariel line which is almost the same except women specific sizing options and available colorways. Osprey offers the Ariel in 55- and 65-liter options as well as the Aether. As we expected, the Ariel is lighter since the frame size is smaller than the Aether. It is 4 lbs 13.6 oz and comes with XS/S and M/L sizes.

Osprey’s Women Specific Fit considers the followings:

  • Torso length is shorter
  • To accommodate the most women’s chests, shoulders and necks, the harness is narrower and shorter.
  • To offer a better support and load stabilization, the hipbelt re-designed. It wraps naturally around the curves of women’s hips.

The Ariel has also Plus variations (60/70/85L but no 100L). Furthermore, there is Pro option (Ariel Pro 65 for Alpine & weight conscious pursuits) as well.

Related article: Osprey Ariel 55/65 Review

Bottom Line for Osprey Aether 65 Review:

To sum up, the Aether 65 is one of the most popular backpacking packs among the backpackers. Of course, there are some specific reasons behind that. We have tried to explain each one in this article.

Let’s mention them for the last time! It is a midrange backpacking backpack, and it can handle a trip up to a week-long. It has a removable (integrated) rain cover and fully weather resistant. It can be loaded up to 60 lbs and do not comprise on the comfort, durability (420-D fabric on critical areas) and the mobility. It is built with is eco-friendly sustainable material. Its harness is adjustable (Fit-on-the-Fly system on hipbelt & shoulder straps), and it can accommodate different sizes. It also ensures a snug and comfortable fit. It has a thoughtful feature rich design.

Therefore, it is one of the top-notch in heavy hauler category and even gets better when we consider its Plus & Pro variations.

The thing we don’t like on that the convertible top lid (to daylite daypack) and the stow-on-the-go trekking pole attachments are transferred to the Plus variations in the new generation. Prior Aether AG 70 had them all. Also, Osprey pushes you to pay more for extra external storage (Plus Variations). This is their marketing strategy that we have no rights on it.

Bottom line, we recommend the Aether 65 for 3+ days to a weeklong trip, it can be loaded up to 60 lbs (durable enough) and do not compromise on the comfort. The Plus series are good options for trip length a week or more (feature-rich design).

If you are wondering the differences between the Aether 55 & 65 vs Plus vs Pro we strongly encourage you to read this post.

Honestly, we usually prefer our Atmos AG 65 from all day to a week long trips. It is very comfortable (even more comfortable than the Aether 65) up to 40 lbs load. It is just not a heavy hauler as the Aether line and not has fully weather protection. On the other hand, it is more feature rich compared to the standard Aether 65 line. We encourage you to check the most recent comparison of the Aether 65 vs Atmos AG 65.

Finally, we would like to recommend checking our Best Backpacking Backpacks review. Basically, you will find price vs performance, weight analysis, comfort, fit/adjustability, and ease of use comparison for the most popular backpacks of the year.

We tried to explain all the details of the Aether 65 as much as we can. We purchased this product and share our own experience with it. CampArest team is ready to answer any of your questions. Please feel free to get in touch via our “Contact Page”, in case of any question.

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