After taking a couple regular backpacking trips with my Outdoorsmans Long Range Optics bag I realized that if I was really going to do this whole backpacking thing I might need more than one bag. I agonized over the decision and went to a couple sporting goods stores. They had me try on a few bags, and walk around the store with a load. I found I really liked the AG (Anti-Gravity) system from Osprey for a suspension. I ended up researching sizes, and for some backpack bird hunting the 70 liter size seemed to be perfect for a week in the woods with extra gear. The Osprey Aether AG 70 fit the bill for me.
The pack itself is feature rich, but one important aspect made it my small game and backpacking pack of choice. It’s not a frame pack. It still has a healthy gear capacity despite not sporting a frame. Sure, it has a “frame” of webbing that load balances across your shoulders and hips, but it’s not a traditional internal or external frame pack. This means no hard bits bouncing around on my shoulders and back, no weird plastic things poking me if I have to reach around myself at weird angles. Most of all, it saved several pounds compared to my Outdoorsmans external frame pack. Yes, pounds.
Detachable Day Pack
The Aether AG 70 features a detachable daypack. The lid of your main pack detaches, a zipper reveals additional straps. Attach those straps to the clips that normally secure your lid to your main bag… Voila, now you’ve got a small pack for your day trips away from basecamp. It’s sturdy enough to throw a lunch and some raingear in for a day hike, and you don’t have to worry about bringing a separate smaller pack on week long trips.
Storage for Days
The Aether 70 has more than enough storage and options for your packing needs. I found 70 liters to be more than enough for a full compliment of gear as well as the ability to carry my firearm for a week. Each backpacking trip I feel more confident in how I can pack to limit weight, maximize calories, and ensure I can get to what I need. The pack has so many different storage options it’s easy to make sure everything is in its place.
- Zippered hip belt pockets
- Stretch Mesh Front Pocket
- Dual Side Mesh Pockets
- Sleeping Bag Zippered opening with removable divider
- Sleeping Pad Straps
- Trekking Pole Attachment bungee
- Ice Axe Bungee
The AG on the Aether AG 70 stands for Anti-Gravity. This system utilizes a single seamless piece of suspended mesh that wraps around the shoulder straps and hip belt as well as provides a bit of air flow against your back. This means that the load is more evenly distributed with the shoulder and hip belt being essentially one piece. The shoulder straps are adjustable by way of large pieces of velcro against the back of the pack to customize the fit.
Like many other Osprey packs the suspension comes in different fitments to fit your core size. It’s worth going to an Osprey dealership and getting fitted with their faux pack before you buy. It’s worth noting that the small size is technically only a 67 liter pack. Whereas the large is a 73 liter pack. For people looking to measure every ounce the difference in pack weight between the small and large is only .104 lbs (5.162 lbs SM vs 5.266 lbs LG).
The AG system has standard suspension features such as load lifters at the top of the shoulder straps, a hip belt, and sternum strap. The sternum strap adjusts up and down on piping sewn into the shoulder straps. This is to keep the shoulder straps square on your torso. The hip belt has standard Osprey adjustments cinching down by pulling the tag ends of the webbing from the side of your hips rather than the center out. I find this system allows you to get a more snug fit to your body. This ensures the pack is not slipping down while hiking.
The load range for the Aether AG 70 is between 35 to 60lbs comfortably according to Osprey. While I’m sure you can over pack it, I wouldn’t be using it to haul out quarters on an elk hunt. I’ll leave that duty to my Outdoorsman’s frame pack.
The MSRP for the pack is $310 but they can be had on sale for as low as $215 or so. Before my backpacking trip I hit up several sporting goods stores in my area looking to see if I could find a large capacity comfortable pack at a discount. Unfortunately overstock stores like Sierra Trading Post don’t deal with Osprey. Ordering directly from their website got me a good enough deal to pull the trigger. I’ll be honest I went deal searching mostly just for the fun of it. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to go looking for something where price almost directly correlates to quality. If you get a cheap pack and overpack it you’re almost certainly looking at back problems over the course of a long trip. Either that, or some form of equipment failure.
Speaking of packing! The Osprey Aether 70 has three main compartments to work with in the main bag. There’s a hydration bladder pouch running in the rear spine of the bag, a cavernous main compartment, and a removable divider that functions as an area in the bottom of the pack to put your sleeping bag. I found the sleeping bag section was more than enough space for my 0 degree bag, Moji light, and inflatable pillow.
I’ve beat this pack up over the 2020-21 season and have not had any complaints. The zippers still function the way they should and glide well over their tracks. All of this despite overpacking the bottom section of the pack. The nylon webbing has not frayed. The outside of the pack seems to be colorfast and not fading. I’m sure with more use will come more bumps and bruises to the exterior. Otherwise the pack is no worse for wear after beating the snot out of it. The dark green material on my pack will show lighter marks, and if you opt for the orange color it will show darker marks. Pick your poison, neither will adversely affect the pack.
I had the bag fully packed and on my back for a week and 40 miles and didn’t have any problems whatsoever. The zipper pulls are optimized with pull tabs. There’s enough external straps for equipment, the zippers and access portals appear to be in the right spots. Osprey is no stranger to producing backpacks, they’ve been in the business since 1974. If you’re in the market for an extended trip pack, this one fits the bill for me.