Words: Jason Lorch | Photos: Richard McGibbon
Pack Hauling Made Easy with the Aether and Ariel from Osprey
Multi-day hikes require extra essentials, like food, sleeping bag, tent, warm and wet weather clothing etc. When the weight adds up you really need a pack that can not only handle the weight but can also provide good levels of comfort.
Be it day packs or multi-day versions, Osprey seem to have a knack when it comes to creating well-thought out hiking packs. The Aether 70 AG and the Ariel 65 AG packs are great examples of what Osprey are about. With an array of features all backed up with bombproof materials and ergonomic designs, we were excited to learn more about these two packs.
There were no surprises for us when we first got our hands on the packs. What you get with an Osprey pack is durability, comfort and an array of features. We opted for Medium in both the Ariel and Aether after using the Osprey fitting instructions.
As we expected, all the stitching, seams, buckles, harnesses, compression straps and storage options are top class, as we’ve come to expect from Osprey. But as we started to look closer, we kept on finding more and more unique features. In fact, lot’s of features, and they weren’t superfluous either, they’re all practical and functional.
OK, so Osprey have gone all out with the features on the Aether and Ariel packs and we know from previous tests of Osprey gear, that they don’t do things by halves and they certainly don’t add features just for the sakes of it. Every feature brings added value to your hiking experience.
We also know that Osprey test their products to the nth degree. We’ve done our research on the company and the team who are involved in the design and testing phases. Trust us…these packs are made by hikers for hikers and they hit the shelves ready for any adventure you can throw at them.
Osprey have what they call an IsoForm5 harness and CM™ hip belt. Combined, these provide outstanding fit and comfort especially for heavy loads and long hikes. The two components are interchangeable, which gives you the ability to custom fit.
Now don’t get too excited, you’re not going to float but it does feel like that at times with Ospreys Anti-Gravity™ feature. The Anti-Gravity™ technology uses a continuous suspended panel of lightweight mesh that extends from the upper torso through to the lumbar area of the pack. This gives you incredible comfort levels and helps reduce the effects of a heavy pack, considerably.
The Aether/Ariel AG™ both feature a convertible DayLid™ which can be used as a small carry/storage option or if you simply just want to reduce the volume of the pack. There are additional and somewhat stealthy compression straps that neatly close the top of the pack once the DayLid™ has been removed.
Out On The Trails
We donned the packs and headed out to get a better feel of the general weight distribution and comfort levels. We loaded up to around 20kgs (the recommendation is up to 27+kgs) and went for a hike. The overall weight of the pack feels light, this is due to not having a heavy metal frame. The lightweight wire frame certainly helped to keep the overall weight down but it was rigid enough to provide very good levels of support.
What was immediately noticeable with the Aether and the Ariel, were the comfort levels. The IsoForm5 harness, CM™ hip belt and anti-gravity system, all working together gave us a very comfortable experience.
As we were moving, we didn’t ever feel as if the pack was moving around unnecessary, bobbing, or sloshing. We know this comes down to packing correctly in the first place but we’ve packed many packs over the years and these just felt a lot more secure, rigid and comfortable than anything else we have tried.
Interestingly, the hip belts are interchangeable to accommodate differences in body proportions and fit but we were happy with the ones that came with the packs as standard. They have a HUGE amount of lumbar padding and a good amount of rigidity, giving them great support around the waist and the iliac crest when cinched up.
The entire pack feels connected and contours to the body. There are no sloppy or awkward pain points when moving. This is down to the continuous and seamless panel of lightweight mesh that extends from the top of the back panel to the hip belt.
The mesh back panel also helped with sweat reduction by allowing good airflow between the pack and our back. This added to the comfort factor and we generally felt cooler compared to some of frameless packs that we have used in the past.
The side mesh pockets are great for water bottle storage. Yes these are not new, but what we liked about the Aether and Ariel packs was that you can access/store either from the top or from the side. Very handy when walking along.
In respect to a multi-day hike when we need to pack a lot of gear, and we know the going will be rough and scrubby, we will always opt for a slightly sturdier (call it heavier) pack that we know will handle the extra weight and terrain and give us good support and comfort levels. The Aether and Ariel are those packs.
We didn’t have the opportunity to test out the ice axe loops, sleeping pad straps or the walking pole attachments. Why? Because we were able to pack everything we needed inside the pack itself. Plus we don’t use poles and it was far too warm and in the wrong geographic location to test the ice axes. But all of those features are there, if you need them. See the full feature list below. It’s a biggie.
Full Spec List:
- Built in Raincover
- Dual upper side compression straps
- Dual access side stretch mesh pockets
- Lower Inside-Out™ compression straps
- Zippered hipbelt pockets
- Stow-on-the-Go™ trekking pole attachment
- Additional main compartment access
- Large stretch mesh front panel pocket
- Dual front compression straps with StraightJacket™ compression
- Dual ice tool loops with bungee tie-offs
- Zippered sleeping bag compartment with removable divider
- Removable sleeping pad straps
- Integrated FlapJacket™ cover for lidless use
- External hydration reservoir sleeve
- Large front J-zip access to main compartment
- Fabric: Main – 210D Nylon Dobby / Accent – 210D High Tenacity Nylon Shadow Box. Bottom – 500D Nylon Packcloth.
VOLUME: S: 4089 IN³ – 67 L | M: 4272 IN³ – 70 L | L: 4455 IN³ – 73 L
DIMENSIONS: S: 80H X 40W X 34D CM | M: 85H X 40W X 34D CM | L: 90H X 40W X 34D CM
WEIGHT: S: 2.307 KG | M: 2.33 KG | L: 2.353 KG
LOAD RANGE: 15 – 27 kg
Where to Buy
Most good outdoor adventure shops should stock the osprey range but we like the incredibly friendly, helpful and knowledgable staff at our local Paddy Pallin store. The staff there will help kit and fit you out ready for your next adventure.
Price: Osprey Aether AG 70 & Aerial AG 65 with Rain Cover – $419.95
Author: Jason Lorch
Born and grew up in Wales but now a fully fledged Aussie. A passionate mountain biker, hiker and general nature addict. I’m also a bit of a muso and enjoy a good craft beer every now and again (probably too often).
I hope what we do here at Tyres and Soles will inspire people to get out there and experience first hand, the natural wonders that surround them.
So, pump up those tyres, don your favourite boots. Grab a mate, a partner, a pet… and head out into nature. But tell us all about it when you get back.
Editor at Tyres and Soles.