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Owner Review: Osprey Aether 60 Pack

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  • ken bennett
    The recent call for owner reviews of packs spurred me to submit my very first OR. So please, be gentle. ... Owner Review: Osprey Aether 60 Pack Biographical
    Message 1 of 10 , Mar 1, 2004
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      The recent call for owner reviews of packs spurred me to submit my very
      first OR. So please, be gentle.


      ----------------------------------------------------------------------

      Owner Review: Osprey Aether 60 Pack



      Biographical Information:

      Name: Ken Bennett

      Age: 41

      Gender: Male

      Height: 6 feet 2 inches (190 cm)

      Weight: 220 lbs (100 kg)

      Email: bennettk at wfu dot edu

      Location: Winston-Salem, NC



      Backpacking Background:

      I have been backpacking for twelve years, all of it in the Southern
      Appalachians. I am fortunate to live within a two-hour drive of the Mt.
      Rogers National Recreation Area, and I try to hike in that area at least
      once a month year-round. I have completed several hundred miles of the
      Appalachian Trail in two-day to two-week sections, and along with my family
      have set a goal of completing the entire trail over the next decade or so.
      Like many backpackers, I started out carrying far too much gear, but over
      the years I have pared down my pack weight to a more reasonable level.



      Product Information:

      Manufacturer: Osprey Packs

      Year of Manufacture: 2003

      URL: http://www.ospreypacks.com

      Listed Weight: 3.5 pounds (1.6 kg) (Large)

      Weight as Delivered: 3.5 pounds (1.6 kg) (Large)

      Capacity 3900 cubic inches (64 liters) (Large)

      MSRP: $200



      Field Information:



      Location(s) where test was conducted:

      I used this pack along the Appalachian Trail in North Georgia and
      Southwestern Virginia on several hikes in a variety of weather conditions,
      on trips ranging from overnight to more than a week. The trail here is often
      rugged and steep, with the highest elevations in the 4000-6000 foot
      (1200-1800 meter) range. Weather conditions ranged from early summer, with
      highs near 60 degrees F (15 degrees C) and lows near freezing, to a recent
      winter trip with highs in the low 20s F (-6 C) and lows near 0 F (-18 C).



      Review:


      Description

      The Osprey Aether 60 in size Large provides almost 4000 cubic inches (64
      liters) of capacity in a 3.5 pounds (1.6 kg) package. The pack is available
      in 3 sizes to accommodate different torso lengths; a women¹s version called
      the Ariel 60 is also available in several sizes. I have a long torso at 22
      inches, and the large Aether 60 fits perfectly.



      The suspension consists of a narrow but well-padded hip belt, a very well
      designed shoulder harness, a padded back panel, and two thin composite rods
      that support the load. The hip belt is sewn in place, but the shoulder
      harness can be moved up and down using a large hook-and-loop patch inside
      the back panel, allowing for several inches of travel to fine-tune the fit.
      Different harness sizes are available for a custom fit. The hip belt uses a
      standard plastic quick-release buckle, but it has an unusual tightening
      system, which Osprey calls the ErgoPull. The free end of the hip belt
      doubles back on itself, and the tightening cams are located on the sides of
      the belt. This provides some additional leverage when tightening the belt,
      but it takes a little getting used to.



      The shoulder harness is shaped to fit around the neck, and has a
      non-removable sternum strap with a neat built-in clip for a water bladder
      hose. There are two load-lifter straps that connect the shoulder harness to
      the top of the composite rods on each side of the pack. Load lifters are
      designed to control the angle of the pack and help shift weight from the
      shoulder harness to the hip belt. When they are correctly implemented,
      lifters allow the user to loosen the shoulder harness and bring the pack
      back closer to the body, placing more weight on the hips. The load lifters
      on the Aether 60 are anchored high enough on the pack body to work properly.
      I have tried many different lightweight packs, and the Aether 60 is the
      first one that has truly usable load lifters.



      The composite rods run along the outside edge of the pack, and while they
      are similar to aluminum stays in other packs, they are lighter and more
      flexible. Some users of earlier models of the Aether 60 reported problems
      with the rods ripping out under load, but this appears to have been fixed.
      My 2003 model has reinforcements around the rod pockets top and bottom.



      The entire suspension system weighs 9 ounces, according to Osprey. Verifying
      this would require destroying the pack, so I am unable to do so.



      The pack bag is long and narrow, with one opening at the top (there is no
      separate sleeping bag compartment nor any other access to the inside of the
      pack.) There is a large floating lid pocket, large enough to carry my rain
      shell, hat, gloves, a large first aid kit, maps, and snacks. Inside the
      pack, there is a top strap designed to compress the top of the load and pull
      the pack away from your head. The top of the pack closes with a small flap
      and a drawstring; note that there is not an extension collar on this pack.
      When I use the internal top compression strap, there is enough room left
      inside the top of the pack for my camp shoes or a water bladder before
      closing the drawstring top. The internal construction appears to be very
      high quality. My pack is made of dark blue and black fabric, and the
      interior is very dark.



      There is one small mesh pockets on each side of the pack. Each pocket will
      hold a 1-liter Nalgene bottle, but a lot of the bottle sticks out above the
      top of the pocket. These pockets have two openings: one at the top, and one
      at the front (the point closest to the wearer). Osprey claims that you can
      use this front opening for access to a small water bottle, but when I tried
      that, it poked me in the back. I worry that smaller items are going to fall
      out of the pocket through this opening.



      There is a large mesh pocket on the front of the pack. I carry my toilet
      articles, a large silnylon tarp, groundsheet, and other small items in this
      pocket. It is also large enough for camp shoes (Waldies) or even a solo
      tent. Below this pocket are two removable sleeping pad straps designed to
      carry a small sleeping pad horizontally. I don¹t like to carry a pad this
      way, and removed them.



      Osprey has designed an unusual way to compress their packs. Instead of the
      more common compression straps on the side of the pack, Osprey uses two
      large fabric panels with compression straps across the front of the pack.
      This makes it very easy to strap on a sleeping pad or a small tent. The
      straps will easily carry a very large closed-cell foam pad, including my
      extra-large Ridgerest pad. The quick-release buckles make it easy to remove
      the pad for use as a chair when taking a break, or to gain access to the
      front mesh pocket. Osprey has added another unusual feature, providing fixed
      buckles near the frame of the pack that accept the compression panel
      buckles. Using these buckles, it is possible to greatly compress a smaller
      load, although I haven¹t found the need to do this yet.



      Using the Pack

      The Aether 60 is similar in design and use to my other internal-frame packs,
      and it didn¹t take long to fine-tune the size and fit. Osprey offers
      detailed instructions on pack sizing and fitting on their web site, as well
      as on a hang-tag sold with the pack.



      The hip belt is made of fairly soft foam, and I was worried that it wouldn¹t
      carry the load well. However, the hip belt has been very supportive with
      loads up into the 35-40 pound range (16-18 kg.) Loads over 40 pounds (18 kg)
      caused the hip belt to twist and sag, reducing carrying comfort.



      The composite rods run along the outside edge of the pack body, and can be
      pulled in tightly at the hip belt and at the top with the load lifters. As
      this pack doesn¹t have a stiff framesheet or aluminum stays, I was concerned
      with the comfort and load support of this very lightweight suspension
      system. These concerns were groundless: this pack is one of the most
      comfortable I have ever worn. From lightweight summer loads of 15-25 pounds
      (7-12 kg), to a winter weekend load of almost 40 pounds (18 kg), the Aether
      60 carries the load well. I am able to fit it snugly into the curve of my
      back, and fine-tune the fit while hiking using the suspension components.



      Things I like:



      1. Weight and size. At 3.5 pounds (1.6 kg), the Aether 60 is not an
      ultralight pack. However, I have found that the extra pound or so of pack
      weight provides two major advantages over a frameless ultralight rucksack:



      1. A frame that can comfortably carry up to 40 pounds, compared to 20 pounds
      or so for a frameless ruck.

      2. A larger capacity of 3900 cubic inches (64 liters); many ultralight
      rucksacks are less than 3000 cubic inches (50 liters).



      While my base weight for summer hiking is in the range of 15-20 pounds (7-9
      kg), adding in 3-5 days of food and two liters of water often puts me near
      35 pounds (16 kg) at the start. The Aether 60¹s extra capacity makes it much
      more comfortable after a resupply, and allows me to use it year-round in the
      Southeastern U.S.



      2. Hip belt. After I got used to the ErgoPull system, I found that it really
      makes a difference in the comfort of the hip belt. It¹s easier to make fine
      adjustments, and to really crank down on it when necessary.



      3. Big top pocket. I can stuff a lot of gear in the lid pocket for easy
      access. I have found this particularly important on a pack that doesn¹t have
      easy access to the inside.



      4. Big front pocket. The large mesh front pocket also holds a lot of useful
      gear.



      5. Load lifters. I really like load lifters ‹ they make a pack much more
      comfortable to wear and use for long periods of time. Most lightweight packs
      have lifters, but they are designed in such a way that they don¹t really
      function properly. The lifters on the Aether 60 work well.




      Things I dislike



      1. Tiny side pockets. There is plenty of room on the side of the Aether 60
      for large mesh pockets. I would like to have pockets that can easily swallow
      a 1-liter Nalgene bottle with no chance that it will fall out. I may see if
      I can have someone modify my pack to add larger side pockets.



      2. No internal pocket for water bladder. The side pockets are too small for
      bottles, and there¹s no place for a bladder. This is annoying, especially
      since the larger Aether packs appear to have a built-in bladder pocket
      inside the lid pocket.



      3. Sternum strap can't be removed. I don¹t use the sternum strap, and I
      can¹t remove it without cutting the plastic connector on the shoulder strap,
      so it flops around.



      4. Minor sewing issue. The elastic tape coming off the external pockets on
      the first trip, and now two of the three pockets show this defect. It¹s a
      minor sewing problem, but it¹s still something that I have to fix.




      Conclusions


      This is my fourth internal-frame pack, and it¹s by far my favorite
      combination of weight and carrying capacity. It¹s large enough to carry a
      big load out of a trail town after resupply, or for a winter weekend hike,
      while being small enough for lightweight summer trips. It carries the load
      well, has enough pockets to stay organized, and is comfortable even after
      long days on the trail.
    • Shane Steinkamp
      ... Well, not that I want to go disagreeing with the master or anything, but a child carrier is, indeed, a pack. I often use the Deuter Kid Comfort II just as
      Message 2 of 10 , Mar 1, 2004
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        > >does a child carrier count?

        > I wouldn't put it in the pack category, but I wouldn't knock it
        > back either! It is something that would have come-up later on
        > but if you want to get it in now please do so.

        Well, not that I want to go disagreeing with the master or anything, but a
        child carrier is, indeed, a pack. I often use the Deuter Kid Comfort II
        just as a pack without Virginia in it. A pack with a kick stand isn't to be
        sneezed at...

        Shane
      • Graham Blamey
        ... very ... Hi Ken, Thanks for your Owner s Review. Do not worry if nothing happens with it for a few days. All our editors are volunteers and your report
        Message 3 of 10 , Mar 2, 2004
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          --- In BackpackGearTest@yahoogroups.com, ken bennett <bennettk@w...>
          wrote:
          > The recent call for owner reviews of packs spurred me to submit my
          very
          > first OR. So please, be gentle.
          >

          Hi Ken,
          Thanks for your Owner's Review. Do not worry if nothing happens with
          it for
          a few days. All our editors are volunteers and your report will be
          subject
          to an official edit within fourteen days. If you have not had a
          response
          from an Edit Moderator via the list within this timeframe, please let
          us
          know directly at apriest@....

          You may receive edits or comments from other members of the group.
          These
          edits and comments, while not official, should be considered
          carefully, and
          if you find them substantial, revise and re-post your review.
          Incorporating
          member edits and re-posting to the list will usually result in a
          better
          review, as well as making things easier for the official editor.
          Please put
          REVISED at the start of your re-post, if you take this route.

          If you are new to the BackpackGearTest.org, welcome to the
          community! The
          editors will work with you, within their own time constraints, to get
          your
          first two Owner Reviews approved and uploaded in a timely manner.
          Once
          these
          first two Owner Reviews have been approved and you have submitted your
          Tester Agreement you will be eligible to start applying for Tests.

          If this is your first Owner Review, please hold off posting your
          second
          Owner Review until the first one has been edited. We generally find
          that
          often feedback on the first Review can be incorporated into the
          second one
          and so on thus reducing the subsequent editing and hopefully speeding
          up the
          approval time.

          If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to ask via
          the
          list or contact me directly.
          Regards,
          Graham Blamey,
          BGT Edit Moderator
        • Andrew Priest
          ... Hi Shane LOL ... I guess you win on this one as I note that we do include child carriers in the pack category on the website .... Andrew Senior Edit
          Message 4 of 10 , Mar 2, 2004
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            At 11:57 AM 02/03/2004, you wrote:

            >Well, not that I want to go disagreeing with the master or anything, but a
            >child carrier is, indeed, a pack. I often use the Deuter Kid Comfort II
            >just as a pack without Virginia in it. A pack with a kick stand isn't to be
            >sneezed at...

            Hi Shane

            LOL ... I guess you win on this one as I note that we do include child
            carriers in the pack category on the website ....

            Andrew

            Senior Edit Moderator and List Moderator
            http://BackpackGearTest.org : The most comprehensive interactive gear
            reviews and tests on the planet


            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • Shane Steinkamp
            I have notified Dalanco on each testers issues, and I will let ya ll know what they say soonest. Shane
            Message 5 of 10 , Mar 2, 2004
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              I have notified Dalanco on each testers issues, and I will let ya'll know
              what they say soonest.

              Shane
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