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OR - Osprey Aether 85 pack - Ray Estrella

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  • rayestrella1
    Osprey Aether 85 Backpack By Raymond Estrella OWNER REVIEW December 02, 2008 TESTER INFORMATION NAME: Raymond Estrella EMAIL: rayestrellaAThotmailDOTcom AGE:
    Message 1 of 3 , Dec 2, 2008
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      Osprey Aether 85 Backpack
      By Raymond Estrella
      December 02, 2008


      NAME: Raymond Estrella
      EMAIL: rayestrellaAThotmailDOTcom
      AGE: 48
      LOCATION: Orange County, California, USA
      GENDER: M
      HEIGHT: 6' 3" (1.91 m)
      WEIGHT: 200 lb (90.70 kg)
      I have been backpacking for over 30 years, all over California, and in
      many of the western states and Minnesota. I hike year-round, and
      average 500+ miles (800+ km) per year. I have made a move to
      lightweight gear, and smaller volume packs. I start early and hike
      hard so as to enjoy the afternoons exploring. I usually take a
      freestanding tent and enjoy hot meals at night. If not hiking solo I
      am usually with my wife Jenn or brother-in-law Dave.

      The Product

      Manufacturer: Osprey
      Web site: www.ospreypacks.com
      Product: Aether 85
      Size, pack: Large (also available in Small and Medium)
      Size, hip belt: Medium (also available in Small and Large)
      Year manufactured/received: 2008
      MSRP: N/A
      Weight listed: 4 lb 15 oz (2.27 kg) Verified exact.
      Volume: 5400 cu in (88 L)
      Load weight capacity suggested: to about 66 lb (30 kg)
      Color reviewed: Bluestone (also available in Emerald Green and
      Warranty: (from company web site), "Our lifetime warranty covers
      defects in materials and craftsmanship for the lifetime of the
      backpack. Products found to be defective will be repaired or replaced
      at the discretion of our Warranty Department."

      Product Description

      The Osprey Aether 85 pack (hereafter referred to as the Aether or the
      pack) is a blue and grey top-loading pack. It is the largest of the
      Aether series of packs which according to Osprey "are built to be
      light, without sacrificing fit and carrying comfort".

      The Aether came with a hang tag with an overview of the company's
      product lines. Inside was a pamphlet containing the pertinent details
      for the pack itself.

      The grey areas are 210D double ripstop nylon, while blue areas are
      made of heavier 420D nylon pack cloth. From the feel both types seem
      to be urethane coated on the inside. The heaviest material is the 500D
      plain weave nylon oxford used on the bottom of the pack.

      At the top of the pack body is a 6 in (15 cm) extension sleeve. A
      black cord runs around the top of the sleeve and through a sliding
      finger-pull cord lock, allowing the top to be drawn shut. At the
      bottom of the sleeve, inside the pack is a Tyvek-type tag with a
      "Leave No Trace" message printed in English and French (sacre blue).
      Below the sleeve inside is a red internal compression strap running
      from the front of the pack to the back that allows the load to be
      snugged down and pulled away from the back of my head.

      This is a true top-loading pack, but it can be accessed at the bottom
      by means of the sleeping bag compartment zipper which hides under a 2
      in (5 cm) wide weather flap 4 in (10 cm) from the bottom of the
      Aether. This compartment has a shelf that allows it to be separated
      from the rest of the pack. The shelf is not removable but it can be
      detached on one side from two buckles allowing it to fold down. This
      is how I use it.

      Inside the pack against my back is a hydration bladder pocket with a
      hang-clip at the top. Two ports allow the tube to be routed out of the
      pack on either side. The ports are large enough to allow the use of my
      winter insulated hydration tubes. The tube can be routed through a
      pair of stretch loops on each shoulder strap to keep it from flapping

      On the front of the pack body is a large stuff-it pocket made of grey
      stretch woven nylon with Lycra. The black oval in the center is made
      of stretch mesh that allows the contents of the pocket to get some
      air. (Maybe I can put a puppy in there… nah, how about some wet gear?)
      A little patch of the mesh is at the bottom of the pocket to allow
      water to drain from it. The pocket stuffs from the top and closes with
      a single quick connect fastener.

      On either side of the pack are side pockets made of the same grey
      stretch woven nylon with Lycra. These pockets have dual entry options.
      Besides opening at the top they also can be accessed from the side
      closest to me. The pockets are very roomy and can hold standard
      Nalgene bottles, or my favorite Aquafina bottles with ease. They also
      have a patch of mesh at the bottom to allow water to drain from them.
      Nice touch.

      At the bottom of the pack are two ice axe or tool loops. Below them
      and to the side a bit more are two larger gear loops. They are large
      enough to put most skis through, something that I really like to see.

      There is a pair of removable external sleeping pad straps at the
      bottom of the pack.

      Compression is handled by what they call the StraightJacket wings and
      straps on the front of the pack. The wings are made of a double
      thickness of the heavy nylon. Three straps with quick-connect buckles
      go from one StraightJacket wing to the other. Along with the one upper
      compression strap on the upper sides of the Aether the load can be
      compressed and adjusted to suit. Two extra female connections at the
      right side (when worn) allow two of the StraightJacket straps to go
      all the way across, letting the pack volume be greatly reduced when
      space is not needed.

      A removable top pocket/lid sits above the main pack body. It is
      accessed by a single pulled zipper. A key clip may be found inside.
      The lid closes the body of the pack by the use of two short straps
      that run from the upper side-compression straps up to connectors on
      the lid. The lid turns into a fanny pack by taking the hip belt off
      the main pack and threading it through the designated spot on the lid.
      A cool detail is the ridged foam lumbar pad that may add to the
      comfort level and heat transfer while wearing it. Here is a shot of
      the underside of the lid.

      The hip compression webbing from the hipbelt can be threaded through
      the ladder locks. (the buckles to the side of the lumbar patch).
      Osprey suggests crossing the connector straps like an "X" for added
      compression and stability.

      The two zippers on the Aether have nylon cord with curved plastic
      finger pulls that are large enough to fit a gloved finger into.

      The Aether features an IsoForm harness with AirScape suspension. It
      has dual peripheral aluminum rods to stabilize the load and transfer
      weight close to the body. These run from the hip belt up the side of
      the pack. They turn at the top and go across the pack curving in the
      center to create an integral aluminum contoured headrail for maximum

      Helping spread the load is an HDPE framesheet with cutouts for weight
      reduction that has a single aluminum stay in the center of it. Between
      my back and the framesheet is a nubbed foam backpanel with a grip mesh
      covering to add breathability and comfort.

      The IsoForm shoulder straps are made of dual density spacer mesh foam.
      All seams are made to not contact the wearer. The shoulder straps have
      two adjustment straps on them. The one at the top of the shoulder
      adjust the distance the pack body rides away from my body. The one at
      the lower end of the shoulder strap pulls the pack down onto my
      shoulders changing the balance of weight between hip and shoulders. A
      sternum strap crosses the between the shoulder straps. It is mounted
      with sliders on a nylon strap to allow adjustment. The buckle of the
      sternum strap does double duty as an emergency whistle.

      The IsoForm hip belt is custom moldable using the warming ovens at
      Osprey dealers to heat the belt and then let it cool while wearing to
      give an instant fit. Once cooled the foam stays formed to my hips
      cutting down on break-in time. I had this done as soon as I got it at
      my Santa Ana REI store. (Thanks guys.)

      The belt closes with a quick-connect buckle. It adjusts with the
      Osprey's ErgoPull system, a design that has the straps make a sideways
      V and tightens by pulling towards the center instead of away. They
      say, "It creates mechanical advantage to provide extra leverage in
      cinching down the hipbelt. The ErgoPull design also draws tension
      along the top and bottom of the belt, not through the center, so it
      distributes pressure more evenly over the padding and relieves direct
      pressure on the hipbones." As I have had it on a bunch of other packs
      I just say, "I like it!" The hip belt has two side adjustment straps
      going to the pack at the sides, instead of the standard one found on
      most of my packs. This lets the belt be finely adjusted and will let
      it cant to fit my hips better.
      Field Data

      I have used the Aether on the following trips.

      A two-day trip with Jenn, taking the South Fork Trail to a camp site
      at Lodgepole in the San Bernardino National Forest. This 11 mile (18
      km) round trip hike had 3400 ft ( m) of gain and loss. It got up to 83
      F and only down to 59 F ( to C). My pack weight starting was about 35
      lb ( kg)

      A tough solo 2-day 11 mile (18 km) trip to the top of Mt San Jacinto
      by way of the Marion Mountain Trail. I spent the night in Little Round
      Valley. This rough hike gains over 4400 ft (1340 m) in 5.5 miles (8.9
      km) in temps that topped 81 F (27 C). I purposely carried a lot of
      weight (luxury items like cold drinks, chair, hardbound book, fresh
      food…) to see how it handled it in preparation for the trips to
      follow. My pack weight was 37 lb (16.8 kg) starting out.

      The next weekend I took Jenn to the same place, but made a three-day
      trip out of it, stopping the first day at Little Round Valley where we
      made a base camp. Temps ranged from 54 to 81 F (12 to 27 C). Again I
      started with 37 lb (16.8 kg).

      Next was two nights in Yosemite National Park for a very hot and hard
      44 miles (71 km) of backpacking, and another 3 miles (5 km) getting
      back to a road in temps up to 84 F (29 C) with 7790 ft (2374 m) of
      gain carrying a 36 lb (16.3 kg) pack.

      Last was a 79 mile (127 km) 3-1/2 day monster hike from Sonora Pass
      down through the Emigrant Wilderness to Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite
      National Park. This hike saw 15200 (4633 m) of elevation gain with
      temperatures that ranged from 83 to 43 F (28 to 6 C). My starting pack
      weight with food and 3 qt/L water was exactly 37 lb (16.8 kg). Here is
      a picture near Tuolumne Falls from that trip.


      As may be known by my writing here and other places, I am a big fan of
      Osprey packs, this being the seventh one I have owned. But lest it be
      thought that I am a shill let me disclose that I had a 2004 Aether 90.
      But I only used it for four months. While the packability of it was
      great I did not care for the pockets, or the lack of gear loops as I
      really need them in winter (which was what I bought it for). And I
      found that it became very uncomfortable with over 40 lb (18 kg) in it.
      As my summer loads did not require the amount of volume it had unless
      I was carrying extra gear for other people (which meant I would be
      over weight then) I sold it. This was before Osprey went to the new
      BioForm technology for their suspension, which I believe started in
      2005. After becoming a huge fan of their Talon line (my all-time
      favorite packs) and testing their top-end Argon 110, and my wife
      testing and loving the Arial 55 (see reviews) I decided to try the
      Aether again for some big late-summer, fall and early-winter trips in

      What a difference from the older model. The Aether 85 is a very
      comfortable pack. While I only could get it to 37 lb (16.8 kg) it
      handled that with no problem or discomfort. (Since I owned the 2004
      model I have radically changed my hiking style and gear.) I was able
      to adjust the weight from hip to shoulders with ease when going up and
      down hill.

      The Aether 85 holds a lot of gear, more than I could put in it most of
      the time. On the trips with my wife I had some of her gear plus my
      stuff and still had room to take a soft cooler with drinks and food
      for some special backpacking dinners. (Margaritas anyone?) Here is a
      picture she took of me walking ahead of her in San Jacinto State Park.
      (Nice Halloween socks dude…)

      On the trips to Yosemite I had wanted to take my Osprey Talon 44
      (review coming) but I could not fit the required bear canister in it
      so was forced to take the Aether. Even with the bear canister I had
      too much room. To take up space in the pack I did not stuff my
      sleeping bag, but just put it in the bottom of the pack and put
      everything else on top of it. I see now that I could get away with the
      Aether 70 quite well.

      For use in canister required areas it is good to know that the Aether
      85 will take my biggest canisters lying down in the bottom of the
      pack, or slid in upright near the top. I am using a small one slid in
      vertically near the top of the pack in the shot below taken in
      Emigrant Wilderness.

      I use the red internal compression strap to suck the canister tight
      and then put my rain gear on top of that so that I can get it out
      quickly without disturbing the entire load.

      The top lid is roomy enough to carry my first aid kit, lunch, compass,
      sun glasses, reading glasses, wallet, headlamp, and more. I carry my
      hat and maps in the back stuff-it pocket and what ever extra layer I
      think I will need. I dried my socks out by hanging them out of the
      pocket too. When I would stop I swap ends so that they would dry
      completely. Some may be seen drying in the picture above.

      The hydration sleeve holds all sizes of my hydration bladders. I need
      to take a lot of gear out of the pack though to refill it. That is
      common with internal sleeve packs though. The exit port is large
      enough to use my insulated tubes with, which I will do so this winter.

      So far I have no durability issues to report. It does not show scuff
      marks from the abrasion that it has received brushing against and
      falling on the granite that I hike on and around. All seams are still

      I have one thing for my Aether wish list. I have come to love the
      pockets they put on the hipbelts of their other models. Please put
      some on the Aethers too…

      If there is a shortcoming with the Aether it is with the side pockets,
      something I complain about across the entire line. While these are
      better than all the others I have had on my other Osprey packs they
      still could be much better. I find that the stretch fabric is so
      tight, and the pockets so deep that it is very hard to get a bottle or
      my camera out of them. And it is even worse getting them back in. If I
      am hiking with Jenn or Dave it is easier to have them replace the item
      for me. I would really like to see a return to actual fabric pockets
      with maybe just a bit of elastic to help small stuff stay in.

      In conclusion I really like the Aether 85. It is big enough for my
      luxury trips with the wife and I will keep using it solo for winter.
      But as it is much larger than I need for my normal three-season hiking
      I think I will try the Aether 70 next year. If I do I will certainly
      report about here. I leave with a shot soloing on the PCT near the
      Marion Mountain trail junction.
    • rayestrella1
      I forgot the HTML link. It may be found here; http://tinyurl.com/6n6j7a Ray (Thanks Greg)
      Message 2 of 3 , Dec 3, 2008
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        I forgot the HTML link. It may be found here;



        (Thanks Greg)
      • Jamie D.
        PLEASE READ THIS EMAIL IN FULL. IT IS MOST IMPORTANT! Thanks for your Owner s Review. It has been added to the Owner Review Queue and will be picked up by an
        Message 3 of 3 , Dec 8, 2008
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          Thanks for your Owner's Review. It has been added to the Owner
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