• Comfort 90% 90%
  • Storage 100% 100%
  • Accessories 90% 90%
  • Weight 70% 70%
Price: $360

What We Like: Technical design and heat-molded hipbelt.

What We Don’t: Price.

Aether AG 60

Small 57 L 30.71 x 15.35 x 12.2 in

78 x 39 x 31 cm

5.096 lbs

2.312 kg

Medium 60 L 32.68 x 15.35 x 12.2 in

83 x 39 x 31 cm

5.148 lbs

2.34 kg

Large 63 L 34.65 x 15.35 x  12.2 in

88 x 39 x 31 cm

5.199 lbs

2.36 kg

Ariel AG 55

Womens XS 49 L 29.13 x 14.96 x 12.2 in

74 x 38 x 31 cm

4.834 lbs
2.19 kg
Womens S 52 L 31.1 x 14.96 x 12.2 in

79 x 38 x 31 cm

4.883 lbs

2.215 kg

Womens M 55 L 33.07 x 14.96 x 12.2 in

84 x 38 x 31 cm

4.932 lbs

2.24

Now, there is some controversy surrounding the Aether and Ariel packs. Osprey added their Anti-Gravity back panel to the packs, and it caused quite a stir in the outdoor community. The problem is that now these backpacks are very similar to the Atmos and Aura, and the Anti-Gravity back panel made the Aether and Ariel less mountaineering friendly. The Anti-Gravity system causes the weight to be shifted away from the wearer’s center of gravity which can be dangerous in highly vertical situations.  
Other than that issue, the Aether and Ariel come with heat moldable hip belts, three access points to the main compartment, as well as Osprey’s Stow-on-the-Go hiking pole system. They are great backpacks, though they come with a slightly higher price tag compared with the Atmos and Aura.
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The Osprey Aether AG and Ariel AG are more mountaineering focused backpacking packs compared to the Atmos and Aura Line. The packs sit in an interesting niche, as they are so similar to the Atmos now that both packs use Osprey’s Anti-Gravity back paneling, and the Atmos is a favorite of North American hikers. It seems odd that Osprey keeps both packs due to their overall similarities, even as some have noted that the Aether switching to the AG back panel was not a switch in the right direction. 
The Aether and female made Ariel packs come in a variety of sizes, and in this article, I will be focusing on the Aether 60 and the Ariel 55, though if you need more storage there are larger versions available.
Best Backpacking Backpack: Osprey Aether and Ariel - Gear Hacker

Comfort and Suspension

As noted earlier, the Aether and Ariel are set up with Osprey’s Anti-Gravity back panel⁠—mesh that is stretched across external framing, keeping the pack away from your back for improved ventilation and comfort. While this serves as an excellent feature for hiking while climbing or steep scrambles, the AG system keeps the load farther from your natural center of gravity which can become a severe detriment. 
I have been using the Aether for some longer backpacking trips but would be very cautious taking it into the Alpine when fully loaded. The weight can be slightly awkward and doesn’t sit as comfortably as I would like. 

 

Best Backpacking Backpack: Osprey Aether and Ariel - Gear Hacker
The hipbelt can be removed and heat molded to your body which is great for dialing in a customized fit. The shoulder straps are comfortable, and I was able to wear the pack with no sleeves and did not notice any discomfort or hot spots even in the hot Colombian sun. 
The Aether and Ariel Line are also available in different torso sizes. So finding a pack that will fit you is easy, and with the ability to heat mold the hipbelt, the pack may feel like it will become part of you. 
Best Backpacking Backpack: Osprey Aether and Ariel - Gear Hacker

Features and Convenience

Osprey packs are always loaded with great features, and the Aether and Ariel line did not miss out. The packs come with a removable top lid that converts into a pretty great daypack. There is a flap jacket to cover the drawstring opening when the top lid is removed. The top lid has two zippered pockets to keep you well organized with smaller items like toiletries and electronics. 
Best Backpacking Backpack: Osprey Aether and Ariel - Gear Hacker
There is a large stretch mesh pocket on the front of the pack for extra or wet layers. There is also side panel zipper access to the main compartment, and this has saved me from having to reorganize my pack hundreds of times while traveling between cities and hostels. On the bottom of the pack is a zippered access pocket for a sleeping bag that has a removable divider to the main compartment.
Best Backpacking Backpack: Osprey Aether and Ariel - Gear Hacker
There are stretch mesh pockets on the side for water bottles or even a pair of sandals should you want to keep them out of the main compartment. Both packs include Osprey’s Stow-on-the-GO trekking pole attachment system, which is excellent for being able to stay on the move, though they don’t work that well with folding trekking poles. On the front of the pack are two ice tool loops with attachment bungees for additional tool storage. 

 

Best Backpacking Backpack: Osprey Aether and Ariel - Gear Hacker

Weight and Material

Now herein lies the problem, the Aether 60 is almost half a pound heavier than the Atmos at 5.15 lbs for the men’s medium. This is a heavy pack from the outset. I do like to say that with the customization of the hip belts and the AG system, carrying a heavy load is comfortable. 
However, these packs are designed for mountaineering where you are already counting ounces and trying to reduce weight as much as possible. With the 210D nylon main body and a 500D nylon packcloth bottom, you’ll be able to haul this pack anywhere, but your legs may feel that extra weight by the end of the day. 
Best Backpacking Backpack: Osprey Aether and Ariel - Gear Hacker

The Bottom Line

While this pack was excellent for a 5-month backpacking trip through South America due to the comfortable hipbelt and harness system, the pack itself spent most of its time in hostel lockers where I would use the removable top lid daypack or the other small daypack I brought for exploring. 
Coming in at $290 for the 60 L, it is a fairly expensive pack. Osprey packs do trend on the more expensive side, but they come with an amazing warranty and are already extremely well built. This pack would be excellent for a hut hike where you then take a smaller daypack into the alpine and leave the Aether at basecamp. 

 

I do recommend giving it a try and then heat molding the hip belts to see how dialed in you can make it. 
Best Backpacking Backpack: Osprey Aether and Ariel - Gear Hacker

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We participate in affiliate programs to help us fund Gear Hacker. Some of the links in this website are affiliate links, which means that if you purchase a product using our link, we will earn a small commission. Don’t worry! This comes at no additional cost to you, and we will never base our reviews on whether or not we earn a commission off of a product. With that said, if you find our review helpful and decide to purchase an item we review, we would be very appreciative if you use our links to do so. It will help us bring you more awesome content in the future!