Osprey Aether 70 Backpack Review

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The Osprey Aether 70 backpack in the Oolah Valley of the Brooks RangeMy Osprey Aether 70 in the Oolah Valley of the central Brooks Range. The stout construction and versatile straps and buckles make this a great pack for comfortably carrying heavy loads.

Paxson: "In an era of ultralight, trashbag-thin backpacks, the unapologetically heavy-duty, burly-zippered, many-strapped Aether 70 can seem like a dinosaur--an ankylosaurus, maybe, or a triceratops--from a bygone backpacking world. At around 5 pounds depending on the size, it's twice as heavy as some of the ultralight backpacks on the market today. But here's the thing: it's easy to compare ounces and pounds from an armchair, but a long day (or month) on the trail proves that a comfortable, durable, and versatile pack will help you hike faster, smarter, and safer. In short, sometimes the weight is worth it. The Aether 70 breezed through our 300 mile expedition without a complaint and with hardly a scratch. Its well-designed IsoForm suspension system is very comfortable, even when comically overloaded. At one point it happily handled all of my arctic gear, two bear canisters full of food, and all of my paddling equipment, including my raft, life jacket, and paddle. The trekking pole attachment on the left shoulder strap works well as a bear spray holder. The biggest problem with this pack is that you'll be stuck carrying all the extra group gear that your friends' ultralight packs can't fit or handle. And the best part? After 300 miles in the Arctic, it still looks almost as good as new. My only (minor) suggestion would be to add a small zippered pocket for keys and credit cards, or add the small zippered hip-belt pockets from other Osprey packs. I would also recommend a rain cover. tl/dr: I've used this pack on the West Coast Trail in Canada, the Kalalau Trail in Kauai, the Lost Coast in California, in the Chugach and Talkeetna Mountains of Alaska, and for 300 miles in the Alaskan Arctic during Expedition Arguk. The suspension system is awesome, it's very versatile, it looks great, and it's tough. Though a little on the heavy side by today's standards, this is a real backpack for real backpacking."