ProView – Osprey Aether Plus 85
Over the past year my gear needs have shifted a bit. In the past 365 days, my wife and I have finished writing a guidebook, signed a contract to update another guidebook, and we have our first child on the way in June, 2021.
I’ve quickly found myself planning for a new type of adventure. An adventure that requires more gear, more planning, and more logistics than ever before. This summer, working on our book will send us hiking and backpacking all over the rugged and remote Wyoming backcountry. Honestly, the opportunity to test the Osprey Aether Plus 85 couldn’t have come at a better time.
Osprey Aether Plus 85
Product Description: The Aether Plus 85 blazes the trail for those in search of a customizable, perfect-fitting pack. One of our largest volume packs with a stronger LightWire frame, this pack offers a stable carry that can manage the heaviest of loads. Dial in the perfect fit with a Custom Fit-On-The-Fly Hipbelt and Shoulder Strap and detach the top lid to use as a daypack for side trips. Constructed with high quality bluesign®-approved high-tenacity nylon and PFC-free DWR.
Offer price: MSRP: $380.00
If you are looking for an 85-liter pack that’s fully loaded with features that actually work then this pack might be for you. I give the Aether Plus 85 high marks for fit, stability, and versatility. It’s an 85-liter pack that carries more like a 65-liter pack.
- Comfortable fit
- On-the-go trekking pole attachment
- Removable top lip convert to DayLid backpack
- Although compressible, 85 liters might not be suitable for all trips
- Heavier than some smaller packs.
I’ve never had a need for an 85-liter pack. All of my personal gear is small and lightweight. However, now that I’m carrying the additional gear needed to bring a child backpacking along with all of my camera gear, I need all the space I can get. The snowpack is holding strong in the high country but I packed in a modest five miles and 2000’ of elevation gain in southern Wyoming’s Snow Range this May. The day started hot, dry, and sunny. By the end of the day, the weather had deteriorated into thunderstorms with periods of heavy graupel. I chose the trail that I did because I knew I would see all types of conditions. When I topped out on the high alpine plateau that I was hiking to I found myself bushwhacking through wet, marshy, deadfall with a fully loaded pack.
I’m 6’2” but most of my height is in my legs. The small/medium size with torso length adjusted to the “tallest” setting fits me perfectly. The bottom of the pack lands exactly where it should and the hip belt is very easy to adjust. It sits on my hips just right.
In terms of looks, the Aether Plus 85 is nothing revolutionary but It looks nice and fits with the Osprey brand. The pack is available in three colors: Axo Green (my choice), Scuba Blue, and Black. They’re all nice colors, but blue and green are my favorites.
This pack has all of the features one might expect in a pack at this price point and more. I am pleasantly surprised by how well functioning all of the features are. For me, the removable lid that converts into a DayLid backpack is a fantastic feature. The DayLid pack holds weight well and is surprisingly functional itself. I like to do a lot of peak bagging and day hiking from camp and nobody likes peak bagging with a huge backpack on. Having a nice lightweight built-in bag with a hydration sleeve is a really nice feature. If you want to cut weight you can leave the top lid at home using the FlapJacket cover for lidless use. The Aether Plus 85 compresses really well which for a pack of this size. Like many packs these days, this pack comes with a rain cover. I also really like the trekking pole attachment. I often backpack with poles and it’s nice to be able to stash them without stopping and taking off your pack on the trail.
Weight / Packability
For its size and the amount of features you’ll find I think the weight is just fine at 5.9lbs.
Bushwhacking through deadfall and navigating a half snow covered marsh really put the functionality of this pack into perspective. This pack honestly carried weight really well considering the bad conditions I was hiking in. I was surprised by how stable it felt. It’s really easy to cinch down and I think that helped. While I did get rained on I decided to test the DWR on the pack rather than use the raincover. I was in the light rain for an hour or so and the pack kept rain out on its own without a problem.
It held up nicely to a hellish bushwhack through razor sharp deadfall and thorns. Everything feels solid and I expect this pack to last a long time.
Friendliness to the Earth
Osprey uses recycled, non-toxic, and Bluesign approved materials when making their backpacks. They have also partnered with the Renewal Workshop to keep packs out of landfills and recycle them in a number of ways.
The Final Word
If you are looking for a 85 liter pack that’s fully loaded with features that actually work then this pack might be for you. I give the Aether Plus 85 high marks for fit, stability, and versatility. It’s an 85 liter pack that carries more like a 65 liter pack.
About the Gear Tester
Ben Dawson is a full-time #vanlifer, father, and adventure journalist/photographer based in the western United States. He has a passion for conservation and spends most of his time creating content for various brands in the outdoor space. Connect with him on Instagram at @meetme_onthe_mountain