I used to believe that everything you truly needed in life could fit into a 65-litre backpack. This existential mantra was inspired by an epiphanic, life-changing backpacking trip around South America I started in 2014. On this trip, I lived for 6 blissful months out of a battered old Berghaus 65-litre sack and discovered that I wanted for absolutely nothing in the whole time that I was there.
Since then, the Berghaus has steadily fallen to bits and been tossed into the trash. Since then, I have also slightly revised my “65-litre” belief. How? Well, I am not saying that I’ve joined the consumerist herd and began hoarding superfluous items, rather all I mean is that I’ve now progressed to a 70L backpack. Therefore my new life lesson is;
“All you truly need in life can fit into a 70-litre backpack!”
So we’re gonna need a bigger bag…
So why a bigger bag?
My travelling style has changed over the years. I’m now a full-time travel blogger rather than just a travelling bum and so there are a few bits and pieces of equipment that I need to do my job such as power banks’, business cards and a proper camera for example.
Also, I’ve finally relented, taken the experts advice and began doing treks in actual, proper hiking boots (rather than doing them all in my trusty and trendy Converse All-Stars) and hiking boots do tend to take up quite a bit of sack space. I’ve also begun travelling with a sleeping bag and some very useful little items which I use to stay fit on the road (I’ll tell you all about them in another post).
Basically, my travel style has now evolved and 65 litre just isn’t quite enough anymore.
The bigger the badder?
At first, I was reluctant to increase my backpack size.
I mean, 65 litre is already pretty cumbersome, heavy and fiddly to pack and I was fearful of how an additional 5 litres was going to affect things. Fortunately, though, a solution was at hand in the Osprey Aether 70 litre; a backpack whose inspired design actually makes me feel like I’m still only carrying a 65 litre.
(Psst, in case you don’t know. 65 – 70 litre backpacks are quite big. This is the kind of backpack you take a on a round the world tour or a multi-month backpacking trip. If you are going away for a week or then you should bring a smaller bag. In fact, I only even needed a 55 litre backpack for my one month tour of Pakistan).
The Osprey Aether was my first ever Osprey product. Previously I’d bought cheaper, lesser reputable products but grew tired of them breaking at crucial points during trips. A wise man once said;
(In Yoda’s voice) “Buy cheap buy twice you will”.
…and he was kinda right.
However, in my case, it was more a case of;
(Still in Yoda’s voice) “Buy cheap buy 3 times over you idiot”.
Rather than buy a 4th time over, I decided to get myself an Osprey. I chose Osprey because seasoned travellers know that the Osprey brand is synonymous with quality. Their products are innovative, reliable, durable and very practical. Whether your travels simply see you partying beneath the full moon in Phuket, or trekking up Kilimanjaro, Osprey have the right gear for your needs.
Osprey make a whole range of backpacks in different shapes and sizes. There are backpacks for weekend breaks, multi day hikes and like the Osprey Aether, backpacks purpose made for long backpacking trips across the world.
Osprey products are not exactly cheap and at £189, this backpack cost me twice what my first ever Berghaus 65 litre backpack cost me. However, as I said, that pack fell to pieces towards the end of my first trip with it which was totally inconvenient seen as I still had to get my stuff back home.
Whilst not cheap, Osprey predicts are incredible value.
Osprey Aether 70
My needs were best served by the Osprey Aether 70 litre because it boasts an entire myriad of wicked, cool features which I will now tell you all about.
I’ll also try to jargon bust to the very best of my abilities!
Key Features of the Osprey Aether
- The removable hip-belt (yes you can actually take it off altogether if you want!) can be custom moulded to perfectly fit your body type (see below). It offers enhanced load support helpfully shifting the weight from your poor shoulders to your hips.
- Its also stiff & sturdy as hell and yet the lovely soft padding is packed with dual-density foam for your comfort. Afterall, nobody wants a chaffed pelvis right?
- To ensure a perfect hip belt fit, Osprey-certified custom moulding is available in many stores. This means the hip belt can be moulded to fit your body! Simply check Google or contact Osprey direct to find a store with a hip-belt moulding oven. If it means taking a train ride to the nearest big city, it’s well worth the effort and your body will thank you later.
- Both the hip-belt and stretch-woven side pockets have zips allowing you to keep essentials accessible. The stretch-woven front pocket with welded vent also accepts Osprey AddOns such as ….
- The dual-density foam harness is made with “spacer mesh” promoting airflow and wicking away moisture during warm weather and intense activity. This feature keeps both your back and the sack sweat-free and smelling sweet.
- Running all the way down the sidewalls of the pack, the peripheral frame is attached to the load-lifter straps and hip-belt further transferring the load to your hips.
- The rear also contains is an HDPE frame-sheet which protects your back from bulky or pointy items protruding through the pack. This feature also helps to further support those heavy loads minimising the strain on your body.
- The top lid can be removed and converted into a handy little pack. The aforementioned removable hip-belt can then be attached to the top lid for comfortable carrying. This makes a great little daypack for short hikes or city sightseeing.
- The “J-zipper panel access” on the front of the pack body makes storing and retrieving your gear easy even when it’s buried deep inside the pack. Basically, you don’t have to open the pack from the top and unpack to get to your stuff because you can simply unzip from the front and grab what you need.
- The bottom compartment is also externally accessible. It has a wide mouth opening and a handy divider which beautifully accommodates all sizes and types of sleeping bags. When I use the pack, I pop my sleeping bag in here and simply take it out of the bottom when I need it. It makes life much easier than having to unpack the whole backpack to access it.
- The bags compression system utilises 3 horizontal straps as well as 1 internal strap. This allows you to tighten the straps as you like in order to securely compress the bag’s contents. This works whether the pack is chock full or nearly empty.
- For those of you who trek with poles, the Osprey Aether also boasts a dedicated trekking pole attachment. If that wasn’t enough there are also side gear straps, ice axe tool loops, cord loop attachment slots and removable sleeping pad straps accommodate a variety of alpine gear. This makes the Osprey Aether the perfect rucksack for getting onto the ice and this is why I take mine on all of the Broke Backpacker Discover Pakistan Adventure tours.
- The Hydration-compatible design includes a reservoir sleeve and dual drink tube exit ports for on-the-go hydration. Basically, this allows you to easily insert a camelback/reservoir for quick, easy access to drinking water on hikes.
- The weight shedding design makes the Osprey Aether 70 pack as light as possible whilst remaining tough; it has a 210-denier double-ripstop nylon and 500-denier plain-weave oxford nylon bottom. This means that you will be able to carry it comfortably whilst still been able to count on its durability.
- The side straps can also be used to securely and tightly attach a tent and this is exactly what I do. This of course. does add some weight but the Aether distributes this beautifully meaning its perfectly manageable unless of course your tent is made from lead.
- There is also a rain cover. This covers the bag when it rains…
The All Mighty Guarantee
Osprey products also come with the brands legendary, “All Mighty Guarantee”. This is basically a lifetime warranty whereby Osprey undertake to fix any defects that may occur during the bags lifetime. So no matter how long ago you bought your back, you can send it back to Osprey and that will fix it for you free of charge!
This guarantee shows you just how trust Osprey have in their products. It also makes that £189 price tag a bit easier to swallow.
The All Mighty Guarantee does have limitations though and it is nit infallible. Of course you need to pay postage and the All Mighty Guarantee does have some exemptions. Atmospherical damage (ie mould), airline damage and general wear and tear are not covered.
In case that was a bit too much awesomeness for you to take in one go, here is a helpful Infographic!
Summary of features
|Frame Type||Internal Frame|
|Gear Capacity (L)||67 / 70 / 73 / 76 liter|
|Gear Capacity (cu. in.)||4,089 / 4,272 / 4,455 / 4,638 cubic inches|
|Weight||4 lbs. 8 oz. / 4 lbs. 12 oz. / 4 lbs. 15 oz. / 5 lbs. 3 oz.|
|Fits Torso||16 – 19 / 18 – 21 / 20 – 23 / 22 – 25 inches|
|Fits Waist/Hips||27 – 31 / 30 – 34 / 33 – 37 / 36+ inches|
|Material(s)||Ripstop nylon/nylon oxford|
|Frame Material||HDPE framesheet/metal alloy peripheral frame|
|Number of Stays||1 aluminum center stay|
|Pack Access||Top / front|
|Number of Exterior Pockets||6 + main compartment|
|Sleeping Bag Compartment||Yes|
|Gender||Men’s (Women’s equivalent also available from Osprey store)|
In summary, when its time to buy your next backpack, look no further than Osprey. The Aether 70 litre will be my companion for many happy years and many miles to come.
See you on the road guys!