This summer I’m going to be travelling around South America for three weeks and need a rucksack for the trip. I plan on staying in hostels/camping with friends, so the pack needs to be rugged, carry all my clothes/camping equipment and be comfortable.
Osprey have been making rucksacks to explore the outdoors since 1974. This year they have added their AG (Anti-Gravity) carry system to their award-winning Aether Pack. It is billed as a 3-season backpacking-rucksack for travelling, hiking and even climbing to some extent (it has two ice axe loops).
I had a look at the Aether AG to see what all the hype was about and if it was the pack for me. For women the Ariel AG rucksack has almost all the same features as the Aether AG, apart from the fit and shape.
I got the pack home and opened up all the clips, zips and explored what this pack has to offer. There were zips on the bottom and side that provided access to the main compartment, useful for finding items when the bag is full. The next thing I noticed was that the rucksack brain (lid) was detachable. Undo two buckle clips and the lid lifts free, lightening the load for hikes or I can keep my essentials (passport, wallet etc.) in it and keep them on my person. Once the lid is removed there is a flap jacket cover that seals your bag and it connects up to the same buckle system as the detachable lid.
On the side of the pack there are two mesh nets for drinks bottles. I will be travelling with a hydration pouch for hikes but when I camp I’m going to need more water. You can access the bottles from the top or the side of the mesh allowing you to reach the drink with your pack on (a life saver on steep trails).
I loaded up the pack with some clothes, drinks bottles, roll mat, wash bag, sleeping bag, tent and other essentials and threw it on. The rounded shoulder straps sat comfortably across my shoulders and chest and the hip belt was nice and snug. A quick adjustment on the shoulder strap pulleys and the torso adjuster, a large piece of reinforced Velcro, and the pack sat perfectly across my hip bones, dispersing the weight.
- Hip belt pockets: your phone, camera or snacks are easily accessible on-the-go.
- Compression straps: adjusts the bag to the size of your items holding them securely in place.
- Integrated and detachable rain cover: deployed in seconds the cover keeps your contents dry.
- Stow-On-The-Go walking poles straps: store your walking poles without taking your pack off.
- Front stretch pocket: a quick access pocket great for storing a coat or fleece.
- Torso extender: extends the length of the harness to match your torso for a better fit
- ISO hipbelt and AG harness: a heat-moulded hipbelt adapts to your hip shape and the harness helps spread the weight of the pack.
The Aether AG and Ariel AG in action in the Tirol .
The AG system is one of the main features that drew me to this pack. Your body sits off the pack in a mesh harness that is attached to a lightweight frame, incorporating a heat-mouldable hipbelt. It spreads the weight evenly across your waist. As the pack is position away from the body it allows air to circulate and the shoulder strap has plenty of holes for venting.
The rucksack body is made from 210D nylon Dobby and a tough 210D nylon Shadow Box fabric reinforces the areas around the zips, sides and corners. Along the base there is a heavy-duty 500D Nylon Packcloth that looks and feels bulletproof.
Having recently converted to trekking with poles, it’s great to discover Osprey’s ‘Stow-On-The-Go’ system. On the strap and body of the pack there are two elasticated straps which you slide your poles through and then tighten to store. This makes it easy to stow away on technical sections, where I prefer to have my hands free for scrambling, and then I can quickly deploy them for the descent.
Women's Ariel AG
I’m going to be travelling with my friend Jessica so I asked her to have a look at Osprey’s latest women’s travel rucksack the Ariel AG and let me know what she thought of it.
"I’ve tried other packs and sometimes been overwhelmed by the sheer size and bulkiness of the pack. This Ariel 55 sat nicely and spread the load though my frame.
"I liked the easy to adjust torso support. I’m 5”6 and the medium only needed one notch changing and it was perfect. Another thing I loved was the raised mesh back and harness: there’s plenty of ventilation along my back and I know that’s going to help me keep cool on tough ascents."
Differences between the men’s and women’s fit
- Narrower shoulder harness and thickness
- Women’s ergonomically shaped harness
- Shorter and narrower pack
- Women’s specific hipbelt shape and height
Osprey's product designer talks about women’s fit
The Aether AG lives up to its reputation. It’s well-built, comfortable, and has a range of useful features for use on trails/hikes. I would personally choose the 60 litre version rather than the 70 as I prefer to travel a bit lighter and sacrificing a t-shirt or two is something I don’t mind - it's always tempting to carry more than you need when the opportunity is there. This rucksack has everything I need for my trip and I would recommend it to anyone else planning a similar trip!