Osprey Aether AG 85 (w’s Ariel AG 75)

Best for Big Loads


Weight 5 lbs, 6 oz


Our take Whether you’re doing a gear-intensive trip or going far without resupply, sometimes you just need to carry a lot of stuff. When you do, you want a pack like this, with big-load comfort and organization. This Osprey behemoth held 60-plus pounds on an eight-day John Muir Wilderness trek, including a few luxuries like a chair, single malt, and deluxe sleeping pad. A butterfly-shaped perimeter wire and horizontal stay (to prevent barreling) tamed the load, and the pack’s seamless mesh backpanel delivered even weight distribution. Pre-curved, dual-density foam and plastic hipbelt wings wrap the iliac crest like a firm hug. We loved the access options when the pack was crammed full. There are three ways to enter the packbag: from the top, through the bottom sleeping bag compartment, or via an inverted, L-shaped zippered front panel. “I didn’t need to dump everything out to get the tent,” our tester says. Nitpick: Inch-wide flaps protecting the zippers on the front access panel and sleeping bag compartment make finding the zipper pulls awkward.

The details The removable toplid converts to a 17-liter daypack—one of the best we’ve seen in terms of features. The daypack has a dedicated (exterior) hydration sleeve, tuck-away trekking pole attachment straps, and zippered front pocket. Custom fit: The shoulder straps and hipbelt can be heat molded and come in four sizes.

Trail cred “Packs this size can punish your bones,” says our JMT tester. “But this one made my 60-pound load feel more like 40.”