A Comparison Review of the Best Backpack for Hiking and Camping
Feet itching to go on your next outdoor adventure? The correct gear ensures you’re ready to embark on your journey. Hiking shoes sorted? Next is your backpack. Our comparison review of the best backpacks will prepare you for your next open air experience. Let’s take a closer look at the Osprey Atmos vs. Aether vs. Exos backpacks to choose the one perfectly suited to your hiking and camping style.
Osprey has been selling backpacks since 1987. Now a widely recognized supplier of innovative and versatile high performance gear, they support your heart for adventure and outdoor attraction. All three Osprey backpacks are high-quality options offering a hands-free trail-friendly Stow on the Go trekking pole carry feature.
The Atmos and Aether models are particularly popular among avid campers and hikers. They’re big and ideal for overnight or multi-day camping or hiking trips.
Off to a remote basecamp? Heading into unchartered territory? For mountaineering expeditions, the Aether is a solid choice. Strengthened hardware and a single zipper takes you to new heights with safe and reliable support through its interchangeable harness and hip belt.
The ultralight Exos is the ideal weekend trip companion. It includes a removable sleeping pad and side compression straps plus top lid web loop attachment points for storing your external gear.
The Atmos and Aether offer anti-gravity suspension so you’ll feel like you’re carrying less weight. The Atmos’ easily adjustable harness and Fit on the Fly hip belt guarantee a perfect fit.
What Should I look for When Buying a Hiking and Camping Backpack?
Consider these top features as you browse the Osprey Aether vs. Atmos vs. Exos hiking and camping backpack options to find the one that works for you!
How much does your backpack weigh unloaded? This already determines what you can still pack into it and the additional weight you’re willing to carry.
When unloaded, the Aether 60 is the heaviest model at 5.2 lbs. at its largest capacity. The Atmos 65 is a little lighter at 4.6 lbs. The Aether has a load range of 35 to 60 lbs., whereas the Atmos supports slightly less between 30 and 50 lbs. The Aether 70 offers bulkier suspension for better performance when carrying extremely heavy loads.
How can you reduce the Aether’s weight? Remove the DayLid. Use this by itself for much shorter hikes when you don’t need a heavier backpack.
Regarding price, consider your budget and your needs. While some backpacks are cheaper than others, you ultimately get what you pay for. More features cost more.
The cheapest Osprey options include the Exos 48 for $200 and the Exos 58 at $220. The Atmos AG 50 retails for $240, while the Atmos AG 65 is slightly pricier at $270. The Aether AG 60 sells for $290, whereas the Aether AG 70 prices in at $310. The most expensive backpacks are the Aether AG 85 for $330 and the Aether Pro 70 at $375.
Some backpacks offer internal frames while others are external or peripheral. An inside frame backpack is more modern and offers better weight distribution. Center of gravity is better kept at a fairly natural position, and it’s easier on your back.
An external frame backpack is old fashioned with a less rigid frame, sitting further from your back. The result? More ventilation, but more pressure on your back.
Comparing the Aether 70 vs. Atmos 65 backpacks, the Aether AG70 is mostly an internal frame backpack. The Exos 48 and Exos 58 both offer a 4mm LightWire alloy frame. Along with the 3D tensioned breathable mesh back panel with side ventilation, you’re offered ultralight airspeed suspension from both models.
The Aether Pro70 contains an aluminum 7075 peripheral frame which effectively transfers your load to your hip belt. With the single 6061-T6 center, your back panel’s shape is maintained. The Aether AG85, Aether AG70, Aether AG60 and Atmos AG65 are all LightWire tensioned. Their fully peripheral frames comfortably transfer your pack load.
Always look for high-quality materials, to ensure your backpack is built to last. Osprey uses high-tenacity nylon, nylon pack cloth and nylon triple check dobby—all excellent backpack materials.
Your backpack’s volume refers to the liter cubic inch or liter capacity it holds. This influences what you’ll use your pack for, plus the duration of your outdoor expeditions.
Starting small, the Exos 48 offers 2746inᶾ or 45L for a small size up to 3112inᶾ or 51L for a large. By contrast, the Exos 58 small offers 3356inᶾ or 55L, up to 3722inᶾ or 61L for a large backpack.
Next up is the Atmos 65 with a size small starting off at 3783inᶾ or 62L, increasing to 4150inᶾ or 68L in its largest size.
The Aether AG70 holds the largest volume. Its smallest size offers 4089inᶾ or 67L, up to the extra-large size at 4638inᶾ or 76L.
Short day trips or longer treks? This determined what backpack you’ll pick. Comfort is your ultimate necessity. For mini getaways, the Exos and Atmos are perfect solutions. If you’re a fan of extended experiences, the Aether is your best bet.
Also consider color options. You should like how the backpack feels and looks! The Exos is available in black or green, the Aether in blue, green and orange, while the Atmos comes in blue, gray and red. For something eye catching or more neutral, the choice is yours.
When carrying loads for short or long periods, you want comfort and have minimal back strain. Osprey backpacks are designed for your comfort using various materials and systems. The Atmos comes out top. Read on to find out why!
Osprey Atmos vs. Osprey Aether vs. Exos: Comparison Review
Between the Osprey Aether 60 vs. Atmos 65 vs. Exos 58, which is better? In our comparison review we’ll specifically highlight the unique features of each backpack, particularly focusing on the Aether and Atmos models.
Storage is key! How much you fit into your pack and how it’s arranged and accessed make a huge difference.
When comparing the Aether vs. Atmos, the Atmos offers top access only, while the Aether provides top and zippered side main compartment access. This removable DayLid top lid makes the backpack function as a complete daypack. It’s helpful when you need to reach gear stowed lower down in your backpack’s main pocket. Another impressive Aether storage feature? The rain flap protecting your gear in the lower part of the backpack.
The Atmos is a standard top load top opening backpack. Its patented protective FlapJacket protects your camping and hiking gear from becoming wet in the rain once you remove the top. The result? Everything inside your backpack stays dry but you can still access it. What a win!
The Exos 58 offers top lid web loop attachments points plus accessory cord attachment points for external gear storage.
For capacity and versatility, the Aether wins between Atmos vs. Aether models. When comparing backpack capacities from sizes small to large, the Aether has a size capacity of 57 to 63 liters, while the Atmos holds slightly more at between 62 and 68 liters. The Exos 58 remains the smallest in capacity, but it’s perfect for short trips when you don’t need a big backpack for a brief getaway.
Pockets and Other Additional Storage or Compartments
It’s important to pack your backpack correctly. Focusing on pockets and other additional storage compartments helps you know the best backpack to pick.
The Aether contains front mesh pockets, two hip belts, extra storage straps and loops, totaling 11 additional compartments plus the main compartment. The Atmos offers only seven additional compartments apart from the main compartment, but you get dual side water bottle storage.
Need to store a rain fly or other camping or hiking gear? The easily accessible front stretch mesh pockets found in both Aether and Atmos models are fantastic. Store your trail snacks or mobile phone in the hip belt zippered pockets. Take advantage of the internal sleeve which stores and protects a hydration reservoir of maximum 3 liters, plus the two ice tool loops.
The Aether and Atmos both also boast removable sleeping pad straps and a zippered sleeping bag compartment including a removable divider to ensure your sleeping bag optimal protection.
Conveniently store your water bottles in the Atmos’s two easily accessible side storage pockets for that thirst quenching sip. The Exos 58’s front mesh pockets safely store your rain gear for easy access in a looming downpour. They’re also great for storing your wet gear after a cloudburst.
All three models offer the handy Stow on the Go trekking pole storage attachment as mentioned.
The Exos 58 is extremely lightweight and comfortable. The seamless layered mesh also enhances your comfort and cushioning.
Both Aether and Atmos models have been designed to offer optimal comfort, including built in sufficient ventilation and load distribution features.
For comfort and ventilation, the Atmos 65 is your best bet. It’s so comfortable you won’t even remember you’re carrying a backpack. It’s an ideal backpack for any of your favorite outdoor activities.
The Exos, Atmos and Aether backpacks are available in sizes small, medium and large, so you’re guaranteed a near custom fit regardless of your body shape and size. Keep reading to find out more about how to adjust your backpack to your perfect size.
Anti-Gravity Suspension Systems
Both Atmos and Aether offer anti-gravity suspension systems. They use a combination of a wide mesh back panel where your backpack touches your back. The result? More balanced load distribution, increased ventilation and handy compression straps and internal engineering. As it hugs your body, you’ll benefit from the provided lumbar support. Anti-gravity suspension systems create the impression you’re carrying lighter weight than in reality.
However, the anti-gravity systems in the Atmos and Aether models function differently. The Aether’s anti-gravity mesh is a lot flatter than on the Atmos, so you’ll feel it press against your body more. While it supports a higher load weight, you’ll feel more and won’t experience balanced ventilation. The Atmos offers a lighter sensation.
Anti-gravity technology only works with loads under 60 lbs., so it’s best to keep your backpack from being over packed to its full capacity for optimal efficiency.
Let’s look at the materials used in the Osprey Atmos 65 vs. Aether 70 backpack models:
The Atmos AG65’s main fabric is 100D x 630D nylon dobby. The bottom is constructed from 420HD nylon pack cloth. The Osprey Atmos 65 anti-gravity suspension design arranges your backpack to make you feel like you’re carrying less weight.
Using lightweight mesh reaching all the way up from the backpack’s top to your hip belt, you’ll benefit from the breathable mesh. The result? Less discomfort and sweating while you hike.
Another benefit of the mesh is in the adjustable load fitting harness. Pull up the adjustable hip belt for up to six inches for the perfectly personalized fit. The mesh reaches from your shoulders to your hips, so your backpack won’t cling to your back. Again, it’s more convenient as you’ll sweat less and shift the backpack weight towards your hips.
The Aether AG70 is predominantly made from nylon dobby. Nylon pack cloth covers the pack’s bottom. While the Aether uses some of the anti-gravity mesh like the Atmos, it also uses more traditional backpack styling for added comfort.
The anti-gravity mesh at the bottom half of the backpack covers your lower back and hips. Its traditional backpack system comprised of padding with airflow holes offers the top half of your body comfort. While you don’t have as much breathability, you’ll be comfortable.
The interchangeable, personalized fit harness and hip belt with adjustable torso are made to fit you perfectly according to the desired length. The hip belt’s foam construction makes it moldable, plus it custom heat-molds to your body. The backpack’s construction ensures the weight shifts towards your lower back and hips, so it stays comfortable and convenient as you carry it.
The Exos 58 is mainly made from 100D high tenacity nylon, the bottom using 210D nylon.
Suffering from back problems? Best pick the Atmos. Its design prioritizes comfort, which is a bonus if you find it challenging hiking while carrying a heavy backpack. Its ventilation makes hot day hikes or steep climbs more bearable.
The Aether contains more storage features plus its weight capacity is more suited to longer, trickier outdoor treks. If you like winter wanderings, its lower ventilation system ensures you won’t overheat. You can also carry your heavy winter equipment more easily with its suitable load range.
The Aether AG 70 is a sure winner for an extended trip of five or more days. It’s the best for its bulkier suspension, zippered access to the main compartment and convertible top lid daypack. These are handy features when carrying numerous items in your backpack over long distances. It’s also perfect for trips with your kids or fun winter getaways.
Consider a backpack’s design regarding convenience according to your camping or hiking requirements. The easily accessible water bottle pockets highlight the Atmos from the Aether.
Are expensive backpacks worth it? Again, you’ll get what you pay for. Generally, the higher the price, the more features and better quality. If you’d like to invest in something long lasting, an expensive backpack is a valuable investment.
Accessories are brilliant extra features when determining which backpack you’ll pick.
Does Osprey Aether come with a rain cover? Yes! Both Aether and Atmos models offer rain covers. Both backpacks also include a hydration bladder sleeve to accommodate a bladder of maximum 3L in size. The only drawback? You’ll need to buy the bladder separately.
The Exos 58’s integrated FlapJacket protects your packed gear when you remove the top lid, so it stays safe and dry.
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Are Osprey Bags Water Resistant?
While you’re out and about you’re bound to get wet! Is the Osprey Atmos 65 waterproof? While it’s not waterproof, it is water resistant, as are most of Osprey’s finest backpack models.
How Do You Pack an Osprey Backpack?
There’s actually a correct way to pack your backpack! This plays a large role in your camping and hiking experience. Your total carried weight shouldn’t be more than 30% of your body weight!
Depending on whether yours is an internal or external frame backpack, here’s how to pack it.
If your external backpack allows, pack your tent in the bottom compartment. If not, attach your tent securely to your backpack’s outer bottom using compression straps.
Internal frame backpacks are usually rectangular in shape. This keeps the bottom flat and keeps the top of your tent flap horizontal. Its structure keeps your backpack close to your back, and the items you’re carrying don’t move about. Your sleeping bag, tent and related accessories should go at the bottom in the sleeping bag compartment. If your backpack has separate panels, you’ll pack and access your bottom compartment more easily.
How to Adjust an Osprey Bag—Fitting an Osprey Pack to Your Size
You’re guaranteed to find a backpack that’ll fit nearly each body shape and size, but a sure benefit is the Osprey Atmos backpack’s Fit on the Fly hip belt. It allows you to easily and quickly adjust the fit while you’re on the go.
Osprey backpack models differ in their adjustment systems but include a comprehensive manual explaining how it’s done. Here are three top tips for adjusting your Osprey backpack:
Ensure the majority of the weight falls on your hips instead of your shoulders.
If too much weight falls on your hips and you feel unbalanced, distribute more weight on your shoulders.
If your shoulders feel too heavy, re-adjust your backpack to transfer more weight back to your hips.
Even if you slip out of the shoulder straps and unbuckle the waist belt, your backpack should hug your hips and stay almost in place. This shows you it’s been correctly adjusted. Remember to protect your back and stay balanced!
Are Osprey Backpacks Worth It?
You may still be wondering if it’s worth investing in an Osprey backpack. Maybe you’re even asking yourself: What is the best brand of hiking backpack? We’ve reviewed these Osprey backpacks because we believe they are worth it. When it comes to quality and comfort, they’re top of the range options to consider.
An attractive added feature is the lifetime warranty Osprey offers on both the Atmos AG65 and AG70 models. What does this mean? By buying either of these backpacks, your small damages will be repaired at no charge. Irreparable damages? The company will replace your backpack. While there’ll always be limitations, usage and your general wear and tear deterioration to keep in mind, a warranty like this is good to have.
Final Comparison: Which Osprey Pack is Best?
Which Osprey backpack is the best option for you between the Osprey Exos vs. Atmos vs. Aether?
Maybe you’ll pick the Osprey Aether because of its higher weight capacity and removable DayLid, offering you more flexibility. Heading off into colder conditions? You won’t need ventilation. If you enjoy longer treks and tend to carry more gear and hiking supplies, you’ll benefit from the Aether.
Perhaps the Atmos backpack is your best choice in terms of your personal comfort. If you only usually go on short camping and hiking trips of not more than two to four days, go for it. The Atmos offers slightly more room than a normal daypack but it’s less harsh on your back, particularly if you have back problems or aren’t a seasoned hiker.
If you only ever go on short weekend trips, then the Exos is all you need for lightweight comfort and carrying.
While each Osprey backpack model boasts various features, you ultimately need to consider your own needs and what’s best for you. You’ll have to try on a few for size to have a better idea of their actual feel and fit as you make your own Osprey backpack comparison. Between Osprey Atmos vs. Aether vs. Exos, you’re bound to find the perfect backpack for your most epic outdoor adventure yet.