Travelers, hikers, backpackers, students and everyone else who relies on backpacks to carry their belongings know too well the importance of a quality pack.
A high quality backpack is not just one that will last for a long time, withstand the elements and use, first and foremost it is a backpack that you can wear comfortably and which is designed to carry weights without straining the back.
With the number of designs available on the market, it is very difficult to make a clear cut decision on which one to go for.
This is also the case for Atmos and Aether, two very popular backpacks by Osprey, one of the most renowned brands of packs. Which one is the better one for you can prove to be quite a challenging choice.
This is why comparing products or brands provides a clearer picture on the features, differences and similarities of each, which would allow you then to make a more educated choice as to which one of them fits your requirements better.
For that reason, we have frequently compared a variety of brands and products, primarily jackets. As we are trying to expand the range of designs that we feature in our selections, reviews and comparisons, today we thought of turning our attention to backpacks.
Let’s see which is the better option for your next adventure!
- 1. Osprey – The Brand
- 2. Osprey Atmos Backpacks
- 3. Osprey Aether Backpacks
- 4. Comparison: Atmos vs Aether
- 5. Which One is Better?
* Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate this site earns from qualifying purchases (meaning: we may earn commissions if you buy products recommended/reviewed here, by following the links shown here). The availability of products in this page might change at any time. Please check the materials, features, colors and sizes on the various shops (linked in this page) before buying, because sometimes our articles might contain errors. Product images you see here are for illustration purposes.
1. Osprey – The Brand
A brand that has made quite a name in the outdoor gear market, Osprey‘s history dates back in 1974. Established in California by Mike Pfotenhauer, this is a brand of quality in both performance and durability.
If there is one thing Osprey is renowned for, is the comfort of their designs.
Packs that are made to be carried for hours on end, with a number of practical features that make it easier to access personal belongings and with superior hydration reservoir design, it is no wonder that the brand has become so beloved among outdoor adventurers and those looking for practicality and reliability in their packs.
With numerous milestones in their history, Osprey continues to make innovative efforts to build on their previous designs and improve the overall quality of their packs.
In those previous comparisons we mentioned some of the best design features that Osprey has developed over the years, namely the Hydraulics™ Reservoir for its Manta and Raptor hydration packs, the StraightJacket™ suspension compression system, the ErgoPull™ hip belt and the custom molding hip belt technology, all three of which greatly improved the carrying ability of their backpacks not just in relation to weight but also comfort.
The designs we have chosen to look at today are two of the brand’s most discussed backpacks due to the similarities they share and their great performance.
These are two very popular backpacks in backpacker communities and we are about to see what the hype is all about and which of the two you should go for.
2. Osprey Atmos Backpacks
A backpack designed for both short and long trips, Atmos is the backpack of choice for numerous hikers and backpackers, due to its numerous features that make carrying far too many items all at once much easier.
It comes with a removable top lid and a flap cover that ensures your belongings will remain dry despite the weather. The top lid can be completely removed without affecting the safety of what is stored inside as there is an additional flap integrated to keep everything safe and dry.
It is not the lightest backpack in itself but it is designed to be carried with ease and supports loads without straining the back.
It typically ranges between 47 to 68 liters depending on whether you opt for a small, medium or large size and, of course, depending on the design.
Yes, there are several Atmos backpacks, all quite similar in regards to their features but differing mainly in size and gear capacity.
Aside from the main compartment, there are six other compartments in this design, along with several zippers for additional space. Accessing the main compartment can be done from the top, while the rest are closed with zippers and are placed on the hip belt, on the lid and on the front of the backpack, the latter being the lower compartment.
Atmos comes with the AntiGravity™ 3D suspended mesh backsystem, the purpose of which is to distribute weight within the backpack evenly in order to make it easier and much more comfortable to carry heavier loads, and it is further aided by the ExoForm™/Biostretch™ harness, as well as the InsideOut™ compression.
Being lined with mesh on the back also helps greatly with breathability, making this backpack quite suitable to carry in warmer weather and when planning to be quite active while carrying it.
This is thanks to the placement of the mesh, which helps the pack itself remain separate from the back, thus creating space between it and your body, allowing air to move freely and reduce perspiration.
Aside from the load lifters that are usually found in the brand’s backpacks, Atmos also comes with load lifter bars that further improve its ability to support weight.
Its hip belt is adjustable, of course, and Osprey refers to this ability as “fit-on-the-fly”, meaning that the hip belt can be adjusted while carrying the backpack. This is an extendable hip belt that can be adjusted to fit properly.
There is one flaw, however, and it is the noisiness of the hip belt when moving, which is due to the sturdy and solid construction of the hip belt. This is similar to the Aether backpack.
3. Osprey Aether Backpacks
Aether is also a backpack that comes in various sizes and different designs, which vary primarily in their carrying capacity.
Similar to the Atmos, it also comes with the AntiGravity 3D suspension system, however, it is not nearly as breathable as the Atmos is.
This backpack has numerous compartments, as well as hidden pockets, which are quite useful for those who prefer a design that provides plenty of organized storage space.
Its main compartment is accessible from the top and the side, which makes it far easier to find the right gear or item without having to dig through everything.
Like the Atmos, its top lid is fully removable. On the version of the backpack sold in the US, this top lid can be converted into a daypack, making Aether a highly versatile design that is suitable for carrying a considerable amount of weight, in particular for those traveling, while also allowing you the freedom to explore and move much lighter with a smaller size pack.
However, on the EU version of the backpack, this daypack is not present. Instead, it is replaced by an integrated raincover, which is very useful as well.
The Aether’s capacity ranges depending on the design, but it typically falls between 57 and all the way up to 88 liters, making this a design capable of carrying a considerable amount of weight.
Another one of its best features in the moldable hip belt, which makes this backpack fit much more comfortably and also capable of distributing weight better for easier carrying.
Similar to the Atmos, it also comes with a sternum strap with an emergency whistle attached in case you are in need of help while out on the trail.
4. Comparison: Atmos vs Aether
Looking at these two backpacks, they look like a great number of backpacking backpacks do. However, as you have seen so far, there are some differences between the two.
Capacity and Comfort
Starting with capacity, as a crucial differing criteria between these two designs, the Aether backpack is made for longer trips, which also explains its larger capacity on average.
A larger capacity for carrying requires a sturdier build, which often translates into added weight of the product itself.
Such is the case with the Aether, as it is the heavier of the two. In fact, it is considerably heavy in itself and may prove to be a problem for those who intend to do a lot of walking.
As for comfort, due to the design and considering online reviews of both amateur and experienced backpackers and hikers, Atmos may be the better of the two by a very narrow margin.
This is due to its AntiGravity suspension system, which is designed in a very particular way, allowing for a considerable amount of ventilation.
In regards to fit, however, the Aether is said to be better thanks to its moldable hip belt.
This will be very brief as there is only one difference here, the side access zipper on the Aether, which is missing in the Atmos, leaving it accessible only from the top.
Regardless of whether you are looking at the US or the EU version of the bags, the Aether design comes with additional features that make it far more versatile.
First of all, its hidden pockets and large size make it much more suitable for carrying heavier loads. The convertible top lid provides a daypack that is quite useful for those looking to travel light. In the EU version, this daypack is substituted by a raincover, another useful feature that helps protect your belongings.
The Atmos has neither of these, but it does have its lighter size and comfortable mesh panel that make it a far more suitable design for those who prefer shorter trips.
Durability and Warranty
Regarding durability, both of these designs are very durable and there isn’t much difference in which one can withstand use better.
The Aether may have a slight advantage in the EU version due to the raincover, which will help it be less susceptible to the elements, but that is about it. They are both made of Nylon Dobby fabric that varies in thickness and weave.
As for warranty, Osprey really comes through and offers Lifetime Warranty for both designs, which also includes free of charge repairs for small damages or a replacement should these damages be irreparable.
Because the different versions available are nearly identical to each other, varying primarily in their size and capacity, we will include just their name, maximum dimension and capacity, in order to provide a general overview of how large they are.
The Atmos AG backpacks:
- Atmos AG 50 (check it out on Amazon.com) – 83(l) x 38(w) x 39(d) cm; ~50L, 2.02 kg (4.45 lbs)
- Atmos AG 65 (check it out on Amazon.com) – 87(l) x 39(w) x 41(d) cm; ~68L, 2.19 kg (4.82 lbs)
The Aether AG backpacks:
- Aether AG 60 (check it out on Amazon.com) – 83(l) x 39(w) x 31(d) cm; ~60L, 2.29 kg (5.04 lbs)
- Aether AG 70 (check it out on Amazon.com) – 85(l) x 40(w) x 34(d) cm; ~76L, 2.33 kg (5.13 lbs)
- Aether AG 85 (check it out on Amazon.com) – 87(l) x 43(w) x 39(d) cm; ~88L, 2.42 kg (5.33 lbs)
5. Which One is Better?
These are both great backpacks, which share many similarities, but their purpose is different.
The Atmos is better suited for day trips or trips shorter than 5 days, due to its smaller capacity and less features. It is very comfortable, quite practical and made to last. Its ventilation is one of its best features, making it a great backpack for warmer weather.
On the other hand, those who are going on longer trips should consider the Aether, as its numerous pockets, larger size and design made to carry heavier loads are its best features.
This is a backpack very suitable for cold weather, too, as it does not allow for much ventilation. It comes with a convertible top lid (US) or a raincover (EU), making it quite versatile as well.
Which one should you choose?
We would go with the Atmos design for its superior comfort and breathability, and with the Aether for its practicality and numerous features.