Anyone who loves backpacking in the open country knows that having the right pack makes all the difference.
The right pack not only is capable of carrying all of your gear, it also does so with comfort and convenience.
In my years of trekking, I’ve used a surprising number of backpacks. Most of them weren’t up to par, but that isn’t the case for the two models that I’m reviewing today.
Both have great features, and it’s unlikely that you’ll regret the purchase of either one.
Still, after reading this review you may find that one is more suited to your needs than the other. Both are pretty durable and have great capacity. Personal preference will help you decide which one is right for you.
Quick comparison: Osprey Xenith Vs Aether
|Product||Weight Without Gear||Capacity||Main Fabric|
|#1. Osprey Xenith 88|
Our Best Pick
|5.53 pounds||88 Liter||420D High Tenacity Nylon|
|#2. Osprey Aether 85|
|5.368 pounds||85 Liter||210D & 500D Nylon|
Getting lost in the woods with Osprey Xenith 88 Rucksack!!
Features of the Osprey Xenith 88
When I’m going on an extended backcountry expedition, this is my pack of choice. It can tote upwards of 71 pounds of gear, making it equal to the task of carrying rations, clothing and other items with ease.
The main fabric used in its construction is 420D High Tenacity Nylon, and the 500D Nylon Packcloth material on the bottom is a valuable extra.
With Osprey’s signature LightWire suspension system, this pack offers great stability and comfort.
One of the things I most appreciate about the Xenith 88 is the BioForm harness and hipbelt, which can be heat-molded to fit anyone’s custom dimensions.
Another plus is the mesh back panel that wicks moisture away from your body on even the hottest days.
The top compartment on this pack can be removed for shorter day hikes. I like to use it as a lumbar pack when venturing from base camp.
Two hipbelt pockets offer plenty of storage capacity. Other exterior storage features include stretch mesh pockets on the sides and rear of the pack. There’s also a hydration sleeve and dual ice axe loops.
I also love the Stow-on-the-Go trekking pole system. Without having to be particularly coordinated, I can easily store my trekking poles without even pausing on the trail.
The exterior includes compression straps to easily compress loads and removable straps for toting a sleeping pad. In addition, there are dual zippered front pockets on the front of the pack. I
use these constantly for items that I want to be secure, but also want to reach quickly. They prevent the need to dump everything out of the pack when you need something from the main compartment.
Features of the Osprey Aether 85
With a maximum load of 60 pounds, this pack can’t stow quite as much gear as the Xenith 88. Still, I think it has amazing features that could make it the right pack for you.
The 210 D Nylon Dobby fabric that forms the main components of the pack is sufficiently tough for most users. Like the Xenith, this model also has 500D Nylon Packcloth on the bottom for extra durability.
The top of the Aether 85 can be separated from the main pack. It converts to Osprey’s DayLid pack. I have used this compartment for shorter day trips or when I’m just heading to the summit and then back to camp.
One of the main perks of choosing this pack is the sleeping bag compartment with a divider. This really helps to keep your gear organized and your sleeping bag accessible when you need it. Detachable sleeping pad straps are a convenient plus.
The ventilated back panel is a great addition if you’re hiking in the desert or if you have a tendency to get overheated. I also like the external hydration pocket, which is essential for a safe and comfortable trek.
The Stow-on-the-Go trekking pole system comes with this model too. Also, one of the best features on this offering is the heat molded hipbelt. There’s only one pocket on the hipbelt, so you won’t be able to stow quite as much.
However, you’ve still got dual ice axe loops and a single stretch mesh pocket on the front. Red compression straps keep everything stable and steady even when the pack is completely loaded.
As they come from the same company, both of these packs share numerous features. Still, there are differences that may tip the scale in favor of one or the other for you. Here are a few factors to consider:
Which One Wins?
For me, the Xenith 88 wins hands down. It has larger load capacity and more external pockets. The other feature that has me sold is the tougher fabric that is used in the Xenith’s construction.
I know how roughly I tend to treat my packs. That extra durability is a must for me.
Of course, the Aether 85 is no slouch. You may even find that its more streamlined approach appeals to you. The reality is that you can’t go wrong with either one. They are both adjustable, comfortable, convenient and a great value for the money.