A heavy hauler for big adventures, the Ariel/Aether is a staple pack in Osprey’s backpacking range. With my wishlist of multiday hikes growing by the day, I found myself in desperate need of a new hiking pack, and after reviewing Osprey’s incredible (and at times mind-boggling) range, I opted for the Ariel Plus 70. Building on the classic Ariel with some serious feature upgrades, it’s the perfect pack for carrying larger, heavier loads across long distances. I recently tested it out on a couple of multiday hikes (one at Wilson’s Promontory and the other at the Blue Mountains) and was blown away by both its comfort and functionality. Check out my thoughts below.

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Specs

Load Range: 14-27kg

Backsystem: AirScape

Materials: Bluesign®-approved 210D high-tenacity nylon with a fluorocarbon-free DWR

Price: $639.95

Osprey Aether Ariel 70 Plus Specs Table
Hiking in Blue Mountains with Osprey Ariel Plus 70

Fit & Sizing

When it comes to selecting a hiking pack, the most important thing is to get the right fit. If it doesn’t fit properly, you could potentially injure yourself, or at best spend the entire hike in discomfort. My previous hiking pack was a different brand, and although I have owned my fair share of Osprey daypacks, getting fitted for a hiking pack is a different story altogether. Check out this article on how to fit your hiking pack properly for maximum comfort on the trail.

With the Ariel/Aether range, there are two sizing options for each gender, that are further customisable with Osprey’s incredible adjustment system. The harness is also adjustable so that you can play around with back length even further by simply pulling two adjustments above the hip belt. Osprey’s innovative Fit on the Fly shoulder strap and hipbelt feature an ultra-strong Velcro style adjustment, so you can extend the padding to where it feels most comfortable on your body. The sternum strap is positioned on a slider and can also be moved up and down to where it feels most comfortable.

My torso length measurement indicated that I should go for the longer back length, and I found that it fit really well with a few adjustments to the harness and shoulder straps. It’s super easy to adjust this pack both before you set off, and then to make minor adjustments on the move.

Adjusting Osprey Ariel Plus 70 on a hike in Wilsons Prom

Comfort & Carry

If it’s an Osprey, you can assume it’s going to be comfortable. But for multi-day trips carrying lots of gear, this is one of the most comfortable packs out there. The LightWire frame transfers the load seamlessly to the thickly padded hipbelt, and I felt very supported wearing it across 20km+ days. The pack stayed snug and secure to move with me seamlessly across trickier or uneven sections like river crossings, beach walking, and rocky scrambling. Although my back and shoulders did naturally begin to ache as the days progressed, there was minimal rubbing and friction from the pack itself.

Osprey have opted for an AirScape back panel on this pack, which uses die-cut foam for comfortable back contact whilst promoting optimal ventilation. When choosing my pack, it was a toss up for me between the Ariel Plus and the Aura AG. The big draw to the Aura AG for me was the Anti-Gravity backsystem and harness. Because it wraps so snugly around the body, I found that the Aura was marginally more comfortable and supportive than the Ariel, and I’ve heard that this backsystem is a little more breathable, too. Ultimately I wanted more volume and was drawn to the feature-set of the Ariel – but it’s definitely something to bear in mind if trail comfort is your top priority.

Weight & Load Capacity

The Ariel Plus is heavier than other packs of similar volume capacity due to the impressive feature set (more on that below), and the fact that it can handle a significant amount of weight – up to 27kg to be exact. If you’re carrying 27 kilos on trail then you might want to take a serious look at your gear list – but it’s good to know that if you need to use the Ariel Plus for travel then you can pack it out to airline weight restrictions. If you are keen to shed some weight, you can remove the lid/daypack, sleeping pad straps, and divider (although this won’t reduce it by anything more than a couple of hundred grams).

Osprey Ariel Plus 70 Airscape Backsystem

Features

If, like me, you love a good feature – this is the pack for you. Here are the main ones.

Access

This has got to be one of the most impressive elements of the pack, in my opinion. It can be opened three ways:

  1. The most convenient way to open the Ariel Plus is via the U-shaped zipper. It almost imitates a duffel-style opening so that you can see inside the body of the pack and grab whatever you need easily – no more rummaging elbow-deep in the depths of your pack when you arrive at a campsite after dark.
  2. The huge sleeping bag compartment makes it easy to open and access the base of the pack (you can remove the internal divider here for even more flexibility).
  3. And of course, you can simply open it from the top like a regular pack.
Osprey Ariel Plus 70 Access Points - U Zip and sleeping bag compartment

Removable DayLid daypack

The removable daypack is one of the most unique features of the Ariel Plus, and one that makes it so great for extended trips and travel. It sounds like a gimmick, but it’s surprisingly functional.

The DayLid is super easy to access – simply detach the lid using the buckles, and unzip the top U-shaped pocket to pull out the harness. I did find it a little bit difficult to figure out how to attach the harness to the main pack, but I got there in the end. There are two small cord loops at the base of the pack and two small buckles on the end of the harness straps – feed the buckles through the loops to attach and you’re good to go.

The daypack is a lot less basic than I expected – featuring a reservoir sleeve with a clip to hold it in place, a sternum strap, and a key clip. Two smaller pockets and a larger main compartment of around 12-15 litres make it ideal for quick summits or even day trips. I found it really convenient when veering off trail for shorter distances where I didn’t need to carry my full pack. The FlapJacket cover means your gear will still stay secure even without the lid.

Closeup of Osprey Ariel Plus 70 Daylid

Pockets

If there’s one thing Osprey does well, it’s pockets – and the Ariel Plus does not disappoint. There are a total of nine pockets on this pack, each useful in their own right. The pack features two pockets on the lid, where I stored smaller items like my head torch and power bank. Two front panel zippered pockets were useful for storing camp shoes and layers. The front shove-it pocket is ideal for stashing wet clothes and swimwear (a welcome feature when completing a coastal hike). The zippered hip belt pockets will fit most smartphones, and I also like to store some handy snacks there too. The stretch mesh side pockets are intended for bottles, however, I find these difficult to use without taking the pack off and tend to use a reservoir anyway – so they’ll usually house anything else that I need to keep fairly handy.

Spacious front pocket on Osprey Ariel Plus 70

Raincover

The pack itself features a DWR coating which will shed light rain showers, but if you’re caught in a serious downpour a raincover is invaluable. Luckily I haven’t had to use it yet, but it’s great to know that it’s there for peace of mind, especially when going into winter.

Other Features

The Ariel Plus features dedicated trekking pole and ice axe attachments to segment your gear, and removable sleeping pad straps that are great for saving space (and can also work well for carrying a wet tent). Compression straps are easy to adjust, and Osprey’s StraightJacket compression is second-to-none. It helps the whole pack feel more compact and sturdy, removing unnecessary sway and allowing the pack to really move with you. It’s also reservoir-compatible, with a large back pocket, clip and hole for the hose. Even if you’re not a fan of drinking from a reservoir, it’s a great place for storing extra water that you might need to carry on extended trips.

Adjustments and compression straps on Osprey Ariel Plus 70

Durability

I can’t comment on the long term durability of this pack, but so far, the strong 210D nylon has proven hardwearing with no visible signs of wear after a few months of abrasive use. All of the accessories and zips are really robust too, and the PFC-free DWR helps the pack to repel not only moisture, but dirt too. Even when I’ve laid the pack down in muddy conditions, it brushes off really easily and looks brand new (see here for more info on how to care for your hiking pack). Ultimately, Osprey packs are renowned for their durability – and I envision the Ariel Plus being part of my gear collection for many years to come.

Sustainability

Osprey are at the forefront of sustainability in the outdoor equipment market. The vast majority of their packs are made with recycled materials and they’re also a bluesign® system partner. Although the Ariel Plus isn’t made with recycled materials yet, it is made with 100% bluesign® approved fabrics and is completely free of fluorocarbons, reducing the chemical impact on people and the environment. If Osprey’s recent sustainability developments are anything to go by, it won’t be long until this pack is made with recycled materials, too.

Hiker wearing Osprey Ariel Plus 70 at Waterloo Bay in Wilsons Promontory

Comparison

Osprey Aether Plus

The Aether Plus is the men’s version of the Ariel Plus, and the feature set is identical. The only difference between the men’s and women’s models are women’s specific sizing and fit, meaning a narrower, shorter harness and hip belt shaped for a female figure, and a slight difference in weight because of the reduced size.

Alternative Volumes

The Aether/Ariel Plus is available in a range of volumes including 60L, 70L, and 85L, as well as a 100L option exclusively for the Aether Plus.

Osprey Ariel Plus vs standard Osprey Ariel

The Ariel Plus builds on the standard Osprey Ariel, primarily in terms of features. The main differences are the DayLid daypack and FlapJacket, Stow-on-the-Go trekking pole holders, and two front zippered pockets. It has a different style of front panel access, with the standard Ariel opening in a J-shape instead of a full U (making it a little less convenient to access). The Plus is also made with a slightly thinner but higher tenacity nylon for enhanced durability. The Ariel, however, has anchor loops for an Osprey DayLite if you need to bring a daypack along for the ride, and also features new extended fit sizing options to accommodate a wider range of bodies. Because of this pared back feature set, the standard Ariel clocks in significantly lighter at 2.198-2.218kg for the 65L version (versus 2.514-2.63kg for the Ariel Plus 70).

Osprey Ariel Plus Vs Ariel Pro

The Osprey Ariel Pro is engineered specifically for mountaineering, with a sternum strap whistle for safety and higher durability nylon. Osprey have simplified the accessories (reduced pockets, only one zipper) to make it much lighter (1.63kg-1.75kg for the 65L) and thus more suitable for testing alpine conditions.

Osprey Ariel vs other Osprey Backpacking Packs

For a more in depth comparison of different Osprey packs, check out our article here. Here’s a brief overview of how the Ariel/Aether stacks up against other Osprey backpacking packs:

Ariel/Aether: heavy hauler for extended backpacking trips

Aura/Atmos AG: AntiGravity backsystem for those who seek premium comfort on the trail  (read our review here)

Volt/Viva: minimalist backpack for weekend to weeklong trips

Kyte/Kestrel: durable workhorse for a variety of gruelling environments and distances

Exos/Eja: ultralight pack for the gram counters

Rook/Renn: all rounder value pack for shorter trips

Full image of Osprey Ariel Plus 70 with mountainous backdrop

All in all, Osprey’s Ariel and Aether Plus 70 is a fantastic pack for gear-heavy multiday trips. Although it’s a little heavier than other backpacking packs on the market, I’d argue that the features, comfort, and build quality of the Ariel Plus 70 make the weight trade-off worth it. Rugged, high volume, and packed with features that make life on the trail that little bit easier, it’s expertly crafted for extended backpacking trips where you need to carry a lot of gear with you. It exceeded my expectations on 3-4 day hikes, and I believe it will truly come into its own on even longer trips of over a week. This is a pack that is guaranteed to remain in your gear-drobe for years to come.


Osprey Ariel & Aether Plus 70 Review
Comfort90%
Features100%
Weight70%
Durability100%
Value for Money85%
89%Overall Score

About The Author

Darcy Smith

Darcy is an outdoor lover from the east coast of Scotland who is trying out life in Australia. Having travelled through much of Europe and Asia, her favourite place in the world remains the Scottish Highlands. Darcy loves hiking, camping, bulldogs, brunch and sunsets.

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