Backpacking trips are incredibly fun, and are a great way to travel and experience new countries on a budget. However, you should always allocate a part of that budget for a high quality backpack because nothing can ruin a trip like having a pack break down in the first couple of days. That is why I selected two awesome Osprey packs for you – the Xenith and the Aether.
Both of these are very good and large backpacks, and would make a great choice for a longer trip. However, there are some notable differences between the two. So, if you are trying to choose between one or the other, you’ve come to the right place. I will tell you everything you need to know about these two Osprey backpacks in this detailed comparison.
If you find that neither one is fully up to your standards, you could always check out some other Osprey backpacks for travel. Otherwise scroll down and join me in this detailed comparison of the Osprey Xenith and Aether backpacks!
The Osprey Xenith backpack is available in 3 sizes and 2 colors. It is important to note that, unlike many other Osprey backpacks, there are no differences between these three. All features that you see on the Xenith 75 you will also see on the 88 and 105. So, you can choose the size that is best suitable for you, without giving up any cool features.
2.34 kg (M)
2.38 kg (M)
90 (l) x 39 (w) x 37 (d) cm
94 (l) x 41 (w) x 44 (d) cm
90 (l) x 41 (w) x 46 (d) cm
The Aether AG backpacks are also available in 3 sizes, and also 3 different colors. And, just like the Xenith backpacks, all three versions have the exact same features.
2.29 kg (M)
2.33 kg (M)
2.42 kg (M)
83 (l) x 39 (w) x 31 (d) cm
85 (l) x 40 (w) x 34 (d) cm
87 (l) x 43 (w) x 39 (d)
So, you probably noticed that the Aether backpacks are smaller in general. However, I find it funny that the Xenith ones are actually lighter. Just look at the largest versions of the backpacks; there is 0.03 grams difference between their respective weights, but also a capacity difference of 20 Liters.
That is because the Xenith backpacks are made from a somewhat better and lighter material. And also there is the fact that the Aethers have an integrated raincover that adds a few more grams to their weights. But we’ll talk more about that later.
Let’s start off this review by checking out what features these two Osprey backpacks share.
Of course there are going to be some features that are exactly the same on both of these backpacks. Osprey is a very good gear manufacturer, and they know just how to integrate everything that is very important into a pack. But they also know which features will take the design of the backpacks a step further, and warrant a higher price tag. But we’ll talk about those a little bit later.
The length of the torso can be adjusted on both the Aether and the Xenith, just like we saw on the Osprey Talon backpacks. There is a small compartment in the back panel where there are a few more inches of the shoulder straps.
So, you can either shorten them or extend them, depending on what works best for your body. But, it’s good to know that anyone will be able to get a perfect fit with either backpack.
Whether you are looking at these packs for a backpacking trip or just a longer camping trip, I think we can both agree that you will need a sleeping bag at one point. So, it’s good to know that there is a separate compartment on both backpacks specifically designed for a sleeping bag.
For one thing, that is very useful because the bag won’t take up space in your main compartment. And, there are also straps on the outside of your backpack, if you don’t want to carry the bag attached to the backpack itself. This will allow you to maximally utilize all of the storage space of these packs.
So, the top lid of these backpacks is actually called a DayLid. It’s not just a lid, it’s also a daypack that you can take off and use to carry only the necessities with you. However, it is not always included in the purchase, and we’ll talk about that in a minute.
Anyway, you can see how to remove the DayLid in this video:
And as you can see, the main compartment won’t be completely bare when you take it off. There is also a FlapJacket cover that will protect all of your stuff in that case.
There are attachment points for trekking pole on both of these backpacks, and they are called Stow-on-the-Go. One attachment point is on the shoulder strap, and the other one is on the lower part of the front of the backpack.
With these additions, Osprey made these backpacks slightly more versatile. Yes, their giant size might make them slightly uncomfortable for shorter hikes, but it’s always good to have options. And, their smallest variants are actually perfectly suitable for both hiking and trekking.
Both of these Ospreys feature double stretch side pockets. You could use these to keep water bottles, or basically anything that you know can fit comfortably inside them.
In addition to these, there are also stretch front pockets on both the Aether and the Xenith. They are particularly convenient for when you want to quickly stash a hoodie or a jacket. And then when you need your clothes again, you can access them very easily.
Even though there are performance differences between the two different hipbelts on these backpacks (we’ll talk about that in the next section), there are zippered pockets on both of them. And that is a particularly useful addition because these backpacks are so large.
With the zippered pockets on the hipbelt, you have the option to always have some necessities handy. That could be a phone, a camera or just some spare cash; whatever it is, it is a very cool thing that you don’t have to take the backpack off your shoulders just to get it.
In addition to that, there are also loops on the backpacks that are designed to carry an ice axe. And there are bungee cords that will further secure the axe to your backpack and ensure your safety.
So, both of these backpacks include a DayLid in their US versions. The DayLid is a detachable daypack that can also act as the cover of the main compartments of each backpack. That’s actually the removable top that I talked about earlier. However, it is not included in the European version of these backpacks.
This is precisely one of the reasons why I suggest that you buy these backpacks on Amazon. And particularly if you are from Europe; you will definitely get better value for money than buying it directly from Osprey’s site, because Amazon sells the US versions of these packs.
Of course there are going to be some notable differences between these two Osprey packs. Most of them are in terms of materials that are used in their construction. And, I don’t want to spoil anything, but I do have to say that the Xenith is the more expensive backpack, precisely because more expensive materials were used in its construction.
But does more expensive necessarily mean higher quality? Keep reading to find out. :>
The Aether backpack has an AG (AntiGravity) mesh back panel, as compared to the AirScape back panel of the Osprey Xenith. But, which one performs better?
Both of these are Osprey’s unique technologies, deigned to provide you with excellent ventilation and back support. However, the AirScape is a notch above the AntiGravity back panel, as it undoubtedly provides you with better ventilation.
I don’t know about you, but I find ventilation to be a very important factor when talking about a backpack than I’m going to carry on my back for the better part of a week. I don’t like having a sweaty back, and because of that I would say that the Xenith is the better option in that respect.
Both of the backpacks have hydration sleeves, and are compatible with Osprey’s Hydraulics Reservoirs. However, the Xenith has an external hydration sleeve (pictured), while the Aether has an internal one.
This one is really a matter of personal preference. I prefer it when the hydration sleeve is outside the main compartment, for two reasons. One, there is no risk that the water will accidently spill all over my clothing and make a mess.
And two, an internal sleeve just takes up more space inside your main compartment. You could use that space to pack a few more items, especially when you consider that the Aether backpacks have significantly smaller capacity than the Xenith ones.
The Xenith backpack is equipped with the BioForm hipbelt (left photo), whereas the Aether has an IsoForm one (right photo). Now, what does that actually mean?
Even though these hipbelts might look almost exactly alike, there are some notable differences. The first one is in their prices; the BioForm is the more expensive hipbelt. And in turn, it is the better performing one.
It is the more comfortable hipbelt, but also the heavier one. That basically means that it will do a better job at distributing the load of the backpack across your entire torso. However, if you are already dead set on getting the Aether backpack, you should know that there is an option to purchase it with the BioForm instead of the IsoForm hipbelt. And I highly advise you to do that.
This Osprey backpack will provide you with more options for organization of your gear. It features 2 zippered front pockets that are easy to access, and that the Aether backpack doesn’t have.
In addition to that, the Xenith backpack has two zippered side access points. They will allow you to access the main compartment of your backpack from the sides, which is a very convenient addition. Particularly because they allow you to reach the bottom of your backpack more easily, and without having to take out anything else.
The Aether backpack is, however, a bit more practical, in terms of combining it with other Osprey products. For one thing, it’s compatible with the Daylite and Daylite plus backpacks, which is very convenient for longer trips.
If you were to attach a Daylite backpack to the Aether, you would have the option of switching between the two. This is especially useful in situations when you don’t really need al 50+ lbs of gear you brought along.
Additionally, a raincover is included in the purchase of this backpack. This means that the Aether backpack will kind of give you better value for money, since no additional products are included with the purchase of the Xenith backpack. And just for reference, a large Osprey raincover would set you back more than $30, if you had to buy it separately.
First of all, both of these backpacks are high quality and expensive backpacks. And you will hardly make a mistake with either one.
That being said, if you don’t mind the higher price tag, Xenith is the way to go. It is the bigger backpack, which means that you can comfortably use it for longer trips. And it has a better back panel, as well as a more comfortable hipbelt, which makes all the difference in the end. It might not feel like too big a deal in the beginning, but after spending hours with a 50+ lb pack on your shoulders, trust me you will feel the difference. The Xenith also has more pockets that will help you organize your gear much better than the Aether.
However, that isn’t supposed to mean that the Aether sucks. On the contrary, it is still a very good and high quality backpack, and you’ll probably also get more value for money if you buy it, what with the addition of a free rain cover. It still performs very well, and you won’t go wrong if you buy it.
But, if you are asking me which one is the best out of the two, I do have go with Xenith. But, feel free to check out either one on Amazon, where you will definitely get the best deal on them. :>
Related Post: Osprey Aether vs Atmos
Roger is a little obsessed with travel. He has been to over 40 countries, broken 3 suitcases and owned over 10 backpacks in 12 months. What he doesn't know about travel, ain't worth knowing!