I wore this pack on my first multi-night backpacking trip. We went out for 6 nights and needed to bring everything with us. Having never packed a pack before, I learned what I could online. That said, I'm not a great packer. Still, the Aether 85 easily handled everything I provided it. I found the top pack very handy for the items I needed during the day like a map, snacks, etc. The lumbar pockets were also great for a quick snack grab. My sleeping bag fit nicely in the bottom zipper as well. The ability to access my gear from the front of the pack rather than just the top was another handy feature. I debated about getting the Xenith, but the subtle differences didn't seem to justify the additional $50. So I went with the Aether and I'm glad I did.
I've only used this pack for handful of wonderful weekends so far but I have to say I love it. Compared to my old ALPS pack it carries the load like a dream. I've literally tossed extra gear in it for a 10 mile hike just to see how it would handle and have been impressed every time. It cinches down nice for trips just too long for day pack and has the staying power for much more. My end goal for a pack this size was and is winter camping which is rapidly approaching fruition here in West Virginia, that will be the true test