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Reviews > Packs > Frameless Backpacks and Day Packs > Osprey Talon 33 Pack > Test Report by David Heyting

Osprey Talon 33 Backpack
Test Series

Initial Report November 30, 2007
Field Report February 24, 2008
Field Report April 20, 2008

Tester Information:
Name: David Heyting
Age: 30
Gender: Male
Height: 6’ 0”, 1.83 m
Weight: 205 lb, 93 kg
City, State, Country: Snoqualmie, Washington, USA

Backpacking Background:
I have been hiking and backpacking for over 15 years. A great deal of the backpacking that I do is related to mountaineering and rock climbing in the Pacific Northwest. When not climbing, I’m a hiker that tries to go light in order to push more miles. My main areas of exploration are the Washington Central and North Cascades, but have done lots of hiking in the British Columbia Coastal Range as well as the Oregon Cascades. I am also an avid adventure racer and compete in several races each year ranging from 2 hours up to several days in duration.

Product Information
Manufacturer: Osprey Packs
Model: Talon 33
Listed Weight: 1 lb 14 oz / .85 kg
Measured Weight: 2 lb 1 oz /.91 kg
MSRP: $129.00 US
Size: M/L
Color: Midnight Blue

Product Description:
The Talon Osprey 33 in a M/L (this is the size that I am testing) is a 2000 cu in. (33 L) backpack that is designed (per the Osprey website) to meet the needs of all types of people from expert light and fast backpackers, to hardcore alpinists to adventure racers. The pack is recommended by the manufacturer for weights range from 20 to 30 pounds (9 to 13 kg). It is a top-loading pack with a fixed top pocket. The a majority of the pack is constructed with 70D x 100D nylon which is used on all but the bottom of the pack which is built with 160D x 330D nylon fabric which ads toughness to the most abused area of the pack.

Talon 33

The Talon 33 features AirScape technology in the back panel. The panel is mesh covered and features 4 mm HDPE ridge molded foam with integrated air channels. The Talon also has a torso adjustable harness that can be moved to fit the needs of a variety of sized users. Likewise the sternum strap also has three adjustable positions to fit different users. The hip belt features what the owners’ manual refers to as an ergo pull system that tightness from multiple points for a snug fit. It also features mesh covered perforated foam padding around the waist.

The Talon 33 is also full of features: front and side stretch woven pockets, an integrated blinker attachment patch, side compression carry straps, a tow loop for adventure racing, dual ice ax loops, lots of additional tie off points, hip-belt zippered pockets, a built in whistle to the sternum strap, built in hydration pockets, small stretchy pockets positioned on the shoulder straps, and multiple hidden zippered pockets for carry small items.

Airscape back pannel with air channels

Initial Report
September 21, 2007

Initial Impressions:
My initial thought on the Osprey Talon 33 is Wow! This pack is full of lots and lots of unique features. The back panel is constructed with Airscape technology which uses a molded foam panel for support, but has air panels built in, which is designed to allow for better airflow between the pack and my back. The Talon has torso adjustable shoulder straps, which I used immediately and adjusted to the tallest size. The adjustment was very quick and easy. By breaking the hook and loop connection and sliding the harness up and down the backpanel, the torso length can be adjusted up to 3 inches (7.6 cm). The pack has sewn in markers of how to line the straps back up on the pack so that the straps can be adjusted properly. There are three different markers that represent three different lengths that can be used.

The shoulder straps are made with mesh covered perforated foam. This is a unique idea as it appears that the perforations not only reduce the weight of the pack, but also allow better air flow through the pack, which can lead to a more comfortable ride. The sternum strap has a built in whistle, which is a nice touch. The straps also can be adjusted to three different locations. I left mine in the lowest settings. I did notice that the straps feature a reinforced backing, which should hopefully prevent the straps from breaking. There is nothing worse then a broken sternum strap. The hip belt also has perforated foam covered with mesh as does the shoulder straps. There are pockets on each hip. The pockets are big enough to store multiple bars and feature a rubber reinforced rope zipper pull that is big and easy to grab.

Sternum Strap with whistle

The pack is top loading and has a fixed top pocket that has two hidden pockets. One on the inside that has a hook and loop connection to keep it sealed and one on the bottom of the pocket that zips closed. There is a separate hydration pocket that is built in that keeps the bladder out of the main compartment. The main compartment features a drain hole, which is a nice touch for someone who has capsized a kayak or two during a race. The outside of the pack features three stretchy pockets, one on the back of the pack that can be used to carry a bike helmet or snow shovel. And two on the both sides of the pack that are both big enough to carry a Nalgene bottle.

The pack has lots of different tie down places where all sorts of things can be attached. There are eight in total. Two of which have a shock cord and can be used to secure an ice axe or trekking poles. It has two ice axe loops and includes a tow loop. All and all I am very impressed with all of the bells and whistles on this pack. There are lots of specialty items that I hope to use from carrying my ice axe to allowing an easy hook-up to tow a teammate during the race.

Two ice axe loops with center tow loop

Reflective "talon" artwork on the pack

Expected Testing :
I plan on using the Talon 33 for a little bit of everything. From climbing and carrying a rope, ice axe and crampons to adventure racing in which I will be towing, carry biking gear and running. I will also be carrying close to 30 lbs (13 kg) quite a bit with this pack, thus I will be hopefully able to gauge how well it handles weight. This pack has lots of things that I am excited to try out.

Initial Likes and Dislikes:

Likes: The hip belt pockets are large and easy to access!

The hip belt pockets with easy grab zipper pull

Dislikes: Nothing so far!

Field Report
February 24, 2008

Field Conditions and Locations:
I have taken the Osprey Talon with me on several trips during the Field Testing period and used the pack for one winter adventure race. I completed the race in just under six hours, the race included sections on foot and on mountain bike. The race was held in an urban park setting. My trips included a 17 mile (27 km) hike in the foothills of the Central Cascades where I climbed to the top of Mt. Teneriffe 4788 ft (1459 m). There was about 4 inches (10 cm) of snow on the ground at the summit. Temperatures at the summit were right around 32 F (0 C). I used the Osprey Talon exclusively while in Government Camp, Oregon which is located at the base of Mt. Hood, where I spend four days snowshoeing and cross country skiing in and around the area. I logged daily trips from Government Camp up to the Timberline Ski Area. I estimate that in total I did about 15 miles (24 km) on snowshoes and about 20 miles (32 km) on skis. Temperatures were in and around the mid-twenties (-4 C). I spent a day out on Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park, with about 4 inches (10 cm) of fresh powder. Hurricane Ridge is at 5,240 ft (1597 m), where I logged a 12 mile (24 km) trip. I also was able to experience some much colder temperatures during a three day trip up to Whistler, Canada where I was able to do some snowshoeing while wearing the Pack in 0 F (-18 C) temperatures. The Osprey Talon 33 was with me on a 35 mile (56 km) trek in the Issaquah Alps area in the Cascade Foothills and I used it on a 18 hour training session in the San Juan Islands that included both trail running and mountain biking at Moran State Park. The Osprey Talon also accompanied me on five separate shorter day trips ranging from 6 to 10 miles (10 to 18 km). All in all I was able to experience some hiking, trail running, mountain biking and adventure racing with the Osprey Talon 33. During almost all of my testing I would say that I carried weights ranging from 20 lbs up to 30 lbs (9 kg to 14kg). Overall I logged two overnight trips, one adventure race and 12 trips that I would consider day hikes during the field testing period.

Field Performance:
The thing that I have been most impressed with Osprey Talon, has been its comfort during intense activities. The pack has been very comfortable while hiking; however it has been incredibly comfortable during trail running. During these periods, I have experienced very little movement with the Talon Pack. In my opinion this really sets this pack apart as most packs seem to move up and down a lot during intense running. The Talon seems to stick to my back and allows me to move with ease. The hip belt and shoulder straps have been very easy for me to adjust and are very comfortable. The way the hip belt straps pull from both the top and bottom, provide a nice snug fit around my waist. I was unsure about the mesh covering on top of the foam padding that is used on the shoulder straps on the back panel as to the touch it appears like it could be rough; however this has not been an issue the have been very comfortable while in use. I think the way the foam backing is perforated, helps the pack allow for such great range of motion and snug fit. During use I did have to adjust the length of the back panel multiple times before finding a good fit. This was easy to do by simply adjusting the panel to one of three lengths that the manufacturer has marked on the pack.

Close up of three marked locations to adjust the length of the shoulder straps.

The Talon 33 has lot of great features however three of my favorites are: the hip belt pockets, trekking pole holsters, and a built in tow strap. The hip belt pockets are a must in my book. The pockets on the Talon 33 feature an easy pull tab that is big and easy to grab for me, even when in the dark with gloves on! I have found that the pockets have enough room for several bars in each one. The system for strapping trekking poles to the pack is easy to use and keeps them secure on my back. The pack has two loops for the tips of the poles and then a stretchy strap that goes over the handle in order to keep them tight. I have found this to be quite useful, especially when I have the two outer back pockets full of items, then I do not have to use up pocket space if I want to stow my poles. I have also found use of the tow strap during some training hikes; it makes it easy to lack onto with a carabineer and attach my towing strap. I have also found this to be great when towing my children in sleds while enjoying the snow!

The separate bladder system has also been something that I have really enjoyed. Because the compartment for the bladder is completely separate from the back, it makes it very easy to rehydrate on the trial, without having to take everything out of my pack in order to complete the task. This has also been nice when getting water from a stream or river as typically I find that I sometimes end up getting the bladder wet and thus get the inside of my pack wet when I put the bladder back in. However with the Talon 33 this is not an issue.

The outer pack pocket is very stretchy and easily carries a biking helmet or climbing helmet. I have also found that the pack is very reflective; this has been great while biking as the pack features the talon logos that light up.

The only item on the pack that I have found to be cumbersome is the main buckle that connects the hip belt. Osprey uses what I would call “skeleton” buckles. Which are buckles that feature plastic only around the edges of the buckles. Those seem to be all the rage with many manufacturers; however I find them hard to buckle with gloves on or with cold hands.

Field Summary:
I really have been impressed with the Talon 33 so far. I really think that the way this pack is designed it can meet my needs regardless of my adventure. From day hiking to adventure racing, I have found the pack to be very comfortable. The storing capacity and multitude of pockets and strapping mechanisms make it easy to carry lots of varying equipment. The pack manages weights up to 30 lbs (14 kg) quite well. Based on the performance of this pack I will be for sure using it as my main adventure racing pack for the upcoming season and beyond, which is probably the most telling thing that I can say about the pack.

Items for Continued Testing:
The only thing that I have not yet done in the pack is mountaineering. I hope to get in a trip or two during the Long Term period to see how well it carries a rope and ice axes as well as how well it moves while I climb.

Field Testing Likes and Dislikes:

Likes: Everything this pack is the total package.

Dislikes: The buckles are small and can be hard to buckle at times.

Long Term Report
April 20, 2008

Long-Term Conditions:
During the Long-Term testing period, I have spent lots of time with the Talon on local mountains. I have made weekly trips up Tiger Mountain, which is part of the Issaquah Alps in the Central Cascade foothills. It is a six mile (10 km) round trip hike to the top, which is at 2,500 ft (760 m). I have also made five trips up in and around Mt. Si and Mt. Tenerife. The two peaks feature a cross-country traverse to connect the peaks. Both are over 4,000 ft (1200 m) and feature elevation gain of over 3,000 ft (900 m). I also have done trail running with the Talon, using a trail system that is near my house. I did three trips on snowshoes, in and around Snoqualmie pass near Alpental Ski are and via Tunnel Creek. I was able to compete in another adventure race with the Talon. This was a sprint race, where I was packed light and tried to move fast. All in all I have done 15 trips that I would consider day hikes during the Long-Term reporting period.

Long-Term Performance:
The best thing about the Talon 33, in my opinion, has been the way the pack rides with minimal movement. During all types of activities from biking, to hiking to trail running to kayaking, the Osprey seems to move with my body well. In past experiences I have had packs that tend to bounce around a lot, no matter how well strapped down they are. I think this has lots to do with the perforated hip belt and shoulder straps. Not only do the holes reduce weight, but it seems to allow lots of pivot points for the pack to move with me. I have also found that both the hip-belt and the shoulder straps are very comfortable.

The pack has lots of bells and whistles as I like to call them. The Talon has lots and lots of straps and pockets for carrying various items during adventures. I have thought that a couple straps seem to be a little bit of overkill. For example, there are two buckles that need to be strapped together to secure the top pocket. However the usefulness of some of the items, far out weights the occasionally annoyance of have to secure an extra strap. I really enjoy the system that is designed to carry poles. The pack features two small loops for the tip of the each pole and a strap to secure the main shaft of the pole to my bag. I like it because it is so easy to use. I spend lots of time changing between using poles and not using poles, this makes it an easy task.

I have found the hip-belt pockets to be a little bit too small and can be hard to open with one hand. I have found myself wanting just a little bit more space in the pockets to store an extra energy bar or to have enough room to fit my camera and something else. What has been more difficult during activities, however, is not being able to open the zippers with one hand. I have found that I need to use two hands to open up the zipper and during period of strenuous exercise this is a problem. For an activity like biking this is huge as I have had a very hard time getting to snacks without stopping my bike.

Maybe I am a holdout to older gear, however I really do not like the skeleton buckles. I find them very hard to use with gloves and if my hands are cold or swollen from long days or cold temperatures.

Continued Use:
I have been and will continue to use the Osprey Talon 33 as my main hiking pack. I also will continue to use the pack for all of my adventure racing. I have found the pack to be a great choice for racing as it has all of the critical items that a good adventure racing pack must have. Things like a tow strap, hip-belt pockets, a separate water bladder compartment, an outer open pocket for storing a bike helmet, and a way to carry poles and an ice axe, are all covered in the Talon. It even has a great reflective talon pattern on the back that is wonderful for biking .

Overall I really like the Osprey Talon 33; I have found it to be a great pack for a number of different activities. It seems built for someone like myself, that does numerous outdoor activities, but yet only wants to have to worry about owning one pack. The pack is durable and sturdy and even features some great graphics.

Long Term Likes and Dislikes:

Likes: As I have noted before: this pack is the total package.

Dislikes: The Hip-belt pockets are a little bit too small and hard to open. The buckles are small and can be hard to buckle at times.

This concludes my Test report. Thank you to both BackpackGearTest and to Osprey for this fantastic opportunity to test the Talon 33.

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