Osprey Talon 44 Backpack
By Raymond Estrella
December 27, 2008
Orange County, California, USA
6' 3" (1.91 m)
200 lb (90.70 kg)
I have been backpacking for over 30 years, all over California, and in many of the western states and Minnesota. I hike year-round, and average 500+ miles (800+ km) per year. I have made a move to lightweight gear, and smaller volume packs. I start early and hike hard so as to enjoy the afternoons exploring. I usually take a freestanding tent and enjoy hot meals at night. If not hiking solo I am usually with my wife Jenn or brother-in-law Dave.
Manufacturer: Osprey Packs Inc
Web site: www.ospreypacks.com
Product: Talon 44
Size: Medium/Large (also available in Small/Medium)
Year manufactured: 2007
Weight listed: 2 lb 7 oz (1.1 kg)
Actual weight 2 lb 7.3 oz (1.11 kg)
Volume listed: 2700 cu in (44 L)
Load weight capacity suggested: to 26 lb (11.8 kg)
Color reviewed: Moonlight Blue (also available in Acid Green and Spicy Chili)
Warranty: (from company web site), "Our lifetime warranty covers defects in materials and craftsmanship for the lifetime of the backpack. Products found to be defective will be repaired or replaced at the discretion of our Warranty Department."
The Osprey Talon 44 pack (hereafter referred to as the Talon or pack) is a blue top-loading pack that is positioned by the manufacturer for "Overnighters, Thru-hiking, Climbing & Cragging". If hiking up to 140 miles (225 km) at a time counts as thru-hiking that fits me to a T, otherwise three out of four ain't badů
The blue sections of the pack are made of 70 x 100 denier "shadow check" (rip-stop) nylon. The grey areas are made from heavier 160 x 330 denier "shadow check" nylon. Although I can find no reference to it in the attached owner's manual or the web site, the fabrics feel as if they have a polyurethane coating applied to the inside surface. It is tacky feeling inside the body. If this the case it should add to the water shedding properties of the pack. (More later.)
The main pack consists of a single top-loading sack. There are no dividers or pockets inside it. There is a 5 in (13 cm) extension collar at the top of the body. A pretty beefy draw cord closes the top of the extension. The draw cord secures with a finger-pull style cord lock. Another draw cord sits at the bottom of the extension for when the extra space is not required. A nylon strap with a lightweight quick-disconnect buckle goes over the top of the pack allowing it to be used to carry a climbing rope. It also helps compress the top of the pack, pulling the body away from the back of the wearer's head.
A side compression strap runs in a V-configuration on each side of the pack at the lower section. Another horizontal compression strap sits above them on the upper portion of the pack. On the front of the pack is a pocket made of "stretch woven material with Lycra". This pocket is open at the top and secures with a centered fast-disconnect buckle. This same material is used for the side pockets, found under the compression straps.
The face of the pack is just loaded with goodies. Dual ice axe loops at the bottom correspond to bungee-style tie-offs above. There are four extra tie-off loops on the lower section and a tow-loop centered at the bottom of the Talon. A blinker patch is also thrown in for good measure. The Osprey logo is applied just below the blinker patch and three raptor "talons" are applied to either side, hence the name of the series.
An adjustable and removable lid bearing an Osprey logo patch sits on top of the Talon. It has a mesh pocket underneath it. The lid has a large pocket accessed by a zipper with a great zipper-pull. It is very easy to grab. Inside of the lid storage is another small pouch-type pocket that will fold out of the main area, and a key-ring clip. Here is a picture of it.
While my other Talons are frameless the Talon 44 has an aluminum rail with composite side struts to support larger loads. It also has a "mesh covered HDPE ridge molded foam backpanel with integrated air channels". The air channels run horizontally and are spaced about a half inch (13 mm) apart. The mesh is only attached at the outside edge of the frame sheet and floats away from it when pressure is off.
A section devoid of the ridged channels runs up the center of the panel and splits off to either side near the belt. The company calls this feature the "AirScape". It can be seen as the whitish area inside the mesh in the picture.
The shoulder straps are made of mesh covered foam that has slots cut out of it to reduce weight. On each shoulder strap are two elastic loops to act as hydration tube guides, and one stretch material pocket sized to fit energy gel packets. Each shoulder strap has the normal adjustment straps at top going to the pack to pull it close to the back, and at the bottom going to the hip belt. A three position sternum strap crosses the shoulder harness and closes with a quick-connector that doubles as a whistle.
The Talon adjusts for torso length by pulling the harness yoke connecting the shoulder straps together (seen below) away from the hook and loop holding it in place. The harness may then be slid up or down using the arrows (one is visible in the center of the pack in the picture) to guide placement. A quick press once it is in place does the trick. The hook and loop is very strong.
The hip belt is constructed the same way as the shoulder harness. It has the normal Osprey "V" type routing of the adjustment strap. By pulling the straps towards the center instead of away it tightens the belt. On both the hip belt and shoulder pads are sliding D-ring keepers that keep the excess strap from dangling down, or flapping around.
Each side of the hip belt sports a decent sized pocket. The body of the pockets is stretch mesh, while the top is the shadow-check nylon. A zipper with a nice sized finger pull accesses them.
I used the Talon 44 as a climbing pack for the following trips.
Two days in Joshua Tree National Park carrying rope, rack, helmet extra clothes, lunch and water. The temps were cool in the mornings, about 53 F (12 C) or so with some wind. The sun was shining bright though and it got up to 72 F (22 C) in the afternoons. Pack weight was probably around 20 lb (9.1 kg).
Next was a sport climbing trip to Malibu Creek State Park. This trip saw a high temperature of 77 F (25 C). The starting elevation was 561 ft (171 m). The distance hiking to the crag was 3 mi (5 km).
A two day trip to Red Rocks, Nevada with approaches to the crag averaging 1.5 - 2 mi (2 - 3 km) with temperatures reaching a high of about 95 F (35 C). Starting elevation was 3500 ft (1067 m).
I used it for multi-day backpacking on the following trips.
Jenn and I went to San Jacinto for an overnighter and set up camp in Lower Chinquapin at 9000 ft (2743 m) elevation. The low was 38 F and the high was 54 F (3 to 12 C) but felt warmer because of the bright sun. There was still a lot of snow with the trails being about 50% covered. Starting pack weight 26 lb (11.8 kg).
Two day trip in San Gorgonio Wildreness. This from my hiking log: Dave and I went to Fish Creek trailhead and took the Pacific Crest Trail to the top of a ridge north of the Whitewater River and back. It was a grueling 30 mile (58 km) trip. 6000 ft (1830 m) of downhill in new boots with a too-roomy toe-box made for some bad blisters. We found a pretty nice camp site on Mission Creek, the low only got down to 57 F (14 C). It was pretty hot, 86 F (30 C) and the climb back with 10 miles (16 km) of almost uninterrupted climbing was torture. We crossed creeks and springs 78 times in two days with trails consisting of dirt, sand, scree and exposed granite. Starting pack weight 28 lb (12.7 kg).
Dave and I spent two days in the Tehachapi Mountains north of Mojave. The temps were between 35 and 66 F (2 to 19 C). We went 42 miles (68 km). We had to carry all our water so my pack was 35 lb (15.9 kg) starting out.
I used it a couple of times as a winter daypack carrying around 20 lb (9.1 kg) of food water and extra clothing and snowshoes (when they were not on my feet).
The most enjoyable use was as a daypack in Hawaii on the big island. Jenn and I spent six days hiking to snorkeling or scenic spots that are hard to get to without a boat. The hikes were anything from 0.5 to 3 miles (1 to 5 km) each way. Temps were between 76 and 82 F (24 to 28 C) and terrain was dirt, (lots of) lava, and sand. Pack weight starting out each day was about 13 lb (5.9 kg). Here is a shot nearing our destination, the green sand beach of Puu Mahana, on the longest of the hikes.
As may be seen in my reviews of the Osprey Talon 22 and 33 packs I am quite fond of this series. Because of the success I had with those packs I decided to try the 44 as a multi-day backpack. I am sure happy I did.
I love this pack. It handles the low weights and volumes that I carry when hiking by myself with no problem. While I have only used it on overnighters to date, I could easily use it for a four day trip. I would have used it for some long hikes this year had the bear canister required in Yosemite fit inside it.
I have had packs that weigh less, but none that were as comfortable as the Talon 44 at this weight or less. In fact I sold my long time light-weight fave, the Vapor Trail after about six months of owning the Talon 44.
The hip belt and shoulder straps are quite comfortable. The cut out sections of foam really help to keep me from getting as hot as I normally do. As I am a very hard sweater when I hike I am happy to report that they dry off very quickly.
While I do not carry a sleeping pad on the outside of my pack I did use the sleeping pad straps to carry my blue foam sit pad a few times. A picture of it used in this way in San Jacinto State Park may be seen above. I would also keep things on them that I may need often like my water shoes seen below. This lets the shoes drain without getting the pack or its contents wet between uses. I also use the pad straps to hold the bottom of long items like snowshoes that I put on the back of the pack.
The top lid is just big enough to keep my wallet, first-aid kit, compass, whistle and lunch handy. I like that the nylon straps attaching the lid have extra length to extend the lid above the pack body allowing storage of gear between the two. When in the Sierra I often keep my rain coat, pants and pack cover in a stuff sack in this location to be able to get to them quickly.
On one trip I was rained on and had forgotten my pack cover. I was in the rain for about an hour but no water seeped into the fabric of the pack or lid. The stretch fabric did get quite wet. This makes me believe that the tackiness I feel inside the pack is a coating of some kind.
As I never use the sleeping bag compartment to hold my bag I never used the sleeping bag access zipper. Personally, if I had the option I would order the pack without it.
I really like the hydration pocket being positioned between the pack and the back panel. It makes it much easier to fill a bladder in the middle of the hiking day when I do not have to dig it out of the pack. It also makes it easier to see how much water I have left at any given time.
I also have really come to like having pockets on the hip belt. I keep sun block and lip balm and Shot Bloks in one and hard candies in the other. (Please see my Shot Blok review for a description of these chewy snacks.)
The stretch pockets on the side work very well too. They hold my Aquafina water bottle (see review) and camera with no problem and I can just reach them to remove and replace. The only problem concerning them is something shared with my other Talon packs. If the side compression strap is tightened it is very difficult to remove, and especially replace, items. If future versions of the pack ran the straps through a slot like a button-hole in the pocket it would allow the straps to be pulled taut without hindering access to the pocket.
I use the front stretch pocket to carry my hat and map most days. But I will put my rain coat in it on days that it looks like it may be off and on a lot.
While I did not use the rope strap to carry our climbing rope I did use it a lot in Hawaii. I would run it through the heels of my snorkel fins and criss-cross the sleeping bag straps over the bottoms of them. I carried them this way to eleven beach locations over 6 days. Here is a picture of it this way on a trail cut into the lava of a cliff face.
I really like the Talon 44 and plan to use it for many years to come. If they change the way the side compression straps run over the pocket I will be all over a new one though. I leave with a shot of it on a snowy spring-time trail.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.
Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.
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