OSPREY TALON 44 BACKPACK
TEST SERIES BY DAVID BRADISH
INITIAL REPORT - December 22, 2009
FIELD REPORT - March 19, 2010
LONG TERM REPORT - May 07, 2010
davebradish AT gmail DOT com
Southern California, USA
6' 2" (1.88 m)
170 lb (77.10 kg)
I started hiking in my teens in Arizona and New Mexico, primarily focusing on winter hiking. Since 1991 I have hiked a lot with my brother-in-law Ray, mostly in California's Sierra Nevada range and the southern mountains. In winter I bring as much gear as necessary to be safe and comfortable. For 3-season hiking I try to follow the principles of ultra light.
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
|Picture from Osprey Packs|
Web site: www.ospreypacks.com
Product: Talon 44
Year manufactured: 2009
Weight listed: 2 lb 10 oz/1.18 kg
Actual weight 2 lb 8 oz/1.13 kg
Volume: 2600 cu in/44 L
Load range suggested: to somewhere around 40 lb/18 kg
My first ever review was of an Osprey pack and since then I have bought two of the first Talons, the 22 and 33, plus used my brother-in-law Ray's Talon 44 before. This new Talon 44 is completely different from the one I borrowed. Osprey says that this is their lightest multi-day pack which is why I am happy to test it. I carry pretty light loads most of the time and like a light pack to carry them in.
The Talon 44 is a top-loading pack with no dividers inside it. While it is a top-loader there is a zipper at the bottom of the pack like I am used to seeing on packs with sleeping bag compartments. It does open to the inside of the pack but I can't see that I would ever want to take something out as then all the top contents would settle down since there is no divider. It does have a 4.5"/11 cm extension sleeve at the top of the pack body. According to the owner's manual the key fabrics of the Talon are 70D x 1000D nylon shadow check and 160D x 330D nylon shadow box. As they both have checks I will guess that the nylon shadow box is the light grey areas on my pack as it makes sense to put the stronger stuff at the bottom where it will be in contact with rock and such.
There is a pull cord that goes around the top of the extension sleeve and another at the bottom of it to close the pack. A compression strap goes across the top of the pack from frame to face to pull the pack snug and can be used to carry a rope.
The pack of the Talon 44 has the same components outside that the old one did. It has two side pockets made from stretch material and a big front pocket of the same stuff. There are two tool loops and elastic attachments above them. At the bottom are the sleeping pad loops. On the sides of the pack are the compression straps. The upper straps are straight across and the lower ones are in a V shape.
There is a space between the frame and the pack itself to slide a water bladder. A small strap will hold the types that have a hole to hang them from. This way of carrying a bladder is my favorite thing about the pack. I do not like having to dig my water out of my pack to add more in the middle of the day. This is much easier.
There is a removable lid on the top of the pack. It has three straps that let it slide up and down on the extension sleeve. There is a wallet pocket and a key clip inside of the main compartment and a hidden pocket on the bottom of the lid.
The frame is completely new and is another thing I really like. While it has the AirScape backpanel like my other Talons this one has an aluminum rail with composite side struts that are going down the sides of the backpanel. Osprey says that they make for superb load control. From playing with it here I see that it has a lot of strength while pushing down on it but it flexes easily when twisting or leaning forward. It will be interesting to see how this works backpacking.
Another thing I really like about the Talon, and why I will never use the company's Exos packs, is the torso adjustable harness. The BioStretch harness yoke is attached to a big piece of hook and loop on the back of the backpanel. Ripping it apart lets the harness slide up or down to set the torso length. The shoulder straps of the harness made of mesh covered foam that is slotted to cut weight. It is the same for the hipbelt which closes with Osprey's ErgoPull closure system.
There are two big zippered pockets on the hipbelt, and a gel pocket on each shoulder strap. There are also some elastic loops on the shoulder straps to thread a water tube through.
I am pretty excited to start using the Talon 44. This concludes my Initial Report
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
I took it on what was supposed to be a three day trip but ended up being one short day as I hurt my knee. I went 7 mi/11 km in rain and snow.
I used the Talon for three days in southern San Diego County on parts of the Pacific Crest Trail. The low temperature was 37 F/3 C and it rained on two of the days. This time I went 40 mi/64 km.
I carried it on another three day trip in the Mojave Desert that was cut to two days due to excessive snow up high. I went 25 mi/40 km in almost solid rain and hail.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
So far the Talon 44 has been under a rain cover more than it has been out of one. But it has been doing the job quite well.
As the trips I have been able to take so far have mostly been in the desert I have not had to take much weight. My average load has been about 21 lb/9.5 kg with food and water at the start of the trip. The pack handles the weight with no problem at all and the suspension is very comfortable.
It also has a lot of room, more than I need so far. I have been placing my bag in a large stuff sack instead of compressing it down in a compression sack to let it take up space in the pack. At the end of the month I am going on a 3 day mountain climbing trip that should see a lot more weight and space used as I need to take extra gear.
The one nice day that I used the Talon 44 I was able to tell the difference with the mesh back compared to the foam of my older Talon. It does keep my back cooler and less sweaty. As summer approaches and the weather warms up I will appreciate this even more.
The pockets on the Talon have proven to be a great size for water bottles which I used in the lower elevations. In the higher elevations where it was colder I used a Platypus Hoser bladder in the space provided for it. One problem I do have is trying to get water bottles out of the pockets. It is even harder for me to get them back in while the pack is on. My arms just do not like to bend backwards that far.
I like that the top lid comes off. When I went to the Mojave Desert we found that there was so much mud and flooding that we decided not to spend the night in our tents and instead put one vehicle at the midpoint to drive to a motel in the closest city, Lancaster California. So rather than carry the extra weight I pulled the top off and left it and the tent in the truck, carrying just the pack body for two days. Here is a picture of it with the top off in the rain on the Pacific Crest Trail, north of Rosamond California.
The front stretch pocket is great for holding hats and gloves and shirts. It is nice to not have to go inside the pack for these things. Or maybe I should say it is nice for my brother in law. I seem to always be asking Ray to pull something out and shove another thing into the pocket for me.
So far so good, and I hope to have more fun with it over the next two months.
LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
I wore the Talon on a three day winter trip to climb San Gorgonio Mountain. This trip saw the heaviest load I have had in the Talon at just over 40 lb/18.4 kg with snowshoes and climbing gear strapped on the pack. This weight varied as terrain changed.
The last time I used it was on a 35 mile/56 km, two day trip on the Pacific Crest Trail around Warner Springs. My pack weight was 21 lb/9.5 kg starting out. The temperature got up to 68 F/20 C. Above is a picture Ray took while I was climbing around a land-slide on the trail.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
The Talon 44 has continued to do well for me. It handled a large winter load with no problem at all. It was stuffed to the gills though, as can be seen above as I am crossing Mill Creek at the beginning of the hike. We made a base camp at 9440 ft/2877 m elevation and the Talon was comfortable on the hard climb up to it.
The lid did not have enough room to carry what I needed for the summit push. But rather than carry a separate summit pack I just pulled the compression straps tight on the Talon and used it. It did not interfere with me at all as we climbed to the top of San Gorgonio and back to camp. Here is a picture during our early morning ascent.
For the warmer 3 season trip the Talon 44 was actually more pack than I needed but it carries great at a low weight. I just put my sleeping bag in the bottom of the pack and placed everything else on top of it as I had plenty of space. I am taking it on a 6 day trip to Yosemite this summer, it is perfect for that size load. And my bear canister fits in the bottom lying sideways too.
I really like how cool the mesh back is. The Talon 44 is much cooler than my older style Talon. One thing that I do not understand though is why the redesigned Talon still has the old-style pockets and compression straps. My brother-in-law has 3 Exos packs and an Aether pack from Osprey, which all have the option to run the side compression straps through the pocket instead of over it like my Talon 44 has. When tightened it makes it very difficult to put items in the pockets.
Of course even if the straps were not there I still have a very hard time even getting to the pockets in the first place. I don't really know what to suggest though.
All told I am very happy with the Talon 44 and plan to use it as my main big-trip 3 season and short duration winter pack for the foreseeable future. My thanks to Osprey and BackpackGearTest.org for letting me test it.
Cool against back
Pockets hard to use
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.
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