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Reviews > Packs > Internal and External Framed Backpacks > Osprey Talon 44 > Test Report by Kathryn Doiron

Osprey Talon 44 Backpack


Test series by Kathryn Doiron
Initial Report: Jan 2, 2009

Field Report: Mar 21, 2010

Long Term Report: May 6, 2010


Image of Osprey Talon



Personal Information:
Name: Kathryn Doiron
Age: 33
Gender: Female
Height: 5' 8" (1.7 m)
Weight: 150 lb (68 kg)
Email: kdoiron 'at' gmail 'dot' com
Location: Salt Lake City, Utah, USA

Brief Background: I started backpacking and hiking seriously almost four years ago. Most of my miles have been logged in New Hampshire and Massachusetts. I have recently finished 1200+ miles (2000+ km) of the Appalachian Trail. My style is to be as light as possible while not spending a fortune. My pack weight tends to hover around 25 lbs (11 kg) with two days of food and 0.5 L of water. I have recently started getting into winter hiking, snowshoeing and kayaking.


Product Information:


Manufacturer: Osprey Packs
Website: http://www.ospreypacks.com/
MSRP: n/av
Weight: (stated) 2 lb 10 oz (1.18 kg)
Weight: (actual) 2 lb 8 oz (1.13 g)
Size/Color: Large, Magnesium (Spicy Chili and Citron also available)
Material:



Initial Report:
January 2nd, 2010

Part of their Active Light Pursuits line, the Talon 44 is a 44 L (2600 cu in.) pack recommended for overnighters, thru-hiking, climbing and cragging. The optimal pack weight is about 30 lb (13 kg). Starting from the top and working down, the pack features a detachable lid with a small internal pocket and a key lanyard. The bottom of the lid also has a mesh zippered pocket. Inside the pack is one large compartment with top entry and a bottom entry zipper. The top opening has two draw cord closures and one clip closure. There is no internal water bladder storage, rather it is possible to slide a bladder down behind the back mesh panel and secure it with a clip. The site specs claim up to a 3 L bladder can be accommodated. On the front face of the pack is a large stretch panel pocket with blinker light slots, top clip closure and a bottom drain hole. The pack has a toggle and loop system to hold an ice axe or possibly trekking poles. The hip belt is mildly padded and each side contains a zippered pocket. The shoulder straps, also mildly padded, contain an elastic system for containing a drinking hose as well as small pockets. The sternum strap is mildly adjustable with three possible slots to move the strap to for a better fit. There are two side stretch pockets. The tightening system is a simple strap at the top and a Z system for the bottom.

Detail of the back panel
Close up of back panel with bladder slot and carry handle

Based on the website, the Talon 44 was about what I expected. I was a little shocked to see so many straps initially, but once I opened up the pack and figured out where all the straps belonged, it didn't seem like so many after that. The website also claimed the pack came with a tow loop but the picture was for the Talon 33 and I didn't see one on the Talon 44. I suspect the Talon 44 doesn't feature a tow loop, which is a small loop located between the ice axe loops. The pack has a lot of features and I'm sure I missed something. It appears that the shoulder straps can be adjusted up or down with a hook and look enclosure that is contained within the air mesh back panel. The grab loop seems to be well placed but only filling the pack with weight will determine how well it really is placed.

Detail of the front pocket   Detail of the bottom entry
Detailing of the front pocket with light clip and bottom entry

I am not 100% sure what the small pockets on the shoulder straps are for. My first thought was that they were for an MP3 player, but there is one on each strap. I suspect it might also be to contain the mouthpiece of a drinking hose. I have also heard they could be for gel shots. I will play around with them and see what use I can put them to. The pack seems to be well made and I didn't notice any stitching flaws. The hip belt and shoulder straps have an interesting strap retention system, basically it is a plastic slider to keep the end of the strap handy. The belt buckle felt a little flimsy when I tried on the empty pack. I can't wait to take this pack out and see how well it contains all my gear.

Detail of the shoulder strap
Detail of the shoulder strap with small pocket and elastic strap for bladder hose

My test plan over the next couple of months will be to use the backpack on all my outdoor activities whether hiking or backpacking. My trips are generally quite varied with dayhikes, weekend backpacking trips and jaunts around town.



Field Report:
March 21st, 2010

So far I have taken this backpack out on one day hike, an overnight backpacking trip and as a carry on bag for a kayaking trip. The trips are outlined below.

Trips:

The first day hike was a 2 mi (3.2 km) hike. Temperatures were about 30 F (-2 C). Elevation started around 6000 ft (1829 ft) and gained about 500 ft (152 m). The pack was carrying several extra layers, about 2 L of water and some food. All together the pack was carrying about 13 lb (5.9 kg) of gear on this initial trip. I had a real bear of a time getting the bladder down into the space between the interior of the pack and the back panel. I had to unsnap a cord, then unbuckle a small buckle to hand the bladder from. The amount of space given to unsnap and unbuckle was not a comfortable amount. The small buckle was not easy to open and close. I did eventually get my bladder comfortably seated but not without some frustration and fighting. I hope with time this becomes easier.

The next trip out was an overnight backpacking trip. I managed easily fit in about 20 lbs (9 kg) of winter items for an easy 2 mi (3.2 km) hike up into the Front Range of the Salt Lake Valley. Temperatures were around 20 F (-7 C), elevation around 6000 ft (1838 m). I managed to fit inside the pack a sleeping bag and mat, a few extra clothes, tent, food, water, camp footwear, headlamp, and miscellaneous little items. Most of the items ended up inside of the pack, with extra winter wear in the side pockets (hat, and outermitts), plus headlamp. The front pocket contained a shed baselayer, and snacks. On the way out, the ice axe loops contained the snowshoes, which were not needed on the way down.

Pack filled for overnight trip
Pack on an overnight snowshoeing trip

I took the pack with me to Baja, and while I didn't get much hiking use out of it, I did use it as a carry on bag and stuffed it full of the extra weight that didn't make it into my checked bag. The pack was comfortable to carry around the airport and given that I could sling it on my back, I found I was able to move through the security line quickly as I wasn't juggling items. Inside the pack I was carrying extra clothes, reading material, and lots of food.

Impressions and Comments:
So far I have been enjoying the Osprey Talon. This is a versatile pack that is working well for me so far. I have managed to cram in all my winter gear for an overnight trip and found I still had a bit of room left over had I needed it. I suspect the bag will feel downright empty with summer weight gear inside and look forward to seeing how well the pack compacts around less items. So far, my only complaints about the pack are the bottom tightening system and the water bladder retention system.

I thought this type of z-strap side tensioning system would work well, but I noticed that when I fill the pack then go to tighten, the strap only tightens the top portion and not the webbing portion located below the plastic loop. I have to pull the strap through the loop before I can further tighten the z-strap. It is a small thing and maybe the system works better when there is more in the pack, I will continue to keep an eye on this.

The water bag retention system I discovered is hard to work. I think this is simply because there is not much space to work with. It is easy to loosen the little buckle to hang the bladder from but once I get the bladder inside, it is much harder to buckle it back up. I also noticed that I can't get my bladder inside the space completely if there is something inside the pack (that compresses the space closed). It is easy to drop a full bladder into the space when the pack is empty so this isn't a problem when initially loading the pack.

Wrap-up
Pros so far: comfortable to wear, wears well so far to 20 lbs (9 kg). Cons so far: bottom tightening system, bladder retention system



Long Term Report:
May 6th, 2010

Over the course of the last two months, I have taken the Osprey pack out on one big four day backpacking trip. This trip was down in Canyonlands National Park, Utah in April. The trip began on Thursday with a short hike followed by setting up camp. The pack saw minimal use with the short distance. The following morning, camp was broken down and water bladders filled to capacity. The total weight in the pack went from about 30 lbs (14 kg) to about 40 lbs (18 kg) with 6 L of water spread across two bladders. The distance of the second day's trip was about 8 mi (13 km). The third day, with less water, the distance again was about 8 mi (13 km). The last day, once again close to the 30 lb (14 kg) of original capacity, the hike back out to the car was about 4 mi (6.5 km). Total elevation difference was about 1000 ft (305 m) if even and temperatures ranged from a high of 75 F (24 C) to a low of 50 F (10 C) overnight.

Taking the ladder up
Comfortable even on tall ladders

Impressions and Comments:
Over the entire testing period of this pack, the pack has seen 5 days of backpacking use, 1 day hike plus just carrying around stuff while traveling. The pack has been able to take all the gear I have thrown at it and carried it fairly comfortably. I did find that the z-strap side tensioning system still gave me some issues. I found that I really had to fight with it in order to get it to tighten up sufficiently. I was also using a bladder with no handle or area to hook from and found that presented a few issues with getting the bladder to sit correctly in the bladder slot. In the end, I would try to get it to lay as flat as possible while packing items in the pack. Once I had some items in the pack, the bladder would be compressed into place by the gear inside.

While the pack had handled all the gear I have given it, I did start noticing that 40 lbs (18 kg) wasn't that comfortable to carry. The straps tended to dig into my shoulders a bit and the hip belt cut my waist a little. The pack could handle it but the comfort definitely took a noticeable step down. The pack did do a good job at the 40 lb (14 kg) mark but I would rather not have to carry that much in it if I could avoid it in future. I felt this was a great point for the pack helping me to determine where the comfort level was. At 30 lbs (14 kg), I didn't feel like anything was being cut or dug into. While 30 lbs (14 kg) isn't exactly light, it is well within the comfort rating for the Talon 44. Lighter definitely worked better but that goes without saying.

Wear from rubbing against sandstone
Wear from rubbing against sandstone

Canyonlands can be rough on gear and while I tried to take care, I did at one point not bend over far enough to clear the undercut. The lid of the pack received a little bit of abrasion causing a couple of wear spots but none of them expanded. I used the hip belt pockets mostly for snacks and my camera. I did find that the zipper on the pocket is not a one handed pull. I had to use both hands in order to completely close the pocket or I risked catching it on things or losing stuff from it.

Wrap-up
Pros:

    - comfortable to wear
    - wears well to 30 lbs (14 kg), handles 40 lbs (18 kg) okay

Cons:
    - bottom tightening system difficult to work
    - bladder retention system limited in space


This concludes my long term report on the Osprey Talon 44 backpack. I hope you have enjoyed reading this review series. I wish to thank BackpackGearTest.org and Osprey for allowing me to test this pack.


Read more reviews of Osprey gear
Read more gear reviews by Kathryn Doiron

Reviews > Packs > Internal and External Framed Backpacks > Osprey Talon 44 > Test Report by Kathryn Doiron



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