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Reviews > Packs > Internal and External Framed Backpacks > Osprey Tempest 40 > Test Report by Kerri Larkin
OSPREY TEMPEST 40
TEST SERIES BY KERRI LARKIN
INITIAL REPORT - 26 September 2014
FIELD REPORT - 2 December 2014
LONG TERM REPORT - 2 February 2015
Image Courtesy of Osprey
My Tempest pack arrived in perfect condition and immediately impressed me with the quality of construction. The pack appears to be, in a word, flawless. It's a lovely bright and cheerful green with gray trimmings and white decoration. It looks like it will be fun to use, if that makes sense.
This pack is marketed as 'multi-use' for 'active light pursuits' although the owner's manual also mentions using it for thru-hiking.
Let's take a tour. The Tempest is a top-loader style pack which has a lovely wide mouth for easy loading. The pack top is a removable pocket which is quite generous in size. The zipper is located at the back of the pocket and is covered by material to protect it from showers. Inside is quite a large and useable, wedge-shaped, space. Flipping the pack top open reveals a smaller 'stash' pocket which appears to be made of a more waterproof material, which would make it ideal for documents, cash or maps. The top pocket is detachable by releasing two thin webbing straps, one at each back edge, and a larger strap. The webbing straps are a very generous length which looks like it would make over-stuffing the pack possible while still being able to use the top pocket. The Osprey logo is printed on the front of the top pocket.
Opening the top of the pack reveals a drawstring closure with plastic lock mechanism. To close the pack, simply hold the lock and pull the string through. To open the pack one needs to grasp the end of the lock while pulling the string through the other way. It seems this is a spring loaded mechanism which will hold the drawstring quite firmly.
Looking inside the pack reveals a single, large space. The pack's frame does intrude a bit at the top, but this doesn't appear as if it will cause loading problems. Inside the pack is where the quality of workmanship becomes evident. Every seam is stitched and bound, which makes it feel like this is a pack which will last a very long time. Interestingly, there is no internal hydration bladder pocket. Osprey has opted for an external pocket on this pack. Osprey suggests this will protect the pack contents and I'm guessing that anyone who has had a leaky hydration bladder will know why this is a good idea. It also means that the bladder can more easily be removed for filling without disturbing the contents of the main pack, or getting stuff wet. I like that idea. The hydration pocket is located between the frame and the main body of the pack and has a small webbing strap and buckle to hold a bladder in place. A carry loop is also located at the top of the pack.
Moving to the front of the pack, there are numerous straps, buckles and loops visible. Nearest the top is a wider webbing strap which is used to secure the lid. Again, this is a very generous length to allow over-stuffing the pack. This strap is nicely reinforced where is joins the pack body. Using the same reinforcement patch is a thinner strap and buckle for closing the outer pocket. The top of the pocket is elasticised so it will help keep stuff in the pocket. The pocket itself is an open weave which would allow breathability. This looks like the perfect place to stash rain gear. The outside of the front pocket has a pretty wave pattern motif and the Osprey logo, both printed in reflective material. Great idea for cyclists or commuters. There is also an extra bungee which, when used with the lid closure strap, can be used to secure a helmet. Speaking of cyclists, the bottom of the front pocket has a small area for directly attaching a blinker light for visibility. Outboard of this attachment point is a large webbing loop (one on each side) which are the 'tool attachment points'. These work in conjunction with a bungy cord loop further up the pack (again, one on each side) to secure tools like ice axes, skis or other bulky equipment. Outboard again from these loops are a another pair of webbing straps which could be used to secure a sleeping mat to the outside of the pack.
At the bottom of the front panel is another protected zipped area with two zips which pull away from the centre to reveal access to the bottom of the pack. These zips have some lovely plastic finger grips to make it really easy to work the zips.
Midway down the side of the pack on each side are the shock-corded bungees for securing tools, as mentioned above. There is also a generously sized stretch pocket on each side of the pack. These pockets have a thin webbing strap which Osprey calls their "InsideOut" compression feature. These straps are reconfigurable to provide either side compression on the pack alone, or compression on both the pack and the external pocket. I had to look at the owner's manual to figure out how to reconfigure the straps, but the pack ships with one side configured the first way and the other side configured the second way. The pockets are certainly big enough to carry a Nalgene-style bottle. A little quality touch is the provision of a small tab to help load the pocket (rather like the tab on the back of a boot), rather than having to grab the elasticised top. Nice!
At the bottom of the left side of the pack is a large shock cord look with a plastic sleeve over it. This is the "Stow-on-the-go" trekking pole storage point. The owner's manual says the loop should be pulled out, the pole baskets pushed through the loop and then released. There is a corresponding cord-lock shock cord on the left harness strap which the tops of the poles are inserted through. I've never used this kind of feature before so it will be interesting to see if it is a comfortable way of carrying poles when not in use.
The back of the pack is an interesting area. The first thing visible is a mesh trampoline which rests against my back to keep it all breathable. Under the mesh, though, are three areas of what looks to be ribbed closed cell foam pad with a channel running between the areas. Osprey calls this their "Airscape Backpanel", a light and supportive foam with a central "air chimney" for ventilation. Being a very hot walker, it will be interesting to see if this works. There appears to be no adjustability in the actual frame.
The harness appears to be well thought out with strong attachment points. Closer inspection reveals the attachment at the top of the pack is via a hook-and-loop area which allows for some flexibility with lengthening the harness system of the pack. Load lifter straps attach at the top of the pack and to the shoulder straps, as normal. The gender specific shoulder straps are a mesh material with a foam insert. The foam has multiple holes to allow breathability. The left shoulder strap has the trekking pole stowage loop as mentioned above, and a small stretchy pocket which may suit something like sunglasses, but is really too small for much else. There is an elastic sternum strap which is adjustable in position by sliding it up or down. The buckle on the sternum strap has a small, but loud, whistle built in.
The gender specific hip belts also appear strongly attached to the pack and are of similar mesh over foam core construction. A webbing belt with a quick adjust plastic buckle completes the harness.
No instructions are included with the pack and it took me a bit of time to figure out I had to go online to download the owner's manual. Once I had done that, things became much clearer! I know that it saves trees by not printing a manual, and maybe most people don't even read them, but personally, I like a good 'hard copy' manual to keep as a reference for the future when I suddenly need to use a feature I haven't used for some time and can't remember how to do it.
The online manual is very clear in how to use and adjust the pack and has some lovely clear pictures which can be enlarged for extra clarity.
This was my first, and only disappointment with the Tempest pack so far: the hip belt is not long enough for me. Okay, I'm the first to admit I'm almost as round as I am tall, but there just doesn't seem to be the same generosity in the hip belt webbing as there is in other straps on the pack. A very thin friend of mine tried the pack and she still had the adjustment at around the half-way mark. I also had to adjust the harness at the shoulders to allow the pack to sit better and, fortunately, there was sufficient adjustment here to get the pack sitting comfortably on my back.
My overall impression is that while this is a gender specific model, it's best suited to smaller framed women. Therein lies a conundrum: the gender specific features of a pack are a lovely idea and are really helpful in increasing women's comfort, but we are not all tiny. As a larger woman I often find myself in the men's section to find things that will fit.
That said, the pack seems very comfortable on my back, and I can't wait to try it out loaded.
I'm looking forward to my first outing with the pack to see if it performs anywhere near as good as it looks. This pack seems to be a great size for weekends and day trips, and has a heap of storage options both internally and externally. It's going to be a real pleasure getting to know this pack.
I've taken the Tempest on four camps in the last couple of months, two car-based and two hikes.
I got away for a two night camp in early October. Conditions were quite mild with highs around 27 C (80 F) and lows of 12 C (54 F). I spent two nights at my favourite car-based free-camping spot on the banks of the Bellinger River at Mylestom, New South Wales. Although far from remote, it's a lovely spot to unwind and has a cafe just down the street. Perfect! The river is broad and tidal here as it's only a short distance from the sea. My campsite was shady, grassed and had superb views across to the mountains in the distance. In this instance, the pack was used simply to haul my gear around rather than as an actual backpack. I did use it as a day pack on the middle day.
Next, I spent a night in the Bucca State Forest. Temps were around 24 C (75 F) during the day and down to 8 C (46 F) at night. There was plenty of condensation overnight but the days were clear and very pleasant. This was also a car-based trip where the pack was used to transport gear to the camp, then as a day pack for short hikes.
I spent two nights at Cathedral Rock National Park in the Dorrigo region of New South Wales. I started at Native Dog Creek Campground and walked the 10.4 km (6.5 mi) to Barokee campground, where I spent the night before walking back the next day. This was a more extreme camp with daytime temps around 32 C (90 F) and overnight lows of 2 C (36 F). It was very dry for this trip.
Finally, I spent two days walking in the Oxley Wild Rivers National Park near Armidale, New South Wales. Again, it was quite warm with temps around 29 C (84 F) and lows of 14 C (57 F).
I don't know if I'm lucky or if there's a drought on but I haven't encountered any rain at all on these trips.
I've found the Tempest to be quite comfortable as a day pack and with moderate loads up to about 8 kg (18 lb). I have used it for overnight hikes but because I don't have ultralight winter gear I did struggle to fit in all the insulation and layers for my hammock (yes, I'd LOVE to test an underquilt!). That said, this is a remarkably roomy pack thanks to so much stretch in the pockets. I'm certain that if I was fully equipped with ultralight gear I'd have no trouble using this pack for multi-day walks. I've also been pleased with how versatile the Tempest is; it will cinch right down with smaller loads for day hikes and expands right up when needed. Being as light and as comfortable as it is, I'd rather use this pack cinched down for day hikes rather than some of my other frameless packs which always seem to have some sharp point poking me in the back.
One minor criticism I have is that the padded shoulder straps seem to have the buckle for the webbing part attached a fraction to close to the end of the padding. This means the end of the buckle can rub on my axillary area unless I'm careful with how I get the straps sitting.
I've found the Airscape Panel and Chimney work quite well in keeping my back cool and can feel a breeze across my back when it's windy. Nice! Being 175cm (5'9") I had to lengthen the back using the hook-and-loop panel and since then I've found the Tempest much more comfortable. While the majority of hikers would not be as large as me, it's good to know there is sufficient adjustability to fit us 'plus' size girls.
I tried the Stow-on-the-go pole storage and although I couldn't get it to work while I was walking, I found it easy enough to use when stopped. Bear in mind I do carry some injuries so I'm not as flexible as I once was. I have to say, I wasn't too happy with this feature as once the poles were stowed they did rub on my inside arm. For a quick stow they are okay, but for a longer stow, I'd probably use the ice axe loops to keep the poles away from my arm.
In terms of wear, I'm seeing no real evidence of the stretchy material losing its stretch and all the straps look as good as new. The bottom of the pack is getting a little dirty but that's to be expected although it does make me wonder why one would put the lightest coloured fabric at the bottom of a pack? There's no signs of over-stretching at any of the webbing attachment points either, despite me cranking down on the compression straps at times. I was concerned about the mesh on the shoulder straps snagging and tearing but so far that has not happened.
I've really enjoyed using the Tempest 40 and found it to be a good compromise between weight and roominess. It works really well as a day or overnight pack but with the right equipment could be used on longer treks. It's comfortable to wear, keeps my back cooler, and has a very versatile range of storage options. I'm looking forward to seeing how it will cope with my lighter summer gear now the weather is warming up. Please check back in around two months for my Long Term Report.
This concludes my Field Report on the Osprey Tempest 40 backpack. I'd like to thank both Osprey and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test this item.
I've been able to use the Osprey on another three day hikes since my Field Report. The first was to the Coffs Coast Scenic Walk, Coffs Harbour, New South Wales, Australia. This was a 7.5 km (4.5 mi) easy hike along boardwalks and grassed areas adjoining Coffs Creek. The temp for this hike was around 26 C (79 F) with humidity of around 74%.
My second hike was along the coast from Coffs Harbour to Boambee Creek, a 20 km (12.4 mi) round trip through coastal heath and grassed dunes. I also spent some time walking on the beach. This was a milder day of 22 C (71 F).
Finally, I spent a day walking Rover trail, a fairly rough and hilly fire trail in the Coffs Harbour area. As I was doing bird watching and photography I only covered 5 km (3 mi) but it was quite hot at 29 C (84 F).
Again, I've been impressed by the Osprey's performance during this period. I've used it as a day pack and had no issues with it in this role. Although my pack weights were a lot lower here, generally averaging around 4 kg (9 lb), there is sufficient adaptability in the pack to snug down on my loads without giving the appearance of being a huge pack carrying a tiny load. That ability has also meant my loads (which usually included at least 2kg (4.5 lb) of water) were firmly held and not sliding about and throwing my balance off.
With the warmer weather, I've welcomed the venting provided by the Airscape panel. Although this has performed well, let's not pretend that any pack is going to keep my back cool and dry when it's 29 C (84 F) and very humid. That said, the Osprey has remained comfortable to wear and I have noticed a slight cooling effect. This is especially noticeable when there is any breeze. Walking down the beach, for example, there was a fairly strong crosswind blowing and I could definitely feel the cooling effect on my back. Nice!
As far as durability goes, I'm pleased to say my pack looks pretty much like the day I received it. The base of the pack appears mildly soiled due to putting it down on the ground, and the lighter coloured material on the base probably exacerbates this, but it still requires a fairly close inspection to be noticeable. I'm pleased to say there are no pulled threads and the mesh sections appear to be as good as new.
It has been a real joy to test this pack and if I was to sum it up in one word that would be "Versatile". This pack has coped well with minor loads while remaining comfortable at its maximum capacity, or anything in between. It's comfortable to wear, very adjustable - even for big girls - and offers plenty of storage options. The Osprey appears to be very well made, durable, and looks great.
Will I continue to use it? You bet! This pack has been flexible enough to replace two other packs: it's perfect for summer camping trips but also equally perfect for use as a larger day pack.
This concludes my Long Term Report on the Osprey Tempest 40 backpack. I'd like to thank both Osprey and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to be a part of this test.
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