Alex reviews the Osprey Talon...
For many years I used a backpack that was far too heavy. I’m not talking about the contents inside, but the weight of the actual bag itself. I told myself that there was no point being picky about the weight of the things I was putting in the bag for a particular trip when I wasn’t using as light a bag as possible.
I wanted something big enough to carry enough for an overnight camp but small enough that I could also use it as a day bag with extra kit for leading groups. I also wanted something light-weight, while still having an internal frame.
The Osprey Talon 44 is definitely light weight, at just over 1kg, and at 44 litres has more than enough space for a small sleeping bag and tent, plus a stove and all the other kit you need when out for the night. It caught my eye at first though because it’s all blue and so easy to spot out of a pile of other people’s bags.
I’ve used it for 4 years, both for personal trips and for leading groups. The low weight is definitely a help, but I’ve always worried that it’s a bit flimsy. Low weight of course comes with thinner-feeling material and buckles that look as though they’ll snap. None of them have snapped, and apart from a tear in the top pocket and the lining on the shoulder coming apart, there’s no damage at all. Even the stretchy pockets on the sides and the back have remained whole, despite me shoving all sorts of things into them on trips.
The bag fits quite well and is easy to adjust. I have never felt any rubbing from any part of the bag, even after using it on long distance runs in the hills. Though there is a pocket in the back for a water reservoir, I have never used it that way. When the bag is full it would be hard to remove and re-insert a full water bladder. I prefer using sports bottles pushed into the side-pockets, which can easily be removed without taking off the bag.
There is also a zip along the bottom of the bag meaning kit in the bottom can be accessed easily. I’ve often found this very useful, especially when needing to get an emergency shelter or spare jumper out without emptying the whole bag onto the grass. Perhaps this is an age thing, but on recent trips I have found that unless these zips are in a certain position, they can open while I’m walking and lead to things falling out. Simply keep them over at the edge of the zip next to the aluminium frame rather than in the middle and there shouldn’t be a problem.
The downside to the 44 litre size for a day bag is that unless it’s full, the weight sits quite low. The strap holding the lid on then never does up completely, so rain can easily get down the gap between the back of the bag and the back of the lid. Perhaps it’s best when full for an overnight camp or when carrying kit for several people and just not suited to solo day trips. It’s also my opinion that the shoulder straps are too thin. I’d prefer something a bit thicker and more padded for long days out. Unless you’re wearing a thick jumper the straps will start to bite, even with the waist belt done up correctly.
Overall I’m more than happy with the Talon 44. It’s been on countless trips and apart from a few bits of wear and tear is still in a great condition. My one reservation is the sagging shape the bag develops when not full.
In the future I’m going to reserve it for overnight trips or winter walking, where more kit is needed. The great benefit is that when used in this way, the low weight really makes a difference and the extra padding worn on your body helps to deal with any discomfort from the shoulder straps.
Author: Alex Kendall
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