Hands-on Gear Review
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Pros: Well ventilated, stretchy front pocket, many features such as helmet clip, very adjustable, versatile, separate compartment for hydration bladder.
Cons: Hard to lash bigger items to the outside, water bottle pockets are small.
Best Uses: Day hiking, mountain biking, adventure racing, bike commuting.
Two things stand out about the Osprey Talon 22: ventilation and extra super bonus features. This pack is for people who want clever features and are willing to pay a little extra and carry a little more weight. If adventure racing or mountain biking is your thing, the Talon is a perfect option for you. With features such as a helmet attachment, blinker clip patch, and a tow loop, the features of this pack will make your life easier. The Osprey Talon wins our Best in Class award for being the most comfortable and versatile pack we reviewed, proving useful in just about any application and being extremely breathable and adjustable. If you want the ultimate in lightness, check out the REI Flash 18 ($35), which is only 11 ounces. Or if you a looking for a balance of lightweight and comfortable, check out the Deuter Speed Lite 20 ($89), which is about the half the weight of the Talon but also has fewer features and is less comfortable for carrying heavier loads. For even more features and a truly innovative back design, see the review of the Osprey Stratos 24, but keep in mind that the Talon distributes weight more comfortably than the Stratos and still has a very ventilated back panel.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
The features list on the Talon is impressive: helmet clip attachment, blinker light attachment, adjustable harness, ventilated back panel, hip belt pockets, tow loop, bungee tool attachment, and stretchy outer stash pocket.
Of those features, Chris Mac may be among the few who use the tow loop, he uses it all the time when towing his mountainboard behind him, but it also may be useful for activities such as adventure racing.
The helmet attachment is amazingly easy to use. Simply slide the plastic end through a hole in the helmet, flatten it out, and ta-da, your helmet is secured. It works better if the pack is mostly full, and sadly, does not work on a solid hard plastic climbing helmet since it relies on holes in the helmet to work.
The harness is not only adjustable, it is easily adjustable. Undo the Velcro, move the straps to where you want them, and stick them back on. Very few packs let you do this to customize the fit, and those that do generally require a lot more effort. Just don't let the strap harness ride too high if you plan to wear it while riding a bike, or it will rub against your neck uncomfortably.
You can squeeze a handheld GPS, iPhone or similarly sized smartphone in the the shoulder strap pocket for easy access. We love this feature.
The side compression straps can pass under the side water bottle holder. This means you can get access to your bottle without undoing the side straps. The only downside is that these water bottle pockets are so small that only certain types of bottles fit inside. There is also a stretchy outer pocket for cramming in extra stuff. It has a vent/drain hole at the bottom (which doubles as the blinker attachment) which means you can throw your wet flip flops or bathing suit in the back and they will dry out as you hike.
Another notable feature is that unlike all the other day packs we tested, the hydration bladder has its own compartment separate from the main pack compartment. This has turned out to be especially handy, because when refilling, usually a bladder gets a little wet, and if you put it in the main part of your pack with your extra layers, everything gets a little damp. With its own slot, there are no worries of this happening on the Talon, and it makes it even easier to slide the bladder in and out while the pack is still full.
The Talon 22 will hold 13 or 15-inch laptop, though there is no special pocket for one. A 17-inch laptop just barely fits.
The downside to so many features is added weight. The pack itself weighs 1 lb 11 oz before you even put anything in it. If you are a light and fast minimalist hiker, this is not the pack for you.
When loaded up with weight it still is remarkably comfortable. The adjustable harness, sternum strap, and waist belt make it so that you can find the most ideal fit for your body. The Airscape back construction is breathable in warm weather without adding the entire frame that comprises the packing ability of the pack, such as the Airspeed back construction on the Osprey Stratos. Every point that comes in contact with your body is meshy and breathable, including the shoulder straps and waist belt, making this the most breathable pack in this review.
Extra carrying features make this pack more versatile. By being able to attach your helmet easily to the outside, you don't need to try and stuff it inside, and the trekking pole carry allows you to stash them when you have the need for using your hands. These features also make the pack work well whether you are hiking, biking, or just walking around town.
The Talon 22 seems quite durable, and after many hikes, climbs, and bike errands has not shown any serious signs of wear.
Ease of Use
This pack has so many features that at first it seems overwhelming. It took a couple days using the pack to get familiar with the functions of all the pockets, bungees, and adjustments. However, once that learning curve is over, the pack is fantastic to use. The adjustments on the harness, sternum strap, and waist belt are all very simple to make in order to achieve the greatest fit, and the features actually make carrying certain awkward items, such as a hiking pole or helmet, easier. Using this pack with a hydration bladder is also much quicker and easier than with other packs because of its separate compartment.
As one of the smaller packs in our review, we were wondering how well it would perform in our “10 Essentials” pack test, but everything loaded in quite well. The extra mesh top pocket and front stretchy pocket make it easy to organize and access the necessities in the pack.
This pack, with its helmet holding feature and blinker clip, seems ideally suited to mountain biking and bike commuting. Our reviewer started using it for all her bike errands around town, including grocery stops, and found it to be perfect. However, one of the best attributes of this pack is its versatility, and this day pack could be used for just about any use you need it for.
For around $100, this day pack is jammed with features. If this is what you are looking for in a pack, this is a great deal. You get durability, performance, and comfort for a relatively moderate price.
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— McKenzie Long
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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: September 7, 2012
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