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Hands-on Gear Review
Cons: Runs small, side mesh pockets are small
The Osprey Talon wins our Editors' Choice Award for standing out in three key areas: comfort, versatility, and awesome bonus features! Due to great ventilation and the ability for a completely customizable fit, the Talon is the most comfortable pack we tested. No matter what activities you're into, the Talon excels in just about any application. With features like its helmet attachment, bungee attachments for trekking poles and an ice axe as well as a blinker clip patch, the features of this pack will make your life easier.
If you're looking for a minimalist pack, check out the REI Flash 18 ($35), which weighs only 12 ounces, or if you're looking for a balance between light weight and totally tricked out, check out our Top Pick winner, the Deuter Speed Lite 20 ($89). For even less features but the most ventilation, check out the Gregory Z25, but keep in mind that the Talon distributes weight more comfortably and still ranked high with its own ventilated back panel.
RELATED: Our complete review of day packs
OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
As the most comfortable and versatile daypack we tested, the Osprey Talon easily earns our Editors' Choice award.
One thing Osprey did not do was skimp on features for the Talon! It comes tricked out with a helmet clip attachment, blinker light attachment, an amazingly adjustable harness, a ventilated back panel, hip belt pockets, easy access trekking pole attachments, bungee tool attachment, and a stretchy outer stash pocket.
The helmet attachment is a nice addition for commuting and is super easy to use; it works best with a helmet designed for biking, but can also be used with a climbing specific helmet, though a little less secure. To attach your helment, just slide the plastic end through a ventilation hole, flatten it out and voila! It works best if you've already loaded the pack, and there is an option to tighten the bungee cord for added security.
The harness is not only fully adjustable, but it's one of the easiest to adjust we've encountered. You can customize the shoulder straps by undoing the Velcro inside the hydration compartment, and move the straps to where you want them. You can also use the load lifters on top of the shoulder straps to adjust the load, as well as a fully adjustable and padded waist belt. This is the only daypack we tested that allows a fully customized fit. For a full run down on how to adjust your pack properly, check out our Buying Advice.
The Adjustable Harness on the Osprey Talon
One feature that is loved across the board, and unique to this pack out of all that we tested, is that the hydration bladder has its own separate compartment. This allows you to easily refill your bladder even if your pack is still full.
Not only are the shoulder straps outfitted with awesome and breathable padding, but Osprey gives you a small mesh pocket where you can fit a handheld GPS, smaller sized smartphone, or mp3 player for quick access. We love this feature!
The stretch woven side pockets are equipped with Osprey's InsideOut compression straps. This is a great feature to secure smaller items, like sunscreen bottles, but do prove to be problematic with some water bottles. The pockets are on the small side, so only certain sizes fit, and a traditional 1-liter widemouth Nalgene is not one of them. Also, the compression straps do raise some difficulty in getting the bottle back into the pockets without taking the pack off.
There is also a stretchy mesh stash pocket covering the outside of the pack. This is handy for quickly stuffing an extra layer or even crampons (appropriately wrapped, of course!) The blinker attachment is fixed at the base of this pocket, meaning that there's an open drain hole ideal for drying out wet socks from water crossings or even sandals while you continue to hike.
Although all the extra features on this pack add a little weight, the Talon, at just 1lb 8oz, took third place in weight right behind our other two award winners. If you are a fast and light hiker and want something more streamlined, you might consider our Best Buy, the REI Flash 18, which is the lightest of all the packs we tested at 12oz, followed by the Deuter Speed Lite 20, our Top Pick winner, which 1lb 2oz.
This pack won us over with all the creature comforts Osprey provided, and the amazing adjustability is why the Talon took the top of the ranks in comfort.
The back panel is fixed with Osprey's AirScape design consisting of a mesh covered, ridge molded foam that is not quite as ventilated as the Gregory Z25, but still keeps you cool on hot days. Additionally, the BioStretch harness and hip belt, provide support all around while still retaining flexibility under heavy loads.
Not only did the Talon score high in comfort due to cushy construction, but it also out performed all of the packs we tested during our weighted test. We credit this to the adjustability of this pack. Loaded with 25 and 30lbs, which were by far the upper limits for this pack, the load was heavy because of the literal weight on the back, but not because the pack itself was uncomfortable.
One thing, however, you may want to pay close attention to is purchasing the correct size. This pack runs a bit small on the average male frame, but fits more petite female frames perfectly. Also, the awesome padded hip belt was a bit snug on our male testers. Luckily, Osprey offers two sizes in this pack (S/M and M/L), as well as an extendable waist belt that can be added on.
Refer to our Buying Advice Article for instructions on measuring yourself for a pack, another option is to visit your local outdoor retail for a professional fitting. Osprey also provides their own comprehensive fit guide.
This pack is tricked out with features to make it the perfect pack for almost any scenario; whether you're a weekend warrior or living a dirtbag lifestyle, the Talon will easily take you wherever you need to go. From the office, travel, and to the outdoors, this pack excels.
All of the extra carrying features add to the versatility. With the helmet attachment you can bring this pack on a commute and there is no need to try and stuff your helmet inside or MacGeyver it to the outside once you reach your destination. The trekking pole carry allows you to quickly get free your hands and get your poles out of your way without ever taking off the pack. Also, our avalanche safety gear easily accompanied us during spring summits with crampons in the stash pocket and an ice axe in the bungee attachment.
This pack held up well in all of the situations we tested it under. From the desert, snow, bush whacking, to road biking and in town commutes, this bag excelled without any signs of wear. After enduring 24-hours of drizzling rain and snow during our water test, the Talon's contents were only marginally damp. We were pleasantly surprised, however, to find that the contents in the top zippered pocket remained dry. With an extra bit of fabric provided to cover the zipper, no moisture was allowed to seep through. If you're really concerted about the elements, you can purchase Osprey's Hi-Vis Raincover.
Ease of Use
Due to all the features, the Talon lost a couple points for ease of use because of the slight learning curve. Don't overlook the amenities just because you feel overwhelmed; learning to use all the bungees and adjustments took us only a few uses. Once we figured how to appropriately and effectively use some of the features, like the ice axe carry and trekking pole attachment, the pack is pretty fantastic and rather handy.
If you're looking for a pack to accompany you mountain biking and general commuting around town, you'll love the helmet carry and blinker clip feature when heading into the grocery store with your Talon.
If you're looking for a small day pack for spring summit attempts or general day hiking, you'll love the ice axe attachment and pole stowing feature while the Talon accompanies you on the trail.
The best part about the Talon is the versatility you'll find with it, which is why we've made it our Editors' Choice award winner. It is not only suited to trails or the backcountry, but is also comfortable around town, on a bike, and just about anywhere you need it.
Not only does this pack come jam packed with features, but you'll also be getting a pack with fantastic adjustability and comfort, but, coming in at $100, you're getting a great deal.
The Hi-Vis Raincover will protect a smaller Osprey pack from the elements.
— Gentrye Houghton
OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: November 17, 2015
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