The Osprey Talon 33 is easily one of the most comfortable backpacks here, and previously awarded Best Buy status in this magazine. I tried two Osprey packs for this test – the Talon 33, which uses their AirScape mesh-covered foam back, and the Stratos 34, which has a the AirSpeed trampoline mesh style back. I found both very comfortable, but preferred the Talon 33 for its lower weight (890g as opposed to 1260g) and the fact that it was more stable when carrying a heavy load. The Talon 33 has a lid closure and although it nominally has a lower capacity, without the trampoline-style back you can stuff more into it than you can into the Stratos 34. This makes the Talon a great lightweight overnight bag if you need one but it’s also light enough to carry as a day pack. The hipbelt is excellent – very easy to adjust and capable of supporting a full and heavy load. The pockets on either side of the pack are also nice and big. There’s a large front mesh pocket (more stretchy than in previous versions of the same pack), externally accessed hydration bladder (Osprey make excellent hydration bladders), and a really nice touch is the ‘Stow-on-the-Go’ trekking pole attachment that means you don’t have to take off your bag. The nearest women’s version is the Tempest 30 (£85). I’d have liked an extra access point such as on the Lowe Alpine Eclipse or a very long zip such as on the Black Diamond Sonar. It has a very long back, which suited me fine.
First published: Aug 2014