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OutdoorGearLab.com – Featuring Talon 22 (Top Pick) and Raptor 14 – June 2013

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OutdoorGearLab.com – Featuring Talon 22 (Top Pick) and Raptor 14 – June 2013

June 1, 2013

We took 11 top packs and spent six months hiking, biking, and running to find which is the ultimate hydration system. Ever since the first CamelBak arrived over a decade ago, hydration options have changed a lot and there is now an overwhelming number of innovations and options. Which of these innovations is necessary and do you even need a dedicated hydration pack at all? Read on and be sure to check out the article How to Choose a Hydration Pack where we go more into the pros and cons of hydration packs and reservoirs.

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Top Pick – Most Versatile

Narrowly missing Editors’ Choice is our own creation: the Osprey Talon 22 with Platypus Big Zip SL. It is the most versatile system we tested and scores very high for storage and comfort. Best of all, when you don’t want a hydration bladder/hose you just remove it and you are left with the Editors’ Choice from our Day Pack Review. Carefully read our How to Choose a Hydration Pack article… you may find you want a setup like this and not a hydration pack after all.

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OutdoorGearLab.com – Featuring Farpoint 55 and Porter 46 – April 20, 2013

April 20, 2013

For our travel pack review, we picked out a range of top-of-the-line full-size, framed backpacks; compressible day packs; and carry-on backpacks. We used these packs for everyday around-town activities, adventures in the backcountry, and week-long trips. Through all this, we considered how they would hold up on the streets of London and in the jungles of Malaysia, backpacking through Europe or hitchiking through South America. After putting them to the test for three months, we’re ready to give you the low-down on which packs have the sweetest travel features, which ones are the most comfortable to carry, which ones cross over to backcountry use the best, and which ones will give you the biggest bang for your buck.

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Editor’s Choice

Throughout the entirety of this review, one pack stood out above the rest: the Osprey Farpoint 55. This travel pack has numerous functional features and is quite comfortable to carry. We thought that the Farpoint’s detachable day pack was extremely convenient and we liked how it strapped easily onto the back of the pack. The main pack also has buckles on its front shoulder straps that allow you to clip the day pack onto the front of the main pack and carry it kangaroo-style for added security or ease of access. On its own, we found the zip-off day pack ideal for hours of museum wandering or hours of mountainous hiking. This pack was also one of the easiest to pack and unpack with its full-length font-loading zipper. Finally, and most importantly, we loved that we could leave the day pack in the hostel locker and take off on a three-night wilderness trek. Overall, there was no question that the Osprey Farpoint would be the Editor’s Choice winner for this review.

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OutdoorGearLab.com – Featuring Farpoint 55 – April 20, 2013

April 20, 2013

Overview

A 55-liter travel pack with a detachable day pack, the Osprey Farpoint has our testers excited to book a flight to somewhere far, far away. The Editor’s Choice winner, the Farpoint has a taller, slimmer design that is easier to carry than the shorter, wider packs we tested. While you should always consider personal fit first and foremost, our testers agreed that the taller pack provided greater balance and mobility than packs like Eagle Creek Rincon 65, making it our favorite travel-pack-that-can-also-be-used-for-backcountry-adventures. Unlike the frameless Osprey Porter, the Farpoint’s peripheral frame successfully transfers the weight to the padded hip belt, making it comfortable to carry, even when packed to the gills. However, if you are considering purchasing this pack because it transfers well into outdoor activities, remember that you can always use a backpacking pack and one of our compressible day pack as your travel pack set-up. For more information on these types of packs, be sure to check out our Backpacking backpack Review. On the other hand, this pack has numerous convenient features that can help streamline packing and just make traveling a little simpler.

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OutdoorGearLab.com – Featuring Exos 58 – November 13, 2012

November 13, 2012

The Exos 58 is an amazing light pack that is similar in design to Osprey’s Atmos series, just lighter. At 2 lbs 8 oz the Exos is the lightest weight pack in our review and one of the lightest packs that has a real frame. It has many great features and felt slightly bigger than its 58 liters would suggest. It is great for backpackers and trekkers as well as alpine climbers and mountaineers. For people traveling cross country, they might want a tougher pack, but for most hikers and backpackers who do the majority of there trips on trails, we think they will be perfectly happy with the Exos’s durability. The Exos frame isn’t flimsy and carries surprisingly well considering its weight.

The Osprey Exos was surprising comfortable especially considering its exceptional light weight. It was more comfortable than the REI Flash 62 and similar to much heavier packs we tested like the Mountain Hardwear South Col and the Gregory Z 65. The fabric on the inside of the waist belt is cozy and, despite some initial skepticism, we found the shoulder straps quite comfortable even with minimal clothing on.

The pack has well vented from its perforated shoulder straps to the space behind the back panel, making this pack idea for use in warmer areas or people who run on the warmer side. We tested this pack on glaciers but didn’t get to use it in a truly snowy environment and we wonder if snow would get stuck in the shoulder straps.

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OutdoorGearLab.com – Featuring Aether 60 – September 7, 2012

September 7, 2012

The Osprey Aether 60 is our Best Buy winner in the backpack category. It is one of the highest rated packs, one of the lightest, and also one of the least expensive. Only the Gregory Baltoro 65 and Arcteryx Altra 65 scored higher. The Altra is a better pack for heavier loads but it is also $145 more expensive. The Baltoro 65 is also more comfortable with bigger loads but heavier. For lighter loads of 35 pounds or less it is hard to tell much difference in comfort between the Altra, Baltoro and Aether. So if you like to go fast and light like we do, then the Aether is certainly the best value in backpacks.

The Aether is one of the lighter packs we tested but doesn’t give up much in the way of waist belt and shoulder strap comfort. It is nearly the top scorer for its suspension. It has great features like a stretchy back “Kangaroo” pocket, slick easy-to-grab water bottle pockets, Osprey’s famous sraight jacket™ compression straps and well designed articulated shoulder straps.

We like the shape and articulation of the shoulder straps and the foam that Osprey uses. The waist belt is comfortable and supportive without being too bulky. While many frameless or minimalist frame packs maybe lighter, the Aether 60 is one of the lighter fully featured packs on the market and was on the lighter side of our review. It is hardly an “ultra light” pack but you can save anywhere from a few pounds to a few ounces without giving up much in the way of comfort by going with this pack. We thought the compression system on the Aether 60 was pretty cool. (…)

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OutdoorGearLab.com – Featuring Talon 22 and Stratos 24 – June 2012

June 30, 2012

Whether you are a frequent hiker, a student, or a weekend warrior, chances are you could use a day pack for one or more of your activities. Any time you need to carry more than your phone and wallet, it is handy to have a vessel to carry all the necessities, such as food, water, and extra layers.

We decided to put some top-of-the-line day packs to the test, using them for every activity we could. From hiking and climbing to biking and mountain boarding, and even carting around a computer as we worked on these reviews. We loaded each one side by side and made a close inspection of all the features to determine which packs are the easiest to use, and which ones were the most versatile. Each pack we tested had some standout qualities, but we narrowed it down to the most useful packs to hand out our awards.

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OutdoorGearLab.com – Featuring Stratos 24 – June 27, 2012

June 27, 2012

The Osprey Stratos 24 pack stands out for its innovative back panel. This panel makes the pack one of the most ventilated packs out there, but it also means the pack carries weight differently and does not fit as many things as efficiently as a pack like the Patagonia Refugio. The Stratos does have convenient features for hikers such as an ice axe carry and an easy to use trekking pole stash system. The Talon 22 and the Gregory Z30 have similarly designed back panels, but both of those packs leave less of a gap between the main compartment of the pack and your back, which means they are less ventilated, but hold weight slightly better. If you are looking for a pack that can hold a lot relative to its weight and bulk, try the frameless REI Trail 25 or Deuter Speed Lite 20.

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OutdoorGearLab.com – Featuring Talon 22 – June 24, 2012

June 24, 2012

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.com – Featuring Stratos 24 – April 4, 2012

April 4, 2012

The Stratos 24 pack stands out for its innovative back panel. This panel makes the pack one of the most ventilated packs out there. It also means the pack carries differently and does not fit as many things as efficiently as a pack like the Talon 22. Below are our first impressions. Check back soon for a full review.

Likes

The back panel is one of the most innovative and breatheable we have seen. Few other packs, if any, let this much air circulate. This design also means that sharp objects in the pack won’t poke into your back.

There is an innovative hiking pole stash system. This lets you quickly stash your poles if you get to a section where you need to use your hands.

The pack comes with a rain cover that stashes away into its own pocket. This pocket is ventilated at the bottom, which means you can put a wet rain cover or a wet base layer in there to start drying and not make the rest of your pack contents wet.

The side compression straps can be routed under or over the side mesh pocket. This cool feature lets you compress the pack and still have access to the side panel for a water bottle or other item.

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