With days getting longer, its officially big bag season! That’s right folks, time to pack a lunch, extra clothing, tools, and a handful of spares for some backcountry adventure. At a claimed 20L cargo capacity (M/L size), Osprey’s Manta 20 pack just meets my usual all-day ride carrying requirements. Given my experience with its cycling-specific nephew the Raptor 18, I knew to expect a well-built bag with an excellent reservoir.
The Osprey Talon 22 is a solid lightweight do almost everything pack. It features a bunch of pockets for your organizational needs. There are two on the hip belt for storing small items like digital cameras or nutrition. There are two pockets on the shoulder straps as well. These are a bit smaller and can fit music players or cell phones. The pack has a large main compartment and a smaller essentials pocket also accessible from the top. Inside the main pocket there is also a small Velcro closing pocket that can be used to store important items; it is not very big (15 cm Tall x 14 cm Wide). The most useful pockets I have found are the stretchy pockets on the outside of the pack. There is one on each side which is good for water bottles or other small items you need to stash quickly. There is also a large stretch pocket on the outside of the pack which is great for a jacket. Osprey has really thought out the details on these outer pockets, the main back pocket has a drain hole built in to it. The side pockets have a mesh section at the bottom so they can also let out water.
I love the dry heat of Utah. I’d rather live here than pretty much anywhere else. Even during the 95°-105° month of July. The only problem is that I sweat and get dehydrated really fast in this heat, especially if I’m working hard on my training. For that matter, even in my recreation. I’ve used hydration packs for years when I go mountain biking and have recently started using them when hiking and backpacking as well. There is something sublime about not having to reach for your water bottle from your pack, either by stopping to remove it or forcing your elbow into some sort of double jointed action to remove a bottle from a pack pocket. You say you just hold your bottle when you run, that’s fine, but for me I don’t really like it. We’ve had the chance to test out a few hydration packs here at Triedge over the past few months. Below are three of our favorites.
The ingenious aluminum suspension system on Osprey’s Exos packs allow for air circulation between pack and back to keep you free of sweat. It’s just the right size for a weekend trek while remaining extremely lightweight, even after you attach your tent or sleeping bag using bottom straps. While you’re at it, toss in the new shape stable Hydraform Reservoir water bladder to avoid uncomfortable bulges when filled, or sagging when empty. They both sell online for $150 and $30, respectively.
Finally, for those hikers who need lots of cargo space but want to stay as light as possible, the new Hornet 32 from Osprey gives you big volume, great performance and comfort, with minimal weight. Tipping the scales at a mere 1 pound, 4 ounces, the Hornet 32 in size S/M (fits torso lengths under 19-inches) holds 1,800 cubic inches of gear (30 liters).
The top-loading pack sports a closed-cell foam “frame sheet” to provide structure without weight, and we found the formed shoulder straps hug your upper body to keep the load close and in place on your back even when rock-hopping up the Lake 22 Trail. The Hornet 32 sells for $139. More info at www.ospreypacks.com.
Features: We think someone in special ops designs Osprey’s packs — their organizational setup is incomparable. With the Kestrel 48 there are dual side zip compartments, a large central hold that has access at both the top and bottom, a gusseted lid with three zippered compartments, and dual tie-on points for sleeping pads. In fact the central back tie-off could easily be used for skis or snowshoes instead, but the same straps that let you anchor something big to the back of the pack will also unclip and loop around both sides of the pack and latch on tent poles. Climbers will dig the addition of dual gear loops and myriad daisy chains.
Recently, whenever I’ve been in the market for a new pack, I’ve found myself gravitating to those made by Osprey, a company that has been designing great outdoor gear for nearly four decades. A few months back, I added their Stratos 24 daypack to my gear closet, and after testing it out extensively on three continents, I can honestly say that I’m in love.
The first thing that you’ll notice about the Stratos 24, or pretty much any Osprey pack for that matter, is the fantastic build quality. These are packs that are built to last and they can withstand whatever you throw at them. Case in point, in the five months I’ve owned my Stratos, I’ve taken it cross country skiing in Yellowstone, hiking in Colorado, on safari in South Africa, and volcano climbing in Chile, not to mention a couple of day hikes in Texas as well. After all of those adventures, it still looks practically brand new, with nary a scuff mark on it.