The Kestrel 68 is classified as a multi-day backpack, ideal for carrying 40 to 60 pounds on long weekends or week-long trips far from civilization. The 68 in the name refers to the 68 liters of gear it can haul (M/L size) and it does it intelligently. One gripe I’ve had about packs in the past is the lack of large outside pockets for quick access to key items. The Kestrel 68 has two long slash pockets along either side, as well as a stretchy mesh back panel, the latter of which is perfect for a holding pair of sandals to wear around camp and a rain shell. In addition, the Kestrel also has two stretchy side pockets that are sized right for liter water bottles. Even the hip belt has two small pockets, which allow your energy bars and GPS to be close at hand. The floating top has no less than three zippered compartments in different sizes. Multiple bungees and compression straps make for easy lashing of loose items such as tent poles or a camera tripod. There is a smartly-placed pair of loops made specifically for stowing trekking poles on the fly. Brilliant.
Hydration packs have been around a few decades now and every backpack company makes them. They revolutionized the way we carry our water while hiking, mountain biking, ultra-running and even fighting wars. But after breaking new ground, hydration packs haven’t changed much. Sure, they come in different sizes and configurations for different sports but I haven’t yet seen a pack that makes me want to give up my ten-year old Camelbak. Until the Osprey Raptor 18 ($80) arrived.Read full post