Expert Review: Osprey Talon 33 Backpack
This review is my own honest opinion of the backpack, which I bought with my own money in January 2009.
About this Review: This review is my own honest opinion of the backpack, which I bought with my own money in January 2009.
This pack is the pinnacle of perfection for day hikes of any length. It can be an amazing starter pack for someone fresh to hiking, or a great addition/replacement daypack for the most advanced hikers.
About the gear
- Model: Osprey Talon 22
- Gender: Men’s
- Size: L and L/XL
- Pack capacity: 22L
- Height: 5’9”
- Weight: 180 lbs
- Experience: 14 years of hiking and camping
- When I bought it: January 2009
- Length of trips: 0-20mi day trips
- What I carried: CamelBak Crux 2L Reservoir, LifeStraw filter, GoLite UL Gore-Tex rain shell (full set), Black Diamond Talus Gaiters, Katadyn Vario Filter
- Total pack weight: 5-10lb dry weight
- Used for: Day hiking
- Where I’ve used it: Glacier NP, Grand Teton NP, Yellowstone NP, Mesa Verde NP, Shenandoah NP, Arches NP, Zion NP, Great Sand Dunes NP, Saguaro NP, New Jersey Pinelands NR, Swan River NWR, Appalachian Trail MD sections, Sedona, AZ, high desert in southwest CO
- Terrain: High desert, alpine/subalpine, sand dune, pine forest, deciduous forest
- Seasons I’ve used it in: All seasons
How it performs
What I was looking for
When I first got into hiking, I had no gear of my own and was just starting my search to find my hiking style and gear. What I knew was that I was going to relentlessly put my future pack through its paces and test every seam. While a burlap sack would have achieved that, I also wanted something light and versatile that I could use for almost any situation.
Why I chose this gear
I settled on the Talon because it was the perfect balance of versatility and toughness. I can feel the strength of the material and design, but it is light and feels amazing on my back. Additionally the external hydration pouch made removing/replacing the reservoir amazingly painless—an important factor when pumping water on the trail. I briefly considered other Osprey packs and brands, such as the Deuter Speed Lite, but nothing brought together the features of the pack or the industry-crushing warranty boasted by Osprey.
What I love about it
- Durability: I bought my first Talon 22 in 2009 as a starter pack for day hiking. It is now 2022 and I am still using this pack exclusively for day hiking. Other than fading, the only notable damage is some fraying at the seams on the bottom of the pack, where I have been dropping it for over 12 years. I did buy a second Talon in 2016 and ended up giving it to my wife who now uses it for day hiking as well. The term ‘bomb proof’ gets thrown around a lot, but I put my Talon through 300+ mile hiking seasons for over a decade and it is still going.
- Weight: The larger size that I use (L/XL) comes in at 2.04lb, which is a completely reasonable weight for a day pack. There are lighter packs out there, but for day hikes and short backpacking trips, there is no real necessity to go lighter. Most of the weight is from the AirScape back panel, but I have never had an issue during a hike related to the weight of the Talon.
- Ease of use: This is a simple pack with very little guesswork involved. I simply load it up, throw it on, adjust the straps, and go.
- Suspension and comfort: The Talon sports the AirScape back panel, which is an injection-molded, rigid foam pad. It sits close to the back but is extremely breathable. After hiking 20mi with this pack on, my shoulders and back were the least of my concerns. I have never had any bodily issues related to wearing the Talon 22. The hip belt creates a solid but comfortable connection to the pack to center the weight over your hips, while the BioStretch harness holds the top of the back to the body firmly and comfortably.
- Adjustability: The Talon is extremely adjustable. The pack is fairly simple to begin with so finding the perfect fit is relatively simple as well. Once I found the sweet spot with the hip and shoulder straps, it fit to my frame like I was born with it on.
- Capacity: The Talon ranges anywhere from 11L to 44L. This means the Talon can be an unmatched day-hiking pack or an amazing overnight pack. There is also a 6L Talon fanny pack for the trail runners out there. I went with the Talon 22, and it is the perfect size to gear up for any length of day hike, and I can safely say I never had to max it out for any hike.
- Features: The Talon is equipped with a hydration pouch that sits between the main body of the pack and the AirScape back panel. This doesn’t sound like a big deal until you need to get your reservoir out to refill on the fly, and you don’t have to dig it out of the inside of the pack. The pack also has a pottle pocket on each hip, pole holders, a helmet holder, and even a dual ice ax attachment. Additionally the Talon (as with many Osprey packs) has straps all over it to adjust and tweek the fit of the pack so I can find the perfect placement on my body.
- Organization and pockets: The organization of this pack is perfect to keep my bulky but necessary gear separate from my immediate access gear. The deep main body of the pack is great for stashing layers, rain gear, food and food prep, etc., while the sleeves and external pouches/pockets can hold trail food, water, filters, and if necessary, bear spray (something I absolutely want access to).
- Hip belt: The hip belt is wide, comfortable and adjustable. It also sports two surprisingly spacious pockets.
- Pack access: The Talon has a very nice spread of access points. Aside from the main body, there is an internal mesh pouch, a top pouch seated behind the internal pouch, a pouch on the exterior close with a clip for easier access, and dual hip pouches on the belt.
- Other: The Osprey All Mighty Guarantee. Osprey will repair or replace any damage or defect for any reason for free. This guarantee spans every generation of gear back to 1974 when the company was founded. Other brands may have comparable equipment, but I promise you none of them will replace your pack without question for any reason for free.
Issues I’ve encountered
- Weather resistance: One of my only issues with the Talon is that it doesn’t come with a built-in rain fly. While I have taken my Talon 22 into every condition from blizzard to dust storm, rain can be the most troublesome.
Favorite moment with this gear
My most memorable moment with my Talon 22 happened shortly after graduating while working in a remote research camp in the Alaskan bush for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. After three months of living in the confines of the camp, I had actually managed to get cabin fever while living mostly outside. In the name of solitude, I left the protection of the bear fence and ran off into the tundra wearing nothing but my Vibram FiverFingers shoes, shorts, and my Talon 22 packed with snacks I had pilfered from the kitchen tent. The only actual gear I took was a small first-aid kit and a shotgun (bear protection) for safety.
I remember running through the tundra up the hill behind the camp for what seemed like an hour. I only stopped to harvest wild blueberries and salmonberries. Finally I crested the hill and got out of sight of the camp and observed the area. The hill overlooked the entire floodplain and beyond into the Alaskan bush. I could never have comprehended the vastness of the wilderness that still exists in the world. I stayed there and enjoyed a rain shower and a stiff breeze, which knocked the hordes of biting flies and mosquitoes down for a while.
Standing there in the middle of the tundra wearing nothing but my Talon 22 and an old pair of shorts was an immortal moment for my pack and I. I finally found my peace up there in the tundra, and if one can soulbond with a backpack, I believe that was our moment. Many moments were similar, but never comparable to the tundra run with my Talon.
Imagine a man wearing nothing but his Talon 22 and tattered shorts standing on the edge of the world. That was me. There is nowhere I can go that my Talon won’t follow, I know this for a fact.
Value for the money vs. other options
There are comparable packs from other brands, such as Deuter and Gregory, that are similarly priced and maybe slightly cheaper. However the value of my Talon 22 can be broken down and quantified. I bought my Talon in 2009 for $110, I am still using it in 2022 so the cost spread over time is under $8.50 per year, and roughly $0.70 a month. So for 70 cents a month, I got to hike over 300 miles a year for 13 years. Additionally if my pack failed, Osprey would replace/repair it for free, continuing the indefinite value until I retire myself or my pack from the trail. Similar packs include the Gregory Citro, Gregory Miwok, Deuter AC Lite, and Deuter Futura.
For anyone looking for a starter pack or another pack to add to their collection, the Osprey Talon 22 is the perfect pack for day hikes and short backpacking trips. It is a pure and simple hiking pack that has every feature one might need and nothing they don’t.