|Rating:||8.7 / 10|
|Value for Money||1.8 / 2|
|Comfort||1.7 / 2|
|Weight||1.7 / 2|
|Durability||1.8 / 2|
|Versatility||1.7 / 2|
In choosing a pack for overnight hiking and camping trips I look for the following criteria:
Typically most people will own just one overnight pack and as a result they will end up with a larger pack to cater for all their hiking adventures. At the moment for most people that seems to be around the 65 litre size. For a number of years I’ve used 50 litre packs for my extended multi day trips but when it came to trips of around 3-4 days, a 50 litre pack was way too big. So a few years ago when we did the four-day Three Capes Walk in Tasmania I managed to fit all my gear and food into an Osprey Talon 33 litre pack. Admittedly I wasn’t carrying a tent, a stove or a sleeping mat. But it was a real luxury to use such a small pack on a multi day hike; it created a sense of freedom not having a large pack sitting on your back.
Realising I would need a bit of extra space to accomodate the tent, stove and sleeping mat, I opted for a larger version of the Osprey Talon. The Talon rag is quite diverse starting at a tiny 6 litres and topping out at 44 litres on the larger size – conveniently there is a 36 litre version which is what I ended up going for.
Using a small pack for an overnight hiking forces you down a particular route as far as gear selection and hiking practice goes. This includes:
Having high quality gear is essential because this translates to a compact tent, compact sleeping mat and compact sleeping bag. While you could get away strapping the tent and sleeping mat on the outside of the pack, the sleeping bag needs to be kept inside the pack to keep it dry and out of the weather. I’m also not a fan of hanging stuff outside my bag – it can get caught on the branches and rocks, and feels bulky as you walk which defeats the purpose.
After purchasing this pack, I opened it up and initially couldn’t work out why I was having trouble with the pack brain. It wasn’t until my wife looked at it we realised that the traditional ‘floating’ brain wasn’t there and had been replaced with a large zip pocketed flap that isn’t as large as I would have liked. In addition, the zip pocket that traditionally sits on the inside of the brain is absent and instead is part of the rear internal pack which means that when fully loaded, the pack is a bit harder to access. No biggie given I usually store my wallet and house key in there but an irritation all the same. For me these were the only real negatives of this pack and not deal breakers.
Now for the positives. This pack has a large single opening that maximises the available space. In addition to the main pocket, there is also an external hydration bladder sleeve. If you have a fully loaded pack then position the bladder first as it makes it much easier. I originally expected the zippered top flap to be a limiting factor on this pack but as it turned out it wasn’t. I’d still like some additional capacity but I managed to rethink my packing to suit this pack.
As far as the rest of the pockets go this pack has plenty. The hip belt pockets while not as large as those in the larger packs, are a good size and in my case this is where my snacks live. There is a small mesh pocket on the left should strap and while many people don’t know what to do with this pocket its my home for hand sanitiser, even pre-pandemic.
There are also two large side pockets that most people tend to use for water bottles but as a bladder user, I store my tent poles and pack cover in one and my tracking poles in the other when not in use. There is the standard stretch pocket on the rear of the pack which is where I store my tent and last but not least, there is an internal pocket at the rear of the inside of the pack which is where my house key and wallet live.
Other features include the standard Osprey ‘Stow on the Go’ trekking pole storage system which I tend not to use preferring instead the side pocket as previously mentioned.
There are two sizes that this pack (S/M and L/XL) so you need to choose the one that best suits your back length. The back suspension on this model can be adjusted which means you can get the best fit for your chosen size. I use the L/XL pack and while its suits me well, if you are large around the middle (bigger than around approximately 42 inches and/or wear lots of bulky clothing) then this pack may not suit and may need to consider using one of the larger more adjustable packs. The other thing to consider is that the S/M pack capacity is 34 litres which can make a big difference in a pack this small and can be the difference between fitting everything in or leaving one or two items behind.
As far as carrying capacity goes the suspension system on this pack holds the weight well and while Osprey rate the Talon 36 pack to a maximum of 11 kg, I found that it handled 13 kg well and I didn’t feel like it was digging in.
Price is also an issue on just about all packs of this size and at AUD $329.99 RRP, this price point will make you think twice about purchasing. Given all the features that this pack comes with it is still good value for money and if you pay attention to the sales you can pick this pack up at a cheaper price.
What it comes down to is that this pack is essentially a smaller version of the larger packs and has most of the features you would expect. I have been very happy with this pack and it works really well for me. The Osprey Talon 36 has now become my ‘go to’ for 3 season hikes of up to four days in length.
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AUD $329.99 RRP
The Tempest is the women’s version of this pack
Osprey Talon 36 Litre pack in Cosmic Red colour
Osprey Talon 36 Litre pack in Black colour
Osprey Talon 36 Litre pack in Grey colour
Sternum strap and whistle. The water bladder tube can feed down either shoulder strap. The sternum strap can also be moved up and down to the desired location
Shoulder strap pocket and the top loop on the ‘Stow on the Go’ tracking pole system
Harness system on the Talon 36 pack. This harness system has a velcro adjustment so you can set the harness length using the little arrows shown above to measure. Once you have set the harness to suit your size, you shouldn’t need to adjust again
Hip belt pocket. This pocket will fit a small compact camera or in my case, my daily snacks
Pack top opening; this is a new system for Osprey and replaces the typical pack brain system. The opening slopes down and exposes the internal zip pocket
My pack on the East Gippsland Rail Trail. My tent lives in the small stretchy pocket on the rear of the pack
External hydration bladder pocket. The carry handle is also visible showing the Osprey name
Osprey Talon 36 pack on, front and rear view
Stow on the Go trekking pole system
The new style of ‘pack brain’ on the Osprey Talon 36. It’s more of a flap with a pocket rather than the larger traditional brain
This review was done with product purchased from a retail store by Australian Hiker