Adam here with my first (of many) gear reviews which will be popping up on Bee + Roo over the next few months.
I’ve been using the Talon since the start of summer and Anna has been using the Tempest for about as long (all fit and performance opinions of the female packs are hers). They seem to be the perfect packs for short hikes and day trips in warm weather, with just enough space for everything you need.
These packs are pretty small, (just 11 Litres in the Talon and 9 in the Tempest,) but good things come in small packages! A typical load-up for this pack would usually be something like this:
- Lightweight waterproof jacket
- Spare lightweight insulated layer
- Some snacks (Chia Charge flapjacks are my favourite at the moment!)
- Small headtorch
- Bottle of water/flask of coffee
- Compact camera + spare battery
Obviously, this will vary depending on the time of year, weather, activity etc.
The Talon series has been around for 10 years and has become something of an icon in the world of backpacks. The latest generation makes some general improvements, adds some new features and gives the range a well-deserved facelift. I’m seriously impressed by these packs, and here’s why:
A pack that doesn’t fit well isn’t going to be much fun to carry – the best backpacks are the ones that you forget that you’re wearing. Talon and Tempest come close to being the most unintrusive that I’ve ever worn.
Hipbelt and Back Panel
Talon and Tempest have a new hip belt which continues into the lumbar area and wraps around the body seamlessly. In practice, this means that you don’t get any hot spots or pressure points when you’re carrying them. The Airscape back panel fits closely to the body, keeping the weight really stable for when walking turns into running or scrambling.
The yoke and harness are really comfortable too, with the Talon and Tempest both fitting slightly differently to adapt to the different shapes of the male and female body. Talon’s straps go mostly straight up-and-down, whereas Tempest’s curve around the chest and more down the sides of the body. The Talon 11 and Tempest 9 don’t have adjustable torso length like their bigger cousins, but there’s plenty of length in the harness so they should fit most people well.
For this updated series, Osprey have added “accordion foam” into the back panel, which looks really cool and seems to do a good job of keeping you cool too. It’s got hexagonal slits which help to move sweat away from your back, but in hot weather, you’re going to end up with a damp back regardless.
One of the neatest features is the external hydration access. It makes removing and replacing a hydration reservoir pretty easy, and means you don’t have to unpack half of your stuff when it’s time to refill.
These small packs have a lot going on, which adds to their versatility but doesn’t intrude on their stylish design (more on that later). Some of these neat touches are:
- Lid-Lock helmet attachment – perfect for when you’re out on the bike and need somewhere to keep your helmet during a rest-stop.
- Side bottle pockets – perfect size for a water bottle or (more often) Klean Kanteen insulated coffee flask. The stretchy mesh keeps it’s shape well, whilst the compression webbing underneath it can be threaded inside or outside the pocket, depending on your preference.
- Stow-on-the-Go – useful for those carrying trekking poles, these little webbing loops under the arm and on the lower side of the pack mean you can quickly get your sticks out of the way without taking your pack off. Ideal for climbing stiles or hopping a stream!
- Bungee-cords – an extendable bungee on the front gives a nice place to shove a jacket or spare layer. It’s good for wet gear or stuff you need fast access to.
- Ice-tool loop/pole attachment – If you feel so inclined, there’s a loop to attach your ice-axe onto the outside of the pack, or use it to store your walking poles if you want them more permanently out of the way.
- Twin hip-belt pockets – these are made from a stretchy material and are lovely for storing a compact camera, GPS, snacks or head-torch.
- Scratch-free pocket – Perfect for your sunglasses or phone, the material in here is made to be super soft and prevent anything unfortunate happening to your scratchable possessions. This pocket also has a clip for your keys too, so you’re not left worrying where you left them.
- There’s also another little mesh pocket on the inside of the pack, good place for storing easily accessible essentials like spare batteries.
- Harness pocket – this is the perfect size for my Leatherman Signal multi tool, which I like to have with me on the trail. It’s a bit too small for a mobile phone though, which is pretty annoying as it’d be the ideal place to keep it.
Talon 11 and Tempest 9 are designed with Osprey’s usual attention to detail, as well as a range of nice new colours. I’ve been using the Ultramarine Blue, and Anna has the Lucent Green, both of which are nice and quite tasteful – they don’t clash with much of our gear! Osprey have gone for a more solid, blocked colour this time around, rather than the grey ribs of previous generations. It makes the packs look a lot more up-to-date and stylish.
Osprey have used the very tough yet lightweight 70x100D Shadowbrick Nylon on a lot of the pack, which is soft and smooth. It’ll repel almost all water too, which will keep the contents dry until the weather turns really nasty. The high-wear points are made from 420HD Packcloth Nylon, which is a bit tougher and helps to prevent anything abrading through the pack.
The materials on the body-contact areas feel nice; very soft and comfortable against the skin. The back-panel has reversed spacer mesh on it, which won’t damage your expensive gore-tex or bobble up your favourite fleece.
I could imagine the stretchy mesh on the bottle pockets catching on thorns or bushes, but it’s a minor issue in the grand scheme of things, and likely not to happen if you’re careful.
All in all, the Talon 11 and Tempest 9 have proven to be really great packs. They are towards the expensive end of the spectrum, yet have proven to be worth every penny. They’re smallish packs, granted, but a nice size for those going out for a short hike or just carrying the essentials. Very richly featured and well thought out, yet somehow avoiding feeling over-complicated, they have earned their status as a “living legend” in outdoor gear circles.
You can now find the new range of Talon and Tempest packs on Osprey’s website. If you have one of these, leave us a comment letting us know how you like it. Also, if you have any questions leave them below and I’d be happy to help!
Gear Score: 92/100
- Highly comfortable harness and hipbelt
- Plenty of pockets
- Looks gorgeous
- Harness pocket is too small for a mobile phone
Full disclosure; I work for Osprey and hence am a biased towards their products. However, as with all reviews, I try to keep my reviews impartial and based purely on my own impressions.