After miles and miles of use, it’s hard to think of any design feature that I’ve come across on any other pack that could really improve the Talon, beyond a rain cover – a pricey extra option ($37/£22) – and all this at an exceptional weight.
Perfect selection of pockets
Comfortable, breathable back panel
Seamless hip belt
No rain cover
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The Osprey Talon backpack presents something of a design mystery, somehow ticking just about every option box for additional features without bulking up like a hefty bodybuilder.
In the same way that a conjuror pulls silk handkerchiefs from apparently standard sleeves, the Talon delivers a multitude of genuinely useful features from its neat, slender design.
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There’s a narrow stretch pocket on the shoulder harness for a phone or small GPS, rubber bands to channel a hydration hose, plus zipped pockets on both hip belts for keys, cash and snacks. It’s amazing how quickly I took such convenience for granted.
• RRP: $140 (US)/£120 (UK)
• Volume: 33 litres
• Sizes: S/M, M/L
• Weight: 0.9kg/1lb 16oz
• Colours: Yerba green/Black/Martian red/Ultramarine blue
On the trails
Everything on this pack seems tailored to keep you moving, from Osprey’s stow-on-the-go attachment for trekking poles, to a stretchy rear pouch capable of swallowing a waterproof or map. There’s even external access to the pouch for a hydration bladder, so there’s no need to unpack the backpack to refill the reservoir (bladder sold separately).
Twin, stretch side pockets each take a water bottle, a pair of hooks secure ice axes, and the decent sized lid has an external pocket for hat, gloves or perhaps a lightweight waterproof, as well as boasting an internal pocket for less-regularly used items. Even the tiniest details are well thought through, including a key hook attachment in the lid pocket and an emergency whistle on the chest strap.
But it’s not all show without substance. The Talon uses Osprey’s AirScape back panel that covers well-spaced foam ridges with a thin mesh to strike a sweetspot between keeping the pack close to the spine and excellent ventilation. It works a treat.
Likewise, the seamless hipbelt finds the perfect balance between padding and breathability, while avoiding any stitching that might cause irritation or abrasion.
Carrying is made more comfortable still with the option to adjust the torso length of the back system, using Velcro-style fastenings to slide the harness up and down to suit your own bodyshape.
After spending a decade as editor of Country Walking, the UK’s biggest-selling walking magazine, Jonathan moved to edit Outdoor Fitness magazine, adding adrenaline to his adventures and expeditions. He has hiked stages or completed all of the UK's national trails, but was once overtaken by three Smurfs, a cross-dressing Little Bo Peep, and a pair of Teletubbies on an ascent of Snowdon. (Turns out they were soldiers on a fundraising mission.)