Osprey Talon 44 (2014)

Brand: Osprey
Where to get in NZ: Various Outdoor Stores, Bivouac Outdoor, Torpedo 7 and many more places: http://southernapproach.co.nz/brands/osprey/
Typical Retail price: $249.99

Summary

Osprey Packs supplied us (Team Osprey Packs) with the Talon 44 just in time for Chapter 3 of Godzone in Kaikoura. Since a hard introduction to life my pack has been put through its paces over a year of training and racing in the build up to Godzone Chapter 4 in Wanaka.

The Talon 44 is a pretty good all round pack for overnight trips, some basic adventure racing and some general exploring. If I was going into the mountains on a climbing mission  I would probably leave this one behind. Its ok but not ideal for cycling with either. But trekking, tramping or hiking it is a nice pack, full of features that make life easier. I also found it to fit well and was comfortable to use for prolonged periods of time.

 

Function: 5/5

For 44 litres you can fit a fair amount of stuff, such as a tent, sleeping bag, warm clothes, food and cooking gear but that is about it, so good for an overnight trip but almost a little too much space for an adventure race in good conditions! perfect in horrible conditions! The outside of the pack is shower proof but I wouldn’t hesitate to put my warm gear in a dry bag inside if it was going to rain or get wet in a river crossing. The bottom of the pack has some drain holes also to allow the water to drain out which are handy if it does fill up with water!

Big mesh pocket at the back is great for carry gear that you don’t want to pack away in the main bag, and there is plenty of room for expansion. The Ice axe loops I found a little bit long really which meant that my Ice Axe didn’t really fit very well to the pack. The point also rubbed against the fragile looking mesh pockets and I suspect after a few days in that position it would wear a hole through. Another feature missing from this pack which is on other Osprey ones was the “lid Lock” system so there wasn’t really a good place to put a helmet other than the stretchy back mesh pocket. And again there was nowhere good to put crampons (I stuck them in a bag inside the mesh pocket also).

The single action draw cord to close the top of the pack was a little difficult to figure out initially (not super intuitive) but once I had it down it was very effective in getting stuff in and out of the pack. There is an over the top restraining strap too which comes in handy if you are going to stuff the pack full of gear, or stick a jacket in there without going into the main pack. The closing straps come down over the top of an Ice Axe if it is fitted and you can either pass the strap around the back or over the top to hold further restrain the Axe.

Just like the most of the talon range, the bladder pocket is accessible externally and you don’t have to go hunting around in the main pocket to get your bladder out if you need to refill. Plus you don’t get you dry stuff inside wet!

The waist strap has some pockets but like most other Osprey Packs I have run around with they are a bit small for anything over 3-4hours and have a funny little opening at the end which I have found can wiggle open if you are not careful. The openings to the side mesh pockets are at the top and the front facing side they are no match to the Macpac Amp side pockets. It is difficult to reach into them while wearing the pack and due to the angle of the openings sometimes stuff can fall out particularly while on a bike.

The metal frame of the pack comes up quite high at the back of pack which is not a problem until you need to bike downhill and it interferes with the back of my helmet. This is not particularly help by wearing a road helmet on a mountain bike but the close proximity of the top of the pack sitting high enough to be comfortable while trekking.

NOTE: Magnetic bladder hose – DANGEROUS to compass’s the entire time I was Navigating throughout GODZone I had to take extreme care not to damage my compass with the strong magnet in the bladder hose (I removed the clip from the chest strap also).

I haven’t used the walking pole attachment system so I can’t really comment on how that works.

Comfort: 3/5

When I first put this pack on it just fitted nicely to my back. The pack comes in a Small/Med and Large frame, obviously due to my stature I went with the small/med. I had no problems wearing it comfort wise and it never felt like a chore to swing it over my shoulder and onto my back. I wore this pack for hours on end for days on end with no rubbing, chafing or comfort issues. Sure I had sore shoulders after hours with it on but that’s to be expected. The best thing about Osprey Packs in general is they are just so comfortable to wear.

There is enough setup adjustment that you can get this pack to work best for you when you want it too. A feature that is on most good packs but its definitely one that you want for those long hours carrying your gear around.

On the bike it was a different story however. The high frame at the back seemed to interfere with the back of my helmet which was not ideal going down steep technical downhill at 3am in complete whiteout and dark conditions. The additional weight on the bike seat also made things uncomfortable but that is just a fact of life in Adventure racing sadly. Also I learned in more ways than one that bid shorts are not ideal with a heavy pack like this… 1, you cant go to the toilet very easily; and 2, the shoulder straps of the bibs interfere with the pack shoulder straps resulting in an extra bit of unnecessary shoulder pain.

Durability: 4/5

Overall the pack is pretty robust. I have had it for over a year taken it on numerous trainings, and it has done two GODZone’s and the only damage is to the mesh pockets at the sides and the back. The mesh pockets is a tough one because they are so handy for stashing gear quickly but so easily damaged on sharp rocks, barbed wire fences and vegetation along with sharp gear that you might be carry such as Ice Axe and Crampons. I have been fairly careful with mine and it still has a bit of damage. In all other areas there seems to be no sign of wear other than some mud stains! One of my team mates had so much damage that his pack was replaced under the lifetime warranty of the pack.

Appearance: 3/5

The Talon 44 is the biggest in its range, styled with the same pastel colour range as the rest of the talon range. I always felt like the pack looked big an bulky but once on your back it didn’t seem to bad. The shape is fairly normal looking, but with stuff stashed deep in the mesh pockets the pack can look pretty extreme. The large top pocket that clips over the front of the pack does take a little of the good looks away when its not sitting quite right or when the main compartment is filled to the bring. In general, it looks like a mutlisport pack, with the design heavily tipped towards the function rather than style side of the ledger.

Cost: 5/5

The cost of the Talon 44 I felt was reasonably well priced. There is a lot of pack there for what you get, it has heaps of functional extra bits, like trekking pole loops, large mesh pockets etc for attaching all sorts of gear to the outside and the inside also. One feature you cannot go past for this kind of money though it the Lifetime Guarantee. Just like most products out of the USA you can take these packs back into the shop for any damage which they will either fix or replace and the only damage to my pack so far has been the mesh pockets!

Overall Rating:

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