Osprey Talon 33 Backpack REVIEW

High performance sub-2-pound, 2000 ci frameless pack for active light pursuits.

Overall Rating: Above Average

The Osprey Talon 33 has all the bells and whistles one would want in a high performance adventure racing and multi-purpose pack. It's comfortable and stable, loaded with convenient storage, and has a great externally accessed hydration compartment. However, its backpanel slumps and loses its vertical rigidity, the side compression straps restrict the use of the side pockets, and the drawcord closure is very cumbersome. Overall, its numerous features and comfort outweigh its few flaws.

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by Will Rietveld |

Introduction

Osprey’s new Talon series for Spring 2007 contains four packs (44, 33, 22, and 11 liters) targeted for active light pursuits. The Talon 33 at 2000 cubic inches (33 L) is a frameless pack with just the right volume for an overnight fastpacking trip, multi-day adventure race, or day tripping in colder weather. The beauty of this type of pack is that it hugs the body, is well ventilated, is equipped for hydrating and snacking on the fly, and has loads of convenient access pockets. That said, how does the Osprey Talon 33 provide those desired attributes?

Osprey Talon 33 Backpack REVIEW - 1
The Osprey Talon 33 is designed for active pursuits and is one of the most versatile lightweight packs around. Photo: Bill Webbe

What’s Good

  • Loads of pockets (10 total) for organization and convenient access
  • Well ventilated suspension system
  • Easy access exterior hydration compartment
  • Comfortable shoulder harness and hipbelt
  • Lightweight durable fabrics
  • Simple torso length adjustment

What’s Not So Good

  • Size M/L may not fit long torsos
  • Water bottles in side pockets catch on compression straps
  • Drawcord closure is very cumbersome to operate

Specifications

  Year/Model

Osprey 2007 Talon 33

  Style

Frameless, top loading, drawstring closure, fixed top pocket

  Volume

Size M/L 2000 ci (33 L)

  Weight

1 lb 14.8 oz (873 g) measured weight; manufacturer’s specification 1 lb 14 oz (850 g)

  Sizes Available

S/M, M/L

  Torso Fit Range

S/M fits <19 inch torso, M/L fits >19 inch torso

  Fabrics

70d x 100d nylon shadow check in top pocket, 160d x 33d shadow box pack body, stretchwoven nylon/Lycra pockets

  Features

Fixed top lid with one security pocket and key clip inside, zippered mesh pocket on underside of top lid, two stretchwoven side pockets, one large stretchwoven front pocket, two zippered hipbelt pockets, two stretch shoulder strap pockets, two side compression straps, large exterior access hydration compartment behind backpanel, two bungee tool loops, two ice axe loops, haul loop, load lifters, sternum strap

  Volume To Weight Ratio

64.9 ci/oz size M/L (based on 2000 ci and a measured weight of 30.8 oz)

  Comfortable Load Carrying Capacity

20 lb (9 kg) estimated comfortable load for an average person carrying the pack all day

  Carry Load to Pack Weight Ratio

10.4 (based on 20 lb and a measured weight of 1.93 lb)

  MSRP

$129 US

Performance

The new Osprey Talon 33 backpack is anything but Spartan. Typical of an adventure racing pack, it’s loaded with technologies and features. A pack of this type needs to provide for three basic needs: 1) carry comfort and stability, 2) hydrating and snacking on the fly, and 3) lots of easy access storage. I will cover those attributes for the Talon 33 in this review. The following gallery provides a get-acquainted tour of the pack.

Osprey Talon 33 Backpack REVIEW - 2
Views of the Osprey Talon 33. The front of the pack (top left) has a huge stretchwoven fabric pocket. The backpanel view (top right) shows the Talon’s well ventilated suspension system and “Goo Pockets” on the shoulder straps. Each side (bottom left) has a stretchwoven pocket with a compression strap over it. The zippered hipbelt pockets also have a large capacity. The top view (bottom right) shows the pack’s drawcord closure and top compression strap. There is a security/map pocket on the underside of the top cap.

Suspension System

Osprey Talon 33 Backpack REVIEW - 3
Typical of Osprey packs, the removable shoulder harness unit (left) has a large Velcro panel to allow vertical adjustment of the pack’s torso length. The shoulder straps and hipbelt (right) are mesh covered 4 millimeter HDPE perforated foam. The same foam in a horizontal corrugated pattern is used to pad the backpanel, which is a semi-rigid closed cell foam panel about 4 millimeters thick.

I found the maximum torso length of the size M/L Talon 33 to be about 21 inches with the shoulder harness adjusted as high as it would go. That was the most comfortable fit for me, and I wish it would extend out a little further yet. To me, it felt like I was maxing out a size medium, and what I really needed was a size large.

The pack’s backpanel readily conformed to my back, which I liked, but in doing so the vertical rigidity of the closed-cell foam backpanel was lost. Consequently, with partial loads (a common scenario) there was little weight transfer, putting most of the weight on my shoulders. A full load expanded and stiffened the pack body enough to create a “virtual frame” and transfer some weight. As with most frameless backpacks, a maximum comfortable weight carrying capacity for most people would be around 20 pounds, more if the user has strong shoulders.

Since I tested the Talon in the fall and winter, I did not get a chance to use it in hot weather. However, its mesh covered and perforated suspension components are well adapted to provide ventilation in the areas where it is needed.

I carried the Talon while speed walking and jogging on my favorite conditioning trails, hiking off trail while exploring southern Utah’s sandstone canyons, backcountry skiing, and snowshoeing. I found it to be quite stable to carry in a variety of situations. It basically clutched my body and moved with me.

Features and Utility

Osprey Talon 33 Backpack REVIEW - 4
Notable Features. The Talon 33 has a large stretchwoven front pocket (top left) that will easily hold a jacket or a helmet. On each side (top right) there is a fairly large stretchwoven pocket with a compression strap over it, plus a sizeable zippered hipbelt pocket. The top cap (bottom left) also has a lot of space inside, and contains a Velcro-secured pocket that flips out. A nice feature is an externally accessible hydration compartment behind the backpanel (bottom right).

Pockets everywhere! If you count the “Goo pockets” on the shoulder straps, the Talon 33 has a total of 10 pockets. I personally like lots of pockets on a pack, so I was delighted with the convenience and organization features of the Talon. Two hipbelt pockets plus two “Goo pockets” provide plenty of space for smaller items, an MP3 player, and snacks so they can be accessed on the fly. Since each of the side pockets has a compression strap wrapping over it twice, I found them to be most useful for stuffable gear. I tried using them for plastic water bottles but the bottles hang up on the compression strap when inserting them, and they easily fall out. The Talon 33 pack is definitely more amenable to using a hydration bladder rather than water bottles.

A really nice feature of the Talon 33 is its externally accessed hydration compartment behind the backpanel. It works best with a hydration bladder that has a hole for hanging. I have never been fond of a hydration sleeve inside the pack body. Yes it does put the heavy water at the correct center of gravity location, but it’s a nuisance to partially unload a pack to refill the bladder. The Talon’s external hydration compartment still puts the water against the center of the backpanel to keep the center of gravity close to the user’s back.

Osprey Talon 33 Backpack REVIEW - 5
The only peeves I have with the Talon 33 are the compression straps over the side pockets (left), which interfere with access and make them unfriendly for water bottles, and the drawcord used on the main compartment opening (right). The drawcord is very cumbersome to operate, and should be replaced with a more conventional system.

Assessment

If you like lots of convenient pockets and attachment points, good ventilation, carry comfort and stability, then an adventure racing style pack will fit the bill. Within that category, the Osprey Talon 33 is an excellent choice. It’s lightweight and durable. For day tripping, where weight is less of an issue, the Talon provides for your every need. For a fast and light overnight trip, the Talon will serve well but there are much lighter (but less durable) packs available.

What’s Unique

The Talon 33’s externally accessed, large capacity hydration compartment is a wonderful feature - much more convenient than an internal hydration sleeve.

Recommendations for Improvement

I am not fond of compression straps over side pockets. They do secure the contents and provide pack compression, but my personal preference would be to free the side pockets and go to a pack volume adjustment system like the GoLite Compaktor System plus one compression strap that will extend across the front of the pack.

Also, ditch the shoestring type drawcord closure on the main compartment and replace it with a conventional braided drawcord and cordlock.


Citation

"Osprey Talon 33 Backpack REVIEW," by Will Rietveld. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/osprey_talon_33_backpack_review.html, 2007-01-23 03:00:00-07.

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Osprey Talon 33 Backpack REVIEW
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Benjamin Smith
(bugbomb) - F - M

Locale: South Texas
Osprey Talon 33 Backpack REVIEW on 01/23/2007 21:59:24 MST Print View

Companion forum thread to:

Osprey Talon 33 Backpack REVIEW

b d
(bdavis) - F

Locale: Mt. Lassen - Shasta, N. Cal.
Re: Osprey Talon 33 Backpack REVIEW on 01/23/2007 22:11:56 MST Print View

I love the Osprey packs, but the photo of the Talon 33 looks like it "hangs low." Is that the case or is it just a photo angle or moment before it is lifted up on the back? bd

Shane Heilman
(mshaner) - F
Weight Carried? on 02/05/2007 10:06:42 MST Print View

I'm curious - how much weight did you carry in this pack? Not base weight please. IOW, what did the pack weigh the moment you pulled it out of the trunk and hit the trailhead?

I've got the 44 and for the moment love it. But I've not hit a dry spot where I had to jump the weight up to 30+ lbs.

Shane