The Osprey Talon 33 Backpack is a lightweight pack with an adjustable torso length that’s good for extended day hiking, peakbagging, and multi-sport use. Weighing 2 pounds 10 ounces, it can carry a remarkable amount of gear, it has useful pockets, and a body-hugging fit that provides excellent load control for scrambling and fast packing. The women’s version of this pack, called the Osprey Tempest 30 is also available in women’s sizes, with female-specific shoulder straps, and a female-shaped hip belt.
Specs at a Glance
- Frame type: Internal
- Adjustable: Yes
- Raincover: Not included.
- Gender: Men’s (Women’s version is called the Tempest 30)
- M/L (19-23″ torso); (28-50″ waist)
- S/M (16-20″ torso); (26-45″ waist)
- M/L (33L)
- S/M (31L)
- M/L (2 lbs 10 oz) – 2 lbs 9 oz, actual weighed
- S/M (2lbs. 6.5 oz)
- Exterior pockets: 9
- Main: 100D x 210D HT Nylon
- Bottom: 420HD Nylon Packcloth
- Max Recommended Load: 20 lbs.
- See Osprey for complete specifications
Internal Storage and Organization
The Talon 33 is a top-loading backpack with a large top lid pocket, including a hidden mesh pocket under the lid w/key fob. It’s a classic Osprey design that’s withstood the test of time, providing convenient access to maps, snacks, and daytime essentials so you don’t have to open the pack’s main compartment to access gear during the day. The top lid is sewn to the back panel and not floating, which I prefer on a pack of this volume because it doesn’t slump down the front of the pack as much when full.
The pack has a front mesh stuff pocket, good for stashing extra rain or thermal layers that you want quick access to, and two side water bottle pockets faced with stretch mesh that have reinforced fabric panels at the bottom to minimize rips and abrasion.
Water bottles stored in the side pockets are only accessible through the tops of the pockets and are not reachable while the pack is worn. If you prefer using a hydration reservoir (which this pack is really designed for), there is an external hydration pocket and hook located behind the shoulder harness for hanging a water reservoir. It’s not a pocket inside the main pack bag, so it’s easier to pull out the reservoir to refill it, and you don’t have to worry about a leak drowning all of your gear. This is a premium feature for hydration system users.
Osprey also included two large hip belt pockets on the Talon 33, which close with zippers and have solid fabric fronts and top for better durability and protection. I’m impressed by their size, actually. They’re big enough to store a large smartphone, point-and-shoot camera, hats, gloves, and of course snacks. Additionally, there a stretch mesh pocket that closes with a snap on the left shoulder pad but is too small to hold a Smartphone like the iPhone X, a Garmin inReach Explorer+, or a Garmin GPS. It’s really just sized for sunglasses or a snack bar. A missed opportunity, given the popularity of satellite messengers and smartphone navigation apps with hikers.
External Attachment and Compression System
The Talon 33 comes with two tiers of adjustable side compression straps that are good for securing items in the side mesh pockets like tent poles or snowshoes for winter hiking. The bottom compression strap can be routed outside the side water bottle pocket or through it, which is handy when you want to compress your load and still carry items in the pocket, like water bottles or a thermos.
The previous version of the Talon 33 (which you can still find heavily discounted) only had a bottom compression strap, which was routed in a Z-pattern making it much harder to use for attaching gear, like snowshoes, to the side of the pack. The two new straps run from back to front without the Z-pattern, so you can wedge stuff underneath them more easily. This works well with shorter 22″ snowshoes, for example, although the straps are still too short if you wear a longer snowshoe like a 25-incher and up.
There’s is also a top strap that runs over the drawstring opening of the main compartment that you can pull tight to compress the load from back to front and help counter any back lean. The strap can also be used to hold rope or clothing in place between the bottom of the top lid and the pack bag.
The Talon 33 comes with dual ice ax loops, including elastic shaft holders so you don’t have to cannibalize a compression strap to hold your axes in place. This is a very useful feature for ice climbing, ski mountaineering, and winter hiking above treeline.
Osprey’s “stow and go” trekking pole holder system is also included which lets you tuck your trekking poles along the side of the pack but out of the way when they’re not needed. It consists of two elastic bands: one connected to the shoulder strap and one to the side of the pack that you thread your poles through. For example, when you need your hands free for rock scrambling. You don’t have to take off your backpack to use it or to retrieve your poles when you need them again. I’m surprised that other manufacturers haven’t copied it, because it is the best trekking pole holder system going.
Backpack Frame and Suspension
The Talon 33 uses Osprey’s Airscape frame which lets you adjust the amount of space between the hip belt and the shoulder straps so it matches your torso length, one of the most critical elements of getting a good fit. The shoulder harness is attached to the back of the pack using velcro, and to adjust it, you simply pull it loose, and move it up or down to match your torso length. Here’s a video from REI that explains how to measure your torso length.
Unfortunately, the markings on the shoulder harness that indicate torso length aren’t marked in inches or centimeters so you have to fit the pack using feel instead of simply resizing it to your torso length if you already know what it is. Call Osprey Packs Support for help if you don’t know whether you’ve adjusted the pack correctly or not. They are very helpful and having a well-fitted pack makes all the difference.
The Airscape Frame consists of two main components: a rigid u-shaped aluminum frame with rigid cross pieces and an HDPE back pad covered by softer padding and mesh with air channels for ventilation. The pack’s main compartment is anchored to the rigid frame, as are the hip belts and the bottoms of the shoulder straps, providing excellent weight transfer to the hips and load control.
The Talon hip belt is thinly padded as befits a 33-liter low capacity backpack designed for lighter loads. It still provides excellent load transfer since it’s sewn directly to the pack frame, but its lack of “stiffness” limits how heavily you can pack the Talon. I actually prefer a less padded hip belt like this because I feel it wraps around my hip bones better, but it is critical that you get the right hip belt length. (See: How Should a Hip Belt Fit?)
The hip belt and shoulder straps on the Talon 33 are covered with mesh and lightly padded. The shoulder straps have ample gear loops for hanging electronics or threading a hydration hose, along with a stern strap that can be repositioned higher or lower on a “rail”. The Talon 33 also has load lifters, which are very useful to align the load closer to your torso, especially when heavier gear tends to pull you backward.
The new Osprey Packs Talon 33 Backpack is a fully-featured backpack suitable for everything from technical day hikes to fastpacking and multi-sport trips. An adjustable frame pack with a fully-featured internal frame, it provides a body-hugging fit that provides excellent load transfer to the hips in a lightweight package, an increasingly rare combination in the lightweight and ultralight backpacking category. If you prefer a traditionally styled backpack with a top lid pocket and lots of pockets to stay organized, I recommend you try the Talon 33 backpack. It’s a delight to carry, with all of the conveniences of bigger internal frame packs in a lighter weight package.
Disclosure: Osprey provided the author with a pack for this review.
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Last updated: 2020-11-18 20:13:33
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