Product review: Osprey Talon 33 hiking pack
By Ken BÉLANGER
The Talon 33 is marketed as a minimalist overnight backpacking or day hiking pack. There is a wide range of volumes in the Talon series from 6 litres to this largest size at 33 litres. The equivalent women's model is the Tempest with the same features and similar volumes. I wore the Talon 33 guiding a number of day hikes, a couple of days of cragging, a few alpine rock climbs and an Italian via ferrata.
This pack is made to be light, and this is apparent as soon as you pick it up. The back panel, shoulder straps and hip belt are lightweight die-cut foam with oodles of ventilation. When one puts this pack on, you can feel it contouring to your body which creates a very comfortable fit. I'm not very tall at 175cm, however I do have a long torso so I extended the Velcro adjustable back panel to its longest positon on my M/L pack and it was - just - long enough.
I like the ErgoPull hip belt closure system: you pull forward to tighten the hip belt, which makes snugging the waist belt secure and easy when moving through technical terrain.
The minimalist moniker doesn't apply to this full-featured pack, but rather to its relatively small size if you used it for an overnight. There are a lot of pockets here, and I found pretty much all of them useful.
The lid's cavernous exterior pocket is great for often needed, bulky but light items, and there's a mesh pocket on the inside with a key clip. The lid is removable. It was ingenious to use continuous cord instead of webbing for the lid buckle attachments. When the lid is buckled down, the cord cinches and makes a tight seal over the side of the pack body.
The two side pockets have been perfectly sized for one litre Nalgenes, but if you need to stow something smaller in them, there are compression straps.
The mesh front panel pocket is slick: you can access an extra layer quickly or store wet raingear without worrying about wetting the inner contents. There are even a couple of drain holes that could double as a lash attachment or blinker light.
An external hydration sleeve allows access to a water bladder without opening the pack - very convenient. You can route your hose through bungees on either shoulder strap, the left one has a pocket for stashing the bite valve and tube. I use this pocket to store my foldable splint too.
The comfortable moulded hip belt has a zippered pocket on each side for sunscreen, lip balm, a few snacks, compass and your inReach device.
I wasn't sure how much I'd use the hiking pole attachment system, but I found it really useful on alpine approaches when encountering 3rd and 4th class terrain. Normally I'd slide my pole(s) horizontally between my back and the back panel, but this widens my space making chimneys annoying and the poles easily shift. Instead I found stowing them quick, easy and secure using their vertical Stow-On-The-Go system. Once I'd returned to lower class terrain, it was quick and easy to pull out the pole again to continue.
Just like the the Kamber 42 I used last spring, the bottom ice axe loops (2) are just simple webbing. They're quite long and tools flop around a lot on these, so I twist them numerous times before clipping in the shaft. I assume Osprey made them wide enough to accommodate ski tails, but I wouldn't want to carry skis on this pack. When not in use, you can tuck them away out of sight to create a clean profile.
A nitpicky point, but I'd prefer to see the over the top compression strap (under the lid) sewn to the opposite (back side) of the pack. I rarely use this strap on a hiking pack, so it constantly falls and hangs onto the outside of the pack unless buckled.
I never encountered heavy rain, but in light showers the fabric was water resistant enough. But with all of the seams, I would want a rain cover for real precip. Unfortunately, there isn't a built-in rain cover, but Osprey makes one to fit.
Of course this pack isn't made for climbing, so loading it up with a rope and a rack isn't really a fair test. However it did allow me to realise that heavy loads are not its forté. There isn't enough suspension to effectively transfer the load to your hips. Also the hip belt is bulky and wide so needs to be folded backwards for wearing with a harness. The lightweight material wouldn't withstand tonnes of abrasive abuse. But this isn't a climbing pack, so probably not best to use it for that.
As usual, Osprey has thought through every detail on the Talon 33 pack. It's easily one of the best hiking packs I've worn and I'm looking forward to many more days in the mountains with it.
Ken Bélanger is an ACMG Ski and Hiking Guide and the ACMG Partnership Coordinator with a base in Canmore and outdoor offices all over the world.Á