Osprey Stratos 50 and Sirrus 50
$190, 47L/2,868 c.i., 3 lbs. 9 oz. (men’s S/M)
Sizes: men’s Stratos S/M and M/L, women’s Sirrus XS/X and S/M
How much do you have to spend to get a “good” backpack? If only I had a buck for every time I’ve been asked that question. Of course, finding a pack you’re happy with is a very personalized choice (my “5 Tips For Buying the Right Backpack” can help you figure that out). Still, like virtually every category of gear, packs come in a range of prices that reflect both the pack’s size as well as its technology, features, materials, and quality of construction—so, yes, price does correlate pretty closely with quality. In search of a pack that delivers good performance without sticker shock, I took the Stratos 50, newly updated for 2017, on a three-day backpacking trip in the Panamint Range of California’s Death Valley National Park.
Known for the comfort and smart designs in their high-end backpacks, Osprey takes aim with the men’s Stratos 50 and women’s Sirrus 50 at weekend backpackers looking for good quality in an all-around pack that’s more affordable. While these two packs don’t match the comfort and weight-carrying capacity you’ll find in, say, Osprey’s men’s Atmos AG and women’s Aura AG series, the Stratos and Sirrus deliver good value in terms of comfort and features for weekend outings or trips of up to four or five days, if you pack lightly.
Redesigned for 2017 with adjustable torso lengths, to let you dial in a better fit, the signature feature is the AirSpeed suspension, a seamless, tensioned mesh panel integrated into the hipbelt and shoulder straps that allows air flow across your entire back, for a superior cooling effect on hot days of hiking.
Considering the fact that the AirSpeed suspension holds the pack’s weight off your back, I found it pretty stable, not tending to shift, even when scrambling up wet, slick limestone and short, third-class sections on an off-trail hike up Death Valley’s Surprise Canyon. The LightWire alloy peripheral wire internal frame with one aluminum stay, and the moderately padded hipbelt and shoulder straps, carry up to about 35 pounds comfortably. The curved hipbelt wraps smoothly over hipbones to distribute weight evenly.
Both of these top-loading packs have a wide enough opening and body for easy loading and seeing inside. Like Osprey’s pricier models, the Stratos and Sirrus have plentiful organization, with stretch-mesh side pockets, a large shove-it pocket on the front with two zippered, vertical pockets on it, plus zippered hipbelt pockets large enough for two or three bars each.
The packs include convenient features like a side zipper for quick access to the main compartment; an integrated rain cover; a zippered sleeping bag compartment on the bottom; a trekking poles attachment on a shoulder strap for freeing up your hands while on the move; dual side compression straps; and a removable lid. The main body of the pack is made of 210-denier nylon crosshatch fabric, while accents and the bottom are made with more-durable 420-denier nylon packcloth—the kind of adequately durable fabrics found in many moderately priced packs.
The Stratos 50 and Sirrus 50—also available in smaller versions, including daypack sizes, and panel-loading designs—won’t make any top-10 lists. You can find packs for backpacking that are lighter and more unique (and more expensive), as well as cheaper. But these packs strike a nice balance of affordable quality from a respected brand, and the addition of torso adjustability makes them even more appealing.
BUY IT NOW You can support my work on this blog by clicking any of these links to buy an Osprey men’s Stratos 50 at backcountry.com, ems.com, moosejaw.com, or rei.com, or a women’s Sirrus 50 at backcountry.com, ems.com, or moosejaw.com.
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NOTE: I tested gear for Backpacker Magazine for 20 years. At The Big Outside, I review only what I consider the best outdoor gear and apparel. See categorized menus of all of my gear reviews at The Big Outside.
Hi, I’m Michael Lanza, the creator of The Big Outside, recognized as a top outdoors blog by USA Today and others. I invite you to get email updates about new stories and gear giveaways by entering your email address in the box at the bottom of this post, and follow my adventures on Facebook and Twitter.
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