Osprey Talon 22 and Tempest 20
$110, 20L/1,220 c.i., 1 lb. 11 oz. (men’s S/M)
Sizes: men’s S/M and M/L, women’s XS/S and S/M
Daypacks are a little like flavors of ice cream—there’s something for everyone’s taste, and they vary so greatly that you can get to feel like one isn’t nearly enough. So how do you find the right model when you want a quiver of one daypack for all purposes? In pursuit of the answer to that enduring philosophical conundrum, I carried Osprey’s Talon 22 on a dayhike to the highest point in California’s Death Valley National Park, 11,049-foot Telescope Peak, and on dayhikes during a family trip to Costa Rica, including the crazily steep and rugged peak Cerro Chato.
Updated for 2017, the men’s Talon and women’s Tempest suspension is constructed around a flexible, lightweight, plastic framesheet. A seamless, wide, foam hipbelt forms one continuous piece with the mesh back panel, wrapping around the hips and lumbar to distribute pack weight very evenly, without pressure points. The position of the soft, foam shoulder straps adjusts in a range of about three inches to customize the fit to your torso. It delivered good comfort and stability for carrying up to about 15 pounds (some people might even carry more weight), whether I was hiking, scrambling, or running—although with less weight when running, and it’s larger than I’d normally use for running. (The Talon 44 and Tempest 40 also have an aluminum peripheral frame for supporting more weight.) The AirScape back panel and perforated foam padding in the hipbelt and shoulder straps create excellent ventilation, which kept my back cool in the smothering heat and humidity of Costa Rica.
These packs have more organization than you’d find in many competitors in this weight class. A clamshell zipper opens halfway down the pack to give wide access to the main compartment, which has adequate space for food, water, and clothes for a long day in the mountains. The packs have stretch side pockets big enough for a liter bottle; two spacious, zippered hipbelt pockets that each fit a larger phone and a fat energy bar; a zippered top pocket larger than you’ll find on many mid-size daypacks; and a stretch-mesh front pocket that swallows a jacket and gloves. Side compression straps shrink the pack to stabilize contents with a partial load.
An external sleeve for the hydration bladder—slotted between the framesheet and main compartment—adds the convenience of not having to empty the pack to refill water. I like the useful little features, especially the trekking pole attachment strap on the left shoulder strap, to quickly stash poles and free my hands to shoot photos, eat on the move, or scramble. A loop with a bungee tie-off holds an ice axe.
A small, stretch-mesh pocket on the left shoulder strap holds a couple gel packets, and there are attachments on the front for a bike helmet and a light and an emergency whistle in the sternum strap. Durability compares with many lightweight daypacks: While mesh pockets are always vulnerable to tearing if you’re not careful, the 70-denier by 100-denier nylon body fabric, with 420-denier nylon on the bottom, won’t bruise easily.
Osprey’s Talon and Tempest hit a sweet spot for features, comfort, organization, and low weight that makes them arguably the most versatile, multi-sport daypacks on the market today—at a competitive price for this level of quality. For dayhikes of any distance, mountain biking, bike commuting, or adventure racing, when you need a little more space and want comfort and features without extra weight, they’re among the top two or three daypacks in that category.
BUY IT NOW You can support my work on this blog by clicking any of these links to purchase a men’s Osprey Talon 22 at moosejaw.com, ems.com, or rei.com, or a women’s Osprey Tempest 20 at moosejaw.com, ems.com, or rei.com. Or buy another size of the Talon from 11L to 44L at moosejaw.com, ems.com, or rei.com, or another size of the Tempest from 9L to 40L at moosejaw.com, ems.com, or rei.com.
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NOTE: I reviewed 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.