The Osprey Kestrel 28 dayback is ideally sized for multi-sport activities including day hiking, mountain biking, and rock climbing. It has ample internal and external storage providing great flexibility and an adjustable frame, making it ideal for newer hikers who don’t have the experience required to properly size a backpack with a fixed length torso. Plus, at $129 (MSRP), the Kestrel is an excellent value compared to other daypacks in the same size range.
Frame and Suspension
The Kestrel uses Osprey’s adjustable Airscape frame and suspension system. This includes a ridge molded foam backpanel covered in mesh, providing good ventilation and a-close-to-your-back fit and superior lateral control.
An adjustable torso yoke system is connected to the shoulder straps and slides up and down in the space behind the back pad. The yoke is a tongue shaped piece of nylon with strips of velcro along its sides that attach to velcro located on rear of the back pad. This allows the height of the shoulder straps to be raised or lowered depending on your torso length. See the winged symbols (above) which are used to measure additional torso length.
Once set, the adjustable torso does not budge – amazing the holding power of velcro! However, when adjusting the torso length, care should be taken to make sure that the shoulders are set at a level height for maximum comfort.
In terms of capacity, the Kestrel 28 is a good size for carrying the 10 Essentials with plenty of room for food, water and the comfort extras you like to bring along on a hike. Most daypacks are sized in the 30 liter range.
The Kestrel 28 has 3 external mesh pockets for stowing all the gear you need fast access to during a hike or drying out wet gear separately from dry stuff. Personally, I always pack snacks, water bottles, my rain gear and map in such external pockets so I don’t have to dig around for them in the main body of the pack when I stop for a quick break. All the other stuff I bring along that I’m likely to not need, goes into the main compartment, out of the way.
In addition to the mesh pockets, the Kestrel 28 also has a top lid with a zippered pocket, that covers the drawstring closure of the main compartment. It’s not huge, but large enough to carry your keys, wallet, and items that you want to know are secure. There’s also an underlid mesh pocket for additional storage.
If you prefer to carry a hydration bladder instead of water bottles, it can be inserted in a space between the main body of the pack and the back of the shoulder harness (as shown above). This makes it easy to pull out when it’s empty, but is still a challenge to reinsert if your pack is full. Storing a full hydration bladder in this location also has a tendency to create a bulge behind your shoulders, which I find uncomfortable -another reason why I prefer to carry water bottles on the sides of a pack in mesh pockets.
The Kestrel 28 comes with a number of additional features that provide excellent value for a pack in its price range. These include:
- Dual ice axe loops with elastic keeper straps for ice climbing
- Two tiers of side compression straps for securing additional gear to the sides of the pack.
- Integrated rain cover, hidden away in a rain cover pocket.
- Extra tie out points on the rear of the mesh pocket to strap more gear to the back of your pack
- Ergo Pull hip belt system providing excellent hip support when properly fitted over your hip bones.
The Kestrel 28 is an excellent daypack that has the capacity and flexibility to support many different kinds of all season backcountry adventures. Though small in size, this pack is loaded with the same features that you find on larger overnight and expedition backpacks, like the venerable Kestrel 58 and Kestrel 48 from the same Osprey pack family. The only issue I have with the Kestrel 28 is the size of the hip belt which is too short (even in a size M/L) for anyone with a waist-size over 38″. Otherwise, the adjust-ability of the torso length on this pack is a huge value-add at such a low price point, making this a great pack for the money.
- Adjustable torso length
- Stretch woven front and side mesh pockets
- Ideal size for long day hikes
- Hip belt is too small for a 38″ waist
- Hip belt pockets are too small and set too far back
- Hydration pocket is not Platypus reservoir compatible (Camelback and Osprey only)
Size M/L Tested
- Capacity: 28L/1709 cubic inches
- Weight 2 pounds 11 ounces
- Dimensions (inches): 28 x 13 x 12
- Recommended load: 25-35 pounds
- Torso Length: 19″ / 48.5cm
- Hip Belt Size: > 32″ / 81cm
- Fabrics: 420D nylon pack cloth and 210 double diamond nylon
- Airscape ventilated backpad
- External hydration pocket
- Anatomically curve shoulder straps
- 2 x hip belt pockets
- Dual compression straps
- Trekking pole holder
- Stretch woven front pocket
- Integrated rain fly
- Dual ice axe loops and tool holders
- Adjustable torso length
- Zippered top pocket with second mesh pocket
- Load lifters
- 2 Side mesh pockets
- Adjustable sternum strap with emergency whistle
- Hydration hose keeper straps
- ErgoPull Hipbelt adjustment
Disclosure: Osprey Packs provided Philip Werner (SectionHiker.com) with a complementary Osprey Kestrel 28 backpack for this review.
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