The Osprey Packs Talon 44 Backpack ($149.95) is a lightweight pack with an adjustable torso length that’s good for weekend backpacking trips, technical day hikes, and peakbagging. Weighing 2 pounds 5 ounces, it can carry a remarkable amount of gear and has a body hugging fit that provides excellent load control for scrambling and fast packing.
Internal Storage and Organization
The Osprey Packs Talon 44 backpack is a top loading backpack with a large top lid pocket, including a hidden mesh pocket under the lid. It’s a classic Osprey Packs design that’s withstood the test of time, providing convenient access to maps, snacks, and day time essentials so you don’t have to open the main pack back to access gear during the day.
The pack has a rear mesh shovel pocket, good for stashing extra rain or thermal layers that you want quick access to during the day and two side water bottle pockets faced with stretch mesh that have reinforced fabric panels at the bottom for protection. You can also thread the pack’s side compression straps through the pockets or over them, a nice feature.
The water bottle pockets are reachable while wearing the pack, but only if you pull the bottles out holster-style through a side opening and not from the top. However, getting them back into the side mesh pockets is difficult without taking the pack off. If you prefer using a hydration reservoir, 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 refill, and you don’t have to worry about a leak drowning all of your gear.
There’s also a zipper at the bottom of the pack bag, which you can use to access gear buried at the bottom of your pack. It’s really just an access zipper, without a separate sleeping bag shelf or compartment inside.
External Attachment and Compression System
The Talon 44 comes with one tier of side compression straps, arranged in a Z-style configuration, that are good for securing items in the side mesh pockets like tent poles.
There is a top strap that runs over the draw string 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.
While the top lid has a few inches of extra webbing that you can use to raise it in order to scrunch gear underneath, it doesn’t quite have the reach that a true floating lid does on a higher capacity pack. There is also a limit to how much you can overload this backpack, in terms of weight, because the hip belt is so soft. Still the length of the webbing is sufficiently long for strapping a coil of climbing rope or coats under the lid if you need more carrying capacity.
The Talon 44 also comes with a pair of sleeping pad straps that can be used to lash a pad or tent body to the bottom of the pack. Osprey is one of the few manufacturers who still puts these straps on their lighter weight backpacks and they are very useful if you need to carry bulky gear that is too big or awkward to store in the main compartment of your backpack.
Backpack Frame and Suspension
The Talon 44 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 toros 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 rectangular frame made with fiberglass stays and aluminum cross pieces and a HDPE back pad covered by softer padding and mesh with grooved 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 44 liter back, 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 belts on Osprey Packs tend to run small and my advice is that you buy a pack with a hip belt that fits you rather than trying to suffer with one that’s too small.
The hip belt and shoulder straps on the Talon 44 are covered with mesh and lightly padded. While the hip belt has pockets with zippers, both pockets are made of mesh and will be less durable and water-resistant than pockets with a solid nylon face. The shoulder straps have ample gear loops for hanging electronics or threading a hydration hose, in addition to a small “bar” pocket and Osprey’s trekking pole suspension system.
The Osprey Packs Talon 44 Backpack is a fully featured backpack suitable for everything from technical day hikes to overnight backpacking 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 (39 ounce) and affordable ($149.95) package, an increasingly rare combination in the lightweight and ultralight backpacking category. If you prefer a traditionally styled backpack with a top lid pocket over a frameless roll top pack or you want a lighter weight version of a bulkier internal frame pack for shorter lightweight trips, I recommend you try the Talon 44 backpack. It’s a delight to carry if the hip belt fits, with all of the conveniences of bigger internal frame packs in a lighter weight package.
- Adjustable torso length
- Body hugging fit
- Full frame provides rigidity
- Hip belt is sewn to frame providing excellent load transfer to hip
- Rear sleeping pad straps provide excellent utility
- Easy to pack and use for UL backpacking and technical day hiking
- Manufacturer’s max load rating of 40 pounds is high. I’d rate it closer to 25-30 pounds.
- Mesh hip belt pockets are easy to tear
- Difficult to reach water bottles in side pockets
- Hydration reservoir can cause back pad to bulge
Disclosure: Osprey Packs and Live Out There provided Philip Werner with a sample Talon 44 for this review. This post contains affiliate links.
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