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Osprey Talon 44 Backpack Review

Osprey Talon 44 Backpack Review

The Osprey Packs Talon 44 Backpack is a lightweight pack with an adjustable torso length that’s good for weekend backpacking trips, technical day hikes, climbing, and peakbagging. Weighing 2 pounds 15 ounces, it can carry a remarkable amount of gear and a body-hugging fit that provides excellent load control for scrambling and fast packing. Hiking skirt not included. 

Osprey Packs Talon 44 Backpack

Comfort
Weight
Suspension
Features
Adjustability
Sizing
Durability

Excellent

The Talon 44 is perfectly sized for technical day hikes or weekend trips. It has an adjustable torso that makes fitting a breeze with a ventilated back panel to keep your shirt dry.

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Specs at a Glance

  • Frame type: Internal frame
  • Adjustable Torso: Yes
  • Weight: 2 lbs 15 oz (size S/M)
  • Volume: 44L
  • Floating Lid: Yes
  • Hydration ready: Yes, external hydration pocket behind shoulder straps
  • Pockets: 8
  • Hip Belt Pockets: Yes. solid faced
  • Load lifter: Yes
  • Access: (2) Top and bottom
  • Bear Canister Compatibility: BV475, 450, and 425 fit horizontally
  • Sizing:
    • M/L (16-20″ torso)
    • S/M (19-23″ torso)
  • Fabric:
    • Main:  100D x 210D high-tenacity nylon, PFC-free DWR finish
    • Bottom: recycled 420HD nylon packcloth, PFC-free DWR finish
You can route the side compression straps on the outside or inside of the mesh pockets.
You can route the side compression straps on the outside or inside of the mesh pockets.

Internal Storage and Organization

The Talon 44 is a top-loading backpack with a large top lid pocket, including a hidden mesh pocket under the lid. It’s a classic Osprey design that’s withstood the test of time, providing convenient access to maps, snacks, and daytime essentials so you don’t have to open the pack’s main compartment to access gear during the day. It also has a bottom zipper, providing a second access method at the base of the pack, although an optional sleeping bag shelf is not included with this pack. Still, it means you can stash your tent body at the bottom of the Talon 44 and pull it out without getting the contents wet, say in the rain when you set up camp.

A bottom zipper provides access to gear at the base of the pack.
A bottom zipper provides access to gear at the base of the pack.

The pack has a front mesh stuff pocket, good for stashing extra rain or thermal layers that you want quick access to, and two side water bottle pockets faced with stretch mesh that have reinforced fabric panels at the bottom for abrasion 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 a webbing loop located there which makes it easy to hang a hydration reservoir in the space.

The Talon 44 has an external hydration pocket located behind the shoulder straps and torso adjustment.
The Talon 44 has an external hydration pocket located behind the shoulder straps and torso adjustment.

If you’re looking at the pictures in this post, you’ll see that the Talon 44-liter backpack holds a lot more gear than the 40-liter backpacks made by many cottage gear manufacturers. That’s no accident. Osprey adheres to an industry standard for computing backpack volume that only includes closed pockets and not the open side bottle pockets, hip belt pockets, or rear mesh stuff pockets that are counted by most cottage manufacturers. This is helpful to know about when comparing backpacks. If you were to add those pockets into the Talon 44 volume calculation, it’d probably be equivalent to a 55L – 60L ultralight pack made by a cottage manufacturer.

External Attachment and Compression System

The Talon 44 comes with two tiers of side compression straps that are good for securing items in the side mesh pockets like tent poles or Tenkara fishing rods. There is also a top strap that runs over the drawstring 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.

The pack has sleeping pad straps to carry bulky gear but they are removable
The pack has sleeping pad straps to carry bulky gear but they are removable

The top lid is a floating style lid with 9 inches of extra webbing so you can scrunch gear underneath, giving you a lot of flexibility to carry extra gear.  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 put these straps on their lighter-weight backpacks and they are very useful if you need to carry bulky gear, like tents or foam sleeping pads that are too big or awkward to store in the main compartment of your backpack.

The Airscape frame is covered with suspended mesh that helps keep you cool and dry. The hipbelt is seamless and pre-curved, providing a comfortable fit.
The Airscape frame is covered with suspended mesh that helps keep you cool and dry. The hipbelt is seamless and pre-curved, providing a comfortable fit.

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 torso 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. REI, in contrast, has started including such measurements on their adjustable torso length backpacks including the REI Trail 40.

A modest lumbar pad prevents the hip belt from slipping down your waist
A modest lumbar pad prevents the hip belt from slipping down your waist

The Airscape Frame consists of two main components: a rigid perimeter steel frame made with fiberglass cross pieces covered by soft 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 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 Talon 44 has a handy sunglasses pocket on the left shoulder strap.
The Talon 44 has a handy sunglasses pocket on the left shoulder strap.

The hip belt and shoulder straps on the Talon 44 are covered with mesh and lightly padded. The hip belt has pockets with zippers and a solid nylon face, an upgrade from the previous version.  The shoulder straps have gear loops for hanging electronics or threading a hydration hose, in addition to a small pocket for sunglasses and Osprey’s trekking pole carry system.

Recommendation

The Osprey Packs Talon 44 Backpack is a fully-featured backpack suitable for everything from technical day hikes to overnight backpacking trips. An adjustable torso-length backpack with a fully-featured internal frame, it provides a body-hugging fit that provides excellent load transfer to the hips in a lightweight and affordable package, an increasingly rare combination in the lightweight and ultralight backpacking category. If you prefer a traditionally styled backpack with a floating 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 with all of the conveniences of bigger internal frame packs in a lightweight package.

Disclosure: The author owns this product.

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5 comments

  1. I tried this pack several years ago,so they may have improved it since then. I fully agree about the capacity and organizational features being excellent. I typically carried 16 – 21 pounds in it. It carried well enough, but it always seemed like the load wanted to slump – almost like the suspension was too “elastic” (bouncy? Springy? Stretchy? Can’t find the precise word I want.) I can’t remember, but I think the torso was adjustable back then. Did you notice anything like this in the current version?

    About the skirt: conscious choice or lost bet? (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)

  2. Hi Philip,
    Would you prefer this one over the Gregory Zulu 40? Thanks.

  3. I have owned two Talon 44 packs because they’re awesome.

    I also own the Exos 58, which is more of a through-hike pack based on a lot of the same principles as the Talon.

    Ospeey in general and these packs have served me so very well and I recommend them very highly!

    I am a 5’8 male, about 148 lb, and the small medium fits me very well and very comfortably for many miles!

  4. I have had mine for I believe about 10 years and it is great for overnight backpacking. Also, still not particularly degraded by age/abuse. My favorite outing starts with a river ford (500-1500cfs flow) and I feel fine going across that with this pack. Thanks for the comparison to 55L ul packs. That makes me think it should be good for 3-4 nights if I work on my gear more.

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