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Osprey Talon 44 Backpack Review

The Osprey Talon 44 Backpack has an adjustable internal frame that hugs your back and hips
The Osprey Talon 44 Backpack has an adjustable internal frame that hugs your back and hips.

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 7 ounces, it can carry a remarkable amount of gear, has a ventilated frame to help keep you dry, and a body hugging fit that provides excellent load control for scrambling and fast packing.

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: Adjustable torso, internal frame
  • Sizing:
    • M/L (18-20″ torso); (28-50″ waist) – 43″ actual
    • S/M (19-23″ torso); (26-45″ waist)
  • Volume:
    • M/L (44L)
    • S/M (42L)
  • Weight:
    • M/L (2 lbs. 7 oz) – 2 lbs 6 oz, actual tested
    • S/M (2lbs. 4 oz)
  • Exterior pockets: 8
  • Fabric:
    • Main: 70D x 100D Nylon Mini
    • Bottom: 420HD Nylon Packcloth
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 day time essentials so you don’t have to open the pack’s main compartment to access gear during the day.

The Talon 44 is a top loading backpack with two pockets and a floating lid
The Talon 44 is a top loading backpack with two pockets and a floating lid.

The pack has a rear 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 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.

The Talon 44 has a zipper on the bottom of the pack bag for accessing gear
The Talon 44 has a zipper on the bottom of the pack bag for accessing gear. Unfortunately, it’s useless if you line your pack with a garbage bag to prevent rain from leaking in. But it’s a nice feature for backpacking in dry climates.

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.

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 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’s is also 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.

The Talon 44 has a pair of webbing straps at the base of the pack that can be used to strap bulky items like a sleeping pad or tent body to the outside of your pack
The Talon 44 has a pair of webbing straps at the base of the pack that can be used to strap bulky items like a sleeping pad or tent body to the outside of your pack.

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 puts 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 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. 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.

To lengthen the torso, separate the panel holding the shoulder harness to the frame and adjust it but pulling it up or lowering it to fit your torso length
To lengthen the torso, separate the panel holding the shoulder harness to the frame and adjust it but pulling it up or lowering it to fit your torso length.

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 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. For instance, the M/L size I tested is spec’ed to fit a 50 inch waist but is only 43 inches long.

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, the pockets have a mesh top but a solid nylon face. I can’t imagine how that’s a benefit.  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 seamless hipbelt is very comfortable and won't bruise your hips
The seamless hipbelt is very comfortable and won’t bruise your hips

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 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 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.

Likes

  • 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

Dislikes

  • 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
  • Hip belt is shorter than manufacturer spec.

Disclosure: The author purchased this product with his own funds. 

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20 comments

  1. I never could get used to the straps on the osprey backpacks. Where they connect at the top always causes the straps to dig into my neck.

  2. Ironically, my Talon 44 is being delivered to me today…
    Awesome timing…
    Thanks for a great review !!!

  3. My Talon 33 (M/L) hip belt was also much shorter than the spec. I called Osprey customer support and they sent me an extension length of webbing with buckles. It looked like it was custom made.

    The extension works fine.

    • As long as the padded section of the hip belt covered the FRONT of your hip bones. Otherwise it’s too short.

      • G’day Philip, my waist is about 36 (94cms) inches. Will the Talon M/L (padded section) belt reach around the front of my hip bones do you think? I have been looking at this pack for sometime. Do you think a winter load of about 9-12 kgs would work, not so much as a max. load, but something frequently carried at the beginning of a walk. That is, I may start out at 12kgs and drop with food consumed. Do you think it will carry well with that 12 kgs for a day or two perhaps? The framesheet looks like it could well handle the transfer to the hips.
        Also I love the bottle holders, if you haven’t tried this please do.
        NONE of these actions involve the top opening of the bottle holder.
        To remove left bottle -pull bottle arse first from the slot on the bottom with LEFT hand.
        To replace in left holder-hold same small slot open with LEFT hand, next-with slight screwing action and the arse of the bottle in RIGHT hand (reach across your body) thread the top of the bottle into the slot, once it has started into the slot take over with the LEFT Hand and finish it off. It is very easy and works every time-even with a full pack. I have the Exos 38 which I use on my walks up to 3 days. I also have had a 1.5 Evernew soft bottle with a litre of water in the holder and managed without much fuss to put the Smartwater (long and narrow which is the key) one litre bottle back.
        Sorry, also one more question, the Osprey website says the lid is detachable like the Exos-is this correct? I can get this in Australia for about half what the GGCrown2 would cost me. The Crown2 is my next option but I believe that the ventilation and size for 3-4 days may be enough for me and I feel the Crown 2 and the Talon 44 are very similar in size.Thanks for all your help- Cheers Graham

      • Should fit. The lid is removable. Beware of the fact that some retailers may still be selling older models of this pack. This is the latest model.

  4. Thanks for review, I purchased a S/M and have a waist size of 34” and waist belt just made it, I own several osprey packs and this is first time that I have had an issue. Pack is used for European Alpine trips, I find the pack is super stable when on via Ferrara type routes. Thanks again for the review.

  5. I don’t think I’ve ever seen you put up a tradeinn link?

  6. Great review! This has been my primary backpack for short to moderate length solo trips (I’ve used it on a 4 nighter and it was stuffed to the gills but did the job).

    My biggest complaint is that the hip belt webbing is thinner than most backpacks and the buckle is oddly weak for such a critical component. A wider hip belt is more supportive and easier for me to tighten.

    I’ve cracked two buckles at the part where it thins down in the center. Osprey cheerfully and quickly replaced it, both times.

    Other than that, it’s a fantastic pack!

    • G’day Carl, what was the max load you had when you felt the thinness of the hip belt and the broken buckle eventuated.
      Also thanks to Phil for answering my question above.

      • Graham, I’m usually under 20 pounds base weight, and on a 5-day, 4 night trip I was about 35 pounds when fully loaded with food and water. The big thing that I have to watch out for is that the thinner webbing can bunch up clothing more easily than a thicker webbing, and that can rub sore spots if not watched. I like the padding itself on the belt, it’s just the thinness of the part that connects to the buckle.

        Also, my buckle cracks didn’t cause a failure of the hip belt–it still worked properly, but I had it repaired before it turned into more significant damage.

    • Do you think walking with 26-30 pounds for a couple of days while your food weight drops is comfortable? I don’t think I will want to load it beyond about 26-28 pounds maximum at the start of a walk. I suppose I am wondering what is the highest comfortable weight to walk with for some hours. That is shoulder straps, and waist comfort and waist belt slippage. Thanks

      • Comfort of course is subjective, but I definitely find it to be a comfortable pack at that weight. I think the longest day I’ve done was a 16 miler with about 30 pounds and the pack performed well. I suspect anything under 35 pounds would be pretty comfortable.

        Another big factor in comfort and fatigue is balance/loading. As Phil mentions, one of the strong points of this pack is the compression system, which keeps the center of gravity close to your body. The load feels very high, tight, and narrow in the Talon. I think the same heavy load feel better in this pack than in virtually any other because it’s balanced so well.

        Much of my backpacking is with my Boy Scout troop, and I seem to accumulate gear as I go–a dropped sleeping pad here, the hideous 6 pound sleeping bag that was about to kill one first-time backpacker there. Once I even put a kid’s entire pack between the floater lid and the body of the pack when first his hip belt pulled out of the pack body and then his shoulder strap broke. Can’t say that was fun, but the Talon definitely carried the weight a little better than I’d expected! :-)

      • Thanks for your answer below Carl

  7. Philip, how does this pack compare to the earlier version that you reviewed? Any improvements?

    • The biggest difference is the hip belt which doesn’t have any rear corner seams anymore and molds around your hips better. It’s reminiscent of the AG ventilation system that Osprey uses on their other packs without the overhead. The webbing straps on the top lid are also a little longer (9″ now) so you can use it more like a floating lid. They also changed the way to make “space” behind your back (the ventilated part) but I don’t think it really makes any difference with what was there before.

  8. Thanks Philip. Regarding the ventilation, do you think this style of ventilation – channels, rather than a real visible gap between back and pack – have any significant effect.

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