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Osprey Talon Velocity 30 Backpack Review

Osprey Talon Velocity 30 Backpack Review

The Osprey Talon Velocity 30 is a frameless backpack with a running vest-style suspension that’s great for day hiking, fastpacking, multi-sport adventures, and travel. It’s loaded with all the features you’d expect on a premium daypack and comes with an adjustable torso length so you can dial in a personalized fit. Numerous pockets built into the vest-style harness and hipbelt let you easily access squeeze bottles, snacks, your smartphone, or sunglasses while you’re on the move without having to stop. But what truly makes this pack great is that its suspension balances your load across the front and back of your body, making it more comfortable and efficient to carry. It’s eye-opening how comfortable a day pack can be.

Specs at a glance

  • Gender: Men’s (Women’s model – Osprey Tempest Velocity 30)
  • Volume: 30:
  • Weight: 2 lbs 6 oz / 1076.2g
  • Frame: Frameless
  • Adjustable Torso Length: Yes
  • Shoulder straps: Vest-Style
  • Pockets: 9 + main
  • Load lifters: Yes
  • Hip Belt Pockets: Yes
  • Hydration-ready: External sleeve behind shoulder straps
  • Trekking pole/ice axe holders: Yes

Backpack Suspension – Vest Style Straps and Hipbelt

The Talon Velocity 30 backpack has a running-vest-inspired harness instead of conventional shoulder straps that help balance load across the front and back of your body bringing the weight closer to your torso and making it easier to carry. This makes dynamic moves, like scrambling much more fluid because the load moves like an extension of your body, riding higher and closer to your torso rather than on your shoulders and hip girdle where the momentum can throw you off balance. It makes sense why trail runners prefer this kind of vest harness, but it can also be beneficial for hikers.

The vest pockets are wider over the chest and have lots of pockets.
The vest straps are wider over the chest and have lots of pockets.

Vest-style packs are also in vogue because they have lots of pockets making it much easier to access water bottles, snacks, sunglasses, or a smartphone without having to stop to unpack or repack them. With vest-style straps, you can squeeze a water bottle to squirt water into your mouth instead of pulling the bottle from the side pocket on a conventional backpack and then gyrating wildly to get it back in.

The vest-style straps on the Talon Velocity 30 flare widely over your pectoral chest muscles to pull the weight of the pack forward. The two straps are connected by two sternum straps that you can easily reposition up or down, depending on what makes you comfortable. Osprey has put special buckles on the sternum strap that make this an easy process, and that you can even adjust on the fly.

These clips on the sternum strap make them very easy to adjust on the fly.
These clips on the sternum strap make them very easy to adjust on the fly.

The vest straps are very lightweight perforated foam that wicks sweat, but more importantly, conforms to the shape of your chest. I’ve tried a lot of vest-style packs and different suspensions over the years and have never been very satisfied with the way they fit because I have a fairly broad chest. But the vest straps on the Talon Velocity 30 fit me exceptionally well because they’re narrow over the shoulders and only flare at the sternum. In other words, they’re a hybrid between a conventional backpack shoulder strap and a vest-style strap which can still distribute the load over the pectoral muscles.

A vest suspension lets you balance your pack weight on the front and back of your body.
A vest suspension lets you balance your pack weight on the front and back of your body. For example, moving your water bottle weight up front.

Unlike many vest-style packs, the Talon Velocity 30 has a non-removable hipbelt. Since this is a frameless backpack, these provide very little load transfer to the hips. Their main function is to pull the pack closer to your hips and back and to provide extra pocket storage. The Talon Velocity 20 also has a hipbelt instead of the removable webbing belt you find on other fastpacks. Like the shoulder straps, these are made with perforated foam that provides a comfortable and close-fitting wrap around your hips.

The perforated hip belt foam wraps easily around your hips
The perforated hip belt foam wraps easily around your hips

The Talon Velocity 30 is also an adjustable frame pack, letting you adjust the length of the torso by up to 3.5″. The pack is available in two torso ranges: S/M: 17-20.5 inches and L/XL: 19.5-23 inches, so you can adjust the torso length to fit your body and enable the load lifter straps to do their job – to pull the load closer to your torso, particularly for heavier loads. You can’t get that benefit on a fixed-length backpack.

The foam in the back panel conforms to your back like vertebra in a second spine
The foam in the back panel conforms to your back like vertebrae in a second spine

Osprey uses the Airscape adjustment system on the Talon Velocity which has a simple rip-and-stick sizing adjustment. The back panel is all mesh interspersed with foam “vertebrae” that conform to the shape of your back so the pack conforms to your body like a second skin. This adjustment system also enables the use of an external hydration bladded that slots between the back panel and the pack body bringing the water weight closer to your core and making it much easier to refill on the fly. An added benefit is that this prevents leaks from soaking your gear since the hydration bladder is not in the main compartment.

The pack has an external hydration pocket behind the back panel.
The pack has an external hydration pocket behind the back panel.

Backpack Pockets and Access

The Talon Velocity 30 has 9 pockets in addition to the main compartment. Access to the main compartment is through the top which closes with a drawstring. Covering it is a mesh top flap that drapes over the drawstring hole. It’s stretchy so you can wedge additional clothing or a pad underneath like a floating lid pocket on a conventional backpack. The top flap is not waterproof so rain could conceivably leak into the main compartment if it gets soaked.

The stretchy top flap can also be use to hold gear on top of the pack like a floating lid.
The stretchy top flap can also be used to hold gear on top of the pack like a floating lid.

Breaking with tradition, the main compartment has a zippered mesh pocket in place of a hydration sleeve. It includes a key fob, making it ideal for storing valuables and personal items.

The zippered shoulder strap pocket is good for holding sunglasses or a smartphone.
The zippered shoulder strap pocket is good for holding sunglasses or a smartphone.

The vest straps each have two pockets: two long ones, open on top, designed to hold water bottles up to 24 oz – shown here with Smartwater bottles. They are made with a stretchy mesh and have pull tabs at the top making it easy to pull out or replace bottles – although the vest makes it easy to squeeze a flexible bottle and squirt the contents into your mouth without removing it first. One of the vest straps has a shorter open pocket in front of the bottle pocket while the other has a long zippered pocket good for a sunglasses case or a smartphone.

Osprey Talon Velocity 30

Comfort
Weight
Suspension
Features
Adjustability
Sizing
Durability

Great Vest-Style Backpack

The Osprey Talon Velocity 30 is a frameless backpack with a running vest-style suspension that's great for day hiking, fastpacking, multi-sport adventures, and travel. Numerous pockets built into the vest-style harness and hipbelt let you easily access squeeze bottles, snacks, your smartphone, or sunglasses while you're on the move without having to stop.

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In addition to the hipbelt pockets, there is a long front stretch pocket in the front of the pack that is good for stuffing layers or other large items. It’s made with mesh, so it drains well but can be susceptible to snagging on vegetation if you go off-trail with it…something I wouldn’t recommend with the Talon Velocity.

The hipbelt pockets are very large and capable of holding multiple snacks or a smartphone
The hipbelt pockets are very large and capable of holding multiple snacks or a smartphone

The pack also has two long side pockets made with stretchable mesh that can be used to hold bottles or other gear. They have more traditional bottom front cut-outs so you can pull a 32 oz Nalgene bottle out if you store one there, although you need to be careful that skinnier items don’t fall out. If you were fast-packing, you could stash a tarp tent fly, or tent poles in these pockets.

The side stretch pockets have a conventional front cutout if you prefer to hold your water bottles there.
The side stretch pockets have a conventional front cutout if you prefer to hold your water bottles there.

Compression and External Attachment

One of the things I like about the Talon Velocity 30 is that it is a complete backpack that’s fully loaded with all of the capabilities you need. For example, the pack has two tiers of compression straps, made with webbing and buckles, not cord and line locs which limit you more than help since they freeze in winter, they are hard to use with gloves, they are awkward to use when strapping bulky gear to the side of a pack, and provide virtually no compression because the cord is too thin.

The pack has two independent tiers of compression straps made with webbing and buckles.
The pack has two independent tiers of compression straps made with webbing and buckles.

The pack also has a pair of sleeping pad straps at the base, that are girth-hitched on, so they’re removable if you don’t want to use them. That’s a nice feature. I like to use mine for carrying a foam pad during the colder months.

The pad strap buckles and webbing are girth hitched to the pack and are therefore easily removable
The pad strap buckles and webbing are girth hitched to the pack and are therefore easily removable.

Finally, you can carry trekking poles two ways on the Talon Velocity: using the side stow-on-the-go elastic loops that Osprey includes on all their packs or using two pairs (top and bottom) of elastic loops located on the front of the pack.

The Osprey Talon Velocity 30 has a great body hugging fit that’s very differet from more conventional backpacks
The Osprey Talon Velocity 30 has a great body-hugging fit that’s very different from more conventional backpacks

Recommendation

The Osprey Talon Velocity 30 is a frameless backpack with a running-vest-inspired suspension system. I’ve tried a lot of packs with vest suspensions in recent years, but this is the first backpack that has clicked with me in terms of fit. What makes this pack really tick is its body-hugging fit which is optimized for balancing the load between the front and back of your body. Every element of the suspension and adjustable torso, from the vest straps and the hipbelt to the foam in the Airscape back panel, is optimized to pull the load as close to your core as possible and make it easier to carry. When you add all the other premium features that Osprey has included with this pack, you have a real winner perfect for day hiking, fastpacking, and multi-sport adventures. Highly recommended!

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29 comments

  1. I enjoyed your review, thank you. Sounds like you liked it. Glad to see this from Osprey, a company that stands behind its products. If I follow the link but buy the 20L version do you still get compensated? Pls. advise. Thanks.

  2. I’ve been waiting to see if you would review this pack and what you thought of it. I’m not a “fast pack” sort of hiker but the idea of being able to carry more stuff up-front is really attractive. I need another pack like I need a hole in the head though.

  3. The fast packing design of this really interests me and I wonder if this would be in your top ten of frameless packs. I do wish is was lighter. This summer I am doing the Tour du Mont Blanc staying and eating mainly in huts and wonder if this would work for me there since I will not be carrying shelter, sleeping bag, sleeping pad or days of food.

    • It will definitely work. I’ll update my frameless pack list soon for 2024. I have to use a few packs on the shortlist though..

  4. How does this compare to the Zerk 40? In terms of fit and feel less storage but how much actually for fast packing

    • Infinitely better. I used a Zerk 40 quite a lot last year and the fit of this is SO much better. This will be replacing the Zerk 40 on my backpack rack.

      • Infinitely seems good lol, I tried the zerk at the locals outdoor store here in town w weight and hated the feel right off the bat the size seemed appealing
        Always liked the feel of the Talon series still use my 33 so maybe it’s time for the 20% off REI deal….Thanks for the info!

      • Philip, could this pack work for a woman, or is there a counterpart for women that is as good?

        • The sizing is unisex, which is of course meaningless. I think it will work well if you have a smaller bust as there’s lots of play in the sternum straps and the foam straps are quite malleable. If you have a larger bust, all I can say is to buy it at REI and return it if it doesn’t work. And to let me know, so I can relate your experience to others. Wish I could be more definitive.

        • I believe the women’s version is the Osprey Tempest Velocity. I’ve been considering it for the Hiker’s Haute Route this summer. Thanks for the review, its very helpful!

        • Ah yes. That would make sense!

  5. Nice review. Which size did you test, S/M or L/XL? Thanks.

  6. Philip, do you know if the 30L is a beer can measure of the main pocket, or includes all the external pockets?

    It looks as though it could be my primary backpack if the main pocket is 30.

    thx

    • Osprey only measures pockets that close, so yes, it’s 30L + some.

      I’ll just add – I was working on a review of pack today I used to like very much which was vest-ized and this Talon Velocity is worlds better. Not even close

      • Thanks very much…I have an ongoing search for a pack for a UL Scotland, and am willing to use a non UL pack for comfort.

  7. How do you rate the comfort and weight carrying capacity of the Talon Velocity compared to the Nashville Packs Cutaway?

  8. What a fantastic review, hitting all the questions I would have and highlighting all the fantastic things I love about the two Osprey Talons I have owned (one if which I still carry). What a great folir scheme, to boot.

    Among all of the different things I love about the various Osprey products I own, the brand always combines traditional, dependable design elements with very forward thinking, intelligent advancements and always that reasonable prices for the high quality you are getting. Too many other brands, the lesser established usually, come out with innovations under the intention to be even more ultralight or trendy but never as really well thought out as Osprey and always at higher prices.

  9. Sterling review! I’ve been using the Zerk 40 and found it to be ok, later adding the Gossamer Gear Fast Belt, which was an improvement in terms of more storage. But now I’m thinking this vest pack might just check all the boxes.

    I noticed that you’re wearing an alpha pullover while carrying the pack. How is that holding up after prolonged backpacking ? I have an alpha but have been apprehensive about wearing it while carrying a load, as they’re kinda pricey.

  10. All my alpha hoodies are unraveling. Durability blows. But they feel nice.

  11. I went ahead and bought this pack with the REI 20% off coupon. I’m 6’4″ about 240, and 22 inch torso. I have a Yar Gear 30Lish pack with vest-style straps (14oz) that I am comparing it to decide whether to keep the Talon. Definitely has a more fitted to your back feel than the standard ultralight sack with straps and wont barrel when stuffed. Loaded it with 25lbs and is comfortable about the same as my Yar pack that has no waist belt. I would have no problem carrying a bit more weight (if needed). Still trying to get the torso height correct. I didn’t find the back padding as soft. I think the top of the air frame digs into my back some. The extra pockets on the shoulder straps are a bit useless if you have a water bottle in the strap, which is a disappointment. Can’t put a phone in the zipper pocket and have a water bottle on the same strap. Both pockets on the strap should be useable at the same time IMO. Also, I can feel the water bottles pushing into my chest, which I do not on my Yar pack. Soft-sided water bottles may be the answer. The side access on the side pockets didn’t seem to work with a water bottle. It poked my side. I would have liked the hip belt pockets a tab bigger as well, but it fits a large size iPhone.

    The vest straps are comfortable and l like that the straps are longer and wider than on my Yar pack. Jury is still out whether I will keep it.

    • FWIW, I have the Velocity and use Softflask (500ml) and Nathan’s (535ml) soft bottles without any discomfort. I have not tried the 600ml versions yet but would expect the same. They are both refillable from a Nalgene bottle, as needed. If you go that route, I recommend getting the straws to minimize the need to pull the bottles out of the vest. Much more convenient that way.

  12. How about versus a Hyperlite Mountain Gear Southwest 40 Pack (w vest pockets)?

  13. Totally different frame/suspension. The HMG has a frame stay and requires the use of a loaded hip belt. It also has a fixed length torso. You wouldn’t want to use it for running.

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