Finding the perfect versatile pack is a dicey proposition. Even an ultra light, ultra minimal overnight bag is usually too big for much else. And versatile daypacks often lack the type of technical features that make the best light-and-fast overnight bags so successful. Osprey's Talon 33 manages to combine all the best features of a quick overnight bag with all the ease and versatility of a go-to daypack.
The pack was minimalist without being ridiculous in many ways. It opens up in one large 2,200-cubic-inch compartment that we were able to stuff full of gear, but still featured a handy top pouch for wallet, keys and sunblock, as well as a stuffable front panel for an extra shell (or, as one tester found, extra kids clothes). Plus, the waist strap pockets fit a digital camera and energy bars perfectly. All of this at just 2 pounds.
One thing stands out above all on the Talon 33 -- an incredible back-and-strap system. In general, we find most systems intended to move air away from your back are over-designed. They lend a bulkiness to the pack that often makes the back system larger than the pack itself. No such thing with the Talon's AirScape back panel. The ridge pads and mesh kept us dry on hikes everywhere from Colorado's Front Range to Italian islands -- and the system itself was low profile enough to feel as if it melded to our backs. Even better were the mesh and ridge foam straps, which cut weight and added comfort in an area that is often bulked up instead of trimmed down.
The only downside to the pack is its minimalism. That one big compartment tends to lose gear and makes it a little difficult to organize. But that seems a small price to pay for the ease and comfort of the thing.
Plus, this pack was damn versatile. It was stuffed full for a backcountry skiing hut trip. It hauled kids' gear on long family hikes. It was light enough to work on short fast day excursions, and epic mountain bike rides. But it was best as a travel bag. It is an ideal carry on piece, and once we got to someplace like Italy we were able to load it up for day trips and hikes of varying lengths. And when we needed to travel a little more simply, it stuffed right into our main luggage.
One pack certainly can't do everything, but the Talon 33 is the closest thing we have found so far to the perfect do-it-all adventure travel bag.
SNEWS® Rating: 4.5 hands clapping (1 to 5 hands clapping possible, with 5 clapping hands representing functional and design perfection)
Suggested retail: $129
For more information:www.ospreypacks.com