Gear Review – Osprey Talon 33 Backpack

I purchase the Osprey Talon 33 backpack two months ago.  I have used it in a variety of conditions and am pleased by its performance.

I bought the pack to use on search and rescue missions for Search and Rescue of the Northern Adirondacks, however I used it on several hikes and Osprey Talon 33cross-country ski trips before being called out on my first search.  I use the NASAR pack contents as a guide for what I should carry.  I added some more stuff than they recommend, but also eliminated a few things.  I see no need to carry a tracking stick when I have no idea how to use it effectively, but a folding saw can come in handy when you’re in a thick alder swamp with only a couple of feet of visibility.

The pack had some extra room in it even with all the stuff I carry.  I use a couple of water bottles instead of a bladder, so with a bladder there would be enough room in this pack for a summer overnight.  While out skiing with the pack the first time, I was satisfied with the way the hip belt carries the load.  I did not have to deal with the pack shifting a lot, even over several layers of clothes.

I found that the small mesh pockets on each shoulder strap are very convenient for holding an energy packet or something else small.  I didn’tOsprey Talon 33 want to put a knife in there as the pockets are open at the top, but securely stored my multi-tool in the zippered pocket on the hip belt.  It’s easy to get to and in no danger of falling out.  I stash a compass in the other hip belt pocket, but they are large enough for a small digital camera as well.

My favorite design feature of the Talon 33 is the number of pockets, with very little on the outside of the pack to get hung up on brush.  After two days searching through alder swamps, off-trail through old growth and across rock ledges, the pack never got hung up once on any brush or rocks.  I was able to move through the brush easier because of the streamlined design of the pack.

However, there are actually nine pockets in addition to the main compartment and the beaver tail.  Two water bottle pockets on either side, one on each shoulder strap and hip belt, two on top of the hood, and a zippered mesh pocket on the inside of the hood.  Small things are very easy to access while still being secure.

I put my personal identification, keys, and phone in a baggie and put them in Osprey Talon 33the zippered mesh pocket.  I kept a notebook and maps in the top pocket, rain cover on the side, and crampons and gaiters in the beavertail.  I had no issue with a lack of storage with this pack.

The downsides are few in my opinion.  The shoulder straps are comfortable, light, and airy, but a little flimsy.  I can’t help but look at the padding through the mesh and wonder when it will start to rip.  The back also isn’t quite stiff enough.  I always carry a small foam pad to sit on, and it helped stiffen up the back a little bit.  The location of the water bladder is in the usual spot against your back, so using a bladder will probably cause the typical back bulge and make it less comfortable.

All in all, I am really happy with my purchase.  It does what I need it do, and even a little more.

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Gear Review: Outward Hound Dog Backpack

In the summer of 2008, Pico had his first trip to the Adirondacks.  We made a stop in Piseco Lake, and did a couple of warm-up hikes in the southern Adirondacks.  At the end of July, we hiked into Jockeybush Lake.  According to my trail log, “there is an easy way to cross the outlet across two logs.”

I remember this crossing well (but still had to look it up in my log book), because as we were walking across, with Pico in front of me, he decided that he just didn’t want to go on the logs any more.  He stepped off to the left onto what must have looked like solid ground to him, but was in actuality a field of lily pads.  As the scrawny wet dog looked up at me with that pitiful and helpless (and honestly, pathetic) look that he gets, I grabbed the handle on the back of his pack and lifted him right back onto the logs.

The Outward Hound Dog Backpack was one of the first things I bought when Pico pounced into my life, and it is the most durable thing I have ever bought for him.  He has carried it hundreds of miles, sometimes through snow, streams and mud, often filled with food and water, and he loves the thing.  Nothing makes Pico better behaved than when I start packing his bag, because then he knows we’re heading out.

The handle on the back has come in handy numerous times, mainly while lifting him out of the water and up rock faces.  I have used it to hold onto him during countless stream crossings as well.  Plus, the large clips make it easy to put on and take off, but Pico has never once been able to work it off.

There are two downsides to this pack however, especially if your dog is like Pico, and just can’t stay dry on hikes.  It is not waterproof.  Just be aware that anything you put in there will, in most likelihood, get wet.  The second is that you have to keep the two sides balanced.  Otherwise it starts to shift to one side or the other, and it seems to be pretty uncomfortable for the dog.

I use Pico’s pack to carry his food, bowl, an extra length of rope, as well as bags to clean up after him.  And the best part is that I put the full bags right back in his pack so that I don’t have to carry them!

I got the bag when we lived in Florida, and as training for our Adirondack hikes, I would fill two Nalgene bottles with water, put one in each side pocket, and have Pico carry that when we went for walks.  The first time I put the bag on him, this was the setup I used, and he initially hated it.  He kept walking into things and startling himself.  I decided to just start putting the bag on him while it was empty, then put small things in it to build up the weight a little bit at a time.  Now, I could put two bricks into the bag and he’d still be happy to go hiking.

Check out my Flickr Photostream to see pictures of Pico and his backpack…  He’s wearing it in pretty much every picture.