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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5 thoughts on “Gear Review – Osprey Talon 33 Backpack

    • I’ve been using it for an all-around pack for a while now, and I love it. I’ll probably switch to a smaller pack for the summer day trips, but for the winter day trips and search and rescue, it’s been perfect for me.

  1. It’s OK – but only if full. A great disappointment. I really regret my recent choice of a Talon 33 rucksack. I bought it because my 2 other Osprey packs are great, and because of this review. The detachable lid is very strange – I couldn’t believe it was correctly connected and spent quite a while re-doing the straps to no avail – the problem was that with a less than full pack the lid does not stay in place – it sags down the back of the pack leaving a gap for the weather to get in between the pack and the frame. A waterproof cover doesn’t stay in place either. The frame is not substantial enough to hook the lid on to. It looks very strange and several people (unprompted) commented on its odd look. I took it back to the shop for advice – but the lid was strapped on correctly. They agreed it was odd. They were unable to suggest why a detachable lid was needed – a fixed one would solve my problem. The advice from Osprey was to use a smaller pack when I don’t need to fill the pack up. But on holiday I like to take a pack that will take anything from enough for an evening stroll, or a hostel overnight. Tightening the compression straps did not help much as they are at the bottom of the pack, not at the top and bottom as in the Kestrel pack. I like to carry my first aid and other necessary bits and pieces e.g. compass torch sunglasses in the lid which makes it even more saggy. It’s a big lid pocket – Osprey suggest carrying gloves in it – they must be enormous gloves……. So I’m very disappointed, but have to live with my choice. I’m going to try to work out a way with needle and thread of attaching it better. At least I’ll know not to rely on reviews and a company’s other good products to inform my choice in future.

    • Sorry you’re not happy with the pack. I love mine, and continue to use it regularly. I added a sleeve of foam inside the pack to use as a seat and also to add a little stiffness to the pack. But all-in-all I’m really happy with the Talon.

    • Only the 2014 model has the detachable lid. Myself like OP (original poster) have the 2013 models in which our lids are not removable. if you can get your hands on a 2013 model i would suggest it. i think Osprey took a step back with their 2014 model.

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