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Osprey Talon & Tempest – Pack Review

How do you improve on an already iconic design?

The Talon and Tempest packs from Osprey have been well received in the outdoors community and taken out many prestigious awards along the way. So we were intrigued to find out what made these packs so good and how Osprey have improved an already iconic design.

Finding the right pack can be a bit of a nightmare, especially if you’re new to hiking. Are you doing an overnighter, or a day hike? Is the day hike short or long? How big does the daypack need to be? Too small and you risk not getting enough in there, too large and it’s just overkill and cumbersome.

Then there’s the features. What to look for? What’s essential versus a luxury? You see where this is heading? Yep, confusion. Well, it was confusing for us when we first started, and we got through several packs (and a fair amount of cash) before finding the right ones.

Sometimes you need to use a pack for several hikes before finding out that they’re not right for you, which is an expensive process. So we hope that this review will prevent you from having to go through that same process.

The Tempest and Talon by Osprey are two great day packs bursting with features. Pic:©Tyres and Soles

The Story

Osprey are a dedicated team of people who have immersed themselves into the industry and the outdoors lifestyle for over four decades, to bring you packs that have been thoroughly thought through and rigorously tested.

Since Osprey was founded in 1974, every single product design bearing the Osprey name has passed through the hands of owner and founder Mike Pfotenhauer, undergoing relentless scrutiny. That’s pretty incredible really. Mike has a hands on approach and this results in a  product that works. Why? Because he cares. Simple! And when you care about your product this much, it’s going to show.

“Osprey is, in large part, about exceptional relationships. Between the pack and its wearer. The pack and its makers. The company and its staff”  – Mike Pfotenhauer

From stitching the first lines of custom-fitted packs, to meticulously designing innovative products with intuitive features, to forging personal relationships with the sewing operators who construct the packs, Mike has been the unbreakable thread that makes Osprey a company like no other.

Both the Osprey Talon and Tempest share the same array of features. Pic:©Tyres and Soles

The colours on these two packs are stunning! Both packs come in a choice of three bright colours to choose from, plus a black option for the more stealthy hikers out there.

Initial Impressions

We felt slightly honoured to be chosen to review the packs, after being fans of Osprey for many years. So all I could hear in the back of my mind was “don’t stuff this up”. No pressure then. The packs arrived at our office and we promptly tore open the packaging with child-like glee.

First off the colours on these two packs are stunning! Both packs come in a choice of three bright colours to choose from, plus a black option for the more stealthy hikers out there. We received the Talon in Martian Red and the Tempest in Lucent Green. Beautiful!

Although the more subtler colours may be a preferred choice for some walkers, we always prefer to choose a bright colour, that can be easily spotted from a chopper, if heavens forbid, it all goes pear shaped.

Features

Whether you choose the Talon or Tempest,  both packs share the same array of features and what a set of features they are…

  • LIDLOCK™ helmet attachment
  • Sternum strap whistle
  • BIOSTRETCH™ harness
  • Harness adjustment
  • BIOSTRETCH™ built-in zippered hip belt pockets
  • LOWER INSIDEOUT™ compression/carry straps
  • Dual-Zippered panel access to main compartment
  • External hydration sleeve
  • STOW-ON-THE-GO™ trekking pole attachment
  • Large stretch mesh front pocket
  • Ice tool loop with bungee tie offs
  • AIRSCAPE™ back system
  • and more…
The BIOSTRETCH™ built-in hipbelts and zippered pockets. The lumbar to hipbelt body wrap is seamless, providing extra comfort throughout the day.  Pic:©Tyres and Soles
Although it hasn’t been listed as a feature, we know how handy this is. Ever done a river crossing or a bit of canyoning? Well, having drainage holes is a good thing, trust us. Pic:©Tyres and Soles
The ice tool pole attachment and bungee tie off. Pic:©Tyres and Soles
The Large stretch mesh front pocket, handy for all sorts of things. Pic:©Tyres and Soles

Because the pack is deeper and narrower, it creates improved stabilisation based on the position of the load to a woman’s centre of gravity. Thus improved balance and a much more stable pack.

Womens Specific Fit

It’s clear to see why Osprey have become so popular. It’s the level of detail in the design and the connection between the pack and the wearer and an understanding of the differences between male and female body shapes.

For example, the hipbelts on the Womens packs are shaped and angled to work better for Women. They accommodate the conical shape of Womens hips and differences between the waist and hip measurements. This results in more support and comfort for loading.

It doesn’t end there. Because the pack is deeper and narrower, it creates improved stabilisation based on the position of the load to a woman’s centre of gravity. Thus improved balance and a much more stable pack.

The InsideOut™ Compression straps ensure stability and secure items in the side pockets. They can be routed inside or outside of the side mesh pockets: Pic:©Tyres and Soles
The Tempest hipbelts have been specifically designed to be more comfortable for Women. Pic:©Tyres and Soles
Osprey have designed the Women’s pack shape to be narrower and deeper, which allows for greater freedom of movement. Pic:©Tyres and Soles
The shoulder harness on the Tempest is designed with different curves to create an anatomical fit for a woman’s neck, shoulders and chest. Pic:©Tyres and Soles

The packs felt very secure as we jumped around the rocks. The compression straps worked as they should and we didn’t experience any sloppiness or over balancing.

Packing & Adjustments

I sometimes struggle with day packs and and the amount of gear I need to get in. More of that in another post, but I was pleasantly surprised with the amount of pockets both packs have. We had no problems filling these up with the necessities and then some. The word TARDIS came to mind.

The pack felt a little high on my back so some adjustments were needed before we set off. Well, well what a breeze setting these packs up were. The load lifter panel is super-easy to adjust. Just pull the velcro tabs apart, then slide the panel up or push it down to the desired height, using the handy markers to get it balanced on both sides.

The load lifter straps and the handy markers allow you adjust the harness very easily. Pic:©Tyres and Soles
Once I had set up the harness adjustments via the load lifter straps, I was set to go. Out on the trails the pack felt very comfortable and secure on my back. Pic:©Tyres and Soles

When rock hopping, you really need the pack to cling to you like glue. Any flapping about can result in an unexpected swim.  With the compression straps done up nice and tight, off we hopped.

Out On The Trails

We headed out to a trail that had a mix of terrain to try and get a feel of how the packs felt on the ups, downs and some technical sections. We even threw in some rock hopping for a balance test to see how they fared when jumping around.

The water bladder can be accessed via an external sleeve, which makes it so much easier to remove and refill. There’s also a little clip that attaches to the bladder to keep it upright. Pic:©Tyres and Soles
The nifty LIDLOCK™  gadget keeps your open face helmet attached securely to the pack. Pic:©Tyres and Soles

Secure

With the compression straps done up, the pack felt very secure. The harness was comfortable and there was no tightness under the armpits. On the steep sections the pack stayed in place and neither of us experienced any slipping up the back or bouncing around.

When rock hopping, you really need the pack to cling to you like glue. Any flapping about can result in an unexpected swim.  With the compression straps done up nice and tight, off we hopped.

The packs felt very secure as we jumped around the rocks. The compression straps worked as they should and we didn’t experience any sloppiness or over balancing. This was probably due to the longer narrower design of the pack, which aided balance by keeping the centre of gravity low.

The unique suspended mesh located on the shoulders, backpanel, lumbar and hipbelt contour to a wide variety of body shapes and sizes to create a custom fit to your body. Pic:©Tyres and Soles
The LIDLOCK™ helmet attachment in use. Great for carrying your helmet for those hike-a-bike days. Pic:©Tyres and Soles

The BIOSTRETCH™  hipbelts felt very comfortable throughout the day and provided a good level of support and load transfer.

Easy Storage Access

The zipped hip belt and elasticated harness pockets are a good size for snacks, compass etc and easy to access whilst on the go. Some hipbelts require you to stop and fiddle around before you can get them open, but these were a breeze to open.

I would like to see the zips at the opposite end of the pocket. Sometimes zips can catch on twigs and open up without you noticing. Having the zips on the opposite end can avoid this from happening.

However, this didn’t happen to us on this occasion but it has with other packs. Something Osprey could investigate perhaps? Yes you could say that I’m whinging about something that wasn’t an issue, but I can’t help but add my 20c into product design.

Forgot your whistle? Both packs feature a built-in whistle in the sternum strap. Pic:©Tyres and Soles
Internal mesh zipped pocket with security hook. The dimpled fabric is also designed to reduce scratching on smartphone screens and glasses. Pic:Tyres and Soles
Stow-on- the Go™, meaning you can quickly attach and release walking poles without needing to remove the pack. Pic:©Tyres and Soles
The packs feature two side mesh stretch pockets for larger items. This is a 1 litre bottle. Pic:©Tyres and Soles

The new Talon and Tempest offer a huge feature set that you really couldn’t improve on.

Comfort

The BIOSTRETCH™  hipbelts felt very comfortable throughout the day and provided a good level of support and load transfer. The lumbar to hipbelt body wrap is seamless and is probably the reason why we didn’t feel any uneven pressure or discomfort down there. I guess the logic here is, if there’s no seams then you wont feel the seams? Makes sense to us.

The slightly stiffened backpanel provides very good load support up to the recommended load of 8-9kgs. We actually loaded the packs up higher and didn’t notice any issues at all.

Conclusions

Finding the right day pack can be an adventure in itself. With so many brands offering so many options, it can become a minefield to navigate. The new Talon and Tempest offer a huge feature set that you really couldn’t improve on. The packs are lightweight, incredibly versatile and very comfortable with plenty of storage areas.

With the combination of the compression straps and panel adjustments, it’s super-easy to get that perfect fit. The Osprey Talon and Tempest can be used for an array of activities from; commuting to work, to easy day walks or those more epic hikes where you need to carry a more comprehensive range of equipment.

We will continue to use the pack and report back on a long term test at a later date.

Specs

The TEMPEST 20 Women’s pack.

  • Capacity: 20 litre
  • Load range: 10-20 lb | 5-8 kg.
  • Weight/Unloaded: 0.69(XS/S)  –  0.75kg (S/M) (approx).
  • Dimensions (CM):  50h x 28w x 27d
  • Sizes: WXS/S   WS/M
  • Price: $169.95

The TALON 22 Men’s pack.

  • Capacity: 22 litre
  • Load range: 10-20 lb | 5-8 kg.
  • Weight/Unloaded: 0.61(S/M)  –  0.81kg (M/L) (approx).
  • Dimensions (CM): 51h x 28w x 28d
  • Sizes: S/M   M/L
  • Price: $169.95

Pop into your local Paddy Pallin store to test one out.

 

EVOC Stage 6lt – Pack Review

TESTED: EVOC Stage 6lt Pack

My pack stinks!!! No seriously, it reeks like a hobo who’s been left to soak overnight in an infected piss pool.

I’m actually embarrassed to go out riding with it. I just pity anyone riding behind me. Imagine the scene for a minute, those old cartoons where you see the character following a scent, leading them to a delicious pie cooling off on a window shelf.

Well, it’s like that but the complete opposite. I turn around to see my riding buddy dry retching. OK, I exaggerate somewhat but you get the idea. Oh and by the way, yes, I have washed it, several times, but there must be something at a molecular level I cannot seem to kill.

I’ve decided I’m not about to shrink myself and set off on a bacterial killing mission in a microscopic spaceship just to solve this problem. I can’t afford it, plus have no idea how to do it, so lets just go for the easier option. Time to hit up the tinterweb thingamajig and start the painful search for packs, of which there are about a gazillion on the market right now.

By the way, I am not changing my pack just because it stinks. My current pack has actually started falling apart, probably a by-product of the stink. The poor thing has decided to give up on life and dissolve into a pile of unrecognisable matter. I don’t blame it.

The EVOC Stage 6l Hydration Pack, sitting pretty. Photo ©Jason Lorch

I seem to have the capacity to never quite be happy with things I have (wife excepted of course). The grass is always greener, especially as soon as you’ve jumped that proverbial fence to munch on it. Your mate buys something new and all of a sudden you MUST have it too! But then, as soon you have it in your hand… ooh look over there..shiny thing! ahhhh must have that now. Does this ever end?

I blame the evil overlord brands for tempting us weak-minded MTB folk with a constant mind bogglingly array of precious things. You have to blame someone eh? So, laptop in hand and a major search engine (sounds like poodle) at the ready, let’s go!

And The Search Begins…

Several days of online research later, I eventually decided to opt for a brand that I already own. Enter the… EVOC Stage 6litre pack. I really did want to try a different brand, but this one just kept coming back to me. EVOC’s new range, from what I’ve read online, sounded like it was going to meet my needs. So I was keen to get my hands on this particular pack.

EVOC have been on the MTB scene for quite a few years but also produce a range of products for snow and travel as well as MTB body armour. They’re known for their quality and well thought out designs and have made a big impact on the Enduro race scene.

EVOC Stage 6l pack – Clean and simple design. Photo ©Jason Lorch
EVOC Stage 6l pack – Ready to roll! Photo ©Jason Lorch

EVOC Has Landed

I currently own the 10ltr FR Lite with the back protection. It’s great for those longer rides and for when I lead group rides. I can get a bit more personal kit and first aid items in there. This time however, I was after something for shorter rides.

The pack arrived a few days later and I immediately headed out to my local trails to test it, and as I expected, it felt great, but I wanted to see what it was like for a full day of racing. So I headed up to Killingworth for round 4 of the RockyTrail Entertainment Superflow series to give it a good thrashing.

The pack comes with a 2 litre bladder of the design that I have come to really admire. The bladder uses a fold top with a plastic closer, which slides across horizontally. I like this design and have never had an issue with it over the years, as opposed to some of the other brands on the market, which can tend to leak under pressure and can be quite fiddly to open and close.

EVOC Stage 6l pack – Pockets a plenty! Photo ©Jason Lorch

Pockets and Pockets and Pockets

The pack is loaded with pockets that have been well thought out. There’s the usual top pocket for a phone and other small items, such as snacks. The internal pockets are neatly organized and just the right size to stow your multi tools, spare tube and tyre levers.

There’s also enough room in the main bladder area for a shock pump and/or a tyre pump. I particularly liked the pull cord for the main outer storage area. Just grab the middle of the cord and pull down, hey presto! There’s also a zipped internal pocket, which is perfect for those items that require extra security, like your car keys.

I’ve known riders who’ve lost their keys on the trail. As if that’s not enough of a pain in the ass, having to wait for roadside assistance to arrive and be charged an arm and a leg to open your car, will always feel like someone has pissed on your chips.

But the best bit is, you still have to purchase a new set of keys! Arghhh just kill me now and leave me in the bush. It goes to say, I love internal zipped pockets and internal zipped pockets love my car keys.

EVOC Stage 6l pack – Attention to detail. Photo ©Jason Lorch

Perfect Enduro Race Pack

The pack can carry an open face and a full-face helmet, which is perfect for Enduro races where you may use the open face for liaison stages and the full face for the race stages.

There’s a mini mesh thing, which is stored underneath in a little pocket. Pull this out and it fits over the top of your open face, keeping it nicely attached to the pack.

For your full-face, there are clips at the top of the pack that clip over the chin guard. Too easy!

EVOC Stage 6l pack – Open face helmet hammock. Photo ©Jason Lorch
EVOC Stage 6l pack – Full face carry straps. Photo ©Jason Lorch

Breezy

The pack has some great air-flow features that many smaller packs on the market just don’t seem to offer. EVOC say ”We solve this contradiction by means of a back component where all ventilation components such as large ventilation channels and specially grooved and perforated EVA pads behind mesh material have practically been moved to the inside. This ensures that the pack fits close to the back and simultaneously provides optimised back ventilation.” Zzzzzz…… Sorry, I drifted off there for a moment. I have to agree with their statement though. It works, believe me!

EVOC Stage 6l pack -Air-Flow contact system, it works! Photo ©Jason Lorch

Brace Link System

EVOC have introduced the Brace Link System, which adjusts the shoulder belts perfectly to the width of your shoulders. Sorry, another techy bit coming up, pay attention now!… EVOC claim:

“This automatically adjusts the load transfer to the body’s centre of gravity, while at the same time the contact areas with back and shoulders are minimized. Even wearing a neck brace is possible through the BRACE LINK”.

Is there anything this pack can’t do?

EVOC Stage 6l pack – The Brace Link System. Photo ©Jason Lorch

In For The Long Haul

I buy stuff, use it, complain about it, buy more stuff, repeat. Well, to be fair, I don’t always complain about it. If it’s a truly great product, that’s been well though out, solves a problem and adds value to my MTB life, it will stay with me for years to come.

These products and I will have a long and lasting relationship and experience many great rides together. I will also unashamedly recommend these products to anyone and everyone, with gusto.

Throughout the race it just felt really secure on my back, no bouncing around and hitting me on the back of the head. Photo: ©Outerimage Collective

CONCLUSIONS:

The pack does what is says on the label. It hugs your body really well without the need to keep cinching it tight throughout the day. The air flow system keeps your back ventilated and most importantly, stink free! A set of great pockets and storage options and the 2ltr bladder is perfect for those shorter day rides or racing.

Throughout the race (see pic above) it just felt really secure on my back, no bouncing around and hitting me on the back of the head, especially on the steeper sections and no painful hot spots or abrasions, probably due to the Brace Link System.

Well, I can safely say that the EVOC Stage 6ltr has well and truly won me over. After a brief online interaction and a date at a muddy race event where we truly connected, I have to admit, it was love at first sight.

So I raise my glass and toast a full and adventurous future together with my Stage 6ltr EVOC Pack. A match made in heaven.

Below is a full spec list and a link to the EVOC site for further info.

Tech Specs:

  • Emergency plan (integrated)
  • BRACE LINK
  • Attachment system for: helmet (XC, full face)
  • Tool compartment (separate, quick-access)
  • Hydration Bladder 2 l (included)
  • Accommodates hydration systems up to 2 litre
  • Volume: 6 litres
  • Weight: 700 g
  • Size: 23 x 24 x 6 cm
  • Material: Nylon 210/D Ripstop PU coated, P600/D PU coated, 3D Air Mesh, Air Mesh, Airo Flex
  • Price: Between $150 – $180 aud