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Osprey Talon 11 backpack

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When a hydration pack isn’t quite enough and a full day pack is a skosh too big, the Osprey Talon 11 is jumping up and down yelling, “Pick me! Pick me!”

At first glance, it’s hard not to fall in love with the little acid green pack that has reflective flames on the front. After all, it’s light-weight, flashy and reasonably priced.

This pack is essentially a glorified hydration pack with enough storage for a short adventure. The shoulder straps consist of slotted foam covered in mesh, making it breathable for hot days.

Even the hip belt — which I found nearly worthless — is made of mesh for the same reason, and the AirScape back panel is designed to keep you cool — though it didn’t keep me cool and dry because it still rested against my back.

According to Osprey, the pack is designed for “active light pursuits” such as hiking, trail running and biking — hence the skimpy 1.5-pound pack weight.

The hydration compartment fit my 100-ounce bladder easily, and there’s a hook to keep the top of the bladder up so as you drink it doesn’t bunch at the bottom of the pack.

Some brownie points have to be subtracted because, for some reason, Osprey decided to only make two sizes — small/medium and medium/large. My wife, whose torso length was between sizes, has to cinch down the straps on the larger size to keep the pack in place whereas I have to loosen them quite a bit.

The hip belt doesn’t fit me either. If I put it where it should be, the shoulder straps aren’t in the right place, so I’m forced to dangle the hip belt behind me or be uncomfortable.

Another design flaw: The bottom corners of the pack dug into my wife’s hips when she wore a thin layer on top, but it didn’t bother her when she wore it snowshoeing with a thicker top layer.

  • Pros: Perfect size for a half-day pack; Front bungee system very useful; Easy-to-use hydration compartment; Reasonable price

  • Cons: Two sizes don’t fit all; Hip belt is virtually worthless; It’s not for long day hikes; Corners can dig in to back if ill-fitted to wearer

  • Bottom line: A nice light-weight half-day pack worth the price, but far from perfect in design

  • MSRP: $79

  • Contact: https://www.ospreypacks.com

—Contributor Ryan Dionne is based in Boulder, Colo. He writes a blog on the outdoors and gear at https://explore-it.blog.com

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