Osprey's Talon 22 boasts a host of features and nifty design touches, yet the basic requirements of a small day pack are met too - it is cool and comfy to carry, and its weight seems more than acceptable considering its spec and general quality feel. This likeable little bag wouldn't be a great choice for a dedicated climbing sack, but for light walking, scrambling or running days - and particularly in warmer weather - it is spot on.
The Talon range of men's packs, and the women's equivalent the Tempest, come in a number of sizes from the Talon 11 (Tempest 9) to the Talon 44 (Tempest 40). As a small but versatile day pack for fine conditions and a variety of uses, the Talon 22 seemed a good choice to review.
To combine lightness with toughness, the main body of the bag is stitched from two different weights of fabric, a thin ripstop material on top and a thicker, harder-wearing fabric on the base and other high wear areas. With high quality components and a decent standard of workmanship, the pack has a quality feel.
At 830g (our weight) the Talon 22 is not ultralight for a small day pack - if you wanted to go super-minimalist you could find something of similar capacity at a fraction of the weight. That said, for its carrying comfort, general build quality and even more so the sheer number of features that it offers, I think the weight is fair enough. For general day-to-day use on the hills this is certainly not something I'd hold against this pack.
The capacity of 22 litres is a decent size for lightly equipped fair weather hill days. In clement summer conditions I've found it easily big enough, but it is certainly more of a stretch with the added gear required in winter. If it's packed with a bit of discipline, and by choosing lightweight non-bulky clothing, I've found the Talon 22 just about big enough for the bare essentials in winter. However, whatever the season if you're wanting to carry climbing gear on top of clothes, water etc then a bag this small would challenge even a minimalist packer. For rock climbing, the lack of any way to carry a rope on the outside is a big disadvantage, while with only one axe loop and short side compression straps your winter gear options are similarly limited. I've used the Talon 22 for single-axe rope-free winter walking and mountaineering, and it was fine, but it wouldn't be my choice when heading out with a pair of axes or a rack of gear.
Fundamentally, the smaller zip-top packs in the Talon (Tempest) range are built less for climbing than just general outdoor use, be that walking, scrambling, running or even riding a bike. I can see myself using this on a summer Alpine voie normale, where hardwear is minimal and the need for speed makes a smaller pack desirable. But for carting around a full rack and ropes, and particularly in winter, the larger lid-style Talon 33 (Tempest 30) or Talon 44 (Tempest 40) would be better.
Unusually for a pack this small, the Talon 22 boasts an adjustable back length - very much a point in its favour. By means of simple-but-strong velcro, the shoulder harness can be raised or lowered with ease to accommodate users of different height. At 1.83m tall I'm towards the upper limit of the size range. My only criticism with the movable fit is that when it's pulled right up for a larger user, the top tensioner straps become offset from the padding and end up running over your exposed shoulders. The addition of a retaining loop on the shoulder strap might have avoided that.
There's no frame - a pack this small doesn't need one - but a flexible yet robust back panel serves to provide a bit of structure, which is appreciated with a heavier load. For summer use, a back system that offers plenty of air flow is obviously a particular advantage. Walking-oriented models often achieve this by putting a gap between the wearer's back and the body of the pack itself; but the disadvantage of this is that it shifts the centre of gravity backwards, which can make the load feel less stable and balanced when you're climbing or running. The Talon 22's close-to-the-back fit is nicely balanced when climbing, yet it also manages to feel really well ventilated. This is down to its open mesh fabric, which overlays a back panel made up of foam ridges and tons of air space. A honeycomb of cutouts in the foam of the shoulder straps and hipbelt add to the airy feel. Thanks to this so-called AirScape system, in warmer conditions, or when working up a head of steam, this is one of the least sweaty packs I can remember using. There's only one downside; with all its open mesh on display, if you put this bag down in the snow the back panel will get caked.
The shoulder straps are sculpted to give a close fit without limiting the range of arm movement. Padding here is nice and firm, and the depth of foam both here and on the hipbelt is perfectly judged, being adequate for cushioning without feeling too thick or restrictive. Osprey's 'seamless lumbar to hipbelt body wrap' is interesting too, a stretchy and very airy arrangement that effectively forms a single piece that closely hugs the lower back and hips. Without resorting to deep spongy padding, this feels really comfortable, and it makes for a very stable and well-balanced load when the hipbelt is fastened. You can happily bounce around - running downhill, say - without the pack moving much on your back at all.
Overall, for load stability, ventilation, adjustability and all-round comfort the Talon 22 really is superb. Top marks for Osprey.
It's fair to say that Osprey are not known for producing minimalist packs, and true to type the Talon 22 has all sorts of whistles (literally) and bells (metaphorically). Those of a spartan disposition might find it a bit fussy or cluttered, but the majority of people are likely to find a use for at least some of these features.
Entry to the main body of the pack is via an over-the-top zip. This runs only halfway down the sides, giving a good wide opening without the risk of spilling absolutely everything out. The zip is a medium gauge YKK. Although this seems robust for its weight, with a bag this small you're often going to find yourself packing things in very tightly, so I can't help thinking that a heavier gauge zip might have been better for long term durability. A token storm flap should keep at least some rain out, but for UK hill use the fact remains that this non-waterproof zip is going to be a disadvantage sooner or later.
In addition to the main compartment you get an easy access top zipped pocket, which is big enough for the loose items you may need to hand - hat, sunglasses, compass etc. A smaller internal zipped mesh pocket is the place for the smartphone and car keys - it includes the essential key clip. For travelling or milling about in city crowds this is where I'd keep easily pinched valuables like my passport and wallet.
I've said that there's not a lot of scope for hanging climbing gear on the outside, but the Talon 22's inside capacity is nonetheless boosted by a lot of external storage options, with a fairly large stretch pocket on the rear and a smaller version to each side. You're not going to get a rope in these but they are ideal for a wet shell jacket, gloves or a water bottle. The side compression straps can be threaded either inside or on top of the side stretch pockets; I'm not quite sure why, but either way there isn't an awful lot of strap to go around, so the compression straps don't double very effectively as places to stow stuff.
Additional zipped pockets are provided on each fin of the hipbelt. Their stretchy mesh walls don't compromise the fit or the ventilation of the hip belt, so even unused they're not a drawback in any way. Though not usually a fan of hip pockets I've been happily stuffing jelly babies and thin gloves into these, so I guess I'm halfway to being a convert. Not content with this, Osprey have stuck a stretchy mesh sleeve on one of the shoulder straps. It's so long and thin that I'm not sure what it's for. Carrying a banana maybe?
An elastic ring sewn into each shoulder strap seemed deeply mysterious until I remembered that some people like to slurp their water, infant-like, out of a sucky tube. I've never been convinced by water bags, but retaining the tube end is clearly the role of these loops, and if you're a sucker (no offense) then you'll probably like them. When it comes to the reservoir itself, instead of the usual internal sleeve and hole-in-the-side-of-the-pack arrangement, Osprey have sensibly located the sleeve externally, slipped between the back panel and the bag itself. I can see no disadvantage to this, while the obvious plus points are that it leaves your bag hole-free, and that the reservoir is easier to reach.
Less obviously useful is the so-called Stow-on-the-Go trekking pole attachment, which is a grand name for a little elastic drawstring fixed onto one of the shoulder straps. Why would anyone want to wander around with a pair of poles dangling about their torso? I've tried it, and believe me you don't. If I'm stowing poles then it's either for the long term, or it's because I'm doing a short section of scrambling and need my hands free; either way the place for the poles is safely out of injury range on the side of the pack.
And that's not all. You also get: a single axe loop and elastic retainer, both of which can be slipped neatly away out of sight when not in use; a top grab handle; a climbing-style gear loop at the base of the pack; and a whistle on the sternum strap buckle.
If this wasn't enough, the feature set rounds off with a LidLock helmet attachment point. Basically a big toggle on elastic, this is designed to pass through the top vents of a bike helmet. Sadly, since they don't have top vents, for obvious reasons, it doesn't work on climbing helmets. For me this feature is redundant, though plenty of cycling hillwalkers and climbers will no doubt beg to differ.
It's not a climbing specialist, but the Talon 22 is a versatile pack that suits a range of outdoor activities, from lightly equipped hillwalking and scrambling to running and mountain biking. At £90 for a bag with only 22 litres capacity you don't get a lot of space for your money. But what you do get instead is a well designed and well-built day pack with an impressive list of features. Better still however is its carrying comfort and effective ventilation. For hot weather use in particular, the Talon 22 is a real winner.
Building on 10 years of iconic design, the next generation of the iconic Talon series is here. Talon 22 features clean, modern design and stunning performance no matter what your adventure. The cleverly designed new AirScape™ accordion foam backpanel combined with a seamless lumbar-to-hipbelt body wrap increases air flow and provides an even more comfortable carrying experience, by keeping the load close to the body and spreading the weight evenly around the hips.
Talon 22 features an adjustable back length, ensuring the pack fits well to your body and enabling the most comfortable carrying experience. The pack is complete with innovative solutions such as Stow-on-the-Go™ trekking pole attachment, LidLock™ bike helmet attachment, single ice-axe attachment and InsideOut™ compression straps. The zipped pockets on each side of the hipbelt allow quick and easy access to smaller items such as phone, snacks and GPS. On the top of the pack you will find another conveniently placed pocket, ideal for small items that you need easy access to. On the front of the pack is a large PowerMesh™ pocket, which is ideal for a wet jacket or extra layer of clothing. Keeping hydrated during activity is essential and re-filling your hydration reservoir has been made easy with the quick access external hydration sleeve with reservoir hanging loop. Talon 22 is compatible with all Hydraulics™ reservoirs and the size Small High Vis Raincover.
Talon 22 is built to be lightweight, comfortable, durable and exceptionally versatile.
For more info see ospreyeurope.co.uk
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