The mid-sized Talon 44 rides fairly low and won’t interfere with the head or a hat.
The Talon 44 is the largest of a new series of “active light” packs from Osprey and the only one to feature a frame. A mid-sized, top-loading, internal frame pack, the Talon 44 incorporates lightweight materials (maybe too light if not handled with care) while offering plentiful features and an effective frame-type suspension.
- Quite light for a medium-size pack with an effective frame and suspension
- Comfortable and responsive
- Compression scheme manages diminishing loads
- Eight external pockets, six accessible while wearing the pack
- Floating, removable top pocket
- Bottom main-compartment zip
- Adjustable torso length
What’s Not So Good
- Some fragile fabrics and hardware
- Load compression straps interfere with side pockets
- Too-high sternum strap attachment points
|Internal frame, top-loading, drawstring closure, adjustable top pocket-lid|
|Size M/L tested: 2600 ci (44 L)|
|Manufacturer: 2 lb 7 oz (1.10 kg); as measured: 2 lb 6 oz (1.06 kg)|
Torso Fit Range
|S/M fits <19 in (48 cm) torso, M/L fits >19 in (48 cm) torso|
|70d x 100d and 160d x 330d Nylon “Shadow Check”; stretch woven nylon-Lycra|
|Removable floating top pocket lid with internal and external ditty pockets; extension collar, stretch fabric pockets on sides and back and stretch mesh pockets on hipbelt wings and shoulder straps (seven total); “external” hydration pocket; two carry loops and straps for poles or tools and two sleeping pad straps, aluminum, composite and thermo-foam frame; adjustable torso length harness w/ load-lifter straps; Airscape ventilated back panel; “ergopull” hipbelt; sternum strap w/ whistle buckle; bottom zip main compartment access|
Volume To Weight Ratio
|68.4 ci/oz (M/L)|
Comfortable Load Carrying Capacity
|28 lb (12.7 kg) estimated comfortable load carrying capacity for an average person carrying the pack all day|
Carry Load to Pack Weight Ratio
|11.8 (based on 28 lb and a measured weight of 2.375 lb)|
The Talon 44 is a comfortable and surprisingly spacious backpack for weekend and even longer trips. Its single main compartment is medium in width and somewhat short but deep, and swallows a good-size load. The floating top lid and numerous other pockets add considerable capacity. The frame-type suspension flexes with the torso and keeps mass reasonably close to the body – load control and comfort are good. Osprey’s careful selection of fabrics and hardware has kept the Talon 44’s weight quite low for a framed pack, but at some cost of durability.
|Plentiful pockets are a Talon talent.|
Two vertical composite side struts run up either side of the back panel and connect to a tubular aluminum cross-member at the top. This cross-member provides the load control strap anchor points. Between the side struts is a fairly stiff HDPE foam panel, topped by softer shaped foam at various contact points with the back. The whole backpanel is covered by open mesh, creating what Osprey calls the “airscape.” The Velcro-anchored shoulder strap yoke attachment point is adjustable, giving the Talon 44 two to three inches of torso length range. The cut-foam hipbelt and shoulder straps are also mesh-covered, to enhance ventilation and reduce sweat accumulation. The hipbelt uses Osprey’s “ergopull” adjustment system, and the sternum strap attachment point is adjustable. There are no hipbelt control straps but there are four side compression straps.
Features and Utility
The Talon 44 is loaded with features. I’ll begin with the top-opening main compartment, which has an extra access zipper that completely opens the pack bottom, where most folks keep their sleeping bag or quilt. At the top is about a 4-inch extension collar. The main compartment is somewhat short and deep, meaning it handles large, bulky items more easily than many packs of this size. A Bearikade Weekender canister (9 x 10 inches) fits sideways; people who cram it to the bottom will appreciate the bottom zip. The pack is topped by a removable floating pocket. The zipped pocket has a small organizer pocket and key clip inside and a zipped mesh pocket underneath. Between the main compartment and back panel is a hydration pocket that can be accessed from the top without opening the pack. It has a top anchor strap for the water bladder. This scheme still reduces pack volume somewhat, but perhaps less than the typical reservoir-in-the-main-compartment approach. It definitely eases mid-day fill-ups.
Bottom zip allows quick access to low items, such as a sleeping bag, or easy bear canister entry.
Seven pockets in addition to the lid adorn the Talon 44: two stretchy side pockets, a large stretchy front center pocket, two “gel” pockets on the shoulder straps and two roomy zipped pockets on the hipbelt wings. The side pockets easily handle 1-liter bottles, but are constricted by the side compression straps. Even so, they can be accessed with the pack on. The front pocket holds lots; e.g., it easily accommodates full raingear or other daytime clothing. None of these pockets is weather-tight.
Additional touches are a pair of axe/pole loops and anchors and a pair of straps on the lower main panel, useful for holding a sleeping pad or groundcloth as well as taking some stress off the zipper. Lots of reflective doodads mean you can watch your Talon be dragged quite a ways into the woods by mister bear, by flashlight.
The Talon 44 is a fine three-season weekend pack, even for less-than-meticulous packers. It’s easy to load and has excess exterior load capacity once the main compartment is full. In addition to the front straps, items can be strapped beneath the top pocket, and of course there’s the large front pocket. I’ve little doubt careful packers can squeeze in close to a week’s worth of gear and food.
Front load straps and stowage beneath the top lid enhance the Talon 44’s capacity. Deep main body means the load extends far from the back, so heavy items must be packed close to the shoulders for best load control and balance.
The tested medium/large Talon 44 fit my 20-inch torso without my fully extending the shoulder strap yoke. However, despite the potential reserve length for taller hikers, I question whether load control would be as effective at full length. For me, load control is quite good. The Talon suspension is responsive, similar in design and feel to the last Mountainsmith Ghost. Once the pack is properly fitted, when the load control straps are snugged the vertical rods bend to form a springy load that feels lively. The hipbelt is comfortable, and strap end anchors reduce flapping.
Velcro yoke anchor gives 2 or 3 inches of torso length adjustment.
While I’ve not used the Talon in warm weather, the various ventilation schemes handle sweat acceptably well in fall and winter. Approaching and passing 30-pound loads reveals the airscape suspension’s carry limits; I found up to about 28 pounds to be reasonable, even if the pack wasn’t full (many packs sag disconcertingly when partially filled). It’s important to use the side compression straps to reduce volume as the load diminishes. The sternum strap adjustment points seem oddly high; a lower option would suit me better than the range provided.
After a few trail hours, the fit/no-fit question is generally answered with most backpacks. The Talon 44 passes this test for me. I’ve used other packs of similar volumes, and find the Talon 44 easier to pack while still being comfortable to carry. Higher, narrower packs are more maneuverable and generally control loads better than shorter, squatty packs, but can be a bear to pack with real-life loads – especially bulky items. The Talon 44 is a nice compromise in this regard. Osprey’s own Atmos series, with their trampoline-style “airspeed” suspensions, are more responsive but are also heavier.
The “airscape” system provides lightweight ventilation through the use of contoured and die-cut foam, and netting.
I was the second to test this Talon 44 sample, and it exhibited more wear and tear than I’m used to seeing during a pack evaluation. Fabric snags and wear spots and a broken buckle are testament to the balancing act pack designers face when reducing weight. I’d caution anybody who hikes in very brushy conditions or subjects their packs to abrasive rock to be especially cautious of the Talon’s stretch fabric pockets. I’m also not sure the buckles can handle a lifetime of hard cinching. The pack bottom is a double layer of heavier fabric than used on most of the pack, so should endure reasonable abuse. The foam, webbing, zippers and mesh all came through the test in good condition.
The Talon 44 suffered this broken buckle and some fabric wear.
An effective frame-suspension multi-day pack that’s less than two-and-a-half pounds.
Recommendations for Improvement
- Analyze fabrics and hardware in high stress/wear areas for adequate strength and toughness.
- Lower sternum strap attachment points.
- Consider adding a third, taller size.