Osprey Talon 22 Backpack – Reviewed
The Osprey Talon 22 ticks a lot of boxes for me. I can fit about anything I want in it for cycling or hiking day trips. It’s extremely comfortable and very light weight, and allows my back to breathe. It has a number of handy pockets and the hydration sleeve easily swallows a 3-litre bladder.
The Talon is a pack that will satisfy the needs of most hikers heading to the hills for the day. At 22 litres, there’s room enough for essentials including waterproofs, an extra layer and a packed lunch.
It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Osprey (I think I own 7 of their packs) but the Talon is one of my favourites. It’s so versatile, it’s become the backpack of choice for most of my hiking and biking trips. I really like how lightweight yet feature-packed it is. The AirScape ventilated back system coupled with the padded waist belt makes it so comfortable, if it’s not loaded to the gills you almost forget you’re wearing it.
We gave this backpack a thorough going over and looked at how comfortable it is, the fit and adjustability, the weight, the pack’s features and its versatility.
Don’t let the lightweight construction fool you; the Talon is an exceptionally comfortable backpack. For the purpose of this review I tested it with a 8 kg (17 lb) load, including a hydration bladder. I found that as long as you adjust the back panel and straps correctly, the pack moulds well to your body and the weight is distributed evenly.
The Osprey Talon hip belt forms a continuous band around your waist.
I really like the straps and waist belt. There’s a slight elasticity to them and a honeycomb mesh over some lightweight padding stops you getting too sweaty.
The AirScape back system is designed to keep the air flowing between your back and the load and as a result keep you cool. It’s the sort of thing you don’t really appreciate unless you switch to a pack that doesn’t have it. I took the Talon mountain biking where I live in the south of France and I was pretty impressed, I found it to be quite a bit cooler than my Camelbak. I’d definitely recommend the Talon for summer hiking and biking trips, or for people who sweat a lot.
Stuff a waterproof jacket in the large stash pocket and a water bottle in the side pocket.
The Talon is compatible with a hydration bladder, but thoughtfully Osprey has provided a separate compartment that sits behind the rigid back panel. On some packs, especially lightweight biking packs, you can feel a full bladder pressing against your back like a water balloon. Not so with the Talon. I tried it with a full 3 litre bladder and although I knew it was there, it didn’t alter the shape of the back of the pack at all.
Fit and adjustability
The Osprey Talon 22 is available in two sizes – S/M and M/L. The first thing you’ll want to do when you get the pack is to adjust the torso length so that the waist belt sits comfortably on your hips. The shoulder straps can be raised up and down about 10 cm giving you plenty of scope to get the fit just right. Markers on the back panel and the straps help you line up the Velcro. I’m 6’1 and found that raising the straps on an M/L to the third marker worked for me for hiking. When I’m biking I like to reduce the torso length a bit, so the pack sits a bit higher up.
The back panel can be raised or lowered to dial in the perfect fit.
Although this is a lightweight pack, Osprey hasn’t compromised when it comes to the design of the hip belt. Nice and wide and padded, it wraps seamlessly around your lower back and hips spreading the load evenly. Straps on either side of the hip belt let you dial in the perfect fit for your needs.
At 0.8 kg (1.8 lb), the Talon 22 doesn’t slot into the ‘ultralight’ category. It is nonetheless a respectable weight and the pack gives up virtually nothing as far as comfort or features go when compared to heavier packs. The honeycomb foam back panel is super lightweight, but gives the pack enough rigidity to handle a full load without compromising comfort. And the low-profile compression system is effective at pulling the load up towards the centre of the pack without adding much weight at all.
The Talon 22 is a pleasure to use and has a low profile design that clings to your back like a newborn chimp. The zips are equipped with glove friendly pull loops and there’s a thoughtful array of pockets.
The Talon comes with a handy helmet attachment widget that’s quick and easy to use.
I really like the large stash pocket on the front of the pack where I can quickly stuff a waterproof jacket. The top zipped pocket is really useful for anything you want to get at quickly, and it’s lined with soft fabric so you can stick your Oakleys or iPhone in there worry free. It’s worth noting as well that the backpack fabric overlaps the zip to help keep the rain from seeping in. Inside there’s a mesh pocket with a key attachment clip, and there’s a zipped pocket big enough for a smartphone and a cereal bar on both sides of the hip belt.
The nifty helmet attachment feature is easy to use and super handy for travelling to the trails. With my Giro MTB helmet, I find that if you have the back of the helmet towards the top of the bag, it doesn’t move around at all. Only thing is, you can’t access the top pocket.
The hydration sleeve is able house a 3-litre bladder, which barely alters the profile of the back of the pack.
The hydration sleeve is another well thought out feature. You can loosen the straps to make it super easy to get at from the back of the pack. Even with the pack fairly stuffed it swallowed my 3 litre Camelbak bladder no problem at all. Both shoulder straps have elasticated loops, so you can choose which side you hang your hose, so to speak.
The Talon 22 is an extremely versatile backpack that you’ll appreciate if you hike or bike. Easy access to the main compartment and a good array of pockets also make it a good option as a daypack when travelling. With great ventilation and large hydration bladder compartment, it’s a perfect choice for a summer hiking trip.
Technical features like Stow-on-the-Go™ trekking pole attachment and a single ice axe loop, further broaden the appeal. Having said that, there’s no rope carrying feature, so it’s not really adapted to rock climbing or mountaineering. And, while the Talon is perfectly good as a cycling pack, hardcore mountain bikers may miss some extra organisation in the main compartment for tubes and tools.
The Osprey Talon 22 is an exceptionally comfortable and well-ventilated pack that has all the features I’m looking for in a hiking daypack. Plus, it’s lightweight and the price is reasonable.
The adjustable torso length lets you dial in the perfect fit and the hip belt gives you loads of support. For warm weather hikers, the Talon offers excellent ventilation and is compatible with a 3-litre hydration bladder. It’s definitely worth considering if you’re planning any warm weather hiking trips.
Check out our other reviews to compare the Osprey to other small backpacks. Or, if you want to grab the Talon right now, it’s available to buy on Amazon. That’s an affiliate link, so if you do buy one, I’ll pick up a small commission, and I’ll be super grateful.
— Matt Watkins