Sunday, 15 July 2012

Review: Osprey Talon 22, but not the Kitchen Sink!

Many many years ago, well about 30 years ago my mum had one of those huge handbags with a plethora of pockets. We used to kid her about carrying the kitchen sink in it. And I'm very sure she did carry everything but the kitchen sink. What ever the emergency, where ever we were, she had something in that handbag to handle the situation. I'm certain a lot of people will find this a familiar story.

It's strange that almost 30 years on I'm having the same issue with rucksacks. My current rucksack of choice for the Summer months was a Berghaus Freeflow 35+8, one of the older models. It's not a bad rucksack, but the extra volume encourages me to fill it. When the space is available there is an uncontrollable wanton to fill it. Okay, it's not as bad as that, but there is temptation to pack that one extra item and then find you never needed it. As a solution I decided that it would be better to limit the volume at hand.

I already have an Osprey Talon 44, as reviewed, for the colder months to fit extra warm layers. But for the summer I wanted something quite a bit smaller, maybe with enough room for the waterproofs at least given the current state of our alleged summer. The Talon 33 is quite a nice pack, but still too big, only two litres smaller than the Berghaus. So I went for a Talon 22. I managed to purchase one at a very reasonable price, there is no excuse to pay the full price for any outdoor kit at the moment. At 5' 10" I went for the M/L version which is a good size for me.

Weighing in at 0.77kg the Talon 22 initially doesn't look much smaller to the 44. But as soon as you start to pack it, the size difference is clear. Osprey recommend a maximum weight of around 11-12kg (24-26lbs), about 5kg less than the Talon 44 (a review of the Talon 44 here) and I would say that is a definite maximum. The pack feels a little more flimsy than the 44 which would suggest why. My total load out tends to be around 6kg (13lbs) but can vary depending on the time of year. In the summer, generally it can be a little lighter, a lot if it's only a short walk or a walk where I know I don't need to be quite so prepared. But the lack of need for bulky items in the summer means everything I need fits into the Talon 22.

From a features point of view, the main difference between the Talon 22 and the Talon 44 is the access into the packs main compartment. The Talon 44 has a traditional pack access with draw cord and lid. The Talon 22 has a zip access like a lot of other small daysacks. This feature has the potential for not being as waterproof, great in a normal summer, but this is Britain and I'm sure you guys in the UK know what I mean. What it does offer on a plus side is great access into the pack. So the reduced ability to keep water out is made up for by better access to your gear inside. Now we just need a dry summer.

There is a small pocket on top for your small items, again in a position which will be less resistant to the ingress of water if there is a good downpour. So if you put something in here sensitive to water I would definitely recommend it goes into a waterproof bag.

The shoulder straps and belt are pretty much the same on both the Talon 22 and 44. The main difference here is that on the Talon 44 there is a little more padding on the waist belt than the 22. This means there is a little less support on the Talon 22's belt which would account for the reduced weight carrying capability. The belt has the same pockets as the Talon 44, highly useful for snacks, chap stick, etc.

The sides of the pack have the same compression straps layout as the Talon 44 with the choice of having the straps over or under the pockets. I find there is enough room for a small sit mat or half litre bottle of water to go in the pockets.

Between the back panel and the main compartment of the pack just like on the Talon 44 is a sleeve for your hydration bag to fit into. And on the front of the bag is a stretchy pocket ideal for quick access items of clothing or for something to be placed to dry. Above this pocket is a helmet lock to hold a cycling helmet in place if you need the function.

In use the pack is not quite as supportive as the Talon 44, but with the reduced load this becomes less of an issue. On warm days, I find that my lower back gets damp to wet, depending on humidity and wind. My upper back at the most gets damp. What would be great with a pack this size would be the capability to take the waist belt off because at low weights it becomes redundant being left hanging at my sides. What I find good is that after a while I forget that the pack is on my back. So while not everything is roses, the pack is comfortable for a days walking.

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