Purchased summer 2012, reviewed September 2016
At a volume of 22 liters (or 20 for the small/medium size), the Osprey Talon 22 hits a sweet spot for day packs. This size is perfect for all the essentials for spring to fall hiking in Alaska, with a little room left over for something extra (like one embarrassingly heavy camera lens). The Talon 22 has been a favorite in the outdoor gear world for many years, sweeping up industry accolades like Outdoor Gear Lab’s Editor’s Choice Award, and earning nearly across-the-board 5-star reviews on outdoor gear retailers’ websites.
Materials and Design
The Talon 22 is made of 210 denier coated nylon, an unremarkable but nonetheless rugged and light material. Unlike the smaller Talon 18 or larger Talon 33, the Talon 22 uses a “zippered front panel” rather than top-loading design. This makes reaching your gear easy. The padding on the straps is thin but they are highly adjustable. The Talon 22 features a surprising number of features for such a light piece of equipment, including an ice axe loop (!), helmet clip, and separate interior pocket for a hydration bladder. The hip belt pockets are convenient for stashing keys, dog leashes, etc., and once you get used to them you’ll miss them on other packs.
When it’s at its sweet spot–not underloaded or overloaded–the Talon 22 is a joy to use. Even in this lightweight, stripped-down iteration, you can tell that Osprey has worked hard to make the pack sit naturally on your hips, conform to your back, and cinch comfortably around your chest. More than perhaps any other ultralight pack I’ve tried on, with a little careful adjustment the Talon molds itself so well to your back that you can forget you’re even wearing it. It carries well at the right loads, stays reasonably dry in a light sprinkle, and keeps gear accessible. Contrary to what at least one other review states, the side pockets are big enough for an old-school one-liter Nalgene bottle. Overheating is rarely much of a problem in Alaska, but I’ve had no issues with venting.
The most important consideration with day-to-day use is not overloading the pack. While the straps are comfortable and adjustable, they aren’t designed to carry much more than the recommended 20 pounds. Years of steady use has caused them to stretch and deform. Similarly, the Airscape back panel isn’t very rigid; over time it has weakened and bows outward if the pack is loaded significantly under capacity. The 210d nylon fabric is durable and light enough for a fast-and-light day pack, but it doesn’t have the strength/weight ratio of some newer (and more expensive) materials.
I’m not crazy about the graphics on the back of the Talon backpacks. The rest of Osprey’s line has really sharp styling, and I find the addition of big talon graphics on such a simple and functional little pack a bit like painting racing stripes onto a Honda Civic. It’s a strong, unpretentious product. It doesn’t need bling.
Osprey Talon 22: The Bottom Line
The Osprey Talon 22 is an excellent lightweight day pack and has been a great companion on dozens of long day hikes in Alaska. It offers a strong range of features, truly light weight (claimed 1.65 lbs for size M/L), and a reasonable price at around $100. It does make compromises in carrying capacity and durability, particularly in the foam straps and somewhat flimsy back panel. Considering Osprey’s industry-leading All Mighty Guarantee lifetime warranty, however, I’m a little less inclined to see durability issues as deal-breakers. The Talon 22 should deliver many seasons of strong 3-season performance under a variety of conditions.