The Alpinist Mountain Standards reviews apply Alpinist's tradition of excellence and authenticity to gear reviews by providing unbiased, candid feedback and anecdotal commentary to equipment tested (hard) in the field. Our panel is comprised of climbers who use the gear every day as part of their work and play. Only the gear they would actually buy themselves, at retail price, qualifies for the Alpinist Mountain Standards award. The five-star rating system is as follows:
One Star = Piece of junk.
Two Stars = Has one or more significant flaws, with some redeeming qualities.
Three Stars = Average. This solid piece of gear is middle-of-the-road on the current market.
Four Stars = Better than most comparable gear on the market. It has one or two drawbacks, but still 90% positive.
Five Stars = Is there such thing as perfection? An Alpinist Mountain Standards award-winner.
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Osprey Talon 44 Backpack: A Lightweight, Durable Choice
Posted on: August 27, 2007
Weight: 1.11 kg
Weighing in at 1.11 kg, the Osprey Talon 44 is one of the lightest packs for its size on the market. While I welcome any opportunity to lighten my load, I wondered if this svelte pack, when filled with ropes and cams, could hold up to being sat on and thrown on to rocks.
So far, after weeks of cragging and guiding numerous parties up the Grand Teton, the Talon 44 is still in great shape, has functioned beautifully, and I also discovered that is has many more desirable functions than just being lightweight.
This pack is designed to hold up to forty pounds. I carried at least this much weight in camping and climbing gear up the Grand Teton, and it performed admirably, even at its supposed limit. With its lightweight and streamlined design, it climbed well, and showed no signs of undue wear when I hauled it up a chimney.
Unique features that I like:
The deep side pockets: water bottles fit snugly and are not in danger of falling out.
The lycra and nylon material: the side and front pockets are made of this stretchy material, which makes it easy to cram in more Cliff Bars, chap stick, and sun screen.
Access: the Talon allows you to get into the pack from the top, as well as by unzipping the bottom. There are also extra pockets on the inside of the top lid and on the shoulder straps, convenient for stashing emergency Gu Shots.
The Talon also has many standard features that I feel every pack should have, such as ice ax loops and a hydration compartment. With its aluminum frame, three types of fabric, and various weight saving features, it is obvious that Osprey paid attention to detail with this design.
However, the one problem that I encountered was the difficulty of adjusting the straps while on the go. The Talon uses small buckles, clips, and webbing that do not pull smoothly when trying to tighten or loosen. Maybe the straps require a breaking-in period before adjusting becomes easier. Also, the buckles seem so specialized that if one were to break, I could foresee replacing it to be a hassle.
So far the lightweight fabric has held up to abuse. It is made of stronger stuff than the typical paper-thin material you find on most ultra-lightweight packs, yet I didn't feel as comfortable tossing it onto rocks as I did with my older, heavier pack. Other weight savings on the Talon are from the thin padding on the waist belt and shoulder straps, and I do have some worry over how they will pack out over time.
I think the Osprey Talon 44 makes an excellent cragging, day climbing, and light backpacking pack. I expect it will perform well on backcountry ski tours this winter. As an added bonus, the Talon is a sharp-looking pack, and it never hurts to look good when heading into the hills. It's been a joy to use. I give it four stars.
Pros: Lightweight; durable; handles large loads well; functional and stylish design
Cons: Straps are difficult to adjust while on the go; thinly padded on the waist and shoulder straps