Osprey’s Talon 6 is designed primarily as a walking and running pack, but the fact it combines a respectable six litres of kit storage plus two 600ml water bottles without getting your back sweaty makes it an interesting option for mountain bikers.
Much like Osprey’s conventional range of mountain bike backpacks, the Talon 6 is really well made, with plenty of tough ripstop nylon material used throughout.
There’s a deep pad where it sits on your back with plenty of deep channelling that aids ventilation. The pack is held in place with a pair of lightweight mesh covered foam wings and a relatively narrow nylon band secured by a buckle. There are plenty of straps that allow you to fine-tune the fit and compensate for under or over filling the pack.
Hydration is provided by a pair of dedicated water bottles that have a flattened profile, which helps them sit comfortably in their holsters on either side of the pack. They’re held in place with elasticated loops that hook over the spout of the bottle. Once I’d got the tension right they worked well keeping everything from falling out, but if they become too slack then it’s possible for the bottle to get thrown free, such as during jumps or really rough ground. They also take a bit of a knack to undo on the move. A larger tab on the securing strap or a slightly more leant over angle would help in finding and freeing them without having to thrash about as much, though practice made this less of an issue.
The pack’s storage is pretty impressive. There are two zipped compartments and the main one at the back on the pack is big enough to take a jacket, inner tube and mini pump without issue. The front compartment is slightly less deep, but it’s still perfect for putting a phone and other bits and bobs you might want frequent access to in.
Finding the right fit
You also get sizeable zipped pockets on the wings of the hip pad, which are spot on for keeping a multitool and food close to hand. Across the front of the pack there are two clipped straps that can hold a jacket or similar in place — or they can be tightened right down when the pack is less full.
The pack definitely works best when worn quite high up on the hips, the tapered shape then holds more firmly against your body. It’s reasonably secure when worn like this, but I still found that over rough terrain the pack wanted to flap about. If I tightened up the straps to reduce that happening then they became really rather constrictive and uncomfortable across my gut.
This was especially noticeable when moving my body position backwards and forwards repeatedly or breathing very deeply, such as during technical climbs. I’m sure that deeper section straps would really help here as they’d be less likely to cut into your stomach and offer much more support to keep the pack in place without excessive tightening. On the descents it was less of an issue, but still noticeable when the pack was fully laden.
When it comes to mountain biking, unless you really hate having a sweaty back or object to shoulder straps for some reason, I feel it would make much more sense to leave this to less bumpy sports and take a look at one of Osprey’s conventional backpacks instead.