This versatile, feature packed daypack doubles as a stable water carrier and is festooned with neat ideas that lift it above the herd. Its clever lightly-padded shoulder straps and hip belt make it comfortable even if you really load it up.
For its low weight – achieved by liberal use of light, high-strength fabrics – the Talon 11 swallows a remarkable amount of stuff in its 11-litre main compartment. There’s easily room for spares, tubes, tools, a lightweight jacket and even a first aid kit. A shock-cord with fabric sides provides external storage for a waterproof or the like.
The water slot comfortably accommodates a three-litre bladder, though that’s an extra expense.
Construction is excellent, with reinforcement, double-stitching or both at load points.
Load it up and snug the waistband’s clever v-shaped straps into place and it’s very stable even when you’re zipping through the trees. I generally like packs that carry the load as low as possible, but the Talon was a very pleasant surprise: a conventional backpack that’s not irritating to ride bike in.
If you like your pack to do the organizing for you, you’re not offered much here in the way of sub-pockets in the main body. There’s a Velcro pouch for keys and change inside the main compartment and an externally-accessible small mesh pocket.
However, there are two stretchy side pickets large enough to take a full-size water bottle each and the elasticated pockets on the shoulder straps can be packed with gel sachets for adventure racing. Or you can stuff your iPod and mobile phone in them for urban expeditions: this is too nice a bag to just use at the weekend.
You won’t need the rear light clip for hiking tarmac, but it’s handy for urban riding and adventure racers will appreciate being able to tow their slower team-mates with the sewn-in tow loop.
The value for money question is tricky. The design of the waistbelt makes this a better backpack than similarly-sized dedicated hydration packs and it costs about the same by the time you factor in twenty quid for a bladder. It lacks some of those packs’ belts, whistles and pockets (actually it does have a whistle, built into the sternum strap buckle) but it has other features that are just as clever and useful.
UK: £50 US: $79 Australia: $129.95