Osprey’s Talon series is aimed at fast-and-light outdoor types, and the 11 is a thoroughly practical daypack that excels at carrying loads on the bike. It’s festooned with neat ideas that lift it above the herd.
The deep mesh hip belt with its double-anchor, Egro-Pull fixture is secure and comfortable even if you really load it up, and the slimline shape is unobtrusive when riding. It’s very stable even when you’re zipping through the trees
We appreciated captive strap ends that made the inevitable mid-ride adjustments a much neater affair, and construction is top-notch, with the key stress points reinforced.
There’s a choice of three positions for the chest strap and small stretch pockets on the clever lightly-padded shoulder straps that accommodate food or phone for swift access.
For its low weight – achieved by liberal use of light, high-strength fabrics – the Talon 11 swallows a remarkable amount of stuff in its Tardis-like 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.
Organisation is at a premium though: we missed dedicated tool space as well as the absent bladder (the water slot comfortably accommodates a three-litre bladder, though that’s an extra expense).
The Airscape back system contributes to the barely-there feel, and two woven stretch side pockets complement the main compartment.
They’re 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 £20 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.