Osprey Stratos vs Talon Packs: Comprehensive Comparison

Once you get serious about Hiking, the first thing you want to look for is a good comfortable backpack. And when it comes to back Ospreys are the best. Their best-sellers are Talons and Stratos. so let’s compare the Osprey Stratos vs Talon model series and take a look at how they are different and which one is best for you.

Osprey Talon and Stratos are both excellent backpacks for your outdoor adventures. However, they have a few key similarities and differences, so let’s find out what will suit you better when you are out and about in the wilderness.

Both of the packs come in serval sizes, from small to mid-size, although Stratos does tend to have a few packs that are a little on the larger side. There are six Talon packs to choose from and five different Stratos packs.  

Common or similar features in Stratos and Talon

Torso length adjustability 

Both models come with large velcro tabs behind the side panels, which can be used to adjust the torso length. The method is easy and hassle-free. To adjust the length, undo the hook and loop, move the strap to your required length, and push against the velcro.

Sternum strap with adjustability 

Almost all of Osprey’s backpacks come with an emergency whistle attached. It is almost like their signature feature and a very sensible one. The sternum strap helps ensure that the shoulder straps stay in place, and are not slipping off your shoulder while you are hiking. Both models have this feature and one that everyone appreciates. 

Trekking pole and ice ax attachment points 

Whether you are hiking up a mountain or climbing across ice fields, both packs have got you covered with a place to store your tools. The attachment type is called stove-on-the-go and is extremely easy to use. These are loops located on the side straps in both cases, just below the side pockets. The ice ax loops are on the other shoulder strap, so it is even possible to carry both simultaneously. You can quickly store your poles or ax up and out the way in a matter of minutes, leaving your hands free for scrambling, taking photos, eating, or anything else you may need them for.

Hipbelt with side pockets on Osprey Stratos

Hip belt with pockets

Both models come with practical hip Belt Pockets. The Hip belt is a key feature of these backpacks as they help distribute weight across your whole body, rather than just hanging off your shoulders. There is not much in it when it comes to comparing the two. Both are padded for a little extra comfort, and both are ventilated. There are small pockets on either side of the hip belts on both models that are just big enough for you to slip in your phone or a small snack. This way, you won’t have to go through the process of unstrapping your bag and digging into the main compartment to find something small.

Stretch side pockets 

Both models have additional pockets on their sides made out of a light mesh. These pockets are easily accessible, so you can throw in something you might want to grab quickly. Also, as they are made out of mesh, they are flush with the side of the bags, so if you decide you don’t need to put anything in them, it is not any wasted space. 

Differences between the Stratos and the Talon

Airspeed Back panel on the Stratos

AirScape Vs. Airspeed back panel for ventilation 

The ventilation type in the backpack models differ. The Stratos model uses tension trampoline style mesh as its material of choice. This is a very effective mechanism as it completely separates the backpack from your body, so your body is not touching the pack at all, allowing for ultimate ventilation. The airspeed back panel allows the air to circulate but does cause the back of the backpack to have quite a curved appearance.

The Talon models, on the other hand, use foam as ventilation, and this is then covered in a breathable mesh. It is very comfortable to wear but does not offer quite the same level of comfort as the Stratos as it still touches the body. Osprey calls it the Airscape back panel. 

Both are effective in their own way, but the Stratos takes the lead here.

External vs.Internal Hydration Sleeve

On the Stratos model, you will find the hydration sleeve located in the body of the backpack. It is in the main compartment and is very easy to identify.  In Talon, the sleeve is a separate section and can be found behind the harness. Both are easy to find, but when it comes to ease of use, an external sleeve will always be quicker and easier to access, which can make all the difference when on the trail.

Gear attachment points 

Each pack has plenty of gear attachment points, but where they are and what they are for differs between the two models. In addition to the hiking pole and ice ax attachments, the Talon also has a LidLock helmet attachment point and a LED light attachment point. The Stratos has removable sleeping pad straps on the bottom of the backpack, perfect for if you are going camping. 

Osprey Talon Back with Hip belt facing out.

Hip belt design 

The hip belts on both packs are padded and ventilated so that the pack will not feel heavy on your shoulders. The hip belt on the Stratos is substantial, and this really helps to put the weight of the pack comfortably on your back. 

Access points

The most significant difference when it comes to access is in the larger packs. All the packs have top and bottom access, but Stratos 50 has additional access to the sides. This extra access can be invaluable on a larger pack, making finding things a lot easier.

Rain cover

To put it simply, the Talon model does not have a rain cover feature at all, so if it rains, the backpack gets wet. On the other hand, the Stratos model has a rain cover stored in a little zipped pocket at the bottom. It is removable and easy to use. For many, this is not a deal-breaker, as it is possible to buy a cover separately, but it is always convenient to have in the event of an unexpected downpour.

Weight and size differences 

I would put Talon backpacks into the ultralight category. If weight is a key factor, you might want to go for the Talon. The Stratos, however, is still pretty light, it would be better placed in the medium to light category.

Difference sizes for Talon and Stratos and their use cases

There are various sizes of each pack, so let’s compare a few of them. 

Talon 22/Stratos 24

Without a doubt, these models are hiking backpacks. They are only big enough to be used for day trips, or adventures where you are not planning on spending the night. Their small size makes them perfect for light packing, so you can ensure you have what you need for the day without being weighed down by a big and bulky backpack.

This sized pack can also be used for other adventurous activities, such as cycling, or even light climbing, making them a much more versatile choice for outdoor recreation. This model has a front stretch pocket which comes in handy, and the external hydration sleeve is a plus for many. 

Although the Stratos could also be used for other activities, there is no denying that it has been designed with hiking in mind. The main difference is the abundance of pockets that are on the Stratus, and a much more rigid hip belt, which has both pros and cons. 

Talon 33/Stratos 34 and 36

This sized backpack should really only be used for day hikes due to its smaller size. You may be able to get away with staying one night camping if you pack very lightly, but chances are you will not have enough space to pack what you need for multiple nights. Best kept to mid-range hikes that can be achieved in a day. 

The Talon 33 is a lovely streamlined backpack that you can use if you don’t want to feel held down by extra weight and bulk. Although this means it is pretty comfortable, you have to remember that with this comfort comes fewer features, such as fewer side pockets and no sleeping bag compartment.  You also pack it from the top which is a nice feature.

The Stratus 34 can be used for hiking and camping overnight if you pack lightly.

The Stratos 36, however, has been designed with overnight trips in mind, so this is the one to choose if you know you want to go overnight camping. It is small enough to use for hiking but big enough if you’re going to stay somewhere for the night, or even two nights at a push.

Talon 44/Stratos 50

These sizes are best used for short camping trips or through hiking.  The Stratos 50 just gives you that little bit more room for things you might need for a multi-day trip and it provides side access to the main compartment, which is not available for smaller models and is surprisingly helpful. It is not until you have side access that you realize just how often you use it, rather than the bother of having to open the whole thing.

The biggest Talon model does not come with side access, which is likely to be the biggest difference here.  Having that extra access is invaluable with this sized backpack, as digging through a lot of stuff from the top of a pack can be time-consuming and frustrating.

Talon or Stratos, which one is better?

Both models of packs are very similar, with only a few differences that set them apart. The biggest differences are likely to be the back panel structures. Both are great backpacks, and you can’t go wrong with either. What backpack works better for you comes down to personal preference and specific use for these. The Osprey Talon is excellent if you would like to attach a lot of gear to your pack, and tend to carry around a lot of stuff, as it is lighter and more flexible. Due to its flexibility, it is great for other high outdoor activities. It is more comfortable but tends to have fewer features than the Stratos does. When fully loaded, the Stratos has better support if good for hiking, especially as it has the added bonus of the rain cover. 

Emily Winters

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