Osprey Talon 6 Lumbar Pack Review
Our second Osprey running pack review comes from regular instructor and running enthusiast Stuart (please check out Ian’s review of the Duro 15 pack here). The Talon 6 is a running lumbar pack and it’s worth pointing out that, although a great option for running, this pack is also suitable for mountain biking or even lightweight walking. Anyway, with no further ado, here is Stu’s review.....
I’ve tried running with lumbar packs before and not got on with them too well as the weight of my kit and drinks would bounce in an annoying rhythm counter to the rhythm of my body. This causes irritation and, on a long run, undue fatigue. So, the Talon 6 would really have to prove itself against my prejudices.
My first impressions were excellent. The 70 x 100D Nylon Shadowbrick & 420HD Nylon Packcloth gives a reassuring feel of quality and durability to the pack while also contributing to its light weight of only 330g. This is one lightweight pack that feels as tough as a heavyweight!
The straps and buckles also have a solid feel that speaks of quality construction and attention to detail. The broad AirScape accordion foam back panel promises to spread the load and add much-needed stability to the pack and looks like it will be very comfortable to wear. The pockets on the hip-belt also look a useful size to fit in those little items like car-keys, cash, energy snacks or a compass for those long runs over featureless terrain..
The zip-pulls look large enough for gloved fingers to find and use easily. I was a little surprised at the narrowness of the buckles, but a judgement on this will have to wait until I’m using the pack in anger. Osprey’s adjustable StraitJacket compression system looks like it will do a good job of lifting the pack, pulling the weight forward and keeping it secure to ease that annoying flapping motion as you try to run.
The strait jacket system also helps to secure the two 570ml Hydraulics water bottles that come with the pack. The water bottles are an unusual shape, designed to fit perfectly into the twin padded sleeves that flank the pack. There are also retaining bungees that prevent the bottles bouncing out when hurtling down that boulder-strewn slope. The criss-crossing compression straps complete the feeling that this pack does not need to be filled in order to be stable, while providing useful external storage for items like a rain-shell.
Internally, there are two compartments (one main and one front) separated by a mesh divider. There is also an internal key-clip so you don’t have to worry about losing your car keys. Overall capacity is stated as 6 litres.
The feature set ticked all the obvious boxes and I was keen to put it to the test. I also wanted to see how well the pack would fit the Fell Runners Association (FRA) mandatory requirements of waterproof whole body cover, hat, gloves, route map, compass, whistle and emergency food?
The first test was easy - the Talon 6 easily coped with the FRA kit requirements and there was even space for an additional lightweight jacket and headtorch. The belt pockets had space for snacks and the zip-pulls worked well for rapid access (although closing them that final inch was a bit fiddly). With full water-bottles the pack fitted comfortably around my waist, feeling secure and balanced, and the accordion foam back panel moulded nicely to my lumbar region. I was very impressed so far.
During my first run the pack bounced around and I was immediately reminded of why I didn’t like lumbar packs. However, a tug on the Strait Jacket compression straps and this problem was quickly sorted. There was an inevitable period of adjustment as I worked out how tightly to adjust the pack, and the aforementioned narrow belt-buckle presented no problems.
When slogging up the long hills the weight of the pack still remained balanced and actually at some points I forgot I was wearing it. The broad back-panel felt comfortable and, as I thought, spread the weight nicely and securely. The compression system straps were easy to locate on the move, and adjustment was easy without having to stop: very handy when breathing hard on a climb, or for more relaxed breathing on the flat.
The Talon 6 coped impressively well uphill and on flat ground, but in many ways the true test for this kind of pack is how it copes with the downhills. On steep descents, moving at speed over rocky or rough terrain with rapid direction-changes, previous lumbar packs I’ve used have proved a distraction when trying to concentrate on foot-placements.
This, then, was my final test criteria for the Talon 6..…would there be any movement without having the straps so tight I could hardly breathe? Well, no is the answer. With a quick tightening of the compression straps and as I concentrated more and more on the terrain, I completely forgot I was wearing a lumbar pack. No annoying bouncing; no slipping or shifting of weight; no lost water-bottles! The hip-belt was adjusted quickly and easily when needed, but without loss of concentration. The Osprey Talon 6 had passed my tests easily and has been a joy to use.
I have now decided that, although I will still run with a rucksack when carrying loads of kit, the Osprey Talon 6 definitely has a place on my gear-shelf. My prejudice against lumbar-packs has been well and truly smashed, and for most runs the Talon 6 will be my pack of choice.
Osprey have got the basic features just right and thought carefully about the smaller details too. This is a great product and, given its solid construction and careful design, represents great value for money.
Reviewed by Stu and posted by Cal