Osprey Kestrel 38 - Tested

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Price:

£75

Weight: 1650 grammes

(M/L)

Features:

All-round 38-litre technical day pack with AirScape

Backpanel, hip-belt pockets, integrated rain cover, ice axe

loop and bungee, sleeping pad straps, Stow-On-The-Go pole

attachment, stretch woven front and side stow pockets, Torso

Adjustable Harness, zippered sleeping bag access, zippered

top pocket. 4mm powder coated steel peripheral rod frame,

5mm hdpe foam framesheet, EVA foram torso adjustable

harness, mesh-covered, die-cut slotted EVA foam hip-belt.

Also available in 28, 32 and 48-litre versions.


What's It For?

According to Osprey the Kestrel series is - and we quote -

'Designed for the outdoor enthusiast looking for a "quiver-of-one"

these packs offer all the features needed for everything from a long

trek to quick peak assault.'

So pretty much an all-round pack with a modern flavour. The

38-litre version tested here is either a large winter day pack with

plenty of room for spare clothing or a weekend-packing sac designed

with modern lightweight camping kit in mind.


The Techy Bits

If the Kestrel looks a little familiar, that's probably because it

borrows various elements from Osprey's lightweight Talon pack,

notably the AirScape back panel with its ridge moulded foam and air

channels - below - the torso adjustable harness and the dual alumnium

rods on either side of the back panel which stabilize the load and

transfer it close to the body, though the Talon's rods are made from

fibreglass.

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Also common to the Talon are handy stretch stow pockets on the

back and sides of the pack and handy hip-pockets plus the easy access

hydration compartment which sits between the backpanel and the body

of the sac, so you can refill the bladder without emptying out the

pack's contents.

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The Kestrel differs however, in using heavier fabrics which we'd

expect to be more durable and robust than the lighter materials

specced for the Talon, which some users will find reassuring. It also

explains why a 38-litre Kestrel weighs around 550 grammes more than a

44-litre Talon.

Two first for the Kestrel as well - it's the first Osprey pack to

feature an integrated rain cover and the first to feature Osprey's

new Stow-On-The-Go trekking pole rapid stowage system.


How It Performs

In our experience, the best packs simply don't impinge on your

day. You adjust them to fit your back length, pack them up, tweak the

harness and straps to fit and forget about the pack. And that's just

how it was with the Kestrel, most of the time we simply didn't notice

it - no instability, no discomfort, rubbing or creaking, just a

smooth, efficient carry.

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What we did notice is that it's mostly been very well thought out

- the side pockets, for example, are angled so you can actually use

them without taking the pack off. The compression straps are quickly

releasable so you can stow things under them with minimal fuss and

the handy hip-belt pockets close by pulling the zip forwards, which

is as it should be.

There's even a neat little sleeping bag access zip at the base of

the pack which seemed a bit surplus to requirements on a 38-litre

bag, but at leasy gives rapid access to anything packed low down.

We had no complaints about the back system either. It may be

simple, just a foam pad, some aluminium rods and a stiffening sheet

but hold the load snugly against your back and transfers weight well.

We wouldn't suggest carrying a big cache of climbing hardware for

example, but it's quite happy with a typical lightweight weekend

backpacking load.

The main body fabric is thicker and feels tougher than those used

for the Talon, which we managed to cut and overall build quality

feels very good though we suspect that a combination of heavy use and

UV exposure might eventually do for the mesh on the underside of the

shoulder straps.

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We've already covered

the Stow-On-The-Go trekking pole rapid stowage system and as we said

in that article, we like it a lot and if you're one of those people

who's forever putting poles away then taking them out again, we think

you'll like it too. We're also all in favour of Osprey's shock-corded

ice tool loops, they're quick and easy to use even with cold, gloved

hands.

It's also good to see an integrated rain cover from Osprey. It

sits in a dedictated pocket under the main stretch stow pocket on the

back of the pack and is detachable for heat waves.


Verdict

Osprey keep hitting the target and the Kestrel is no

exception. It's a nicely designed all-round mountain pack that

carries extremely well with normal walking and light-packing loads.

The fabric feels a lot more robust than its more highly-strung Talon

cousin and while features like the compression straps are slightly

less sophisticated, they still do the job just fine.

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If we're splitting hairs, we'd note that the lower compression

strap goes over the side stow pocket making it occasionally fiddly to

use and the hip-belt is wide enough to fit a 50-inch waist meaning

that you will have to use the thoughtfully provided loops to

tidy away the excess. But that's just about it really. A very nice

mountain walking pack that will also double up for some lightpacking

if your camping kit is small enough.


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Thoroughly designed, great carry,.feels dependable and

robust so far.

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Shoulder strap fabric?