Osprey Kestrel 38 – Tested
|Weight: 1650 grammes
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
Thoroughly designed, great carry,.feels dependable and
robust so far.
Shoulder strap fabric?