Osprey Talon 33 – Quick Review

I generally try to avoid rolling with a backpack for touring / bikepacking… but some trips call for carrying more gear, or having the ability to camel up with supplies. For most trips in fair weather I can make do with my Wingnut Hyper 3 if I feel I need more capacity than I can carry on the bike. I usually carry my personal stuff – wallet, phone, SPOT in the zippered pockets, and then ride food stuffed in the mesh. Extra layers that I might want quick access to ride in the body of the bag, and I can add food / water (I have carried an empty hydro bladder to top up on previous trips).

The Wingnut is small and it carries its load low around the hips. Its perfect for all day singletrack or hiking… but in use it is a stretch for anything longer when requiring any sort of bulk or capacity.

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For my recent ADK trip I used an Osprey Talon 33. I’ve read rave reviews about this bag on blogs and bikepacking.net – and finally had some gear gift $$ to add one to my quiver. I am always skeptical of backpacks, but jumped in with both feet on this purchase, and loaded it up two days after purchasing it for my trip.



The pack is pretty simple compared to most ‘technical’ packs. 1 main compartment closed with a drawstring. 1 zippered top compartment with a key loop, and a zipper mesh pocket under the lid. Side pockets for water bottles (or other gear), a mesh stretch pouch outside the main pocket, ice axe loop, and various cords and straps for tightening and lashing the load. The simple hip belt has a small pocket on each side. The pack has an ‘airscape’ suspension system and is kept off your back with this mesh panel that supports the pack and rides on your back. Since this was a cold trip I can’t say I tested this feature… but the pack was incredibly comfortable for the 3 days.




For my trip I carried food, my Patagonia puff layer, rain coat (when not needed as a wind break), rain pants, wallet, cell phone, USB battery, and spare riding gloves, buff, and a thin Ibex base layer. In the right side pouch I had bear spray, in the left side pocket I had my ZipShot tripod. I had plenty more room to add gear or food – I was probably running at 1/2 capacity. I added a Sea to Summit pack cover to keep things dry (and in orange, it hopefully worked as a marker to hunters that I was not to be shot at!).

My food was the heaviest and bulkiest item in the pack. I carried 3 backpacker style dinners – 2 for dinner and 1 for lunch. Breakfast was 2 days of oatmeal and pop tarts, ride food for days 2 and 3 (that would move to the bike each morning), coffee, and chocolate for camp. My pack got a bit lighter each day as I ate my way through my food.

On Day 2 I opted to lighten my bike for the first ~7 miles to make it easier to heft over creeks and blowdown, as well as a bit more nimble for the parts of the singletrack that I could actually ride. I moved all my camp clothes to the Talon, along with personal kit that usually rides in the Sweetroll Pouch (first aid kit, meds, glass case, etc.), and the 2 Porcelain Rocket Anything Bags that were riding on my forks. The left Anything Bag carried my camp kitchen (stove, fuel, cup, mug, bear bag gear, etc). The right Anything Bag carried my extra camp stuff – saw, fire starter and matches, leatherman, headlamp, etc. I also carried a zip lock of garbage from dinner and breakfast – food wrappers, the remnants of cleaning my bowl of oatmeal, toothpaste spit, and a spent backpacker meal pouch. I left my sleeping bag in the seatbag (pretty light, and out of the way) as well as keeping my tent and sleeping pad in my Sweetroll. The Talon swallowed the additional load and carried very well. I can’t say I had any discomfort due to the bag on my back. Moving the extra gear to the bag was great on the singletrack – the bike was just a bit more manageable, and if needed I could drop the pack on 1 side of the creek and go back and fetch the bike, making life just a bit easier. Unweighting the bike worked well when I did get to ride. Having the weight on my back meant I could stand and position myself as normal, and the pack stayed put on rough sections.

After exiting the singletrack I rolled a few miles into town, where I decided to get a hot lunch at a local pub. I reorganized my gear under the awning of the pub – so I put more weight on the bike for the road and dirt road part of the trip. I also added some warm socks from the local department store and a newspaper. The Talon still had plenty of room for more if I wanted…

The Sea to Summit pack cover (sized small, 30-50 liters) I bought worked perfect. It kept things dry as it should and was easy to deploy when the weather turned.




The Talon worked as expected on my first trip with it, and I’ve since used it for commuter like duties schlepping my laptop and gear to town and back, as well as for carrying a suspension fork to the shop (via some singletrack) to get cut down and a have a new star nut installed. Its not really ideal for a town bag (on off on off quickly like a messenger bag) – but its really comfortable with any sort of load, and will be my go to bag for day hikes (or summer overnights), as well as bikepacking when I need more capacity. So far I’m really happy with the bag. It proved itself carrying a varied load on a challenging (if short) trip, and its build quality seems typical of higher end gear (even though I thought the bag was reasonably priced, even if I didn’t have a member discount at a local shop).

Bikepacking Gear

My 2012 Gen2 Salsa Fargo has gone through a number of changes, most recently swapping the Woodchippers (which I really like for dirt road / gravel / mild single track) to a Jones Loop bar, which so far has proven comfortable, and more capable riding rocky, rooty single track while loaded.

The bike is a medium and I’m running my old (pre-Revelate, long live Epic Designs!) front harness and pouch and seat bag, which were made custom for my Surly CrossCheck and IF Ti Club Racer. Once I got the Fargo I added a full frame bag, gas tank, jerry can, and feedbags. I have used the Salsa Anything cages, but don’t run them often, except when I need extra carrying capacity, or want to carry insulated Nalgene bottles up front. I run a Shimano dyno hub to power an Exposure Revo and Redeye and need to wire up the USBWerk for topping off a battery or running my Garmin, and it will keep a FenixUC40 USB topped off. In testing the USBWerk works great, and I would love to have this integrated into my kit for longer trips.

Cockpit with Salsa Woodchipper (46cm bar)


The updated cockpit is the Jones Loop bar with chunky grips (after some use I need to tape the rest of the bars). X9 trigger rear, Friction front, on a Paul Thumbie pushing a X5 triple derailer (cheap!). Garmin eTrex20, hydro tube connected to a Showers Pass Veleau reel (last way longer than the ID badge reels), feed bag (most times I run 2), Avid Speed Dial Levers (need to find something with the pinch bolt in a more comfortable location…). Gas tank with my Canon G12 and spare AA and AAA batteries. Custom harness and pouch made back in 2008 or 2009 for a dry bag.


Front is my sleep kit and sometimes camp clothes tucked into a dry bag in harness. The dry bag pops out easily and gets tossed into my tent for unpacking.

Pouch contains personal items I might need easy access to – glasses, eye drops, meds, toiletries, first aid kit, etc.


Rear bag contains tent, cook kit, clothes, food, etc.

Frame bag contains spare tube(s), tent poles, hydro bladder and Sawyer inline filter and misc stuff in the thin side pocket.


My current kit, for 3 season riding used last weekend:

(This is bordering on a luxury list for me… I brought a pillow – something that doesn’t go on longer trips as I use the space for food / extra clothes)

(no food or water included in weights)
Fargo naked with Revo and Redeye lights, dyno wheel, etc. 29#
Fargo 35.2# with GPS, hydro hose, Revo, Redeye, Lezyne pump, and on frame bags as noted below:

On bike frame bags, feed bag, gas tank and jerry can 6.2#
Frame bag
Arm warmers, gloves, folding camp saw, knife, Fenix LD22 (for helmet, night riding headlamp), vest and woolie, tent pole, tent stakes, spare tube, empty bladder, sawyer mini inline with hydro bladder

Jerry can with tools, multitool with pliers, 1 brake, 1 shift cable (tucked into sides of bag stiffener), der hanger, patch kit, fiber spoke, tire levers, spare master link

Feedbag(s) with hand sanitizer (no food for weights, but generally my road food goes here)

Gas tank with Canon G12 camera and batteries (4aa and 4aaa)

Front harness and rear saddle bag 14#

Front bag 8#
Sleeping pad, sleeping bag, pillow!, personal stuff, water purification, toiletries, headlamp, showers pass crossover tucked into harness (need to change this – lost it after this photo)

Rear bag 6#
Tarptent Contrail, cook kit (Snow Peak 700 pot, double wall mug, fuel canister, Gigapower stove, matches, silicone bowl, Ti spork, bear line, carabiner, stuff sack), camp clothes (MUSA knickers, boxers for camp, Patagonia puffy jacket).



Total Kit without food / water 20.2#
Total rig without food / water 49.2#

On person – wallet, cellphone, SPOT tracker, cycling cap

Bikepacking List Fall (3Season)

Glasses in case with cloth cleaner
Contact Case eye drops
Maps / Cue card
Knife (in mesh in Feedbag)

GPS Garmin etrex 20 on bike
Camera canon g12
Batteries AAA and AA
Headlamp Princeton tec small thing
Fenix flashlight for helmet
Revo dyno headlight
Redeye dyno tailight

First aid kit
Tiny travel towel

Cook Kit:
Snow Peak Ti700 Pot
Snow Peak double wall cup (if ‘luxury’ camping…)
Ti Spork
Snow Peak Gigapower stove with Piezo ignition
MSR fuel canister
Bear (critter) bag and line with carabiner

As req’d

Water bladder(s)
Aqua Mira drops
Sawyer mini inline filter
Nuun tabs for flavor, electrolytes

TarpTent Contrail
Sleeping bag big agnes fish hawk 30d down
Sleeping pad big agnes insulated air core

Bike Mech:
Patch kit
Tire boot
Tire levers
Derailler hanger (if Fargo)
Brake pads (1 set)
Zip ties
Electrical tape
Chain Lube
Shift cable
Brake cable

Dry gloves
Dry Socks
Patagonia puff
Rain pants or MUSA knickers
Showers Pass jacket
Thin ibex woolie

On body:
Cycling shorts
Shoes Pi x alps pro
Rapha jersey (got to be fashionable)
Thin cap
Wallet / iphone
Cycling gloves (if dirt road / single track)

Salsa / Revelate Frame Bag

Back in October my sweeties surprised me with this frame bag for my birthday. Its been on the Fargo pretty much every day since, and I am loving having all that space in the triangle for storage. It has a map / phone skinny pocket on the non drive side, and a large pocket with single zipper on the drive side. Inside is a velcro divider that can be slightly adjusted to keep the compartment somewhat organized, and control ‘flop’ of the bag.

I’ve used it completely stuffed with gloves, extra layers, tools, tube, and a Klean Kanteen, as well as semi loaded with tools and camera gear. I plan on getting a bladder and hose setup fit inside – experimentation with that will happen in the spring, when I hope to make overnights and some longer bikepacking trips a regular occurrence.

This bag completes my carrying kit. I have a suite of Revelate gear – gas tank, jerry can, seat bag, and front harness with pouch. With water in the frame bag or on the forks, I am very close to leaving the Wingnut Gear Hyper 3.0 backpack at home – or carrying it only for ‘cameling’ up between supply, or using it for convenience items like extra layers and personal gear.

TarpTent Contrail

New shelter. Testing hopefully this fall. Quick pitch in the park – took 3 minutes first time out of the package. Need to seam seal and add a few guy lines and stakes. 1.8 pounds. Packs 4×14″ with the optional pole strapped to my bars or bike. Room for 2 in a pinch, or dad and a little one. With a line for the door, I could sit up and cook under the entry.

Salsa Anything Cages

Test fit of the Salsa Anything Cages. Awaiting some 6×12 OR drybags I found on clearance to see if handling is affected.

Not sure if I’ll need them for the upcoming trip, but I’ve been looking at these for quite awhile.


New sneaks arrived for on the Fargo and Pugsley. My Specialized shoes have finally given up, with the sole @ the cleat pushing into the bottom of the shoe. Looks like they are delaminating. 5 year old shoes, ridden in mud, snow, rain… I really can’t complain. I opted to replace them with some Pearl Izumi X-Alp pro shoes. Carbon sole that is supposedly good for hike a bike… I would have gone for another comparable pair of the Specialized shoes – but they have a very stiff sole now, and a local rider told me they are great for on the bike, not so good for even short off the bike pushes.

And then I found this (for the Enduro model) and this. Kurt’s plug pretty much sold me on the shoe. He’s currently out front on the Tour Divide.

In other news I snapped the hanger on the Fargo. Hit something, and glad I didn’t shift into the spokes. New parts (and a spare for my kit) are on the way. On a separate morning I went over the bars – perfect wheel swallowing divot coming off some roots.

Next week I hope the continuing fatigue is gone, hoping to start a formal training plan to take me into the fall. Will be the first time I’ve done any specific training since burning out when I hired a coach back in 07.

After the burn out I didn’t ride for nearly 8 months. Looking forward to it, as I think I’ve got the largest base in place in a long long time – but need to knock a few more pounds off the body and step up the intensity for climbing. (hmm, when I migrated over from Blogger it seems I lost all my pictures on previous posts… sad…)


B17, after some surgery. Trimmed to have a similar nose shape as my Brooks Swallow, and tied underneath with the left over long sides. The B17 has been comfortable for my ADK double century rides, the Fleche, and countless fixed gear rides on dirt and in the woods. The Swallow has always been hit and miss on rides longer than 200k – especially with lots of dirt or rough pavement – so I’m thinking this might be the best of both worlds for brevet season.

I don’t yet have the courage to cut a Brooks Imperial / Selle Anatomica style slot out of the center… but by summer’s end I might.