Osprey Talon 55 / Tempest 50 hiking backpack review: great lightweight packs for multi-day trips

Osprey's upgraded hiking backpacks are comfortable and versatile – and better for the environment, too

Osprey Talon 55 on a cliff leaning against a wooden fence, with a large beach at low tide in the background
(Image credit: Future)
T3 Verdict

The Osprey Talon 55 and Tempest 50 hiking backpacks are excellent choices for multi-day adventures. Lightweight and versatile, there’s plenty of space for your camping gear, while a host of clever, customisable features make the packs comfortable to carry all day.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Comfortable and supportive

  • +

    Versatile for different uses

  • +

    Made from recycled materials

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Quite big for casual walking

  • -

    Bladder can be hard to pack when full

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The Osprey Talon 55 (for men) and Osprey Tempest 50 (for women) are lightweight, mid-capacity hiking backpacks designed for longer adventures and travelling. Packed with handy features and plenty of storage, the latest versions come with a more supportive back system and are made from durable Bluesign-approved recycled materials.

We took the Osprey Talon 55 backpack on a series of multi-day treks around the UK in late September to test how well it performs. Spoiler: it was very good indeed. If you’re planning a mid-length trip, or have a lot of kit to carry - whether for camping, travelling or a festival - it’s easily among the best hiking backpacks you can buy. (For shorter day trips, we’d recommend the smaller-capacity Talon Pro 30/Tempest Pro 28 day sacks instead.)  

Osprey Talon 55 review: design and features

The Osprey Talon 55 comes in two back sizes: S/M and L/XL, while the Tempest 50 comes in WXS/Sand WM/L. Both packs feature a large top-loading main compartment with helpful zippered side access, and a smaller base compartment that can be separated from the main compartment using the supplied divider. On top, a detachable floating top lid can be extended upwards if you need more space, or removed entirely if you want to cut down on weight. 

The headline feature of both is a new hyper-ventilated back system, which provides increased support, stability and structure for the packs. This foam panel is fully adjustable, so you can make sure the pack fits you properly, and the channels and mesh work well to let the air flow through. I was pleased to find I didn’t get an overly sweaty back, even during some brutal climbs.

Osprey Talon 55 front-side view, on a cliff in front of a wooden fence with a long beach in the background

(Image credit: Future)

The other new feature is the fabric: the packs have been upgraded to a durable 100% recycled nylon, with a PFC-free durable water repellent (DWR) coating. The material is Bluesign-approved, which means it’s ethically and sustainably made. Just bear in mind that it’s water repellent, not waterproof. You’ll want a dry bag or rain cover to keep the pack dry during heavy downpours. 

Elsewhere, there are a stack of useful features that make the packs suitable for everything from technical day hikes to extended backpacking trips, including an easy-access hydration reservoir sleeve that can hold up to 3L of water, Z-shaped compression straps for securing the load, and external attachment points for ice axes and trekking poles. 

There’s also heaps of additional storage - I particularly liked the deep, double-entry side pockets on the sides. These are made from stretchy mesh on the side, so you can grab your water bottle or snacks easily without removing your pack. I also liked the huge stretch-mesh pocket on the front, which has a small drain hole so you can store wet kit. 

The lid, meanwhile, has a large zipped pocket on top and one hidden inside, both providing convenient access to daily essentials without having to unpack your bag. There are also two handy zipped pockets on the hip fins to keep snacks, sunglasses and electronics close to hand.

Osprey Talon 55 review: performance and comfort

The Osprey Talon’s 55-litre capacity is a great size for carrying the equipment you need for technical hikes, overnight camping trips and longer, multi-day excursions: it’s bigger than a large day pack, but smaller than an expedition backpack. I easily fit a lightweight backpacking tent and sleeping mat inside mine, alongside a lightweight sleeping bag, cooking gear, clothing and warm layers. The pack also has removable straps at the bottom so you can attach bulky items outside if you need to.

I found the Osprey Talon 55 to be very comfortable, even when fully packed. The close-contact back panel was easy to adjust to the right fit, and worked well with the padded shoulder straps and wide hip belt to evenly distribute the weight of a heavier load. When you’re walking, it clings to your back pleasingly rather than bouncing around - but there’s plenty of ventilation, which I particularly appreciated on longer days of walking. I also liked the abundance of stretch-mesh pockets. They make it very easy to access items you need without removing your pack. 

I’ve hiked several stretches of the UK's South West coast path with the Osprey Talon 55 now, in varying weather, and so far it appears durable. The reinforced fabric found on the bottom panel of the pack and base of the pockets has withstood everything I’ve thrown at it, and the water resistance has proven sufficient during light showers too (although I did slip on a Lively Life Backpack Rain Cover from Amazon in heavier downpours).

My only slight niggle is that although the hydration pocket is located in a separate section between the pack and back system to make it easy to remove for refilling, I sometimes had to unpack part of the bag to be able to slide the bladder back in when it was full. Still, the bladder system is nicely designed overall, with a hook and magnets to keep it in place, and the majority of time presented no problems.

Osprey Talon 55 review: verdict

Osprey Talon 55 backpack leaning against a fence on a cliff, with a long beach in the background

(Image credit: Future)

The Osprey Talon 55 is a quality do-everything backpack. Lightweight, supportive and very comfortable - even after miles of walking - it’s a great choice for multi-day hiking and camping trips and travel adventures. It packs down relatively well, too, thanks to the detachable lid and multi-point compression straps, making it a good option for weekend exertions as well. 

If you’re looking for a day pack, the Osprey Talon 55 isn’t it. (We’d recommend the smaller Osprey Talon Pro/ Tempest Pro instead.) It’s officially too big for airline hand luggage too. But if you’re looking for a versatile mid-sized pack that looks good, can hold camping gear, cooking kit and warm clothes, and will last, we highly recommend the Osprey Talon 55 hiking backpack. 

Andy Harrison
Landscaper and freelance writer

Professional landscaper Andy specialises in horticulture and landscape management. When he isn't testing and reviewing new gardening tools and machinery for T3, he can often be found mountain biking and hiking across the UK, home brewing or enjoying a nice cask ale in his local.