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More focus is shifting to the outdoor gear industry’s status as a major polluter, with specific attention on material production. Synthetic materials have long been used in everything from winter jackets to sleeping bags because they’re cost-effective, hardy and have a good performance-to-weight ratio. But backpacks might be one of the worst offenders of all.
A multi-material product, outdoor backpacks are one of the most iconic and important pieces for adventurers. Backpacks also endure the most hits and scuffs after multi-season hiking, camping, snowshoeing or whichever activity they might be up against.
Although many brands have been slow to solve this pollution issue, Osprey, a legend in the outdoor gear world, is answering the call with their new Talon Earth backpack. The Talon backpacking line is one of Osprey’s strongest, but the Earth represents Osprey’s first Bluesign-certified product, a glimmer of hope for the future.
I put the Osprey Talon Earth to the test over five days in California’s Eastern Sierra to see how these newly-adopted materials fared in one of the West Coast’s most demanding landscapes.
- Good size for day hikes and light overnights
- Plenty of flexibility and access
- Comfortable over longer mileage
- Trademark Osprey durability and performance
- A bit pricey
- Limited edition (for now)
- Volume: 22 liters
- Weight: 2.39 lbs.
Osprey Talon Earth Materials
A Bluesign certification means that the manufacturing process of the Osprey Talon Earth adheres to a number of rigorous production and process standards. The accolade comes from a combination of thought within material sourcing, chemical use and application.
As with many brands these days, Osprey looked to use recycled materials wherever possible for the Talon Earth backpack. All of the following features were created with recycled materials: the 100D-check high-tenacity nylon for the body, the stretch and spacer mesh, the webbing, the bag frame, all labels, the thread and binding tape, all zippers and 50% recycled content EVA foam.
At a time when some brands are settling for just one recycled material, Osprey brings us this impressive list.
Osprey Talon Earth Design and Function
With a 22-liter capacity, this backpack slots somewhere between a moderate day hiker and a lightweight overnighter. Other than some alternate color choices, it’s very close in looks, style and storage to the traditional Talon 22 backpack.
It’s certainly more of an outdoor technical bag, but I also found it quite useful on the plane while traveling to and from eastern California. There are plenty of small pockets and fixtures to hold anything you might need.
On top of that, the brand’s Lidlock feature is a winner. It’s conveniently simple and kept my bike helmet in place throughout my journey. I’m kicking myself for not discovering this tech earlier when traveling on bike-related adventures.
Osprey Talon Earth Performance
Not only is this backpack capable of functioning through any task, but it’s also incredibly comfortable to wear for extended periods.
The Airscape framesheet does plenty to circulate air and keep sweaty backs in check while offering spinal support when the load gets heavy. I also felt that all of the various zippers and clips were well placed, as they didn’t bother me while walking.
Through flying on two planes, multiple car rides and several trail miles, I had dry and clean access to all of my gear when I needed it. I was also able to easily shift the pack in front of me to access a water bottle and pockets. There’s also a rear reservoir holder if you’re so inclined.
While the bag did suffer a few stains, I appreciated how the alpine dust seemed to shake right off the nylon exterior. It was a relief not to have to rinse off layers of dirt after multiple days in the Sierra.
The Verdict: Should You Buy the Osprey Talon Earth?
Above all, this is a great day hiking backpack. It has all of the hallmarks of a durable Osprey bag that will last years, perhaps decades. So overall, yes — it’s a fantastic bag.
I did find two obstacles, though. This is a limited-edition pack, maybe due to the ability to source the materials at scale to produce a lot of these. Also, it retails for $200, which is expensive for products like this.
If environmental responsibility isn’t top of mind, then this may not be a first choice pack only because of the price point. However, it’s fair to say that most adventurers have at least some sort of notion to care for the planet, and making a bigger investment in less impactful and more reusable materials could be worth it. Plus, this could be the last day hiking bag you buy for a long time.
Even if this bag isn’t for you we need to commend Osprey for pushing the boundaries with material sourcing. Let’s hope the Talon Earth backpack is just one of many advances to be seen from the next lineup of outdoor products.