User Review: Osprey Kestrel 48
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $150
The Osprey line of backpacks is one of the most highly praised in the oversaturated industry of outdoor recreation equipment, and with good reason. The Kestrel series is no exception. Intended for both amateur and serious hikers, the Kestrel delivers on multiple levels.
- Extremely high quality construction
- Multiple ways to cinch and tighten the pack
- "Air Scape" backpanel keeps you dry and comfortable
- One of the most comfortable packs around
- Hydration port is not very accommodating
- Top lid is fixed and not removable
- Color choices could be better
The Kestrel 48 is a versatile and lightweight pack that can be used for a day hike or a multiple overnighter. When I strapped this thing on for the first time, I was amazed how comfortable it was. Despite weighing three pounds alone without any gear, it felt as light as a feather. Even with the pack full of 30+ pounds of gear, it still felt light and airy and the straps were comfortable.
The pack can surprisingly hold a lot of gear, which can also make it deceptively easy to overpack. I've had a tendency to put way too much into the pack for short overnight trips, because I have the space and feel like I can keep going. The ability to really compress it down keeps it very well-balanced and weight-distributed, too.
The Kestrel has many amenity features, including lots of convenient pockets and extra little things to hold gear. The trekking pole bungees are extremely useful, and I've actually used them while on the trail. I have also used the built-in rain cover, which was an absolute lifesaver when hiking in a steady rain for over three hours. The hip belt pockets are great for a digital camera, and I found myself using them a lot for quick and easy access when it was time to take a shot.
There are about a million and one ways to adjust the pack and dial it in to your liking. I found tightening the sternum strap, making the hip belt as tight as possible, and using the load lifters really helps get the pack the way I want. Still, all these straps come with a price--if you're one of those people who don't like a lot of dangling straps, you might not like this pack. Taking care of that is just a matter of cutting them, though.
I have taken this pack backpacking in the Charles Deam Wilderness in Indiana, the Big South Fork in Tennessee, and even the Rockies. It has served me well everywhere I've taken it, and isn't even so much as shedding a thread. It almost looks as good as the day I bought it.
All in all, the Kestrel 48 is a pack that really can't be beat. The quality construction will last for years, and it will quickly become your "favorite pack" for all its cool features and custom adjustability. A world-class product.