User Review: Osprey Kestrel 68
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $150
Nice balance of attributes.
Tried the whole 2012 Osprey line up and found the Kestrel 68 to be the best balance of weight, function, durability, capacity, and comfort for multi day trips.
2lbs less than the Baltoro I had been using was a significant drop in weight for me. Heavier than some of Osprey's models, but the Kestrel is made of durable 420D so I don't have to worry about tears when dragging it over rocks. Construction is top notch and mine is holding up well.
Osprey's promise to fix or replace any damage for any reason "All mighty guarantee" is stellar. That said, it would still be bad news for my pack to fail while in the backcountry. So the Kestrel's durability was a major consideration in my choice.
My personality thrives on organization and the Kestrel offers me that. Multiple exterior pockets to provide separation and quick access to gear. Unlike most packs, the lumbar belt pockets on the Kestrel are actually big enough to be useful. My Mountain Hardwear sleeping bag compresses to 12x7 and fits nicely in the sleeping bag compartment. The divider for this compartment is removable if you want to carry a bigger bag and don't mind giving up some pack space to do it.
I was initially skeptical of suspension system. My previous packs all had beefy aluminum stays and thick padding. However, the Kestrel carries my typical load of 28lbs well. I've never taken the time to see where it maxes out. The waist belt is low profile enough not to impede handgun carry, yet it's still comfortable.
There is no lumbar pad in the back. Instead the Kestrel rides and distributes weight evenly around the iliac crest. With a perimeter frame and pliable frame sheet, the pack forms a tight comfortable fit to my back keeping weight close to my center of gravity. The shoulder straps are nicely padded, but not overdone. They are comfortable and cause me not pressure points.
Mine is the S/M version and specs rate it as 66L. At first I thought that may be a little over stated. The pack does expand more than I expected and cinches down well for smaller loads. This adaptability makes it a versatile choice which can cover different occasions. It's just big enough to fit all my stuff inside for multi day trips, yet not cumbersome for day hikes when I want to carry extra JIC gear.
Personally I despise overly bright candy colored gear. I prefer a gray man appearance. The subtle "conifer" color scheme is perefect for my taste and needs. Blends well with both backcountry and urban environments. The stow and go trekking pole attachments along with the ice axe loops are useless to me so I removed them.
If I could change anything about this pack... I would like it if the stretchy water bottle pockets on the sides were 2in taller. Would also prefer beefier zippers like a #10 YKK on the sleeping bag compartment and #5s everywhere else. However I haven't had any issues with the zippers it has.
This has been a durable and versatile pack for me. Serving me well when traveling the back country and civilization.
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