User Review: Osprey Stratos 24
Design: Front-loading internal
Size: Large (1,700 cu. in.)
Number of Pockets: Seven total
Max. Load Carried: 18
Height of Owner: 5'11"
Price Paid: $119
Just completed a tour of the South Dakota Badlands and Black Hills. This pack performed flawlessly. It is very comfortable for loads up to about 18 pounds (the maximum I carried on this trip). The Air Core back panel is great for ventilation, and the shoulder straps and hipbelt are very comfy. I did notice the suspension creaking once in a while, but it was minor and not an irritant. The pack itself is not ultra-light (2 lbs, 12 oz. in large), but that's not a concern for short hikes anyway.
When the pack first arrived I was concerned that it was far too small (the curved back panel makes it look that way), but it stretches and swallows much more than you'd think. I like the dual-hydration option (one in the pack, one in the mesh backpanel), since I do a fair amount of hot-weather and desert hiking. Obviously using the interior hydration sleeve uses up pack space, but even then I still find plenty of room for a tarp, softshell jacket, first aid kit, and assorted sundries. In fact, I managed to fit enough for an overnight or even two-day trip in it. The small zippered pouch uses up main pack space but is very handy for small stuff. Speaking of small stuff, the hipbelt pockets are big enough for a small GPS, knife, and maybe a pocket digital camera, but not much more.
The external compression system is excellent (I used it to carry a lightweight tripod) as are the little looped zipper pulls (great idea). The curved side pockets look shallow but hold a 16 to 20-ounce bottle securely. The front stretch pocket is quite handy as well, and deep enough that I don't worry about things falling out.
I wish the shoulder straps were perforated like the Atmos series, but otherwise I can't find anything to nitpick. I can't comment on its durability yet, but based on Osprey's reputation and the excellent build quality of this pack, I expect it to last a long, long time.
A note on sizing: I tried the medium but found that the shoulder straps pinched in too far and felt constricting (I have a 45 to 46-inch chest). The large is a bit "tall" feeling but overall is a much better fit. Big and barrel-chested guys might find this useful especially if you're ordering on-line.