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Osprey Stratos 34

rated 4.5 of 5 stars
photo: Osprey Stratos 34 overnight pack (35-49l)

Incredibly comfortable pack for long day hikes. Superb quality, but with bad pocket design.

Pros

  • Suspension
  • Comfort
  • Weight
  • Quality
  • Durability
  • Rain cover

Cons

  • Pocket design

I've used this pack for nearly four years now. It's my everyday pack for work as well as long day hikes.

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Comfort and Suspension: The suspension system is unbelievable, and even in its maximum load, it makes the weight disappear. I can snugly fit the pack to my back, thus it eliminates any momentum while moving. I experienced no hot spots or too much friction on the waist belt.

It's relatively ventilated with a mesh back, a mesh shoulder and waist straps, with foam lining, and a space between the body of the pack and the mesh panel. It nicely wraps around my waist, back, and shoulders and feels soft. The lower back area is especially well-designed. It feels cushioned (although it's only mesh) but fits tight, thus efficiently transferring the weight to my waist. It does a good job in reducing the sweat on mild weather, though on extensive hikes I will still get a sweaty back.

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The Osprey back system with mesh and space for ventilation

The length of the suspension system is adjustable by a Velcro panel thus it has endless micro adjustments. It took me some time to dial it, but once I did I had no need to adjust it again.

Capacity: It's large enough for long day hikes where I carry 3+ L of water, food, small gas stove and canister, and some clothes. I cannot fit in it a sleep system for overnight trips.

Compartmentalization: This is a major downside of this bag. Because of the curved back system, the main compartment is curved as well and tapered at the bottom, making it less practical than regular shaped bags.

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Main compartment, the top mesh pocket is hanging in it

The top pocket is made of mesh, and it just hangs in the space of the main compartment, getting in the way of other items, especially when I place a water bag in its designated sleeve. Though it’s a large pocket, the hanging mesh makes it difficult to find the item you want and pull it out of the pocket, the mesh holes make it unsuitable for very small items.

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The top mesh pocket, behind it is the water bag sleeve

There’s a pocket in the top-front, suitable for small items, as big as a headlamp.

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Upper front pocket

A large front pocket with a vertical zipper and Velcro top opening is also badly designed. Not sure what was the thought behind it, as it doesn’t keep maps from folding, and it's quite shallow to allow big items to be stored in it. Over more, the items I do put in it (on an everyday it will be a phone charge, sunglasses case, snack) will get in the way of items in the main compartment. As the main compartment is tapered at the bottom, the items in the front pocket will block the bottom part of the main compartment.

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Front pocket with top Velcro top closure and vertical zipper

The bottom compartment is nicely designed and has a foldable spacer between it and the main compartment

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Bottom compartment

The waist pockets are great and are easily opened; though too small for a smartphone, many other small items can fit in them.

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Waist pockets

The side mesh pockets are fairly sized, but inaccessible while wearing the pack, I would appreciate if they had a side opening like you get in some bigger packs..

Loops and hanging straps: There are designated loop and stretch cable for hanging trekking poles which is nice, good compression straps. I wish it had more loops on the front.

Durability and quality: Superb, it’s in the same condition as the day I received it, best zippers I used, top quality.

Weight: With a suspension system as good as this one, and durable materials it is very lightweight in my opinion.

It comes with an integrated rain cover that works.

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Bottom line, I'm very pleased with this pack. The suspension system together with the curved mesh back creates a phenomenal pack that literally makes the weight disappear. The build quality and durability is superb. I would be much happier with a different pockets design and more loops on the front of the pack, but it's not a deal breaker for me.

Experience

I am an experienced hiker. I have had this pack for more than three years and used it everyday for work and on numerous day hikes.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: 120$

This is a well-made, well designed pack, designed to fit everyone from the slim lady to the more robust guy. It is the only pack I carried for 5 months hiking through SE Asia.

Pros

  • Extremely durable
  • Good sized hip belt pockets, easy to access
  • Very light weight
  • Comfortable to wear for extended periods
  • Excellent air flow
  • Quick and snug fitting rain protector

Cons

  • Need to remove gear to fill water bladder

I first bought my Stratos 34 for a 210km, 3 day trail run on the Bibbulmun Track in Western Australia. I was so impressed with the comfort under speed, for extended hours on consecutive days, that I decided to take only this pack for 5 months in SE Asia.

The pack fits really well, and can be adjusted for comfortable wear for a surprising range of builds. The chest straps are adjustable not only by tightening and loosening, but can be moved vertically for a more individual fit.

As far as comfort goes, few compare to Osprey. A lightweight but sturdy internal frame with the back net for exceptional airflow is complimented by well padded shoulder straps and hip belt. I believe few have tested this pack for comfort over extended periods and in various adverse conditions like I have. Hiking 60km days through the Australian bush, monsoonal Asian jungles and swollen rivers, and arid outback Australian desert trails, I cannot in anyway fault this pack for comfort.

Organisation of the pack has been well thought out. A small pack, the front zipper opening allows for quick access to gear, with generous side pockets, top pocket and front pocket. On extended journeys organisation and ease of access is important - the Stratos 34 does not disappoint. Whilst I carried it at capacity, which was ample, the pack sits well with even weight dispersion no matter how full you choose to fill it.

I would have to say the most exceptional feature of this pack is its durability. Made of lightweight materials, I have expected the pack integrity to fail long before now — but it just keeps performing. Incredible comfort over long distances and in extreme conditions, it is the perfect pack for the minimalist hiker over 3 seasons.

Of my travels with this pack, the solo 160km hike through dense Cambodian jungle which included swimming swollen rivers, slogging through thick mudpits, sudden monsoonal downpours, and a few inquisitive animals in extremely stifling heat and humidity was the most robust hike this pack has endured.

However, it has also been my pack of choice canyoning in Karijini NP, hiking Australian bush and mountains, multi day kayaking through the islands of Vietnam, and been my home for 5 months of constant use and abuse in SE Asia.

Designed to be a light hiker, it won't disappoint. For the more adventurous, minimalist hiker, this pack is ideal for anything bar an alpine winter, only because it won't fit all the gear you'd need.

The only downfall was having to remove gear to refill the bladder.

Anyone who needs an overnight hiking pack should buy this pack. Anyone who wants to hike endlessly through extreme conditions with a well thought out light load should also buy this pack. Quite simply, the best pack I have ever owned.

 

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: I can't remember - haven't had to replace it for 3 years now.

Version reviewed: 2017

This is for the 2017 revision of the Stratos 34. Currently it fits exactly what I bought it for.

Pros

  • Very comfortable suspension
  • Very well ventilated back
  • Has a built-in rain cover
  • Removable sleeping roll straps
  • Other standard Osprey features, such as stow-on-the-go and a single ice axe/tool loop

Cons

  • Could use some bigger external pockets I think
  • The side bottle holders can be a bit fiddly to get your bottle into when the pack is full, but it should work
  • Can't remove sleeping bag compartment divider

Fit: I got the Small/Medium, I had to fiddle with the torso length more than with my Aether as the hipbelt is less tolerant but still very comfortable once I had it dialed in.

Comfort: Overall it's very comfortable, very well ventilated, holds a decent amount of weight without feeling overburdened. (Haven't weighed it but it felt like maybe 30 lbs.)

Capacity: I can fit all my climbing kit (mainly anchoring and sport gear) as well as two pairs of climbing shoes plus some other extras. I can fit my keys/wallet/other random small items on the small front pocket, camera and headlamp plus another couple of small-ish items in the top pocket, and sunblock/deodorant/small medkit/snacks in the vertical zip pocket.

The sleeping bag compartment could hold a decent size bag, though if you get yours packed nice and small you could probably fit the bag and tent in the bottom, or bag + pad if yours fits right.

I use the sleeping bag straps to hold my rope.

Organization & Accessibility: The pockets are fairly easy to use. The inside is one giant pocket with a divider at the bottom for the sleeping bag compartment, though my biggest complaint is you can't remove this divider without some modification to the bag, which means you can only ever grab your gear from the top unless you reorganize to put some stuff on the bottom. 

Aside from that it's all pretty well spaced, though the vertical pocket is slightly awkward, but nice when you get used to it.

Compression: There are two main compression points, top side straps and bottom side straps where the water bottle holders are. You could also use the sleeping bag straps as compression straps if you're not carrying anything on the outside.

Ease of Use: It's easy enough to use, though if I knew I couldn't remove the bottom I might have just gotten the 36 instead. That said the panel does open quite a bit, so it is rather nice and I don't really regret it.

Features: The biggest change for 2017 is the suspension update, and I've heard that many people who've had the older version prefer the new version much more. Aside from that the pockets got rearranged, though it still has the standard Osprey features.

Construction & Durability: It's an Osprey pack, it feels well made, and if I have any issues the warranty is one of the best. Not really much else to say.

Conditions: I've used this pack on short approach hikes to crags as well as carrying my climbing junk to and from the gym. I've yet to go on any overnight or longer hikes with this pack, though so far it feels like it would be just as if not more comfortable than my Aether 70.

I'll update my review when I take it on some longer treks.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $92 on sale and using cashback

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Specs

small medium large
Price MSRP: $129.00
Current Retail: $160.00-$200.00
Historic Range: $24.00-$200.00
Reviewers Paid: $120.00
Weight 2 lb 8 oz / 1.13 kg 2 lb 11 oz / 1.23 kg 2 lb 14 oz / 1.32 kg
Capacity 2000 cu in / 32 L 2100 cu in / 34 L 2200 cu in / 36 L
Product Details from Osprey »

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