The wife and I are planning on doing a bit more hiking in the future, starting with a couple days of small hikes on the Superior Hiking Trail (SHT) at the end of July. Since neither of us has any decent hiking gear (beyond what we can dual purpose from running), we set out to REI on Sunday to see what we could pick up during their 4th of July sale.
We spent a good hour trying on different packs, and learning about how the sizing works. Understanding that the size of your torso is the crucial measurement was instrumental in figuring out how all of this works. Thankfully, the staff at REI, as well as their helpful measurement aids, got us steered in the right direction. We ended up getting the men’s and women’s version of the same pack, the Osprey Stratos 24 and Sirrus 24.
We debated between these and the Talon 22/Tempest 20, which are lighter weight and targeted for more “adventure running” type hikes. However, we decided that we liked the wider hip strap on the Stratos/Sirrus much better, and the extra couple liters of space sealed the deal. The 25% off sale on the Stratos/Sirrus was the icing on the cake.
Monday morning we decided to take them out for a test hike. We loaded them up with water bladders and some random clothing and headed up to some bike paths in Brooklyn Park. Our goal was not to hit dirt trails or climb big hills, but to simply make sure we could get the packs adjusted correctly, and that they were comfortable for us. After 4.5 miles of walking, I can confidently say that I’m happy with my purchase.
As I mentioned above, I found the wider waist strap on this bag to be really comfortable. I was able to cinch it up tightly so that I was properly carrying load on my hips, and it never felt like it was digging into my gut. It felt like a support belt and never really bothered me at all. The mesh backing of the pack did an amazing job at keeping my back cool and dry. At times I felt like my back was actually cooler than the rest of me, which felt a bit weird. I also felt that the backing support worked well and I was able to keep the pack balanced well on my hips without effort.
These packs also have a lot of great storage features. The water bladder clips into the main compartment, in its own pocket. There is a small strap that you clip to the top of your bladder to keep it from sliding down. You then can thread the draw tube out either side of the pack for whichever side works better for you. There is a small pocket on the top with a key clip, and on my wife’s Sirrus model, this pocket is made of a waterproof material (mine is just mesh).
The main compartment has plenty of space for a day’s worth of equipment. It’s important to remember that these are not meant for multi-day hikes, as you would be hard pressed to fit everything you would need into 24L. However, a small cooking burner, some dried food and snacks, some rain gear, and a hammock, would all fit very comfortably in the main pouch. There are also mesh side pockets for water bottles if you would rather use those instead of a bladder, freeing up a little more room in the main compartment for other items.
You can also strap you hiking poles to the side, and if you’re doing anything in the snow, the back side has a spot to strap on an ice tool. I haven’t tried it, but I think you could also use the ice tool strap for trekking poles if you prefer them away from your side (they’re just not as accessible it the back). The draw tube also loops under your arm on the side, and there are small elastic bands that you use to hold the spigot in, up near your face.
Finally, the packs come with rain covers stowed in the lowermost compartment, which is a feature I have always loved on my camera bags, and know that I will love, if I need it, on this bag. You simply unzip the small compartment and pull out the cover. It has elastic on it to fit over the entire pack snugly, keeping it completely dry. The hip pockets and straps are NOT covered by the waterproof cover, so keep that in mind if you’re carrying electronics in the hip pockets.
The material is light but rugged, and like all Osprey products it comes with a lifetime warranty. I feel like this is a pack that could last us a long, long time. It’s well built and I think tearing it would take some serious work. For a simple day pack I’m extremely happy with the Stratos/Sirrus packs, and would happily recommend them. The key of course is to find one that fits you the best, and for us, these packs do the trick. Now, we’re even, more excited for our hiking adventures at the end of the month.
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