I’ve been looking for a new pack for a while. My list of requirements has not been small – I want something that is more technical than fashion (I’ve been using an old fashion back pack for a long time now that’s done its job incredibly but has not had the technical spec to satisfy my needs), that will be useful for both hiking (day hikes) and cycling, the commute to work, and general everyday carrying-about-of-stuff. During the summer, Osprey came to my aid and after a long chat with them sent me one of their Tempest 20 packs.
The Tempest range of packs has a women’s specific fit (it’s the women’s version of the Talon series), and is designed for all-round outdoor use. It has features perfect for hiking, climbing and cycling, and with its 20 litre capacity is the right size to carry whatever you might need when out for the day. First impressions were great, especially the colour – nice and bright (and green), and I have really enjoyed trying this out over the last few months.
Did you know that rucksacks come in different back sizes? I didn’t! I had no idea that when searching for a pack I should be looking not only at the volume, but also the size of the bag itself to make sure I got something that carried all my gear and was comfortable to carry. Thanks to the very cool and free PackSizer app from Osprey (download it from the App Store), I received a pack that was the right fit for me. You need a friend to take your photo with the app, and then follow a few on-screen instructions to tell it where your shoulders and waist are, and it will tell you the size you need. If you are thinking of buying a decent pack then this tool is a very simple way to get your back size. Great idea.
As you might expect, even when you have the right overall size, there is still a lot of adjustment that can be done to the pack itself. Naturally the shoulder straps, hip belt and sternum strap all lengthen and tighten. You can also adjust the whole torso length by pushing the Velcro section into the back of the pack to make it shorter, or indeed pulling it out to lengthen it, so you can get the top of your pack in the right place at the top of your back. Having quite a short torso (well, being quite short overall, to be fair), I have the small pack size with the back panel pushed all the way in, which means the pack sits just right at the top of my back and finishes at my waist where the hip belt keeps it in the right place when walking or cycling.
The feature I wanted most from my new pack was to get rid of the dreaded sweaty back problem that seems inevitable when carrying a pack for any kind of exercise. Not only is back sweat uncomfortable when hiking all day, making you warm and damp, it is also incredibly unsexy when you arrive at work and take your pack off to reveal a darker patch on your tshirt. Nice. Osprey has fitted the Tempest with their AirScape back panel, which is designed to allow air to flow between the bag and your back, allowing sweat to evaporate much more effectively. It doesn’t stop you sweating, of course, but does mean the pack stays comfortable for long walks and you aren’t so worried when removing the pack in a public place. I found this feature to be quite effective, especially on my commute to work – both walking and cycling – it seems to work very well.
Inside the pack there is 20 litres of space split across two pockets – a large pocket that takes up the majority of the bag, and a smaller pocket at the top. As it is shaped for your back the pack won’t sit upright on the floor, but if you lay it flat on the ground you have a nice wide opening to make packing (and finding things once they’re in there) nice and easy. There is a large and strong loop on the top of the pack which is ideal for picking it up by or hanging it somewhere when you’re not carrying it – I’ve taken to hanging the pack on the back of a chair when stuffing things into it, I have found this to be less frustrating than attempting to lean the pack up against something.
There is also a large mesh pocket on the front of the pack which is ideal for anything you need quickly, or if you need to store a wet jacket or something like that. It might sit flush on the front of the pack but it’s a lot bigger than it looks thanks to the stretchiness of the material. It clips in at the top so whatever you put in there stays put.
I have yet to totally stuff this bag full; I haven’t needed to. Even though it is smaller than the pack it replaces (by a good 7/8 litres), I have found that the shape allows me to fit in everything without needing any additional space. When cycling to work, to give you an idea, I carry a complete change of clothes (including shoes at the beginning and end of the week), some bike essentials such as lights and puncture repair kit, my wallet and other handbag essentials a girl can’t seem to be without, glasses and sunglasses, packed lunch in a tin, and a home-made smoothie for breakfast when I get to work. There is still space to stuff my long-sleeved jacket in when it’s warmer on the way home, along with any essential purchases for dinner. Sometimes I add my iPad into the mix, and while that fits fine, I don’t make a habit of carrying it as it gets a bit heavy.
If you like to use a bladder to carry water rather than carrying water bottles, there is a pocket with external access designed for just that. I have a 2 litre bladder (also by Osprey) that sits in its own pocket between your back and the internal storage. The bladder came with a magnetic clip that attaches really easily to the sternum strap of my Tempest pack, meaning there is no reaching around to find the hose when I want a drink, it is always at the ready without getting in the way.
The attention to detail on this pack is great, and it hosts a variety of features that all have fancy names to help make the pack as useful as possible. There’s the “Stow-on-the-Go” system that allows you to fix your walking poles to your bag (and remove them again) without taking the pack off; the “LidLock” bike helmet attachment so you don’t have to carry your helmet in your hands once you’re off your bike (genius – so useful); the hip belt and harness are made from “BioStretch” material allowing freedom of movement while the pack stays securely in place; and the pockets on the side have “InsideOut” compression which allows you to have the straps running over or under the mesh depending on what you choose to put in them. There are features without fancy names too – a whistle on the sternum strap is a thoughtful touch, as are the bike light attachment, internal key attachment clip, and reflective details on the pack itself. Oh and there’s a loop for your ice axe, too, although I can’t really warrant using one of those when walking or cycling around Lincolnshire. It might make things very interesting.
As I think you can tell, I am rather impressed with my Osprey Tempest pack. It’s as technical as it looks and has been a real workhorse for me ever since it arrived. I’ve used it almost daily for work and when out and about in other places too, and like the way it both looks and handles what I ask of it. My poor old rucksack has been sent to the loft.
Thank you to Osprey for sending me the Tempest 20l pack to try out.