Thursday, September 29, 2011

Test Driving an Osprey Sirrus 24 Daypack

I am in the market for a new daypack.  My current one is small and has served me well, but it only holds the essentials for an average hike day.  If the weather calls for an extra layer or two, I end up tying a micro fleece onto an outside strap.  The side pockets are not adequate for holding an extra water bottle.  Most of all, there is no hip belt, just a thin strap around my waist to keep it from falling off.  My weekend backpack is an Osprey Aura 50, made for women, and I absolutely love it, so I’m test driving an Osprey daypack designed for women, the Sirrus 24.  I’ve used it on a couple of hikes here in North Carolina and for all my dayhiking on my recent trip to Death Valley National Park in California.

The airspeed suspension system featuring a tensioned stretch mesh back panel kept my back the coolest possible in 110-degree heat in Death Valley.   I like this feature very, very much.

The alloy frame and hip belt serve their purpose to support weight on my hips.  My old daypack simply hung from my shoulders.  

Like my Aura 50, the hip belt has dual zippered pockets for quick access to camera, keys, maps, small snacks without stopping. 

The right side harness has a zippered pocket just the right size and handy access for a cell phone (come on, you know you all carry one everywhere).  

The size is right for winter dayhiking or carrying lots of water for super-hot summer dayhiking.  Everything fits inside rather and no more snagging extra clothing on branches.  The side mesh pockets are wide and deep enough to hold large water bottles.  

A pack cover is included, so no extra cash for this essential piece of gear.  Fortunately I have not had to use it yet.

There are lots of straps to tighten down your load top to bottom

My main criticism is with the hydration sleeve: (1) The fabric is pulled so tightly over the top edge of the alloy frame that I find it a little difficult to insert a full hydration bladder into the sewn-in hydration sleeve.    (2)  The hydration sleeve can only be accessed from inside the main compartment, not top loading from the outside.  (3) The top slash pocket is an additional obstacle.  Any gear that I have stowed in the top slash pocket has to be removed so that I can flip the mesh pocket out of the way to access the hydration sleeve.  I’d rather do without the slash pocket and be able to top load my hydration reservoir via its own zippered pocket.  

Although I use trekking poles 95% of the time, the Stow on the Go trekking pole attachment (to carry your poles but have them accessible without taking off your pack) is not something I would use.  On some of the desert hikes I chose not to carry poles at all, and with my arms hanging by my side as opposed to bent elbows with poles, the attachment rubbed against the inner part of my left upper arm quite a bit.  If wearing a sleeveless shirt, this would have been intolerable. The literature calls this an attachment but it is sewn in permanently. I see where this feature would be attractive to some, but I would like some way to detach it short of cutting it off.  

The pocket for the integrated rain cover is accessed by a zipper at the bottom of the pack and is actually quite large.  Lots more can go in this pocket than the rain cover.  However, since it is zippered at the bottom, I have to take the pack off and lay it flat to get at whatever is stowed there.  If my hiking buddy unzipped it while I’m wearing it, everything would fall out.  So I’ve put stuff in here that I hopefully don’t need often, like my first aid kit.  The pack diagram explaining the features looks different than my pack, making me wonder if mine is an anomaly, if this pocket should be small and the pocket above it (accessed from a top zipper) should be larger.   Sure would be nice if that were the case.

Bottom line:  I’m keeping my new Osprey Sirrus 24 pack.  I can adjust to the cons as matters of conven- ience.  Most important to me is this pack is extremely comfortable to wear all day long and can hold more of what I need to carry.    Maybe I’ll repurpose the top slash pocket for chocolate storage.  That way at the end of the day it will always be empty.

I purchased this pack through  

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