*Osprey Stratos 24 Pack*
Name: Mike Deckard
Height: 6'0" (1.83 Meters)
Weight: 245 Pounds (111 Kg)
City, State, Country: St. Louis, Missouri, USA
Date: March 5, 2013
I started backpacking with the scouts when I was around 13 (about 13 years
ago). I typically go on day hikes, weekend overnighters and a few longer
trips a year. The Missouri Ozarks and river valleys are my typical range, although I'm excited to start doing more traveling to other NPs and wilderness areas.
Year of manufacture: 2011
Listed weight: 2lbs, 10oz (1.18 Kg) [sizeL]
Actual weight: 2lb, 13.5oz (1.19 Kg)
Product description: "The Stratos 24 offers simple panel access in a
lightweight, comfortable, custom fit daypack. Dual mesh side pockets with
InsideOut compression and zippered mesh hipbelt pockets allow for easy
- Cuivre River SP (St. Louis, MO)
- Babler SP (St. Louis, MO)
- Lander, Wyoming
Description: mostly flat to moderately hilly, deciduous forests, less than
1,000ft (300 meter)elevation.
Weather: Between 40-90*F (~4-32*C), clear to light rain.
- Cuivre River SP: 5-mile day hike (clear, 75F (24C)
- Babler SP: 10-mile day hike, light rain, 70F (21C)
- Lander, WY: over-night camp prior to 7-day backwoods trek
When I first won this bag at an online auction benefiting the organization Wilderness Volunteers, I could not wait to test it out. Since the day I opened the box, the Stratos 24 has become a staple of my outdoor gear, and generally the most used item I own for carrying anything from gear for a day hike to clothes and toiletries for a hotel overnight to my rugby equipment on the bus to a match. Osprey has incorporated some really thoughtful features into this bag, and while some are more practical than others, many go a long way to increasing its multi-use functionality.
The most prominent and unique feature of this bag is what Osprey calls the `AirSpeed 3D mesh backpanel and LightWire frame'. Now, for a big guy likemyself, I often experience this phenomenon known as "swamp-back". So when I put the pack on for the first time, I really was excited about having a hefty layer of nothing-but-air between my spine and the pack. The mesh allows fresh air to circulate between your body and the bag, minimizing the stifling, heat-and-sweat-generating contact that is all too familiar for many a large hiker and backpacker. Right away, I liked it.
As I started to load up the pack, the tradeoffs of this innovating frame became apparent. For a panel-loading pack, it can be difficult to get items larger than a thermos into the pack, due to the curved, rigid structure of the frame. In addition, there is an interior pocket across the entire back-inside panel that is, frankly, largely useless. I believe the idea was for it to be meant to hold one of Osprey's hydration bladders (sold separately). The configuration of the hydration system allows it to hang either in the space between the pack and the mesh back panel or inside this envelope within the pack. I have the 3-liter version of the bladder, and it does slide neatly inside the interior pocket
when it is empty. When it's full of 3 liters of water, it takes up a healthy chunk of the main panel of
the pack: not good when you're only working with a 24L pack.
Staying with the hydration system, another feature of the pack is so hard to use that it escapes all reason and common sense. The small clip that serves to hang the reservoir is on the outside of the pack, behind the mesh back panel. Separating this area from the main pack is a zippered opening that can only be opened (let alone closed again) by tugging and pulling at the fabric of the pack so hard that you are sure you will rip out the stitching. If you chose to use a bladder with the inside sleeve, you could bypass the zipper.
Once you resolve the issue with the reservoir, the rest of the hydration system is nice. Dual slits in the top corners allow you to choose which side of the pack the tube rest on, and each shoulder strap provides anchor points for the magnetic bite-tube holder that comes with Osprey's bladders.
The shoulder straps and hip belt are wonderfully comfortable and easy to use. Load stabilizers are a welcome site on such a small pack, and the hip belt has a wide range, able to accommodate the smallest and largest adventurers. A sternum strap with a built-in emergency whistle and small iPod/accessory pocket on the right shoulder strap are useful additions. The hip belt also features two large zippered mesh pouches, each large enough for your smart phone, an array of snacks and protein bars, and whatever trash you generate or pick up along the trail.
The top of the pack features a sturdy carry handle (which I use to hang it from tree branch stubs) and a nice size accessory pocket with an attached clip for your keys. On the outside of the main panel is another pocket good for a first aid kit and any small accessories you may want to keep handy. The only caveat with the top pocket is that when the pack is fully-loaded, it can be a challenge to load or retrieve items, since the mesh feeds directly in to the main pack and can become pinched or smashed with other gear. It is not recommended for sunglasses or other easily-destroyed items.
Osprey decided it was important to add a system for securing an ice-axe to this pack, to which I say, really? I imagine that there are people who use the elastic clip and corresponding loop for this purpose, but I find it more suitable for hanging my bandanna or camp socks (or anything) to dry while I'm on the trail.
The Stratos series comes equipped with a built-in rain cover with its own dedicated pouch on the back of the pack, which is nice if you like and use rain covers. If you don't, it is easily removable, which gives you an additional small area to store maps, assorted small items, hat, gloves,etc.
The pack also has a trekking-pole secure system, for when you don't feel like using your poles. I've never used this feature, but the design and materials lead me to believe it likely works, but may become annoying if your left arm routinely hits the pole handles sticking out from the bottomof the shoulder strap.
Two mesh water bottle holders are good for anything tall and skinny. You can fit a full 32oz/1L Nalgene in one, but you have to have two hands and a sense of purpose to do it. A Smart Water bottle or a tall MSR liquid fuel canister fit nicely, though.
A four-point compression system keeps everything tight and in place, and the top straps let you secure tent poles, a shed layer such as a fleece or rain coat or anything else you want handy on the outside of the pack.
Overall, I think Osprey has hit the mark wonderfully with the Stratos, even if they did go a bit overboard on trying to make this pack so multi-sport that the average user could not possibly make use of all of the design features. If you're looking for a multi-purpose, lightweight pack for day hikes or ultralight weekend trips, look no further than the Stratos. This model is the smallest in the product line that goes all the way up to 36L, which is nice if you want to carry a sleeping back or full-size tent (not feasible with this size of pack unless you are a true ultralight backpacker).
Summary: A nice, multi-purpose daypack or ultranight overnight pack.
Things I like:
- AirSpeed mesh back panel and frame
- Comfort and fit of shoulder straps and hip belt
- Multiple storage options and accessibility of essential gear
Thing I could do without:
- Intrusion of frame in to the main storage compartment
- Impossible-to-use zipper in hydration system
- Useless interior pouch