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Osprey Kestrel Review: The Perfect Lightweight Backpack

Updated on November 27, 2012
The Osprey Kestrel 38 backpack - a great choice for short backpacking trips
The Osprey Kestrel 38 backpack - a great choice for short backpacking trips | Source
The back of the Osprey Kestrel 38 backpack.
The back of the Osprey Kestrel 38 backpack. | Source

Looking for a great lightweight backpack? I've been pleased with the Osprey Kestrel and here's why.

Osprey Kestrel 38 Basics:

  • Small/medium:
    • Capacity: 36 liters (2,197 cubic inches)
    • Weight: Three-pound, one-ounce
  • Medium/Large:
    • Capacity: 38 liters (2,319 cubic inches)
    • Weight: Three-pound, three-ounces

Basic Features:

  • Peripheral steel spring rod frame
  • Top- and Bottom-load capability
  • Airscape backpanel
  • External hydration pocket
  • Hip belt pockets
  • Integrated rain cover
  • Removable sleeping pad straps
  • Reversible compression straps
  • Stretch lycra front and side pockets
  • Torso adjustable harness
  • Front daisies with bungee tie offs
  • Zippered sleeping bag compartment and top pocket
  • Colors available: Fire Red, Tarn Blue, Conifer Green, Talus Grey

Numbers in Osprey Packs

The number after the pack name in Osprey packs indicates the volume capacity of the pack. For example, the Kestrel 38 means the pack is in the Kestrel Series and offers 38 liters of capacity.

Can The Kestrel Fit In the Overhead Storage?

Yes. A bag that fits in the overhead bin on a plane is a must for me, as I hate waiting on checked luggage. This was one of the reasons that I was drawn to the Osprey Kestrel. I've put the pack in the over heard on many airlines, including Southwest Airlines, American Airlines and EasyJet. It fit in each with no problems.

How Comfortable Is the Osprey Kestrel

I love the feel of the Osprey Kestrel. At barely over 3 pounds, the back is extremely lightweight for all the features it offers.

In fact, I trekked around Europe for three weeks with this pack. For a family of five (three adults and two kids) we managed a three-week vacation with only three backpacks and a cinch bag (for diapers). The other backpacks were also Osprey, only they were the Porter 46. We had a surprising amount of room, but we pack lightly.

Any Drawbacks to the Osprey Kestrel

The only downside I have found to the Osprey Kestrel is that it's sometimes hard to get your great in and out of the pack. Fortunately, the Kestrel does offer a bottom load feature, so in the event that something is at the bottom of your pack, you can still easily access it. Essentially this feature means that you only have to take out, at most, 1/2 your stuff to reach any given item.

The Osprey Kestrel 38 features a lightweight, integrated rain cover to keep your gear dry.
The Osprey Kestrel 38 features a lightweight, integrated rain cover to keep your gear dry. | Source
The Osprey Kestrel with the rain cover over the backpack.
The Osprey Kestrel with the rain cover over the backpack. | Source

The Osprey Guarantee

When it comes to guaranteeing their backpacks and travel gear, Osprey sets the standard . They have a what they call their "All Mighty Guarantee - Any Pack, Any Reason, Any Era".

Osprey will repair for any reason, free of charge, any damage or defect in their packs, no matter when you purchased it. If they can not perform a functional repair on your pack, they will replace it. Given the amount of wear and tear you will put a pack through when traveling, this is a huge plus for Osprey over other brands.

Enjoy Your Adventures

As you get ready to take your next adventure, having the right pack is important. If you are looking for a backpack, consider the Osprey Kestrel.

The Kestrel Series offers packs in the following capacities: 68, 58, 48, 38, 32 and 28 liters. You are bound to find the right back to meet your needs.


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