Sunday, 5 April 2015

Review: Osprey Kestrel 68 Rucksack

- product provided for the purpose of review, thanks to -

An entry level pack, designed for those wishing to spend a night or two away camping. The Kestrel is manufactured by one of the most trustworthy companies creating outdoor equipment, Osprey, founded in 1974, they've gone on to become one of the go-to manufacturers for packs. 

This is an any-trail, any-season pack, an all rounder with a built-in raincover and adjustable airscape backpanel. Perfect for the Duke of Edinburgh's Award or a casual hiker who isn't looking for a technical, ultralight pack. The Kestrel comes packed with plenty of features for your pennies and should prove to be a solid pack out on the hill. 

Manufacturer's Description: 
  • The Kestrel series has been developed to cope with any-trail, any-season. In wet weather and heavy downpours the built in rain cover provides protection. During hotter conditions the adjustable AirScape back panel keeps you well ventilated whilst offering the load support you require.

Technical Features:
  • Capacity: 66 litres (S/M), 68 litres (M/L)
  • Weight: 1.74kg (S/M), 1.82kg (M/L)
  • Fixed top pocket with gear loops and dual zippered compartments
  • Under-lid zippered mesh pocket
  • Removable sleeping bag straps
  • Sleeping bag compartment with internal divider
  • Integrated raincover
  • 'Stow-on-the-Go' trekking pole attachment
  • Dual vertical zippered side pockets
  • Mesh covered die-cut slotted foam EVA hipbelt
  • Hydration compatible
  • Front daisies with bungee tie offs

Feature Breakdown:

To those of you who already own an Osprey pack, a lot of these features will be familiar. The 'Stow-on-the-go" trekking pole attachment is a feature found on more or less every Osprey pack, along with the mesh covered die-cut slotted foam EVA hipbelt and the hydration compatibility. There's no one defining feature of the pack, it's all pretty standard - hopefully where this pack will shine is the durability and quality of materials used.

Field testing:

The Kestrel comes densely packed with it tightened around itself, it's definitely worth taking a moment to familiarise oneself with the pack and adjust it accordingly, after that it's good to go! Initial thoughts were good, Osprey have built their reputation on an unbeatable build quality and the Kestrel I received was no exception. No loose threads, good stitching and everything felt solid. 
Out on the hill, my fully laden pack (tent, sleeping bag, mat, stove, gas, food, waterproofs and water) felt comfortable and sat nicely on my hips rather than my shoulders. The large waist belt keeps the Kestrel comfortable over long walking periods and didn't rub or agitate my skin, the clip belt is a little thinner but this doesn't cause any issues and feels strong enough to put up with the strain. 

There's plenty of pockets: on the outside and inside of the top lid, along both sides of the bag and a stretchy one on the front as well as bags of room in the main compartment. I like how Osprey have made the Kestrel quite wide and low instead of their normal tall, thin construction. It allows heavy stuff to be stuffed into the bottom of the bag where it can sit on the hips and not put any strain on the shoulder straps. 

Other features work really well, the 'Stow-on-the-go' system is a true example of 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it' working reliably and keeping poles close but out of the way. The hydration bladder location feels vulnerable but there wasn't any leakage after walking with a full pack and bladder, best to load the bladder first the pack your kit in the bag around it. The integrated rain cover is a handy addition and once again, shows how this bag is designed with the entry level user in mind, great for expeditions with young people - easy to spot from far away! 

Long-term use:

The Kestrel continues to impress, there's no sign of wear and tear or loose threads. It feels like the bag has settled after a couple of outings, there's less creaking and the hip belt feels like a closer fit. 

Overall, I've been really impressed with this bag. It's not a high-end, super technical bag but it comes packed with plenty of tried and tested features that all compliment each other well, it's a workhorse and will keep on going while lighter and more expensive bags begin to falter. 

I'd definitely recommend the Osprey Kestrel 68 to a friend!

Great stuff from Osprey, perhaps the best entry level backpacking tent?


The Osprey Kestrel 68 was provided for the purpose of review, thanks again to

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