Gear Review : Osprey Flare 22 Rucksack/Daypack. (First Impressions).


I have coveted an Osprey Talon for several years now. (I know this review isn't on the Talon, but I'll get there). 
Every time I've gone into Cotswold Outdoors or Go, I'd have a look at it, tell my wife "this is the rucksack of my dreams", decide it's too much money and buy something cheaper.
If you've read some of my other blogs and reviews, you'll know that I am not a fan on spending a ton of money on gear. Lately though, I've decided to get a couple of more expensive items that I know I will use and get the value of, Those being a rucksack and a sleeping pad.


Anyway, I bit the bullet and ordered the Talon 22. I looked forward to receiving it and impatiently read reviews, blogs and revelled in the smug glow you get when you know you've made a great purchase. Eventually it arrived. I got it out of the bag. It looked amazing. I examined the features I'd salivated over many times online, only in the flesh finally. I slid the pack on.

This is where things started to go south.


In true Princess And The Pea style, I could feel the ridges of the support foam on my back, coupled with the top of the back frame digging into my neck slightly. I adjusted and readjusted and eventually got my best configuration and I could still feel those blasted foam ridges. They felt scratchy and 'hot' after a while and I could not shake that off. My heart sank as I realised the rucksack of my dreams was anything but. A lesson in actually trying stuff out before buying, no matter how positive the reviews. 


Fast forward a week or two and on impulse, still reeling from my bag failure, I bought the Osprey Flare 22 'on the rebound' as it were. I tried it on.. it felt comfy, and I had a very quick perusal of the features in the shop, went to the desk without even thinking much and bought it for fifty of my British pounds.

Here it is...



Back after a wetish cycling trip to get it less new looking.


It's blue (I don't like blue), has gaudy lime green lining and has a laptop sleeve. (I don't have a laptop). Buyers remorse started to rear it's ugly head. 
However, after some time together, this 'other' bag is turning out to be surprisingly excellent in many ways. 


I thought the Talon was going to be a 'do all' bag for most of my interests. Walking, Geocaching, cycling and maybe even a lightweight microadventure style wildcamp or two. I will also be starting as a mature student this September, so It would also be my 'school bag'.


I already own a Lowe Alpine Airzone Pro 35-45 for proper overnighters and winter hiking. The Talon was to be for everything else. I think maybe the Flare is accidentally going to fulfil most of my requirements, though perhaps not perfectly.


The Packs Features.


The bag has two main compartments, one smaller one with organisation pouches and pockets, and a larger main section with a laptop and separate tablet sleeve. The front of the pack features a small padded pouch for mobile phones/glasses etc.

Small glasses pouch. Still a nice size. 


The thing I worry about most regarding the Flare is the back panel. I like a suspension system usually to avoid the back sweats and this bag has a flat, slightly cushioned, simple back. I can't get this out of my head, but try and reassure myself that it is more like a technical pack by the likes of Maxpedition. For hot sunny 6 hour hikes, I can't help but think this pack won't be ideal. I am probably stupid enough to try it though, so we shall see.


Comfy and stable...but will it be sweaty? Also my thumbs first appearance on the blog.




Front section and cavernous main section.
Apart from this, the pack almost seems tailor made for me and my upcoming activities. The bag features a laptop sleeve (I just need to get that laptop, which I probably will closer to starting college). A tablet sleeve, a sternum strap (a must have for me), and several 'soft' or padded compartments for keeping your delicates. (not pants...pens/phone chargers/bike things).


The bag strikes a nice balance of having several different sections, while also having a large main section that just swallows gear up. The bag is listed as 22 litres but really feels closer to 30 when filling it with things. 




On the outside of the pack, the two mesh side pockets are generous, and the quintessentially 'Osprey' stretchy front pocket is very handy. The zips feel robust and heavy duty without actually being 'heavy'. One problem I have had with mine is that one of the large zip loops (handy for gloved use) keeps detaching itself from the zip. (The zip has a gap that is slightly too big for some reason). Slightly annoying, but just bad luck on my part I guess. 



We don't need to address Ospreys quality much. They are famous for producing hard wearing, clever packs and this will be no exception I'm sure (save for the zip pull problem). They have a lifetime quality guarantee and by all accounts honour this almost without question. The pack feels like it will last forever, without it feeling industrial.

Stretchy front pocket. It's definitely an Osprey. Also my thumb again.
Inside is the hikers friend..a bin bag.


I'm trying to get used to the colour. I like the fact that the blue is visible for bike purposes, but the blue is BLUE!!!. The lining is very much GREEEEN!!!! I usually prefer more subtle colours and am wishing the shop had a black one in store when I was delirious with my need to spend.
Also the Flare goes against the grain for me as it's just not a technical hiking pack. This is slightly irrational though, as I'm not really a technical hiker, in the real sense. 


I've done a bit of walking with the bag and it is very comfortable, but where it has proven to really shine is when cycling. It is missing a hydration facility, if it had this it would really be a perfect cycling pack. It hugs the back when bent over in cycling position and any weight in the bag stays very nicely centred. The webbing belly strap helps with this and I don't miss a more padded hip belt which I thought I would. The shoulder straps are super comfortable and have cut foam to aid venting. All these are missing is a small shoulder strap pocket. It's not a deal breaker but I like those.
It really is a pleasure to ride with and you really do forget it is there at times. There is a loop for an LED light and reflective branding on the back. I feel that in most advertising for this bag, the bike features aren't made enough of. 


I'm looking forward to spending more time with the Flare and I'll report back for a more long term review in the future. I can certainly recommend it for cycling, moderate walks and Geocaching at the moment after a couple of weeks of use.  I'm hoping that I'll get used to the colour, but in the meantime I'm trying as hard as I can to make it dirty, which of course, is all the fun. 




Comments

  1. Very helpful review as I'm looking to purchase one for hiking and cycling. Thanks for taking the time to write it

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