Urban Velo

Osprey Talon 11 Backpack

Messenger bags are great for urban cycling, and messenger-style backpacks offer many of the same benefits along with the additional stability that two straps afford. Still, there comes a time when you need a backpack that’s designed with even more stability in mind, whether that’s for mountain biking, trick riding, etc. Yet, you still need to have a little bit of extra cargo capacity for a brief stop at the store on the way home. Enter the Osprey Talon 11.

I’ve been using this backpack for years. At first I only used it for all-day mountain bike adventures. In recent times it’s become the bag I grab when I ride my cross bike in Frick Park. Just today I headed out in the morning, crossed town, hit some dirt roads and a little singletrack, then stopped by the liquor store for a little holiday cheer. I carried a few bits of extra clothing, a lock and all the spares and tools I could ever need. I still had room for a 750 ml bottle, and should I have needed to shed a layer, I could easily have lashed it to the outside of the bag with the integrated elastic cables.

I’m not a big fan of extraneous pockets, but even though I seldom make use of all of the Talon’s compartments, I do appreciate the options. The pockets on the shoulder straps are just the right size for an iPod (though a little too tight for an iPhone). The side panel pockets are big enough for gloves or energy bars. And there’s a zippered exterior pocket, too. Inside the main compartment there’s a small pocket near the top that I keep my wallet in. Behind the main compartment is a hydration bladder pocket. The latest model features zippered pockets along the waist support, which mine didn’t have, and it includes device called the Lidlock, which can be used to carry your bike helmet when it’s not in use.

The bag makes extensive use of nylon mesh to improve ventilation. The contoured semi-rigid back panel really does a lot to relieve back sweat. The rest of the bag is made from lightweight technical nylon fabrics and Lycra, which keeps the weight down to scant pound and a half. The Talon 11 is water resistant to the point where you don’t have to panic if you get caught in a sudden downpour. It’s not waterproof, however.

Despite years of use, the bag shows practically no wear, save for a little accumulated dirt. All of the composite buckles are intact, the elastic hasn’t lost its snap and the zippers all work flawlessly.

The Talon 11 is available in two sizes, S/M and M/L, with the difference being 600 cubic inches of cargo room versus 700. The pack retails for $89. Visit

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  1. scottDecember 28, 2011 at 9:54 am

    I have an Osprey backpacking pack and it’s one of my prized possessions. I covet all the packs in their line and have been eyeing one of the talon series for both bike commuting and run commuting purposes. Sounds like this would work for everything I’d use it for.

  2. Cool-Backpack.comDecember 30, 2011 at 10:05 pm

    I love all the backpacks that are both functional and stylish. The Osprey is perfect for cycling and hiking.

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