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(The Gear Loop) - Picture the scene: it’s a warm summer’s day, but you’ve been stuck behind your desk, held prisoner by endless Zoom calls and spreadsheets. The urge to go out for a ride, hike or run is calling, but you’ve only got an hour to blast around your local loop before the sun sets. 

Finally, the last call finishes and you rush to get your riding gear on and head out. But wait, there’s a dilemma. You’re only popping out for an hour, surely the chances of a puncture are low, so there’s no need for a spare inner tube and CO2 inflator... is there? You don’t want to ride with a cumbersome rucksack, so head out regardless, finally putting all that pent up energy to use, smashing KOM’s and nailing technical descents. 

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Disaster strikes, at the furthest point from home, the rear tyre rolls off the rim having nailed a corner a little too hard, leaving you 15km from home and facing a long walk with a wonky wheel.

If this sounds all too familiar, then the folks over at Osprey have you covered with their Talon 6 lumbar pack/bumbag/fanny pack, whatever your linguistic preference.

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At first glance, it might look like an odd hybrid of a technical, lightweight daypack crossed with a bumbag from the 80’s, but rest assured, this little bag has changed the way we approach those short off-road cycling and it's also a fantastically compact piece of kit for taking on thoe shorter day hikes or technical trail runs

Our quick take

We found the Talon 6 afforded the freedom to ride without the thought of a puncture or other mechanical issue ruining the experience. For times when only the essentials are needed, it’s the perfect pack.

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With its form-hugging waist band and numerous straps, it's possible to cinch everything down to keep it in place, which is great for anyone wanting to cover a lot of ground quickly and without kit bouncing around all over the place.

Although not large enough for multi-day hikes, it's fantastic for anyone looking for comfort and security over larger distances where essential safety, nutrition and hydration kit is required.

Osprey Talon 6 review: a minimalist pack for cycling, hiking and more

Osprey Talon 6

4.0 stars
For
  • Added freedom of movement
  • Excellent fit
  • Roomy enough for essentials
Against
  • Lacks flaps to cover bottles from mud
  • It's not cheap for a small pack

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In the Loop

Everything you need to know about the Osprey Talon 6:

  • Comfortable lumbar pack
  • Six litres of storage in small footprint
  • Two compartments and easy access pockets
  • Carries two bottles - 500ml and 700ml
  • Cinch straps to tie it down
  • Water resistant fabric
  • Hard wearing
  • Suitable for walking, hiking, running and cycling

Essential carry

With a capacity of six litres spread across two compartments, the Talon is hardly cavernous, but it is more than roomy enough to carry the essentials required to get you out of a sticky situation. 

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We managed to squeeze a good amount of kit inside, including a 29er inner tube or two, CO2 inflator and a couple of canisters, mini pump, multi-tool, a super lightweight rain cape and the all-important snacks, along with a large smartphone and keys on their own leash. That said, it's large enough for maps, bars, drinks and other hiking and running essentials.

The waist straps also house a pair of smaller pockets, which are great for stashing items that require easy access, such as energy gels. Plus, if you’re not planning to ride with a small tool chest on your rear, the entire bag can be cinched down with a pair of straps to prevent a light pack from swinging around uncontrollably. 

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Smart features

On the exterior of the pack you’ll find two holsters for a pair of water bottles and we found that both 550ml and 750ml bottles fitted securely, which allows for riders to fill up for shorter or longer days in the saddle.

However, we found the smaller bottles a little harder to extract when cycling, as they sit slightly recessed in the holsters and it takes a bit of trial and error to locate and remove the bottles. The holsters also have elasticated pull-cords to keep everything secure when things get gnarly.

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We’d like to see a flap to cover the bottle lids to prevent them from getting caked in mud, but this is a very minor gripe and only really applies ot those taking it out on muddy mountainbike rides. Runners and hikers probably won't experience this issue.

On top of this, the Talon 6 employs a pair of minimally padded but excellently ventilated hip belts with wide straps to spread the load across the rider or runner's hips, while keeping things cinched down and under control. 

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Keep cool

Ventilation is a recurring theme of the Talon 6, using Osprey’s fabled AirScape back panel to prevent your back from becoming a sweaty mess after full gas efforts, which we can report works excellently and kept everything at a comfortable temperature.

Admittedly, we’ve never really been fans of riding or running with a backpack full-stop, let alone on short local blasts. Thanks to this, our bike is adorned with more duct tape than carbonfibre, sticking spare tubes under the saddle and a CO2 kit on the downtube like something out of Mad Max, purely to avoid riding with a pack. 

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We’ve always found that unless the pack was reasonably full, the contents would bounce around and it’d never sit quite right. That’s even before getting onto the subject of having a sweaty back. It’s safe to say that we are converts to the bum bag, sorry lumbar pack, style of the Talon 6. 

Any fears that it would ride up, feel heavy or swing about like a squashy mace while riding were allayed during testing. In fact, we forgot we were wearing it most of the time. It's small and neat, yet seems to be able to fit an impressive amount of stuff inside and keep it dry. 

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An added and unintended benefit was that it held my waterproof jacket down while riding, preventing a jet of forest fresh mud spraying straight up my back from the rear wheel. Once home, it proved easy to wipe clean. 

To recap

The Talon 6 affords the freedom to ride, hike and run without the need to wear a bulky pack on your back. We found that it was plenty big enough for cycling essentials, nutrition and even small pack-down jackets. What's more, we were impressed with how well ventilated and secure it felt to wear, even when riding over really rough terrain.

Writing by Matt Buckley.