The Osprey Kestrel 48 – The Best Backpack For Short Trips & Hikes
If traveling has taught me one thing (or confirmed what I already kind knew), then it is that you really don’t need many possessions to be happy in life. In fact, absolutely everything you need to live a happy life should be able to fit into a 65-liter backpack.
And now to totally contradict myself, the second thing that travel has taught me is that you can never have enough backpacks…
(To learn more lessons learned from traveling check out this epic post from I once wrote for Matador)
Why You Need Multiple Backpacks
Now, I am not saying that you need a different backpack for every day of the week or that you need the same backpack in multiple colors to match your clothes. What I mean is that every adventurer should have a collection of different backpacks to choose from depending on the adventure at hand. For example, for that once in a lifetime backpacking trip around South America, I’d recommend a big 65-liter sack that has room for plenty of clothes, a change of shoes and a tent. For the adventure down to Tesco for your groceries on the other hand, I’d maybe take a 25 liter daypack.
The Osprey Kestrel 48
One of the backpacks I use for absolutely loads of my adventures these days is my Osprey Kestrel 48. This is because the Osprey Kestrel 48 is ideal for short backpacking trips, multi-day hikes or short camping trips and I guess I am doing rather a lot of these at the moment!
As I said backpacks in the 45-liter range are ideal for short camping trips, hikes of a few days, music festivals as well as taking onto flights as carry-on luggage. That said, I personally managed to do a 10-day trek around the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal with a 45-liter pack so you can get more out of them if you pack carefully.
That said, note that the Osprey Kestrel 48 is also perfect for city breaks. It has just the right amount of storage, can be taken into the cabin as hand luggage on all Airlines and is comfortable for carrying on and off the metro! Check out this awesome post for or more citybreak luggage and travel backpacks.
I once used to use a vastly inferior pack which was unnecessarily heavy for its size but upgraded to the Osprey Kestrel 48 and will never look back.
The Key Features
As I said, it is a 45ish liter pack which is ideal for a few days. The size means you can get a few changes of clothes and underwear, some toiletries and either your laptop or some outdoor equipment if you are headed hiking.
The Kestrel 48 from Osprey is a true outdoor workhorse having been designed for use in any terrain and in any season. I shall explain, the built-in rain cover can be easily accessed and pulled over for protection from downpours and, during the hotter & steamier temperatures, the AirScape back panel can be adjusted to keep you well ventilated and keep your back from sweating too much.
Crucially, the spacer mesh harness and hip-belt provide weight shifting support and comfort whilst the backpack torso length is adjustable to cater for your own height and build more or less perfectly.
The main compartment is easily accessible with a single side vertical zippered access point. It is also spacious enough to pack most of your gear in there if you wish to. However, the Osprey backpack allows for the rest of your gear to be neatly organised thanks to a hip-belt and lid zipped pockets. This is great for keeping items you need during hikes close to hand.
The top lid also offers storage both in the back zipper compartment and in the inside “wallet”. Then, the two belt pockets have zippered storage capacity.
Does it fit a sleeping bag?
Yes. It is also possible to attach larger items (such as a sleeping pad) onto the lower external straps. Then, your sleeping bag can be stored in the base compartment with internal zip divider. (for best sleeping bags check out this awesome post). As we said, this pack is perfect for multi hikes and even camping trips.
(Note, I actually trekked the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal using one of these)
Oh, and if you like to trek with Poles, then Osprey has also developed an awesome “Stow-on-the-Go” system which means no more ‘pack on pack off’ to store your trekking poles. Instead, you simply pass the poles through two elasticated loops for a hands-free solution. There is even an ice ax loop that may prove useful in winter conditions or on The Broke Backpackers Pakistan tours! A front stretch pocket allows you to stow away any wet clothing from the rest of your gear.
The dual side compression straps on the Kestrel 68 keep your load tight and under control. The backpack is also compatible with both Hydraulics and Hydraulics LT Reservoirs so you can keep hydrated whilst on the go. Pull in the reverse StraightJacket compression straps once you’re all packed to tightly secure our gear and get ready to go.
In case that was too many words for you, then here is a summary of the key features;
- 15mm side compression straps.
- Adjustable torso length.
- AirScape™ back panel with foam ridges for comfort and fit.
- Dual access fabric side pockets with InsideOut™ compression cord.
- Integrated & detachable rain cover.
- Internal hydration sleeve.
- Internal top load compression strap.
- Removable sleeping pad straps.
- Unlimited street cred. The chicks love a man in Osprey.
In summary, the Osprey Kestrel 48 excels in the following fields.
- The Cool Factor
The Osprey brand is, without doubt, one of the very best names in outdoor gear and their packs are absolutely legendary. They are slightly more pricey than some other big name brands but are absolutely worth it. Remember the old adage, “Buy cheap, buy twice”. So whilst Ospreys products may cost 20 – 30% more than similar products, you will recoup this money but not having to replace them for a long time if ever.
All Mighty Guarantee
They also come with the Osprey All Mighty Guarantee. This is essentially that rarest of rare things; a lifetime warranty. If your pack breaks at any time then you can send it to Osprey and they will fix it for you free of charge. Of course, you do need to pay postage yourself and some problems such as damp, airline damage and “wear and tear” are not covered.