Osprey Hornet 32 2011

The Osprey Hornet is a super-lightweight pack designed for adventure racing and moving fast and light in the mountains. It’s 36 per cent lighter than its cousin, the Talon 33, yet it has plenty of pockets and can be compressed down.

The Osprey Hornet 32 is light, the medium/large back length weighing a meagre 586g on our scales. You can get that down by stripping out the back foam and removing the lid, but for most this pack will be light enough. The lid has two pockets, one on the inside and one on the out. The outer one is stretchy mesh and can take more than a normal load, plus you get a key clip inside. Innovatively, you can slide a hydration system in behind the back foam without having to open the main compartment (but not when the pack’s full). There are two zipped pockets on the hipbelt, plus another couple of GPS or snack pockets on the shoulder straps. Finally, there’s a comprehensive compression system with tiny (and fiddly) 7mm straps, a huge mesh pocket on the back, two mesh pockets on the sides, and a rope holder beneath the lid.

On the hill
The low weight of the Osprey Hornet 32 made it decent for day walks, and although
I liked the preponderance of pockets, I used fewer of them than expected. I also thought I’d like that extensive web of compression straps, but they ended up feeling untidy and fussy after a while on the hill. They did a decent job of pulling in baggy fabric to make the pack stable, but were fiddly. However, when loaded with everything for a lightweight summer’s camp, the stated 35 litres felt large, particularly with the floating lid and stretchy mesh pockets. The biggest problem was the Hornet’s tendency to form an uncomfy and unstable barrel shape when fully loaded, or feel lumpy if only half full – both problems that could be alleviated to varying degrees with careful packing. Also, the hydration pocket barrelled along my spine and didn’t turn out to be particularly useful. Lovers of clean design might find the Osprey Hornet 32 a bit fussy, and in common with many of the packs here, those mesh pockets – particularly on the lid – don’t offer any protection from the elements. Also, that floating lid didn’t sit neatly when the pack was half empty, and rain crept directly into the main compartment. However, if bells and whistles are your thing then this pack has lots of versatility.

Capacity 32 litres (18.3g per litre)
Fabrics 70D Triple Rip, 70 x 100D nylon Shadowcheck
Features removable single-buckle lid; removable foam back system; side mesh pockets; shoulder strap pockets; rear mesh pocket; hipbelt pockets; compression straps; internal and external lid pockets; hydration system-compatible; ice axe/pole attachment loop; under-lid rope strap; reflective piping
Sizes S/M, M/L, unisex 
Measured weight 586g (M/L)
Made in Vietnam
Stores in the UK 22
Stockist details (01202) 413920; www.ospreypacks.com

The Osprey Hornet 32 is very lightweight; great array of pockets; very adjustable and versatile for multi-activity use; a good size, which is extendable with mesh pockets; good build quality. But it has fussy straps; poor waistbelt; design is complicated; mesh pockets offer no weather resistance; lid lets water in main compartment.
In summary it’s good for a variety of activities. Extremely light and adaptable, but some might find it fiddly and untidy, particularly if not full.

Review by Ben Winston
First published in Trail magazine April 2011