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Osprey Stratos 24 Review

Price:   $130 List | $129.98 at Amazon
Compare prices at 4 resellers
Pros:  Innovative and well ventilated back panel, hiking pole/ice axe stash system
Cons:  No decent outer stash pocket; when weighted down, the pack tips backwards; water bottle pockets are small
Bottom line:  A superbly ventilated pack for hot climates and sweaty backs.
Editors' Rating:   
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Manufacturer:   Osprey

Our Verdict

This daypack features an innovative back panel that puts ventilation and load-carrying first. Updated in Spring of 2017, the back panel allows the user to adjust the torso length and the hipbelt no longer has any seams, both aiming to increase the comfort of this pack. Unfortunately, the suspended mesh back panel also happens to cut into precious space, affecting how many items it can carry. This could be either a deal breaker or no big deal, depending on your needs. In addition to the back panel, the Stratos has convenient features for hikers such as an ice axe carry and an easy to use trekking pole stash system. If the volume of this pack isn't enough for you, Osprey implements the same design in a bigger size with the Stratos 34 for $30 more.

The Gregory Salvo has a similarly designed back panels, but leaves less of a gap between the main compartment of the pack and your back, which means that it is a little less ventilated; however, it does hold weight slightly better. If you are looking for a pack that can hold a lot relative to its weight and bulk, try the frameless Granite Gear Virga 26 or Deuter Speed Lite 20.


RELATED REVIEW: The Best Daypacks for Hiking and Travel


Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results

Review by:
Jeremy Bauman & McKenzie Long

Last Updated:
Wednesday
May 24, 2017

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The New Osprey Stratos 24 vs. the 2016 Version


The new Stratos 24 features notable updates in design and technicalities which aim to improve fit, comfort, and the overall aesthetic of the product. See a side-by-side photo comparison of the new Stratos 24 on the left, and the previous Stratos on the right, followed by a run-down of the changes made.

Osprey Stratos 24
 
  • Adjustable Torso Lengths — The back panel is adjustable to accommodate variations in torso length in the new Stratos.
  • Seamless Hipbelt Interface — Osprey updated the hipbelt to a seamless interface, which they claim increases comfort.
  • Vertical Front Storage Pocket — A zipper runs down the front of the pack for access to a new front pocket.
  • Weight Increase — The new Stratos weighs 2 lbs 12 oz according to Osprey, which is four ounces more than its predecessor.
  • New Colors and Graphic Design — The new colors are Eclipse Blue (pictured), Black, Gator Green, and Beet Red.

As have yet to get our hands on the updated version, the following assessment and analysis apply to the previous version of this backpack. We expect performance in most areas to remain similar between the two models, with a few new conveniences in the latest Stratos.

Hands-On Review of the 2016 Stratos 24


The Osprey Stratos features a back panel that strives for the ultimate ventilation but results in a pack that carries awkwardly.

Performance Comparison


From left to right: Osprey Daylite  REI Flash 18  Deuter Speed Lite  Arc'Teryx Cierzo 18  Osprey Talon  Osprey Stratos  Gregory Salvo 24  Granite Gear Virga 26.
From left to right: Osprey Daylite, REI Flash 18, Deuter Speed Lite, Arc'Teryx Cierzo 18, Osprey Talon, Osprey Stratos, Gregory Salvo 24, Granite Gear Virga 26.

Features


The back panel on the Osprey Stratos, with a curved panel to hold the main compartment of the pack off of your back, is one of the most innovative and breathable we have seen. Few other packs, if any, let this much air circulate. This design also means that sharp objects in the pack won't poke into your back. However, because of its curve, if you load the pack with a lot of weight, it feels like it is tipping you backward and the weight does not distribute properly. This design also means this pack is relatively bulky for its volume (since there is a lot of dead space behind your back).

There is a clever hiking pole stash system that lets you quickly stash your poles without removing the pack if you get to a tricky section of trail where you need to use your hands.

A close up of how the trekking pole attachment works while wearing the Osprey Stratos 24. You can also see how the frame holds the bulk of the pack away from the back.
The Osprey Stratos 24 loaded with the 10 essentials for our test  with the addition of a trekking pole and ice axe carry.
 

The side compression straps can be routed under or over the side mesh pocket. This cool feature lets you compress the pack and still have access to the side panel for a water bottle or other item.

This pack comes with a rain cover that stashes away into its own pocket. This pocket is ventilated at the bottom, which means you can put a wet rain cover or a wet base layer in there to start drying. In turn, it can dry without getting the rest of your pack contents wet, though there is no large outer pocket to stash spare things like extra layers or rain shell. Instead, this area is used up by the rain cover pocket.

The Stratos was the only pack in this review to come with its own rain cover! The nifty pocket on the bottom of the pack conceals the green cover until its time to deploy.
The Stratos was the only pack in this review to come with its own rain cover! The nifty pocket on the bottom of the pack conceals the green cover until its time to deploy.

Weight


At 2 lbs 8 oz, this is the heaviest pack in this review. The back panel is the primary feature that adds weight, and it also adds bulk and size to a small capacity pack. This is not the pack for people trying to move fast and light in the mountains. In past iterations of our daypack review, the Stratos wasn't the heaviest. This year it is. The Granite Gear Virga is slightly lighter, while the REI Co-Op Flash 18 and Osprey Daylite are significantly lighter.

The compression straps can easily accommodate objects like helmets. We really like having two sets of straps as found on the Stratos because it increases your lashing options.
The compression straps can easily accommodate objects like helmets. We really like having two sets of straps as found on the Stratos because it increases your lashing options.

Comfort


The ventilated Airspeed back panel and meshy waist belt make this pack a breeze to wear while hiking in hot weather. This is by far the most breathable pack, so if you are worried about sweating, the Osprey Stratos is the way to go. When used in warm and humid climates, the increased ventilation is a dream. The main thing to consider is that it carries weight uncomfortably far back when the pack is loaded too heavily. The Gregory Salvo 24 has a similar stretched mesh back panel that hardly takes up internal volume and is more comfortable. We ranked the Stratos equal with the Osprey Talon 22 because our reviewers enjoyed having dry, sweat-free backs. Testers also recognized that the weight distribution issue prevented us from carrying heavier loads as comfortably as packs without internally bulging back panels. The Stratos earned an 8/10 for comfort.

The starts has an aggressive curved back frame that yields ultimate ventilation. The downside of this design is that it carries weight further from your spine than a traditional pack. Also  it decreases internal pack volume.
The starts has an aggressive curved back frame that yields ultimate ventilation. The downside of this design is that it carries weight further from your spine than a traditional pack. Also, it decreases internal pack volume.

Versatility


Since the carrying capacity is cut down inside the pack by the back panel, and weight is carried differently, this pack has more limited use than some of the other packs we reviewed. It doesn't carry high loads very well, so it is best used strictly for day hiking, where the items you are carrying are relatively minimal in weight. It is not suited for activities like climbing, where you have to lug around lots of metal. It is also difficult to use this pack for travel because there are less organizational pockets than in some of the other packs. Also, with the addition of the ice tool carry and trekking pole stash features, it is more tailored to a hike in the mountains than carrying around town.

The blue color was a tester favorite! Also notice the two small compression straps on the bottom of the pack.
Hiking to an afternoon climbing session with the Osprey Stratos 24.
 

Durability


This pack has so far been quite durable, and the back panel, which at first glance looks fragile, is actually really sturdy and well built. Still, care should be taken to keep the stretched mesh back from sharp objects. Consider the Deuter Speed Lite 20 if durability is paramount but you still like having a lot of features.

Ease of Use


The curve of the back panel makes it difficult to pack and store stuff efficiently. All of the items in our "10 essentials" pack test fit, with the addition of an ice tool carry and trekking pole stash. However, if you carry much more than the items on our list, the pack becomes hard to pack and too heavy and begins to pull you backward.

The rest of the features, such as the trekking pole carry, can be used without removing the pack, and are very simple and straightforward to use. Even the convenient rain cover and dual hydration hose ports make it so this pack can be used to your maximum comfort and in all types of weather. The ergo pull adjustment of the waist belt is also much easier to use than most waist belts.

As you can see  the top pocket is relatively small  but able to carry a headlamp  keys  phone  and power bar.
As you can see, the top pocket is relatively small, but able to carry a headlamp, keys, phone, and power bar.

Best Application


This pack is best for simple day hikes where you don't need to carry much stuff besides food, water, extra layers, and possibly an ice tool and trekking poles. The pack will not comfortably hold much more, and it lacks good organizational pockets for work or school use. Use it for treks in warm climates, where the extreme ventilation will overcome the downsides of the curved back panel.

Value


This pack typically costs around $130, which is on the expensive side. Buy it if overheating is a primary concern when looking for a daypack.
Jeremy Bauman & McKenzie Long

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Most recent review: May 24, 2017
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
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