Osprey is a leader in the pack market, and their Stratos line is an all-around favorite for day hiking. We’ve owned multiple variations over the years, and all have delivered nearly flawless performance through extended, rough use. We’ve been testing the latest Stratos 24 since its release about a year ago, and have been very happy overall. It carries heavy loads comfortably, keeps your back ventilated with its suspended mesh panel, and has tons of pockets and features for organization. Below we break down the Stratos 24’s carrying comfort, weight, organization, durability, fit and sizing, and more. To see how the Stratos stacks up, see our article on the best daypacks.
In terms of carrying comfort, the Osprey Stratos 24 is as good as it gets in the daypack market. It’s essentially a shrunken down version of a deluxe backpacking model—even its max load capacity of 25 pounds isn’t far off from some overnight bags. The mesh backpanel conforms nicely to your back, the padding is downright plush for its capacity, and the metal frame puts the weight mostly on your hips (most daypacks carry more on your shoulders). The solid structure and suspended backpanel also keep the pack from drooping under a heavy load, and you never really feel what’s inside the bag along your back. There are downsides to the design—the frame and features make it heavy—but purely from a comfort perspective, the Stratos is a true standout.
The Stratos 24 tips the scales at 2 pounds 12.1 ounces, which makes it one of the heaviest daypacks among those with similar mid-20-liter capacities. For reference, Osprey’s popular Talon 22 is almost a pound less at 1 pound 12.6 ounces, and Gregory’s new Inertia 25 is 1 pound 10 ounces. Even Granite Gear’s much larger Crown2 38 beats it in weight by 8 ounces. But all of those packs are missing the Stratos’s sturdy metal frame, which is the difference maker. A closer competitor is the CamelBak Fourteener 24, which comes in at 2 pounds 9 ounces. Depending on your needs, the Stratos’s weight can be the reason to avoid it, but the extra ounces deliver the excellent comfort, back ventilation, and features.
Like many of its backpacking cousins in the Osprey lineup, the Stratos uses a mesh backpanel to keep your back as dry as possible. This is pretty unique in the daypack market—very few designs have the open space behind the mesh to create that kind of airflow. The downside of the ventilation is that it cuts a little into the main compartment capacity, makes it more difficult to compress (some daypacks literally roll up, but the Stratos is rigid) and likely contributes to the premium $130 price tag. Nevertheless, it’s a welcome feature for warm summer hikes or long days on the trail.
Organization is another strong suit of the Stratos 24. You get an internal hydration sleeve and exit port, two side mesh water bottle pockets, and two nicely-sized zippered pockets on the hipbelt. For exterior storage, there is one zippered mesh pocket at the top of the pack with a key clip, another small pocket with enough space for bars or a headlamp, and a tall vertical zippered pocket along the pack body. If we were to nitpick, converting the vertical pocket into a stretchy mesh design would make it even more useful. But overall, the Stratos is hard to beat for those who like quick access to their gear.
As a feature-rich daypack design, you get a lot of extras that typically are associated with a backpacking model. The Stratos comes with a rain cover that has its own zippered compartment at the bottom, there’s an ice axe loop and toggle cord for cinching it along the pack body, and a trekking pole attachment on the left-hand shoulder strap. And importantly, all these extras are top quality—none of the straps or cords have frayed or broken down even after extensive use.
Made with a combination of 210-denier nylon on the pack body and 420-denier nylon covering the bottom, the Stratos has a tough build. We’ve set ours down numerous times on rough granite, branches, and rock-covered trails, and the pack is showing only the smallest signs of wear. Additionally, the buckles are high quality, the zippers work very smoothly, and even the mesh backpanel clearly is tough. The only notable areas of weakness are the mesh water bottle pockets that have a couple small tears from squeezing between rocks and branches on the trail (this is quite common with these types of holsters). All told, we consider the Stratos to be a durable daypack that should last for years.
In the past, the Stratos was available in multiple sizes, but Osprey made the surprising decision to only offer a single size with the latest model (there are men’s and women’s-specific designs, however). The good news is that the shoulder straps can be easily adjusted up and down with a Velcro attachment for various torso lengths, and we’ve had no problems sharing the pack with people ranging from 5’4” to over 6 feet. It’s also simple to dial in the fit with the large hipbelt adjusters and easy-to-access load-lifter straps. Given the high level of adjustability, the lack of size options isn’t optimal but seems reasonable.
Other Versions of the Stratos Pack
We tested the 24-liter version of the men’s Stratos, which is the smallest capacity version. Osprey also makes it in a women’s model, the Sirrus 24, which shares the same design but with a women’s-specific fit. And both the Sirrus and Stratos lines include higher capacity versions. The 26, 36, and 50-liter models share a lot in common with the Stratos and Sirrus 24, but they add a top lid as well as a zippered access to the bottom of the bag (only on the 36 and 50). Of course, weight also goes up: the 26-liter version is 2 pounds 12.6 ounces, the 36-liter version is 3 pounds 4.8 ounces, and the large 50-liter packs weighs 3 pounds 11 ounces. All in all, we think the 24 and 26 are the best choice for most done-in-a-day activities. The 36 is a good option for those that need to carry a little extra or want to use it for minimalist overnights, and the 50 is a solid backpacking bag (or a daypack for carrying an entire family’s worth of food and gear).
What We Like
- Very comfortable for hauling a full day’s worth of gear and food.
- Suspended mesh backpanel provides fantastic ventilation.
- Premium build quality from Osprey.
- Excellent feature set. There are plenty of pockets, an included rain cover, and attachment points for trekking poles and an ice axe.
What We Don’t
- One of the heaviest daypacks on the market at 2 pounds 12 ounces, and the rigid frame means it can’t pack down small.
- This is not a minimalist pack. All the features, cushioning, and structure are overkill for day hikers who don’t need the bells and whistles.
- Expensive for a daypack at $130.
|Osprey Stratos 24||$130||2 lb. 12 oz.||24, 34, 36, 50L||Cushioned||Alloy frame||5 exterior|
|CamelBak Fourteener 24||$150||2 lb. 9 oz.||20, 24L||Cushioned||Framesheet||6 exterior|
|Osprey Talon 22||$110||1 lb. 13 oz.||11, 18, 22, 33L||Cushioned||Back panel||4 exterior|
|Gregory Inertia 25||$100||1 lb. 10 oz.||20, 25, 30L||Cushioned||Framesheet||4 exterior|
|Patagonia Nine Trails 28||$159||2 lb. 3 oz.||14, 20, 28, 36L||Cushioned||Framesheet||6 exterior|
With its impressive combination of comfort, ventilation, and organization, the Stratos is one of the best premium daypacks on the market. A new competitor for 2018 is Patagonia’s Nine Trails line. Made in 14, 20, 28, and 36-liter capacities, it offers more day hike-oriented sizes than the Stratos but is priced even higher (the 28-liter model goes for $159). In using the Nine Trails, we like the large flexible pocket along the front and the build quality is what you expect from the brand. It also undercuts the smaller Stratos 24 in weight by about 9 ounces. But we didn’t find the Nine Trails as comfortable: its foam and mesh backpanel doesn’t ventilate as well, and it’s missing features like a rain cover and gear attachment points. All told, we think the Stratos is the better all-around build and saves you $29 in the process.
CamelBak is another company with a strong reputation in the pack market. Their top daypack is the Fourteener 24, which has been updated for this season. Compared it to the Stratos, the CamelBak is a solid alternative: it has very good organization, the articulating backpanel both ventilates well and conforms nicely to your back, and it comes with a 3-liter hydration reservoir. But the Osprey has nicer padding along the hipbelt and shoulder straps, its compression straps do a better job keeping the load pulled in close, and it’s clearly the better choice if you don’t need a hydration reservoir (you can only get the Fourteener 24 with the 3-liter system). Both are great options, but the Stratos is the slightly most complete design.
The final pack to consider is Osprey’s own men’s Talon 22 and women’s Tempest 20. This series is one of the most popular on the market: it’s light and well made, has enough capacity and comfort for hauling a standard day hikes worth of stuff, and undercuts the Stratos in price by $20 (for more information, see our Talon 22 review). Where the packs differ most is in carrying comfort. While the Talon excels at hauling extra layers, food, and a few other essentials, it doesn’t have a frame—or even a solid framesheet—so it can droop and be uncomfortable with heavier loads. For many day hikers, this isn’t an issue, but if you plan on carrying a lot of water or other heavier items, we prefer the comfort of the Stratos.