by: Dave D’Abate
Osprey Packs has been making some of the best packs in the industry for the last 37 years and the new 2011 Hornet 46 is no exception. The Hornet is on of the lightest packs Osprey has ever made at an impressive 22oz. for the 46L size. The features of the Hornet 46, according to Opsrey’s website are:
“These superlight packs have been stripped to the essentials for ultra-runners, adventure racers, peak baggers – anyone who aspires to move fast with minimal weight. Osprey technology still allows for great carry with features like a spacer mesh breathable backpanel, and vented stretch-fit harness and hipbelt. Speed friendly features are all on board, including stretch mesh front and side pockets, zippered hipbelt pockets, and energy-gel pockets on the shoulder straps.”
Hornet 46 – Features
Hornet InsideOut compression
Hornet adjustable overskirt compression strap
Hornet external hydration
Hornet front stretch mesh pocket
Hornet gel pockets on harness
Hornet ice axe loop
Hornet removable top pocket
Hornet zippered hipbelt pocket
The Hornet seems to be the perfect niche pack for ultralight thru-hiking and also it works exceptionally well for day-and-a-half weekend style trips. The small size and weight of the pack still provide a large enough volume to allow me to pack everything I needed on the trail. For those who travel a lot and find themselves on a plane traveling to their next great adventure, the Hornet is also the perfect carry-on size even when stuffed to the brim.
All of the nylon straps and plastic fasteners on the Hornet have been scaled down to reduce weight. The fabrics, a 70D Triple Ripstop Nylon and 70Dx100D Nylon Shadowcheck, reduce the pack’s weight even further. These thinner and lighter fabrics in no way mean you are sacrificing any durability with this pack. For a durability and abrasion test, I went caving through the boulders at Enchanted Rock in Fredericksburg, TX. After an hour or so of constant scraping against the rough granite inside the caves, the Hornet showed absolutely no sign anything had happened. No scratches, scuffs, absolutely nothing. I was very impressed to say the least. Another thing I love about the Hornet is its fit. The pack is incredibly comfortable to wear and the combination of the BioStretch™ ErgoPull™ hipbelt and the Bio-Stretch™ harness allow for a stable and form-fitting system.
The removable foam backpanel and removable top pocket allow even more weight shedding for the thru-hiker in all of us and I can easily see the Hornet being the go-to pack for any AT hikers this year. The full stretch, front kangaroo pocket is a necessity and a luxury with the Hornet. The pocket’s ability to accommodate a random assortment of gear of all shapes and sizes is great for the times when that one piece of gear won’t fit in your pack so you have to lash it on the outside. The stretching ability of the fabric, which is also used on the two full-length side pockets, allows you to stuff anything you can think of in that pocket. I also really like the full-length size of the two side pockets. Both have a opening at two separate points to fit a water bottle but the length of the pocket allows easy storage of tent poles without them falling out too easily.
The Osprey Hornet 46 is a phenomenal backpack that certainly exceeds the already high expectations from a company with a reputation for making awesome packs. The fit is the most comfortable I have had from a pack in this size range and the 46 liters accommodate a lot of gear while still keeping things as small, light and compact as possible. Simply put, I loved every time I used the Hornet and the benefits of having a durable and comfortable pack are really positive influencing factors in making this more than a niche backpack. The $159 price point for a pack this impressive is also a great reason to pick one up for all your weekend pursuits. Look for the Hornet 46 the next time you’re out at your local gear store and try it out. I know you’ll be as impressed with it was I am.
Osprey’s Hornet 46 provided by Osprey Packs for review purposes