By: Kaleb R.
Gear Provided by Osprey Packs for review purposes.
Osprey has been making quality packs for years, so naturally when I received the Hornet 32 I was excited to see if it will live up to the precedent that Osprey has set as the industry standard. The Hornet Series is labeled as “lightweight” but it seems like everything is these days. In a market flooded with meaningless titles and labels, the Hornet 32 holds true to what it claims to be: “superlight.” For those of you looking to find exactly what the Hornet 32 is, or what it can be used for, I would say that it is hard to label the Hornet 32 as a daypack or an overnight pack. Osprey labels the Hornet Series like this:
“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.”
I would have to say that the Osprey Hornet 32 is in a category of its own when it comes to backpacks. I would try to label it as one type or the other, but I think that this pack has multiple uses. My plans for now are to use it for day hikes, ultralight overnight trips and even a few mountain bike rides. As I review and spend some time with the Hornet 32 over the next few months I will include any other “uses” that I find for the pack.
Manufacturer Specifications (from ospreypacks.com)
Volume and Weight:
Below is a YouTube video that I created to give you an overview of the Hornet 32. It should give you some views of the pack that you cannot see in the photos that are provided.
As you can see, the Osprey Hornet 32 is geared for the user with lightweight adventures in mind. Over the next few months I will see just what all the pack can do. Be on the look out in one month to see my latest update for the Osprey Hornet 32 review.
The Hornet 32 Pack accompanied myself on a couple of day hikes and an overnight trip. Each of the trips gave me some valuable time with the pack to see how it performed.
The Osprey Hornet 32 accompanied me on an overnight trip along the Chattooga River in the Upstate of South Carolina creating the state line between Georgia.
The hike in towards the river was not very long, only a couple of miles, but the pack was the perfect size to fit all the gear necessary for a one or two night trip. The weather was on the chilly side for the Upstate in May, getting down to the mid 40’s F (~7 C) at night. I was able to fit my cooking gear, sleeping bag, cool weather clothing, hammock, food and water in the pack with room to spare.
Much of the trip was spent on a sandbar along the river and I was initially worried that the sand would get caught in the pack and would be difficult to get out because of all of the mesh on the back panel and throughout the construction of the Hornet 32. However, the pack proved easy to clean out and the sand offered no problems after the trip.
The front mesh pouch was especially useful on the trip to throw gear that got wet along the river.
Each of the day hikes were done in warm weather (~80 F, 26 C). One hike was around 5 miles (~8 km) and the other was a little over 7 miles (~11 km). Each hike ranged from 1000-3500 feet in elevation (~300-1000 meters).
The pack was very comfortable throughout the duration of the hikes, the Hornet 32 providing ample padding on the straps and back panel. The well ventilated mesh back of the Hornet 32 didn’t prevent my back from sweating, however, I could feel the perspiration evaporating while the pack was on, helping to cool my body.
On one of the day hikes, I packed for myself and my fiancé on the hike and removed the top pocket from the pack to cut down of the weight of the pack. While the pack provided ample space for the gear, water bladder, and water bottles, there was not a good place to store my small gear (wallet, cell phone, keys, pocket knife, etc). The Osprey 32 does not offer any type of internal separate pocket when the top pocket is removed from the pack. If you do decide to remove the top pocket from the pack, I suggest packing your small gear in some separate bag or pouch that is easy to access and keeps your smaller items from sinking to the bottom of the pack.
The hydration pocket behind the main compartment was perfect for the water bladder and hydration system and was easy to access at all times. Like mentioned earlier, I was carrying the gear for two people and had two water bottles (1-liter plastic) on each of the mesh elastic pockets on each of the sides of the pack. The pockets are very deep and it was very difficult to access the bottles. It was difficult enough to grab behind me with the pack on to retrieve the bottles, but trying to put the bottle back into the mesh sleeve with the pack still on was nearly impossible. Thinking that I may have had the pack on too high up my back, I adjusted it to sit lower on my back, but it was only a little easier to access the bottles.
Twice, as I was jogging back down the trail, I had one of the empty water bottles fall out of the sleeve. I had to make sure that the compression system which zig-zags inside the pockets was correctly adjusted to hold the bottle in place. If done correctly, the system works well, however, it is too cumbersome and complex for something that needs to be used while the pack is still on.
Come back in about a month for my last update on the Osprey Hornet 32.
A recent 23 mile overnight trip in Pisgah National Forest in North Carolina with the Hornet 32 allowed me to get an extensive look at the Osprey pack. We started the hike at about 3700 ft and set up camp for the night at right over 6000 ft, the highest point in the hike. The weather wasn’t very forgiving, even at the higher elevations the temperature stayed in the mid-80’s with about 60% humidity. Most of the trail we hiked on was maintained by only the foot traffic that it experienced, so a majority of the hike was semi-technical and strenuous.
The well ventilated back panel of the pack, as mentioned in my initial review, allowed for very good ventilation on both days of the hike. At no point did I feel as if my pack was trapping any excess heat like I have experienced with packs in the past. The back panel allowed the perspiration to evaporate and cool my back.
Below are the main likes and dislikes that I have for the pack overall.
What I liked:
- Capacity of Pack: At 1800 cubic inches, I found the pack to be the perfect size for a minimalist, lightweight overnight hike. My most recent trip was only one night but I could have easily packed for 2-3 nights as long as I shared some of the trip gear with someone else in the group. An exception to this could be if you were having to pack all of your water in with you, then room would become an issue.
- Hip Belt Pockets: No pack should ever be without these. The utility and ease of use of the these pockets cannot be underestimated. They are perfect for throwing an energy bar, compass, even a digital camera in without ever having to worry about taking your pack off.
- External Water Bladder Compartment: This comes in handy especially when you have to refill your bladder during the hike. This external design is especially useful with Hornet 32 as it allows you to get to the bladder without having to open the top-loading pack. This stops you from having to partially unload and load your pack every time you refill your water bladder on the trail.
- Front Elastic Pocket: Just like with the hip-belt pockets, this elastic pocket has come in handy for me often on the trail. Because the pocket clasps to the top-pocket (see photo below), most anything that you place in this pocket is secure no matter how much the pack moves around while on your back.
What I Dislike:
- Side Pockets/Water Bottle Sleeves: The “Inside-Out” compression is cumbersome and time consuming to use. I think Osprey may have tried to reinvent the wheel with this concept. In my experience, it is more frustrating than practical. Not only do you have to place the water bottle in the mesh sleeve, but you also have to place it within the compression straps in order to cinch and secure the bottle down. Even after this is correctly done, I never have felt as if the bottle was secure, which can be annoying when traversing rough terrain and your pack gets thrown around.
- Sternum Strap: Whenever I wear a pack with hip-straps, I try to place a majority of the pack’s weight on my hips to save my back. When I did this with the Hornet 32, the sternum strap (also known as a chest strap) tended to ridge high on my chest, just below my neck, close enough to be annoying, but not painful. I had the strap adjusted as low as it would go. My height may have had something to do with this as I am only 5 ft. 7 in. tall. The pack that I am reviewing is sized as Small/Medium. Anyone shorter than myself may have some issues with the sternum-strap riding to high on their chest.
There are a few design aspects with the Osprey Hornet 32 which I have found to be a little troublesome. These negatives are, for the most part, minor problems. Overall I have found the pack to be suited well for many of the outdoor activities that I enjoy (short overnight hikes and day hikes). Osprey has created a truly lightweight pack that performs well in a variety of activities and adventures.