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Gear review: The Osprey Tempest 30 backpack

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Osprey Tempest 30

Rating:
Star5
Star
Star
Star
Star

The Osprey Tempest 30 ($129.95) is a women’s-specific lightweight pack that is designed for light trekking and mountain activities. There is nothing I even remotely dislike about this pack and that’s a triple-passive way of saying “best pack in its class hands down.”

It doesn’t have any useless frippery or flapdoodle that adds pack weight. I have been using this pack for dayhiking, and the general hauling of mountain biking gear from house to car to trailhead and back, and it’s been a great little pack.

But feathery weight and petite countenance aside, this pack has a higher purpose. It’s going someplace. And it needs to hold a certain amount of gear. How much? Packing list below:

  • Lightweight rainjacket and pants (for obvious reasons)
  • One pair of Darn Tough Vermont hiking socks
  • Adventure Medical Kits’ Ultralight/Waterproof .9 first-aid kit (so compact and perfect for a backpack)
  • Two packets of Glacier Gel (I trust my LOWA Mauria’s but Murphy’s Law is nonetheless still a law)
  • Basic toiletries: Toothbrush, hairbrush, TSA-sized bottles of sunscreen, moisturizer, cleanser, deodorant, toothpaste, eye drops, shampoo (reason should be obvious)
  • One packet of Action Wipes (because I'm not betting that the mountain hut has a hot shower - bonus if it does)
  • Sierra Designs Capiz down sweater ('cause when it rains in the alps, it sometimes snows and it's usually cold)
  • Patagonia Reflip ultra-light weight flip flops (because it's rude to wear your hiking boots inside a mountain hut in Austria and these are the lightest, packable sandals I know of)
  • Gloves and wool hat (see Sierra Designs Capiz down sweater)
  • One pair of Icebreaker Destiny shorts (you just never know - plus, they're lightweight and very packable)
  • One short-sleeved shirt (sweat and body odor happen)
  • One change of skivvies (um...yeah)
  • Victorinox trekking knife (in case the hills are alive with more than the sound of music)
  • Full water bladder
  • Two Clif bars
  • Two Real Sticks
  • Camera
  • Phone
  • Kahtoola MICROspikes (I had a bad experience crossing a vertical snowfield in Switzerland once - my preference is not to repeat it)

Basically, enough gear for a hike and overnight-stay-in-a-mountain-hut in the Austrian alps for a princess like me. Which is where I’m heading with the Tempest because everything on my packing list fits.

Once loaded, I strapped ‘er on. Yes, it was considerably heavier than previous hikes. It bulged but didn’t burst at the seams thanks to the strong side stabilizer straps. The Tempest was designed to carry 30 cubic inches of cargo; my packing list experiment likely exceeded the capacity a bit.

As I was “trekking” through my backyard, thoughts circulated.

Carrying the Tempest fully-loaded for an overnight, backcountry trek is a much different experience than a day hike on the North Shore or as a vestibule for transporting mountain bike gear in the back of my car.

Adding weight and bulge adds a whole new dimension.

Us women tend to sway at the hips when we walk so the Tempest’s body-hugging design, made possible by the fully-adjustable BioStretch™ shoulder straps and hipbelt, kept the load close to my body and the weight on my hips. This translates to excellent pack stability. Kind of important when crossing the precarious vertical snow fields and rocky, scree-littered trails of the Austrian alps.

Now, ventilation. The bane of every trekker’s existence. No pack will ever keep you 100 percent sweat-free but Osprey’s AirScape™ back panel, an ingenious concoction of molded foam ridges with air channels and a vertical mesh "air chimney", is as close as you’ll ever get.

Oh, I know all about Ray Jardine. His philosophy of multi-day backpacking with only a daypack, extra pair of socks, knife, first aid kit, water purification system and a bag of granola bars for all your meals is probably a bi-product of a bad experience with an ill-fitting pack.

If you haven’t already deduced from my packing list, you’ve probably guessed that Ray Jardine lost me at “granola bar”. And you would be right! I need some luxuries. I’m not afraid to carry the weight of those luxuries on my hips, providing I have the right pack.

The Tempest is that pack. Ray couldn’t argue the point if he tried.

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