Montane v Osprey v Terra Nova

There’s been a few constants over the past few years, kit that I use beyond review distance because it just fits me better or it does just what I want or need. Rucksacks fit this category very well, I’ve have plenty in for test which have been fine, but I pretty soon go back my favoured one or two.
With that in mind I was pleased to see some packs which looked like they could be friends, so it’s away with the familiar and in with the new.
45 litres is a sweet spot for my overnight pack, usually not too heavy with plenty of space for warmer months and with careful packing you can get winter overnight kit in along with a your hardware and the usual extras. The three packs I’ve got in for test are around this capacity, so size wise the three of them are definitely backpacking packs. Apart from that loose designation there’s almost nothing to tie them together, every feature is different, fabrics are from one extreme to to another and the design ethos of each is from a different start point.
Here’s a quick look at what I’ll be using over the autumn and winter, there’ll be updates and proper close-ups later.

Montane Grand Tour 55

This is a pre-production version of next year’s model and shows that Montane got up to speed on their pack range pretty damned quick. It feels light in the hand, it has all the accessible storage you’ll need, the stiffened back system will take a load, the hip belt is padded and shaped and the detailing brings a mix of old ideas and new with input from backpacking experience as well as mountaineering.
I can see the effort and thought that’s gone into the Grand Tour.

Osprey Talon 44

I’m pleased to finally have one of these in for test as it’s long been talked about and now I can see why. It fits me well and is feature-rich, it even has a zip-away bottom section which I love for camping as you can drop the tent out in the rain or snow and keep the rest of your kit dry. Good storage, pretty good weight and a spot-on year-round capacity at 44L. The mesh air-gap back system might make a difference and that wire frame it has reminds me of an external frame pack which is nice.

Terra Nova Quasar 55

The pre-production Quasar 55 is both the lightest and has the biggest main compartment capacity of the three packs and looks more like a specialist cottage industry pack that a big brand product as it’s been trimmed to the bare essentials enthusiast-style. It’s proudly lightweight and minimalist but still fully functional with wand pockets, proper harness, internal back support and plenty of attachment points. The fabrics are sci-fi but the feel is retro, at its heart its a simple load carrier.

I’ve used the Quasar, packed with overnight gear including 4 litres of water for the bivy a couple of weeks ago and it was fine, even with the minimalist hipbelt. The other two are in line and will be out soon, I’ve got places to go imminently.
Convention and expectation probably points in the direction of an obvious winner here, but I’m not so sure. Plenty more to come.

 

 

30 thoughts on “Montane v Osprey v Terra Nova

  1. Interesting comparison to say the least. I have a Talon 22 and it’s a joy to carry, although I imagine the 44 must be quite different, not only size-wise.

    I’m looking forward to hear your take on the shoulder straps on the Talon, I find them very comfortable but they shred my t-shirts to pieces, they’re very abrasive. Although from the photo these look different on the Talon 44.

    I find the Montane quite intriguing as well. The Quasar I reckon will be good for high volume – low weight loads if the frame is so minimalist…

    Cheers from still sunny and almost-too-warm Spain :-)

  2. Hey, it’s sunny here too!

    I’ll watch for the straps on the Talon, they seem quite benign maybe the design is different right enough.

    There is lots to learn with this lot, looking forward to it, can’t wear my Macpac Amp forever!

  3. I’m still working it out, only 16 full days so I’m having to scratch things I wanted to do (i.e. the Cairngorms, Islay). We’ll work our way North, including Glen Etive, Glen Coe, hopefully Ben Nevis, then up to Glen Affric, Assynt, Sutherland and then on to Lewis and Harris and then Skye. We hope to mix some mountain days with some coastal landscapes… We’re taking crampons yes, but I’m still unsure whether to bring automatics with stiff mountaineering boots or just the lighter flexible ones with strap-ons… we don’t mean to do anything too technical, hauling all the gear is too much hassle when there are so many interesting things to see and do…

  4. 16 days to explore sounds fantastic, the places you’re planning on going are all wonderful.
    I’d pack lighter boots and strap-on crampons, I use that combination all through winter, but whatever you feel most comfortable with is always the best choice.

    Keep in touch and I’ll keep you up to date on conditions on the hills and anything else I might be able to help with.

  5. does the talon still have an open top bladder pocket outside themain compartment? my old one does. rain trap… no waterproofing to stop the rain getting from there into the main compartment, only designed for dry environments like hte american mid west where its designed.

  6. It does indeed still have the sleeve. Not too worried about it being open to the rain as I usually have a liner or stuffsacks in my pack, but how quickly it drains is something I’ll be watching out for. I don’t want a pool of rainwater sloshing about the bottom of my pack. I lost a phone that way once.

    Also, Hello!

  7. be interested to see what you think of the talons belt.
    i thought it didnt distribute weight very well and sagged around my waist when under load. i dont use it for carrying anything heavy now… just use it to take running gear to work..

  8. yeah the shoulder strap on the talon does look better, was just nylon mesh on the older model…, thats all the waist belt was as well. over foam with big slots cut into it which affected how it coped when loaded with weight

  9. The funny thing about the Talon for me is that although I’ve never usd one before, so many other brands have stolen ideas from Osprey that the Talon actually feels familiar!

    From what I’m hearing it looks like this latest version is an evolution which means that whatever I find out might be useful rather than repeating some reviews froma few years back.
    The straps and hip fins do look substantial enough, maybe there was a lot of feedback from previous versions?
    I’ll watch this stuff and when I’m doing my write-up I’ll do some close up shots and hopefully folk will be able to see if there’s a difference.

  10. looks like tera nova have combined it with dynema. great idea.
    never really took the the idea of an all cuben fabric, looks slippery for the shoulder straps .

  11. It is a slippery fabric, odd feeling stuff all round, but the straps are mesh at the back, so they feel pretty regular when you’re wearing it.
    The fabrics on the Quasar are good, dyneema is the perfect rucksack material, its the design quirks that will make the pack a winner or not.

  12. I’ve had a Talon 44 for few years and used it for loads up to 10k. It was comfortable and durable.

    But, I decided to go for the TN Quasar 45, which arrived yesterday. First impressions are good. I like how the materials have been combined to reduce weight and ensure durability. The big test will come when I use it with loads around 7 – 10k.

    So, your reviews will be interesting.

    I’ve opted to go from the framed Talon to the un-framed Quasar. The overall features are simpler on the Quasar, which I like. I don’t think the lack of frame will be an issue. I’ve had an MLD Exodus in the past and this was ok but too big (ebayed). The Quasar appealed because it reduced the pack’s weight and potentially could carry all my backpacking gear and food in comfort. I can’t wait to try it for real.

  13. Here’s a shot of the Quasar packed, not really obvious here, but it does sut very nice on my back.

    Interested in how the 45 does, the back length is quite different to the 55 which is why I weant for a 55 sample. It’s the same thing with the Voyager pack (review soon…), a very short back I thought with the straps set down from the lid, where the Quasar 55 is more regular, pretty much the same as an OMM Villain or a Macpac Size 2 which all fit me perfectly.

    Photobucket

  14. Hi Pete – any update on the Montane/Osprey/TN battle.

    Love my talon 22. I have a long back and find that many smaller packs want to sit just below the ribs, where on the Talon Large I can velcro out the back and get a decent fit.

    That said I hate its over complication and fussiness of the numerous toggles, straps and stow on the go nonsense.

  15. Update in a few weeks in time for it hitting the shops. I’ll have a little quickie before that as well.

    I know what you mean about the surplus of adjustments and features, Joycee’s just got a woman’s Ariel pack in to test from Osprey and I’ve never seen so many straps and stuff.
    But, the carry is everything.

  16. yeah, osprey do seem to like getting into teh bells and whistles for their packs, no end of features and adjustments.. but i think they are getting left behind on harness design ergonomics.. other brands like berghaus, arcteryx and black diamond are stealing the show with their pivoting hip belts.

  17. I like hip fins with a bit of movement and it doesn’t have to as complex as they’re starting to make it. Climbing packs with removeable waistbelts and racing packs like the Macpac Amps are in the right area. The Macpac Amp Race 40 is probably my favourite all round pack.
    Osprey were a great inovator and all their ideas got stolen, they need some new ones now.

  18. gotta watch macpac, they brought out a range of event jackets and they are a major failure in design and quality… i’ve seen a lot of negative feedback,
    but they do know how to make solid packs, they inherited clothing design along the way from another couple of companies they took over. they were originally a gear company only.

  19. The clothing never really made it into the UK market, we saw some of it and I just thought the sizing was strange. Still got a merino/polyester midlayer which is okay, as long as you like brown.
    Used carry my daughter in one of their papooses as well!

  20. macpac opened shops in the us with their full range, it didnt work and they had to ship a mountain of gear down under, took them a long time to sell it off..

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