I am about to make a purchase between these bags. I have read extensively about them and am leaning towards the Gregory. My friend that owns several packs thinks I should go with an Osprey. I have had a hard time finding material with a direct comparison between them. I am looking for a weekend ultralight hiking pack. Mainly just trails, but occasionally off-trail woods. I'm sure the 2563 cu in will be enough for me since what I was used to was my 1500 cu in ILBE assault pack, albeit was stuffed to the brim with gear attached to the exterior MOLLE. I had to return the ILBE after finally moving to the civilian world and now need a pack. Any thoughts on either pack or perhaps a third suggestion would be appreciated. Thank you.
You didn't mention what the weight of your load will be. I found the Talon 44 uncomfortable at 22 pounds; however, I don't think the rated load is wrong - it may be that, at age 61, my upper body strength (and padding) is not what it used to be and I simply notice the pack more. I have a Kestrel 48 that I really, really like for that same load range, and find it to be far more comfortable than the Talon; I also find the extra organizational features (particularly the long outside pockets, which don't add capacity but do keep wet gear separated from dry gear, and let me set up my tent without unpacking everything.) The comfort comes at a cost - an extra pound or so, as I recall.
If you can keep your total load, including a weekend's worth of food and and a quart of water, under 20 pounds, the Talon should work well, though.
I've never used the Z40; I used the original G pack (first iteration of the Z series), and never much cared for it. I've tried Z-series packs on in a store, and they never quite fit me right - but I was favorably impressed otherwise.
Overall, of the 3, I'm very happy with my Kestrel 48.
Thank you for your quick response. I believe my gear should be right at 20 lbs during fair summer and no more than 30 lbs in poor winter weather. It sounds like the Talon is more of an ultralight 10 - 20 lb bag. I'm also concerned about the material it's made of for going off-trail in the woods. I also looked at the Kestrel 38, but at a 3 oz savings, 10L is too big of a drop for me.
I looked at the 38, too, and came to exactly the same conclusion. I also looked at the 58 (and took a winter weekend load to the store and packed it), and found that it was just way too big for summer and a bit too big for winter.
Sounds like we carry similar loads (though my winter weekend load rarely exceeds 25 pounds, since I don't go out for more than a night or two in winter.) As Goldilocks would say, the 48 "is just right" for me.
If you're lucky enough to live near a store that carries all three packs, go try them on (take your gear with you); if not, and you can afford it, order two (or all three) of them from an online retailer that will allow you to return them for a full refund unused. Then pack them up and try them on in your living room, and return all but the one you like.
The frames of those packs are totally different. I cannot wear any of the light Osprey packs, at all, the frame does not work for me, and I am sore within an hour. I can and do wear a Gregory. And an Aarn pack, and a Granite Gear - all different from each other in terms of how the frame rides on my hips, but all three work for me where the Osprey frame just digs in and bruises me up.
Try the packs on with your gear in them, walk around the store a bunch, see how they feel. Ignore people who are giving you their preference as a recommendation, they will not be wearing it for you - get what works better for you.
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few." Shunryu Suzuki
Obviously this is just a personal opinion, but having spent time trying both the Gregory and the Osprey Kestrel on (with various weights) I found the Kestrel to be more comfortable. It wasn't even close, really, but after reading reviews online I had it in my head that I was going to get a Gregory Z series that day so I spent probably a little too much time "giving it a chance" in the shop.
I've used it on a few summer weekend trips (hauling a bit more than I ordinarily would because my girlfriend has been going with me) and it has worked out fine.