Osprey Kestrel 38 Review

Dave & I at the East Inlet Trailhead

The need for a larger backpack presented itself Fall of 2019 when a good friend of mine and I planned an overnight backcountry trip into Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP), where we would hike to Lake Verna from the East Inlet Trailhead (twenty miles out and back). After considering my current pack needs, along with future adventures, I had decided upon the Osprey Kestrel 38.

Osprey Kestrel 38, Dry Fit prior to hike to Lake Verna

Fit: After dry fitting the pack with all the needed gear, I was curious to see what adjustments would be needed to dial in the fit. Never having worn a backpack that large before, I did not know what to expect. After hoisting up the forty-plus pound pack onto my shoulders, I was surprised to find that the main body of the pack aligned squarely within the center of my back – it was quite comfortable. All I needed to do was make a minor adjustment to the shoulder straps, which was simple to do. 

Fitting the Osprey Kestrel 38

Gear: Here is where deciding upon the capacity of the pack is super critical. You need to determine what gear you are going to carry and in what season. In the summer, you will typically pack lighter gear than you would in the fall or winter. The capacity of this pack is great for overnight treks, as well as snowhoeing treks, where you need to carry additional supplies. However, for day hikes, this pack would be larger than what is necessary – I would use my Osprey Daylite for those. Below is how/what I packed for the trip:

  • a) Belly of the pack: Marmot Trestles Elite Eco 20 Sleeping Bag (packed in the Zippered Sleeping Bag Compartment), fully stuffed 13L Dry Sack, 1.5L Nalgene water bottle, one pair of Patagonia fleece lined snow pants, emergency gear and miscellaneous items in the top lid.
  • b) External reservoir sleeve: 2.5L Osprey Hydraulics Reservoir.
  • c) External parts of the pack: trekking poles, tent poles, REI Half Dome 3 Plus Tent, Therm-a-Rest ProLite Apex sleeping pad, plus a few extra times.
  • d) Missing from the pack: Jetboil stove and food. Thankfully, Dave had an 80L pack that carried the bear proof container, filled with our food and the Jetboil stove.
Looking back at East Meadow.

Durability: The Osprey Kestrel 38 main body is constructed of durable 210D x 630D Nylon Dobby with bottom made of 500D Packcloth. This provides excellent tear resistance and protection against the elements. But with that said, the pack also includes an integrated rain cover. The external compression straps are solidly attached to the pack and should with stand years of use. Lastly, you need not worry about the pack bursting at the seams or zippers as they appear to be solidly woven into the overall system of the Kestrel 38. Not to mention the the pack is backed by Osprey’s All Mighty Guarantee.

Finished, back at the East Inlet Trailhead after the hike out from Lake Verna

Final Note: The Osprey Kestrel 38 has met my immediate needs. As mentioned in the post for Lake Verna: A First Adventure, which happened to be my first backcountry hiking adventure and this pack worked perfectly. And, it would be a great pack for a two to three day trek, as long as a ton gear was not needed. I am looking forward to some longer treks next summer on the Bowen/Baker Loop, located on the western edge of RMNP. Additionally, here are the link to the Osprey Daylite Review and the Osprey Rev 6 Hydration Pack Review.


Overall: Good Purchase

Price paid: $160

Place purchased: REI

Link to Osprey website: Kestrel 38

Note: This blog receives no payment or other compensation for reviews of products or services. If I/we did not pay full retail price for a product being reviewed, I/we will explicitly state that in the review. Unless explicitly stated, I/we have no affiliation or relationship with the product being reviewed.

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