Backpacks Outdoors

Osprey Kestrel Backpack Review

There is no better phrase to describe the Osprey Kestrel Backpack than the one used by Osprey: “A true workhorse”.

First of all, we don’t receive any commission or bonus from Osprey (or any company) for our reviews. We just love hiking and like most we have tried a lot of products and gear. Therefore, we want to share our impressions on those products that are worth it.

Osprey is one of the great companies when it comes to hiking, backpacking and everything related to outdoor recreation. They offer a really amazing amount of backpacks according to the needs and tastes.

Enough with the introduction, let’s go straight to the analysis.

Premiun materials

No matter the model, you will always get a selection of features that make them unique and super resistant: premium materials such as nylon, water-repellent treatments, zippers from quality manufacturers such as YKK, quality plastic buckles and accessories from Woojin Plastic (WJ Buckle), YKK, Nifco and others.

You definitely won’t find shoddy materials or mediocre workmanship in an Osprey backpack.

In addition to premium materials, Osprey is one of the companies that invests the most in Research and Development (R+D) to improve its customers’ experience year after year, providing frequent updates to its backpacks.

And last but not least: Osprey has always offered an unconditional guarantee on its backpacks, no matter the time or place. If it gets damaged, you send it in and they repair it or change it, simple.

Osprey Kestrel/Kyte capacity

The Osprey Kestrel backpack is available in (measured by liters): 38L, 48L, 58L and 68L, being used for both hiking and backpacking.

It is very important to clarify that there is the Kyte model, designed specifically for women (anatomically speaking), with capacities of 36L, 46L, 56L and 66L.

Although the number of liters depends on what you need to transport, the 38L backpack is perfect for hiking, while the 48L offers a perfect combination for hiking with a heavy load or backpacking for one to two days. The 58L and 68L models are exclusively for backpacking.

Osprey Kestrel 38L backpack is perfect for hiking, while the 48L offers a perfect combination for hiking with a heavy load or backpacking for one to two days. The 58L and 68L models are exclusively for backpacking.

Osprey Kestrel/Kyte features

Here is a summary of the features to consider if you are interested in the Osprey Kestrel/Kyte:


It’s simple, the Osprey Kestrel is built to withstand all outdoor environments: canyons, bush, forests, jungles, everything.

Durability is a key feature on the Osprey Kestrel
Durability is a key feature on the Osprey Kestrel

Hydration bag compartment located on the outside of the backpack

This is a feature that differentiated the Osprey Kestrel/Kyte backapack for years from other competitive backpacks or even some Osprey models.

Hydration bladder compartment
Hydration bladder compartment on the Osprey Kestrel 38L

There are those who love that the hydration bladder is outside of the main compartment, to prevent it from interfering with the contents and of course to make it easier to fill the bladder without having to empty the contents of the main compartment.

However, in our experience, carrying the bag in the external compartment affects the ergonomics of the backpack on the back, making it uncomfortable. We have used it with a 3L hydration bag, so a smaller capacity bag might not affect ergonomics.

Roomy belt pockets

Although not the oversized belt pockets that are becoming popular in some backpacks, the Kestrel has pockets large enough for snacks, GPS, flashlights and even 7.5″ phones (a bit tight).

Belt pockets
Belt pocket on the Osprey Kestrel 38L

Many ways to access the main compartment

Another distinctive feature of the Osprey Kestrel backpack is that it allows us to access the main compartment from several places, which is very useful in case the equipment or what we need is far from the top of the main compartment.

Osprey Kestrel access the main compartment
Ways to access the main compartment

In the case of the Kestrel 38L we can find 3 ways of access: 1) the usual one through the upper part of the backpack, 2) a zipper located on the right side and 3) in the lower part of the backpack that is usually intended for the sleeping bag.

In Osprey the Kestrel/Kyte 58L/68L, the middle compartment changes to a U-type closure that covers most of the main compartment.

Attachment points

In the Kestrel/Kyte we will find many places to hang carabiners or tie implements such as knives, GPS’s, hats, shoes, etc.

Osprey Kestrel has many attachment points
The Osprey Kestrel has many attachment points

The famous daisy chains are kept on both sides of the pack and there are also points to attach trekking poles.

Integrated raincover

Most quality backpacks have a treatment to provide water resistance (Durable water repellent, or DWR) and a rain cover. The Opsrey/Kyte has it in a dedicated compartment at the bottom.

Osprey Kestrel backpack integrated raincover compartment
Integrated raincover compartment in Osprey Kestrel/Kyte backpack

Osprey Kestrel/Kyte load range

  • Kestrel 38/48: 20 – 35 lbs. (9 – 16 kg)
  • Kestrel 58: 30 – 45 lbs. (14 – 20 kg)

Osprey Kestrel/Kyte fabric

  • Main: 210D x 630D Nylon Dobby
  • Accent: 420HD Nylon Oxford
  • Bottom: 500D Nylon Packcloth

Osprey Kestrel/Kyte sumary

All Osprey Kestrel models (38, 48 and 58)

  • Breathable AirScape ridged foam backpanel with adjustable torso length
  • Dual tuckaway ice tool attachments
  • External reservoir sleeve
  • Dual stretch mesh side pockets
  • Front panel hybrid shove-it pocket
  • Zippered hipbelt pockets
  • Integrated removable raincover
  • Zippered sleeping bag compartment with floating divider
  • Dual front panel daisy chains
  • Dual upper reverse StraightJacket side compression straps
  • Stow-on-the-Go trekking pole attachment
  • Dual lower side compression straps
  • Removable sleeping pad straps

Kestrel 38 and 48

  • Fixed top lid with external zippered pocket and under lid zippered mesh pocket
  • Side zipper access to main compartment

Kestrel 48

  • Full-length vertical zippered side pocket

Kestrel 58

  • Floating (removable) top lid with external zippered pocket and under lid zippered mesh pocket
  • Large front panel dual U-zip access to main compartment

Things to improve on the Osprey Kestrel Backpack

We are more than satisfied with its versatility, quality and durability, however, as always there are improvements to be made to future generations of this model:

  • Slightly larger belt pockets. Nowadays, many backpacks offer larger, oversized belt pockets, which is quite useful when you have a large device, such as a cell phone.
  • Easier access to the side pockets. Nalgene bottles and accessories fit well in the pockets, but access is not easy if the backpack is loaded and even impossible if you carry it on your back.
  • External reservoir sleeve. It may be our perception, but the ergonomics on the back are significantly affected by the hydration bag in the external compartment.
  • Shoulder Strap Pockets. Some backpacks currently include fixed or removable pockets on the shoulder straps, at chest height. This is very convenient to store glasses, gps, cell phone, water bottles and other accessories while you are on the go.