I was in need of a new backpack, and the search was on for a good backpack for day hikes. I decided to try the Osprey Stratos 34 backpack.  Since 1974, Osprey has been making packs of exceptional quality for outdoor adventures. The Stratos 34 is considered a day hiker but is equally at home on short overnighters.

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The verdict

The Osprey Stratos 34 backpack is a great pack for dedicated day hikers. The rigid suspension supports loads of all sizes and holds the pack away from your back for great ventilation. The pockets and straps are carefully designed to carry what you need for all-season hiking.

Backpack back view
Backpack back view
Backpack blue
Backpack blue

Overview

The Stratos 34 is one of the largest capacity packs in the Osprey line that is still a panel-loader. I personally have always preferred the panel-loading packs for day trips as opposed to the ‘everything goes in the top’ top-loaders. I do have a larger top-loader for winter day trips, mostly for clothing changes as the weather and exertion fluctuate.

When to use

The Osprey Stratos 34 is a pack that is perfect for hiking, and perhaps single overnighters, but is a little too bulky for day-to-day or multi-sport use.

Weight

The Osprey Stratos 34 comes in two sizes.

The S/M weighs 2.946 LBS (1.34 kg)

The L/XL weighs 3.075 LBS (1.39 kg)

Pros

  • Lots of compartments in various sizes to keep your gear sorted.
  • Airspeed suspension – Incredibly comfortable and ventilated tensioned mesh back panel with added adjustability for variations in torso length to provide fine-tuned customization fit for every hiker and backpacker.
  • Seamless padded shoulder straps and hip belt made carrying heavier loads very comfortable.
  • Stow-on-the-Go trekking pole attachments are really useful.
  • Removable sleeping pad straps if you want to strap your sleeping pad outside the bag.
  • Sleeping bag
  • Zippered hip belt pouches for snacks while hiking.
  • Ice axe loop with bungee tie-off.
  • Integrated rain cover.
  • Dual side stretch mesh pockets, large enough for a good sized water bottle.
  • Comes in 2 sizes – small/medium (32L) and medium/large (34L)

Cons

  • At 3 lb., some will think that this pack is too heavy. As a day hiker this isn’t too bad, but for backpacking I’d prefer something lighter.
  • This pack is not rated as a hydration pack. However, it does have a reservoir sleeve inside the main compartment and a hole in the upper body to feed your hose through. It works, but it could be better.
Backpack test in the Canadian Rockies

A comfy backpack

I find that the Stratos 34 sits higher on my back than my previous pack, thereby giving me a more balanced weight distribution. The adjustable torso length makes for a perfect fit. The chest strap is also adjustable, across the chest and vertically along with the shoulder straps. The dual side compression straps keep the pack nice and close to the body.

The Stratos 34 features Osprey’s patented Airspeed Suspension which keeps the pack away from your body and keeps you cool. The shoulder straps are amazingly well padded and the seamless, also well padded, adjustable hip belt makes this a super comfortable pack.

So much storage

There are pockets everywhere on the Osprey Stratos 34. I’m an organizer so I like to know where things are when I need them. The pockets come in all sizes, even a sleeping bag compartment. There is a pocket on the front of the pack which I initially thought would only be good for maps or trail guides. I have since discovered that I can fit a light down jacket in the pocket, as well as the maps. But the pockets that I use the most are the zippered pockets in the hip belt. That’s where the snacks go.

The downside of so many pockets on this pack is the higher weight compared to more basic packs.  Personally, I prefer having these pockets, but a minimalist may not like them as much.

Testing the Osprey Stratos 34 in the Canadian Rockies
Backpack testing in the Canadian Rockies

Integrated rain cover

When the weather turns, you’re still covered, literally. The Stratos 34’s integrated rain cover keeps your gear and pack protected. The rain cover is attached to the pack, so that even if it comes off you won’t lose it if you’re at the end of the line.

Should you buy the Osprey Startos 34 backpack?

If you’re looking for a comfortable backpack with good storage, then the Osprey Stratos 34 is a great backpack.  The main compromise is that the cost for the comfort and storage is additional weight.  I like this pack as a day hiking backpack though, but would probably choose a different pack for backpacking.