I finally picked up a new pack and retired my Osprey Revo after 2 1/2 years.  The Revo worked just fine as a simple run commuting backpack, but I was in the market for something a bit larger that had a chest strap for additional motion-control.This past summer when I was sweating more on my runs, I started to get some chafing action on my lower back from the Revo’s slight side-to-side motion.  Just a little bit of irritation can turn into a larger, more painful issue when you run twice a day, everyday, so it kept me from running a few times.

In addition, I couldn’t quite fit my work clothes, lunch and a pair of shoes in the pack, which I occasionally need to bring in when I need a different pair.  Also, every once in a while I will stop and pick up a few groceries on my way home and 1300 cu in. was just a bit too small.  And so began a long obsession with finding the perfect run commuting backpack…

The Osprey Stratos 24 was on my shortlist, along with other Osprey packs, like the Comet, Hornet 24, Manta 25 and Talon 22.  Osprey is one of my favorite companies.  They make a lot of great packs for a bunch of outdoor activities and it seems like they really listen to their users when designing new gear, which is awesome.  I also had a few others on my list, too, including the CamelBak Highwire 25, Mountainsmith Colfax 25, and The North Face Enduro 30.  Some of these are considered “hydration packs”, but I planned on removing the bladders to maximize internal capacity (I normally run with handheld water bottles).

Osprey Stratos 24

There are a few features that put the Stratos above the others:

First, the AirSpeed suspension system.

There is a breathable mesh panel that is suspended away from the back of the Stratos, leaving a space several inches thick where air can move freely across your back.  Think of the feeling you get when you are out on a run on a hot day (without a pack) and a strong breeze hits you from the side, running a chill up your spine and cooling you down.  You get that same sensation while wearing the Stratos with Osprey’s unique AirSpeed system.

Large mesh panel

Behind the mesh – Back of pack and lightweight frame

Looking through from the side

On a runner

Second, the integrated raincover.

I used a separate raincover with my Revo when I needed it, but sometimes I would forget to pack it and would end up using grocery bags to keep things dry (which worked ok).  Having the right piece of gear for the job built right in is perfect.

Raincover storage area

Deployed

On the pack

Third, not too big; not too small.

The carrying capacity is just right and fits everything I need or might pick up along the way.  Though sometimes things just don’t quite fit in your pack…

Yes, I ran with it like this…

Overall Impression

Amazing!  Unwanted movement/bounce is eliminated by adjusting up to four areas on the pack – waist, chest, shoulder straps, and pack compression.  The LightWire frame helps the pack consistently keep it’s shape when it’s strapped down no matter what you are carrying in it.  And, this pack is sturdy.  It can take a beating and no doubt will last through years of run commuting and hiking.

There’s only one thing that I don’t like, which seems to be a common problem on backpacks with waist straps – they’re not designed for skinny people (the straps are way too long).  This is what I look like when everything is adjusted and cinched down:

Excess straps

The chest strap has a lot of leftovers, too, but it’s not as annoying as those waist straps hitting your legs with every step.  To fix this problem, I just tie them off like so:

Close enough

For a more permanent solution, I can cut the straps to more manageable length, then burn and sew the ends.   However, I will wait until winter when I have a full load and I’m wearing excessive running clothing to determine where to cut them.  At any rate, it’s fine for now.

As we’ve found, no company really makes a true “run commuting” backpack.  They make trail running and adventure racing packs and those do the job even though they are designed a little differently than what our ideal pack would be.  Osprey describes the Stratos as a “day hiking, peak bagging” pack.  The day hiking category of packs seem to be geared more towards a run commuter than the trail and adventure types of gear, but whenever you’re in the market for a run commuting backpack, be sure to try out a few first.

General Features

  • Padded waist strap with pockets
  • Chest strap
  • AirSpeed suspension system
  • Hydration pouch and exit holes
  • Easy access pockets
  • Breathable fabric
  • Ice ax attachment (not reviewed…yet)

Run Commuting Pros/Cons

Pros

  • Very secure fit
  • Comfortable
  • Multiple compression straps
  • LightWire frame
  • Large carrying capacity
  • Super-breathable mesh suspension system
  • Integrated raincover
Cons
  • Waist straps too long

Recommended?  Yes

MSRP:  $99.95

Available colors:  Cactus (shown in review), Tarn, and Shale

Website:   http://www.ospreypacks.com/

Note: This backpack was purchased for use by the author.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Editor-in-Chief of The Run Commuter by night, paralegal by day. Father of two (soon to be three) boys. Husband to the world's greatest bicycle advocate. Avid runner. Lover of beer and urban gardening. Can be found running with a backpack around the streets of Atlanta, Georgia.

20 Responses to “Review: Osprey Stratos 24” Subscribe

  1. Backpack Cooler November 14, 2011 at 1:22 am #

    Wow, I had no idea that modern backpacks now come with air suspension in order to keep your back cool. I’m sure that’s very helpful when you are jogging or hiking for miles and getting real sweaty and hot.

  2. kipwinger March 4, 2012 at 9:35 pm #

    I’m running with the Talon 22 and I’m continuously having problems with bounce and the waist straps riding up higher and higher. I just can’t stop that! I don’t know if I pack it wrong or what. Any tips?

    I’m still working away from the pack and finishing my running trailer. For the time being, the Talon 22 is the best I could find. Also works great as a bike commuting pack!

    • Josh March 7, 2012 at 4:46 pm #

      Kipwinger – I like the look of the Talon 22 a lot. I’m wondering if you have the right size? It comes in S/M and M/L and those few inches can make a big difference. However, if you do have the right size, cinch down the waist strap as much as you can. Then do it some more. Also, if you’re not doing it already, put heaviest items at the bottom of your pack and the lightest on top. Aside from those three things, you might not have the right pack for your body.

      Now, to the running trailer – I have had the same idea for a while now! We recently purchased a Chariot Cougar I bike trailer with jogging stroller add-on, so my wife could bike our son to daycare in the morning, and at the end of the day I could convert it to a jogger and run home. However, I hate running while pushing something in front of me. It throws off my whole running form. The coolest thing about this type of trailer, though, is that you can get Hiking and Skiing conversion kits! I’ve decided that the hiking one is probably the best for running-with-trailer. I may need to modify it (get rid of the handles) to make it work. I’ll let you know how it goes.

      • gordon May 15, 2012 at 5:53 am #

        Just read this after my post….i am still at work…I did have my shoes at the top I will try putting them at the bottom and tightening the **** out of it. lol

  3. gordon May 15, 2012 at 5:50 am #

    I just picked up the stratos24 and ran to work with it today….but it is bouncing on me and the straps are rubbing my shoulders and neck…any suggestions on how to tighten it for running?

    Thanks!

    • Heng Ky May 16, 2012 at 12:17 am #

      If you pull the shoulder strap to much the hipbelt rises to your waist. Adjust the hipbelt right on your hip then adjust the shoulder strap accordingly and it should work fine. Hope this work for you.

  4. Heng Ky May 16, 2012 at 12:04 am #

    Thx for the review! I wasn’t sure to purchase the Stratos 24 if it was comfortable running with but you convinced me as a runner. My solution of the long strap is to tuck it behind the hipbelt connecting to the pack

  5. Mark August 5, 2012 at 2:04 am #

    Great review, how tall are you? Thank you.

    • Josh August 5, 2012 at 9:09 am #

      Thanks! 5′ 10″ (152cm)

      • Mark August 5, 2012 at 4:50 pm #

        Thanks Josh, I’m the same height too. My measurements look like a medium would be the correct fit, is your pack a medium? Thanks again.

        • Josh August 5, 2012 at 5:17 pm #

          Yes. It’s a medium.

      • Bo Ning Han August 21, 2012 at 10:01 pm #

        hey josh, that should be 178 cm if you’re five ten.

        • Josh August 21, 2012 at 11:00 pm #

          Whoops, thanks!

  6. LT September 24, 2012 at 8:15 pm #

    Do you ever run with a laptop in your backpack? I like the idea of the mesh back, but I read a review of on zappos indicating the curved shape of the bag (I guess the structure that holds it away from your back) makes it hard to get a laptop to fit. Curious if you’ve had a similar experience. Thanks!

    • Josh September 24, 2012 at 8:31 pm #

      I have run several times with my Asus eee Transformer tablet. The curvature of the pack does make it a bit unusual when carrying laptops/tablets. The tablet is snug in the laptop sleeve at the bottom of the Osprey, but sticks out away from the pack at the top. It’s a little annoying, but you can still make it work.

      If you are thinking about buying it, bring a laptop with you so you can see how it fits. Osprey makes other packs without the Airspeed system that might work better for run commuters who often carry computers.

      • LT October 21, 2012 at 12:24 am #

        Thanks for the advice! I ended up with the Osprey Momentum since it has a dedicated laptop slot. Plus I decided at the end of the day it’s really not hot enough where I live (San Francisco) to justify the Airspeed system. I’ve done the commute 6 times so far and I’m really happy with the pack. :)

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