Bought for long day hiking and backpacking trips and it has exceeded all my expectations. Love the hiking pole Stow-on-the-Go system (great for when you only need one pole or none when scrambling up/down rocky trails). Taken on several short (2-3 day) backpacking trips, and a many short (3-5mile) & long (6-10mile) day hike trips. Perfect intermediate size pack and could be great for longer backpacking trips if your more a light/ultra-light backpacker. Says 38L, but with top load can always stuff 5-10L more, plus loops on front for sleeping pad, etc. Can comfortably carry 35lbs, incl 1-2L Platypus, and not bulky to carry 10-20 lbs for day hike. Just right for long more remote day hikes (eg NY Catskills) when you want to bring extra gear just in case (for cold weather/emerg) and allows you to add/shed layers and bring extra food/water and shelter. All the extra pockets are great and the stretchy front pouch provides easy access to items on the go.
First, to be fair: these backpacks are gender specific and I got a man's backpack, despite being a girl. I liked the color better :) The fit was disappointing as compared to the Osprey Stratos (female version) - no matter what I did, the kestrel just did not sit quite right on my back, and felt "heavier" than the S of the same size. On the plus side, the Kestrel's pockets are awesome and I love being able to attach things like carabiners easily.
I initially bought this bag to have an extra pack for climbing, backpacking, etc. It's main use right now is for my climbing gear but I used it for a weekend of camping and backpacking and loved the pack. I have recently gotten into climbing so I don't have a whole lot of stuff, but for the things I have, basic essentials (rope, webbing, carabiners, harnesses, chalk bags, shoes) it has been a perfect fit. More gear would require a bigger pack, but so far this one has been great for me. I also use it for weekend trips to put just about anything in it. It synches down nice to accommodate a day hike or allows some stretch to overnight it. The sleeping bag compartment on the bottom was a key thing for me. I like to be able to separate my gear so I don't have to dig to the bottom of the bag. Nalgenes fit into the mesh pockets. All straps come in very useful. Great all around pack from a great brand.
The Osprey pack was even more than what I had hoped for. It is perfect for my needs. Mainly what I want to say in this review is how amazing the Moosejaw customer support is. From the online chat, to phone service, to emails everyone responded quickly and courteously. I had never shopped at Moosejaw before but I am now a big fan. It is an amazing company.
This bag has been with me for four years already and the durability is amazing. Storing water is a breeze, and you don't need to buy a rain cover! . It is a nice feature having the rain fly attached to the bag as well. This bag can be used to cover a long day hike, all the way up to a 4-5 day trek if you plan the rest of your gear out well. The straps are easy to move to fit any body type, as well as the back adjustment. This is the bag I trust when I go on short treks, and I recommend it to everyone!
"great backpack, just the right size for a day-long/overnight hike"
Was looking for a day-long to overnight hiking backpack and came across Osprey. I'm 6' 180 lbs and found the M/L size to fit just right. This thing has it all, great back support, arches away from you to cut down on that sweaty back feeling, stiff to keep my camelpak water bladder in place and unharmed. Ton's of pockets though I wish it had two pockets on the sides like the Atmos series from Osprey. FYI, if you get a tear in this thing 20 years from now, Osprey will fix it at no cost (presumably you'd have to pay for shipping but don't know, haven't had to use it). This thing is built to take abuse and has way more room than you would think from looking at it. Love this backpack.