Osprey’s Kestrel 38 Women’s Backpack

Editor- Katja


Just the facts:

The versatile Osprey Kestrel 38 is designed to transport 30-40 pound loads anywhere you care to go. With a separate zippered sleeping bag compartment and external sleeping pad straps, it’s a fully functional overnight pack. Or cinch down the StraightJacket™ side compression straps and take it out for a day of canyoneering in Utah’s San Rafael swell.

Whatever you put inside, Osprey’s LightWire™ frame transfers the load to a comfortable spacer mesh harness and hipbelt. This innovative suspension system ensures all-day carrying comfort, especially in warm conditions when the Airscape™ mesh backpanel comes into play.

When it comes time to unpack, the main compartment has top loading or side zip access providing multiple portals to get at your gear without struggle.

Other storage features include top-lid and under-lid zippered pockets, side and front stretch mesh pockets, and two zippered hipbelt pockets.

Along with the extensive pocketry, there are dual front daisy chains and web attachment points on the top lid for anchoring gear to the exterior.

Other useful features include an external hydration sleeve, tuck-away ice tool loops, and Osprey’s Stow-on-the-Go™ trekking pole attachments. The entire pack can be shielded from the elements by deploying the integrated raincover.



Sleeping Bag Compartment – Wide mouth access sleeping bag compartment with divider stows your bag out of the way

Sleeping Pad Straps – Adjustable and removable sleeping pad straps provide secure extra carry

Side Zipper Access – Side zipper access to main compartment allows easy accessibility to the inside contents of the pack

Load Range: 25-40lbs

Fabric–Main: 210D Nylon Double
                        Diamond Ripstop

Fabric–Accent and Bottom: 420HD Nylon Packcloth


My Story:

As I got more into mountaineering, I realized my old high school backpack wouldn’t cut it. So I shopped around and settled on the Osprey Kestrel 38. I first used this pack on a summer day-hike up Mt. Townsend in the Olympic Mountains with my dog, Harley. The pack was perfect for carrying my gear, Harley’s necessities, and enough water for the two of us. For the first time in years, I came back from a hike without an aching back or shoulders–I immediately knew the Osprey was a smart investment!



Since then, this pack has come with me all over the Pacific Northwest. As I pursued greater challenges and got into scrambling (an activity between hiking and rock climbing), I discovered how wonderful having the numerous zippered pockets, gear loops, and easy access to the main compartment was. When I explored the Ape Caves near Mt. St. Helens, being able to access my layers and spare batteries via the numerous access points and pockets was wonderful! (And let me tell you, being in darkness for several hours with water dripping from the ceiling, easy access to everything was almost a necessity).



Above ground, pursuing higher peaks helped me appreciate the ease of strapping on my ice axe, helmet, and crampons for easy access during snow scrambles. This pack has been with me up several mountains and volcanoes in Washington State and never failed me!



I was heartbroken when I had to borrow a larger pack for a longer overnight (the Kestrel 38 works just fine for a single overnight during the summer, but for colder temperatures where more gear is needed, I had to opt for something bigger). And with all this hiking, as I’ve lost weight from some areas and gained muscles in others, the multiple adjustment points have kept the pack fitting perfectly! Even though it is showing some wear now that I’ve put it through its paces over the last few years, I know that I will be looking for another Osprey when the time comes.

Osprey Kestrel 38



Find it here:


What could be done better:

I have never gotten comfortable using the “Stow and Go” trekking pole attachment; maybe it is just how I’m built but I find that they get in the way and I don’t move as naturally with them there. However, I have seen other women happily using this feature so it is probably specific to build and body type.

While I love the external hydration sleeve, I always have trouble wrestling my full hydration pouch in when the pack is full. At home this isn’t a problem, but for longer hikes or overnights where I filter water, it becomes a struggle to force the pouch back inside (or requires emptying the contents of my pack). Maybe not such a tight fit for those of us who love our water!


Overall, this pack has served me well and I recommend the Osprey Kestrel 38 to other day hikers and scramblers!


5 Stars!

  • Functionality
  • Value
  • Ergonomics
  • Durability

One Response

  1. Avatar for Mike Mike February 24, 2018