A Masterpiece in Terms of Comfort and Organization
Early in 2017, I needed a new pack for mountain running and ultra-endurance events. Over the years, I have owned many Osprey packs and have been impressed both because of the high quality of Osprey products and the warranty behind them. When the Duro 15 was released, I got one without even thinking twice about it. Eventually, I even purchased a second one. In 2017, I ran or speed-hiked close to 3,000 Kilometers, and the majority of them was while carrying the Duro 15.
I used the Duro for the Tor Des Geants, a 350-Km multi-day, ultra-endurance event in the Italian Alps: it performed brilliantly. If you are looking for a pack for multi-day races and 15 liters are enough for your kit, look no further than the Osprey Duro. It is incredibly well designed and extremely comfortable. I had tested several other running packs or vests from other brands and found the Duro 15 to be the most comfortable over extended periods of times, even if with loads ranging between 5 and 8 kilos.
As I’m posting this review, I’ve used one of my two Duros for over 3,500 kilometers of training. Here are my personal conclusions.
Cons - few and minor
1. The pole attachment system is not well designed for three-section folding poles. If your three-section poles are adjustable, you can, however, fold them into two parts long enough to attach one pole on each side. It will also work if your poles are not adjustable provided they are long enough to reach past the low strap over the side mesh pocket. The poles attachment system is advertised as Stow-on-the-Go™ but I don’t find it’s really on the go, especially compared to other Osprey packs. Even if possible, stowing or removing the poles without taking off the pack is not easy. I have seen pictures showing the poles attached to the front using the two elastic bands in the soft flask pockets; however, these two elastic bands are fairly small and not adjustable: folded three-section poles barely go through them and it normally takes some playing around.
2. The zipper on the small top pocket - with the key attachment - sometimes snags with the top flap protecting the zipper from the rain. If you pay attention when pulling the zipper closed though, you should get away with it most of the time. Also, the small pocket in the pre-release sample pack was of a lighter color, which would have allowed spotting items more easily thanks to the contrast. For some reason, this feature was not kept in the final production model.
3. The Powermesh is very light, which is probably a good thing in terms of weight but not as much in terms of ruggedness: you want to avoid carrying heavy or pointy objects in the side or hip belt pockets. I got several small holes in one of my pockets fairly quickly; then I started storing pointy, heavier items in small stuff sacks or into the main pack compartment and this resolved the issue. All that being said, I find the quality of the mesh to be actually quite good, especially considering how lightweight it is. It would, of course, be possible to have a heavier and more resistant mesh but it would also increase the weight of the pack.
4. The phone pocket is great but if you take out the flask behind it, it won’t be that easy to place it back into its pocket, especially if full. You may first have to take your phone out from the zipped pocket, slide down the bottle, then place the phone back.
Note that I don’t use the flasks that came with the Duro and my phone tends to be slightly thicker than many recent smartphone models both because of its wat
er resistance and because I always carry it with a rugged protective case. With the Osprey soft flasks and a thin smartphone, this may turn out be less of a problem.
Pros - A lot of them
1. As I already mentioned, comfort, comfort, and then comfort. I carried this pack through the Alps non-stop for 145 hours and even forgot, I was carrying it. The extra padding on the back-panel and upper shoulder strap, make it comfortable even with heavy loads. The mesh on the back panel, wicks sweat away pretty well. The Pack-vest style fit together with the dual elastic sternum straps, makes it possible to adjust the pack close to your body and keep it from bouncing around. It just hugs you. Note that the elastic dual sternum straps tend to loosen up when carrying heavier loads and may have to be tightened periodically when carrying heavy loads but it’s not a problem, and an acceptable trade-off for having elastic sternum straps. Ultralight race vest designs may be all the rage on the trails these days. If you need to carry heavier loads or really need a pack for extended times, you won’t regret the more traditional pack design with a hip belt!
2. The pack organization is great. Both the side and hip belt pockets can be easily opened and closed with just one hand. The side mesh pockets can also be very easily accessed without removing the back: you can tell by these details how well the pack has been designed! There are 5 small pockets as well as a front shove-it mesh pocket which is great to store a wind or hard shell for a quick grab or to dry. When the pack is full, it won’t allow fitting more than a lightweight and compact shell.
3. The back-panel mesh wicks away sweat pretty well for this type of design. The shoulder straps also allow for ventilation.
4. The zippered, hydration reservoir pocket is great and allows easy refills even when the pack full. It is spacious enough to fit 2L reservoirs from most if not all brands. 3L reservoirs may also fit fine but you may not be able to fill them up to their full capacity.
5. For a fully-featured 15-Liter pack, it is actually lightweight. Some people may disagree that 600 grams (for size M/L) can be called lightweight but considering all the features, the organization, the breathable mesh, and the extra padding, I find Osprey have done a great job at keeping the weight down. You can, of course, find much lighter than this but not with all these features!
6. If your poles are not foldable, collapsible, or you simply don’t want to spend the time to fold them, it’s possible to secure them fully extended diagonally across the front mesh pocket. This can actually be done without removing the pack, though it requires practice and a good amount of flexibility with your arms.
7. The zipped phone pocket is large enough to fit most smartphones, even full-sized ones.
Probably because of extra padding and durable materials, the pack requires some breaking in. Ballpark, both packs took between 15 to 20 hours to break in and adjust to the shape of my body.
The size is fairly generous, especially if you primarily use the flasks and don’t have to fill or only partially fill the reservoir. However, 15 liters can be too much or too little depending on the intended use: it is not a lot for multi-day events, especially if you expect low temperatures or you have to be partially self-supported. Even for long-distance training, in winter I have no space left if I take along emergency layers and/or extra nutrition. I really hope in the future Osprey will consider releasing 20 and/or 25-Liter versions of the Duro.
Overall, simply the best running pack I’ve come across in the 10-20 liter range.
(This review was left on a previous version of this product)