As most of you know, I've been sharing helpful guides to Osprey backpacks for more than 2 years now (find full post list is at the bottom).
I thought that putting together a guide around these Stratos configurations would be helpful for most of you. Because, the 50 L version of Stratos took place in my top Osprey backpack picks for backpacking.
And I recommended these smaller adaptations as alternatives for some specific intended uses.
Let's take a quick look at them before we dig any deeper.
- Stratos 24: Front loading, no sleeping bag compartment, and offers 5 exterior pockets.
- Great for day hiking, but certainly nothing more than that.
- Stratos 34: Front loading, sleeping bag compartment (which also offers an additional access to the main compartment), and offers 7 exterior pockets.
- This would probably be my least recommended Stratos.
- Stuck somewhere in between Osprey's line-up and ended up lacking a true identity. It doesn't even have a women's counterpart!
- Stratos 36: Top loading AND side access, sleeping bag compartment (which also offers an additional access to the main compartment), and offers 7 exterior pockets.
- Top loading is a great advantage out in the nature as it offers easier access to the main compartment when the pack is sitting upright.
- 36 liters of volume, extra accesses and sleeping bag compartments together make it a good option for overnight hiking trips.
- Versatility wise, no doubt that it's the top pick. Unless you'll be day hiking only, then I'd recommend this over the 24 as well.
Because having the extra space but not needing it is always better than needing the extra space but not having it!
Let's get to their bolts and nuts.
Front or Top Loading?
I'd base my decision primarily on this difference. My approach is pretty simple here:
- Front loading (Stratos 24 & 34) would make things easier if you have an elevated, wide platform (think bed, desk, etc) to lay your backpack on and open it like a suitcase.
- I mostly recommend this for traveling folks.
- Top loading (Stratos 36) would come more useful during activities where you need access to the main compartment on the go.
- You can easily lean your pack against something (think a wall, tree, or even your leg) and voila. You just gained the access to your entire equipment.
I mean... I did say the front loading Stratos 24 is great for day hiking... and overall, that is true...
But I guess I'd still consider a top loading alternative such as osprey's Talon 33. Comes with less bells and whistles, but is more comfortable and offers top loading.
Unless you're a true ultralighter, I wouldn't recommend 24 liters for overnight camping. Not at all. 24 liters is optimal for day hiking, but is off the table for anything more than that.
Having said that, Stratos 36 isn't huge by any means.
It's slightly larger than a carry on sized pack (see the introduction image). But at that level of cost, you obtain a larger advantage in terms of versatility.
You can get the Stratos 24 and be perfectly fine if you'll be day hiking only.
However, if extra size isn't a concern for you, than I'd recommend you the Stratos 36.
Here's a good video review of the 36: