TropXwrote a review of Osprey Packs Stratos 24 Backpack - 1300-1700cu in on April 9, 2007
I completed a tour of the South Dakota Badlands and Black Hills last summer, and this pack performed flawlessly. It is very comfortable for loads up to about 18 pounds (the maximum I carried on this trip). The Air Core back panel is great for ventilation, and the shoulder straps and hipbelt are very comfy. I did notice the suspension creaking once in a while, but it was minor and not an irritant. The pack itself is not ultra-light (2 lbs, 12 oz. in large), but that's not a concern for short hikes anyway.
When the pack first arrived I was concerned that it was far too small (the curved back panel makes it look that way), but it stretches and swallows much more than you'd think. Like another reviewer noted, though, it's not ideal for flat, bulky items like books or laptops--I don't think this would make a good commuter/student pack.
I like the dual-hydration option (one in the pack, one in the mesh backpanel), since I do a fair amount of hot-weather and desert hiking. Obviously using the interior hydration sleeve uses up pack space, but even then I still find plenty of room for a tarp, softshell jacket, first aid kit, and assorted sundries. In fact, if you pack light you'll find enough room for an overnighter or even maybe a fair-weather weekend in it. The small zippered pouch uses up main pack space but is very handy for small stuff. Speaking of small stuff, the hipbelt pockets are big enough for a small GPS, knife, and maybe a pocket digital camera, but not much more. They sure are handy, though.
The external compression system is excellent (I used it to carry a lightweight tripod) as are the little looped zipper pulls. The curved side pockets look shallow but hold a 16 to 20-ounce bottle securely. The front stretch pocket is quite handy as well, and deep enough that I don't worry about things falling out.
I wish the shoulder straps were perforated like the Atmos series, but otherwise I can't find anything to nitpick. This pack seems very well made and I expect it to last a long, long time.
A note on sizing: I tried the medium but found that the shoulder straps pinched in too far and felt constricting (I have a 44 inch-plus chest with a relatively short torso). The large is a bit "tall" feeling but overall is a much better fit. Big and barrel-chested guys might find this useful especially when you're ordering on-line.