Video Review: Osprey Comet 30L - $100

Posted by Deron Chang on Friday, August 08, 2014 with No comments


Video review:


The good stuff:

The Comet has a lot of the features that I want in a crossover day pack.  It has many of the necessities (waist belt, divided organizer compartment, laptop pocket) and only a few "issues" that give me pause.

Guess what?  It has a dedicated place for my sunglasses/glasses/goggles!  I know that I am a broken record about this feature - sorry.  I just get so excited when packs have it.  If I see a pack with a sunglasses pocket, I often lose my mind and ignore everything else about a pack.  It is a surefire way for a pack manufacturer to sucker me into buying their pack.


Beyond the sunglasses pocket, the Comet has the best divided organizer compartment of any pack I have reviewed so far.  Not only does it have many option into which I can put all of my stuff from a cell phone to a stylus, but it has room for so much more.  Additionally, the compartment is located on the front of the pack outside of the main compartment - making it a cinch to get to stuff quickly.  The compartment unzips widely making it accessible to easily pack and unpack your stuff.  The zipper is not covered by a flap which really eases the process.  You don't have to fight this pack to get to your little things.  Take a look at the photos to see how great this compartment is.

The main compartment is cavernous and has an large pocket ideally suited to hold file folders and other documents you wish to keep flat.  There is not much else going on here, but there is nothing else that this compartment should have.  It is great for stuffing a lot of your goodies in here.

This pack also has a separate compartment for a laptop (at least 17 inches).  I have come to realize that this is something that I look for in a pack now.  Most packs have the laptop sleeve in the main compartment but inevitably, it is hard to insert and remove the laptop from this sleeve as one needs to usually navigate around the side and top "walls" of the pack.  The separate compartment not only eliminates this problem but also provides the great convenience of being able to access your computer with a single slide of a zipper.  This same compartment in the Comet has a separate padded sleeve for a tablet. A truly well thought-out design.

The pack has two side mesh pockets with compression straps.  These pockets can hold full size Nalgene bottles.  There are also two handles: one in the usual place on top and one on the front (see the photos).  I can imagine that the front handle would be a useful feature.

The bad stuff:

It has the dreaded pair of compression straps that lay across the zipper to the main compartment.  Hate them.  If I keep this pack, I will cut them off.  Compression straps are the most overrated feature on this class of pack.  It just makes no sense to have them other than the fact that some people think they look cool.

This is a 30L pack.  I know that I shouldn't be shocked by this, but this pack is too big.  As I have said in the past, a 28L pack is really the sweet spot for this type of pack and what we ask of it.  At 30L, this pack has too much room for me (hey!  a use for the compression straps!).  My camera bag bangs around in the main compartment and I can feel the camera bag shift if I move from side to side quickly.  Similarly, the laptop section is too big for my 15 inch MacBook.  Once again, I can feel my computer moving around when I move around (and compression straps will not help in this regard).

Finally, the suspension system seems ill-matched for this large pack.  I would have expected deeper and more grooves for air circulation, a stiffer frame sheet (it actually lacks one and relies on the EVA foam for structure), and a thin waist belt.  I am actually most bummed out about the 3/4 inch waist belt as it digs into your waist when the pack is fully loaded.  Osprey should have made this a waist belt with wings and increased the width to 2 inch webbing.  A real oversight and I would guess that the engineers never really tried the waist belt on before sending this pack off to be produced.  The lack of a frame sheet means that the back conforms too much to your back and I can imagine that this will lead to overheating.  What is odd is that despite the back conformity, the pack feels loose and squirrelly when you are carrying a full load - clearly because of the underwhelming suspension system.  The worst of both worlds - hot and loose!  (Get you mind out of the gutter.)

Summary:

If Osprey made this pack in a 26 to 28 L size with all the features of this 30 L version (they don't), and then included a stiffer, higher circulation back and beefed up the waist belt, they could easily charge $30 more for this thing and I would be the world's biggest fan.  It is so close to being a great crossover.  I was a fool, of course, to think that a 30 L pack would be okay.  I have even stated in many articles that 28L is the best size!  It's not as if Osprey was trying to trick me.  It says that is 30L all over the place.  I think it is good for everyone to read this a learn from my mistake.  30 L is too big for this type of pack (unless the suspension is beefed up).  Still, it may work for you folks of you carry a lot of gear and a 17+ inch laptop.  (At that point, however, you should consider hiring a sherpa...)

Grade:  B+ (for the ill-matched suspension system)

Photos: (will post tomorrow)