Osprey Kestrel 38

Priced: $148.95 - $160.00 Rated:   - 5 stars out of 5 by 32 reviews.
Osprey Kestrel 38
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Color: Tarn Blue
Available Colors:
Osprey Kestrel 38 - Do it all with the Kestrel 38 from Osprey! The integrated rain cover keeps your gear dry in wet environments and the Airscape backpanel ventilates and keeps you cooler in high temperatures. The perfect size for day trips or lightweight overnights, the Kestrel 38 has all of the essential features to make packing, carrying and getting to your destination more delightful.


  • Hipbelt features 2 zippered pockets for stashing a digital camera and snacks
  • Mesh-covered, die-cut EVA hipbelt saves weight and enhances breathability


  • Zippered sleeping bag compartment with drop-down divider
  • Shoulder harness can be moved up or down for an additional 4" of torso adjustability
  • Side compression straps let you cinch down loads for jostle-free carrying


  • AirScape back panel circulates more air to keep you cool and features LightWire peripheral frame that stabilizes the load and transfers weight close to your body
  • LightWireTM frame
  • Peripheral-hoop alloy frame and HDPE framesheet provide a flexible and light structure

Weather and Wind:

  • Integrated rain cover keeps your prepared for sudden rainshowers


  • Sleeping bag stashes in the external zip compartment, or can be attached to the outside with a removable strap
  • Fixed top pocket with gear loops and dual zippered compartments
  • Under-lid zippered mesh pocket
  • Zippered hip-belt pocket keeps your digital camera and energy gel packs close at hand


  • Top-loading design features a sewn-on lid with a pocket that offers easily accessible gear storage
  • Stretch front and side pockets give you extra storage and organization options


  • Pack fits a wide variety of backs thanks to rip-and-stick, torso-length adjustability: just rip it, adjust it and stick it


  • Front and side stretch-woven pockets are ideal for stashing a jacket and other often-used gear
  • Made with 420D nylon packcloth, 210 double diamond nylon


  • Dual sleeping pad straps on the pack's base adjust easily to hold a variety of shapes and sizes of pads


  • Mesh stretched over ridge-molded foam backpanel for ventilation


  • External hydration compartment compatible with up to a 3L reservoir
  • Hydration-compatible design features reservoir sleeve and drink tube exit port for on-the-go hydration (reservoir sold separately)


  • Poles tuck away between your arm and pack; adjustable shockcord on left-hand shoulder strap and a side loop hold poles in tightly
  • Reverse Straight Jacket compression straps


  • Back panel features ridge-molded foam with channels covered in mesh to allow airflow
  • Trekking pole attachment lets you stow and remove poles (not included) while wearing pack
  • The Osprey Kestrel 38 pack features an integrated raincover that pulls out in a flash to protect contents from sudden downpours
  • AirScape™ backpanel
  • 2 ice axe loops with bungee tool tie-offs let you lash extra gear outside
  • Stow-on-the-Go trekking pole attachment lets you quickly tuck your poles out of the way without stopping to unload
  • Top loader
  • External loops and front daisies with bungee tie-offs give you plenty of places to stash equipment
FEATURES of the Osprey Kestrel 38 Pack.
SPECIFICATIONS of the Osprey Kestrel 38 Pack.

When you head out for a marathon all-day hike or even a quick overnight, you know you won't be hearing from your back or knees when you carry your gear in the Osprey Kestrel 38 Backpack. The Kestrel's ergonomic design, light weight, and plethora of stowage features deliver on-trail comfort, enabling you to shoulder loads of up to 35 pounds without a second thought.

Mountain Gear

The ultimate there-and-back pack. One day adventures and lightweight overnights are the Kestrel 38's specialty. A small zippered sleeping bag compartment gives you access to the bottom of your pack and a built in rain fly provides easily stowed protection from the elements. Daisy chains, dual ice axe loops with bungee tie offs, and trekking pole attachments make strapping gear to the outside of your pack simple and easy so you don't have to worry about running out of space. Makes a great Jack of all trades pack.


The Osprey Kestrel 38 is the ultimate "go anywhere, do anything" day pack. If you're an ultralight afficianado it's great for overnight trips as well. Two torso sizes and an adjustable harness provide custom fit. The Airscape backpanel and a peripheral steel spring rod frame provide superb comfort.


The sleek Osprey Kestrel 38 pack sports a technical design with an adjustable torso and lightweight materials, making it an ideal pack for long days or quick overnight adventures.



Ultra-versatile, the Kestrel series from Osprey is light, clean, and highly functional. Newly updated with a sleeker design, this is the ultimate "go anywhere, do anything" day pack.

Half-Moon Outfitters
Unique Stow-On-The-GoT trekking pole attachment
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Review RatingNumber of Reviews
Adjustable torso:38 liters
Backpack Features:Hydration Compatible, Included Rain Cover, Sleeping Bag Compartment, Top Loader
Backpack Style:Multi-Day Pack
Capacity:S/M: 2197 cu in / 36 L M/L: 2319 cu in / 38 L
Detachable Pack:no
Dimension:(H x W x D)
Dimensions:30 x 15 x 13 in
Fits torso:2,197 cubic inches
Fits waist/hips:2,319 cubic inches
Frame material:3 lbs. 3 oz.
Frame type:Backpacking
Gear capacity (L):Internal
Gear capacity (cu. in.):No
Helmet Carrier:no
Hydration Bladder Included:Not Included
Hydration Compatible:yes
Ice Axe Loops:yes
Key Fabrics:420D nylon packcloth; 210 double diamond nylon
Laptop Sleeve:None
Material:210 D double diamond nylon 420 D Nylon packcloth
Number of Pockets:3
Number of exterior pockets:<19 inches
Number of stays:1.39
Optimal Load Range:25-40 lb
Organization Pocket:no
Pack Capacity:36 L
Pack Size:2000-2999 cu in
Pack access:Yes
Pack loading:Yes
Primary Access:Top Access
Raincover included:27 - 32 inches
Shovel Pocket:yes
Ski / Snowboard Carrier:no
Sleeping bag compartment:19+ inches
Suspended mesh back panel:1.44
Suspension:Internal Frame
Trekking Pole Loops:yes
Volume:2319 cubic inches / 38 liter
Weight:S/M: 3 lb 1 oz / 1.39 kg M/L: 3 lb 3 oz / 1.44 kg
Weight - metric:36 liters
Compare specifications to related products.

Subcategories of Backpacks, Daypacks & Bags:

Osprey Kestrel 38 Reviews:

Positive Reviews:

What can I say about this pack that hasn't been said already on the other reviews. This pack is just phenomenal, I bought it through amazon and sent it to Jordan and used it in desert situations, valley hiking,climbing and 21 day excursion in Nepal. For long day hikes, the bag performs very well,It keeps the weight perfectly spread out through the waist, perfect design. The side pockets are just mind blowingly helpful(i doubt blowingly is an actual word but it fits in perfectly) the pockets stored my passports, energy bars and a plethora of essentials like knives extra paracord etc. It's incredibly durable, i tied wood, slacklines, carabiners, axes and basically used it as protection for going downhill. No wear or tear is evident yet. The built in raincover is a very convenient plus, I currently live and study in Halifax and it rains most days, I've never felt more secure with walking in heavy rain considering i have a laptop and a bunch of notebooks stowed in the bag. Having tried the North Face Terra 35 the Marmot Aspen 35, its safe to say that the Osprey Kestrel is the best one i've ever tried. Wether you're trudging through the himalayas or in the deserts of Jordan this bag will keep your gear safe,dry and organized. Just can't see anything toping this except the new Prophet by The North Face but the price gap between the two is insane. Overall the kestrel won't disappoint, great design, incredibly durable and does well in most adventure related situations. The only thing that disappointed me was that the Fire Red colour doesn't look as red as the picture entails other than that its close to perfect.

Mohannad Tabbalat at Backcountry.com on 11/27/2013

I'm in LOVE with this pack! I picked it up based on reviews I've read and time and time again this is the pack that gets pulled out of the closet when I'm headed out. When shopping or evaluating other packs I measure them up to this pack. It's feature set is so well thought out making this the definition of a Multi-Use pack. Climbing - check, Overnighter - check, Ultralight weekend - check. In short, you can do just about anything with this thing. If the 38L size isn't sufficient, Osprey offers these in various sizes to suite just about any size load you'll need to carry.
I find the 38L to be the perfect go-to for overnight peak bagging assaults or ultralight 2-3 day backpacking trips. Works great for getting me too and from the crags with my ropes and rack.
Absolutely feature packed design! I'm most impressed with the external hydration sleeve. I wish more packs had this feature. One of my other packs has the traditional internal sleeve which just annoys me..
This pack is sure to please. At the price point you simply won't find a better pack - PERIOD. The Osprey warranty, quality materials, feature packed design, and refined layout make this a winner in all categories.
If I had one complaint, it would be that optional sized shoulder straps and waist belts are not offered (minor gripe). I'm a stocky built guy and while the fit is sufficient for the load this pack is capable of, having the option to size the straps would be the icing on the cake even if it meant a small weight/price penalty. Beyond that, this pack is flawless!

Justin Hebert at Backcountry.com on 12/21/2013

Super Technical Daypack

I have been using this pack for 2 + years now. This is the perfect pack for long day hikes and is my go to pack for anything that is truely in the wild and not on pavement in a city park. I have been using this on hikes as long as 15 miles locally and nationally since I got it. I have taken it on 2 trips to Shenandoah National Park and it has been perfect for hiking and scrambling there. The stowe & go pole system that Kestrel/Osprey packs come with should be standard on any decent back pack. The Kestrels system for handling a hydration system through the back panel is the best I've seen. It makes so much sense you wonder why no one else has thought of it! And yes the water bottle pockets do accomodate a 32 oz wide mouth Nalgene, I carry 2 most of the time I go out. For hikes in the 100 degree plus Texas heat here I sometimes carry the 100 oz Camelbak and 2 32 oz Nalgenes. You haven't quite lived until you do several miles in the local nature preseve here in Rowlett and it's 105 degrees outside. Also finally as an aside, I also have the big brother of this pack, the Kestrel 68. That's the pack you want for multi day trips, the 38 is only meant to be a daypack. If you remember that you'll be extremely pleased. Oh yeah it's a great airport carry on as well, good space, and of course, very comfortable.
DanceswithCats at REI on 08/08/2012

This thing is awesome, this was my first Osprey Pack and don't know if ill ever go with a different brand. I got it at the beginning of summer to help carry around all the crap that I either wanted or needed to have with me while I was working at a summer camp but now I use it whenever possible. When I got it I was a littler bigger than I am now but only 5'6 so I bought the Medium/Large and it doesn't really make a difference besides giving me an extra couple cubic inches besides the fact the waist belt is much bigger than I need. I can tighten it almost all the way down so make sure you get the size that fits you best altogether. I know I wish I had gotten the S/M
Also used it for overnight hikes and would pack a sleeping bag, hammock, slap straps, connect a tarp where the sleeping pad holder is, extra set of clothes, rain jacket, some food, and other junk that I thought I may need and I'll say this, it fills up fast. When I bought it at a local outdoors store they said it could be used for multi-day hikes but if you like to pack a lot of stuff like I do you should just go with a bigger pack and make sure that it has compression straps so that you can cinch up that extra space. In the end I am pretty happy with this pack

Landon Ward at Backcountry.com on 10/08/2013


i tend to pack light where everything can fit in a small package and has many different uses. with this bag it works well for a long day pack or a overnight or posible multi day pack if you pack really light in the summer months. im 6'2" and 170lbs so the M/L fits good and can be adjusted easily. i have light weight gear that packs small so i tend to use this for overnight trips in the back country. you do need to be careful about the weight of gear. when getting this pack to the top of its weight restraints it had alot of hot spots that showed up.

3 good things about this product is warrenty, durable, easy to pack and store stuff. its an osprey so thats enough said right there about warrenty. i scramble and have a good fast pace on the trail so hitting branches and other shrubbery are a constant for me. it has held up well on all of my adventures and looks like new everytime i take it out. havent such a small pack that has both top and bottom loading is nice so i can get sleeping bag and gear out from either end. the hip pockets are great for snacks so i can keep my pace and get grub at the same time. the water pouch is great to access without getting gear out.

i say get this bag even if you use it on day trips.
JAYSON M at REI on 02/02/2013

Osprey did a great job on this pack. I finally had the opportunity to use it last week and I can honestly say I am very happy with my purchase. I didn't buy it to use it for hiking/camping as much as I bought it for use as a backpack for trips and to use as a carry on (I searched and it fit within most airline guidelines for the volume allotted for carry on use).
The pack has a lot of room inside of it, it has a great compression system, and, most notably, the weight distribution is absolutely phenomenal. I had my backpack packed to the brim, picked it up and felt the weight, thinking to myself wow this is going to be heavy, but once it was on my back it felt like the weight was cut down to nothing. Great design and craftsmanship. I do wish it had the zipper pockets on the front like the Kestrel 48 to separate some of the storage, but it's not a deal breaker by any means. Also, for those looking to buy this in red - the red has a bit more burnt color to it in person. It is still very nice looking, but just a bit different from what the picture shows.

JT at Backcountry.com on 09/15/2013

Love my Osprey!

just like any thing important i buy, i buy it from rei. i did have to return this pack because the one i got didnt have the trek pole sling on it. but that wasnt really an issue. rei had me with a new one right away.
ive put 40+ pounds in this pack and it carries it well. a sleeping bag does take up alot of space in a smaller pack but that is nothing anyother small pack wont suffer. have strapped snow shoes to it, ice ax, trek poles, this was even my hunting pack last fall. ive fallen on it, chassed deer through thick woods with it. sat on it. used it as a gun rest. ive had it for over a year now and everything is still working. no rips. every zipper good. every tool loop good. every compression strap good. and trust me ive beat it up. rain fly is great and keeps the rain out too.
if youre thinking about this pack vs another brand STOP NOW AND GET THE OSPREY. there warenty is the best. and its very comfortable to waer. this is like small version of a big pack, has big back features in the smaller package.
Ja mountain man at REI on 06/06/2012


This pack has been a great choice for me. I use it for day trips all the way up to 4-5 night trips. Pack is adjustable so fit should not be a problem I took the time to properly fit my pack with different weights loaded into it. Average weight 40 +lbs. At this load I am able to comfortably hike all day, thanks to a well thought out suspension. overall I am pleased with the extras this bag comes with, such as treking pole holders h2o comp+ water bottle holders on the sides. sleeping bag comp, two zipper comp on the lid, both torso straps have compartments, sleeping pad straps, adjustable tie downs on two places from Osprey that are built nicely into the back and side of pack. Osprey thought of every thing while designing this backpack. I have been backpacking for a long time and have never been happier with a backpack especialy for the low $ & the life time guarantee,.
camper man at REI on 03/03/2013

Osprey makes packs worth buying

This pack like all other Osprey packs is worth the money. Comfort and size were a big factor with this purchase, not to mention their Guarantee. This pack fit my body perfect (tried on maybe 8 different packs of the same size that day) as soon as I put it on I knew this was the one. There are plenty of accessory hooks & loops too choose from. Space for the Osprey 3L HydraForm Reservoir (sold separately), which fits between the pack and the backpack support (cold reservoir does not sweet inside of pack and get things wet) straps have loops for the tube to run over the shoulder to chest area and attach with a magnetic clip very nice design. Overall nice pack, just wish it had a few more zipper compartments on back. (But I'm a gadget freak and would probably bring a lot of things I didn't really need)
Mulfie at REI on 08/08/2012

Great fit

Being relatively new to backpacking and snowshoeing, this is the perfect pack. It packs well, but the most important thing is the support. Weight is transferred easily to hips (especially) and shoulders. We hike every weekend including the winter in Rocky Mountain National Park. Although we havent used it for camping, the size is perfect to fit all of my families clothes, food and gear for our outings. If you havent figured it out, I am the pack mule! The salesman at REI took the time to fit me perfectly. I will buy another smaller pack for summer hikes but the 38 liter capacity is perfect for the changing weather conditions in the Rockies during spring, fall and winter hikes.
rwomalley at REI on 02/02/2013

Negative Reviews:

Bad Support System for Heavy Pack

I have to say that I loved this bag until I got some weight into it and started carrying it on a daily basis. I used this pack for a 6 week trip through europe and the pack held up really well. But the whole time I was trying to find a place to leave it because it was horribly uncomfortable. The pack when fully weighed down (about 23) pounds would not distribute weight well at all. The straps rested hard on the neck making for raw spots after a few days. I think I might have been slightly more impressed with this pack on my ultralight trips (usually around 10-12 pounds pack weight) but if you are looking for a ultralight pack that you can load up between re-supply's this is not your pack. I ended up returning the pack and getting another pack.

On a more positive note I worked with osprey to get some replacement parts for the pack for my Europe trip and they were AWESOME! I would hesitate trying another one of their products in the future just based on the customer service I received.
Vogl at REI on 03/03/2012

Not enough support!

I was looking for a small pack to do 2-3 day backpacking trips with. I really wanted to like this pack because it has better straps and tie-on's than the similarly sized Stratos or Sirrus. However, when I loaded it up with 25 lbs at the store, the back bulges out and forms a mis-shapen lump that pressed into my back. The only way to fix this is to loosen the straps, which makes the weight fall away from the back, which results in it pulling down on the shoulders. Maybe it would work well if you packed it well and used something inside that had structure, but then why buy a bag with a frame? Also does not fit women well - the Stratos M hip belt fits fine, but the S/M Kestrel I have to pull all the way tight. For a similar size and weight with better structure/support, I would recommend trying on the Stratos.
qazsedc at REI on 04/04/2012

The positives: the overall size (M/L with 2300 cu in) is very desireable. The overall fit was good. Adjustable torso a plus.
The negatives: the hip belt is too flimsy and doesn't transfer the weight to hips. A 2 L water bladder pushed against my back, and not being a suspended-style, was uncomfortable and hot. No side access to main compartment.
I did exchange for the Osprey Stratos 36L (L) which I think is a far better choice for me. I am 6 ft tall, 214 lbs, 36 waist, 19.5 in torso.

Russ Carlson, Jr. at Backcountry.com on 09/05/2013

Neutral Reviews:

Perfect carry-on with some flaws

The Good:
I purchased this pack for a 3 month trip around Europe, including a 30 day hike along the Camino Frances. I like to travel pretty light but all the same, I managed to pack everything I needed, including a rather bulky DSLR, into this pack with minimal fuss. I was then able to strap down the pack to still fit in the overhead compartments on all airlines I flew with, including some ridiculously undersized overheads on smaller airlines. Setting up the pack for daily hiking was a breeze and I was able to adjust straps on the go, to retain comfort and load balance.

The Bad:
Even with the rain cover, the pack would suck up moisture after 30 minutes or so and depending on the length and heaviness of the rain, often took a few days to dry out naturally.

Halfway into my Camino hike, one of the load lifters frayed and broke, near where it is sewn into the top of the pack, meaning the weight of the pack was pulling down on one shoulder only, for the remainder of the hike. It's quite possible that I didn't have the backpack evenly adjusted, causing movement on the strap but I still don't expect something of this quality to break after a couple of weeks daily use. The heaviest load I had carried was 30lbs but mostly just under 20. The center strap on the top of the pack, used for hanging the back on a hook is also worn halfway through at this point.

The only other very minor criticism I have of the bag is that the material of the shoulder strap seemed to move slightly out of alignment with the padding, so that the seam between the front of the shoulder strap and the part that's supposed to be on my chest, was consistently shifting and rubbing against me. I could keep adjusting it but it's still an annoyance.

I'd definitely buy another of these bags, for the fit in the carry-on alone but I don't recommend for extended hiking.
MRJBennett at REI on 11/11/2013

Solid daypack

Osprey makes great stuff. I like the Kestrel series. But when I loaded the pack up for a day at the crag, the shoulder straps just didn't it it for me. But it held my rope, rack, shoes, chalk, jacket, and snacks for the afternoon without any problem.

My other issue with this pack is that the pockets on the outside are WAY too small for a Nalgene, and the way the compression strap cradles it on the bottom, my water bottle kept sliding out. Still, it's a good pack, just not exactly what I was looking for.
scotty-g at REI on 04/04/2012