- June 1, 2016
- Luggage and Bags
4 Of The Best Osprey Backpack Classics Reviewed
Part of enriching the camping, hiking, and outdoor adventure experience is making sure you have your gear with you. This makes shopping for the perfect backpack necessary. If you haven’t yet checked out Osprey’s line of backpacks and day packs, then here are some reasons why you should.
The Osprey classic backpack comes equipped with foam pads, zippered panels and compartments, and an adjustable harness, designed to fit and protect all your gear, while also making it comfortable to travel. With the Osprey classic backpack, you can enjoy any length of travel or outdoor adventure knowing your gear and your back won’t suffer.
Rest of the article, I will be reviewing 4 of their popular backpacks. If you are considering investing one, I assure you this is worth a read.
Osprey Waypoint Backpack
- The zip-off, foam padded gender specific adjustable harness and fixed hipbelt are directly connected to a LightWire peripheral frame.
- Adjustable harness can slide either up or down using the window as a fit guide to locate your proper torso size.
- The tuck away gender specific foam padded hipbelt utilizes Osprey’s exclusive modified straight ErgoPull closure.
- A dual lockable zippered front panel provides access to the main compartment.
- Dual foam padded sidewalls work in conjunction with our StraightJacket compression system to both protect contents and stabilize loads.
Despite the ever-increasing competition in the travel gear world, some items seem to remain perennial bestsellers that you’ll spot from Bangkok to Bariloche. The Osprey Waypoint 80 is clearly one of those.
A lot of the old guard travel backpack makers have moved more into luggage or have disappeared, while many newer companies are focused more on hiking packs than ones for travel.
If you’re going bopping around the world for months or more though, on a lot of buses, trains, and ferries, you need a real travel backpack instead of one meant for a few nights on a trail.
Primarily, you need to be able to get to your stuff easily. That’s no problem with this Waypoint pack since the U-shaped zippers in the front go all the way to the bottom. No feeling around with your arm like you’re trying to get the prize out of a cereal box.
The zippers can be fastened together with a tie or locked too, in two places, which is also very important to travelers. You’ve got compression straps on the inside to keep everything in place though, plus another set on the outside to really lock it all down.
There’s a detachable daypack that zips onto the front, though whether this is all you need for a daypack depends a lot on whether you’re carrying a laptop and a big camera or not. It’s a great daypack if you don’t have anything too thick to put in, like DSLR camera and a couple old-school guidebooks.
What it does have is a see-through tablet compartment, plus lots of pockets for gadgets and cords.
This is not the lightest backpack you’re going to find, at 5 pounds 10 ounces (2.56 kilos). But that’s because it’s well-made, has thick 420D nylon that will hold up to abuse, and has serious zippers and pulls.
It also functions as a suitcase, with a (tuck-away) zip flap that goes over the back straps. Not only is this handy when it’s getting tossed on a bus or you want to look nicer entering a hotel, but it also keeps you from getting hassled by airlines when you check it. No straps hanging out.
There are also nice padded handles on the top and the side, so you can pick this pack up and carry it without killing your hand. The padding on the straps is excellent, including a nice hip belt.
The Waypoint is easy to adjust too, so if you spend a little time tweaking it you’ll find it to be extremely comfortable, with the weight well-distributed. The sternum strap design really allows you to get it in the right place and the back panel moves with Velcro attachments.
Other nice features include a pocket in the top where you can store items you need to get to quickly, as well as a hidden pocket on the back to stash valuable things you don’t want to have easily accessible to other people in your pockets while you’re on the move.
There are three zippered pockets on the inside of the main pack: one on each size and a mesh one along the flap. You get two side water bottle pockets as well.
The Osprey 80 sells for $280, which may be more than you were expecting to spend, but it comes with their All Mighty Guarantee saying they’ll fix or replace it whenever if you have a problem with it.
It’s one of the best guarantees you’ll find anywhere, from any pack or luggage maker. The Waypoint won’t let you down when you’re halfway around the world. Get more info direct from Osprey and buy it at your favorite store or at Moosejaw. Usually I say it’s better to try a pack on before you buy, but this one has so many adjust-to-fit options that you’ll be fine buying it online.
Nebula Daypack, 34 Liters
- The TSA approved laptop sleeve unzips to lay completely flat on the x-ray belt so the user doesn’t have to remove it.
- Easy access padded sleeve to keep your electronics safe and secure.
- A well thought out organization pocket to store and quickly access small accessories for everyday work and school life.
- Stretch mesh pocket keeps extra gear accessible.
- Stretch mesh side pockets with compression are perfect for water bottles, coffee mugs or other side pockets items.
The Nebula Daypack from Osprey is a good all-around workhorse daypack that can carry just about everything you would need for your days of urban travel, even if you’re a dressed-down digital nomad working from coffee shops. It can hold a laptop, a tablet, all your gadgets, a water bottle, and whatever you want to stuff in the front.
Osprey is known for making quality packs for a wide range of uses, from bike commuting to trail running to backpacking around the world. This Nebula one brings elements from different lines to create that versatile one day pack you can use to move from one activity to another. Not trail running maybe, but you could take this on a one-day hike: it’s got a basic waist strap and sternum strap for extra support.
You get all the elements you’d expect in a quality pack of this size—34 liters. There are water bottle pockets on both sides, a carrying handle on top, loads of organization pockets inside, a key fob, and a tough water-resistant exterior.
The shoulder straps are nicely padded and there are some padding and ventilation elements on the back to let a bit of air circulate through.
There are a few unique features added though, like a small zipped pouch pocket on top that will hold things you need to get to quickly, plus a flap-style pocket on the front for things you need to get in and out frequently, like a map or travel documents.
Compression straps on the sides can tighten things up if the bag is not full. I like how the zippers have big pull loops that are easy to grab and that make this easier to lock to a larger backpack for another level of deterrence.
Two features make this bike-friendly as well: there are reflective elements that will help you be seen, plus there’s a loop near the bottom where you can hook on a blinking bike light.
This pack opens completely where you’d put a laptop and tablet. It is advertised as having a padded laptop sleeve that “unzips to lay completely flat on the x-ray belt so the user doesn’t have to remove the laptop from its padded sleeve.”
If only. I didn’t believe that would fly since I’ve had close to zero luck with this kind of set-up in the past: the grumpy, power-hungry TSA agents still bark at me to take it out and put it in its own bin.
So I tried this theory on two trips with the Nebula to see if times have changed. In Mexico they have, yes. No complaints there. But I got a “Take it out!” bark at two USA airports and a more polite but still firm request to remove it from the bag in Germany. Your mileage may vary.
This daypack weighs a shade over two pounds and has Osprey’s “All Mighty Guarantee” to back up the quality construction. It comes in four colors. The Nebula lists for $110 but you may find it on sale online. Buy it at Moosejaw, eBags, or Backcountry.
Osprey Waypoint 65 Pack
- 65 liter pack for travel, trekking, and backpacking.
- Removable integrated daypack.
- Waypoint suspension with torso adjustable harness and built-in hipbelt all zip away when not inuse.
- Zippered internal mesh pockets.
- Gear attachment points, dual ice axe loops, and removable sleeping pad straps.
The number 65 refers to cubic liters and as any backpacker will tell you, empty space doesn’t last long. When you’re carrying your worldly possessions on your back, you tend to fill any available capacity.
So I like this 65-liter (4,000 cubic inches) version better as it forces some discipline. Whether you’re going for two weeks or two years, you should be able to cram what you need into here as long as you follow our regular advice on double-duty travel gear and lightweight, quick-dry travel clothing.
But enough preaching—what about this backpack? Well, it has all the elements I look for in a travel pack, as opposed to a super-light top-loading tube used for hiking. It’s got a comfortable handle on the top and another one on the side for all those times you’ve got to sling it onto the top of a bus or check it onto a plane.
The straps zip behind a flap when necessary, and it doesn’t get shredded in a luggage carousel. It’s got cinch straps in all the right places plus side supports to keep it from bulging out. It has the all-important waist strap and chest clip for weight distribution.
There’s a removable daypack as well and although I’m not normally a fan of those because they make your load top-heavy, this one might actually get used: it’s so small it won’t tip you over even if you jam it full. Plus one of the compression straps for the pack goes through a flap on the daypack to keep it all tight.
It’s all the little extras though that set this newly updated $250-list-price Osprey pack from ones that cost half as much.
There’s heavy-duty ripstop nylon, quality metal zippers with good pulls, and a super-comfy padded mesh panel against your back when you wear it—which keeps your back from turning to a river of sweat. Hey, if somebody tries to rob you, there’s even a built-in rescue whistle!
There aren’t a whole lot of pockets in the main pack, but that means you’ve got one big compartment to hold everything, like a duffel bag with a few zippered pouches on the sides and the flap.
Internal adjustable straps hold everything together. Plus sleeping bag holding straps and tool loops are on the outside. The daypack has places for a netbook, your music player (with a cord port), pens, etc.
The design of this Waypoint bag makes it much slimmer than other 65-liter packs I’ve used, with the compression system seeming to make the weight distribute better as well. There are versions cut a bit differently to fit men and women.
The men’s version weighs 5 pounds 12 ounces. That’s a bit more than some travel backpacks, but less than anything with wheels.
You’ve got to like Osprey guarantee, which says, “Osprey will repair for any reason, free of charge, any damage or defect in our product – whether it was purchased in 1974 or yesterday.” I’ve taken this on a couple trips already and planning on strapping it on for many more to come.
Sojourn Wheeled Suitcase and Backpack
- Highroad Chassis with zip-away backpack suspension.
- Updated, fully padded spacer mesh lumbar and hipbelt transfer load effectively.
- Updated shoulder straps use upgraded foam and spacer mesh for improved comfort.
- New second slot in ventilated mesh backpanel extends adjustable torso length range for smaller torsos.
- Suspension components are removable to allow increased packing capacity.
A while back though a few companies realized they could sell more bags if they convinced people they could have the best of both worlds: a backpack when you need to walk long distances through rough terrain or in a crowded dirt-lot bus station, but a suitcase when you’re in airports and cities with decent sidewalks.
People bought the first ones in droves, so then everyone jumped in the game.
I’ve been trying out Osprey’s Sojourn 28-inch one to see if this idea really works well in practice. Can one of these be a good backpack and a good rolling suitcase? Yes and no.
First the good points, and there are plenty of those. This bag is just shy of 8 pounds, which is not bad at all for something 28 inches long with wheels and a strong chassis. It’s a good aluminum chassis too, with a nice retractable ergonomic handle, a fiberglass base, and large polyurethane wheels with sealed bearings. It wheels like a dream, feels good in the hand, and didn’t tip over when I stuffed it full.
The Osprey Sojourn holds 80 liters, or 4800 cubic inches. That’s about the capacity of the largest travel backpack you can get away with, though this one felt like it held less than other bags I’ve used with that listed capacity.
This may be because it’s narrow and tapers at the top. Everything about it says “durable” and “high quality,” from the rubberized zipper pulls to the inside and outside compression straps.
I feel like there’s a load of extra fabric on this bag because of those outside compression panels though. I suppose the foam in those helps protect your belongings, but most of what’s in a bag this size is clothing and shoes anyway.
You can certainly cram a lot into it this way though and still get it closed. There are handles to grab it by on the top and side, multiple mesh pockets inside, and a toiletries/small stuff pocket on the top.
Do you want a suitcase…or a backpack?
My real issue with this bag is not with Osprey, but with the category. I know these convertible wheeled backpacks are quite popular, but how often have you actually seen someone using one as a backpack—the wheels pressing against their shirt?
I’ve only seen one I can remember in the last 10 years (though I’ve seen a few people that should have broken down and used the backpack instead of trying to wheel their bag over cobblestones for 10 blocks.) When I tested out the backpack feature with it full, I felt downright silly, like someone had strapped a suitcase to my back so I could fjord a stream.
Some double-duty travel gear works great: smart phones, Swiss Army knives, convertible travel pants, and iPad cases with a keyboard for instance. Other times the item feels like it has a split personality—like it needs to get off the fence and pick a side.
Fortunately I could pick my side: Osprey attached the straps of this thing with snaps and a heavy-duty hook & loop system. So I pulled the straps out, stuffed them in a corner of the closet, and took advantage of the extra storage space. I’m done with the “convertible” part and it’s now a perfectly fine rolling suitcase I’ll probably only use on easy trips.
If you’ve tried one of these convertible bags before and really used it both ways, then Osprey’s Sojourn version is a fine choice. If you like the idea of a removable daypack too, check the Meridian line instead.
The Sojourn comes in three colors. It retails for $289 and you won’t be buying a replacement anytime soon: Osprey has one of the best guarantees you’ll find anywhere. They say “any reason, any product, any era.”