Backpack Review: Osprey Porter 46L

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Choosing the perfect travel bag can be overwhelming. With a seemingly endless number of options, how do you find the luggage best suited to meet your needs?

Before Sam and I visited Africa a few years ago, we began our hunt for the perfect travel bag.

While I’m not an ultra-minimalist who can travel for six months with nothing but a change of socks and a pocketknife, I’m a far cry from the hopeless over-packer I used to be.

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We quickly decided a medium-sized backpack was the best option for a few reasons. First, we often navigate public transit and traverse uneven terrain when we travel. In those situations, backpacks are much more suitable than wheeled luggage. Second, we wanted something compact enough to fit in the overhead bin on airplanes.

Osprey Porter 46L

After much research, we decided on the Osprey Porter 46L due to its size and pragmatic design. You can check it out here.

We have since taken the Osprey Porter 46L as a carry-on on eight airlines (Delta, KLM, Icelandair, American Airlines, British Airways, Ryanair, easyJet, and Vueling) on trips through eight countries in diverse climates (from the arctic to the equator).

Porter 46

Here are our honest thoughts on the Osprey Porter 46L after two years of regular (though not continuous) use:

Pros

  • Easily fits within carry-on size restrictions. We have never had trouble carrying it on even the strictest European budget airlines, which has saved us loads of money in the past few years.
  • Zips open like a suitcase (not top-loading), which makes staying organized much easier. If you need something at the bottom, you don’t have to pull everything else out to get to it.
  • Numerous compartments help keep items organized (both external and internal compartments). I like being able to keep books/magazines in an outer pocket for easier access. The internal pockets are convenient for keeping items such as socks or underwear organized.
  • A padded laptop compartment protects your computer.
  • A hip belt/chest strap add comfort and help with weight distribution.
  • Transitions into a pseudo-duffle bag when you tuck in the straps and use the side handle.
  • Cinch straps help compact the bag when putting it in overhead bins on planes or trains or when storing between trips (or when taking it past grouchy gate attendants!).
  • It is a good quality bag that has held together well after several years of abuse.

Cons 

  • The weight distribution isn’t great, especially when the pack is filled to capacity. After wearing it for several hours, my shoulders start aching (My backpack usually weighs around 15lbs and Sam’s usually weighs around 25lbs)
  • The Osprey Porter 46L doesn’t have a water bottle holder. Though not a huge deal, being able to easily access a water bottle when traveling would be handy.

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Is the Osprey Porter 46L right for me? 

The Osprey Porter 46L is definitely more of a travel backpack than a trekking or camping backpack. If you are looking for something to take on the Inca Trail or while thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail, I’d keep looking.

But if you want a versatile travel bag that will keep your stuff organized and fit within the carry-on allotments on budget airlines, the Osprey Porter 46L might be the perfect fit for you.

The Osprey Porter 46L is available in black, green, or red, and typically costs $130. The Osprey Porter is also available as a 30L or a 65L.

You can buy it here.

What is your go to travel bag?


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Backpack Review: Osprey Porter 46L

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