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Hands-on Gear Review
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Pros: Lightweight, well-designed backpack option and day pack
Cons: Tips easily, smaller internal capacity
Best Uses: More geared toward adventure travel, better for lighter packers
In this review, we included several carry-ons like the Osprey Ozone Convertible 20 that convert from rolling bags into backpacks. While we aren't wholly convinced that convertible carry-ons are all that useful (see our Buying Advice Guide for a full discussion), of all the convertible models that we tested, including the Osprey Meridian 22 and the REI Stratocruiser 22, the Osprey Ozone is the clear winner.
Although this bag does not have the largest internal capacity, its detachable daypack design and convertible backpack features are more fine-tuned than its competitors. Moreover, it is remarkably light: without the daypack, this bag weighs in at 5 lbs, which is at least a pound lighter than most of the other carry-ons in this review. This bag is well thought out and loaded with unique features, and the shoulder straps for the main bag tuck in an out easily and can be converted in about a minute. If you plan on travelling back and forth between airports (where you want to pull your bag), and subways, buses or trails (where you want to carry it), then the Osprey Ozone is definitely the piece to spring for.
RELATED: Our complete review of carry-on luggage
OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
The Osprey Ozone Convertible 22 has lightweight hideaway backpack straps, a useful detachable daypack, and a sturdy rolling design. The main bag measures 22 x 14 x 9 and weighs 5 lbs 1 oz. It comes in light green and light blue, and the main compartment has a volume of 35 L. The detachable daypack adds another 15 L of carrying space, including a small padded laptop sleeve (for a 14 inch computer or a tablet).
Ease of Transport
The lightweight Ozone is very easy to pull thanks to its large sturdy wheels and telescoping handle that adjusts to two heights. The rugged wheels allow it to pull smoothly over gravel lots, though it is not quite as maneuverable as a four-wheel swivel bag like the Samsonite Winfield 2 20. Since it weighs less than five pounds, it's also easy on the arms. We did find that it tips over easily, particularly when loaded with heavy gear, which can certainly be annoying during transit. The Ozone also has lightly padded handles on both sides and the top for convenient carrying.
We were pleasantly surprised when we first tried out this bag's convertible backpack feature. Unlike the Osprey Meridian, which has bulky backpack straps and a hip belt that were hard to pack away and pull out, the Osprey Ozone Convertible 22's straps are much thinner and easier to use on the fly. Once you're ready to transition into backpack mode, simply unzip the hideaway flap, pull the straps aside and clip the upper load stabilizing buckles in place. Then pull the lumbar support and hip belt down and clip them in place both beneath the shoulder straps and on the underside of the plastic frame (don't worry, the buckles are color coded so you can quickly figure out what snaps where). The straps are made of mesh and lightweight foam; we're not sure how well they will hold up over time, but since you will probably not use the backpack feature all the time, we think that this was a worthy sacrifice. If you are concerned about long-term durability of your backpack straps, it may be worth considering one of the other convertible bags in this review.
It is also possible to adjust the rise of the shoulder straps about 5 inches, allowing us to properly fit this pack on a 6 foot tall 175-pound man (usually a pack size Large), and a 5'6, 125-pound woman (usually a pack size Medium). If you are more petite, or wear a size small backpacking pack, then this bag might not work very well as a pack for you; it's definitely a bag that you want to try on first before purchasing to make sure that it fits your frame.
The manufacturer's specifications report that the Ozone has a 35-liter internal capacity, placing it on the smaller end of the spectrum. However, during our pack test, this bag held about the same as the REI Wheely Beast 22 (42L stated manufacturer volume) and the Lipault Paris Plume 22 (48 L stated manufacturer volume). While we could fit all of the items for a three-day weekend, we couldn't fit extras like a nice set of clothes and shoes. If you are really concerned with internal capacity, the REI Stratocruiser has a larger volume in the convertible luggage category, but if you're capable of limiting your packing to just a few items, then we think that the Ozone is the way to go. If you need more storage versatility in a carry-on, then an expandable bag like our Editors' Choice winner, the Samsonite Silhouette Sphere 2 21, and the Best Buy winner, the Travelpro Maxlite 3 22 are better options.
Our testers really liked the features on this bag. Although we're not totally convinced that bringing a detachable daypack as your personal item is the easiest way to travel, if you are psyched on it, then the Ozone is your best option. If the daypack is your personal item, you almost certainly have everything that is really important (wallet, phone, etc.) in that bag. If you decide to use the main pack in backpack mode, you either have to kangaroo carry the daypack (awkward and uncomfortable) or clip it to the back far away from your person (difficult to access important items and easier for pickpockets to get into). However, when Osprey's experts designed the Ozone, they alleviated this major flaw by adding clips to the front shoulder straps, allowing you to clip your daypack in place in front of you. It doesn't look all that cool, but it gets the job done. When you do want to put your daypack back onto the bag, you zip it in place, clip it at the top and use two toggles to secure it at the bottom.
The daypack includes two exterior water bottle pockets (perfect for Klean Kanteen size bottles), a well-padded laptop sleeve (that only fits a 14" computer or a tablet), and useful organizer pockets. Features on the main bag include an exterior pocket just below the top handle for important items, lockable zippers, internal compression straps, and three internal pockets. It also has external compression straps to help cinch down the load.
As one of the lightest bags in this review, this model does sacrifice a bit on durability. The fabrics used are some of the thinnest (210D nylon) and the zippers are not very bulky. We mentioned previously that the backpack straps and hip belt also used thinner materials (primarily mesh and lightweight foam) that will probably break down more quickly over time than the full strength straps on the Osprey Meridian; however, the thinner straps make them far easier to use. The handle and wheels are both quite sturdy, as is the lightweight framing system that gives this bag its shape.
Considering all the extra features on this bag (backpack straps, etc) we really were amazed at how light it is. Even with the one-pound daypack, bringing the weight up to six pounds, it is still one of the lightest bags in the review. As we mentioned previously, you do sacrifice a bit on durability, but this bag will be easier to lift into the overhead bin or throw over your shoulder as a backpack.
Unlike the Osprey Meridian, which seems big and bulky, the Ozone has a sleek, techy look to it. It's not necessarily the bag you would want to choose for a formal business trip, but it is a better looking bag than the REI Wheely Beast 22 or the REI Stratocruiser. Probably our biggest complaint in this department is that the detachable daypack zipper isn't camouflaged when the daypack is in use. On the Meridian, there is a flap of fabric that hides this zipper when the daypack is removed, making the main bag look totally normal on its own. With the Ozone, the zipper remains in plain sight; it's not a huge flaw, but it's one that's worth noting.
We think that the Osprey Ozone Convertible 22 is best suited for more adventure travel, but it would also work well for general airline travel, especially for individuals who travel to major cities and need to navigate a mass transit system. The flexibility of converting to a backpack is helpful if you will have other luggage that you need to drag, or a stroller that you need to push. It's also useful if you want to have a daypack for sightseeing or day hikes once you arrive at your destination. Because of its smaller internal capacity, this bag is perhaps best suited to lighter packers, as a complement to a checked bag, or for shorter trips.
At $299, the Osprey Ozone Convertible 22 is one of the more expensive carry-ons in this review. That said, if you are convinced that you want/need convertible luggage, we think it is worth shelling out the extra bucks for this bag, especially given that the detachable daypack clips conveniently and safely to the front shoulder straps, and can be used on its on. Plus the Ozone is backed by Osprey's lifetime warranty.
Convertible luggage fills a small and unique niche. If you are planning on "backpacking" around Asia for a month, then you'll probably still want a real backpack. And most other trips people take, be it a business/work trip or a beach vacation, will really only need a traditional carry-on bag. But for those people needing the flexibility of a convertible bag, whether it's for a short hike with their luggage or hopping on a subway system in a large city, we highly recommend the Osprey Ozone Convertible 22. It's super lightweight, has a number of improved design aspects and really stood out from its competitors. For a techy looking bag that is not convertible and half the price of the Ozone, check out the REI Wheely Beast.
Ozone Convertible 28
Ozone 18 and Ozone 28
— Cam McKenzie Ring & Amanda Fenn
OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: May 30, 2015
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