Hands-on Gear Review
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Pros: Legal carry-on size, sleek, lightweight, affordable
Cons: Short, wide design decreases pack awareness, fewer travel features
Best Uses: Doesn't cross-over to outdoor activities, minimalist hip belt
A 46-liter pack, the Osprey Porter offers sleek styling in a carry-on size. This one-size-fits-all bag looks and feels more like luggage than most of the other packs in this review. If you're looking for a bag that's a little classier, but still has backpack straps that can be untucked at a moment's notice for easy carrying, then the Porter may be for you. Although it doesn't hold as much as larger-volume packs, this bag is easier to pack than many of the other pieces in this review thanks to its structured walls and front-loading panel. However, we were a little disappointed that we couldn't repack this bag with gear and take it comfortably for an overnight trip into the backcountry. With its lightweight shoulder and hip straps, lack of frame, and non-breathable back, the Porter just isn't really designed to cross-over into outdoor activity. When we took this bag on a weekend ski trip, we tossed in our Top Pick, the REI Stuff Travel Daypack 22 to use on the slopes. For packs that can double as travel and backpacking packs, check out the Osprey Farpoint 55 and the Kelty Redwing 50. Overall, although this bag is more limited in its versatility, we think it is a great option for individuals looking for an attractive, yet rugged carry-on that doubles as a backpack.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
A minimalist bag, the Osprey Porter features shoulder straps that are lightly padded with 1/4 inch of foam and a hip belt comprised of nylon and webbing without any padding. Designed more like luggage than like a backpack, this bag uses a semi-stiff foam to provide support along its back, which doesn't do much to help transfer the load from the shoulders to the hips. Additionally, it lacks load stabilizing straps at the shoulders and hips. We did try hiking with the Osprey Porter on and quickly got sweaty from its non-breathable back and shoulder straps. On the other hand, this pack features heavily padded handles for comfortable, easy carrying and is ideal for shorter city-to-city trips.
Functionality and Features
Designed with city-to-city travel, rather than backcountry adventures, in mind, this stylish pack has shoulder and hip straps that quickly tuck out of sight. By unclipping the shoulder straps from the hip belt, you can easily convert this pack from convenient backpack to a sleek, more professional-looking carry-on duffle. The Osprey Porter also features the company's strait jacket strap technology, allowing you to cinch down your load effectively and keep all contents in place. This pack comes equipped with the company's external D-ring AddOns attachment system, so customers can purchase an Osprey daypack and clip it to the back of the Porter, similar to the way the Osprey Farpoint and the Eagle Creek Rincon 65 have an extra daypack attached; however, keep in mind that without a frame, attaching a daypack to this bag could be quite uncomfortable for distance carrying. More importantly, this pack is the largest legal carry-on size, so it's designed to perfectly fit in an overhead bin. For a more traditional backpack that still meets carry-on requirements, check out the Eagle Creek Rincon.
Ease of Packing and Unpacking
Our testers used this pack for several weekend trips, as well as one business trip. We loved the bag's front-loading design and found it easy to access the bag's contents. One of the main features that makes the packing process so easy is the foam reinforcement in the bag's side walls. These walls give the bag more of a boxy structure when packing and unpacking. While we found our stuff sprawling across the floor when living out of other bags, our clothes stayed neatly contained in the Porter's sturdy walls. When you're ready to travel on, these foam-lined walls can then be compressed down using Osprey's strait jacket strap technology. This bag also has two internal pockets as well as one small external pocket, which is big enough for wallet, phone, keys, and a half-liter of water. Finally, the Porter features lock-compatible zippers, but requires a super slim lock.
A combination of 1680 denier ballistic nylon and 420 high density nylon packcloth, the Osprey Porter has a solid, durable feel. In fact, it uses the strongest materials of any pack in this review. We loved its thick, heavy duty zippers and its well-constructed, heavily-padded handles. We haven't noticed any wear and tear on this bag at all.
The lightest full-sized backpack in this review, the Osprey Porter weighs in at just 2 pounds, 5 ounces. With its lack of frame and minimalist styling, this bag is significantly lighter than the heaviest bag in the review: the Eagle Creek Rincon, which weighs 4 lbs, 8 ounces. We really liked the fact that this carry-on piece was super lightweight, since no one likes carrying heavy luggage around the airport all day.
We were completely surprised to find out that the Osprey Porter 46 only costs about $100; we expected it to be more. Although it's a simple, minimalist bag, the Porter is pretty sexy. If you're just looking for a city-to-city bag that will easily fit in an overhead bin, the Porter is a good value.
Other Versions and Accessories
The Osprey Porter can be purchased in a few other sizes, such as the Porter 30, $110, and the Porter 65, $150. The Porter 30 can be used as more of a daypack, while the Porter 65 can carry a heavier load for an extended backpacking trip or an approach for a longer route with a possible overnight bivy.
The Daylite retails for $50 and can be attached to all add-on compatible packs. This pack comes equipped with a hydration sleeve and a few other pockets for your personal items.
If you're looking to protect your pack from the elements, consider the Hi-Vis Raincover, $20, available in 11-18 and 19-30 liters, or the UL Raincover, which can be purchased in size x-small to large for $29.
— Amanda Fenn
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Most recent review: July 23, 2014
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