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Hands-on Gear Review
Cons: Short, wide design decreases pack awareness, fewer travel features
The Osprey Porter 46 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.
With its lightweight shoulder and hip straps, lack of frame, and non-breathable back, the Porter just isn't really designed to carry heavy loads over long distances. When we took this bag on a weekend ski trip, we tossed in our Best Buy Award winner, the REI Stuff Travel Daypack 22 to use on the slopes. Overall, although this bag is more limited in its versatility, but we think it is a great option for individuals looking for an attractive, yet rugged carry-on that doubles as a backpack. The closest competitor in this review was the REI Vagabond Tour 40, which is more comfortable for use with heavier loads, but looks significantly less attractive.
RELATED: Our complete review of travel backpacks
OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
A tester favorite for carry-on use, the Osprey Porter 46 will hold enough for a long weekend or even longer if you're a light packer. This is an attractive duffel style pack with hide-away backpack straps.
This minimalist bag 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.
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 duffel. The Osprey Porter 46 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 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.
Ease of Packing & 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 46 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.
One of the lightest full-sized backpacks in this review, the 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 Deuter Quantum 70 + 10. 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.
This bag is best for short trips or for light packers. One of the few carry-on sized products in this review, it's perfect for those who prefer backpack or duffel-style luggage over rolling carry-on luggage.
We were completely surprised to find out that the Osprey Porter 46 only costs about $130; 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 & Accessories
Porter 30 - $110
Porter 65 - $150
— Amanda Fenn
OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: June 8, 2015
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