Osprey Meridian 22 Review
Cons: Backpack option is bulky, expensive
Our Analysis and Test Results
Offering such extras as a detachable daypack and a super comfortable backpack option, the Osprey Meridian has a built-in laptop pocket, ergonomic handle, and plush carry handles. Plus, it is made of super durable fabrics that are designed to go the distance. Despite the many pros of this bag, there were also several major cons that caught our eye throughout the testing process. As we continue this review, we'll discuss how those played into our overall scoring of this piece.
Ease of Transport
Thanks in part to its big burly wheels, the Osprey Meridian rolls easily over most surfaces. The telescoping handle has two optional heights and is topped with an ergonomic molded plastic handle. The piece also comes equipped with super padded top and side handles; these are really nice to hold onto, but the beefy padding adds extra bulk. The bottom of the bag also has a slot in the plastic base that you can use to easily pull your bag out of tight spots. Additionally, this convertible carry-on has backpack shoulder straps and a hip belt that hides away when they are not in use. These straps are fairly bulky and little bit difficult to free from their space behind the wheely frame. Once the straps are free, you clip several buckles to complete the transformation and you have a comfortable backpack. This design also allows users to make several internal adjustments for different body types. For a less bulky convertible piece, be sure to check out the Osprey Ozone.
When we first unzipped the Osprey Meridian, we were shocked at how much space its frame took up inside the main compartment; indeed, the bulky backpack straps take up a fair bit of space in the back of the bag. The main bag has an internal volume of 40 liters (three liters less than the REI Wheely Beast 22 and the Travelpro Maxlite 5 22), but we were surprised to find that we could pack all our packing test items into this bag without too much difficulty. However, upon zipping the bag up, we realized that the Meridian was bulging out suspiciously on both sides, so we grabbed a tape measure and realized that this bag was now three inches wider than the maximum legal carry-on measurement. Moral of the story: this bag holds a lot of stuff, but it seems to sneakily expand beyond airline requirements. The convertible REI Stratocruiser 22 also held all our stuff during the packing test but remained within the designated measurements.
In addition to four internal organizer pockets, the Osprey Meridian has two external pockets: one that is accessible from just below the top carry handle, and a slim drop-in pocket on the zip up flap that protects the backpack straps (note that you cannot use this pocket if you are in backpack mode). This piece also has built-in piggy back straps to connect other bags and useful internal compression straps. Its most important feature, however is its detachable daypack. If you are looking for a bag with a detachable daypack, this piece is certainly a good option. The daypack zips on and then securely clips into place with three big plastic buckles. When you want to travel without the daypack (or remove it), the main bag looks like a normal carry-on.
While it can be useful to use a matching daypack as your personal item, it's also important to remember that the likelihood of being pickpocketed can increase if you leave all your valuables in the daypack and then clip the daypack onto the main bag during backpack mode (essentially leaving all your valuables on your back, far from your person). The daypack itself was not the most useful bag that we tested…it is quite wide, which makes it less comfortable for hiking; however it does have a well-padded laptop sleeve, water bottle pockets, and a headphone slot.
Durability & Construction
The Osprey Meridian is comprised of some of the toughest fabrics of any bag in this review, including 4200 HD nylon pack cloth and 1680D Ballistic nylon. This helps give the bag its rough and tumble look. The base of the bag is made of rugged plastic and both the handle and zippers are of good quality.
At 7 lbs, 14 oz (the main and the daypack combined), the Osprey Meridian was fairly heavy. In this case, you gain on durability, but pay for it in the weight category. Some of the lightest bags that we reviewed were hard-sided bags like the Samsonite Winfield 2 20. The Osprey Ozone is also super lightweight, and a great option if you are seeking convertible luggage without the bulk.
This bag comes in three muted colors, all of which remind us a little of camo. As we've discussed before, this bag seems somewhat bulky and is not at all sleek or sophisticated. It is a nice looking bag, but definitely more on the tough and rugged side of the spectrum.
This bag will certainly work for city-to-city travel, but since it is so rugged and has the most comfortable backpack mode, we think it's best use might be for more adventurous travel. It's a fine line here, because many adventure travelers opt for a travel backpack or a backpacking backpack. However, if you want a rollable bag that you can still comfortably carry to and from your hostel or across the beach, then the Osprey Meridian may be the bag for you.
At $350, the Meridian was the most expensive bag that we reviewed. It was also one of the most durable bags and is protected by a lifetime warranty, so you will certainly get your full use out of it. Ultimately, this bag is worth the price if you are looking for a super burly bag that has a detachable daypack and you really care about the comfort of your backpack straps (and don't mind a little extra work to put it together). If you aren't quite prepared to spend the money for the Meridian, consider the Osprey Ozone, which is $30 cheaper. This piece does not hold quite as much and isn't as burly, but it fine tunes some of the problems that we encountered with the Meridian.
We liked many of this rugged bag's features, but noticed several minor design flaws throughout our testing process. Although it's expensive, if you think that this bag will meet your needs, it will almost certainly stand the test of time.
— Amanda Fenn