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Osprey Transporter Review

A high-quality duffel with a comfortable and thoughtfully designed backpack harness
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $160 List | $134.73 at REI
Pros:  Top-notch backpack carry system, excellent weather-resistance
Cons:  No traditional carry handles, thinner fabric than top models, extra closure buckles get in the way
Manufacturer:   Osprey
By Nick Bruckbauer ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Aug 20, 2020
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74
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#5 of 12
  • Ease of Transport - 25% 8
  • Storage and Ease of Packing - 25% 7
  • Durability - 20% 7
  • Weight - 15% 6
  • Weather Resistance - 15% 9

Our Verdict

Osprey has long been highly regarded for their top-quality backpacks, so it naturally follows that their duffel bags would also have excellent backpack carrying systems. Indeed, the Transporter carries on your back better than all other duffels we've reviewed, earning our Top Pick Award for the most comfortable carrying system. The contoured shoulder straps are well-padded and are supplemented with a chest strap and load lifter straps. The entire backpack harness stows away in a zippered compartment for low profile transport through the airport baggage handling process. While the overall build isn't quite as robust and durable as others, travelers looking for the ultimate in carrying comfort should check out the Osprey Transporter.

Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Osprey Transporter duffel bag uses the company's well-respected backpack technology to create a comfortable and high-quality piece of luggage. The carrying comfort of the stowable backpack harness is unmatched, and an additional four oversized and well-padded grab handles provide additional carrying options. While the 840-denier nylon material is slightly less robust than other high-end contenders, it is coated with a waterproof laminate on both sides for dependable weather protection. A strong overall performer, a couple of nuances hold it back from the very top, such as a handful of buckles that must be released to access the main compartment, and an awkwardly-placed internal storage pocket that is somewhat difficult to access.

Performance Comparison


The Transporter earns one of our top ratings with its comfortable and adjustable backpack harness that is among the best we've ever seen in a duffel.
The Transporter earns one of our top ratings with its comfortable and adjustable backpack harness that is among the best we've ever seen in a duffel.

Ease of Transport


The backpack-style carrying system of the Osprey Transporter is more comfortable and sophisticated than any other option in our lineup. The entire backpack harness mimics the design found on Osprey's highly-regarded backpacking packs. It includes contoured shoulder straps with comfortable mesh padding, an adjustable chest strap with an emergency whistle, and additional load lifter straps that help you optimize the pack's position on your body.


In addition to the backpack harness, the Transporter includes four robust grab handles — one on each side of the bag — for traditional briefcase-style carrying or for lugging out of the trunk or off the baggage claim. While both of these carrying options are well-designed and quite effective, the Transporter leaves out traditional duffel carry handles and an over-the-shoulder sling strap found on some other contenders.

The Transporter's heavy-duty grab handles are a surprisingly comfortable option for shorter hauls.
The Transporter's heavy-duty grab handles are a surprisingly comfortable option for shorter hauls.

If you don't need such a fancy backpack harness and you'd like the extra versatility of a few additional carrying methods, then another duffel may be a better option. If you regularly haul your high-capacity luggage on your back over longer distances and can live without the extra handles or straps, then the Transporter is very likely worth the compromises. Keep in mind that, although it has a comfortable backpack harness, it still lacks a stiffened back panel and a supportive waist belt that makes proper backpacking backpacks more comfortable and efficient over longer distances.

The well-padded backpack straps feature an adjustable chest strap and adjustable load lifter straps. The entire harness system can quickly stow away in its own compartment when not in use.
Built-in load lifter straps help keep the pack balanced and well supported on your back.
The adjustable chest strap helps further balance and support the load on your back.

Storage and Ease of Packing


We tested the 95-liter version, and the same model is also available in 40, 65, and 130-liter volumes.


The Transporter's top lid is secured to the outside of the duffel with two small buckles in addition to the main access zipper. These buckles help the top lid's rain flap stay in place better, to help protect the zipper from the elements. Further, the backpacks straps cross over the main access zipper to connect to their lower attachment buckles. You must first release these four total buckles to access the main storage compartment. The design of these buckles does improve the bag's performance in other areas but adds another slightly inconvenient step between you and your gear.

Two small buckles keep the top lid secured to the body  keeping the main zipper more protected but adding an additional brief step to accessing the bag.
Two small buckles keep the top lid secured to the body, keeping the main zipper more protected but adding an additional brief step to accessing the bag.

The inside of the primary storage compartment features two buckled compression straps to keep your contents snuggly packed and includes a zippered mesh storage pocket on one end to keep smaller contents secure and organized. While we always appreciate extra storage pockets, this pocket's location can be a little hard to access when the duffel is fully loaded. The bag's main access zipper doesn't fully extend to the end of the bag, meaning you potentially have to dig through some of your packed contents to access the pocket.

A pair of internal compression straps help keep bulkier items securely in place.
A pair of internal compression straps help keep bulkier items securely in place.

The other end of the bag has a convenient external storage pocket. An overlapping rain flap protects the zippered from the elements, and also includes an ID window to stash a business card or your contact info.

The external storage pocket is large enough to hold a toiletry bag or other goodies  and also has a protective weather flap.
The top of the weather flap includes a clear ID window to stash a business card or your contact information.

Durability


Constructed from 840-denier nylon, the Osprey Transporter is relatively robust compared to the rest of our overall lineup but falls short of some of the top-ranked expedition duffels with their 900 and 1000-denier builds. Many other highly-ranked models also include a layer of padding or an extra reinforcement layer of bottom material to help resist abrasion, but the Transporter has only a single layer all around.


The Transporter's construction quality and fit and finish are top-notch, as we've become accustomed to with Osprey products. The attention to detail is apparent with things like heavy-duty zippers and zipper pulls, thick, burly grab handles, and high-quality webbing material. The Transporter looks and feels like a high-end product. While other bags with reinforced bottom panels would likely hold up better to careless abuse, dragging, or rough handling, the 840-denier nylon is plenty durable for regular use.

The 840-denier body material is plenty durable for normal use and rough handling but lacks an additional reinforced bottom layer found on other high-end models.
The 840-denier body material is plenty durable for normal use and rough handling but lacks an additional reinforced bottom layer found on other high-end models.

Osprey also stands behind their products with a robust All Mighty Guarantee. They state, "Osprey will repair any damage or defect for any reason free of charge — whether it was purchased in 1974 or yesterday. If we are unable to perform a functional repair on your pack, we will happily replace it." Very impressive.

Weight


We personally weighed the 95-liter Transporter at 3.3 pounds, which is pretty good for a high-quality giant duffel bag. It's one of the lightest full-size expedition-style duffels in our lineup.


When loading up and approaching the airline baggage allowances, you don't want a huge portion of the weight limit to be taken up by the luggage itself. The Transporter weighs slightly less than its other closest competitors, and it achieves that weight without any significant sacrifices in quality or functionality. Its primary body material is slightly thinner than the most robust competitors, and it forgoes an additional bottom reinforcement layer, but it also includes the best backpack harness system that we tested.

The Transporter weighs in at about the average of similarly sized duffels  but the comfortable backpack harness makes it much easier to haul heavier loads.
The Transporter weighs in at about the average of similarly sized duffels, but the comfortable backpack harness makes it much easier to haul heavier loads.

Weather Resistance


The Transporter is one of the top scorers in this performance metric thanks to its double-coated 840-denier nylon that has a TPU (Thermoplastic Polyurethane) coating on each side that does an excellent job of repelling water.


While the seams are not fully sealed and the zippers are not fully waterproof, both of these potentially vulnerable areas are fortified with additional protective measures. The seams are all internally reinforced with an extra layer of material to help strengthen them and provide an extra barrier against moisture entry. Both external zippers — the main access zipper and the external storage pocket — have two overlapping protective covers. Both include a smaller, thinner black weather strip as well as a more substantial red rain flap.

Each external zipper has a smaller black weatherstrip in addition to the main rain flap  combining to provide excellent weather protection.
Each external zipper has a smaller black weatherstrip in addition to the main rain flap, combining to provide excellent weather protection.

Value


It is not cheap but it's not the most expensive model we tested among similar high-end expedition packs. The price range among the top-ranked rugged expedition duffels is surprisingly small, and the Transporter lands right in the middle of the group. In this product category, we typically recommend choosing a bag that has the materials and features that suit you best, since the overall price difference is small, and these bags should all last for years and years. If you're looking for the most comfortable backpack harness on a duffel bag, the Transporter is or top choice and would provide great value.

With a similar price as other high-end models  the Transporter provides excellent value with its top-notch backpack harness system.
With a similar price as other high-end models, the Transporter provides excellent value with its top-notch backpack harness system.

Conclusion


The Osprey Transporter is a high-quality, weather-resistant duffel bag that is comfortable to carry with its excellent backpack harness. It earns our Top Pick Award for the most comfortable carrying system thanks to its well-padded should straps, adjustable chest strap, and additional load-lifter straps. Other duffels are burlier or have more versatile carrying options, but this award-winner does a great job of balancing durability and carrying comfort in a reasonably lightweight package.

Nick Bruckbauer