Osprey is highly regarded for their backpacks. It follows that their duffels would be excellent backpacks. The Transporter carries on your back better than the other bags we've reviewed; the shoulder straps are padded, contoured, and supplemented with a sternum strap and "load lifters." The bag stays a reasonable weight thanks to the use of relatively thin main fabric. You trade durability for carrying comfort. If you know you need a high-quality backpack carrying comfort, you might justify the lower durability of the Osprey Transporter.
Osprey Transporter 130 Review
Cons: Relatively thin fabric, extra unnecessary features
Compare to Similar Products
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Osprey Transporter duffel uses this pack company's pack technology and attributes to create a good piece of luggage. The overall design is a little more complicated than it needs to be. Much of the weight of the Osprey Transporter comes from features you won't often use. We don't mind the weight, but wish that it meant more durability and would be fine if the carry system, for instance, were more straightforward and less "engineered." Similarly, the Transporter keeps your stuff dry but does so with less confidence than the bags made of vinyl type materials.
On our overall scoring matrix, the Osprey Transporter doesn't turn any heads. It is simply not durable nor weather-protective enough to enter the top ranks. It carries better on your back than almost any other, but this comes at the cost of the other metrics.
Ease of Transport
In "backpack mode," the Osprey Transporter is more comfortable and sophisticated than any other option in our list. As long as you put soft and smooth stuff at the top of the bag (directly under the main compartment lid), the contoured shoulder straps with load lifters and a sternum strap replicate the shoulder harness of Osprey's highly regarded larger backpacking packs. Whether this sophisticated carry arrangement is necessary will be up to you. If you carry your luggage for miles with the shoulder straps, it very well might be worth the compromises. Be advised, though, that without a stiffened back panel and a waist belt, a fully loaded Osprey Transporter will not carry anything like a proper backpacking pack.
The much simpler shoulder strap arrangement of The North Face Basecamp is nearly as comfortable as those on the Osprey. Similarly, the Patagonia Black Hole shoulder strap arrangement is as comfortable as most will need. Even the Top Pick Yeti Panga has pretty good shoulder straps. None of these are as contoured or supported as the shoulder straps on the Osprey, but you don't need fancy shoulder straps on a duffel.
Ease of Packing
The main u-shaped zipper of the Osprey Transporter opens very wide. This is good. The soft 840D fabric of the main structure of the Osprey is pretty shapeless until you get the bag mostly loaded.
Stiffer duffel materials like those on the Best Buy Marmot Long Hauler or Gregory Alpaca maintain some shape while you drop stuff in. The structured and wheeled luggage like The North Face Rolling Thunder is even easier to load. Any bag with a straight-shot zipper, like the Top Pick REI Roadtripper is more annoying to load and unload than the Osprey.
840 Denier nylon, as used on the Osprey Transporter, is relatively stout for a backpack but is among the lighter textiles used in all-around duffels and luggage. Vinyl type material, as employed in the Patagonia Black Hole Wheeled, will last much better than the nylon of the Transporter. Even stouter is the thicker material of The North Face Basecamp. The Basecamp has double layers on the bottom for dragging and abuse. The Osprey main fabric won't hold up like these others. Osprey buckles and zippers are all stout and ready for extended use.
3.44 pounds for a giant duffel is pretty good. When packing close to airline baggage allowances, you don't want a huge portion of your weight to be in the bag that holds the good stuff. This weight point is right in the mix with other close competitors. The difference with the Osprey is that the weight comes from carryable features like the sophisticated shoulder straps. This carry-ability is at the expense of durability. Other bags of similar weight have simpler carry but greater durability.
The coated nylon of the Transporter, held together with sealed seams, will keep out all kinds of weather. The main zipper is vulnerable but will stand up to splashes and brief rain. The coating on the main fabrics of the Transporter is more robust than most, but not nearly as stout as that on The North Face Basecamp. Both the Transporter and the Top Pick REI Roadtripper are made of coated nylon. However, the Transporter has better-sealed seams, and the coating is superior.
Osprey's construction, reputation, and warranty service do not come cheap. The Transporter is costly, and you get what you pay for. The catch, in this case, is that what you pay for is shoulder strap comfort and support that you might not need at all.
The Osprey Transporter transports your stuff on your back better than any other duffel in our review. If that matters to you, you will likely justify the trade-offs that come with it.
— Jediah Porter