Osprey Sojourn 80L Review
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Sojourn is a roller suitcase that converts into a backpack. You can carry it over rough terrain and roll it over smooth surfaces, but it's not the best at either, and its unconventional design cuts into its carry capacity. Still, we like this bag a lot for certain types of travel.
Storage & Organization
Backpacks are built to balance loads on your body. Roller bags are built to easily shuttle items from one vehicle to the next. This bag successfully does both but is forced to make some compromises along the way. It sacrifices storage space to tuck away backpack straps, rounds the top of the bag like a backpack, and hides its entrance behind durable nylon compression wings. The result is a little less storage space and ease of packing than we prefer.
There are two mesh compartments on the inside of the bag's main entrance flap and integrated pockets along both sides of the bag. These help organize toiletries and delicates, but they aren't big enough for all of your clothing. They are also mostly mesh and don't separate clean clothes from dirty gear. The rest of the bag is an open space with two compression straps set horizontally to keep everything in place.
We reached for the Sojourn when planning a climbing trip, thinking it would be perfect for hauling heavy gear through the airport and on the trail. Unfortunately, a single climbing rope filled most of the storage space, and there is no easy way to separate gear from clothing, aside from using stuff sacks like we would in any other backpack. So we pulled out a suitcase with a square shape and more usable volume to pack everything we needed.
Still, we appreciate many of the features of the Sojourn. Like a backpack, you can access all your items while the case is standing up — a huge advantage when you're on the go. There's also a nylon-lined exterior pocket at the top that's large enough to fit a pair of shoes and a smaller one that's perfect for your wallet, passport, or tickets. Of course, these pockets do cut into the volume of the main compartment when you fill them. When they're empty, both simply collapse out of the way.
You'll also notice that the Sojourn has two huge compression wings that hug the length of the bag. They help you cut down on the bulk of the pack, and if you decide to empty the pack while on the go, you can compress the whole thing. This also keeps your bag sleek and streamlined for packing your rig or checking your bag.
Unfortunately, these wings get in the way when you're trying to pack. Between them and the tapered and rounded shape, we had a hard time fitting in everything we need for any type of adventure travel. The backpack construction makes it harder to pack items away — especially if they are bulky. The Sojourn is fine for a weekend mission or a backpacking trip to Europe, but it's not our first choice for gear-laden adventures — despite its 80 liters of advertised volume.
Ease of Transport
This bag's stout retractable handle and oversized wheels are helpful when you've got a lot of smooth ground to cover. The pack is narrow, though, and more prone to tipping over as you round a corner or maneuver through an airport. However, when the terrain is rough or the crowds are cloying, the ability to convert this roller-bag into a backpack is a stroke of genius. In instances where you just can't roll your bag, the Sojourn saves the day with its full-suspension airflow-friendly backpack conversion.
When in roller mode, the oversized wheels offer a fairly smooth ride on hardtop and move their way easily over obstacles such as rocks and stones. Unlike most rolling suitcases that are built with a straight and low-hanging chassis, the chassis on the Sojourn curves in an arch from one wheel to the other, offering unprecedented clearance. And, when going up and down stairs — which is always cumbersome for rolling suitcases — we loved being able to convert to backpack mode.
When this bag is fully loaded, it does have some balance issues. If there are heavy items in the top pocket with lighter items below, the Sojourn won't stand on its own, toppling over every time you walk away. It even flipped upside down once when coming off a high curb. If you're careful with weight distribution when you pack, this is less of an issue, but it's still more sensitive than most of the other suitcases in our review.
Picking this case up to load it in your car or off a conveyor belt is more straightforward. There are nicely padded handles on the top and one side. If you need to lift it into a vehicle, you'll have no trouble. We only wish there was also a handle on the front or the bottom for even easier navigation.
Now, let's talk about the backpack system. To start, it took us a few minutes to figure out where the hip belt was, which buckles went where, and how to make the backpack system comfortable for full-weight carry. Even though the straps are a little thinner than we'd like, the entire system keeps the weight distributed nicely on your hips. However, some larger reviewers complained that the hip belt wasn't long enough, and the straps cut into their shoulders.
Overall, most of our reviewers feel that the backpack system on the Sojourn is comfortable enough for an extended carry of about 50 pounds. If you know you'll be traveling in areas that aren't suited to a roller suitcase, but you like the wheels for flat surfaces and travel in the airports, this is by far the best choice.
The Sojourn has an aluminum tube frame surrounded by a seemingly durable face fabric. When wheeling it around fully loaded, it feels reasonably stable and sturdy for a soft-sided backpack, though most that we tested are less tippy. This suitcase is also one of the most water-resistant in the test, featuring a heavy abrasion-resistant nylon exterior that wraps around the entire backpack.
The front panel is thinner than most of the bags we tested, though the materials still offer a fair amount of rigidity and seem durable. We know that this bag can stand up to a beating because we aren't very easy on our gear. Overall, we found that it's rugged and holds up to rough handling. We're impressed.
The wheels on the Sojourn seem bomber. They are oversized, large, and we didn't observe any issues with them or the retractable pull handle. The backpack harness system is also impressively constructed and hasn't failed us yet. Overall, we are confident in the reliability of this pack and its ability to get you from point A to point Z and every stop in between.
The zippers are big and burly. They do tend to catch in the corners, requiring two hands to zip them up and down. The protective fabric flaps seem to exacerbate the issue, though this feature helps make the Sojourn one of the most water-resistant we tested.
Due to the fantastic compression flaps, water could not penetrate the main compartment throughout most of our testing. The top pocket did collect water, though. While we'd trust this pack to keep most of your clothes dry if you accidentally got stuck in a rainstorm, we suggest carrying an extra rain cover for the top pocket, just in case.
This bag weighs in at 8.5 pounds. That's reasonably light for a roller-bag, but not for a backpack. While you can pack more than 40 pounds of gear before hitting the maximum weight for most airlines, you probably don't want to carry that on your back for too long. Good thing you also have wheels.
The style of the Sojourn isn't so bad for a hybrid suitcase that can either be a backpack or roller suitcase. Still, it's certainly not a fashion-forward piece and focuses largely on function.
As a roller suitcase, this bag looks a little techy and informal, and putting it on your back will have you catching a few interesting looks. If you're not too concerned about style, though, this multi-use bag might be a great fit.
This bag is pricey, but it's a worthy investment if you really need luggage that can either be carried or rolled. If you are mostly rolling on smooth ground, a standard checked suitcase with more storage capacity will probably serve you better. The value is only there if you are psyched on the unique skill set of this hybrid piece of luggage.
The Osprey Sojourn certainly has its place with the avid backpacker traveling the city. If, during your travels, you find yourself wishing you had a backpack instead of your roller luggage or vice versa, this is likely the bag for you. Otherwise, stick to one or the other. The Sojourn is an impressive hybrid but is neither an exceptional roller-bag nor backpack. Still, we find it the best for varied terrain of the bags in our review.
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