Osprey Fairview 55 Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Removable day pack, durable, excellent weight per volume
Cons: Bulky, shallow water bottle pockets, too many dangly bits
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The multifunctional and durable Fairview 55 is a great pack for anyone looking to fit adventure into their travels. It is a backpacking style bag with a removable daypack, which lends to its multiple functions. From backpacking around Europe to road trips across the US, the Fairview's comfortable, lightweight nature plus its ability to carry quite the load, makes it the perfect fit.
The Fairview 55 did not win best for comfort, but after a bit of fiddling, adjusting, and readjusting, we did find the pack to be quite comfortable. It just took us a minute to find the sweet spot.
The shoulder straps and hip belt of the Fairview are sufficiently padded, and the back panel mesh is quite breathable. While this pack is technically made for women or people with a smaller frame, we were sure to place it on the back of folks of all different shapes, sizes, and genders. For very tall, narrow hipped people, we found that the pack often sat a little too high, but if you have an average to shorter torso with larger hips or simply prefer to wear your pack high on your hips, you may find the fitting of this bag to be right up your alley.
We aren't a huge fan of the way the bag naturally distributes weight, but again, after adjusting and readjusting, we were able to find the sweet spot. The bag sits high on the hips, and small details like putting the laptop sleeve in the removable pack forces heavier items to sit further away from the body, making the pack feel a little heavier than it should. All that being said, with a few adjustments to the hip belt, shoulder straps, and most importantly, the straps which attach the top of the pack to the shoulder straps, we were able to redistribute the weight in a way that felt more comfortable. Overall the comfort of this bag highly depends on how willing the user is to commit to trial and error.
As far as features go, the claim to fame of the Fairview is the removable daypack. This pack easily zips on and off of the main body and allows the user to venture out of their home away from home, without having to empty out their belongings and then carry an overly large bag with them just to bring some snacks and a towel to the beach.
The daypack itself features two mesh water bottle pockets and an easy access zipper pocket on the outside. The main large zippered compartment of the daypack features a padded laptop sleeve and a smaller zipper pocket for additional organization. The inside of the large pack has one long mesh zipper compartment which spans the entire opening flap, and the rest is just one large bucket with compression straps. As far as organization goes, we could have used a few more small pockets for travel knick-knacks. The outside of the pack is littered with compression straps and handles, which we greatly appreciated during our travels because the Fairview tends to feel a little bulky.
The easy access pocket, which sits on the face of the small pack furthest from your body, is great for things you'll need on the go like a wallet, but only if you are in a place which you feel secure, as the pocket is an easy spot for thieves to get into without you noticing. We absolutely love mesh water bottle pockets because what is more important than hydration when you're traveling? This pack offers two, but unfortunately, we found them to be a little shallow for larger bottles, so it may be beneficial to have two smaller bottles if this bag tickles your fancy. And, while we love compression straps, we found that they dangled with no place to go when tightened to the max — something that could easily be improved upon. There are also small gear loops scattered around the exterior of the bag, but considering how dangly it is already, we didn't feel like we wanted to add to that, so they went unused. However, the detail is nice in the event that they are needed.
Packing & Accessibility
Having a designated spot for all your travel essentials is very important. There's nothing worse than digging around after 15 hours of travel looking for your glasses or headphones. Overall the front loading Fairview 55 does a good job of creating separate spaces for belongings, but it could use another small pocket or two.
The daypack acts as the laptop sleeve and small trinket organizer, while the main compartment is more of a bucket style catch-all compartment for your clothing, shoes, toiletries, etc. We suggest that you place your toiletries in a packing cube or toiletry bag to keep them separate from the bulk of your belongings — just in case that pesky shampoo bottle decides to burst mid-flight.
There is no secure place for on-the-go items like passports or wallets. There are, however, two intuitive spots for them. The first of which is the outermost easy access pocket, but security is low here. The other option is to put them in the smaller zipper pocket within the larger day pack compartment. This puts multiple zippers between a pickpocket and your goods, which helps offer a little more security. The main compartment is quite large, so we were able to pack a significant amount of stuff in there, and it comes complete with compression straps to ensure everything is kept in place. In the larger compartment, there is one mesh zipper pocket that spans the entirety of the opening flap. We used this area for undergarments, swimwear, and socks.
Due to its backpacking pack shape, plus the removable daypack, the Fairview has a tendency to be quite bulky no matter how you fill it. It also has one of the largest volumes of all the bags we tested. There are many compression straps scattered around the outside of the bag, which do a wonderful job of minimizing the overall volume; however, this pack pushed the limits as far as a carry-on goes. If you are hoping to hop on a plane with no grief from TSA agents, this might not be the pack for you.
The 210D Nylon Mini Hex Diamond Ripstop fabric of the Fairview is advertised as weather resistant. We did notice beads of water rolling off the pack, but it wasn't long until small puddles began to penetrate it, so we highly recommend a rainfly if you are planning to travel anywhere that is particularly wet. This pack does not come with a rain cover, but Osprey does make one you can purchase separately, which, from our research, seems to fit quite nicely. Overall, the zippers are thick and robust and refrained from snagging during our time with this pack, and we were pleasantly surprised by how easily the daypack zipped on and off.
Volume to Weight Ratio
This is where the Fairview 55 excels and why it won an award. The bag weighs just over 3.1 pounds, which isn't the lightest in our test suite, but it holds 55 liters! That is almost the highest carrying capacity in our test suite and the combo of that and it's relatively low weight give it the best volume to weight ratio in our review.
The 55 liters of this pack refers to what can be held in the main compartment and the removable day pack combined. The fact that you can separate the overall bag into two bags gives you tons of versatility in regards to what you can carry and how you can manage your gear once you arrive in your final destination.
The dual function of the Fairview make this pack a very intriguing one, as you are essentially getting a day pack and a travel pack for the price of one. This bag falls into the middle of the road as far as cost goes, and, in many respects, so do its features. We absolutely adore the idea of the removable daypack, but Osprey's execution could use a little work. The features and organization could be improved upon, but if you are looking for something that will be comfortable to backpack around Europe with that won't totally break the bank, this is a really great option.
While the Osprey Fairview 55 definitely has room for improvement in its weight distribution, properly functioning features, and organization, we are still very pleased with the pack as a whole and award it our Top Pick for Volume to Weight. Despite some quirks, this bag is light for its capacity. We love the idea of the detachable daypack for long road trips or backpacking trips, and once we adjusted the straps properly, we found it to be quite comfortable. It is unfortunately too large to use as a carry on but if you are allowed a carry-on and a personal item you may be able to get away with using the day pack as your personal item and stowing away the main pack in the overhead bin — although this tactic is far from foolproof. Once we became more familiar with this travel pack and its nuances, we found ourselves enjoying it and can see the backpacking enthusiast or minimalistic adventure traveler really falling in love with it too.
— Hayley Thomas