Before heading out on my latest adventure, I did a LOT of research about one-bagging it: specifically, how to do this 6-week around-the-world trip with only a carry-on backpack. After all that research, I settled on the Osprey Porter 46 Liter backpack. In fact, I hit a Black Friday sale at REI Garage and bought two of them at half-price: one pack for me and one for my husband. We put our packs through a lot along the way, and here’s how they held up.
Osprey Porter 46L Backpack Review: Size
This pack can handle quite a load. Even though it's dimensions are the maximum size that most airlines technically want you to have as a carry-on, it's main compartment is pretty cavernous ...even after I started shoving unfolded clothes and boots into it.
I did use two compression sacks to hold my elaborate wardrobe in place and make room for my shoes. Priorities! ...JK, I really tried to not care about fashion this trip, for the sake of saving space, but I just can't help myself sometimes. No self control.
This pack handled my fashion habits plus two pairs of shoes, plus my mini-pharmacy, a sleeping bag liner, a jam-packed liquids bag, my make up bag, a towel, two books, five kinds of wipes, and various other things I thought I couldn't live without for six weeks.
If fact, it was probably too big. Had I had the self-control to actually pack just what I needed, i would have had tons of free space.
That said, we all know I don't have that kind of self-control -- so this pack was perfect! Plus we were never questioned about the size (or the weight!) at the airport.
Fully packed, it weighed somewhere between 18-20 pounds.
Osprey Porter 46L Backpack Review: Organization
This pack has ample organization. There is a cavernous main compartment to fit that weird-shaped statue you picked up in Sri Lanka, plus all your clothes and shoes. The big main pouch was perfect to stash compression bags with my clothes, shove my jacket in the corner, and top it off with my small packing cubes full of who-knows-what.
The main compartment has two long inside side pouches that are seemingly bottomless. You put something in there, and the main compartment doesn't seem to lose any space! It's basically magic. I stuffed all my little knicknacks in the side pouches and didn't feel like I lost any space in the main compartment.
The main compartment zipper zips all the way down so the pack butterfly's out and you can see all your things.
The smaller outer compartment has all the conventional organization spaces you might find in a school backpack - places to tuck away your sunglasses, passport, laptop, pens, folders, etc. It keeps everything nice and tidy so you're not losing things all the time. Or at least this is how you're supposed to use this pouch. Some of us (ahem...I shall not name-names!) just throw everything in the big pouch and go through 6 toothbrushes in 2 weeks because we prefer entropy and chaos.
Osprey Porter 46L Backpack Review: Comfort
I'm 5' 2" tall and can occasionally shop in the kids section. This pack is definitely made for someone a little bigger and taller than me (like...someone the size of my husband), but never-the-less it was still very comfortable once I had all the straps cinched up. It might have looked a little silly having all those extra straps flopping around, but the pack's weight was properly distributed due to the semi-hard shell and back support.
I was VERY happy to have the belt supporting most of the weight - especially when Donald and I decided to walk 2+ miles to our hotel in Moscow instead of waiting for the bus. The comfortable belt straps put most of the pack's weight on my hips, instead of on my shoulders and back.
At no point did I feel any straps digging into my skin - everything is very well cushioned. I was very happy about that, because we ended up walking quite a bit with these on our backs.
I think the Osprey Farpoint 40L would have fit me a little better, while giving almost as much storage, but I was happy with the Porter as well.
Osprey Porter 46L Backpack Review: Practicality
If you're looking to one-bag it around the world, this bag is your bag. It might even be a little too big, depending how you pack, but every piece of this bag makes sense. Plus, it gives you some room for souvenirs, extra shoes, or lazy packing.
You can also lock this bag's zippers together using a single TSA combo lock like this one, making it worry-free when you leave your passport locked in your bag in your hotel room or on the train.
The outside compression straps ensure your gear is secure inside. And if your bag isn't full, you don't need to worry about everything rolling around in the extra space. Just cinch up those compression straps.
These straps and the semi-solid outer shell also hide the pack's zippers! So no one can sneak up on you from behind and zip open your pack. This seems like a common pick-pocket move, but this bag is a fortress.
When you're not using those awesome hip straps or shoulder straps, they all tuck away neatly into their little compartments in the back of the pouch, so you can carry the pack like a duffel, or check the bag on a plane. We checked one of our Porter bags on the way home from Japan because it was full of sake (yum!) and souvenirs. Even though the bag is semi-soft, nothing broke inside, and it arrived at our destination perfectly intact.
So there you have it. Would I recommend the Osprey Porter 46L Backpack? Yes. Yes I do. It's manageable, practical, nice looking, and fits tons of stuff. Even stuff you don't need.
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