Osprey Transporter Carry On Review
The Carry On is one of Osprey's travel backpacks, but not of the "hiker" style. Let's see how it does.
Introduction To The Osprey Transporter Backpack
OSPREY by this point, is an old dog in this game. I don't mean that negatively. They are one of the longest standing, and most beloved manufacturers of backpacks and hiking/adventure luggage out there. Most of their travel backpacks are very clearly traditional backpacks - and can serve double duty as hikers as well. Which is cool. Typically however, I don't gravitate towards those kind. I like the the more "travel bag', clamshell styles for my wandering. Truth be told, I get it, any bag you want to be is a travel bag. But I think you know what I mean stylistically. These are the kinds of bags I go for rather than the traditional, straight up book bag or hiking bag styles.
With the Transporter Carry On, Osprey has thrown themselves into the ring with these aforementioned styles. It would seem to me like they've put some thought into this one, and I wanted to review it to see if the brand's offering was worth your consideration for your wandering stable.
This is my review of the Osprey Transporter Carry On. For full transparency, I purchased this bag with my own money, and this is not a sponsored article. Per usual, all the thoughts and opinions are my own.
This page does use affiliate links. If you click to make a purchase, I do make a small commission which helps to keep this site running. There is no cost to you, and you're under no obligation to use my links. With that out of the way, let's dig in!
Osprey Transporter Carry On Backpack Overview
So getting all of the nitty-gritty out of the way - the Transporter Carry On is exactly as the name suggests. A travel bag designed to be carry on sized (there is also a "Global" version - which is a bit smaller to be in line with International airline regulations). Osprey lists the Transporter as 44l. It's a backpack/duffel hybrid like so many bags these days and comes with a detachable strap if you want to carry it on your side and shoulder - like a duffel. I basically removed this strap from my mind immediately as I never use those configs - but it's nice to have the option if you like that.
The main material choice here is one I like. The bag is made from double coated, TPU nylon. It's a mix of 400D and 360D on the weight of the weave. I like my travel bags to have this type of TPU coating as it makes them very easy to wipe off and provides fantastic water resistance.
The feature list on this bag is pretty standard - which you'd expect. It's got front organization with its own volume, a top pocket designed as a quick grab pocket for liquids but can of course be used for anything. Stowable backpack straps and hip strap, laptop sleeve, clamshell opening, and luggage pass through. They say the laptop sleeve can fit up to 17 inch, but I'd be careful with that as there are a LOT of different kinds of 17 inch laptops. They can vary greatly in their beefiness and I don't want you "my laptop is as big as a desktop" folks to get all bent out of shape at Osprey.
The Osprey Transporter Carry On comes in a few colors, but at the time of this writing (Dec 2020) it does look like they are clearing out inventory. Black might be your best bet going forward. Retail price is $180.00 USD which is a fantastic value in this space. Right now - you could get some colors for under $100.00 USD - which is insane.
Osprey Transporter Carry On Backpack Features
There isn't too much to get crazy about here, Osprey did not take any risks on this bag and I think I'm just fine with that. The front organizational pocket has a lot of spots in there to organize your stuff (including two zippered pockets). It would serve to use for your tech in place of a separate pouch, or has its own volume to place additional pouches or kits in there. The top pocket is also great for this - it doesn't need to just be used for toiletries obviously.
Inside the bag, there are two dividers for each section, something you don't see often - typically there is only one. One is mesh on the main compartment, one is full nylon. This nylon divider has two mesh pockets on it.
On the outside of the bag, there's the previously mentioned luggage pass through slot, always good to see. There are also two grab handles and a zippered compartment for the backpack straps when you want to keep it clean for boarding a plane or bus, what have you.
I do want to touch on the hip straps. I never use these on packs of this size as I just find them more of a hassle than anything except on a large pack. These ones are more just stabilizers, and not true load-bearing straps, mind you. I just kept them tucked away.
All zippers are YKK with a combination of number 10 and number 8.
I love the build and materials on this. They're nothing too exotic, don't get me wrong. But they are tough and this bag is very well put together. All the seams are very well done, especially in looking at the grab handles. Those things are sewn on tight. This is something we've come to expect from Osprey, however. I actually saw some buyer reviews on their site and one complained about "wear and tear" because this bag shows scuffs and what not. I mean I don't know what that person was expecting on bags with TPU coatings, it's not about the looks in most cases - it's about holding up in challenging environments. If my bag gets a scuff instead of a rip, I'm good with that. This isn't Burberry, guys.
The organizational choices here are good as well. The top pocket is nice (keep in mind it cuts into the bag's volume inside) and the interior pockets and segmentation are laid out well. It's all very economical in its usage of the space. The best part of the front pocket - and this is a common theme with me if you've read my other reviews - is that it has its own volume! Yes! This means, it's not just a flat pocket with organization where you can ONLY use the organizational slips and pockets themselves, but not really stick anything else 3D in there. Not so on this. I was able to put my Bellroy tech pouch in there (either size) and my headphones case with no problems. The top pocket is also a good spot for either of these things, but the front pocket doesn't use the internal space. So keep that in mind. You could even fit a compressible jacket in there (because it's well, compressible, see?) or a thin layer or two.
This is all subjective - but I really like the green color I chose. Yes it's a bit louder than some of you like for urban travel, but this one can do double duty for outdoors travel as well considering the build materials and quality. Regardless, I really dug this color way.
The Osprey warranty. They have one of the best. And while it doesn't cover wear and tear (like scuffs - who's does?) for anything functional they have your back and will either repair or exchange when the product no longer exists. This will vary by scenario, so be sure to speak with them about any warranty actions you want to take.
Lastly, I like that the compartment to stuff the straps in has a zipper closure. Means it's a really clean implementation once they are tucked in there.
This bag is mostly really good. Especially at the price point. Especially-especially at the "sale" price point in some colors. That said, I do think they had to take some cost cutting measures here, which is understandable I think.
They don't use any water sealed zippers, not even on the laptop compartment, and I think that's a miss. Also on the zippers, only the main pack has zippers made for locking. You can work out the rest with mini S-biners if you like (For example, these).
I think the hip straps are kind of pointless and not really worth it. Either go for it with real, removable ones, or just leave those off and use the cost for water sealed zippers.
Has no water bottle sleeve.
The Improvement Requests for the Osprey Transporter Carry On
I guess I really wouldn't change a lot on this bag. They did most everything really pretty solidly if never fantastically. A few quick things:
-Put aquaguard zippers on
-Make more zippers lockable (like the laptop compartment for sure)
-Backpack straps are FINE, but could be made with a little more robust padding
-Make the hip straps removable so you don't have to stow them away
-Add two more grab handles to cover all four sides
Packing the Osprey Transporter Carry On Backpack
Have to show the obligatory packing example here. This is my pretty standard list for a 3-5 day trip. This also isn't packed out - you could definitely fit more in here. A lot more. But that's not always the point. You don't want to pack it out too heavy, you might want room for souvenirs, camera gear, etc.
I packed: Mystery Ranch In and Out Packable (Review); 3 button downs; 1 pair of Western Rise Diversion Pants (Review); 1 pair of dress shoes; 3 daily t-shirts; 1 sleep t-shirt (to not dirty the dailies); 4 underwear (Merino and Airisms); 2 Airism undershirts (not pictured); 1 pair merino socks; 1 pair performance dress socks (Review); Bellroy Tech Pouch Compact; Sony WH-1000Xm3 headphones in case; small Ape Case with mirrorless camera and 2 lenses; Gravel Explorer Slim toiletry kit (Review). In this scenario I'd considered the pants, shirt, and socks that I was wearing as part of my kit, and would wear my jacket. Plenty for 3-5 days of travel, or more if you wash. I will say the double compartment inside is a great way to get a suit coat in this bag. I've done it numerous times with my Patagonia Black Hole MLC, and it would work here as well.
I'm 5'6 for reference. I also threw in a picture of it next to the Patagonia Black Hole MLC (Review). I'll be honest - the layout here is almost exactly the same. But you can see from the pic that the Patagonia is SLIGHTLY bigger. So the Osprey is a little more efficient for space. But features and layout, pretty much the same with the Osprey having a better internal compression system, just less room overall. Either of these bags, to me, would be good to use the left hand side for a suit jacket.
Final Thoughts On My Osprey Transporter Carry On Review
So here's the final words on our Osprey Transporter Carry On review. Do they have a winner on their hands? I think so. It's not really that unique, but it's got really solid quality, lots of necessary features, and the value at the time of this writing, is out of this world with the sale price. At full price, it's still a lower price point than most of the indie bags of similar quality, and instead you're backed by a bigger company with established operations. It's such a good value, in fact, that I just awarded it my Best Budget Travel Bag of 2020 in our recent round up of the year (Best Travel Gear of 2020 article). Compared to all the off-brand bags at this price point, I really don't think you're going to be able to beat this.
Is it missing anything? Sure. I think the zippers could be made more water resistant and lockable, which many people want/need. And the straps could maybe use some more padding (though they really didn't bother me as I'm not doing hard core trekking/time of carry in this). For it to be more serious about that kind of travel though, it will need it. It's more targeted to the casual adventurer or urban traveler at the end of the day.
If you're looking for a really solid bag, but don't have $200-$300 USD to spend, you should absolutely be checking this out. And to mention again, it does in fact come in a nice matte black so you don't need to get the green color if you don't want. I really liked it in person though.
You can buy from either Osprey directly or Amazon if that's your ecosystem. I'd always advocate trying the brand directly first, if you can.
Sign up to be notified of future reviews like this, and head on over to our Travel Bag Reviews page for more reviews on bags like the Aer Travel Pack 2 review, or the NOMATIC Travel Bag review. Head to our main Travel Gear Reviews page for all our clothing, tech, and bag reviews to help you make some solid decisions for all your wandering.