Osprey Porter 46 Review
Cons: Square design protrudes from back, too big for some airlines checked baggage
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Osprey Porter 46
$174.95 at Amazon
$149.00 at REI
Check Price at Backcountry
|$199 List||$170 List|
Check Price at Backcountry
|Pros||Good suspension, lightweight, affordable, gobbles gear||Tapered for easy loading, comfortable harness system, adventure friendly, very light||Versatile, sleek, camera box, vented wet shoe compartment||Versatile, duffel-like ease of use, simplistic features, max volume carry||Roll-top, heavily padded, multiple access points to main compartment and laptop sleeve, comes with a packing cube|
|Cons||Square design protrudes from back, too big for some airlines checked baggage||Does not sit upright, laptop sleeve unpadded||No waist belt or sternum strap, no water bottle holder, back panel not very breathable, tall||Soft body sags when not stuffed, harness system not fit for long adventures||Top-loading, lack of organization for larger items, packing cube is too big|
|Bottom Line||This is a durable and easy to pack travel backpack, but may be bulky for some airlines or uses||With its tapered shape and backpacking pack structure, this is the perfect bag for the outdoor adventurist that doesn't want to spend an arm and leg||With its convertible camera cube, ventilated shoe compartment, and padded device sleeve, this pack was made for the outdoor photographer on the go||A well thought out, user-friendly, and versatile pack fortified by an Ironclad guarantee and cutting edge company ethics||This versatile pack offers multiple access points to the main compartment, a solid amount of padding, and a roll-top in case you need a little extra space|
|Rating Categories||Osprey Porter 46||REI Co-op Ruckpack 40||Mammut Seon Cargo 35L||Patagonia Black Hol...||Thule Subterra 34L|
|Packing and Accessibility (25%)|
|Volume to Weight Ratio (15%)|
|Specs||Osprey Porter 46||REI Co-op Ruckpack 40||Mammut Seon Cargo 35L||Patagonia Black Hol...||Thule Subterra 34L|
|Volume of Main Compartment||46L||40L||35L||45L||34L|
|Measured Weight||3.23 lbs||2.10 lbs||2.10 lbs||3.35 lbs||2.56 lbs|
|Volume to Weight Ratio (bigger is better)||14.24||19.05||16.67||13.43||13.28|
|Dimensions||21" x 14" x 12"||24" x 13" x 10"||24" x 14" x 9"||22.8" x 8.6" x 14.5"||9.1" x 12.2" x 20.5"|
|Carry-on Size Compatible? (22" x 14" x 9")||Must be cinched down||No||Yes||Yes, if squished||Yes|
|Stuffed Dimensions||22" x 14" x 12"||22" x 9" x 14"||24" x 14" x 9"||22" x 14" x 10"||9.1" x 12.3" x 20.5"|
|Fabrics||420D nylon hex diamond ripstop, 420HD nylon packcloth||Recycled nylon ripstop and recycled polyester lining (bluesign approved)||600D waterproof polyester, 840D ballistic nylon||Polyester ripstop with TPU laminate||800D nylon|
|Frame Type||Stiff foam||Ventilated mesh||Foam padding||Foam backpanel||Foam padding|
|Access Type||Panel loading, zips all the way open||Top loading||Panel loading||Clamshell design||Top Loading (Rolltop)|
|Number of Pockets||7 zip, 8 no zip||6 zip, 7 no zip, 2 water bottle||3 small zippered, 1 ventilated, 1 camera comparment, 1 main||9 zip, 8 no zip||1 main, 1 laptop, 1 zippered front, 1 mesh in front, 2 small open top and 1 large open top, 1 zippered water bottle|
|Waist Belt Type||Padded||Padded||None||None||N/A|
|Sternum Strap||Yes, whistle||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Different Sizes Available?||No||Yes||No||Yes||Yes|
|Volume Options||30L, 46L, 65L||18L, 28L, 40L, 65L||35L||26L, 45L||30L, 34L|
Our Analysis and Test Results
Backpack? Duffel? Carry-on? You choose! The Osprey Porter is versatile and easy to use for a variety of travel styles.
The Porter is one of the more comfortable backpacks in this review, though it should not be mistaken for a backpacking pack. It feels more like putting a small stiff duffel with excellent suspension on your back. It carries impressively well for its boxy shape considering how much it protrudes from your back, but it's not a pack we would ever substitute for our backpacking or trekking pack.
In the most recent update, Osprey made the very smart decision to move the laptop sleeve from the outermost pocket to the back panel. This move not only protects your fragile electronics, but it helps keep the weight of the pack centered more closely to your back and helps increase comfort. In our tests, the Porter 46 was comfortable up to 35 pounds, which is a lot of weight for what you are most likely carrying around in a travel backpack of this size. We absolutely love that you can deploy the shoulder straps without the hip belt. With lighter loads, we prefer to carry our travel backpacks with just the shoulder straps and avoid the flap and hassle of the hip belt.
We are quite pleased that Osprey switched the laptop sleeve to the back panel for this updated version of the Porter 46, instead of having it in the outer zippered pouch, which was awkward, imbalanced, and felt less well protected for our fragile electronics. We also like the simplistic and bucket-like main compartment. It is easy to open (especially when you get dinged by TSA and an agent has to open it up to search it), easy to pack (or re-pack after said search), and has a handy zippered pocket inside for smaller items (like socks or underwear) or those things you don't want flying out when the TSA agent opens the bag.
The padding on either side of the pack is called the "Straight Jacket." This provides protection of your belongings if you decide to check the bag and serves as some pretty hefty compression straps in the event that you need to lose a few inches to use this pack as a carry-on. That said, this padding added quite a bit of bulk and was rarely necessary for what we were packing in a carry-on. Realistically, we could provide all the padding we needed with the clothing we were already packing. This bulk also proved more problematic on some smaller commercial airplanes, so be extra sure of the dimensions of your particular airline's checked bag allowance. Ultimately, we were able to cram the pack under the seat, but it was a close call.
The modular carrying design is an excellent feature of the Porter. Osprey calls it a "deluxe duffel," which is spot-on. This bag can be carried by hand from a nice padded handle, or you can purchase an extra shoulder strap and clip it to the D ring buckles to carry it like a duffel over your shoulder.
The pocket design was changed slightly from the previous model, and we found it to be useful, though not a significant change from before (other than swapping the laptop sleeve to the back). We especially like the top pocket for toiletries; this instills confidence that any exploded shampoo bottles will have an extra pocket separating them from clothing inside. And the internal zippered pockets are also great for putting your dirty or smelly shoes in quarantine and keeping socks and underwear secure.
Packing and Accessibility
The Porter 46 is well designed to pack in a hurry and allow access to important items. Access to the main compartment is through the front panel, which opens wide and makes packing easy. When we got stopped by the TSA X-Ray technician when running late for our flight, we were pleased with how easy it was for a stranger to open and search the contents, and then put everything right back in place and zip it up for us to grab and run to the gate.
The well-padded and placed laptop sleeve allows for easy access to your electronics even in the hustle and bustle of the security line. The smaller mesh pocket along the inside of the main compartment is the perfect place for swimsuits, undergarments, or other smaller articles of clothing.
The additional zippered compartment at the top of the bag makes it really easy to extract toiletries for the TSA checkpoint — as well as adding a layer of protection from our clothing in case our shampoo bottle exploded. Part of the ease of packing the Porter comes from the firm side panels — when you open the bag, it stays open much like a suitcase, but then it carries comfortably like a backpack.
Volume to Weight Ratio
The Porter 46 scores well for the weight held per liter of volume. The 46 liters of space only weighs 3.23 pounds, one of the more impressive ratios in our test group. This is an excellent feature for any backpack — since you will be carrying all that weight on your back, it's nice if the pack itself isn't too heavy before you've even put anything inside of it.
The Porter is an impressively durable travel backpack that we would never hesitate to cinch down with the padded Straight Jacket and send off as a checked bag if we packed too much for it to be a carry-on. The 420 denier nylon can handle the abuse of conveyor belts, rough surfaces, and even minor assaults from some sharper objects. The manufacturing on this bag is sound, with sturdy stitching and excellent, big, smooth zippers. We also like how the zippers are placed — even when we overstuffed the bag, we did not see much strain on them.
The current version of the Porter went up in price from the last model, but it is still a great deal. It is super durable and easy to pack, so if it meets your needs, we are sure you'll be stoked.
The Osprey Porter 46 is an excellent travel backpack; it is very comfortable, easy to pack, highly durable, and affordable to boot. It is an excellent companion for airline travel with the padded compression system and the easy panel loading (and unloading) design. It will keep your electronics safe and organized, and ensure you're light and nimble on your journey through the airport and your next adventure destination. And it all comes at a price that won't make your wallet shrink away in fear.
— Hayley Thomas
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