Is the Osprey Porter 46 or Osprey Farpoint 40 backpack better?
Osprey is a well-respected brand that specializes in backpacks. It was founded in 1974, and its customized packs quickly gained notice for their innovative features and quality.
Two recent Osprey backpack models are particularly popular, the Osprey Farpoint 40 and the slightly larger Osprey Porter 46. They are similar in both their convertible design and in the fact that each meets most airline carry-on restrictions.
Aside from their six-liter variance in volume, their main differences lie in their compartment configurations, with the Porter being better suited to use as luggage and the Farpoint more backpacker-friendly.
What to know before you buy an Osprey Porter 46
True to its name, the Osprey Porter 46 is designed to be placed in luggage compartments and trunks. It has few features outside, which is helpful as pockets and straps are likely to snag while you are maneuvering your pack in tight spaces. Its harness zips away in a discreet flap, leaving you with a strapless case easily stowed in, and removed from, overhead lockers. When in this mode, there are two webbing loops to which you can attach a shoulder strap for easy carrying.
At 46 liters, the Porter 46 can hold enough items for a lengthy stay, although you’d have to be selective with your choices and pack carefully. You can maximize its potential with the use of packing cubes, and then it is surprising how many items you can fit into it. The front panel opens in its entirety, allowing you to neatly insert your contents as if packing a suitcase, unlike most backpacks that are stuffed from the top. Expect to pay around $160 for the latest version of the Osprey Porter 46, which is available at Amazon.
Pros: Inside the main compartment, contents can be easily secured with two straps. The outside has two further compression straps that keep the entire unit tight and compact while in transit. Padded grab handles on its top and side make it easy to maneuver the pack into lockers or onto luggage conveyors. Its sidewalls are padded to help protect against knocks and it has two zippered pockets to keep valuables within easy reach. Inside, the laptop compartment is lockable and there are organizational features throughout that are well-considered.
Cons: The shoulder strap is sold separately, and if you don’t have one, the pack is slightly less versatile when the harness is stowed. Osprey also separately sells a rain cover that protects against dirt and scuffs in crowded luggage compartments, and this, too, would have been a nice addition as standard.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
What to know before you buy an Osprey Farpoint 40
While the Porter 46 is ideal for the frequent flyer or overnight commuter, its smaller cousin is perfect for the global backpacker who prefers to travel light. Digital nomads will appreciate the laptop compartment that can accommodate a 15-inch machine, as well as the pouches for smaller laptops, tablets, and peripherals in the front compartment. Inside the main compartment are yet more compression straps and, again, the whole front opens wide for ease of access.
Both large compartments have a fluorescent lining that is unexpected but makes a nice contrast against the contents when you’re trying to locate packed items. While the side panels are not padded as they are with the Porter 46, this allows for a more streamlined profile that makes sense in a backpacking context. It is available in two sizes to suit different lengths of the torso. It is available in two sizes to suit different lengths of the torso and retails for around $100 at Amazon.
Pros: The Farpoint 40 has a steel-wire frame around its rear panel that adds strength and rigidity while lending the pack some additional support when carried. Build quality is excellent throughout, with no poor stitching or weak seams. Both compartments have reassuringly chunky zippers that are also lockable via padlock rings.
Two easily accessible mesh pockets on the outside are ideal for small tripods and drinks bottles. A shoulder strap is supplied on this model, making us wonder why the more expensive Porter 46 doesn’t include one.
Cons: While the Farpoint 40 is nice and secure, you have to release the compression straps to access the front compartment, which can be a little annoying if you need your laptop or other belongings in a hurry. As this is a favorite among backpackers, I’d have liked to have seen a fully waterproof shell, but it is water-resistant, which offers some reassurance in short showers.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Should you get the Osprey Porter 46 or the Osprey Farpoint 40?
Which backpack is best mostly depends on your travel requirements, as both models feature excellent build quality, are versatile, and are highly practical and comfortable to use.
One of the most alluring features of each is that they are designed to comply with airline baggage restrictions, and this is helpful in many ways. It means you don’t need to check baggage, so you don’t incur extra fees. You also save time waiting around at the baggage claim and are much less likely to lose your belongings, as they are kept by your side.
The Farpoint 40 works better for me, as I like to travel light on the way to warmer climates and I rarely stay in one place for longer than a couple of weeks. The smaller pack is roomy enough to carry my work and leisure belongings plus enough clothing, provided I make regular trips to the laundromat.
On the other hand, if I was traveling the United States or Europe and spent more time in transport terminals than on the road, the extra capacity and streamlined shell of the Porter 46 would probably appeal more to me.
It is worth noting that the Porter 46 is more expensive than the Farpoint 40. If you are finding it hard to choose between them, this could be the deciding factor.
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Luke Mitchell writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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