It takes guts to jump onto a plane with only your necessities squeezed into a carry-on bag and not return for two weeks. Should I bring a pair of kakis? What if I need to play Jenga? The lean-packing process still stresses me out even after doing it enough. But let me tell you it is worth it. It liberates you like a monk’s vow and it takes a great bag to do it. The ones with wheels and extendable handles won’t cut it. Business-type comfort features become burdens for the active traveller especially while you wade out in a foot of brown water to the long-tail boat that will start your trip home. Cue the Osprey Porter 46. This bag is in my top 5 or so cherished possessions which include my iPhone, my Wusthof cook’s knife, and my Hanes Comfort Cool No Show socks. That is no joke. I love those socks and this bag.
It may be perfect for the traveler who is both a light packer and heavy trekker. It blends the best of a typical carry-on and a backpack making it extremely versatile. Like an everyday carry-on its offers as much space as possible and still be – you know – a carry-on. With only one or two exceptions (we weren’t even allowed to attempt to carry bags on in these cases), we have carried our 46’s onto dozens of flights and without trouble slipped ‘em right snug into the overhead compartments. No baggage fees, b*******es! And with straps and lighter construction like a backpack, it offers more freedom and mobility fighting through crowds, climbing stairs, traversing rough terrain or wading like we did in the warm waters of Thailand. I wouldn’t say you will be comfortable wearing one all day like a camping bag. It’s not designed for that. Trade-offs, baby, trade-offs. Think about it. You can’t take a standard camping pack as a carry-on. Even so, the 46 is comfortable enough for moderate walks like those between modes of transportation and lodgings. As a bonus you can slip and zip the shoulder straps into a hidden compartment and shazzam! you have transformed your bag into an everyday piece of luggage complete with a horizontal handle. We rarely conceal our straps but its a great option when you need it.
Another feature travelers will appreciate is the easy-access compartment situated at the top that is perfect for stowing and then subsequently retrieving your liquid bag and keys on the fly. I liken the feature to wearing loafers or some other slip-on to the airport, which makes passing through the creepy deepy security a bit more tolerable.
I must mention that the 46’s construction and materials seem solid with sturdy zippers and such, but after a couple years of banging around airports, cabs and what not, one of the clips that secure a strap have broken mysteriously. I was saddened by this discovery but it has in no way compromised the bag’s abilities. Somehow it makes sense though. If I travel and don’t have any bruises, bites or as in this case a broken strap clip, I would probably be better off with a bag with a handle and training wheels. So, broken clip and all, I still love my Osprey Porter 46.
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