The Osprey Transporter 120 promises to be the adventure-proof wheelie (in other words the adventure option for those who like their adventure with creature comforts.) Here we put it to the test. First, a bit about bags. Then read on for the full Osprey Transporter review.
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I’m going to be honest with you. My backpacking days are well and truly over. In fact, they have been for years.
Around a decade ago, I made the switch from trusty 65 litres on my back to who- cared- what-size on wheels.
While I was making this tough emotional transition (Who was I? What did this mean? What had I become?!) I dabbled with a hybrid.
This Osprey bag promised to cater to the best of both worlds. On wheels for the city, with a zip down harness so you could wear it as a backpack. And it was almost brilliant.
Except. After a while (three weeks on the road, in fact, zig zagging the former iron curtain for my Iron Route project from Istanbul to Berlin) I realised one simple fact.
I never unzipped it to use the harness.
Maybe once on a staircase in Budapest. But then the wheels dug in so that was that.
No. I truly was now a wheelie girl and I should never darken my shoulders with a backpack again.
But you know what? Wheels aren’t perfect. Wheels don’t cover everything and I still haven’t given up my quest to find the perfect bag.
Wheels and hard cases often won’t fit in overhead lockers – and if you’re taking a tiny plane on safari, for example, they simply won’t be allowed on some planes. Everything needs to be, ahem, squashable.
Plus, a hard-shelled wheelie is OK until you have trouble trying to get into it. You need a wide open space (that’s preferably clean.) It’s so undignified to be scrabbling around on the airport floor dealing with a wheelie.
So, that’s where duffles work well.
Except, duffles are hard to carry.
Argh! It’s the conundrum that never ends! (Dear readers, I’m only joking. I have a perspective on what really matters in life and I understand that it isn’t this.)
So. Enter the Osprey Transporter system: the “Adventure Proof” duffel on wheels.
After applying myself to a strict suitcase diet for a number of years (as enforced by the management/husband) it was time to dabble again.
I’d moved house. Had a loft now.
Back into the game I went with the Osprey Transporter.
So, how did it go?
First of all, I like the massive size. There’s a range of options (40, 90 and 120 litres) but when travelling with family, especially when glamping, size is great. There’s extra bedding, slings, sheets, towels, nappies and all sorts that even the luxest glamping establishment doesn’t provide.
Second, it’s easy to get to your stuff. There’s a giant, zippable entrance point with no clamshell problems.
Inside, a series of clips help secure your belongings for you strange people who somehow don’t fill it already. On the outside, another couple of clips secure things further so it’s all pretty snug.
At one end, there’s another accessible compartment which is great for two things in particular:
There’s also a clear area for a luggage label.
Inside, the part that folds out to let you in to the main compartment are two meshed, zippable compartments so you can stash quick access goods there too.
It’s worth noting that the extendable handle doesn’t go far: it doesn’t need to as the suitcase is so long already but if you’re used to stacking smaller luggage items on this then it’s something to pay attention to.
Related: 101 Stress Free Travel Tips
Now, what about the adventure proofing?
The material is pretty hardcore (technically 840D Nylon TPU Double Coated if you’re wondering.)
Splashproof, nearly waterproof and tough to cut into unless someone really means it.
The wheels and high Osprey HighRoad™ chassis promise you can wheel across stones without damaging or soaking your kit. This works well on cobbles and uneven ground but does struggle a little when the going gets really uneven or muddy.
Still, it rolls far, far better than a usual wheelie suitcase, though, and everything, eventually, has limits.
I have it in the Kingfisher Blue shade. What can I say? I love blue and I love a bit of poetry in a name! It does show the dirt, though, which may or not bother you. It's also available in black or Ruffian Red if you go for the Rolling Transporter 40 size.
One other thing. The handles for carrying (rather than wheeling) are just what you need. Sturdy, soft, strong. They could be the Andrex puppy advert of suitcase handles.
They’re also obvious so that people use them when offering to help instead of yanking your case by the wheelie handle (argh!) which tends to (eventually) break or damage it (for every bag I’ve ever known.)
There are four, so you can grab them every which way.
At 3.85 kg, this is certainly not an ultra light bag but if you want the wheels, that’s usually the price you have to pay.
Weight: 3.85 kg
Maximum Dimensions (cm): 97 (l) x 57 (w) x 38 (d)
Main Fabric: 840D Nylon TPU Double Coated
What do you think about the never-ending quest for the perfect bag? Do you have any you would recommend?
Disclosure - I was kindly gifted my bag, but as always, all opinions are my own.
Hi, I'm Abi, a doctor turned writer who's worked with Lonely Planet, the BBC, UNESCO and more. Let's travel more and think more. Find out more.
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