I began my first year-long trip in March 2009, starting off on Isla Mujeres, Mexico and traveling through all of Central America (except for Belize). I had done a fair amount of research online before going and everyone seemed to say the same thing – pack light! Many also said that the things one packs tends to expand (or shrink) to fit the size of the luggage. So, after reading some good reviews online, I decided to choose the small Osprey Porter 46 with the idea it would force me to pack light. And it did!
This is a pretty simply designed bag but that doesn’t mean it’s features aren’t noteworthy. Below are the key features:
- One large, lockable main compartment which provides easy access to inside contents
- Two organizer pockets in the main compartment (top and side)
- Second, smaller (non-lockable) top compartment offers easy access to smaller items (e.g., toiletries)
- Third exterior compartment (access panel to main compartment) serves as a quick-access pocket for papers, magazines, etc.
- Constructed of abrasion-, moisture- and tear-resistant 840-denier and 1,680-denier ballistic nylon fabrics for long-lasting durability
- All other components feature high quality construction as well (handles, zippers, straps, buckles)
- Has a harness system (hip wings, shoulder and chest straps) to treat this bag as a backpack (see more on this below)
- When necessary, harness system stows away behind zippered cover for a clean, less-cluttered appearance
- Two large (top, side) grab handles and two heavy duty fabric loop handles (both on top) make carrying a breeze when not using it as a backpack or when just transferring it short distances
- Carry-on size!
- Compression straps keep your pack nice and secure and less likely to get snagged when walking in tight spaces (trains, etc.) or stowing the bag; no loose straps or buckles, everything has a tidy clip or stash so there’s nothing to catch on
- Foam-stiffened sidewalls keep load secure and keep the bag open while the top lid is unzipped, allowing you easy access without the pack collapsing on you.
Volumes and Weights
US and International weight and volume specifications
Dimensions are shown as length (height) x width x depth
In: 22 x 14 x 9
Cm: 56 x 35.5 x 23
The key features listed above do a fairly good job of explaining this bag. What I will add, after having used this bag for an entire year are the following points:
- Very high-quality material
I swear this bag looks as good today as the day I bought it. Every aspect of the bag seems to have been designed with quality in mind.
- Bigger than it seems
Yes, 46 liters IS small, but you would be surprised how much this bag can hold, undoubtedly helped by its wide-open space design. And, with the compression straps you can bulge it a bit probably making it more than 46L in practice.
- Easy to lock and secure
I really like how easy it is to secure this bag. With only one main compartment, and zippers that work super well (no catching, smooth motion) locking up with one travel lock is a breeze.
- Backpack harness
OK, so this is the single area where this bag really does NOT excel. Yes, you can definitely wear this bag like a backpack, but I wouldn’t recommend doing so for extended periods unless you have a great back and shoulders or you are traveling very light. In theory the hip wings should spread the load to the hips, but in practice I often felt most of the weight was distributed on my shoulders. Having said that, it is completely fine for short hauls but for true backpacking look to another bag.
- Rain resistant?
Actually, despite traveling during an entire months-long rainy season, I only got stuck in the rain once or twice with this pack, and not for very long. I had no problems either time so I guess it is at least mildly water resistant but beyond that I can’t say. I can say the bag does not come with a rain cover so that is an accessory you might find useful.
The Osprey Porter 46 is a very well-designed bag which more than meets its purpose and is very reasonably priced (typically $100). Consider it for carry on luggage or, depending on the nature of your backpacking needs, for extended backpack travel.
Though I have now decided on a different backpack for future lengthy travels, I love having this bag to use for trips where I will be flying and don’t want to check a bag. Overall a fantastic purchase.
You may also be interested in seeing what I actually packed in this gem for my year in Central America.
Click to See or Add Your Own »
Hello, I was wondering what pack have you decided to use now?
I have been researching for months and this one looked great until I read
your comment on weight distribution.
I'm looking for a side opening, light weight approx 45ltrs. to travel with for 6months or so.
Friend has just bought the osprey 46, but seeing as we have the same sandals, trousers and pants,
I thought I would try and get something different! (and the osprey 46 is a top loader).
Be grateful for any advice.
I ended up choosing the Deuter Quantum 55+10 though I had a real tough time choosing between it and the Osprey Men's Waypoint 65. I have been happy with it (it opens from top and front with a separate bottom compartment) but I sometimes think that the Osprey might have been a better choice. I see a lot of Europeans with nice looking Quechua bags, but haven't researched them myself…
The Osprey Porter 46 is a panel-loader, not a top-loader. The pictures demonstrate that. (Unless you were talking about some other Osprey '46' size bag??)
I am strongly considering getting an REI Vagabond; 45L, panel-loading, the harness looks good for multi-day hikes (I've read reviews saying the same thing) and while its official dimensions are a smidge bigger than carry-on (I think it's an inch too long), I have read reviews where people said they were able to take it as carry-on, because despite its lack of compression straps, it was still squishable and able to fit into those carry-on-size boxes when not packed to excess.
Thanks for the comment Leah. I have read a little about the Vagabond, would love to hear your thoughts if you end up getting it.
Hey there. Thanks for your review of the Osprey Porter 46. I'm planning on buying it. But I'm also interested in the MEI Voyageur for trips where I might have to walk more with my bag, because it has internal stays and a true backpack harness that is supposed to be fantastically comfortable. Here are URLs to the seller's sight. The MEI bags are made here in the US of quality materials and they have various bags including some with detachable daypacks. And here are some URLs to reviews of the bags.
I personally have both the mei voyager and the osprey porter 46. Between the two I actually like the osprey more as it’s more structured. The voyager tends to collapse and become a sack. In terms of comfort as backpacks, agree the voyager is more comfortable but when collapsed as a suitcase the straps takes up too much space. So for short backpacking, from plane to hotel or around town, I would recommend the osprey. Long distances and hauling the backpack for hours then I would recommend the voyager.
How about the Osprey Farpoint 55+10? It's a little bigger, but the harness system might be better. http://www.ospreypacks.com/detail.php?productID=2…
Thanks for the link. That seems to be a new product and looks promising, though I wish they would post more info and photos. It looks like the Waypoint so I am not clear what is the difference other than size. Nothing I saw on the harness system but I presume it is what's used for the Waypoint which is definitely better than the porter. Finally, it does seem the extra size would put it out of the carry on category for those who care a lot about that.
Hey jeff, I downloaded the product brochure for a closer look at it looks like the waypoint harness torso length is not adjustable, but the Farpoint uses their good harness system which is fully adjustable. And yes, I think it's probably a bit big too. Would be really nice to have the Farpoint in a 45+10….
The farpoint is actually a 45 + 10. In total it's a 55 litre meaning that without the attached daypack, it's a 45 litre pack. The regular size pack is not carry on size but if you buy the small 52 litre, the main pack comes in at under the carry on restrictions.
Thanks for sharing that useful information.
Here's another good review from someone who has traveled with it for more than a year: http://www.turnipseedtravel.com/1/post/2014/04/ru…
I have been searching such kinds of reviews for a few days. Luckily I have got it here and from this reviews get sufficient information on backpack.
Osprey has recently come out with an updated version of the Porter 46 and Marek at Indie Traveller has a comparison of it and the Farpoint 40 (my current bag of choice). See: https://www.indietraveller.co/osprey-porter-46-review/