What We Like
Supportive and comfortable suspension system
What We Don't Like
Laptop/tablet sleeve isn’t protected
Could be more stylish
Whether you’re trying to eliminate checked bag fees on your next vacation or you want to keep your belongings organized while you roam forest trails or city sidewalks, the Osprey Porter 30 Travel Backpack can do it all. This bag is one of our favorite carry-on backpacks for many reasons: It has tightening straps that decrease the size of an overstuffed bag, padded shoulder straps, and extra support from its hip belt and sternum straps—plus, it’s got enough room for bulky clothes like sweatshirts. We tested this bag ourselves—both on day trips in multiple cities and on a week-long trip to Ireland—to see how it performed, evaluating features like durability, design, and storage capacity. Keep reading for our insights.
Design: Just about perfect
You’ll never run out of room—or pockets—with the Osprey Porter 30 Backpack. The very front pocket has a side zipper for books or travel documents. Behind that is a spacious organizational compartment with a zippered mesh pocket and sleeves for things like credit cards, snacks, and pens. Then there’s the main compartment, which is so big you can fit around two week’s worth of clothes in (more on that below). Above that, there’s a generously-sized pocket for toiletries or your essentials during a day out and about.
This backpack has other nifty design features, too. Osprey’s StraightJacket compression system allows you to save space by tightening the dual straps on the front of the backpack. We thought this was particularly great for walking through crowded city streets or trekking through airports, both of which we did. This backpack also has a nylon hipbelt that incorporates the brand’s special ErgoPull closure for extra stability; all you need to do is clasp the center buckle, grab the ends of the webbing on either side, and pull evenly with both hands. This feature makes it a great bag for a day spent hiking, or for long days of exploring a new city on foot. Trust us, your back will thank you for the extra support.
There’s practically no padding on one side of the laptop sleeve to protect against uneven pressure.
Also, if you’d rather carry the bag by hand, you can tuck the backpack straps into a zippered sleeve to keep them out of your way. Better yet, if you’d like to use a shoulder strap, the backpack comes with D-ring attachments. You’ll have to buy the strap separately, though.
One drawback in the design, we felt, was that there are two side pockets on the inside of the main compartment. It looks like those are supposed to be for things like socks and underwear, but if you fill the bag to the brim with clothes, you’ll have trouble using those compartments. If you’re careful with how you pack and what clothes you bring, though, you’ll probably be fine.
This bag is also available in several colors: black, mineral teal, and castle gray, which we tested—just be aware that this color does have a slightly green tint to it.
Capacity: Big enough for two weeks
We’re not kidding when we say this backpack’s main compartment is huge. When we started packing this 30-liter bag for a week-long trip to Ireland, we were able to fit three pairs of jeans, two pairs of leggings, two pairs of fleece-lined tights, three t-shirts, four long-sleeve shirts, one sweater, one flannel shirt, and some travel-sized toiletries.
We’re not kidding when we say this backpack’s main compartment is huge.
After all that, the bag still wasn’t even close to being full, so we added in a jacket, a hoodie, and a pair of pajama pants. We’re happy to report that after stuffing the main compartment, there was still ample room in the rest of the compartments for other travel necessities.
Laptop Sleeve: Not supported well
Unfortunately, we were pretty disappointed with this bag’s laptop/tablet sleeve. While there’s plenty of padding on the back, it’s slightly curved, which isn’t ideal for laptop support. On top of that, there’s practically no padding on the other side of the laptop sleeve to protect against uneven pressure—especially if you have to shove it into a storage bin on a train or airplane. If you need to travel with a laptop, we’d recommend the Tortuga Setout or one of these laptop-friendly bags.
Portability: Light and comfortable
Overall, the Porter 30 was incredibly easy to carry. Weighing slightly less than 3 pounds, it’s light and small enough to use as a carry-on for a flight. It’s also a fairly malleable backpack, which means that shoving it into a storage bin on a bus, train, or airplane shouldn’t be an issue. If you’re flying, just be aware that this backpack’s size exceeds most airline’s personal item dimensions. Some airlines will let you get away with it, but others won’t. So if you’re carrying electronics that you want to keep safe in a personal item bag, this may not be the best option.
Weighing slightly less than 3 pounds, it’s light and small enough to use as a carry-on for a flight.
Although this bag is lightweight, it’s also sturdily built. It’s main compartment is made from nylon packcloth, and its accents and bottom are made with nylon ripstop for extra durability. We thought the material was pretty thick; it feels like it can definitely handle a lot of use without any noticeable wear and tear.
Price: Worth it
With a price tag of $120, we’d say the Osprey Packs Porter 30 Backpack is a great value for the occasional hiker or frequent flyer. It’s big enough that you’ll be able to travel without a checked bag, and because of its durable fabric and design, it’ll last for years. Plus, Osprey will repair any damage or defect for free—and if this doesn’t fix the problem, the company will replace your backpack, no questions asked.
Competition: Other backpacks for different needs
Tortuga Setout Backpack: The Tortuga Setout, which we also tested, is another great backpack that’s works perfectly as a carry-on. This bag can fit just as much as the Osprey, and it has a much better laptop sleeve, which is a huge plus if you always travel with your laptop or tablet. The Setout also has a similar suspension system as the Porter 30, although we have to admit we think the Setout is more comfortable to carry.
The Setout also comes in both women’s and men’s fits, plus, it comes in two sizes—35 liters and 45 liters. It’s slightly more expensive than the Porter 30 (prices start at $179), but we recommend it, especially if you’re traveling with a laptop or want a bag that looks a little sleeker than a plain backpack.
eBags Professional Weekender Backpack: Looking for a professional bag for business trips or weekend flights? This option from eBags, which we also tested, can be carried as a backpack, but feel free to tuck away the straps if you’d prefer to use the detachable shoulder strap, instead. Another plus is that it opens all the way to pack like a suitcase. Also, while going through airport security, you can lay it flat and leave your laptop inside its TSA-friendly laptop sleeve. However, considering it doesn’t hold a lot of clothes and the sleeve isn’t very supportive, its $169 MSRP is a bit of a drawback.
Need some help finding what you’re looking for? Read our list of the best carry-on backpacks.
- Product Name Porter 30 Travel Backpack
- Product Brand Osprey
- UPC 845136057807
- Price $120.00
- Weight 2.81 lbs.
- Product Dimensions 20 x 13 x 12 in.
- Color Black, Castle Gray, Mineral Teal
- Volume 30 L
- Materials 420HD nylon packcloth (main compartment), 420 nylon wave ripstop (accent and bottom)
- Warranty All Mighty Guarantee (free repairs for life)