When prepping for a stint of long-term travel, the single most important item on your acquisition checklist is going to be the bag you’ll be carrying, hauling, pushing and pulling with you. Before I took off for seven months last year, the search for the bag that would be my closest travel companion was the one I invested the most research into. When you’ll be interacting each and every day, choosing the perfect travel partner is essential. Considering my specific needs, a better one that Osprey’s Sojourn 25 Wheeled Convertible pack doesn’t exist.
The Test: Daily use during a seven-month overland trip through the Americas; nearly 50 bus journeys and more than 11,000 kilometers
The Results: If you plan to pull much more than carry, this is the bag for you. No reservations. Your search is over.
My needs? Simple.
I was planning a 16-month trip, one that would begin in the southernmost reaches of South America. (That it would be cut to seven due to illness was not the bag’s fault.) I would be traveling overland only, over a variety of terrains.
My body was already hauling around nearly five decades of experience –including varying degrees of abuse and neglect. My back, knees, elbows and a few others parts needed to be taken good care of. By any reasonable estimation, I’d be pulling my bag 70 percent of the time, so I decided that something on wheels would be the only way to go. For that remaining 30, I would need something that would behave admirably as a backpack.
Any and all research led to the Osprey 25. I read dozens of reviews and couldn’t really find more than a small handful of minor complaints. I certainly don’t have any major ones to add. Even the 199 EUR price tag here in Slovenia, where such things are always more expensive than elsewhere, was a very welcome one.
You can find the complete specs on the Osprey website but to summarize:
Weight: 3.46 kg (7.6 lbs)
Capacity: 60 liters (3600 cubic inches)
Maximum dimensions: (mm) 640 (l) x 360 (w) x 300 (d), or 25in (l) x 14 (w) x 12 (d)
Osprey describes its bag like this:
The foundation relies on our unique injection molded HighRoad™ chassis, consisting of an ABS polymer plastic for durability and using polyurethane wheels that eat tarmac for breakfast.
That combo works and proved to be extremely durable. There are some knicks and bruises, but not a single rip or tear after those seven months. The wheels, much larger than those attached to other rolling luggage, are still whole and spinning like new.
Most of its 60 liters are inside the main compartment which includes two side panel pockets –one is mesh – to help keep you organized. The cover, or front panel, has two inner mesh pockets, and there’s also a separate easily-accessible compartment on outside top for liquids or other items you need at the ready. I didn’t use them, but I’m sure someone would find the external dual daisy chain useful.
The back panel has another external compartment for flat items where I put magazines, newspapers, notebooks and maps. Like the top compartment, this is easy to get to.
The backpack harness
As it turned out, my carrying prediction was way off. There were only two times I put it on my back –both to ford small rivers— but on both occasions it did perform like a real backpack.
What makes this convertible bag work so well is because it’s built with a strong internal frame pack in mind. The shoulder harness and hip belt are fully adjustable and there’s a nice ventilation system built into the design. Best of all, the harness and belt are removable, allowing you to shave off some weight and increase storage space on trips when you absolutely know you won’t be putting it on your back.
Other things I liked:
– The zippers are strong, lockable, and performed exceptionally well
– The compression straps, both interior and exterior, that provide added stability and security
– A well-balanced side handle that allows you to carry it like a suitcase when you need to
– At less than 4.5 kg (7.5 lbs) it’s very light
– and the retractable ergonomic handle. It is important to note that it did lose some of its stability after about four months and is now a little on the loose side.
Wear and Tear
As mentioned, nothing that affects performance. A few photos to illustrate.
After 10,000 kilometers and rides on some 50 South, Central and North American buses, not bad. At all.
To avoid any and all confusion, know that this bag is meant to be rolled. That said, it’s very nice to know that its harness system wasn’t tossed in as an afterthought. If you need a bag that you know you’ll be wheeling most of the time, you’ll have no regrets with the Osprey 25.
If you own this pack and have used the harness more than I, I’d love to hear your experiences and thoughts in the comments.
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