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11,000km Later: an Osprey Sojourn 25 (60l) Review

Osprey Sojourn 25

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.

Osprey Sojourn 25 front panel
Front panel with durable compression straps

The Specs

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.

Space

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, with flat external pouch
The back panel, with flat external pouch

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.

Osprey Sojourn 4

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.

Osprey Sojourn 25

Wear and Tear

As mentioned, nothing that affects performance. A few photos to illustrate.

Osprey Sojourn 8 Osprey Sojourn 6Osprey Sojourn 7

After 10,000 kilometers and rides on some 50 South, Central and North American buses, not bad. At all.

Final word

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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19 Comments
  1. Anonymous says

    Hi Bob, it sounds like you really got your money’s worth with this bag! Where in Slo did you buy it?

  2. Anonymous says

    It’s me, Gerry, by the way 🙂

    1. Bob R says

      Hi Gerry 🙂

      Annapurna, Krakovski Nasip, along the river. He ordered it for me, took about 3-4 days to arrive. I was very pleasantly surprised with the price.

      1. Anonymous says

        Thanks… sometimes the small specialty shops are the best way to go!

  3. Rob says

    Hi Bob

    I’m thinking of getting either the 60L or the 80L one, did find the 60L had enough space or would you rather go for the 80L if you could decide all over again?

    Cheers
    Rob

    1. Bob R says

      For a seven-month trip, the 60L was fine for me and I wouldn’t change my mind. When I first saw it, it did seem small. But then I got over that. 🙂 80L would definitely be too big for me –I’d find myself adding things I wouldn’t really need.

      Note though that I had another pack –a camera bag by Lowe– for the mobile office (camera, a few lenses, computer, other gadgets, etc) and a smaller bag that I used as a day pack. The latter I sometimes stuffed into the Osprey when I didn’t feel like having it with me while in transit.

      Hope this helps!

  4. […] Update 27-Feb-2014: 11,000km Later: An Osprey Sojourn 25 Review […]

  5. Sam @ Travelling King says

    Sounds like a freaking hearty bag!
    11,000 km! pretty impressive!

    Glad it has some lumber support – i need to invest in a new backpack mine is shocking!

    1. Bob R says

      It’s definitely built to last. 🙂

  6. Tugce says

    Bob!

    First of all, thank you for this very explicit review.

    I would like to know your experience as to carrying it as a backpack. Like, for how long tops (in hours) have you been carrying it as a backpack? I am planning a trip through South East Asia (Vietnam, Thailand etc). I am assuming that I have to be carrying it as a backpack at some point but need to know exactly how long it will take for me to take it off as to it becoming uncomfortable.

    Thanks in advance,

    Tugce (Netherlands)

    1. Bob R says

      Thanks – glad you found this helpful. As I mentioned, I rolled it the vast majority of the time but it is designed well for being carried as well. As for it becoming uncomfortable, that answer is probably not much different than with any pack. If you distribute the weight properly, I don’t think it’ll be a major issue. Unless you’ll be doing lots of backcountry travel –real and fairly backpacking and camping– you really don’t need a pack that can only be transported on your back. And this really is one of the best options.

  7. Scott says

    Thanks for the review – any comment on ability to use as a carry-on for flights? I know it’s technically a few inches too long for what airlines say, but I’ve rarely had any airline employee measure any bag.

    1. Bob R says

      Since I always carry on my ‘road office bag’ I’ve never tried using this as a carry-on. As you say, technically it is too long. In Europe, where in my experience the weighing of carry-ons has almost become the norm for many airlines, it would almost certainly be too heavy.

  8. Hannah the Zebra says

    I know this is 10 months after this post, but just in case others are still looking for a review of Osprey bags, I can add a comment on other Osprey models. I own 3 different sizes/models and swear by all of them. I am a smallish female – 5’5″, 165 pounds and due to a medical condition, can no longer carry hefty trekking packs for any distance. Thus, while I was seriously tempted by Osprey’s Sojourn series, remembering my healthier days of back packing, I reluctantly moved on to other models that were not convertible, but offered more interior room, since without the option of carrying the bag on your back, the vertical aluminum spine can go on the outside, rather than the inside. Disclaimer: I typically overpack, no matter how hard I try not to, so I tend to use bags that are slightly bigger than a more conservative packer would need.

    My smallest bag is an Osprey Celeste (29L) that I use as my carry on and day pack. At 18″ it is about as large as I can currently carry. (The twin pack for males is the Comet 30L). It comfortably holds my computer, water bottles, file folders, and if I don’t fill it too full with other stuff like windbreakers, can hold my small camera bag. When stuffed like this, it certainly isn’t light, but it fits my back, is well balanced, and even has an “office” space where I can store pens, cables, phone, etc. It also has a grab handle on it’s face, making it possible to grab the top handle with one hand, and the face handle with the other, and hoist 30+ lbs of bag into the overhead bin on the plane.

    Next up is the Osprey Ozone (80L). I haven’t used it yet, as I just got it at one of REI’s 30% off sales, but it will be my bag for short hauls – a week’s trip within the states, for instance. Wonderfully light weight, it still has grab handles on the top, base, and one side. I think it will do nicely, and I will be using it for a trip in 2 weeks.

    My largest Osprey bag is the Shuttle series (110L). Yes, I know that’s huge. I took it on a 2 week trip to Europe this past spring. I hadn’t realized that we would have access to laundry facilities, so i packed twice as much as i needed to. Next time, I think my husband and I will share the duffle and thus only need to check one bag. It was huge, but it handled like a dream. Loaded, it was 50 lbs, but i had absolutely no trouble wheeling it around both LAX and CDG airports. It handled so smoothly, it was hard to believe it weighed as much as it did. It also has straps on the outside of the front that allows you to piggy back another Osprey pack onto the front. I used these to attach the Celeste pack, and with both strapped together, it still handled better than a regular 2-wheeled suitcase half its weight. The 32″ Shuttle also has grab handles on the top, bottom and one side. Using my knee for leverage, these handles enabled me to lift the bag from the floor the top of the bed without assistance. That’s how well balanced Osprey packs/wheeled duffels are.

    Osprey packs are toward the top of the price range, and I certainly didn’t buy all 3 packs at once. But in my opinion they are well worth the money because of how easily they handle and their durability. I anticipate that when I get to the age that I will no longer be able to handle my own luggage, these bags will still be going strong.

    1. Bob R says

      Thanks, Hannah. All quite helpful and useful, much appreciated. Thought I’d mention that I’m still using the Osprey 25; I’ve been in South America since mid-February –Ecuador and Colombia– and it’s holding up exceptionally well. Practically like new.

      1. Hannah the Zebra says

        You’re welcome! Yep, not surprised the Osprey 25 is still as good as new; that’s one of the reasons I’ve grown to love Osprey bags. I’ve learned that their longevity and comfort save *me* wear and tear. And money in the long run. Since I only take about 3 trips a year, they will probably outlast my travel years. 😉

        I did forget to mention the wheels on the Ozone and the Shuttle models. Similar to the wheels on your Sojourn, they are large enough to handle the load, unlike most suitcase wheels. It’s one of the reasons that the bags handle so well. On top of that, they will handle almost any surface without getting you bogged down, and are designed to last the life of the bag. If they don’t, Osprey will replace them. Which brings me to Osprey’s “Almighty Guarantee.” Their bags are designed to last and if they don’t, they will make it right. Any company that guarantees their product against the abuse of airline baggage handlers has my vote. And my money.

  9. Jessica says

    Hi Bob!

    Is Osprey Sojourn 60L a hand/carry on luggage?

    1. Bob R says

      It’s a little too large; I’ve seen several at check-in and baggage claim –and still regularly do– but have never seen one carried on. Not even taking weight into account –airlines are increasingly weighing carry-ons, here in Europe too– its dimensions alone (30cm x 36cm x 64cm) are just beyond what’s generally considered the most common maximum (22cm x 35cm x 56cm).

  10. Julian says

    Bought one in 2011, to carry around an oversized laptop ( asus NX 90) Still having both 🙂 , The only problem I have now is that the handle bar does not go in and out that easy. I transformed it a lot of times from trolley to backpack vice versa. Going from home on my bicycle to train station. When you have to go up and down a lot of stairs it is better to have it as a backpack , arriving in an airport where everything is trolley friendly I made it a trolley again.
    As said before it is hold luggage , not hand luggage.

Thoughts?

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