We've described Osprey bags in the past as the swiss army knife of rucksacks. The amount of side pockets, compartments and extras you find years down the line make their bags the go to brand for commuting and outdoor adventures. But with the Transporter range, they've stripped it back and gone with the simple question of how much can you fit into a bag?...
We received the Transporter just as our back laid us out. So commuting was out of the question as we were off work for a while. I had to check though that Deliveroo didn't drop off one of their bags by mistake because it's literally the size of a body bag. The depth this thing has would come in handy if you had to move house. The slick exterior was as waterproof as you could get, the roll up closing feature gave the first eyebrow raise as we've been so used to zips and clips. Visibly missing too was any side bottle holders or exterior compartments, just two side slits for small items. This was a big change from the usual Ospreys we commute with.
Inside, you have to be careful not to be sucked into the bag because you might hit the Earth's core! There is your usual laptop sleeve and a couple of interior compartments but again, it was a back to basic feel. Usually, my other Ospreys would plan it all out for me. I have a place for my bike stuff, a place for my personals and the main part of the bag would look after my clothes and lunch. Packing this bag would take some pre-planning as you wouldn't want to be fishing for something stuck at the bottom if you find yourself in a hurry.
Norn Iron Road Trip
The NITP family managed to pop over to see the in-laws in Northern Ireland and we thought the Transporter would make a good companion on our travels. I was a bit scared at the airport that the bag was too big for the cabin but the roll up worked a treat as it compresses everything tightly. Only niggle I found was it's much longer to work than a zip/clip, the strap can become fiddly to thread through the joining clip, not something you want to be battling with if you catch yourself in a monsoon!
We took lil NITP to the beach for the first time (not exactly Maldives!) but I persuaded Mrs NITP to try out the Transporter. It would also give me a chance to see what the bag looks like as an outsider. It doesn't look as big as it feels, perfect size on my wife even though she could probably fit herself inside it!
It felt strong against the elements, it was a very rocky beach and I was concerned I was going to see a few tears and scrapes but the outer material was strong as well as water resistant. Everything we needed for the day was inside that bag, usually my wife would carry a small clutch or shoulder bag but no need with the Transporter.
Ok, so my back was beginning to feel stronger at this stage and the Mourne Mountains is literally on the doorstep of my in-laws. I thought he was joking but my father-in-law Ronnie was up for a walk up a mountain. So the Transporter once again came good. Packed in were a few snacks and drinks with space for both of our jackets. Weather in Ireland in general is known to be wet but we found ourselves walking up Pierces Castle (465m) no.37 highest out of the 93 listed climbs in this true beauty of an area.
The walk up though was consistently steep with loose gravel in many places. I was worried that the extra weight on my back might make me turn around at one point but that moment never came. Last year's Radial we reviewed includes a hard chassis because it sits up by itself (sounds clever but if there's too much weight at the front, it does tend to topple over). The Transporter shows this hard shell is not really needed as it sits well on it's own thanks to its wide base.
The lack of bottle holders does come back to bite you in these conditions though as every time one of us needed a drink, we would have to stop and search around for one. A quick reach-around to the side to grab a bottle would of saved ourselves so much time. As you can see from the photos, we made it to the top and in a t-shirt!
Fast forward a few months and we've managed to recover enough from our back injury to return to work and the commuting. We kept the rides short and direct so as not to aggravate any tenders spots. The bag was surprisingly comfortable despite its size. Like I mentioned before though, the problem lies with living with it. I would have to empty the whole bag to get to my change of clothes for the day and do the same again for going home. My spare tubes and pump were also nestled in a small compartment halfway in. Luckily, I never experienced a puncture although we did break a few spokes, not something we keep spare with us!
Funny enough though, I had a couple of colleagues comment on the size of the bag. Because of the roll up, you can really utilise the volume of the bag and not to worry about breaking a zip because it's too tight. The clip where you fold the strap into did pop off a few times, if you lose that, you're in a pickle. There's not really a back up slit to thread the strap through. I would recommend some sort of velcro bail out just in case.
I don't think Osprey do poor quality items. This bag ticked a lot of boxes. You'll be pressed to find a bag with that volume potential. It does have a couple of niggles - the lack of side bottle holders, the roll up strap can be a pain and the side pockets can be a squeeze to fit personals in. For us, I think it comes down to what kind of commuter you are. Like us, we like to have exterior pockets and compartments. It fits out lifestyle and helps us out if we need something quickly. If your commute is a casual one and you tend to carry a lot of stuff with you, £100 is nothing really because this bag will last you for many years. It's strong, got incredible depth and it's simple. Plus, if you fancy becoming a Deliveroo rider, you've got your own bag!!!