We put the 95 litre version to the test as both a duffel and a rucksack for a 6 day, whistle-stop, tour of walking destinations in Switzerland - leaving it at the mercy of airport baggage handlers, taxi and mini-bus drivers and stacking amongst multiple anonymous bags in hotel transfers.
What the manufacturers say:
AdventureProof. Transporters are tough, high-quality duffels designed to withstand the rigours of adventure. Representing the pinnacle of performance in expedition-style duffel bags, Transporter features premium, highly durable materials, a water-resistant design and an extremely comfortable carrying system.
Transporter 95 is the perfect companion on your adventures. Easily big enough for your technical equipment, the Transporter 95 will quickly become a firm favourite for packing up your expedition gear into and heading out on a big adventure.
Very tough, TPU laminated nylon provides exceptional durability while remaining light and soft to the touch. The construction patterns and materials of Transporter have been chosen to provide a high level of weather resistance and the ability to withstand a lot of punishment.
A yoked harness with sternum strap ensures that the load is carried comfortably. When not in use, the harness can be stowed inside a cleverly designed sleeve. Transporter 95 also features detachable load lifters, which add a significant amount of comfort and effective load transfer into the harness of this pack. External end pocket, a pocket under the lid and internal compression straps help to keep the contents organised, whilst an ID card holder ensures you’ll know which duffel is yours immediately. A large U-shaped opening gives easy access to your contents.
Transporter 95 is a brilliant all-round travel pack, offering the performance and durability of an expedition pack with the comfort and innovative features that Osprey is well renowned for.
4 grab handles
- Backpack harness carry straps
- Backpack harness stows in lid pocket
- Durable and highly water resistant fabric
- External end pocket
- ID Card holder
- Internal mesh pockets
- Internal mesh side pocket
- 4 grab handles
- Lockable zippers
- Sternum strap with emergency whistle
Osprey Transporter 95 on test:
The advertisers tell you your holiday begins on the way to your destination; throw your bags in the back of the car and start getting in the holiday mood. At the airport dump your hold baggage at check in and you're on your way. Once your bags are out of sight they're out of mind. We tend to worry more about them not arriving than the condition they'll arrive and we use the language of "throw" or "dump" in referring to our luggage.
The reality is, of course, that once it leaves your sight your hold luggage takes a journey where the primary objective is getting it loaded on the plane. Between you and the plane it needs to be robust enough to handle conveyor belts and baggage handlers, stacking amongst hundreds of other bags and an assault course designed to catch any hanging rucksack straps. Duffels have naturally become the choice of adventurers for their bags to survive the journey and the Osprey Transporter is the latest entry into this growing market.
Now we're used to Osprey packs so had high expectations of the Transporter so it came as a shock when on arrival it arrived paked into a bag that seemed little larger than a sheet of A3!
Once unpacked from its bag the Transporter was quickly pulled into the traditional duffle shape, long and narrow with a large zipped entry from the top. The main compartment comes with two internal compression, or securing, straps and once filled and zipped up the lid secures in place with a pair of clips and straps.
A mesh pocket inside can be used to seperate clothing or other items while at one end you get a fairly large additional pocket on the outside. The final external pocket, on the lid is where the Osprey Transporter's rucksack fittings live when not in use - the Transporter has the ability to metamorphise from a duffel to a pack in seconds.
Considering the Transporter as a duffle first was actually a revalation in use. The fabric has a feel and appearance that totally belies its durability in practice. While there was never going to be a question over build quality with Osprey it doesn't have the "industrial" look of many of its competitors. At 95 litres it simply swallowed kit but the 1.6kg weight didn't have a serious impact on baggage allownaces.
The handles, and there's 4 of them, manage to be both low profile and accessible and, importantly, have the size and padding to make them comfortable to carry over prolonged distances; no cutting off circulation in your fingers. The external pocket, in duffel mode, is ideal for stashing last minute items when you don't want the hassle of opening the main compartment and rearranging and the internal meash proves ideal for seperating clean and dirty clothing mid-trip.
While the fabric lacks the rigidity of some duffels the Transporter naturally assumes the shape of a duffel on packing and the 95 litre version proved spot-on for a 6 day adventure trip to Switzerland, carrying in excess of 20 kilos effortlessly. With the rucksack straps stashed in the lid pocket the handles projected minimally from the main body, leaving little chance of snagging in transit.
Once at your destination the Osprey Transporter converts into a rucksack, and in the case of the 95 litre version a large, load-carrying, rucksack.
Now you can't expect the Transporter to replicate an Osprey Exos or the legendary Aether, it is after all a compromise, but the shoulder straps are only minimally reduced in width and padding from a more dedicated load-carrier. The waist belt isn't what you'd get with a dedicated pack but it's perfectly functional over the sort of distances you're likely to encounter in navigating into, around, and out of the airport to transport. At this point straps can be quickly packed away to arrive at your accomodation looking like a standard, though stylish, traveller; there's nogetting away from the fact that you're judged by hotel desks by your dress and your luggage's appearance.
What the 95 litre version of the Transporter isn't is a full-on trekking pack. With this size and capacity a dedicated pack would have slightly different shoulder straps, a more substantial waist belt and a "back system" that allows ventilation and size fine-tuning. Despite this compromise the Osprey Transporter 95 does sit well on the back and has a degree of strap adjustment to help balance the load. The top pocket becomes very useful for quick-access items and for using public transport the pack is easy to slip off and use the side or end handles; essential for getting on busses or trains.
One trick we've used recently is using some of the space in the main compartment for carrying a day sack through the airport then removing it for cabin baggage - leaving a bit of space for any mementos on the return leg. The fact that the Transporter 95 is large enough to do this says a lot about its capacity. At a list price of £130 it's only £10 more than the 65 litre version and sits mid-market in duffle pricing - but with the advantage of a very useable rucksack option and Osprey's renowned build quality.