Osprey is one of the most popular pack makers in the world for travelers, hikers, and climbers but they didn’t get there overnight. Founded in 1974, they have 40 years of experience in making functional products with the utmost quality. Today we’re going to take a look at the Osprey Porter 30 – the most compact in the Porter line of bags which may be the best backpack for travel ever made.
The Osprey Porter series launched back in 2012 with the Porter 45 and Porter 65. In 2013 they added the Porter 30 to the mix, and just this year in 2017 they tweaked the design of the Porter 30. The most notable change is moving the laptop compartment to be directly behind the backplate with a set of lockable zippers.
Osprey Porter 30 Specs
|Exterior Pockets||3 zipper plus 1 laptop zipper compartment|
|Laptop Compartment||Yes (max 15+ inches)|
|Dimensions||19.5 x 13 x 10 inches|
Let’s cut right to the chase – no one has ever gotten laid by wearing a Porter 30. There’s nothing particularly stylish about this bag, and the turtle shell look to it isn’t cute on anyone. If there’s a silver lining, it’s that the Porter 30 looks less dorky than the Porter 46/65, flip flops, and cargo shorts so you could do worse.
A stylistic bummer for sure, but if you’re interested in this bag in the first place you likely don’t care about the style of it all that much at all. While this turtle shell may not be sexy, it’s functional as hell, so let’s just get this section over with so we can get on to the good stuff!
The Porter 30 comes in 4 different color choices – Mineral Teal, Diablo Red, Black, and Castle Grey. These color schemes seem to be inspired by luggage and I find them pretty bland overall. I’ll be reviewing the Castle Grey bag, but if I had to choose one as the best I’d go with the Black. I think the mono-color design lets the bag blend in more and doesn’t look as strange. The teal and red color schemes may offer a bit more personality and distinctness if that’s what you’re after.
Carry and Comfort
Phew, now that we got the style portion of the review out of the way, lets move into areas where this bag shines. The Porter 30 is pretty easy to carry and offers to distinct “modes”.
First, you obviously can carry the bag as a backpack. The Porter 30 has height-adjustable chest straps and a nicely padded hipbelt that make transportation on your back very secure.
One drawback to this bag is the backplate is just a flat, padded material. If you’re going to be wearing this bag often while in warmer climates, this bag is going to make your back sweat a good amount and soak your shirt. This is a bit of a disappointment as other bags that can fill a similar niche like the REI Rucksack 28 or the Venturesafe 25L have nicely vented back plates that can prevent a back soaked in sweat. Of course the Porter 30 does offer more storage and other features great for frequent travelers that others don’t, but it’s something to keep in mind.
As far as comfort when wearing this backpack, it scores pretty well. Not the most luxurious or comfortable straps, but the adjustable sternum straps are a nice touch and the hipbelt is designed to really hug your hips well, so you can get this bag very secure to your body. You’ll want to be very mindful when packing this bag since it has the ability to expand quite a bit, so keep heavy items low and to the back-side of the bag.
The other way to carry this bag is in something like a “carry on” mode. The shoulder straps can zip into the pack and the hipbelt pushes inside a slot on each side which leaves you with a completely smooth back –
If you’ve ever frequently traveled with a backpack, you likely know how annoying it can be to have your straps get caught on other people’s luggage or armrests in an airplane or train. Being able to do away with the unnecessary appendages as needed is one thing that makes the Porter 30 so awesome for a carry-on.
When you’re carrying your bag around like this, you’re treated to two awesome handles on the top and one side of the bag. These handles are generously padded with foam to say the least. Even under a heavy load, grabbing these handles always feel great and don’t create painful pinch points on your hand.
It should also be noted that you can carry this bag like a traditional duffel bag if you’d like by attached a shoulder strap to the D-rings on the side of the bag, visible in the photo above on the same side of the bag as the side handle. A shoulder strap is not included, so you’ll have to find that elsewhere.
Layout and Design
The layout and design of the Porter 30 is excellent from top to bottom – this is why you buy this bag. Let’s take a tour of the outside compartments.
Starting at the top, there’s a very large top pocket with a single zipper, good for items you may want to get at quickly like snacks. Since there’s no waterbottle pocket on this bag, you might use this pocket for that purpose. It should also be noted that this pocket does hang down into the main compartment of the pack, so loading it up will take away some internal room.
One the very front of the bag, there’s a long zipper pocket that’s wide, but relatively tight.
By unzipping the outer-most compartment, you’ll find some space with a few pockets, a mesh zipper pouch, and a red clip inside that pouch for a keyring or anything else you want to keep tethered.
While this compartment does have two zippers, it doesn’t have metal eyelets that would let you securely lock the zippers together. Best to not keep anything too important here if security is a concern.
On the very backside of the bag, we have the laptop compartment. This is new for the 2017 Porter 30, and it’s a great design feature. There are two zippers on the compartment with metal eyelets so you can easily lock it with a cable lock, and there’s also a flat mesh zipper pocket within this compartment. I find it to be the perfect spot to store my Kindle.
The laptop compartment is padded on all sides, so I feel it’s very secure even in the event that the bag gets dropped. By placing the compartment closest to your back, it’s extremely unlikely anyone would be able to access it without your knowing.
As you’ve probably already noticed, the Porter 30 has an external foam “jacket” that wraps around each side and connects via buckles and straps. This StraightJacket system is another huge benefit for travelers. Once you’re done packing your gear, you buckle up the StraightJacket and pull them tight to secure everything in your bag. This is awesome for keeping everything compact and from shifting around as your travel.
The main compartment of this bag feels cavernous for only a 30 liter! A big factor in that is the rigid foam frame that wraps around the sides and bottom of the bag which allows it to keep its turtle shell shape even when empty. The zippers let the top of the pack peel back clamshell style which makes it pretty easy to get all your gear exactly where you want it.
On both sides of the bag there’s a zipper pocket that runs the length of the bag, one opaque and one mesh. Other than that there’s nothing more to it other than loading it up! This compartment has some pretty hefty zippers with metal eyelets so you can keep this section securely locked as you travel.
When it comes to a pure travel bag, the Porter 30 is hard to beat on functionality. The ability to stow the backpack straps and make this a streamlined carry-on is excellent for planes public transportation. The StraightJacket system is also a huge selling point as it lets you save space when your bag isn’t full and always keep things as compact as possible.
It’s always worth mentioning Osprey’s All Mighty Guarentee, too. Osprey will repair any kind of damage or defect for the life of it, or they’ll replace it with something new. This even extends back 40 years to the very first bags they sold! You won’t find a better warranty.
If travel features is what’s most important to you, then you should certainly sacrifice fashion and pick up a Porter for your next getaway.