Date Posted: April 2020
Way back in the eighties, at the tender age of 20, I embarked on my first overseas backpacking trip, carrying my trusty, external-frame backpack which my parents had purchased for me to use on Scout camps. Within the first month of travelling, the flimsy aluminium frame snapped!
That was in 1987, and thirty-three years later, and 205 countries and territories later, I’m still on the road. Thanks to some good career choices along the way and some sound investment choices, I’m now on the road full time and would describe myself more as a flashpacker rather than a backpacker.
Although currently housebound due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I’m normally on the road 365-days of the year. I really do live out of a suitcase, or in my case, my backpack.
For the first 27 years of travel, I lugged a traditional backpack around the world. Such a back-breaking experience!
That all changed in 2014, when, while shopping for a replacement backpack in Los Angeles, I stepped into a Bass Pro Shop and discovered the range of Osprey travel luggage. I had seen a few travellers ‘wheeling’ their backpacks around, rather than carrying them, and decided to join the revolution!
Since purchasing my ‘wheeled backpack’, I have only once used the built-in shoulder harness, which was while hiking along a muddy track in the Amazon jungle. The fact is that most of the time we travel in places where there are plenty of hard surfaces, which are ideal for wheeled backpacks. Rarely do you need to carry a weighty backpack upon your back!
Osprey Meridian 80 Litre
After looking at various brands of wheeled backpacks, I decided to invest in a burgundy-coloured Osprey Meridian 80 Litre. I travelled with this bag, full time from 2014 to 2020.
What attracted me to the Meridian:
- The 80 litres of storage offered plenty of room for all my travel necessities.
- The backpack opened like a regular suitcase, which made organising, and retrieving things, super easy. Nothing worse than top-loading backpacks which are like dipping into a lucky dip!
- The design featured lots of different size storage compartments.
- The strong, moulded, high-road chassis and the durable, high-clearance wheels (almost like Rollerblade wheels) allowed me to wheel the backpack over all sorts of rough terrain. It really is the ATV of wheeled backpacks and the wheels can handle lots of punishment.
- The colour was also significant. Whenever I stood at an airport baggage carousel and watched others checking the tags on their standard-issue black bags to ensure they were collecting the correct bag, my Burgundy-coloured Osprey Meridian always stood apart. It was unique and in all the years of picking it off carousels, I never saw another one like it.
- The one time I had to use the shoulder harness, it was easy to deploy and comfortable.
- Then there was the amazing guarantee – Osprey’s ‘All Mighty Guarantee’.
Osprey’s All Mighty Guarantee
Like all their products, my backpack was covered by Osprey’s ‘All Mighty Guarantee‘, which offers a lifetime warranty, including airline damage, on any product, made in any era. This means that even years or decades later you can ship your bag to Osprey, and they will fix any problems. You do have to pay for shipping!
At one point, the zipper on my bag became damaged. I contacted Osprey who requested that I ship the bag back to them for repair. They covered all costs and returned the bag, with a replacement zipper fitted.
Finally, in 2020, after 6 years of continuous travel, the corners of my backpack had become worn from the rigours of travelling – or at least from rough airport baggage handling. I contacted Osprey, who offered me a brand-new, replacement backpack – free of charge. I shipped my old bag to them (at their expense) and a week later, received a branch new, replacement backpack, a beautiful Osprey Sojourn 80 L backpack, which is ready for my next adventure.
Osprey Sojourn 80 Litre
The Ultimate Travel Backpack
It’s important to note that the Osprey Sojourn is a wheeled, travel backpack. If you’re looking for a travel backpack, which you can wheel most of the time, this is one I would highly recommend.
While it has a built-in shoulder harness, the Sojourn is a bag for travellers who don’t plan on using the backpack setting too often. This is not an ideal bag for long distance hiking.
The most striking difference between the new Osprey Sojourn and the former Meridian backpack are some design enhancements. It’s also worth noting that the bag weighs just 4.07 kg (less than 9 lb).
One notable omission is that the handy, detachable day-pack, that was included on the front of the Meridian, is missing from the Sojourn. You can buy this as a separate accessory and clip it on using pre-installed clips.
The rear of the Sojourn backpack is very similar to the Meridian with the shoulder harness secured inside a zippered compartment and the dual-tube extendable handle sporting a comfortable, moulded grip. Unlike handles on other bags, the Osprey handle never failed to operate.
The most important thing to keep in mind with the Osprey wheeled backpack range is that they are a roller first, and a backpack second.
They are not meant to be carried like a traditional backpack, but when required, the built-in shoulder harness can be easily deployed and is comfortable. This is due to an extremely well-designed suspension system. Osprey makes it their mission to save our backs, and you’ll feel especially thankful with the Sojourn.
Of the six years I travelled with my Meridian, I deployed the harness just once, while accessing a remote accommodation lodge, in the Amazon jungle, which was located at the end of a long muddy track. Deploying the harness was fast and easy and it was comfortable on my shoulders.
In the event that you must carry the backpack, the robust harness is functional and comfortable!
Chassis and Wheels
One of my favourite features of the Osprey bags is the tough “High Road Chassis” and the over-sized, super-tough, high traction, polyurethane wheels. The tough chassis and super-tough wheels are the biggest selling point of the Osprey travel bags. It’s not typical suitcase wheels, it’s a heavy-duty chassis that can handle cobblestone roads, gravel tracks and even mountains if need be.
I’ve wheeled my Meridian across all sorts of rough terrain and never once had a problem with the wheels or the Chassis. As a luggage-roller, Osprey bags are extremely comfortable to drag along and easy to direct. Compared to other wheeled bags, the wheels on the Osprey bags are extremely durable.
The clips on the underside of the chassis (which can be seen above) allow the shoulder harness to be fastened to the chassis. This is another solid design feature which ensures the harness remains in place.
Regular luggage company wheels are nowhere near as durable as those which are used by Osprey. I’ve met plenty of travellers who are wheeling around suitcases with tiny, flimsy wheels. These wheels do not handle rough surfaces and tend to break very easily. If you are going to invest in a wheeled travel backpack, it’s better to invest in an Osprey.
The Sojourn has an even tougher looking Chassis than the Meridian, so I’m expecting many years of the same, solid performance.
Where others fail – Osprey wheeled backpacks continue to perform!
One thing I appreciate from Osprey are the simple design features. One such design feature on the Sojourn is a stiffened zipper path, which ensures the main compartment maintains its shape while it is open. No saggy sides closing in on you while you are trying to pack. Genius!
The main packing compartment has a wide U-shaped opening with two zipper compartments lining the side walls and another zipper compartment built into the lid. I also love the bright lime green interior. The main compartment is also lockable with locks being sold separately.
After 33 years of travelling, I’m writing my first product review for the Osprey wheeled travel backpack because I’m a huge fan of the product and want to share my enthusiasm with other travellers.
A durable and reliable travel bag is an essential part of any journey and the Osprey range of travel bags are, in my opinion, the best in the market and are backed by a lifetime warranty and unbeatable customer service.
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Author: Darren McLean
Owner of taste2travel.com – an avid traveller, photographer, travel writer and adventurer.
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