Osprey Transporter 130 Duffle Bag Review
I'm guessing most outdoor activists have some experience of duffle bags in some form or other. For many of us these simple fabric cylinders become the most trusted travel companion you own. They will carry your equipment to many adventures and, once there, they become your essential wardrobe and equipment storage until you return to civilisation. Along the way, as a result of them being dragged through airports, strapped to mules or tied on roof racks, your adventures will leave scars, marks and tears which simply become part of your travel companions life story. Each new bit of damage is a reminder of an experience reminding you of your own life history.
This means, of course, that we massively rely on these treasures to perform well. If the stitching rips or the zip fails then your adventure might be over before it has really begun. Your duffle needs to keep things dry, be easy to use, easy to carry and the right size for your requirements. Suddenly, that simple tube needs to be more carefully designed and sturdily constructed than we might at first have thought.
Over many years I have used duffle bags from many trusted manufacturers and, while some have been so durable they seem to go on for ever, there are others that have failed to live up to expectations. Visit the Peak Mountaineering gear room and I can show you 20 or more years of good and bad options.
One of the few manufacturer’s whose duffles I haven't tried before is Osprey. Regular readers of my gear reviews will know that I am a fan of their equipment and so, when they asked me to test one of their new transporter range, I had high expectations of their new load hauler…….
The main body of the Transporter is made from 800 denier TPU nylon and it has a 900 denier TPU nylon base. There is a long semi circular lockable zip around the top which gives access to the main compartment. It has 4 grab handles, a stowable rucksack style harness and sternum strap with emergency whistle. There is an external pocket and internal mesh pocket along with an identity card holder and tie in points which can be used to secure the bag to a vehicle or animal. The Transporter range features bags of 40 litre, 60 litre, 90 litre and the cavernous 130 litre model we tested. This review focuses on this larger bag and yet most of the features discussed are consistent across the range.
The Transporter has been my regular travel companion over the last few months. This has included an expedition to Russia and another trip to the Atlas Mountains of Morocco. In the UK it has been my main equipment moving bag and has carried everything from clothing and climbing equipment to camping equipment and water sports gear. It has, without question, been put through its paces.
The single biggest factor I always consider when choosing a duffle bag is the fabric choice. Duffles take a serious beating and so the material has to be able cope with that. The 800 denier TPU nylon (with 900 denier fabric on the base) is unquestionably very tough and very water resistant. It has lived in tents and vehicles and been transported via roof racks, mules and several airlines, and so far all there is to show is a few light scratches on the material. I have no doubt this Transporter has a long life expectancy. The biggest test of waterproofness came when it was strapped on the roof of a vehicle for several hours in pouring rain and at motorway speed driving. I really expected some wet kit but, apart from a bit of light leakage around one side of the zip, everything remained dry (I had positioned it upside down to minimise the ingress on the zip). Very impressive
Talking of zips, that is the next key feature I always look at. If the bag zip fails you will have quite a problem and, as most people stuff their bags to capacity and the zip is integral to the structure of the duffle, this is quite a consideration. Again, Osprey has gone for burly and reliable - the 2 way zips are reassuringly solid and they also have the facility to slide a padlock through the sliders to lock the bag. Again, full marks.
Beyond that, with duffles my next considerations are always about their usability. I am usually transporting my bags between buildings and airport terminals regularly and can’t always use an airport trolley. I would always consider a rucksack style harness to be essential on a larger bag. The Transporter shoulder harness is the best I've seen in a duffle. Sculpted padded shoulder straps store inside the lid pocket and the upper attachments remain stitched. When needed, they can be pulled out and attached easily at the bottom via quick release buckles. This is just what you need when you've moved the bag across the airport and then want to tuck the straps away quickly for check in. Osprey have also added a sternum strap which is a nice addition as it prevents the straps sliding off the shoulders. The sternum strap also has a whistle in the quick release buckle. I like having these on my rucksack sternum strap but I can’t really see it getting used on this type of bag.
The other key feature needed to move a bag of this type comfortably is strong grab handles and again Osprey have designed these superbly. There is one on each end and one in the middle on either side. Also on the outside are some tabs allowing the bag to be easily attached to a vehicle or mule.
Alongside this, a good duffle should make your life as easy to organise as possible and with the Transporter series Osprey have been typically thorough. At one end is a zipped pocket ideal for keeping things separated from the main storage area. I have found it ideal for separating dry items from wet, for shoe storage or as a place to keep dirty clothes. It also makes organisation easy when you are living out of the bag inside a tent or hut. In addition, there is a zipped interior mesh pocket and a key clip to store all those little travel nick knacks you need along the way. Transporter organisation is very well sorted.
Duffle bag liveability is also very much linked to the zip design. You want to be able to pack and unpack your bag easily and get to all the contents without fuss. On the Transporter Osprey have used a long u shaped zip that allows really easy access to all parts of the top layer and you can ferret around down the sides to get to that stray item in the bottom - it really is the best duffle zip design I've come across.
Last, but definitely not least, is the question of styling. Duffles are a workhorse for travellers and expeditioners but we all, obviously, want our workhorse to look the best in our team when they are strapped to that mule or on the airport baggage carousel. Osprey designers have a flair for style and the Transporter is a very cool looking bag. The one I've tested is a subtle grey (but there are brighter colours in the range) and there is prominent Osprey wording along each side and the logo at the ends. Rest assured your bag will happily hold its own in the cool stakes!
The Osprey Transporter is a peach. It is great looking, has bombproof construction and is designed to make any travellers life simple. You will be smiling when you pack it at home, beaming when you see it glide elegantly around the carousel, giggling as you throw it on your shoulders to transit the airport and then you'll feel reassured, as you see it strapped to the mule, that it will survive the rigours of expedition life. Oh, and you’ll also be delighted with how organised it allows you to be in that tea house bedroom.
I have used a lot of duffles and the Transporter equals the best of any I've used and surpasses many others. It is another brilliant Osprey product. Full details on the Transporter are available on the Osprey website here. They are priced at a RRP of £150.
Posted by Paul
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