Osprey Transporter Zip Rucksack Review

20th Dec 2019

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When a rucksack is advertised as “lifestyle” it can signal that the pack in question might be a little confused about its true function. Is it an urban pack for carrying those useful but varied items around town as you go about your daily business? Is it a pack for use at the weekend to take whatever kit you need, to wherever you wish to go? Does “lifestyle” mean a pack that is actually a mash-up of lots of features that have been thrown together because they might be useful at some point but then again might not be? According to Osprey, the Transporter Zip is a rugged backpack with a range of useful features for an active lifestyle. As I already have a useful “lifestyle” backpack, and genuinely find some of its features useful, could the Transporter Zip compete?

Features

Osprey already have a large and varied range of lifestyle backpacks, so what makes the Transporter Zip stand out?

Well firstly its appearance. It does not look like a conventional backpack. Rather, it bears some semblance to a bucket with a useful 30-litre capacity. This might sound a little insulting and dismissive, but think for a minute…a bucket is very useful. It can be used to contain a multitude of contents, it finds use in many different contexts, and a bucket has a rugged and simple design that has stood the test of time simply by doing exactly what it is meant to do, with no extra complications. This, in my opinion, sums up the Transporter Zip perfectly.

Made from water-resistant 400D nylon, the same as used in Osprey’s “Durable Duffle” range, the Transporter Zip comes in a range of colours and shouts “Rugged” at you in the same loud voice that it shouts “Style!” A chunky YKK zip secures the lid in what Osprey actually calls “a unique bucket opening style,” and the large zip-pulls at either end of the zip mean that opening and closing the lid is always easy, even one-handed. The lid itself includes two large zip pockets, with one accessible from the outside and a mesh pocket on the inside for easy access to those important bits of paper or small objects you need to keep track of.

Externally there is a large zip-pocket integrated into the side so you can easily carry that insulated mug full of your favourite hot beverage as you progress on your travels without compromising the smooth and sleek lines of the pack, or causing embarrassment as you knock someone in a crowd with your mug as you forget your pack is now a bit wider! The front of the pack also contains a large zipped compartment for storing whatever you need to have quick access to. Finally there is an LED light attachment point if you need to signal your presence as you swoosh through the traffic-jams on your trusty two-wheeled steed! All zips are high-quality chunky YKK ones, and Osprey’s legendary build-quality is very much in evidence throughout. 

The padded harness is more than an afterthought and enhances the versatility of the pack. The sternum-strap is easy to adjust using a simple and well-tested sliding process and includes an emergency whistle on the buckle. The hip-belt is also easy to adjust or remove, and is effective in securing the pack. Importantly, as the Transporter Zip is advertised as a unisex pack, the shoulder straps are comfortable for both the male and female forms and have a wide range of adjustment. A large semi-rigid carrying-handle on top completes the harness. 

The main body of the pack is large enough to carry multiple A4 ring-binder folders or files, and holds its open shape readily, meaning that unlike other backpacks it doesn’t flop over as the contents are taken out. It also remains open as you place things inside, with its rigidity helped by the spacer mesh foam backpanel and the two padded sleeves that can accommodate a laptop and a tablet at the same time. Two expandable mesh pockets and two large pen-pockets, together with a key-hook and a flap for securing your electronic gadgets, complete the organiser section, with the rest of the 30L capacity kept free for whatever files, papers, electronics or sportswear you choose to carry.

In Use

A four-day stay in Munich, taking airline cabin-baggage only.  Sounds like the perfect chance to test the Transporter Zip! Spare shoes (size 10) loaded across the bottom, with various layers of different types of clothing above. Love the way the pack gets wider towards the top! It’s really easy to place things you’ll need frequently on top such as jackets, and my tablet slips smoothly into its sleeve. Cables and chargers sit nicely in the mesh under the lid. Four days’ worth of clothing and kit packed with room to spare! A few cheeky extra items slipped inside then, with the zip always seeming to close easily! No problems carrying the pack around the airport, with those important travel-documents kept easily to hand in the lid pocket.

For urban exploration the Transporter Zip is a breeze! The rigidity of the pack means it stays comfortable and isn’t flopping around on my back, even though it isn’t full despite carrying a tablet, two spare warm jackets, two waterproof jackets, two packed-lunches and two litres of water. (One major drawback – you WILL want to carry other peoples’ kit as well as your own!) Even in the torrential downpour of a very impressive thunderstorm, the inside of the pack remained dry despite puddles collecting outside on the top. Osprey make no claims for this pack being waterproof but I found it impressively water-resistant nonetheless.

A long day’s hiking in the Bavarian Alps? No problem! Take out the tablet, add some extra clothing, food and water and head for the hills. With the harness adjusted for a long carry the 1500m Fockenstein was in my sights! The pack was extremely comfortable with the load held securely within the shape of the pack itself, even when scrambling up steep limestone ridges. Access to the contents was easy without removing the pack (Yes – I was STILL carrying two of everything!) The only drawback was an extremely sweaty back due to the contact between me and the rucksack. However this is forgivable as the Transporter Zip doesn’t have an AirSpeed back system and probably wasn’t specifically designed for hours of steep ascent in 27 degree heat. It was still very comfortable though and the build-quality was clearly tested when it only suffered a light scratch after being knocked a long way down a steep rocky path!

Finally, how does the Transporter Zip fair against my current “lifestyle” pack? Well, the Transporter now IS my current pack. – Well…my old one was due for retirement anyway….the way my insulated mug kept slipping out of its side-pouch; the way the zip kept mis-aligning when trying to force my laptop into the too-small compartment; how it used to keep flopping over or closed whenever I took anything out… And I certainly would never take my old one on a mountain day!

In summary a transporter is meant to carry stuff. The Osprey Transporter Zip will carry any stuff you care to load it with, in style and comfort, wherever your lifestyle takes you.

Reviewed by Stu.  Posted by Cal.