Osprey Wheeled Transporter Carry-On 38 Litre Review

30th Apr 2020

Osprey Wheeled Transporter Carry-On 38 Litre

There are lots of hurdles to jump through on trips that involve flights and so anything you can do to help make things simpler and more efficient is always worth considering.  One big hassle saver is to streamline your luggage management by having a bag that can be carried on rather than checked in and that has wheels to avoid you always having to look for airport trolleys.  

The answer could be a wheeled carry on and, as experts in creating travel luggage, the Osprey Transporter version should offer a practical and efficient option.  We took one for a test ride (or test flight) to find out.

Features

Osprey’s Transporter series is legendary.  The collection includes packs, duffles and travel luggage made with several key design criteria.  The first is extreme durability. In the case of their Rolling Transporter Carry-On Osprey use 400D Nylon TPU Double Coated fabric, oversized chunky zips, sturdy padded carry straps and their strong but lightweight Ultralight HighRoad LT Chassis. 400D fabric is highly water resistant and durable enough to tackle the rough and tumble of travel.  All told, these features should have created a very reliable travel companion designed to provide many years of service.  

Beyond that, the Transporter series are designed to provide a streamlined package to maximise storage space while offering as low a profile as possible.  The dimensions of this bag are 55 cms long x 43 cms wide and 27 cms deep.  These sizes will have been dictated by the sizing regulations for airlines, but it is very impressive that Osprey have fitted 38 litres of storage space into this size.  

The other good news is that the bag does meet European regulations, but it is worth saying that individual airlines seem to make their own decisions on how those dimensions are enforced in practice.  As one example, British Airways have a size limit of 56 x 45 x 25 cm and so you should be fine, but other airlines state carry on needs to be smaller and you might struggle even if you give your most endearing smile at check in.  It really pays to get information from your chosen airline before travel.  Fortunately, even if you are forced to check the Rolling Transporter Carry-On as a cargo hold piece, the beefy construction means it will cope with the baggage system effortlessly.

Another consideration for any flight luggage is weight.  There is not really any point in having the most solidly constructed travel bag if it is so heavy that you use half your weight allowance in the bag alone.  Inevitably, given the chassis, handle and wheels, wheeled luggage always come in heavier than non wheeled options.  The Transporter Carry-On does a great job of shaving the grams while having a solid construction and all the key features.  This is achieved in no small part by the use of the lightweight chassis, but Osprey have also thought through all the other details carefully to shave weight wherever possible.  The bag weighs in at an impressive 2.3 kgs.

I am glad that Osprey haven’t saved weight by cutting back on features though.  A bag of this type needs to have well thought out load carrying options.  This one wants for nothing. 

The main front opening allows easy access to the main compartment. Once opened the back of the opening panel contains 2 meshed zip pockets and the main pocket opens via another zipped panel.  Inside that there are compression wings to keep contents where should be and to allow the internal storage space to be maximised.

On the rear panel there is another zipped panel pocket suitable, as Osprey describe, for magazines and other smaller items.  There is also a direct access padded laptop/tablet sleeve.  There’s an RFID blocking lined pocket to offer added security to phones or cards, an internal key attachment clip and an ID card holder. Lastly,  a very convenient zipped pocket on the top is perfect for storing carry on liquids that will need to be taken out at security or valuables and documents that will be needed in a hurry.

In terms of carrying, low profile padded carry handles on the top and side of the bag are designed for times when it can’t be wheeled and the chunky wheels and extendable ergonomically shaped T-handle are there to allow it to be used in rolling mode.  

In Use

I would say the key decider in how well a bag like the Wheeled Carry-On works is to take it for a journey.  Let’s consider that in relation to my findings.  

The first thing you’ll do is to load it up at home.  The bag is deliberately built in a blocky compact shape that will allow it to best meet airline size restrictions while being efficient in what can be packed. The main compartment is deep and swallows clothing or any other items easily. It also, thanks to the long U shaped zip, opens very widely to make access a breeze.

The compression wings inside the main compartment are great either for maximising capacity by compacting the contents or, if the bag isn’t very full, by keeping everything held in place to stop items moving around.  Once the main compartment is loaded a zipped mesh lid can be fastened to keep the contents neatly stored. 

On the inside of the lid there are 2 zipped mesh pockets perfect for storing smaller items.  Anything from underwear, charging leads, a book, toiletries or even a pair of flatter shoes or sandels will fit in there.  Once you have finished packing the contents and the pack is zipped up you can easily secure that section with a padlock threaded through the zip pullers.  The rest of the storage is then down to the outer pockets.  

The front of the top panel is home to a large padded laptop pocket that swallows a 15” laptop with plenty of room to spare.  This pocket also houses a small zipped pocket with RFID blocking capability.  This pocket is in a great place because it is hidden from view but also easy to access even if you have your laptop on board.  

On the back panel is one more zipped pocket that is also ideal for books, charging leads or similar items.  This one isn’t padded, but has plenty of capacity for flatter items.  Inside this pocket there’s also an ID storage pocket.  Finally, on the top of the bag is a deep pocket that is a really useful addition.  It will easily hold documents or other smaller items and it’s also perfect for holding any toiletries you might be carrying that will need to be taken out for inspection at the security desk.  

So, let’s say you’ve got your bag all loaded up at home and are now heading to the airport. For carrying it the short distance out to the taxi you’ll probably just want to make use of the comfortable padded handle on the top or side.  Then, when you pull it out of the taxi at the other end it is simple to deploy the extending handle to get it through the airport to check in and security.

This is simple. A press on the handle button and the T shaped handle slides out via a two stage action. It can be stopped at mid height or, as most people will prefer, pulled out to full extension.  With the rigidity of the chassis this now feels really secure to whizz your bag through to departures.  When you get to security a quick press of the button and your handle is retracted instantly.  Simple.

If there are curbs to negotiate or elevators to drag your bag onto then it important to trust that the wheels of you bag are up to the job.  Osprey have used really solid wheels that feel confidence inspiring.  They are recessed enough to keep them out of the way when the bag is being shoved into an overhead bin, but stick out enough to be efficient and to prevent you scraping the bag when wheeling it around.  

Once you get to security the genius of the design will make this stage in your journey very easy.  If you’ve stuck your toiletries in the top pocket you can simply pull this stuff out and pop it in the inspection tray.  Similarly, if you’ve got a laptop on board you can leave it in the pocket, unzip the U shaped lid and the bag can be laid down so that the laptop can be scanned in situ.  Through security and it’s a breeze to load up you bag again.  

Once you are boarding the plane you can pop the extending handle away and use the grab handle to carry it on board and lift it into the overhead bin. Don’t worry if this takes a bit of thrutching to get it in the locker - the durable fabric will be well up to the task.  Also don’t worry if you’ve had to walk to the aircraft in the rain - the fabric will shrug off a fair amount of water and nice little design details like the front pocket zipper being protected by a flap will also help to keep things dry.

Anyway, once your bag is stowed you can relax and enjoy your flight.  Then when you land at your destination your Wheeled Transporter Carry-On is ready to do it all again.  It really is a very well thought through bag to get you to your destination and back - and you can even easily wheel it around town if you end up walking to your hotel.

Summary

You need any carry-on worth its salt to fulfil a number of tasks - be durable, easily transportable, have efficient storage options and be the right size to meet carry-on requirements.  Osprey have ticked all those boxes with style.  

I think this is a very practical and well thought out travel companion and, thanks to its durable construction, you’ll be able to enjoy many happy journeys together.  With the Wheeled Transporter Carry-On 38 litre Osprey have nailed it again.  The bag costs £180 and full details are available on the Osprey website here.

Posted by Ben