Our Osprey Transporter 120 Duffel Review explores a rugged and practical load hauler with user friendly features and dependable performance. Please read on to find out more.
I am writing this in early April and so far, in the first quarter of this year, I have lived from a duffel bag more than I’ve been at home. The year started with sport climbing in Sicily and immediately after I moved to Norway for ice climbing. I had time to unpack and repack before I relocated to Scotland for our winter courses followed by a winter trip to the Atlas Mountains. Now, as I write this, I am ski touring in the Alps. I’m certainly not complaining, but I’m just sharing to illustrate that I live out of bags a lot!
Transport over this period has included several flights, hire cars, mules and one of the Peak Mountaineering vans. It has also included a fair bit of lugging the bag around airports and in and out of accommodation. It couldn’t get a better test. For the last few months it has been an Osprey Transporter 120 duffel that has kept me company and I am delighted to share my findings. Please do read our Osprey Transporter 120 Duffel Review to find out more.
As my examples above show, duffels will always have a hard life. Whether it’s the airport carousel, overland or at sea. The nature of travel means bags take a pounding. Osprey describe the Transporter as ‘adventure ready’, so let’s see how the build stacks up.
The Transporter Range
The Transporter 120 is one of a family of Osprey duffels. The 120 litre tested is their largest, but the series also has 40, 65 and 95 litre capacity models. The Transporter range also features various packs. I use large duffels far more than any other capacity and even then they are usually pushing the boundaries of capacity and airline weight allowance. Whether ice climbing equipment or equipment for a ski holiday, they have to cope with everything.
Reliability starts with the fabric. In the Transporter series Osprey use a 900 denier recycled dual coated TPU (Thermoplastic Polyurethane) coated polyester with a PFC free DWR (Durable Water Repellent) coating. 900 denier is, by any definition, a very beefy fabric. The accents are also designed to protect the main body where needed. The TPU coating is used both inside and outside to further aid durability and add weatherproofing. Bluesign approved fabrics are used throughout. Bluesign is an industry standard for fabrics and please do check out details on this standard here.
Access & Harness
The main body is accessed via a large and lockable U-zip. This is further weatherproofed and protected by an overlapping rain flap. Carrying options come in 2 main forms. There are four webbing grab handles and 8 reinforced lash points. Then, in a separate zipped sleeve on the top of the main compartment there is a rucksack style harness. This features contoured mesh lined shoulder straps with a sternum strap. The sternum strap has a whistle on the buckle.
Once inside, there is a large zipped mesh storage pocket at one end and an additional externally accessed zipped pocket sits at the end. Internal compression straps help to secure the loads if the duffel isn’t full. On the outside at the end there is a luggage label slot.
The Transporter 120 is available in either Venturi Blue or Black colour. It weighs 1.7 kgs and retails for £180. The dimensions are 82cms high, 51cms wide and 34 cms depth.
I have previous experience with the older version of the Transporter duffels. They served me exceptionally well and so I was excited to see how the new version stacked up. For this Osprey Transporter 120 Duffel Review I also drew upon long term working knowledge of duffels by several other leading brands such as Rab, Patagonia and Eagle Creek.
I also have various criteria needs to meet. Above all, I want a duffel to inspire confidence that it will survive any challenge. Whether that is from weather or from the challenges of being thrown around in airports or strapped on mules. It must also be easy to carry – at least over short distances. Finally, it should be easy to organise equipment in, be securable and be built to last. Let’s consider each of these in turn.
Confidence Inspiring Fabrics
The Transporter is made from extremely durable (and so confidence inspiring) fabric. The 900 denier main body fabric has held up to having everything from ice axes (the picks and spikes were protected) to racks of climbing hardware inside with no fear of the fabric failing. Indeed, after these busy months of travel it looks absolutely as good as new. I really like the way Osprey have also reinforced this with accents placed in strategic places. I have complete confidence in its durability. So far, after all the trips this year, it looks as good as new.
Access & Security
I consider the large zipper of any duffel to be a potential failure point. I can’t find any specs on the particular zipper used on the Transporters, but it is certainly a beefy model. It feels well up to the challenge. This is further enhanced by the rain flap. This protects the zip from wear and tear and weather really well. The main zipper is also lockable. The fabric of as duffel isn’t going to stop a determined thief from cutting into it, but at least locking it will deter opportunists.
I also want my duffels to be safe against the challenges of being hauled by porters or handled by baggage staff at airports. The four grab handles are both durable enough to feel they won’t fail in use and comfortable to hold due to the padding. They are also, crucially, low profile. This is important to me as it means they won’t get caught on things when you don’t want them too. They are a great design. Similarly, there are times where you might need to strap the duffels to something or attach something to the duffel. No problem. The 8 beefy lash points are thoughtfully positioned to be reliable, strong and in the right place.
Lastly, and a stroke of design genius, is the harness system. Osprey are the masters of rucksack manufacture and you can see their pedigree here. The shoulder straps live tucked inside a zipped sleeve that lives on the top panel of the lid. When not in use they are protected and can’t get caught on anything. But then, when you need them, you just unzip them and clip the ends into waiting quick release buckles in the corners. You have a carrying system ready to go in seconds.
But, it must also be mentioned that the carrying system is also extremely comfortable. The straps are well padded, contoured and also benefit from a sternum strap. There are also load lifer straps to fine tune the fit. I would never opt to carry a fully loaded duffel very far, but this will easily get you across an airport or to a waiting taxi. It is the best system I have come across on a duffel bag. In fact, the harness system wouldn’t be out of place on a standard rucksack.
I also help with this comfort by packing the bag carefully. There isn’t any padding on the lid apart for the layers of fabric. So, when I pack the duffel I make sure there are some layers of clothing inside and at the top. This effectively makes a padded bag and greatly improves comfort. It also stops sharp objects inside from giving you grief.
The Transporter has also proved very weatherproof. Although the seams aren’t taped or sealed, there is a reinforcement strip over each seam which adds some additional protection (and reinforcement too). The double TPU coating and DWR outer coating also offers excellent protection across the main fabric.
No duffel of this type will be waterproof (the zip alone is a key water access point), but it should hold off a fair amount of weather. On a recent ski trip it survived being transported through a snow storm and was even sat in the snow for a while while waiting for transport. There was no moisture ingress. If that’s a concern I tend to make sure the contents are individually protected in dry bags anyway. Out of interest, if you do need a waterproof duffel Osprey have now added these to their range. Details on these models can be found here.
Finally, how does the Transporter 120 stack up for organisation. For 6 weeks over February and early March I lived out of the duffel and, as versatile as they are, they aren’t always the easiest luggage to be organised with. I tend to help this by using additional interior organiser bags, but in a bag of 120 litres it is easy for things to go astray. Osprey have certainly helped with this by adding a large zipped mesh interior storage pocket. This is perfect for any small items. I tend to use this pocket as much for general organisation once at my destination rather than for the travel phase.
There is a further storage pocket accessed from the outside and at the end. This will be the top end when using the harness. This is really useful for carrying smaller items although the pocket is actually large enough to even hold some types of footwear. It is also useful as destination organisation. This pocket is also useful for holding a small carry on bag when travelling across an airport. I would just mention that it can’t be locked though, so consider what you leave in there if the luggage is checked in or left unattended.
Wheeled or Standard Duffel?
A final word on whether to choose a wheeled duffel or a standard model such as this. There are many times a wheeled duffel will make your travel easier and Osprey make plenty of great options. For me, I tend to prefer non-wheeled ones for most of my trips. This is for two reasons. I am always fighting against airline baggage limits and so prefer not to add any extra weight with the structure of my bag. At 1.7kg the Transporter 120 stacks up well against competitor models. I also often have to be stuffing the bags in vehicles or having them carried by animals. I think soft luggage is often easier to handle in these situations.
Osprey are industry leaders in sustainability. Their use of Bluesign approved fabrics is key to knowing the products you choose are meeting sustainability targets. Their All Mighty Guarantee is also a huge bonus. One of the best ways to minimise environmental impact is to keep your gear in use longer. Osprey commit to repair or replace any damaged products free of charge – regardless of age. If it can’t reasonably be repaired it will be replaced. A great bonus for Osprey users.
As my Osprey Transporter 120 Duffel Review highlights, this is a truly excellent large load hauler. It will serve you extremely well for endless journeys and become an indispensable companion. It will also come to reflect your life of travel and adventure.
The Transporter is impeccably made, extremely well designed for transport and in-country organisation and has the best duffel carrying system I have found. It also features Bluesign approved fabrics. There is nothing not to completely commend about this bag. Please do have a read about the whole Transporter series on the Osprey website here and this particular duffel is detailed here.
We have proudly worked with Osprey for many years and have many products reviews on the website. Besides this Osprey Transporter 120 Duffel Review, other recent reviews of interest, amongst many others, might be the Zealot 45 litre pack here, the Nimsdai 90 Pack Review here or the Duro 6 Vest here. We really hope you find them of use.