Travelling for any length of time, never mind spending a small fortune on luggage, can make choosing a travel backpack seem like a life and death decision. Fortunately, having just spent 5 months backpacking in Asia and living out of the Osprey Farpoint 40, I can help take you one step closer to a decision.
At a Glance
I loved travelling with the Farpoint 40. It is comfortable, good looking, and thoughtfully designed with loads of useful features:
- 40 litre capacity but surprisingly spacious
- Carry-on compliant
- Padded laptop pocket
- Lockable zips
- Padded carry handles
- Zip away shoulder harness and hip belt
- Sturdy and well made
Osprey Farpoint 40: The Review
Having a carry-on size backpack was my top priority. At 54cm (L) x 35cm (W) x 37cm (D), the Farpoint 40 falls within the EU maximum carry-on luggage size limits. I flew with it as carry-on from the UK to Asia and then around Asia and never had any problems. It is possible to over-fill it past these dimensions so be aware of this when packing.
Weight is probably the bigger concern, with many airlines only allowing 7kg for hand luggage. Most of the time I was a couple of kilos over this but was never challenged. The bag itself weighs just under 1.5kg when empty.
The pack is surprisingly spacious and could be used for anything from a weekend away to a year’s backpacking trip with clever packing.
For my five month trip, I rolled my clothes into 3 eBags Slim Packing Cubes for maximum use of space, and organised my toiletries in a Boots hanging toiletries bag which is lightweight and laid flat on top of the packing cubes.
I also took the packable Osprey Ultralight Stuff Pack to give me an extra 18 litres of capacity in case I needed it, and to use as a daypack.
The Farpoint 40 is unisex and comes in two sizes for different torso lengths, so getting a good fit should be possible for most people. You can use Osprey’s clever PackSizer app to guide you, although if you are between sizes or close to the limits, I would recommend trying both. I am 5ft 7.5” and was close to the limit for S/M. I tried both and found that the S/M dug into my shoulders and that the M/L was actually far more comfortable.
Try the bag on with some weight in it (I used dumbbells and cushions) as this is where you will really notice how comfortably the bag distributes weight across your shoulders, back and hips.
The backpack is a front loading style which makes packing it similar to a suitcase. It also means you don’t have to rummage to reach things at the bottom, like you would with a traditional top loading backpack.
The pack is made up of one large main compartment plus a second, smaller compartment.
The main compartment contains compression straps to hold everything in place and possibly squeeze more in. There is also a large, zipped mesh pocket to keep loose items organised.
The second, smaller compartment contains a padded laptop sleeve, plus a zipped mesh pocket which I used to store my plug and cables. If you are flying carry-on only and already have the main compartment full, you should avoid completely filling the second compartment as this may take you over the allowed size.
On the outside of the pack, there is a zipped pocket at the top which I used to keep travel essentials handy, like my eye mask, ear plugs, and inflatable neck pillow, plus other non-valuable small items. You could possibly use it to keep your liquids handy for inspection at the airport.
You will also find two mesh pockets, though these are not as useful as they first look. The outside of the pack has compression straps to help keep everything compact, but when these are in use, you can’t access the pockets. Even if you do use the pockets, they are not particularly secure and I have found things falling out when I’ve bent over or put the pack down.
One of my favourite things about the Farpoint 40 is that it is so thoughtfully designed and is full of useful features.
Zip Away Straps
If you want to use the backpack like a suitcase or check it in as hold luggage, you can stow the shoulder harness and hip belt behind a zip-up panel. The pack also comes with a detachable shoulder strap which allows you to carry the bag on its side.
Padded Carry Handles
There are two good quality, padded carry handles on the top and side of the backpack. As well as making it possible to use the pack like a suitcase when the straps are zipped away, I found these handles gave me more control when manoeuvring the pack when it was fully loaded and heavy. It was possible for me to lift the pack in and out of overhead luggage compartments myself, without relying on strangers to help me (or taking anyone out!).
The pack is made from a tough nylon ripstop fabric and feels very sturdy. On the many occasions I have packed it so full I’ve only just managed to zip it shut, it has never shown any signs of fatigue and the zips in particular feel robust.
Osprey products are backed by their All Mighty Guarantee where they promise to repair or replace the product without any charge, within its reasonable lifetime.
Padded Shoulder Harness & Hip Belt
I found the Farpoint 40 comfortable to wear and fine for walking in when it was fully loaded and heavy. There is a lightweight frame inside the pack which gives it support and the shoulder harness and hip belt are nicely padded and have a lot of adjustability. There is also an adjustable sternum strap which gives it extra stability and holds it in place.
The zips for both the main compartment and the second compartment (containing the laptop sleeve) have metal loops built into the zip, so they can be locked together with a padlock.
Although maybe not as important as functionality, it’s still nice to have a backpack that looks good. The pack comes in three attractive colours; volcanic grey (which is almost black), Caribbean blue, and jasper red. I chose Caribbean blue and after five months of travelling, apart from a couple of dirty marks, it still looks in great condition. The volcanic grey would probably be a safer bet if you don’t want to be bothered with trying to keep it clean.
Osprey make rain covers which can also be handy for keeping your backpack clean. I didn’t take one as I didn’t want to spoil the look of the bag with a rain cover, but after a few dusty train and bus floors, I could see the benefit of having one.
I should point out that I really enjoyed travelling with the Farpoint 40, so any niggles are only minor.
Outside Mesh Pockets
The two mesh pockets on the outside of the pack are not quite right. You would find it hard to fit a water bottle in them when the pack is full, and they are not particularly secure. I had things fall out when I put the pack down or bent over.
Main Compartment Mesh Pocket
The mesh pocket in the main compartment runs the whole length of the top panel. I never used the full length of it and found that everything just fell to the bottom. I think it would be more useful as two smaller pockets.
Hip Belt Pocket
A pocket on the hip belt would be a nice addition but it’s certainly not a deal breaker for me.
Would I recommend the Osprey Farpoint 40?
Absolutely. If you are looking for a good quality, well designed, carry-on size backpack, the Farpoint 40 is hard to beat. It is suitable for any length of travel if you pack wisely, and smart enough to be used for business or leisure.
What is your favourite travel backpack?
Have you also travelled with the Farpoint 40, or do you have a different carry-on size favourite? Let me know in the comments.
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