Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Post-Trip Backpack Review: Osprey Farpoint 55

One of the questions I'm asked the most is how I like my Osprey Farpoint 55 travel backpack. Now that I have three months of world travel under my belt (with more to come!), I figured it was time to do a proper review.

If you missed my pre-trip overview of this pack, be sure to check it out!


I had high hopes for this pack since it came highly recommended by a friend who used it to backpack through Europe. Now that I've carried, dragged, thrown and even crutched it across five countries, I can safely say...

I love it!

Let me count the ways.


THE SIZE

I chose the unisex S/M size for my 5'6" frame, which gave me 37L of space in the main pack and 15L in the detachable daypack. (Only the taller M/L size provides a total of 55L, as its main pack is 40L.)

Packed to the gills on Day 1 of my trip.

I was a bit worried about limiting myself to 52L total, but I never, ever, EVER wished I had a larger pack while on my trip. Rather, I was the envy of every backpacker who lamented the size and weight of his or her gigantic 70, 80 or 90+L pack. I earned major respect for traveling relatively light.

I'll never forget the Australian Greyhound bus driver who grabbed my pack to throw it into the storage compartment, then paused, looked at me and said, "Is this it? Good on ya!"

My fully packed main pack is on the left; a hostel roommate's monstrosity looms on the right.





I'm not into souvenirs, so I didn't worry about having extra room for more stuff. I believe many travelers just ship souvenirs home, anyway. I did add a few clothing items throughout the trip — a few extra tank tops, a pair of jeans — and they fit wonderfully, thanks to the magic of my Sea to Summit compression sacks.

The Farpoint 55 is advertised as being carry-on size, but when it's fully packed (minus the daypack), it does not fit into those luggage sizers you see at airports. I managed to use it as a carry-on only once, on my very first flight — from Seattle to Los Angeles on Alaska — and that was because I sort of hid it from the airline employees. It fit perfectly into an overhead compartment on the plane, but it wouldn't have passed if I'd been asked to place it in the luggage sizer.

With every flight after that first one, my problem was not the size of the main pack, but its weight. Most airlines I flew imposed a weight limit of 7 kg (about 15 lbs); my main pack weighed in at 12 kg (about 26 lbs). I wound up checking it every time, and it was actually a relief not to have to carry it through the airport.

I really loved being able to zip this back panel over the harness and hip belt to protect them while in transit!





THE SECURITY

My main concern with checking the Farpoint 55 was that it would get lost or that my belongings would be stolen by shady luggage handlers. I was lucky — neither of those things happened to me.

Of course, I always kept my valuables with me on the plane. I used the daypack and my DSLR camera bag as my carry-on and personal item to closely guard my laptop, two cameras, Kindle, etc.

I became highly attached to this TSA lock, as it protected the main pack whenever I checked it and whenever I moved anywhere, really. If the lock was ever opened by the TSA, I couldn't tell.

I love how the main pack's zippers meet in a lockable single point of entry.




Some hostels provided lockable storage compartments for my belongings, but many did not. In those situations, I would usually keep my toiletries and compression sacks of clothing on my bunk bed (you wanna steal my loofah? go for it) to make room for my valuables in the main pack, then lock the pack and shove it out of sight under the bed.

I never had anything stolen, but I also didn't made a big show of having a laptop or nice camera. The daypack does not have the same lockable zippers, so I never left anything valuable in there.

I never saw anyone use a PacSafe mesh net or anything like it, and I didn't feel like I needed one. With the Farpoint 55, I felt like a good lock and some common sense were enough.

On the other side of the spectrum, I noticed that a lot of travelers would leave their laptops, phones, cameras and even cash right on their beds, and to that I say... good luck!


THE STYLE

When I was preparing for my trip, I first bought a top-loading Deuter backpack. I got a lot of feedback from experienced travelers advising me to choose a front-loading pack instead.

OK, guys — you were all right.







If you want to be able to see all your stuff at once and unpack/repack everything neatly and easily, you need a front-loading pack like the Farpoint 55. It's that simple!


THE COMFORT

As I traveled from city to city on my trip, I usually looked like this:

Brisbane. 6 a.m. Gotta catch a Greyhound bus.

I wore the main pack on my back (with running shoes tied to a loop on the side of the pack), wore my camera bag and purse across my body and held the daypack in my hands. Sometimes I'd throw the daypack over my shoulders facing the front if my arms got tired.

Fun fact about that purse: It stuffed nicely into the daypack if I needed to stash it for flights on which I was only allowed one carry-on (the daypack) and one personal item (my camera bag). I eventually had to toss it in Chiang Mai, Thailand, when it became filled with moat water during Songkran. I never bought another purse and got along just fine without it!

Anyway, I found the Farpoint 55 to be quite comfortable, but I never had to walk very far with it. I mostly carried it short distances, like from the airport to a taxi, taxi to hostel, hostel to bus, etc. If I got lost or found myself with a several-block walk from a transit stop to my hostel, I used the hip belt and sternum strap to ease the weight on my back.



And when I sprained my ankle, I hardly had to carry it at all, since so many fellow travelers offered to help me!

I rarely zipped the daypack onto the main pack because it put way too much weight on my back, and the main pack was so stuffed that the daypack would barely zip on anyway. I much preferred carrying it by hand or throwing it onto my front. Choose your own adventure!


THE DURABILITY

I can't even count how many times I've packed my Farpoint 55, but I noticed the weirdest phenomenon: some days, I could zip the pack up with ease, while other days, I'd be pressing it closed with my knees while wrenching the zippers shut in a sweaty fury. I guess it all depended on how diligent I was in packing smartly.

Let's just say I had a lot of zipper-wrenching days.

Regardless, my pack is practically like new after three months of backpacking. Nothing is broken or torn, and I've seen just how strong those zippers are because, trust me, I pushed their limits.

I'll be using my Farpoint 55 until its dying day — probably several years from now — and I can't wait to bring it on more adventures very soon.


IN SUMMARY

The Osprey Farpoint 55 is completely awesome and the perfect travel backpack for me. Will it be perfect for you? Only you can figure that out, but I hope my review provides you with some good information as you make your decision.

If you have any further questions about this pack, please leave a comment and I'll absolutely answer you as best I can!


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Note: All links to Amazon.com are affiliate links. I currently make zero dollars writing this blog — I just like doin' it — but if you purchase a product using one of those links, my travel fund will grow a tiny bit and I'll be very grateful. I only link to Amazon.com products that I personally use and love. Just wanted you to know. : )

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46 comments:

  1. oh my gosh! i bought my pack last month and it's the same bag but 70...i tend to overpack. I didn't think I could fit everything into the smaller size but you seemed to do it with ease! Way to go!

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    1. It took a bit of effort, but it worked! 70 isn't bad at all — just watch the weight for the sake of your back. Happy travels!

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  2. Looks like you had a great pack - conveniently it's one of the ones I'm looking into, so I'll keep your thoughts in mind!

    This isn't specifically a pack related question, but I'd be interested in hearing how you found travelling with a DLSR and camera bag. I've been saving for one for months, but since deciding to travel I'm just not sure. I'm looking at micro four thirds cameras, but I just can't shake the idea of a DSLR... convince me?

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    1. I wound up leaving my DSLR in its bag quite a bit, both because it was often inconvenient to lug it out and because I didn't want to draw too much attention to myself in public with a big, fancy camera. I shot many of my favorite photos with my little Canon S95.

      Jodi Ettenberg of LegalNomads.com shoots with an Olympus E-P3 (micro four thirds) and her photos are in.cre.di.ble. I'd say buying a DSLR is worth it overall, but for travel? You can get away with a smaller camera and still nab some stellar images.

      Delete
  3. Hey Devon,

    Great post. I have an Osprey top loading pack that I've used as my travel bag. I love it, but it is pretty inconvenient to have to dig around to find stuff. The other thing is it's not always fun to have to wear it, but it is pretty comfortable as a backpack.

    I'll definitely have to think about plopping down the money for a 55.

    Cheers,

    Dale

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    Replies
    1. Good luck deciding, Dale! Thanks for your comment.

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  4. I looked at the Farpoint at REI and found that the smaller pack straps are excessively long. Did you find the same issue? What did you do with all the excess straps?

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    Replies
    1. I did find that the daypack straps were long, but for good reason: you need to be able to adjust the straps in such a way that you can tuck them into the pocket in the top of the daypack so they are hidden, which allows you to zip the daypack onto the main pack more easily.

      Sometimes the straps bothered me (brushed on my legs) if I was just wearing the daypack, so I'd just grab them and tuck them up between my back and the pack. You could probably also use a rubber band or safety pins to secure them temporarily. Hope that helps!

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    2. Thanks fr the reply! It's definitely a choice I'm considering. I'm deciding between the Osprey Porter 55, REI Vagabond or REI Lookout 40. Then using a Incase dslr sling for my Olynpus OM-D and 11" MacBook Air as my camera/day bag. Thoughts?

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  5. Hey Devon!
    I usually read your tumblr and miss out on these posts. I just put up the facebook queue for my job, an outdoor retailer on Vancouver Island (we are so close!). It is so well written. Happy to see you home =)

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  6. I'm looking at this or the Deuter Transit 50. Do you know anything about that pack?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't know anything about the Deuter — sorry!

      Delete
  7. I'm looking at packs at the moment and your post is useful, thanks. I actually tried the Osprey 40 today and it seems great, it's good to hear an in-action review and pics!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's a great pack! Good luck with choosing the right one for you.

      Delete
  8. I have this pack, and I leave for my RTW trip next Wednesday! I was really adamant about getting a front loading, and there just wasn't much choice out there. Whilst looking for reviews I was led to your site.

    I'm SO pleased the pack is working out well for you and has been durable, as seeing it crammed full right now, I am worried the zippers wouldn't last for very long!

    I think it's a great pack, and it just fits everything I have chosen to take, but there is no room for any new purchases and I am a bit worried about starting out that full.

    Happy travels.

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  9. Hi,
    I have being struggling for a while now to decide which pack to buy for my upcoming grand sports tour of America, and wow, this article has helped. I was advised by a mate working at Backpacking Light to get an Osprey Farpoint or Waypoint, but not the litre size. I am a shocking packer, and LOVE to buy souvenirs (if my wallet will allow!) so I was torn between 55 and 70. This is given me the confidence to buy 55, knowing that in the long run it will be worth it is great. Thanks!

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  10. Since you almost never zipped the daypack to the larger backpack, do you think it was a wasite of money to get one that zips together like that?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nope! On my recent trip to Italy, I packed light enough so that I could zip the daypack onto the main pack 100% of the time — it was great! Nothing to carry in my hands. It was only when the two bags were crammed full and HEAVY that it was impossible for me to carry the daypack + main pack while they were zipped together.

      Delete
  11. Thank you so much for this review!

    Have been umming and ahhing over the Farpoint and the Waypoint because am a little scared the material of the Farpoint may be a bit flimsy to be put as checked in luggage. When you checked in your backpack, did you put it in a duffle/protective bag of sorts?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've never used any sort of protective cover for the backpack when I check it, and it's been just fine after being checked several times.

      Delete
  12. Awesome review! You've inspired me to buy the Osprey Farpoint 55 M/L and I can't wait for it to arrive. I just hope the M/L isn't TOO much bigger. I'm backpacking around Japan next month and I'm spending considerable time in Hokkaido, and I figured the extra couple liters of space will be handy when packing cold weather gear. Quick question though: is the main pack easy to pass as a carry-on provided it's not full? My concern is the internal frame would push it pass the limit. Thank you for a great review and awesome blog!

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    Replies
    1. I think the carry-on question really depends on the airline(s) you'll be flying and what their particular carry-on standards are, but my fiance has the M/L size of the Farpoint 55 and he was able to use it as a carry-on on flights through the U.S., Iceland, France and Italy. Even if the pack can pass size-wise, watch out for weight limits!

      Delete
  13. I appreciate the review! I'm hoping I can get some of your travelling expertise. I will be going on a university exchange to Germany in March, and want to travel Europe on the weekends/breaks. The length of trips could be from 2-7 days, but mostly 2-3 days thought. I was wondering if you think this pack is overkill. But more importantly i am concerned if the S/M pack will fit in RyanAirs size limit(weight wont be an issue). I have seen some very people saying it will, and others not. The limit is 55cm x 40cm x 20cm. If you have a spare minute I would really appreciate if you could measure the pack and hopefully provide a conclusive answer. If it doesnt fit or you think the size is overkill, do you have any bags or sizes of bags you would recommend? I'm a guy if that makes a difference :)

    Thanks again for the quality review!

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  14. Thanks for this review! I'll be travelling through Europe in the spring for just over a month. I'll be with a tour group for more than half of the time I'm there and will be backpacking for the rest of the time. I feel this might be the perfect back pack for me... although, I might go with the M/L size.

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  15. Thanks so much for the review of this pack! Last time I went traveling, I used my Gregory Deva 60L, which is a fantastic hiking pack. But once I finished tramping in New Zealand, the pack became a burden in SE Asia. I wish I had had a front-loader with lockable zippers. So for my next trip, I will looking into the Farpoint.

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  16. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  17. Thanks for your review. I will be backpacking through Russia and CIS countries on March for one and half months. I searched a backpack to cheap price and have day pack. So I found two kinds of it, Deuter Quantum and Osprey Farpoint. But quantum was sold out in Korea. I thought farpoint will be small to go for long trip. But when I got it, it's enough!(I bought farpoint70 S/M) And farpoint has unique design. It is also important point to me.
    Anyway I think this backpack is enough for long backpacking. Your review will be help to packing. Thanks!!!

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  18. Nice review! I went down to the store and tried out the Farpoint 40 and 55. One question for those who have used either: how useful was the 55's daypack? I imagine most travellers would put the daypack in front when nearing full capacity. I read your comment about attaching the daypack when your pack wasn't so full.

    I'm thinking of getting the 40 and bringing a separate daypack. After all the 55 sans daypack is the same size as the 40. Is there any other significant benefit of the daypack that I'm not noticing?

    Cheers

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  19. I was almost going to buy a Deuter Traveller 55+10 SL or SI backpack when, through internet searches and comparisons, I came upon your blog. Based on your analysis and review I opted instead for the Osprey Farpoint 55 and am glad I did! Much lighter, just as tough and versatile! And I actually got it for a great sale price...the stars lined up for me on this one.
    Thanks for posting this as I agree with you that the website for Osprey lacks details.Like your overall blog as well..good job!

    Peter from Gatineau Quebec

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  20. does the day pack clip onto the front of the shoulder straps?

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  21. does the day pack clip onto the front of the shoulder straps?

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  22. I might be purchasing this backpack thanks to your review, thank you! If I could ask, what size of compression packs did you end up getting, it appears you used two different sizes?

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  23. Great review. Seeing that photo of you how you usually look when travelling. made me pine for a return to south america and travel...!!

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  24. Thank you for sharing your experience with us!! it was a mindblowing post!!

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  25. Do you prefer the Osprey Farpoint 55 over the Deuter Traveller 55 +10 backpack

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  26. I got Farpoint 55 but I haven't use it yet. What sizes of packing cube (any particular brand) do you recommend?

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    Replies
    1. I just got the Farpoint 55 and it was better than getting the Farpoint 70. With the same items/weight in both bag the 55 is closer to your body so one feels more balanced carrying it than the 70. Imagine with the 70 if you pack more things in it will just feel much heavier and less balanced, like I'm about to fall backwards.

      Delete
  27. Thanks for the review. The photographs were very useful, this has helped give a realistic idea of what the bag can hold.

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  28. Great backpack review. Now I know how our bag looks like when It is full and loaded with camera equipment.

    camera and laptop bag

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  29. Selecting the right laptop bag is not easy and it depends on your personal choice and requirement. However it is one of the most important accessories for your laptop. It protects your laptop and also helps you to carry your papers and other gears efficiently and at times fashionably.

    ReplyDelete
  30. You have described exactly how I found this bag to be, down to every little detail. Great bag, great description.

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  31. Really amazing writing about carry on backpacks. I feel awesome when I get any good resourceful writing about Carry on backpacks

    ReplyDelete
  32. This is very educational content and written well for a change. It's nice to see that some people still understand how to write a quality post.!
    book hotel edinburgh

    ReplyDelete
  33. Hi, thanks for such a valuable and informative blog. I like reading your blogs and I usually find them very informative. Well, if someone is looking to buy a backpack for laptop then I'd love to recommend this list of laptop backpacks. Trust me you will find the perfect one for your needs on this link.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Pretty cool stuff but one pair of pants is on the homeless bum side of things in my opinion. there are a lot of light pants out there where you can carry more than just one pair. But a lot of good stuff and ideas besides that. I would shoot for a better way of packing the clothes. Wrinkly clothes put of a bad impression to people.
    JUST READ YOUR ARTICLE. GOOD ONE. I LIKED IT. KEEP GOING. YOU ARE A BEST WRITER YOUR SITE IS VERY USEFUL AND INFORMATIVE THANKS FOR SHARING GO FOR THE BEST QUALITY PRODUCT POSSIBLE AND RESEARCH BEFORE PURCHASING ONE. WASTING MONEY IS NOT SOMETHING ANYONE LIKES, BETTER SPEND SOMETIMES ON RESEARCH AND GET THE BEST TACTICAL BACKPACK.

    ReplyDelete
  35. I just read your article found it very helpful and informative for those who are frequent travelers. Well, you have provided a best review about backpack but still I think it will cost much than other backpacks. Well, if someone is looking to buy the best backpack for their laptop then it is recommended to take a look at this list of laptop backpacks. I bet you will find the best one for your needs on this link.

    ReplyDelete

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