I really like that my Osprey Farpoint 55 backpack is panel loading with a single, locking zipper. Unfortunately that’s all I like about it and it failed to make my revised round-the-world packing list.

A lot of research went into picking the perfect backpack for this year-long trip and somehow I ended up deciding the Farpoint was the best option. Before departure there were quite a few things I liked about it: panel loading, single locking zipper, detachable daypack, stow away pack straps, strong haul handles and rip-stop materials. But over the first four months of this trip I’ve come to despise my Farpoint so much that when standing at the luggage carousel in an airport I find myself hoping it doesn’t show up.

One word could change all that: WHEELS! Oh how I wish I had wheels on this thing. I once felt strong enough to carry all the weight this 55-liter bag could fit. Only problem is that without continuing the fitness routines I had at home and not eating enough, I’ve grown much weaker and my bag much heavier.

So when I lift all that weight onto my back and start the long walk out of the airport and into a crowded new city down baking sidewalks, I’m incredibly envious of all those other travelers wheeling their luggage smoothly along.

This leads me to my next issue with the Farpoint: the straps. I wanted a backpack since we’ve planned on doing some trekking on this trip. We’ve also stayed at some hostels that would be difficult to access without carrying everything on our backs. But considering the carrying capacity of the Farpoint, the straps on this thing are far too thin leading to very uncomfortable walks, even over short distances.

Backpack, backpacking, traveling, travel, China, Chengdu, Osprey Farpoint 55, Gear Review, best backpack for travel, backpack or wheeled luggage?In the past four months I’ve been desperately bailing my bag out, unloading equipment at friends’ houses or mailing it home, to stop me from sinking beneath its weight. And while it’s impressive how much this bag can fit when you pack it well, carrying it comfortably is another issue entirely.

I was also sold on the fact that the straps can be stored behind a zip-up cover, making it easier to store on trains, buses and the one time I carried it onto a plane. However, at this point in my travels the zip-up straps seems more like a gimmick and I’d much rather have fully-padded straps.

Next problem I had was the daypack. Others might like it if they’re carrying less on their daily excisions, but over the months I found it too small for what I carry. That being, on most occasions: a DSLR plus lens, a rain jacket or fleece, a water bottle and a few snacks. To get those very basics into the zip-off daypack was, quite literally, a stretch. If there was an occasion when I didn’t feel safe leaving my small laptop in the hostel, there was no way I could pack it with me for the day.

For that reason I ended up having my old daypack—a Mountain Hard Wear Paladin—shipped out to me when we were in Finland. It is a good deal bigger than the Osprey 15L zip-off daypack , but it carries all I need easily, is much more weather resistant and can be expanded for use on overnight or weekend trips.

The Farpoint is well built with ripstop nylon and very strong zippers that I’ve pushed to the limits repeatedly with an overstuffed bag. But I do already have a small rip in the side panel that appeared after the bag was checked for a flight. Hopefully the ripstop does its duty and prevents it ripping further.

I do love how it’s just a single zipper on the main pack that can be locked. This allows me to not only secure valuables inside the pack but also, using a cable, lock the pack to a radiator or furniture in a dorm to prevent the whole bag from wandering off.

When the daypack is removed, the Farpoint is just a couple of inches too tall to be carried onto most U.S. airlines, although being tall myself I managed to get it past one set of gate officials when we first left Salt Lake City. Unfortunately, since then I’ve had to check it on every flight.

Lesson learned, the Osprey Farpoint 55 is obviously intended for much lighter loads. If you’re a smaller person with smaller shoes/clothes/everything, and are packing light without camera gear etc, then it might do you just fine. If I could do it all over again I would most certainly opt for a travel pack with both wheels and straps, something like the Osprey Sojourn 60. If not that, then I’d rather be carrying a year’s worth of weight on more padded straps and in a pack that I’d put to good use when I get home to Utah, something like the Gregory Baltoro 65.

Take a look at my revised round-the-world packing list to see all the changes I would now make.

GEAR REVIEW: OSPREY FARPOINT 55 BACKPACK
A travel pack designed for much lighter loads. The Farpoint 55 can pack a ton but carrying it comfortably might be a challenge.
Backpack
Pros
  • Single locking zipper
  • Straps zip away under cover
Cons
  • Straps too thin/uncomfortable
  • Needs wheels!
  • Daypack too small
2.0Overall Score

About The Author

Traveler
Google+

Mark quit everything to travel the world for a year with his wife, Britnee. Along the way, he picked up a love for many other things, including illy coffee, Nepal, Bolivianos bills, and Thai beaches. Now happily home in Utah, Mark is a balding marketing professional with a mountain biking addiction.

2 Responses

  1. Tom

    Thanks for the review Mark, it was good to read about some of the Farpoints flaws instead of just its positives. Im currently planning my ‘Grand Tour’ for later this year and am wondering what backpack to get, after reading your review im now seriously thinking a pack with wheels as well as straps might be a godsend. Great site by the way!

    Reply
    • Mark Johnston

      Thanks Tom! Yes, wheeled/convertible luggage is the way to go if you’re forced to pack more than a day pack. Initially I’d hoped to pack it all into a carryon bag, but with big feet and shoes that take up most of a daypack, it just wasn’t possible. So, I ended up buying a Sojourn Convertible from Osprey and love it. On a side note: I’m not a fan of the luggage that comes with zip-off daypacks, as they tend to be too small and lack the features I want (like a supportive hip belt for heavier loads if you use if for overnight or multi-day detours). I might be overthinking it, but if you overthink it ahead of time, you’ll enjoy the journey that much more. Good luck with the trip!

      Reply

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