The Osprey Farpoint 40 has just been announced as the Best Overall Travel Backpack for 2020 by US News & World Report. It’s a backpack you will see countless travelers wearing and it’s one that both of us own. The Farpoint 40 is pretty much indestructible and has saved us an enormous amount of money. We’re going to explain why you should consider this backpack when choosing your next travel bag.
It doesn’t matter if you’re going to your parents’ place for the weekend, on a 2 week holiday in the sun or traveling the world for a year. Whatever contains your clothes will be used every single day.
Now the question is, do you find yourself being frustrated by something? A lack of space? Is it poor quality and falls apart easily? Do the shoulder straps dig in? What about the design – is there a separate compartment for your laptop or is it so worn out you promise yourself you’ll upgrade?!
If you said yes to any of those questions or have any other frustrations, consider your woes over. We have the answer, in the form of the Osprey Farpoint 40.
Will it suit my travel needs?
For the weekend getaway or short term break, you have plenty of room to put clothes and electronics in their own compartments. Those who take regular domestic business trips should consider the Osprey Farpoint 40 as the perfect backpack. Although this is not a specialized hiking backpack, we have taken it on many hikes and it performs brilliantly.
If you’re a long term traveler looking for a new backpack that can be taken on flights as hand luggage (saving a ton of money in the process), then there really is no comparison. Whether you like the sound of this or not, you will become intimately close with your backpack when traveling long term.
Let us explain why the Osprey Farpoint 40 is your best bet for a travel backpack. Using our own process and experiences as reference, we think we’ll have you convinced by the end of this article!
Backpack or Suitcase?
The first thing you need to work out is whether you need a backpack or a suitcase. Our trip was going to be a year traveling the world, through various climates, terrains, vehicles and weather systems. So, we only had a very quick conversation to decide which consisted of stating once that we would not even consider a suitcase. Easy!
On a previous trip to Bali, we traveled the island extensively and both had suitcases. Let’s just say it was very frustrating! We felt like targets lugging around massive heavy suitcases, they made stairs impossible and we dreaded moving from place to place with these massive immovable anchors.
It was an easy decision for us to forgo the impractical suitcases and replace with backpacks for a journey around the entire world. After travelling for over a year with a backpack, we can confirm that this was the correct decision!
Of course, there are many different types of backpack, depending on what your goals are. A great travel backpack will be different to a great mountain climbing backpack so please be aware this is aimed at a general use travel backpack.
Let’s not forget that suitcases do have their benefits in other types of travel situations, like family holidays, and there will be many people who should choose a suitcase over this or any backpack depending upon their own circumstances.
Our Primary Considerations
Note: When you come to choose your backpack, remember it also depends on the type of traveler you are. Do you want to travel light? Do you need multiple options or can you cope with the same few pairs of shorts for months at a time? Can you leave the hair straighteners or that extra camera lens at home?
A few weeks before our departure we read articles, blog posts and reviews for every backpack out on the market. One in particular stood out way above the rest…
Our research didn’t last very long because the same backpack came up on top of almost every blog post or backpack review we read.
No prizes for guessing! The backpack was of course the Osprey Farpoint 40L.
Why is it so Popular?
Right, let’s take an in depth look into our primary considerations listed above and discover why the Farpoint 40 is such a popular backpack for travelers around the world.
Firstly, how much space did we really need? Did we need 40L, 60L, 80L?
We wanted to travel light. We wanted to make things easier for ourselves. Our trip to Bali was a rude awakening and we didn’t want to repeat it! We wanted to live a minimalist lifestyle as we set off on our adventure around the world.
During our research we learned that a 40L size would allow us to take our backpacks onto flights as hand luggage and we were instantly sold. You know those annoying metal frames they make you stuff your bag into? Yep, we tried it and it fits! Surely, that’s one of the things that traveling is about; saving hundreds of dollars and time at airports.
Is 40L enough?
Let’s clear this up. It depends on how you travel. For a short term getaway, 40L is easily enough for the average person. For long term travel, you have to be disciplined and extremely careful what you pack. You’ll be shocked at how much you can fit in, but be aware that you will probably need to unpack and repack a few times, taking out non-essentials until it all fits.
Remember, it’s a personal decision and won’t work for everyone. If you need more space, no worries! Osprey have a superb selection of bigger backpacks and many of the factors we will discuss here will still apply.
For us, we were excited to be traveling light as we left our possessions at home and embraced this new lifestyle.
We bought these backpacks a few months before we left for travel to give them a run out and used them to visit each other back and forth from the UK to the US. We never had any problems with the size; in fact, we were delighted at how convenient they made the trips.
After 7 months traveling around Europe and Asia, mainly by train and plane, the Osprey Farpoint 40 size had saved us so much inconvenience. Genuinely, we can’t recommend this backpack enough for travel convenience due to it’s carry-on size.
When other people’s larger backpacks or suitcases couldn’t be stored on a busy train, leaving them to be stuck out in aisles or vestibules, ours fit nicely into overhead storage. We paid no money for hold baggage and lost no time at airports.
We saw many backpackers with hefty 70L backpacks struggling and to tell the truth, we were relieved carrying our lightweight 40L packs.
Is there enough space inside?
It’s not all about the overall dimensions of the bag, so let’s look at the space inside the backpack. Osprey have done a brilliant job of maximizing the internal spaces with the Farpoint 40. The compartments are designed incredibly well.
The main compartment is deep and inhales clothes. The laptop sleeve is padded but doesn’t compromise space for the main compartment. Then there’s the front compartment which surprisingly still fits things in even with a full main compartment.
We found ourselves wondering if we weren’t taking enough gear as there was still room left once we’d finished packing. There hasn’t come a time where we’ve needed more space inside.
Pro-tip: We organized our clothes with packing cubes.
The comfort factor speaks for itself. We didn’t want to be carting around a backpack that ripped our shoulders to pieces or use waist straps that had no padding allowing the hips to take the weight comfortably. We’d be carrying this backpack A LOT so comfort was crucial.
The Osprey has padding at the back with a rigid frame to allow the backpack to breath as well as give support to the users’ back. The well made padded shoulder and waist straps were important to us as they take the load of the weight.
Osprey’s Farpoint 40 is genuinely a very comfortable backpack to carry around. This was apparent to us as soon as we tried it on and remains true over a year into travel.
The shoulder and waist straps are made from die-cut spacermesh making them soft but rigid, allowing the weight to be distributed without any friction or rubbing. The mesh also creates ventilation and ventilation in turn leads to less sweat, which is always a wonderful thing!
When the backpack is full, the weight is barely felt on the shoulders, back and waist. We’ve given them consistent use over time and neither of us have had any issue with its undeniably high level of comfort.
We’re no backpack specialists or designers but we knew that we’d need strong and water resistant materials. There’s also a bit of a crossover with the comfort aspect in that the materials used would need to provide support for the body. Very good zipper quality was another attribute we were looking for, the last thing you need is the zipper seam breaking on you!
The criteria was met with ease by the Osprey Farpoint 40.
The Farpoint 40 is made from nylon ripstop fabric (aka Schwarzenegger strength). It uses a reinforcing technique that makes the fabric resistant to tearing or ripping.
Interesting fact: ripstop fabric was developed in WWII as a replacement for silk in the production of parachutes.
Now, we weren’t expecting to jump out of a plane with the backpacks but we can attest to the durability of this fabric. We haven’t had even as much as a slight tear after a year of intense use.
This backpack is pretty much indestructible, you’d need to throw it in a lion’s den with a steak inside to see a tear appear! Be aware that it is not completely waterproof. Not to worry though, it’s water resistant and having been caught in some heavy downpours we are yet to open our backpacks to damp clothes.
Fellow travelers we met on the road have said similar things about its resistance to rain. We would not recommend throwing it in a river to test it though!
If still worried about the water factor, Osprey sells its own waterproof covers for their backpacks.
Our research suggested that most budget airlines cap weight of hand luggage bags at 7kg. Considering what we would each be packing in the backpack – essentially clothes and a laptop, we set ourselves a target of a maximum of 2kg for the weight of backpack itself; any less would be a bonus.
The Opsrey Farpoint 40 backpack weighs in at 1.44kg which was over half a kilo less than we’d planned for. It is actually heavier than some of it’s competitors but that’s because of the extra weight in the padding. We’re more than happy to take on the extra weight in support form. We never experienced a scenario where the pack was too heavy. Even when we had to lift them above our heads on trains. Just don’t fill it with lead bricks and there’ll be no issue!
Note: Be careful what you pack, the weight quickly adds up, especially with electronic items. Airlines (in particular budget airlines) will not hesitate to charge a spiked fee for overweight hand luggage bags. This is the compromise with this backpack. If you’re buying it because of the carry-on factor, make sure you don’t pack over the airlines weight limits!!
We were all about the practicality: function over fashion. Remember that bright colors may glisten in the eyes of potential thieves so pick your color carefully! Ours are charcoal and sky blue.
One of our most significant preferences was for a front loading backpack as opposed to top loading. We wanted to save on rummaging through everything to get to what we needed every time we went in the backpack.
Inside our packs, we wanted compartments for separating electronics and clothes if possible. We also wanted to make sure we could secure our belongings with locks if necessary.
The design of the Farpoint 40 surpassed our expectations, both inside and out. It is sleek and stylish while retaining a subdued inconspicuous image.
Our favorite part?
In our opinion the best attribute of this pack is the clam shell design. This means the entirety of the pack opens in a horse shoe shape action (pictured above in size section). This backpack is a God send when on the road because we don’t have to take out every piece of clothing to get to that one thicker pair of hiking socks at the bottom. Repeat, God send. We’d never go back!
The laptop sleeve is padded and there are a few zipped sections for storing any loose paperwork or valuables. Just remember that if you over pack the main compartment, it will be more difficult to pack a laptop in the laptop sleeve. We actually packed our laptops in the main compartment more often than not as it reduces space taken up.
The backpack is simplistic in design, they haven’t thrown in an uncontrollable amount of zips and compartments. It’s very functional.
The small top compartment is ideal for passport, keys or sunglasses – including a soft lined material with anti scratch properties.
The front (medium) compartment is a decent size, we only use it to separate anything from the main section like a raincoat. It also contains the padded laptop sleeve, which fits up to 15.4 inch laptops. We’ve used the sleeve the whole trip and never had any problems.
The main compartment fits more in than it would appear. We couldn’t believe just how much we could cram in. The zips opening ¾ of the way around make access nice and simple.
The back can be zipped up and carried as a duffel bag (there is a shoulder strap too) if carrying on the back becomes tiresome or boring!
As mentioned at the beginning, this was one of the most important items we bought for traveling. We didn’t want to compromise on quality here. So how much do we spend? Originally, we didn’t have a certain price range in mind because we wanted to pick the best price to quality ratio.
We paid around US$110 each for our backpacks at the time. We thought that was a very reasonable price for this high quality backpack.
When we were traveling in Europe, roughly 3 in 10 backpackers had the Osprey Farpoint 40 on their backs. We started to make a game out of it! Every person we spoke to about them had nothing but praise. It almost felt like we were part of a club, a universal language where you nod your approval to your fellow Osprey Farpoint 40 carrier.
Osprey is a household name and they have been selling backpacks for years.
Did you know the the Farpoint 40 comes even with a lifetime warranty (known as the all-mighty guarantee)? We didn’t either! Double bonus?! Any problems with the backpack, no matter how major or minor just mail it in to them and they’ll resolve it. Anything to pay? Nope. Free of charge! This says a lot about their confidence in both the product and the company.
The backpack comes in 2 sizes: either S/M or M/L. To get the correct size for your body type, simply follow the sizing guide on Ospreys website.
We also found this guide to airlines and their corresponding criteria for hand luggage acceptance.
If there is one piece of advice we could give to anyone in search of a new backpack, it’s that the Osprey Farpoint 40 is definitely worth your consideration!