The author of this review, Nate, holding his Osprey Porter 46 L travel backpack

Osprey Porter 46 Review (My Honest Take After 61 Countries)

If you are looking for an honest Osprey Porter 46 review, I promise you won’t find a more experienced Osprey Porter tester than me.

How can I be so sure?

Because over the past decade, I’ve taken my Osprey Porter 46 backpack to more than 60 countries across 6 continents. I’ve taken the bag through the Amazon jungle, over the hills of Nepal, backpacking Europe’s hostel scene (4 times), through the beaches of Mexico, over the Andes in South America, on a road trip in Tasmania, on safari in Kenya, to a wedding in Nigeria … I could go on, but you get the point.

I travel full time for a living, so I’ve really put my Osprey porter through some serious hands-on, real-world testing!

So, after all that testing, and after comparing it to the best travel backpacks and bags I could find, how does the Osprey Porter backpack hold up?

Disclosure: Travel Lemming is an independent reader-supported blog. You can support us by purchasing via the affiliate links on this page, which may earn us commissions. See our Advertising Policy for further explanation. Thank you!

#1 Pick
Osprey Porter 46L

I've personally taken this bag to over 60 countries, and it's held up remarkably well! A timeless design and durable construction, backed by Osprey's famous "All Mighty Guarantee," is why this is the popular bag you will see in Europe's hostels. If on a budget but can't sacrifice quality, choose the Osprey Porter.

Click for Best Price

Osprey Porter 46 Review Summary

The author standing to the side modeling the Osprey backpack
For sizing perspective, consider I am very tall (6 foot, 3 inches)

👉 My bottom line on the Osprey Porter 46: the Osprey Porter is a solid all-around backpack for travelers who need more space, including long-term travelers, and digital nomads. It offers the versatility and functionality of a backpack but the style and ease of a porter bag or suitcase. It can be strapped down to carry-on luggage size, or it can expand to hold more volume than most of its competitors. If you’re on the fence, don’t overthink it. You can’t go wrong buying the Osprey Porter.

Who is it right for: I would personally highly recommend this backpack to most travelers looking for a good all-around backpacking backpack that fits in the overhead space of a plane.

Who is it NOT right for: It honestly might not be a good fit for hardcore hikers who need a little more serious backpack for handling the wilderness, given the relatively thin padding on the shoulder straps. If you’re in this boat, I’d check out the Salkan Backpacker instead.

💵 Pricing: Most importantly to me, the Osprey Porter is very affordable considering how long it will last you.

🎒 Alternatives: With that said, there are other backpacks out there. Travel Lemming’s writers have tested other travel bags that offer newer designs that arguably beat the Osprey Porter in some respects. One of these is the Salkan Backpacker, which is more of a hiking or backpacking backpack that offers more comfortable carrying straps. To consider these bags further, jump to the section below Osprey Porter Alternatives.

#1 Pick
Osprey Porter 46L

I've personally taken this bag to over 60 countries, and it's held up remarkably well! A timeless design and durable construction, backed by Osprey's famous "All Mighty Guarantee," is why this is the popular bag you will see in Europe's hostels. If on a budget but can't sacrifice quality, choose the Osprey Porter.

Click for Best Price

Full Osprey Porter Review

An Osprey Porter and an Osprey Daylite bag sitting against a tree
I took this photo of my bags while waiting for my hostel bed to free up in Amsterdam

After 60+ countries across six continents, I have a lot to say about the Osprey Porter 46 backpack! So let’s dive right into the nitty gritty of why I think this is the best casual travel bag out there:


For such a simple-looking bag, this backpack is loaded with features you’d usually find on much more high-end backpacks. Here’s a quick rundown of the key features and specs:

  • Cost: affordable (Check best price direct from Osprey, or on Amazon).
  • Gender: Unisex
  • Colors: Black, Castle Grey, Diablo Red, Mineral Teal
  • Pockets: top pocket, laptop sleeve (up to 15 inch), stowaway pocket for straps
  • Features: straitjacket compression for packing, stowaway hip belt and shoulder straps for better weight distribution, side grab handles
  • Adds ons: D-ring attachment for adding an additional shoulder strap, Osprey Daylite backpack compatibility

Technical Details and Specifications

Nate holding his Osprey Porter backpack with a single hand
The Porter has side and top handles, which make it easy to carry with a single hand
  • Size: 46 liters, 2,807 square inches
  • Dimensions: 25 x 15 x 13 inches
  • Weight: 3.3 lbs (1.5 kgs)
  • Materials: Recycled 500D Nylon Packcloth PFC
  • Warranty: Backed by the Osprey “All Mighty Guarantee”

Pros of the Osprey Porter

  • Carry-on size (if not over-packed)
  • Affordable
  • Lightweight
  • Rugged design 
  • Lifetime guarantee 
  • One very large and easy to use pocket 
  • Simple and stylish look 
  • Convenient straitjacket compression 
  • Easy to attach daypack 

Look, there is a lot to love about this backpack. And in the six years I’ve been using it, Osprey has continued to make improvements over the model I purchased (e.g., by adding a laptop sleeve in the 2021 edition).

First, it’s a perfect size. Just check out my around-the-world packing list to see how much stuff I managed fit inside it. The compression straps really help!

Second, my absolute favorite thing about the Osprey Porter 46 liter backpack is that it easily and quickly converts from a backpack that you can comfortably carry on your shoulders to a porter bag.

Why is that important?

Well, for one thing, it means you can check this bag, put it under a bus, or store it somewhere without worry that your backpack straps are going to snag something. But it is also the perfect bag for those times when you don’t want to “look” like a dirty backpacker who just rolled out of a hostel dorm bed with a huge bag on your back.

I also love that you can attach any Osprey Daylite daypack to the back of the bag and carry them together. It’s a perfect and affordable complement to the porter backpack.

Nate with carrying his Osprey Daylite Backpack
Me with the Osprey Daylite daypack

It is also an enormously rugged pack and I’ve really put it through the ringer. I’ve taken it through the jungles of South America, the mountains near Denver, Colorado, backpacking through Europe, and hundreds of other places! Heck, I even had it with me when I was doused with water during Thailand’s Songkran festival (and I still managed to keep my electronics dry!).

Cons of the Osprey Porter

  • Not built for hiking/camping
  • Very minimal harness
  • Not much padding on shoulder straps or hip belt
  • Minimal pockets 
  • Zippers can get caught 

There’s not a whole lot that I would change about the it, but no backpack is perfect. For one thing, the fact that the shoulder straps and hip belt hideaway carries a downside. The shoulder and waist straps by necessity don’t have as much padding as you might find on a more serious hiking backpack.

This means that, while the bag is comfortable for general carrying or even short distance hikes, after a few kilometers the straps start to pull at my back a bit. So if you’re just planning to walk around cities or do some very light hiking, it’s fine. For anything more hardcore, you need a more serious backpack. That’s the price you pay for the hideaway feature, though!

Another drawback of the Osprey bag is that it doesn’t have a bunch of pockets. You’ll find a thin zippered mesh pocket on the flap for the main compartment, a laptop compartment in the newer models, an easy-access top pocket (perfect for quick access to shoes or an umbrella), and another thin zippered front pocket on the exterior. There is also a back panel pocket to hideaway the straps. Besides that, the main compartment is where you will store 90% of your stuff.

Compared to the many great organization features on a bag like the Salkan Backpacker, that’s pretty minimalistic. Personally, I find it easier to pack my bag with one big pocket, but it does mean you have to pay more attention to organizing your stuff. If you’re the type who likes to stay highly organized, I suggest picking up a set of Osprey’s packing cubes. Using packing cubes can give you the best of both worlds.

Lastly, the only annoyance I’ve ever had with this bag is that sometimes the zippers catch on the little slip of material that’s meant to protect them. It can be a pain to get them uncaught, but it’s only happened a few times in six years of traveling.

#1 Pick
Osprey Porter 46L

I've personally taken this bag to over 60 countries, and it's held up remarkably well! A timeless design and durable construction, backed by Osprey's famous "All Mighty Guarantee," is why this is the popular bag you will see in Europe's hostels. If on a budget but can't sacrifice quality, choose the Osprey Porter.

Click for Best Price

Osprey Porter 30 vs 46

Like the the Osprey Porter 46, but looking for a smaller bag? Luckily for you, Osprey also makes a 30 liter version of the same backpack.

Check out Taylor’s full Osprey Porter 30 review for more details, but here is the quick summary:

Osprey Porter 30Osprey Porter 46
Volume30 L46 L
Dimensions19.69H X 12.6W X 7.87D IN.21.5H X 14W X 9D IN.
Weight2.822 LBS.3.263 LBS

As you can see, essentially the differences come down to size.

If you’re looking for something with a little more differentiation on other feature points, be sure to check out the Osprey Porter alternatives in our next section:

Alternative Backpacks to the Osprey 46

Author sitting with several alternative travel backpacks, looking out over mountains
I have tested many backpacks so I could compare them for you!

I love the Osprey Porter, and have for years. But a lot changes in a decade, and since I started traveling, we’ve seen some newer and more innovative backpack companies put out some pretty awesome alternatives to the Osprey Porter.

I stand by my Osprey Porter 46 review, and still think it is the best option for those on a budget. But, if you have the cash to splash, here are some alternative travel backpacks to consider instead:

Salkan’s The Backpacker

My Current Bag
The Backpacker by Salkan

The Salkan is the most comfortable backpack I've found. The straps and weight distribution are unbelievable - it barely feels like I'm carrying it!

I also love that it's BOTH front and top loading and the customizable colors.

Note: You can get the main bag alone, or the "Backpacker" bundle with Salkan's stylish daypack.

Click for Best Price Full Review

I recently switched out my Osprey Porter to try out this bag instead. Like Osprey, Salkan offers a very solid 2-in-1 backpack/daypack combo system. In a lot of ways, it’s pretty similar to the Porter, but I find that Salkan is much easier to carry because of all that comfortable padding. If you’re just going for a minimalist look or are on a budget, though, the Osprey Porter is probably still you’re best bet.

Read more in my full Salkan Backpacker review.

Topo Designs Global Travel Bag

One downside to the Osprey Porter is the relative lack of compartments. If you’d prefer a backpack with more pockets and storage spaces, the Topo Designs Global Travel Bag might be a good alternative to consider.

Travel Lemming writer Sky recently tested it out on a 3 month trip to Portugal, and loves the handy organization features. She also commented on the backpack’s sturdy construction and comfortable carrying system. You can read her full Topo Designs Global Travel Bag Review for more information on whether this might be the right bag for you.

Tortuga Travel Backpack

If you’re looking for a high quality premium backpack that is carry-on compliant for most airlines, then check out the Tortuga Travel Backpack.

Abigail recently did a full review of the Tortuga Travel Backpack, and was impressed by its organizational and comfort features.

Like the Osprey Porter, the Tortuga Travel Backpack loads from the front. But it also adds quite a bit more cushion and padding compared to the Osprey, so may be a worthy alternative if you are concerned about carrying the bag for longer periods of time.

Osprey Atmos 50

Best Hiking Backpack
Osprey Atmos 65 Backpack

A well rated hiking backpack that comes in three sizes. A good alternative if you are planning to backpack outdoors, or if you need more space.

Check Price on Amazon Check Price on Osprey
04/24/2023 05:51 am GMT

Like I said, if you plan on doing a lot of outdoor stuff, the Osprey Porter maybe is NOT for you. Instead, check out the Osprey Atmos 50 backpacking backpack:

  • Same Osprey quality as the Porter 46
  • Built specifically for camping and hiking
  • Tons of pockets, organizers, and compartments
  • More comfortable harness

Osprey Fairpoint 55

Best Large Bag
Osprey Farpoint 55L

You've got plenty of space to add some extras to your pack! Though I prefer to travel light, for travelers who want more space, this is the best travel backpack for Europe. Men's and Women's versions available. Plus, it comes with Osprey's lifetime guarantee.

Click for Best Price Full Review

I’m a big believer in packing minimally, but some people just have more stuff to carry! Need a little more room than what the Osprey Porter 46 has to offer? Then I suggest upgrading to the Osprey Farpoint 55:

  • Tons of space for all your stuff
  • Osprey’s lifetime guarantee
  • Solid construction
  • Also combines with Osprey Daylite Daypack

For more details, see Sky’s hands-on Osprey Farpoint review.

🧳Read Next: Best Carry On Sized Suitcases

Recommended Addition: Osprey Daylite Daypack

The author with the Osprey Daylite day bag
I actually own two of these day bags – one blue and one orange!

If you buy the Porter, I strongly suggest also purchasing Osprey’s Daylite Daypack, which is designed as a companion to the Osprey Porter.

I’ve traveled with this pack + day bag combo for 6 years and I love it! The Daylite Daypack can be strapped into the Osprey Porter 46 through the proprietary Osprey locking system so that you can carry them as a single unit.

Second, it’s an awesome daypack in its own right. Here are some of its great features:

  • Can be strapped into Porter bag!
  • Super lightweight
  • Slip pocket for laptops
  • Water resistant coating
  • Affordably priced
  • Lots of space (I fit my drone, laptop, and a full size camera inside!)

If you’re taking the Osprey Porter 46 traveling, you’ll also need a daypack for your days out exploring, so this is the perfect combo.

Final Verdict

The Osprey Porter 46 is a really solid backpack for most travelers who need a casual bag that they can carry on their backs.

I’d call it more of a “flashpacker” backpack than a traditional backpack, since it sort of straddles the line between a normal backpacking backpack and a porter bag or suitcase.

It is a great backpack for solo travelers, long travelers, families traveling with kids, or just about anyone doing casual international travel.

About the only people I would not recommend this bag for are hardcore outdoor enthusiasts. The bag simply isn’t made for multi-day long hikes through the wilderness. For that, you should get a more full-featured hiking backpack.

But for just about everyone else, after 60+ countries and some serious memories, I still am in love with this backpack.

FAQs About the Osprey Porter

How much can you fit in Osprey Porter 46?

The Osprey Porter 46 fits 46 liters worth of volume, hence the name. To understand how much this is, consider that a standard carry-on roller suitcase fits about 35-40 liters. I took the Osprey Porter to over 60 countries, and managed to fit all my clothes, 3 pairs of shoes, a jacket, and more into the bag, making it one of my favorite travel backpacks.

Can you carry on the Osprey Porter 46?

The Osprey Porter 46 is carry-on friendly. If overstuffed, it may struggle to fit in some airplane overhead bins, but if packed properly using the included compression straps, it should comply with most airline carry-on requirements. I have personally carried the bag onto more than 100 flights.

Is Osprey a good backpack?

Overall, the Osprey line of backpacks is very high quality and Osprey packs generally receive high marks in customer reviews. I have taken my Osprey Porter backpack to more than 60 countries over a decade, and it has proved remarkably durable and timeless.

How do you attach an Osprey Daylite to a Porter 46?

The Osprey Daylite daypack can be attached to the Osprey Porter 46 backpack by connecting the Tri Glide Slider buckles to the attachment points and then tightening the straps.

How do you pack an Osprey Porter 46?

Packing an Osprey Porter 46 backpack is easy, as there is only a single main compartment. You open it from the long side of the backpack (laying it flat like a suitcase) and then pack it with your clothes and items. Overall, the Osprey 46 packing experience is relatively similar to packing a carry on suitcase, with minimal pockets. For more organization, consider getting a set of Osprey’s packing cubes.


What do you think? Have you tried out the Osprey Porter? Or are you thinking about one of the alternative travel backpacks I mentioned?

Scroll down and leave me a comment to let me know your experience.

Don’t like the Osprey Porter? Check out my post on the best backpacks for Europe to see if there is something else that suits your needs!

I hope my Osprey Porter 46 review has helped you!

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Osprey Porter 46

The Osprey Porter 46 is a solid option for backpackers looking for a lot of space while remaining carry on compliant. The bag offers a timeless minimalist design and durable constructions backed by the Osprey All Might Guarantee. It lacks the pockets and organizational features of competitors, but in comparison is priced affordably. Overall, it is a very well rounded travel backpack.

Product Brand: Osprey

Product In-Stock: InStock

Editor's Rating:


  1. The hip belt on the Porter 46 is useless. Way too small and doesn’t cover enough of your hips.
    It is very hard to stow away the shoulder straps and hip belt when the bag is packed full. Which is what it will be when traveling.
    The panel against your back when wearing the pack is uncomfortable and gets very hot.
    The compression straps do work well in compressing the bag when getting on a plane. Overall, I am not a fan of the Porter 46 after my experience traveling with it.

    1. Thanks for sharing your perspective! For sure the hip belt is small, as this is definitely not marketed as a serious hiking backpack. But I’ve found it does help to distribute the weight for me. It’s not supposed to cover your hips, just re-distribute some of the weight. I haven’t had any problems at all fitting the straps in the bag, having done it hundreds of times over a decade. Any bag is going to function less effectively when overstuffed. The Osprey Porter fits 46L, and if you try to fit more than that in it, it’ll of course degrade in useability. My honest suggestion would be to consider a larger bag. Again, thank you for reading and sharing your perspective!

  2. I think the panel on the Porter 46 that your back is against gets very hot and doesn’t breathe at all. The compression straps are great on the Porter for getting on smaller planes overhead compartments.
    Do you know anything about the Cotopaxi 42?
    I just bought one but haven’t used it yet.
    Also, what about the Osprey Far point 40?
    That seems to have a better harness and stowaway setup.

  3. Hey, thanks for your info on the Porter. I havevthe Porter and the daylite, do you carry on both of these strapped together when boarding? Just curious how to go about it , Thanks.

    1. Typically I put the Daylite under the seat and the Porter in overhead bin. You can carry them strapped together, but I often found it easier to just carry the Daylit in my hand when boarding.

  4. Hi, I have kind of the same question as Greg. Do airlines accept you having 2 bags? The porter + the daylite? Also, does it have a raincover? Where do you keep your water bottle? I wish this one had the waist belt and meshing of the farpoint.

    1. Hi Thomas – most airlines allow a carry on bag that goes in the overhead bin, as well as a personal item you can put under your seat. The Porter is the carry on bag, the Daylite the personal item. Note that some airlines charge for carry on bags, and some budget airlines even charge for personal items (though that is rare).

  5. I have been toggling back and forth from Porter 30 to 46 only because I see a mix of reviews with regards to the risk of an airline will require you to check in the bag. Some comments says that the 46 is pushing the limits and all. I think the 30 is somewhat small for me and I could a little more space that the 46 provides but worried that it could become a headache in the end as do not want to check in any of my bags.

    1. Hi Audie – I’ve taken the Osprey Porter 46 as a carry on on many airlines around the world. It’s true that it won’t always be accepted but it depends on two things. First, the country involved. For the US, it should be fine as a carry on. For some foreign countries, carry on limits are smaller. Second, in all cases it depends on how much you pack it. The bag is very expandable and if you stuff it to the brim, it’s going to push beyond the carry on limits. But if you use the compression straps and keep it slender, it should be fine.

  6. Hi! Love this in depth overview of the Osprey 46L. Do you have any thoughts on the new Sojourner version? I am debating if I need to try to find a used older version or if I should go with the new one. From what I’ve read it sounds like the new Sojourner is not necessarily an improvement?

    1. Hi Briana – that’s a great question – it seems Osprey has recently rebranded the Porter as the Sojourn Porter. I will look into the differences for sure, and report back.

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