Travel Gear Review: Osprey Farpoint 70 Backpack
I'm a digital nomad — so my luggage is my home. After one fateful trip dragging a rolling suitcase around Turkey, I quickly learned that rolling suitcases don't fit my travel style. I've tried many duffle bags and backpacks since, but rejected each for various reasons and have been using the Osprey Farpoint 70 for the last eight months. Here's my take on this popular travel backpack.
The Osprey Farpoint comes in four capacities: 40 liters, 55 liters, 70 liters and 80 liters. The 55- and 70-liter versions are similar and consist of a paired backpack and a day pack, while the 40- and 80-liter versions consist of just a backpack. I've been using the Farpoint 70, so this will focus on that version.
The Farpoint 70 is priced at $200 and comes in two colors: Jasper Red and Volcanic Gray. There are two sizes to choose from: S/M for torso heights of 15 to 19 inches and M/L for torso heights of 18 to 22 inches. I can compare both, since I have the S/M and my husband JT has the M/L. Both backpacks are lightweight, with the S/M weighing three pounds 12 ounces and the M/L weighing three pounds 15 ounces.
The S/M backpack measures 24 inches by 13 inches by 13 inches, while the M/L measures 26 inches by 14 inches by 13 inches. The two extra inches in height on the M/L make a difference, as the S/M will usually fit straight into a standard overhead compartment, while the M/L often needs to be angled to fit. Although the depth can be decreased by packing less, the height and width are set due to the backpack's internal frame.
The Farpoint 70 is made with 210-denier ripstop nylon and 600-denier packcloth. It's durable and backed up by Osprey's generous "All Mighty Guarantee." Under this guarantee, Osprey will repair — or replace if a repair isn't possible — any damage or defect for any reason free of charge for the life of the bag. I've taken advantage of this guarantee on a different bag and found the repair to be quick and high-quality. The only cost was shipping it to Osprey.
The backpack has one lockable heavy-duty zipper that zips 3/4 of the way around the backpack. This effectively opens the backpack like a suitcase.
Although the zipper top has a large mesh pocket, there is only one large 53 (S/M) or 55 (M/L) liter compartment. I've found that packing cubes help with organizing items in this large compartment. There are also two internal compression straps that help keep everything in place.
The main pack has two hardy carry handles, one on the top and one on the side. There are also loops for attaching a sleeping pad or other rolled items — yoga mats seem to be a popular accessory for others with the bag — to the outside of the pack, but I removed these as I didn't find them useful.
One significant way in which the Farpoint excels over many of its competitors — including other Osprey products such as the Ozone and Porter families — is in its carry system. The carry system is composed of the hip belt and harness. Most travel backpacks have hip belts and harnesses, but the Farpoint has a wide, effective hip belt that's able to move most of the backpack's weight from your shoulders to your hips. Plus, the harness includes an adjustable chest strap and load-lifter straps so the pack's fit can be customized.
The hip belt and harness stow away behind a zippered panel when needed. This is great for protecting the carry system when the bag is checked-in for a flight. Although the carry system isn't up to the quality of Osprey's overnight hiking backpacks, it's the best I've seen on a travel backpack.
The day pack is a mere 15 liters. The largest pocket has lockable zippers, as well as a padded 15-inch laptop sleeve and a smaller tablet sleeve. There's enough room to put a jacket or change of clothing in this pocket as well.
There's a smaller pocket on the front of the backpack. This pocket is large enough for sunglasses or a cell phone. There's also a clip in this pocket for securing a key ring. The only other pockets on the day pack are two water bottle pockets on the front of the bag. Tall water bottles fall out easily and the pockets become useless when the bag is full.
The harness on the backpack is comfortable, as the straps are padded and there's an adjustable chest strap. The chest strap has a safety whistle. There's no waist strap to help with heavier packs or running to catch a flight.
While wearing the main backpack on your back, there are two recommended ways to carry the companion day pack.
The first option is to zip and then clip the day pack onto the backpack. Although this leaves your arms empty, it means nothing is within reach. This also makes your backpack very big and — in my experience — moves your center of mass noticeably further back when carrying electronics in the day pack.
The second option — which was a large selling point for me — is to 'turtle' the backpack. There are clips on the backpack and day pack that allow the day pack to hang from the backpack in front of you. Once you've done it a few times, clipping and unclipping the bag is easy — and having your day pack in front evens out the weight and keeps your valuables right in front of you.
The Road Test
I've been carrying my S/M Farpoint 70 around the world for the last eight months. The backpack has held up well despite being checked on about 80 flights — the only notable wear is slight fraying on the external compression straps and a tiny hole near the bottom of the bag. The photos throughout this article are after 8 months of use.
Admittedly, I abandoned the day pack and replaced it with a larger, better organized day pack. Although I rarely fill the larger day pack, the 15-liter day pack is simply too small and has too few pockets to hold and organize the electronics, jacket, water bottle and other items I want to carry on board flights. Unfortunately, this larger day pack isn't a companion to the Farpoint, so it can't be turtled or zipped onto the main Farpoint pack.
I settled into how I pack the main backpack and quickly became accustomed to having just one large compartment. I got the bag's carry system customized just right, so it was comfortable to carry even for longer distances. The comfortable carry system and how easily the harness and hip belt stow away are my favorite parts of the Farpoint 70.
The Farpoint 70 has a lot going for it. It's lightweight yet durable and Osprey will repair it "no matter what." The hip belt effectively moves most weight from your shoulders to your hips. Plus, although it's technically too large to be a carry-on, I've never had issues bringing it on-board. However, the day pack is simply too small, doesn't have enough pockets and lacks a usable water bottle storage area.
Although I ditched the partner day pack, the Osprey Farpoint 70 is still the best fit for me in terms of comfort, capacity and durability.
If you're looking to buy an Osprey Farpoint for yourself, I recommend going to REI Co-op to try on different sizes. I bought my Farpoint 70 backpack from REI since it has a 100% satisfaction guarantee under which you can return any item within a year and get a full refund.
Don't forget to use a credit card that has price protection. Although I bought my backpack through REI, I was able to price match it to an online retailer which was selling the pack for just $122 — a savings of $78 off the retail price while still getting the benefits of REI's guarantee.