I've had my Osprey Porter 46 for a little over 6 months now and it's fabulous. It's kind of like when Goldilocks finally finds the bed that's just right. Other bags were too big, too small, too heavy, or too something else. This bag is just right.
It's carry-on compliant and will fit in a regular jet overhead compartment, even stuffed full. I've also been able to carry it on small, regional jets that have smaller overhead compartments, as long as I don't pack it full and cinch down the straps to make it smaller. Other travelers have to gate check their carry-ons on those small planes, but I just walk on through with my Porter without a second glance. It's great for saving time waiting for my bag and for making sure that I have a change of clothes when I get to my destination because I know my bag's not going to get lost if it's on the plane with me.
The backpack straps are comfortable enough for my purposes. I don't know that you'd want to hike miles and miles with them, but they're fine for walking around an airport, to and from a hotel, etc. I also really like that you can zip them away if you need to check the bag and don't want to worry about the straps getting damaged in the baggage handling process. The bag does not come with a shoulder strap if you want to carry it like a duffle, so I've used an REI Shoulder Strap for that.
It has a few pockets inside, enough to allow a little organization, but not too many to get in the way of being able to pack things the way I want. There's one pocket on the top flap, one along the long side of the bag, and a small one at the top of the bag that's great for your bag of liquids.
I like that the Porter has structure but is flexible. That means that it provides more protection for fragile items than a plain duffle and keeps the contents of the bag from becoming all jumbled, but also provides flexibility to cinch the bag down to fit in to smaller spaces and to keep everything in place when the bag's only partially full, which you can't do with a hard-sided carry-on.
I believe that my Porter is a previous generation, but when I checked out the new one at an REI store today, the only differences seem to be that the side pocket is fabric in the new version and mesh in my Porter and that the new version does not have a zipper on the outside to access the pocket on the opening flap. So, relatively minor differences, since the zipper on the outside isn't super helpful most of the time because the compression straps get in the way of opening the zipper.
In short, this is an amazing carry-on. I've used it by itself for carry-on only travel on shorter trips and in conjunction with a checked bag for longer trips and have been quite pleased when using it both ways.
Great for the Plane: A Portable Suitcase
So far I've had this backpack for two months and have used it on three trips - one week of train travelling through three countries, one week in the French Alps (did not use it for any hiking/activities - just to transport my things to where I was staying), and five days in the Brittany and Normandy regions of France. I'll begin by saying that its capacity is great; it's easy to fit everything needed. This backpack is really just like a regular carry-on suitcase but in backpack form - the whole bag is essentially the main pocket which can handle all your items packed any way you like. On the downside, it isn't very comfortable to carry. The shoulder straps leave a lot to be desired, and the hipbelt doesn't really do much. The bag can get uncomfortable and heavy if you have to do a fair amount of walking. In addition, it would have been nice to have included a small side pocket or two for a water bottle or other frequently used items. The best use of this bag is for airplane travel - use it as a suitcase that's easy to carry. The compression straps work really well and the D-Rings are useful for attaching much more than the intended daypack. However, on trains, buses, and for fast-paced travel/backpacking, I prefer another backpack (my Kelty Redwing 44) - the Porter 46 isn't practical enough for me on those types of trips since it doesn't have enough pockets and is too uncomfortable to be running through a train station or walking more than two or three kilometers. But for airplane travel it's perfect - the straps tuck away and nothing is able to be snagged or damaged, while all of your things are secure under the compression straps.
Overall: Perfect for trips where you're getting on an airplane then going right to your final destination and you want a sleek and easy-to-pack bag that works as a suitcase. For backpacking or faster-paced travel... Maybe think twice. It all depends on your intended use!
Awesome...but what's with the new model?
This pack is great. 5 stars for last year's pack, 4-stars for this year because they removed my favorite pocket :( (but it's still a great bag) It fits every overhead compartment while still fitting everything I need. I use the Eagle Creek Pack-it Cubes, and it will easily hold Pack-It cubes and a Folder-15, plus toiletries, jacket, Spare shoes, Laptop, etc. Downsides, it's not the easiest bag to fish your laptop and toiletry bag out of upon hitting the security checkpoint. Similarly, there aren't enough easily accessed pockets on the outside to keep your, book, tickets/itinerary, snacks, water, etc sorted. The last version at least had a zippered outside pocket on the front flap in addition to the top zippered pocket. The new version just has the top pocket. Why did Osprey do away with the front-flap pocket? They added in the same nylon liner/separator that last years model had, so there would be pocket space in there, but without the zipper to access it. Puzzling. Also, if you're planning on using it for legit backpacking, the back panel is gonna get you sweaty (caveat: my normal pack is an Atmos 50, so i'm a little spoiled) and the hip-belt is kindly worded as "minimalist". But for a versatile piece of luggage, this pack cannot be beat. I bought mine over a year ago, and I haven't touched my suitcase, or my other "traveling backpack" since. Business trips, vacations, adventures, weddings, funerals, I used this bag. So good, that my wife borrowed it, and bought one herself immediately upon returning home. Thanks to Osprey for another great pack.
Amazingly roomy carry-on!
My husband and I each bought a Porter 46 for our around-the-world trip that we're leaving on in a few weeks. This is the only bag we found that comfortably fit both of us, and met all of our other requirements. So far I've used it for a weekend trip, and it fit my clothes, accessories, electronics, jacket, AND my sleeping bag. The amazing compression system still allowed me to carry it on to the bus. We'll be carrying this bag on the plane on our trip. It's not the easiest bag to access when it's all cinched up, which I consider a positive safety attribute, although there is a small pocket on the top that is easier to access for you, but harder for others . It's comfortable to carry around as a backpack, but converts easily and quickly to a duffel for carrying on an airplane. The design keeps the weight close to your body, which makes it more comfortable, and I think it looks great! It's lightweight and extremely high quality. After years of looking for the perfect long-term travel backpack, I finally found it.
Great 1-2 week travel carry-on bag!
This bag was the biggest, most useful carry-on backpack bag we could find, for our 2.5 week trip to Europe. My wife and I bought one each, and with a medium camera bag and a medium purse, we could pack everything we needed for a 2.5 week long working holiday in Europe.
I did NOT want to have to deal with checked baggage, and wanted a good, stylish, large capacity carry-on backpack, and these fitted that need perfectly.
We loaded them with 2 laptops, one week's office clothes, casual clothes for 2 weeks vacation, toiletries, etc, etc. and it all fit in nicely once we used compression sacks for the clothes.
The ONLY small "negative" is that the little zipped pocket on the top of the bag is difficult to access when the main bag is full and cinched down with the compression straps, but this is a minor issue, as the main advantage of this bag is the large main compartment which can pack much more than what you'd expect from a carry-on legal size bag.
A Very Smart & Versatile Pack
I bought this Porter 46 on a whim to use my REI refund. I was looking for a pack that was versatile and could serve me in many different ways. As an EMT, I work long 16-24 hour shifts. This pack is perfect, I can fit all of my work things as well as my extra uniform. The large compartment opens up and makes finding items in the pack a synch. The zipper pocket on the inside of the main compartment allows me to separate smaller harder to find items. The top compartment I use to keep my keys/phone/lighter etc... This pack has also served me well on overnight trips to the city and I plan to use it as a carry on when I travel. I am certain I can pack for a 3-4 day trip no problem using this very handy pack. I also must comment on Osprey's always solid design and quality materials. This bag will serve me for years to come (its not my first Osprey, and it won't be my last!)
Perfect size for practical traveler
I generally use this bag with a couple packing cubes (Eagle Creek, for example) and can easily carry enough clothing for two weeks, plus 3-5 pairs of shoes. The pack holds its shape well without being too rigid, thus allowing you to squeeze that last item along the edge. I’ve always brought this bag as a carry-on and haven’t had any issues with size, even at capacity.Brought this bag to Italy last year during an train strike and had to walk along a steep hiking trail to the apartment. Since the shoulder straps are well-padded and there is a decent hip belt, I had no issues. Enough said.\While I don't want to paint with a broad brush, everyone everywhere should buy this bag.
Ditch the wheels and carry your stuff like a man!
Notwithstanding my review of the Osprey Shuttle 28L, I believe if you can't carry it on your back, you shouldn't be carrying it at all. I've used this bag all over the world. It's the perfect size for stowing in the overhead compartment, yet still has all kinds of room for your crap. I'm mildly addicted to Osprey's "straightjacket" system...it's great for protecting your gear and compressing it smaller. The stowaway backpack harness is pretty good...not great, but I'm not planning on summiting Kilimanjaro with it either. And it has the integral whistle in the sternum strap buckle...great for annoying my wife in the airport and making the grade-schooler sitting next to me jealous.
Amazing and versatile. Fits easily into overhead. If it isn't overstuffed it will go underneath the seat, sticks out a little. I packed for overnight and carried it like a shoulder bag. If you could plan well, you could put several days worth of clothes in it. I really like it. There are pockets for easy access to items you might need after it has been packed, like snacks and sunglasses. It's light and tough, where as a wheeled carry on is heavy and clumsy. There are netted pockets on the inside to keep stuff organized. Did I say I really like it.
Great Compact Travel Pack
I found this great little travel pack on the REI website. I checked it out at the Alderwood store before purchasing. I wanted a single easy to carry pack for a train trip and 4 night stay in Vancouver B.C. I couldn't have been happier with this travel pack. It was easy to pack and seemingly held much more than I expected. It was comfortable to carry and easy to handle on the train. I particularly like that the straps all tuck neatly out of sight when you want to use the carry handles. Very convenient!