When it comes to travel backpacks, you really can’t go wrong with a pack from Osprey. Founded in 1974, they’re one of the longest standing quality travel pack manufacturers with a great selection of packs to suit your needs. Both of the packs reviewed here come in a number of colourways, as well as multiple size options – but we’re focusing on the 46L Porter and 40L Farpoint specifically.
The Osprey Porter 46 and Farpoint 40 are our two favourites currently being made by Osprey. They’re quite similar, both being quality travel packs with a number of nifty features unique to themselves. While some of these features may seem gimmicky or minor, they will without a doubt make your adventures just that extra bit smoother and less worrisome.
Now, let’s get a little bit deeper into the Porter 46 vs Farpoint 40.
Both of these packs are large, yet compact backpacks suited incredibly well to travel and adventure. They’re carry-on friendly, especially with their stow-away harnesses and back straps. You’ll have no issue getting on a tight airplane or small bus with these packs. There isn’t much of a difference in price either, with the Farpoint 40 being only a little more expensive than the Porter 46.
Where the Porter offers padded sidewalls and a vertical, zippered front pocket for easy access items; the Farpoint counters with internal LightWire frame suspension to help shift weight and load from the shoulder straps to the hipbelt.
Both backs also have U-Zip, rectangular, open-style main sections where one could fit a small sleeping bag, shoes, large items like camping equipment or tools, etc. These large internal sections makes for great all-access packing, where you don’t need everything compartmentalized and organised, and instead need space for smart and efficient packing.
There are, however, extra zippered sections on each for compartmentalized storage. We find this bit-of-both approach ideal for travel, allowing you to pack how you want, where you want.
Each of these packs come with a number of shared features unique to Osprey packs. On top of that, they also have their own pros and cons above one another.
For example, both packs are made from high-quality nylon, however the Farpoint 40 features ripstop nylon too, giving it a very slight material advantage over the Porter 46. This, however, is not make-or-break, and like most of these features, you simply have to choose whichever features will best suit your travel.
The Porter 46 is designed with horizontal-aligned ‘straight jacket’ straps around its body. These adjustable straps allow you to customize the depth of your pack (think ‘from your back, outward’) depending on what you’re carrying in it.
This means that if you’ve got a light load one day, you don’t have to have all this extra empty bag space flapping around. Simply pull the straps tight, and you’ll be met with a smaller, more comfortable pack where you won’t be left with any of your belongings flying around in your bag.
This is especially handy for those carrying electronic devices or equipment which could be damaged through impact.
The Farpoint 40 features a heat-embossed, scratch-free zippered slash pocket (a small, horizontal pocket along the top of the bag). This is meant for storage of glasses, pocket tech, or really anything that you may worry about getting scratched in your bag.
This nifty little addition is something we’ve rarely seen in backpacks, and really makes the Farpoint 40 stand out to us. To put it bluntly, we’re sunglasses freaks – this little pocket would cut down the number of polarized lenses we’ve lost to scratches during travel by one hundred percent.
Both the Porter 46 and Farpoint 20 come with laptop/tablet sleeves for easy, safe storage. The Farpoint offers a lockable sleeve in a compartment just behind the scratch-free slash pocket, and thanks to the size and safety of the pouch it could alternately be used to keep your travel documents in a filing folder instead.
Do note, however that the Farpoint’s laptop sleeve isn’t along the back panel – which is make or break for some travelers who prefer to keep their expensive belongings where they can feel them. This can also offset the weight in the bag if your laptop isn’t light.
The Porter 46, on the other hand, has a protected rear panel, lockable zip sleeve for your laptop or tablet. As well as being slightly padded, the Porter offers extra protection with its compression shell and straight jacket protection. The laptop sleeve also has a zippered mesh pocket for stashing extra important things, as well as being positioned close to your back for better weight distribution.
Due to the shape, size and design, however, the Farpoint 40 is a slightly more compact bag that’s a better choice if you’re going to be doing a lot of on-foot travel, especially if you’re not carrying too much with you. It’s got a more outdoors / hiking oriented design, with easy-access mesh front pockets and a smaller, more ergonomic form factor.
The Porter 46 on the other hand is a little more heavy-duty (only slightly), and better suited to someone who’s looking to carry equipment around with them in a mobile-setup style. This pack is slightly better suited to your travelling photographer or filmmaker, or anyone heading into the wilderness in a similar fashion. In addition, the Porter 46 offers the option of additional D-ring attachments for a shoulder strap (which is sold separately).
When asking which is better between the Osprey Porter 46 vs Farpoint 40, there’s really no straight answer. They’re very, very similar, only with slight differences which tailor them to your specific needs. If you’re going for size, the 46L is, of course, ideal, however there’s more than just size coming into play.
You may need more size, yet find the features of the Farpoint 40 more suited to your needs. This is great, as there are multiple size options available.
As a result, you’ve just gotta weigh up the options and go with your gut.