I haven’t posted anything in a while, so lets start with a Gear Review…
I admit, I’m a bag whore. I like bags, book bags, back packs, day packs, etc. I have a collection of them and like to think I am quite knowledgeable about what makes a good bag. I also travel a lot for work, domestically and internationally, and was constantly looking for a good bag that would work as a small carry-on for aircraft and a shoulder/EDC bag for carrying my crap around when I travel.
In this quest for the perfect EDC bag, I tried several, from messenger bags to laptop bags, two different PacSafe shoulder bags and finally the Osprey Ozone Courier Bag. This is, so far, the best bag I’ve bought as far as an EDC/Travel bag. I had carried a PacSafe bag for a couple years now because of the security features (more on that below), but as a guy, the only options were the bag I had or a back-pack type bag, nothing that was “just a little bit larger”. The Osprey fits the bill being around 30% larger. Where before I had to clip some of my travel junk (water bottle, Bose headset case) now everything fits inside the bag.
Of course, more stuff in the bag means more weight on the shoulder, whether you’re carrying it across the chest of directly on the shoulder, I also have to schlep around a medium sized Pelican case full of test gear when I travel for work, so I tend to wear one on each side, their respective straps across my chest making me look a bit like a bandito with my bandoliers across my chest. It helps I have a large, curly handlebar moustache adding to that look. Osprey did well with the shoulder pad. On the PacSafe I was using, I had a LOT of trouble with the pad rolling so that the padding was up, or sliding around the sling off my chest. I’ve now carried the Osprey on it’s maiden voyage, 30 hours each way to and from Taipei, plus carried it around Taipei for a week of walking and adventure, and the pad stayed in place pretty much ALL the time. Makes for MUCH happier shoulders!
The external handle is… well, a handle, you know how they work, they’re for carrying the bag. The water bottle pockets are big enough to hold my 32oz wide mouth HydroFlask, and if you’ve ever seen one of those, you know how wide they are. AND the bag has TWO of those pockets, which came in very handy for carrying drinking water and quick access to an umbrella for those fast appearing Taipei rainstorms. Another HUGE plus for this bag is the “handle” that velcros down to the back of the bag. This is meant for slipping over the trolley handles of your rollaboard luggage and it works great. I really, REALLY appreciate that Osprey put this feature into a carry bag because I had to often resort to using carabiners to clip my other carry bags to the suitcase so I didn’t have to wear them while on those long, long layovers in various airports. Finally, the back is also padded, and the padding has channels to help with ventilation. The padding is also a welcome feature that makes wearing the bag comfortable all day long.
Now, inside the bag. There are two zippers into the main compartment. The rearmost one is a full width zipper that allows you full access to not one, but TWO padded pockets. One is large enough for most 13″ laptops, meaning I can now upgrade my 11″ Macbook Air to a new 13″. The 13″ wouldn’t fit in my PacSafe, so I bought the 11″ specifically because of that. (Yes, weird, I know). The second padded/mesh pocket is perfect for smaller electronics like tablets and e-readers. In front of that is some very generous main-compartment space that is big and deep enough to hold all my travel stuff: Bose Headset case, shemagh, inflatable neck pillow, cables for the MBA and iPhone, etc..
The secondary zipper for the main compartment allows you access to the front of the main area without having to open up to your laptop. It is a nice convenience feature that is often overlooked. And the shape (an inverted U) means you can open up the main pocket REALLY wide to see what you’re getting after.
Ahead of the secondary zipper is a 1/2 width zipper that opens up a mesh pocket that sits between the main compartment and the front compartment. This is a perfect pocket for stashing snacks, pill bottles and other things you will want to access, but may not want to have to dig around everything else for. The pocket itself is as deep as the bag, and as wide.
Now we come to the front pocket. This one is about half to 2/3 the height of the bag, almost full width and separate from the other compartments. This is the place you’ll keep keys, tickets, passport, etc. For starters, you can fit a LOT of stuff in this pocket. I kept pens, passport, candy, nasal spray, small pill case, tickets, (wallet and watch when going through security), small notebook, Mio for my water, cough drops, sunglasses, reading glasses, pocket change, foreign currency for my arrival and a few other bits and bobs. The front pocket has a key clip that is ok, unless you have a larger keyring. The clip could be a bit larger, but it worked for me.
My biggest complaint about this bag overall is that the front pocket doesn’t have more smaller internal organizer pockets. The front compartment is divided in half by a divider that has two passport sized pockets and two pen sized pockets and that’s it. I would have liked a couple more internal pockets (maybe one for change to keep it from just loosely flying around). I would liked some sort of mesh, stretchy pocket as well. BUT, that’s really a minor quibble.
My only other complaint about this bag is that it’s not lined, so when you’re looking inside each compartment, you are looking at the fabric of the outside of the bag. In this case, the fabric is black and grey, dark and neutral colors. I would rather it have a bright inside lining to make locating things in the dark a bit easier. I realize that would add a bit of weight, but honestly shouldn’t add TOO much weight. But again, that’s a minor quibble.
I’ve now carried this bag, as i mentioned before, half-way around the world and back. Through airports, foreign cities and subways, and even back home. I’ve had several bags for this use, and of them all, so far, the Osprey is my absolute favorite. It has a couple minor flaws, but otherwise, in my experience is a perfect travel/EDC shoulder bag.