Why the Osprey Sojourn is the best backpack for travel!

Backpack or suitcase? Straps or wheels? 60 L or 80 L? What is the best backpack for travel? These are questions I debated back and forth before setting out on this most recent trip around Europe. I’m now the proud owner of an Osprey Sojourn 80L wheeled backpack, but getting here was quite the story.

Osprey Sojourn 80L Wheeled Backpack - The best backpack for travel

Deciding on the Osprey Sojourn Backpack

When I first set out on my big 15-month round-the-world trip I carried a 60L backpack. Even though the size of my pack forced me to adopt a minimalist packing style, I still found the weight to be a little too much for me. Sure, it was super convenient because I didn’t have to worry about staircases, uneven terrain, or cobbled streets, but I have a small frame and I found that if I had to carry my backpack longer than 10 minutes I would end up with really sore shoulders.

For this next trip, I knew I would be gone 5-6 months and I couldn’t bear the thought of hauling around a backpack again, so I took a bit of a gamble and decided to pack a suitcase.

That was a mistake.

My suitcase (which was designed by a pretty well-known airline!) lasted a grand total of 1 month. First one of the wheels exploded (how does that even happen?), and then a second wheel got filed down by rough pavement to the point where it wasn’t even round anymore. Not only did the wheels let me down, but I also found it really difficult to use a suitcase to get around Europe. The lack of escalators in the metro system (I’m looking at you Paris!), the construction and renovations along major streets, and the compact apartment buildings with no elevators (try hauling a suitcase up to the 6th floor!) made it a bit of a pain to get around.

By the time I arrived in Amsterdam in August, I was dragging a limp suitcase that no longer rolled. I needed a new piece of luggage ASAP so my first order of business was to get myself to a travel equipment store and find the best backpack for travel.

Osprey Sojourn 80L Wheeled Backpack, in my opinion, the best backpack for travel.

So what is the best backpack for travel?

There’s a wheeled backpack that I have been eyeing for well over a year and even though it comes with a bit of a heavy price tag, I was kind of hoping they would have it in the store. Well, imagine my surprise when I walked into the shop and right at the centre of their display was the Osprey Sojourn Wheeled Luggage (28-Inch/80L) tantalizing me with its straps-and-wheels combo – the best of both worlds. 

I did a look around the store to see if there were any similar models out there, but in the end I knew which one I wanted. Retailing at $319 USD this is easily the most expensive piece of luggage I have ever purchased, but considering this wheeled backpack is like my home and carries my possessions from place to place, I figured it was a worthy expense. I bought it and have now been using it for 2 months – so far it’s been a dream!

Is the Osprey Sojourn the best backpack for travel?


Why I think the Osprey Sojourn is the best backpack for travel:

It is a backpack and a suitcase rolled into one. 

The thing I love most about this bag is the versatility. I wheel it around most of the time, but if I ever encounter stairs or uneven ground, I know that I can pull out the straps and use it as a backpack. These are two key functions that I think any piece of luggage should have. I’m still amazed that there aren’t more brands designing this suitcase / backpack crossover.

It has large wheels.

The wheels on this suitcase are big! I think back on the little wheels of my old suitcase that let me down, and it’s no wonder they didn’t last me. The ones on the Osprey are made for the road.

It’s a tough bag.

Everything from the material to the zippers feels really strong and ready to withstand whatever you throw at it. So far my Osprey Sojourn has been hauled up trains, thrown in coaches, and endured that mysterious journey down airport conveyor belts. She’s still going strong.

It has lots of little compartments.

The Osprey Sojourn has two long compartments that run on either side of the bag’s interior, and as well as smaller compartments (one on the back and one on the front) of the bag. This combined with packing cubes makes it really easy to keep everything in there organized.

It comes in different sizes.

Since I tend to go on longer trips and I often have to pack for more than one season, the 80L Osprey Sojourn backpack is great for me, but they also have a smaller 60L model that works for shorter trips or light packers.

The verdict? This bag is so good that now even Sam wants to swap his old Osprey backpack for the Osprey Sojourn Wheeled Luggage. I think that says it all.

Related: 101 Gift Ideas for Travellers

Osprey Sojourn Review: Best backpack for long-term travel

*This post does contain some affiliate links, but I’m only recommending this bag because I use it myself and I absolutely love it!

19 Comments

  • Jane M says:

    Wow, this looks incredible. I’ve had my eye on a new bag for a while now, since the pack I used in 1998 isn’t really going to cut it next time I hit the road and the bike panniers I used on my last trip only really work if you’re bringing your bike!

    Thanks for posting and if I do end up buying I’ll try to remember to use your links.

    J

    • Audrey says:

      It’s a really great bag. It is a bit of an investment, so if you have an Osprey retailer near you I’d suggest you go in and have a look for yourself and test it out, but I’ve been really happy with it so far. I just can’t get over the size of the wheels and how well it handles different terrain.

  • I have an Osprey Farpoint 70L backpack which I love but the option of having wheels when I want to wheel it and straps for stairs?…love! I also adore my Briggs and Riley suitcase (that sucker is tough) but I may need to consider changing things up for my next big trip. Going to check if this bag is available locally around here. Hmm…

  • We have the exact bag. We traded in our backpacks last August when we were at home and have never been happier. We actually have never broken out the backpack straps…no need to!

    • Audrey says:

      I’ve hardly had to use the straps either, but it’s nice having that option if I ever need to. I find that because the wheels on this bag are so large, it can handle most of the terrain that my old wheeled suitcase struggled with.

  • Amanda says:

    I have the 60L version of this same bag and agree – it’s THE BEST. I’ve been using mine heavily for more than a year, and it still looks brand new. Very impressed with the quality, and it’s the perfect size for most trips!

    • Audrey says:

      It’s good to know that you’re happy with the 60L. I ended up going with the larger size because I tend to pack for more than one season and autumn/winter clothes are kind of bulky…plus maybe I’m a bit of an overpacker!

  • Tara says:

    Thanks for this post. I’m going to New Zealand (from the US) in a few months and I’ve been debating this topic for weeks. Osprey is the recommended brand by my backpacking brother and I was considering getting one of their bags without wheels, but now this has me on the fence again.

  • Alex B says:

    A rolling suitcase may be handy at times and in Europe, but just something to throw out there is that in some parts of the world like developing nations with cramped buses and limited paved roads, the wheels would seldom be used and just add on extra weight!

    • Cassandra Grindall says:

      I got the same exact bag in Amsterdam, of all places and I traveled around the world with it…TWICE. It was pulled down the streets of Kathmandu, spent months (litterally) on trains in India. The big wheels make even the most uneven pavement manageable. Where the pavement was nonexistant, the big padded strapps and belt came in really handy. I could make changes to this bag, like using some lighter weight fabrics, but it was durable and worth the weight of the wheels and frame not to have to carry it around all the time. I could sprint through airports with it to.

  • Linda says:

    Thanks for writing this post. I have a small frame as well and I’m 5ft 2. I definitely want to go with a wheelie backpack for my upcoming travels and debating between the 60L and 80L. I know you haven’t used the harness and backpack straps much but I was just wondering if they were comfortable and suitable for a small female?

  • John Gardea says:

    Love Osprey anything! I use the Osprey Farpoint 40 or 70 depending on the trip, but my girlfriend would love a bag like this! Great post!

  • Joe Henley says:

    I have the same bag, gray version, and I love it. I bought it 2 1/2 years ago and I have taken it to Europe for two 2 week trips and probably 40 local trips of 1 to 3 nights and it is not showing any wear and tear. I have used the straps. In Vogogna, Italy the streets were rough and I used it as a backpack for a 1/2 mile walk from the train station to the hotel. I love the bag. Very good post.

  • This is so helpful! I’m always torn between bringing a backpack for the ease of carrying it everywhere and bringing a suitcase because of sore shoulders. This seems like a perfect solution! I may have to buy one in the future. Thanks for sharing!

  • Monique says:

    Great post! I just bought the bag, looking forward to using it. I had a discussion with the salesman about needing to use a flight bag when checking it in, I decided against it. Do you check it in without a bag? Thanks

    • Audrey Bergner says:

      I hope you enjoy it, Monique! Mine is still going strong 3+ years later. I haven’t used a flight bag on this one. It’s pretty tough so I just send it through.

  • sophie le says:

    would you consider 100l osprey shuttle without the backpack option? I cant decide

    • Audrey Bergner says:

      I haven’t tested the 100L Osprey Shuttle, but it does look similar in design to my 80L. Just a bit bulkier but the reviews for it also look good!

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