Rucksack with wheels - Osprey Sojourn

I’ve been using the Osprey rucksack with wheels for our trip around south-east Asia.

I’m a backpack purist, I enjoy a set of straps. But I also know a backache that can come with it. There has been an increasing trend towards suitcases, hand-luggage-only and wheeled bags. Somewhere in the middle of this, there have been several brands that have made a hybrid – wheeled backpacks.

Essentially a wheeled bag with hiking straps. Some of these are just straps and others are fully fledged hiking harnesses. We decided to invest in two of these and test drove them over the 4 months of our trip in winter 2014.

Elizabeth wrote a review on the Caribee Fast Track here.

Osprey Sojourn Rucksack With Wheels

I’ll be completely honest here. I don’t like the looks of this bag. At all. But I can’t deny Osprey’s pedigree in this category. They are well made, offer a good warranty and you get value for money. The reason for choosing this one was that it was a proper backpack as well. When you open the rear of the pack, a proper hiking harness is tucked away and after clicking together using some clever positioning of clasps, I’m good to go, anywhere.

The best feature of this pack is – the size
The not-so-great feature of this pack is – the looks

Features

Compression

The bag works on a “straight jacket” concept. The compression strap goes across the pack, pulling the “walls” of the pack together and the further it compresses the further the sides overlap, cocooning your content inside.

This was a bit unconventional but ultimately it did what I needed it to do very well.

Both Backpacks 2

Both backpacks

Protection

A major point to notice is the thickness of the outer walls of the pack. This pack takes keeping your contents safe and secure pretty seriously. The are about 14mm of thick material that lines both sides top to bottom. When the straight jacket is implemented, this converts the front and when it overlaps, it’s double the protection.

The from and back are covered in less thick material but still durable and waterproof.

Storage

This was again very impressive. I felt we could hold almost twice the amount of the Caribee (not including the extra backpack). The cavernous interior is lined and includes a couple of pockets that run the length of the pack. Inside the front flap, there is also a few pockets to help you organise. As there is only one exterior pocket, this is useful.

The impressive thing about this pack is that due to the way dependency on the straight jacket system, while it can overlap nice and snug, it can also open wide, expanding the capacity hugely. The walls can extend outwards while the straps are long enough to expand across the pack and still keep everything together.

While it does not look pretty, this makes the bag very practical. I could even attach my daypack to the outside and stuff a sports holdall inside.

Wheels

As mentioned, I was sceptical about this but given the way we were travelling “Digital Nomad” style, it seemed like it was probably a good thing. These are exceptionally well built and sturdy. Having taken a beating on the streets on Thailand including Bangkok’s potholes and Soi’s.

The wheel chassis is plastic and very sturdy. It also has a holding handle that makes loading the pack onto coaches and off airport carousels nice and easy. I think a considerable amount of the packs’ weight is held in this system. But I’m ok with that as at no point over the months of use did I feel it wouldn’t handle was it was put through.

The chassis acted as serious protection for the base of the wheeled rucksack with wheels.

Sojourn Back

Wheeled backpack wheels

Hiking Harness

This is where the pack really shows off and Osprey gives a little time in pretending they are new to this game. The rear zip cover rolls away into its own section out of the way and the thick padded and fully adjustable straps are let loose. The main shoulder strap at this point loose and dangling are clipped to the underside of the pack to 2 spots on the wheel chassis. Once this is done, you are real to go.

The shoulder straps adjust as any other hiking pack. The waist support strap is good but not padded to the extent of the purpose-built hiking packs. It’s there and enough to support the extra weight, especially if you have “opened” the pack up as mentioned earlier.

Unclipping the strap from the bottom, the harness packs away neatly once more. There is even some pseudo-space here in case you are lacking for places to put things. I used this space to hide Elizabeth’s Christmas presents.

Osprey Sojourn upright back

Sojourn Back Top

Handles

These are also impressively built. Solid and lined with super thick foam making the wheeled backpack easy to carry about. No more suffocate blood-blistered fingers from carrying heavy packs with thin fabric handles.

There is one of the at the top and on one of the sides.

The addition of the handle on the wheel chassis is useful so that no matter what angle you approach the pack, you should be able to get a grip.

Osprey Sojourn Standing

Summary

As I write this, I realise that in fact, the Osprey Sojourn was a soldier for me – reliable and dependable and able to take everything I threw at it.

So it makes me feel bad that I didn’t love it. The looks just let it down for me. The way the frame makes it look like it has a potbelly when full due to the pack expanding far passed the size of the wheel chassis and then tapering to a narrower pack at the top too. So it was almost pear shaped. And the space between the 2 straps bulging out like me when I wear a shirt too small for me!

If I could have made one change that would have fixed this, there should be the third strap in the middle of the other two but other than this, the Osprey Sojourn is a very very good option if you are looking for a wheeled backpack.

Both are wheeled, have a full harness and both are around £150.

Osprey Sojourn Standing 2

Get your Osprey rucksack with wheels here

4 Responses

  1. Phillip

    Hi Raj, nice review! I just read this one and Elizabeth’s Caribee Fast Track 75L review. This was great because after many days and maaaany hours of research, I’m trying to decide between these two very bags! It is a great coincidence so I have a bunch of questions, I hope you don’t mind!

    I also have the same concerns about the looks. I find the Osprey 60L to be odd looking when empty and strapped up and better when full but kinda fat looking, like you say. I like the compression straps… but does the Caribee have the same ability to really compress down hard and make things looks trimmer?

    I like that the Osprey has a slim profile for being nimble on the streets. Do you find one more nimble than the other or with better wheels?

    Do you find the Caribee to be too wide looking (especially on rare occasion used on the back), or too wide for getting about compared to the Osprey? I guess I like the idea of the Caribee looking a bit more like a normal suitcase *at times* when you need to go to a niceish hotel.

    I can find the Osprey for AUD$200 and the Caribee for about AUD$250, but it has a daypack, so price is much of a muchness. Osprey has a lifetime guarantee though. I’m hoping you can shed some more light on the decision between the two and my five month trip to China and Canada.

    Thanks! Phil

    Reply
    • Raj

      Hey Phil,
      Glad the posts have helped. We found ourselves in the same position. It was very difficult to get it right. I’ll try to help, but questions are always welcome.

      The compression system on the Osprey is superior to the caribee. The Caribee is more a space, as it is and the compression straps helps keep everything together. The Caribee doesn’t really change size whether is is empty or full. The Osprey does change considerably however. and the compression straps are better.

      Neither bag look very good on the back. The both look as awkward as you would expect. In terms of looks, the Caribbe does look better. If you plan on using the back strap, I would recommend the Osprey. It has a better system.

      The Osprey is better on the streets. Less play in the handles. Stronger wheels too in my opinion BUT the Caribee handled the exact same terrain, as the same speed and is undamaged. The Caribbe did have more of a tendency to twist going down curbs which can be annoying but I’m not sure how much of that was down to Elizabeth’s technique rather than the bag. I suspect a bit of both!

      They are similar in width to be honest. It’s the depth that can be considerably different as the Osprey can expand and compress alot.

      The backpack on the Caribee is nice and good enough quality but it was more of a matching bag as opposed to a practical strap on bag. We hardly connected it and I didn’t feel confident it wouldn’t fall off. You do need a day bag when travelling though so you can get a “2 for 1” deal with the Caribee in effect.

      I would say they they are both very good bags but if I was going to nicer hotels or meetings etc – I would choose the Caribee. If I was travelling in the proper sense and need function and reliability over looks, I would go with the Osprey. It isn’t good looking but I think it will take more of a beating and serve you longer.

      Hoep that helps a bit and not made it more complicated! Ask anymore questions you have and hopefully we can help you get the right bag for you!

      note: I should say that I also considered getting a high quality proper backpack and then getting a fold away carrier with wheels and some bungee cords!! But I suspect once you’ve realised the little you use backpack straps when you have wheels, you’ll regret the decision.

      Reply
      • Phillip

        Hi Raj, thanks for the quick detailed response! And sorry for my slow one. I have been investigating bags a lot still and am still not sure. I have yet to see the Caribee in person still, but I do think it still looks better and sleeker. I now have the Osprey Porter 46 and I find that it holds as much as a hard case carry on but it just looks so much bulkier and puffier. It is similar to the Sojourn in that sense, I imagine. Did you find the Osprey much bulkier looking and feeling than the Caribee, even with about the SAME amount of stuff in each one? Do you think a hard case carry on (40L) and a small daypack (20L) would really do the job just as well as either of these two options? Or did you feel like a wheeled duffle with bigger wheels really made a big difference because of strength, speed, smoothness, or look?

        BTW, in the photos, is that the Sojourn next to the Caribee?

        Thanks!
        PS great site, it inspires me to start my own blog.

      • Phillip

        Oh and do you think the Sojourn actually holds more than the Caribee? I can’t tell if the Caribee is 75L in the main bag or if the capacity is shared across the daypack. Thanks!

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