Review: Osprey Farpoint 40 carry-on backpack

I ditched my heavy DSLR back in 2012 and turned to iPhone photography because I was tired. Tired of traveling like a pack mule. But not only did I ditch my DSLR but I got rid of many other things in life, too. From now on, my mindset was focused on traveling light; not as a goal but as a lifestyle. So I started my research for the perfect Carry-On backpack.

My goal: Everything for up to 5 days has to fit into a backpack that I could bring on the plane as Carry-On luggage. No more queuing up at the check in counters; no more waiting until the luggage gets delivered at the destination.

I researched dozens of different types of backpacks and brands, but my ”carry on” requirement eliminated many of them.

Speaking of requirements; here’s my full list of features I want from a Carry-On backpack:

  • Carry-On compliant, of course
  • light, yet robust
  • Tensioning belts at the outside
  • A big main compartment
  • A smaller secondary compartment for „nuts and bolts“
  • Zip away shoulder straps and hip belt with the option to carry it as a bag once belts are zipped away (helps at the Carry-On compliance check)
  • Lockable zippers
  • At least one mesh pocket at the outside for e.g. a bottle of water

Osprey advertises the farpoint 40 as EU Carry on compliant. So I bought it. I have been using it on a over a dozen of trips so far.

Though Osprey advertises the Fairpoint 40 as “perfect for a weekend getaway”, I’d extend this period to up to 5 days (Your mileage may vary).

Osprey Farpoint 40 features

First and foremost, I can confirm that backpack fulfills the EU maximum Carry-On luggage size. I never had any problems on any plane no matter if it was a small Dash or an Airbus.

If, by accident, you’ve packed a little too much, simply use the two outside tension straps to slim down the profile and make it compliant again. Further, the Osprey Farpoint 40 has two compression straps inside the main compartment, just like a suitcase, that you can and should use to firmly store and compress your stuff. For all those small things, there’s quite a huge mesh pocket inside the main compartment.

 Osprey Farpoint 40 main compartment - 40L

Osprey Farpoint 40 main compartment - 40L

The main compartment is as big as it can get. No unnecessary waste of space here. Here’s what I usually carry on my trips:

  • Clothing for up to 5 days (5x t-shirts, underwear, socks)
  • A Jack Wolfskin Softshell
  • Toiletries
  • AmazonBasics Travel Tripod
  • Anker 26800 mAh Powerbank
  • Charging cables
  • Anker portable charger
  • DJI Osmo Mobile 2
  • Amazon Kindle and Apple iPad Pro
  • Olight S30R III flashlight for urban exploration
  • Gonex 35L packable backpack for day excursions
  • 500 ml refillable water bottle
  • First aid kit including carry on compliant knife and scissors

Using a technique called “ranger rolls” for clothing, the above easily fits into the Osprey Farpoint 40.

Packing and unpacking is really easy, because the cover of the main compartment can be fully opened. If needed, you can lock the zippers of the main and secondary compartment with travel locks (separate purchase required).

osprey-farpoint-40-review-lockable-zippers.jpg

The secondary compartment at the outside has a padded sleeve for a notebook or a tablet. It’s big enough to hold all the small things needed for traveling like a power bank, flashlight, Kindle and so on. Like the main compartment, the zippers of the secondary compartment can be locked using travel locks.

 Secondary compartment of the Osprey Farpoint 40

Secondary compartment of the Osprey Farpoint 40

The shoulder straps and hip belt can be easily zipped away, transforming the backpack basically into a travel bag that can be carried using one of the two handles at the top or on the side. The backpack even comes with a long shoulder strap that you can use to carry the backpack like a sling bag. (Nice idea, but I don’t use this at all).

 Shoulder Straps of the Osprey Farpoint 40 can be zipped away

Shoulder Straps of the Osprey Farpoint 40 can be zipped away

Located on the outside are two mesh pockets, that can be used for carrying up to two bottles of water.

And this is my only point of criticism: If the backpack is well packed, it’s quite difficult to put a bottle of water in those mesh pockets. I’d rather have them on the side of the Osprey Farpoint 40.

How to pack the Osprey Farpoint 40 backpack

To fit all that stuff I listed above into this Carry-On backpack, I came up with the following way and order to pack it:

  • The most bulky thing usually goes in first and is stored at the bottom of the backpack. This is usually my tripod.
  • Then I stuff in the skivvies
  • Next are the t-shirts. I put the ranger rolled shirts lengthways from left to right to ensure best usage of all available space.
  • At the top of that I put the toiletries and the first aid kit so I can quickly take those out at the security check without the need to unpack the entire backpack.
  • At the top of everything in the main compartment goes my Jack Wolfskin Soft Shell.
  • Small stuff like cables, charger, etc. go inside the mesh pocket in the main compartment.
  • iPad, Kindle, DJI Osmo 2 Mobile, flashlight, Gonex packable backpack, and power bank go in the secondary compartment at the outside.

Here are two photos of the main compartment, packed for a five day city trip, as outlined above.

 Osprey farpoint 40 packed for five days: Tripod, skivvies, t-shirts, first aid kit (with carry on compliant knife and charger, toiletries

Osprey farpoint 40 packed for five days: Tripod, skivvies, t-shirts, first aid kit (with carry on compliant knife and charger, toiletries

 Final layer is my Jack Wolfskin Soft Shell

Final layer is my Jack Wolfskin Soft Shell

You may (or may not) wonder why I use a packable backpack. The reason is simple. I see no point in running around during the day with a big backpack with only the tripod, water and the softshell inside. So I use this small, packable backpack as daypack. The rest of the stuff stays at the hotel. At least, it’s about traveling light - even when on site.

Summary

The Osprey Farpoint 40 is the perfect carry on backpack I’ve always been looking for. It allows me to carry stuff for up to 5 days and I’ve never had any problems bringing the backpack on a plane, no matter if the plane was a small one like a Dash or a bigger one like an Airbus. It fits into the overhead compartment and under the seat in front of you.

My only point of criticism is the location of the mesh pockets, that become difficult to use if the backpack is fully packed. But there are solutions to this problem like clipping a bottle of water to the loop on the shoulder straps. The Osprey Farpoint 40 Is available at amazon in three different colors.