Osprey Rolling Transporter 40 Review

Made for urban travel rather than mountains, but far tougher than your average wheely suitcase, Osprey's Rolling Transporter is basically a duffel bag on wheels. The model comes in three sizes - a massive 120 litres, a roomy 90 litres and a compact 40. Since much of the travel I do is short-haul and lightly loaded, I went for the 40 - a useful size for a few days away, and which has the advantage of passing for hand luggage on some airlines too (not Ryanair).

The Rolling Transporter is robust and weatherproof enough for most travel situations  © Dan Bailey
The Rolling Transporter is robust and weatherproof enough for most travel situations
© Dan Bailey

Capacity

Compared to some ostensibly 40 litre rucksacks I think the Rolling Transporter 40 is pretty spacious, and easily big enough for a few nights away on a city-based trip. I've packed several days' worth of clothes plus a sleeping bag and mat, with room to spare. If you wanted to add climbing gear then you'd soon start to struggle - and here's where a 60 or 70 litre option would come in. It's odd that Osprey jump right up to 90 litres without offering an intermediate size.

It's a good size for work trips and weekends away  © Dan Bailey
It's a good size for work trips and weekends away
© Dan Bailey

Access is via a zipped lid, opening like a suitcase for easy access to all the contents. It's a chunky and robust zip that promises to last well even if you habitually over-stuff your bag. Two zippers are provided, and if you have a tiny luggage padlock then they can be secured together to deter casual theft in transit. To help you squeeze the maximum amount inside, you get a couple of internal compression straps. There's also a large zipped mesh pocket under the lid. This is a good place to carry documents, but since the lid is not padded I wouldn't put a tablet or laptop here. It would've been nice to have a key clip here, as it's the obvious place to carry your keys, and as it is they just slide around loose.

The inside pocket is a safe place to keep your important paperwork  © Dan Bailey
The inside pocket is a safe place to keep your important paperwork
© Dan Bailey

Outside there's one small zipped pocket (for which I've not yet really found a use) plus a transparent sleeve for a name tag (which makes sense if you're flying). Hunt around and you'll also find, tucked neatly into a sleeve, one short webbing strap with a press buckle. I honestly don't know what this is for, and the product spec sheds no light: a rolled up newspaper; a folding umbrella?

Weight and build quality

At 2.66kg (Osprey say 2.75kg - it's nice to see a brand being conservative) the Rolling Transporter 40 is hardly what you'd call lightweight. If you're working to the strictures of an airline weight limit then this is something to bear in mind. However that weight reflects the fact that this is a really tough duffel. The main fabric is a mega-thick 840 denier nylon, with a TPU coating to help it shrug off a good bit of rain. This stuff feels really durable, and the chances of it scuffing or tearing seem remote. The polymer chassis and polyurethene wheels feel good and tough too. I think it's fair to say that this bag can take some knocks.

Handles

When wheeling it along, the extendable handle can be set to two different lengths. This should work for adults of a wide variety of sizes, except perhaps the very tall - I'm 1.83m, and the handle at full extension is spot on for me. This is a tough metal handle, with a comfy plastic grip. Because it can only be deployed with the press of a button, it's unlikely to accidentally fold out in the airport baggage handling.

Like a non-wheeled duffel, you get several grab handles too - five in this case - and these are placed so that there's always one to hand on whatever side you go to lift the bag. They feel very strong, but also soft and slightly padded, which is a nice touch.

Wheels sometimes beat straps, but have their limits  © Dan Bailey
Wheels sometimes beat straps, but have their limits
© Dan Bailey

It's great in an airport  © Dan Bailey
It's great in an airport
© Dan Bailey

Carting it around

I'm new to wheeled luggage, and have to admit to mixed feelings. It's a novelty to make like a business traveller, but now I've become one of those annoying folk who's wheely bag gets under other people's feet. In an airport or train station, having wheels is a big advantage versus a non-wheeled duffel that you have to physically manhandle about. However, rolling is not always a boon. Although the wheels are large, and definitely durable enough for rough terrain, when things get a bit uneven and bouncy on the ground the limits of a wheeled bag are obvious. Mooching around downtown Munich, for instance, I soon tired of juddering over cobblestones, and ended up carrying the bag instead. The handles are comfy, but even a 40 litre load begins to weigh heavy in the hand after a while. Imagine doing this with the 120 litre version! My companion had a duffel with integrated shoulder harness, and fared much better.

Smart enough for the red carpet... but is our reviewer?  © Rachael Crewesmith
Smart enough for the red carpet... but is our reviewer?
© Rachael Crewesmith

So the Rolling Transporter is great for very tame travel, but if things get a little rough around the edges, and you're carrying it for any appreciable distance, then it's less good. This isn't a criticism of the Rolling Transporter in particular, just an acknowledgement that this type of luggage has limits. If you think you'll be carrying it much then consider Osprey's Transporter range instead - very similar duffels, but with a tuck-away shoulder harness instead of wheels. Perhaps my ideal duffel would have both wheels and shoulder straps...?

Summary

If you're after a wheeled suitcase with the knock-about toughness and practicality of a duffel bag, then this one is well worth considering. Starting at £180 for the 40 litre model, the Rolling Transporter really isn't a budget option, but it's built to last. Think of it as a piece of general luggage, rather than something outdoorsy. It's is not suited to more adventurous travel, since it's not feasible to carry it far, but for a certain type of travel - one involving planes, trains, corridors and checkout queues - the Rolling Transporter is just the thing. It occupies a niche all its own in my bags-and-rucksacks armoury, and I'll probably be using it for many years to come.

Osprey say:

Rolling Transporter is an ultra-durable, high performance duffel with all-terrain wheels, designed to go where other packs can't. Featuring Osprey's HighRoad™ chassis, this pack can cope with rough terrain due to its ABS polymer materials and extra-large polyurethane wheels which promise a smooth ride. The retractable ErgoGrip™ handle ensures that you can roll with complete ease and retain easy control over your gear. To make your journey even easier, Rolling Transporter 40 fits on most European and Worldwide airlines as carry-on baggage.

The body of the pack is made from very tough TPU laminated nylon, which provides exceptional durability while remaining light and soft to the touch. The construction patterns and materials of Rolling Transporter have been chosen to provide a high level of weather resistance and the ability to withstand a lot of punishment. The barrel shaped design makes the best use of available space and enables easy loading, whatever your chosen method of transport.

  • Weight: 2.66kg
  • Main Fabric: 840D Nylon TPU Double Coated
  • 4 grab handles
  • Conforms to most EU maximum Carry-On luggage size
  • Durable and highly water resistant fabric
  • ID Card holder
  • Internal compression strap system
  • Internal mesh side pocket
  • Lockable zippers
  • Osprey HighRoad™ chassis
  • Retractable handle with ErgoGrip™
  • Zippered panel access
  • Zippered stash pocket

For more info see ospreyeurope.com

Rolling Transporter 40 prod shot

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16 Apr

Wheels on a 40L bag seems a bit absurd. I've got a 65L Osprey Transporter bag which has always been accepted as cabin luggage with no challenge and it weighs about half as much. I can however understand that wheels might be useful on the larger sizes.