Hands-on gadget review: Osprey Transporter waterproof duffel
Image credit: Osprey
A handsome but practical bit of premium luggage that’s sustainable and will withstand most things you can throw at it, including a dunking.
This duffel bag is cute and lightweight but what sets it apart from the pack is the waterproofing. It’s billed as waterproof luggage, with welded seams and a waterproof zip.
It’s available in three sizes: 40 litres (£220), 70 litres (£250) and 100 litres (£270), so it’s not cheap. But it’s not your average bag. It’s IPX7 rated. This is rare for a dry bag and means it’s been tested to be submersible 1m deep for 30 minutes.
I tested the mid-sized, 70 litre Transporter Duffel WP 70 in a colour called Mars Orange. In the photos it looks glossy red but it is definitely orangey. The other colour is called Tunnel Vision Grey but is nearly black.
The first thing I noticed on unpacking was how ridiculously light the bag is. This 70-litre bag weighs just 1.12kg. That matters when it’s on your back and also when negotiating budget airlines’ baggage allowances. If Ryanair gives me 20kg (and 70 litres is perfect for 20kg) I want to minimise how much of that weight is the bag itself. A rucksack of the same capacity can weigh twice as much, or more.
The bag is rugged and simple. Reinforced grab handles at each end let you lug it. Multiple lash points make it easy to attach your kit or tie the bag to a vehicle, raft or pack animal. Yes, this is a bag designed to be lashed to a canoe.
On the top are two large, adjustable, padded straps that can be used to lift it as a duffel or wear the bag as a rucksack. They lack the fancy adjustability or horizontal (chest, hip) straps of a large rucksack, but they’re more ergonomic than carrying the duffel any distance by hand. You can remove the two straps, because they’re attached to simple, non-corroding aluminium fittings, but it’s hard to see why you would.
There’s a Velcro handle to hold the two straps together for hand-carrying in comfort, but there’s no shoulder strap… if you want to carry it on your shoulder, wear it like a rucksack instead.
A single, chunky black YKK AquaSeal zip runs the length of the duffel’s top. The oversized tag on the zip means you can even open or close it with gloves on. But it’s crucial to close the zip fully. Beyond the usual run of zip teeth, there’s a notch at the end for the head of the zip to click into.
Open, the zip allows good access for packing and unpacking. The bag’s interior is simple but has a set of four internal compression straps, halfway up, that can be used to help stow your stuff securely while taking pressure off the main zip. The compression straps come looped through a flat mesh pouch, perfect for storing documents (A5 fits easily) and valuables. There’s even a clip for securing keys. The design is versatile: if you don’t like the pouch, you can remove it and use the straps without. I found that I could even cross them diagonally to compress the bag’s contents.
Materials are tough and sustainable: recycled and bluesign-approved 630D diamond ripstop, high tenacity nylon, PFC-free and double-coated with durable TPU for extreme abrasion resistance.
It also benefits from Osprey’s All Mighty Guarantee, which covers you against manufacturing defects for the bag’s ‘reasonable lifetime’. This focus on making products that last is of huge eco importance. Outdoors brands like Osprey are ahead of the high street on sustainability. The fact that these bags are premium products helps, but also people who climb mountains and ride rapids experience the environment at close quarters, so they demand manufacturers take it seriously.
The bag is handsome in a premium, outdoorsy way. I wouldn’t drag it along the ground intentionally, for fear of compromising its waterproofing. But I would check it as hold luggage in the knowledge that it will still look handsome when a bit beaten up. It will just look… travelled.
The moment of truth came with testing its waterproofing. Did I feel confident of its waterproofing after studying the design and build quality? Yes. Did I fill it with wads of cash, my laptop and the family photo album? Hell no. I went with a colossal pile of old newspapers.
I put it in a pool, aiming to test its IPX7 rating of 1m deep for 30 minutes, but no matter how much I compressed it to expel air, the bag floated, even when full of weighty newspapers. You have to open the zip a bit to get the air out because the bag is virtually airtight when closed.
So I weighed it down with bricks. Six bricks. It still floated, but a bit lower in the water. Eventually it rolled over. I settled for it floating upside-down, so the zip got a good dunking. I set a timer for 30 minutes.
I then let the bag air-dry, so opening it wouldn’t let water in. Sadly though, the newspapers were damp. There was no sign of a leak, the zip and seams didn’t look to have let in water. Instead I think moisture had soaked through the orangey red upper fabric. The dampness wasn’t enough to ruin your camping kit but it could ruin your laptop – my caution had been wise.
The Osprey Transporter Waterproof Duffel is impressively lightweight and rugged, and IPX7 certified, but in my own test the sample wasn’t quite waterproof. I’d still consider it as handsome, lifeproof luggage though.
From £220 ospreyeurope.com
Gul Dry Rucksack
Gul, now owned by SportsDirect, is quite affordable. This 35-litre rucksack has half the capacity of the Osprey, and only the main compartment is stated as waterproof, but it has plenty of lash points and it’s keenly priced.
Lomo Blaze Expedition Holdall
These big duffel bags boast welded seams but, to keep prices down, use zips that are splashproof, not waterproof. They’re perfect for transporting outdoor kit though. Capacity 60 litres (£39) or 100 litres (£49.99). Want waterproof on a budget? Try Lomo’s roll-top bags.
From £39 lomo.co.uk
Ortlieb Big Zip
Ortlieb is best known for its bike panniers with roll tops. This huge 140-litre duffel has welded seams and waterproof TIZIP for an IP67 rating. The rating means it has the same waterproofness as the Osprey’s stated IPX7 rating and adds dustproofing.
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