Searching for the best travel backpack for Europe? The Osprey Porter 46 is perfect for every adventure.
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When I decided I wanted to backpack through Europe after graduating from college, I knew I needed, well, a backpack. I could hardly call myself a backpacker without one.
The internet was a different place in 2014, and rather than depending on recommendations from my favorite travel influencers, I researched travel backpacks myself.
After listing out the features I wanted in a travel backpack (more on that later), I realized the Osprey Porter Travel Pack 46 fit the bill. Not only is it the best travel backpack for women, but my boyfriend/travel buddy purchased the same model as well and raved about it.
Since that first backpacking trip around Europe in 2014, I’ve backpacked Europe on three other occasions, had countless weekend adventures, backpacked Mexico twice and moved internationally multiple times.
Every trip I’ve done over the last six years has been with my trusty Osprey Porter 46. The same one I bought for that first backpacking trip around Europe.
Is the Osprey Porter 46 right for YOU?
When you’ve stayed at as many hostels as I have, you’ve seen a lot of different backpacks.
- Backpackers who have to lay down on the floor to strap their giant backpack on & then try (usually failing at least once) to stand up.
- Travelers asking the front desk for a sewing kit because their backpack strap broke…again.
- Desperate individuals trying to stuff their bag into the luggage measurements cage to prove it will fit in the overhead bin.
- People dumping the entire contents of their backpack onto the bed just to find a single item. Then, scooping everything back in only to realize they need something else.
Don’t even get my started on rolling suitcases….
Trying to save my friends from these same fates, I’ve recommended the Osprey Porter 46 to everyone even thinking about taking a trip.
The Osprey Porter 46 is the best travel backpack for you if you:
- Don’t want to be tempted to overpack
- Aren’t interested in having constantly sore shoulders
- Want to avoid surprise luggage fees
- Like to be organized & able to find exactly what you need when you need it
- Suck at sewing & know you could never repair a bag on your own
As I said, I’ve recommended the Osprey Porter 46 to numerous friends & the ones who didn’t take my advice the first time around ended up regretting the money they spent on other backpacks.
Recently, I spent six weeks backpacking around Europe & this travel backpack is a must for fitting all the essentials from this Europe packing list for winter.
Why the Osprey Porter 46 Is the Best Travel Backpack for Europe
From trips spanning just a week to other lasting closer to two months, I have used my Osprey Porter 46 to backpack around Europe multiple times.
Hands down, it is the best travel backpack for Europe. Here’s why:
It fits carry-on requirements.
Although I prefer to travel overland via buses or trains when I’m backpacking, sometimes flying just makes the most sense.
Budget airlines like Ryanair are eager to upcharge you in any way they can, so it’s essential that you have a bag that fits their carry-on requirements. I have never had an issuing fitting my Osprey Porter 46 into the overhead bin or under the seat in front of me.
It is front-loading.
Even if you’re just starting to research different travel backpacks, you’ve likely already seen that many of the backpacks on the market are top-loading. While top-loading backpacks are great for long-distance hiking, they’re a terrible option for backpacking Europe.
It is much easier to stay organized and find what you need quickly with a front-loading backpack, such as the Osprey Porter 46, which unzips like a suitcase.
It is comfortable.
As you’re preparing for your first Euro trip, you should know one thing: you’re going to walk…A LOT. The majority of that walking will be done sans luggage (think: budget-friendly walking tours), but when you arrive in a city or are departing, you’re going to have your pack in tow.
Right now, you might not think that a 1-km walk from the train station to your hostel sounds like a lot, but with the wrong backpack, it can be hell.
The Osprey Porter 46 evenly distributes the weight of your backpack, and the padded hip belt stabilizes larger loads. The padded shoulder straps won’t cut into you and make a trek across Amsterdam seem like a walk in Vondelpark.
Why the Osprey Porter 46 Is the Best Travel Backpack for Mexico
Originally, I purchased my Osprey Porter 46 to backpack around Europe. But, in the years since, it has served as my trusty travel companion on countless other adventures including two backpacking trips around Mexico as well as an international move to Querétaro.
In addition to the reasons mentioned above, here’s why the Osprey Porter 46 is the best travel backpack for Mexico:
It is the perfect size.
As with European budget airlines, I’ve never had any issues checking my backpack on any Mexican domestic flights. The 46-liter pack might not seem like much at first, but it’s more than enough space to pack for a trip of any length.
I’ve always been able to fit everything I need for a long trip. For shorter trips, I love that the straightjacket compression straps tighten up to make the bag smaller and even more managable.
Of equal importance to the fact that the Osprey Porter 46 meets carry-on requirements is that it easily fits into the trunks of Mexico’s notoriously small taxis. I’ve seen groups of travelers each with large rolling suitcases all have to take separate cabs because the driver could only fit one piece of luggage in their trunk.
Because my boyfriend and I both travel with Osprey Porter 46 backpacks, we can always share a taxi.
It is durable.
In the years that I’ve had my Osprey Porter 46, I’ve kicked it along airport floors, dragged it off luggage conveyor belts, thrown it in the backs of pickup trucks and more.
The durable nylon material has never once gotten a tear.
If the day ever comes that it does tear, all I need to do is send it in to Osprey and they will repair it free of charge. If for some reason they can’t fix it, Osprey promises to replace it.
It can transform into a duffel.
I prefer backpacks over other types of luggage because, whether you’re checking in at the ticket counter or counting out pesos to pay for a last-minute taco before catching your bus, it’s advantageous to have your hands free.
However, not every travel situation calls for a backpack, and backpacks are generally awkward to carry when they’re not worn as they were intended.
When I was moving to Mexico, I couldn’t wear my Osprey Porter 46 as a backpack since I was already wearing another backpack with my laptop in it. Fortunately, I am able to easily stow the shoulder straps and hip belt within the back panel to transform the Osprey Porter 46 into a duffel.
With three different grab handles to choose from, the pack is an extremely functional duffel. The ability to stow the straps in also great for if you check your pack so they don’t catch in the luggage conveyor belt.
Osprey Porter 46 Pros
The biggest pro of the Osprey Porter 46 is that it forces you to pack light.
Every traveler, especially backpackers, should strive to embrace minimalism while on the road. This travel backpack has more than enough space for everything you need, but you will need to think through your packing list.
In short, the bigger the bag the more likely you are to overpack.
One of the many reasons I love backpacking is that shows you how little you need to live and be happy. Being able to carry all your belongings in a single pack is incredibly gratifying.
The other leading pros for the Osprey Porter 46 are its durable material, front-loading functionality, and thoughtful organization. From a long backpacking trip to a weekend getaway, this is a pack you can use for a lot of different kinds of trips.
Osprey Porter 46 Cons
When I purchased my Osprey Porter 46 in 2014, my only complaint was the lack of pockets. That particular model had three inside the main compartment and one on the top of the bag just below the grab handle.
However, in the years since, Osprey has upgraded the Porter 46. It now has a laptop compartment with lockable zippers for safe storage as well as a large U-zip opening with pockets for on-the-go access.
Even though there’s nothing wrong with my backpack, I’m considering upgrading to the newer model because I hate having to carry my laptop in a second backpack.
How Much Does the Osprey Porter 46 Cost?
On the official Osprey website, the newest model of the Porter 46 travel pack retails for around $160 USD.
However, you can usually find it for less on Amazon. You’re still eligible for the Osprey warranty if you buy your pack from Amazon.
Final Thoughts on the Osprey Porter 46
If it weren’t for the Osprey Porter 46, I wouldn’t be the “Backpacking Brunette.” It’s impossible for me to imagine that first trip to Europe without it, and I might not have fallen in love with backpacking had I gone with another travel backpack.
Osprey is a high quality and respected brand. In addition to my Osprey Porter 46, I own the Kyte 36 which I used when walking the Camino de Santiago.
You can drive yourself nuts comparing different backpacks, so I’ll save you the time and tell you that you’re not going to find a better travel backpack. Hands down, the Osprey Porter 46 is the best travel backpack for Europe.
I’m confident it will suit your needs for a trip anywhere in the world. It has served me well while backpacking Mexico, and I know it will be my travel companion for years (and countries!) to come.