Osprey Farpoint 40 Review – (Small vs Large Size) The Perfect Carry On Backpack Dimensions?

Last Updated on September 9, 2023

“When I Want To Travel With The Essentials On My Back And The Open Road At My Feet I Use My Farpoint 40”

In Summary: This is my Osprey Farpoint 40 review based on my own experience of over 4 years traveling with the bag and using it as carry on luggage.

I have traveled extensively carrying all my belongings in a Farpoint 40 and I regularly write about traveling light and test luggage and travel accessories. So I feel well-qualified to write a fair review of this product.

The major plus points for the Farpoint 40 are:​

  • Size & Comfort – 40 liters is a great size of pack for carry on luggage and larger backpacks risk being uncomfortable to carry. The fully packed dimensions are 55 x 35 x 23 cm or 21.65 x 13.8 x 9 inches.
  • Value – the Farpoint isn’t too expensive for what you get.
  • Practicality & Features – the farpoint has lots of pockets, zips and padding right where you need it. It opens up fully like a suitcase and is easy to pack. The main compartment is spacious and the laptop compartment is well padded.

This review also features the opinions of other travelers that own and use the Farpoint 40. It’s a popular backpack and lots of people have opinions about it.​

Downsides are few but some of the things people don’t like are the logos on the bag, the colors and the fact that the laptop compartment is on the outer side of the bag rather than against your back.

Before we go in-depth about the Farpoint 40 I want to first consider what makes a good backpack for travel.

How To Decide If The Osprey Farpoint 40 Is For You

Travel backpacks really come into their own when you are dealing with staircases, uneven surfaces and public transport.

If you are the type of traveler that takes a taxi to the airport and then a taxi straight to the hotel then you are probably better off looking at wheeled luggage.​

If you will probably spend some part of your travel sightseeing or kicking around town with your luggage in tow then a backpack like the Farpoint 40 is the best option with one caveat — your backpack must not be too heavy for you.

You need to be fit and strong enough to take the weight you want to carry. If you can’t physically handle the pack on your back then you’d be better with a rolling suitcase.​ A backpack won’t be convenient or pleasant if your back is aching and you are sweating buckets!

One way to help with this is to adopt a packing and traveling light philosophy

​If you will be flying, and this review assumes you will be, you also need to consider carry on luggage size restrictions. The top limit that is sensible for a carry on backpack is 45 liters and 22 x 14 x 9 inches.

I also feel that this is around the limit for what is sensible to carrying your back anyway. 80-liter hiking backpacks are only suitable for physically strong types that are carrying a lot of hiking and camping gear.

With the correct planning, you should not need to take a huge backpack stuffed full of clothes. So I would always advise looking at backpacks that are not larger than carry-on size.

Introducing Osprey & The Farpoint 40

Osprey were founded in 1974 by Mike Pfotenhauer so this is a company that has been around for a long time. You simply don’t stay in business for more than 40 years if you are not making great products.

And Osprey has been making travel bags since back in 1979 continually refining their craft and I guess the Outlander pictured below is the grandfather of the current Farpoint range.

The Farpoint 40 is designed to have the comfort and freedom of a hiking backpack but the ease of packing of a suitcase. It’s designed to be equally at home up a mountain or stored in the overhead bin of a plane.

I love it! And the next section will explain why.

Features & Benefits

What I Like:

The Farpoint 40 has ideal dimensions so that you can take it with you in the cabin as hand luggage on most airlines. You shouldn’t have any problems with this pack on most flights but it’s always sensible to check. This makes it a great option for international travelers since it should be carry on size all around the world.

For example, Ryanair in Europe has a depth limit of 20 cm or just over 7.8 inches. Usually with a standard size rolling carry on you’d be screwed but with a backpack like the Farpoint 40 you just don’t pack it so tight and it will squeeze down to under even strict limits no problem.

One thing that I love about the Farpoint 40 is that it is slightly less than the maximum size for carry on luggage.​ I know a lot of people think that the maximum size is best but it’s not. If you are carrying on your back it’s actually a good thing to have some constraints. Osprey have struck a good balance with their 40 liter size.

It opens up fully so like a suitcase so that it’s easy to pack and there are internal compression straps to help you squeeze your clothes down to a smaller size.

There is also a large mesh pocket in the main compartment​ to help organize your things. If you wanted more organization you could get packing cubes or do what I do and separate out things with clear plastic food bags. They are lighter than packing cubes anyway!

The straps and the hip belt can be stored away which effectively turns the Farpoint into a duffle bag. They even provide a removable shoulder strap so you can carry it over your shoulder like a duffle.

I love this feature I do it when I am storing the backpack under the seat in the airplane or in the overhead bin. When you are not using the straps it’s great to be able to hide them away.​

Also, most of the time I keep my backpack straps out but roll up the hip belt and stuff it away since I don’t use it. It’s possible to do that too and I like to not have too many straps flapping around.

Osprey Farpoint 40 Small vs Large Sizes

The Farpoint 40 comes in two sizes the small/medium and the medium/large. There is not a huge difference in capacity between them. It’s more about the height of the wearer so that the hip belt actually sits on your hips. The torso size for the large is 18 – 22 inches and 15 – 19 inches for the small. ​So roughly shorter people under 5’9″ should choose the small/medium and taller people above 5’9″ should choose the medium/large.

The large version is 3 lbs. 2.7 oz and the small version is 3 lbs. 1.75 oz. Osprey have clearly paid used lightweight materials where possible to keep the weight down and it pays off.

There doesn’t seem to be any downside in terms of durability from using lighter materials. If you do any hiking on your travels then you will love the Farpoint because it’s actually a comfortable hiking backpack too.

The zippers are fantastic. They have loops that make it really easy to open and close the bag and the zips have never failed or got caught in all last 2 years of using the bag. And they are lockable if you buy a padlock!

What I Don’t Like:

You need to undo the compression straps to unzip the pack and if you don’t use them they flap around and get in the way at times.

Of course, I could have solved the problem by just cutting the compression straps off… but I didn’t do that because they are actually awesome when you need to compress the pack to fit a size limit. So overall this negative is still a positive.

The laptop compartment is on the outside of the pack. It’s usually a good idea to pack your heaviest items closest to your spine but the design of the Farpoint 40 does not allow that.

However, since I use a iPad Pro as my main laptop and that’s lightweight it’s not really a problem.​ But I should point out that the Farpoint 40 works better with lighter laptops.

Some people think that Osprey has overdone their logos and branding on the bag. Personally I think it looks great and I don’t really care what people think anyway. I’m more concerned with how the backpack performs that how it looks.

Lastly, the mesh pockets are not the best. In truth, I have almost never used them. If you are someone that needs to have a water bottle handy at all times you might not be happy with the Farpoint 40.


Is The Osprey Farpoint 40 Waterproof?

Even though the Farpoint is not waterproof it is water-resistant. The fabric is 210D ripstop nylon. It might be possible to increase the water resistance by using a barrier spray. Alternatively, there is an Osprey rain cover that you can buy but it is not included. But in 4 years of travel, I’ve never had a problem with my belongings getting wet.

Is The Osprey Farpoint 40 Carry On Size?

Yes, the Farpoint is suitable as a carry on for most airlines. It is not a personal item size backpack so if you are flying with a budget airline that only includes a personal item with the basic ticket you might need to upgrade.

How Much Can You Fit In An Osprey Farpoint 40?

The main compartment has lots of room. At 40 liters the Farpoint 40 is only slightly smaller than a normal rollaboard suitcase. You’ll be able to fit plenty of clothes and belongings.

Does The Farpoint 40 Have a Lifetime Warranty?

I’ll just quote the Osprey All Mighty Guarantee.

Osprey will repair any damage or defect for any reason free of charge – whether it was purchased in 1974 or yesterday. If we are unable to perform a functional repair on your pack, we will happily replace it. We proudly stand behind this guarantee, so much so that it bears the signature of company founder and head designer, Mike Pfotenhauer.

I’ve never had to repair my Farpoint so I can’t comment on customer service.

Also Check Out…

Osprey also makes the Farview range of backpacks which they describe as the women’s version of the Farpoint. So I guess if you are a woman reading this you should be checking out that bag!

I’ve tested the Farpoint 40 side by side with the Tortuga Outbreaker.

Simply put the Tortuga Outbreaker is way too heavy. It feels heavy when you pick it up even when it’s empty. At 5.1 lbs it’s 2 lbs heavier than the Farpoint 40 and I don’t think you gain a lot for the extra weight.

If you want to go even small and lighter than the Farpoint 40 then take a look at the Timbuk2 Uptown.​

The Bottom Line

I hope you’ve got some value from this Osprey Farpoint 40 review. As you can probably tell I’m a huge fan of this backpack and brand.

You won’t need to sell a kidney to be able to buy one. It’s ​just the right size, just the right weight, just the right price and just the right travel backpack for me.

Sometimes I use wheeled luggage because I need to for review purposes, that’s the day job. But when I want to travel with the essentials on my back and the open road at my feet I use my Farpoint 40.​

4 thoughts on “Osprey Farpoint 40 Review – (Small vs Large Size) The Perfect Carry On Backpack Dimensions?”

  1. I just bought the Osprey Farpoint 40. Question – how do you hide the waist/hip belt, but leave the shoulder straps out? Thanks!

    • Hey Diane ) The straps and hip belt have a zipped cover. I rolled up the hip belt in the cover and tucked it in at the bottom. It never fell out.

      Hope you like the Farpoint 40 🙂

  2. Hi, I would love to know if you think it is risky taking a M/L Farpoint 40 (dimensions are, as you know, 21 x 14 x 9) as a carry on with Air transat (carry on size must respect 20 x 16 x 9). I’m a bit stressed about that because I don’t want to have to check my bag at the airport. I was wondering if the bag was not to full if it was easy to fit on those dimensions or will it be impossible? If you don’t think that this is a good idea, do you have any other suggestions that will be allowed, knowing the restrictions.

    Thanks a lot

    • Just so long as you don’t stuff the bag full you will be perfectly fine. That’s the beauty of a soft bag rather than a hard case!

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