Meet Kate and Her Osprey Fairview 40L Travel Backpack Review

osprey fairview 40l backpack review

The following Osprey Fairview 40L backpack review was submitted by Kate. Check out all of our female travel backpack reviews.

When my best friend and I decided to go urban backpacking the summer after my first year of college, I spent a big chunk of my very limited budget on an Osprey. I’ve never regretted it; that pack has traveled everywhere with me and stood up to some brutal treatment, including a monkey attack (!), and still looks great. But budget airlines have changed travel drastically. While planning my backpacking honeymoon, I realized the time had come to downsize my luggage.

That’s how I found the Osprey Fairview.

What’s your backpack brand, model, and typical cost?

My new travel buddy is the Osprey Womens Fairview 40L XS/S in the Misty Grey color. It retails for $160, but you can typically get that down 30% using eBags. (Osprey is officially excluded from their sales, but it’s worth getting in touch with customer service via chat.)

>> Check out prices for the Osprey Fairview 40 on Amazon.

osprey fairview 40l backpack review

What factors were most important to you in choosing a backpack?

I wanted to keep all the features I loved in my old Osprey Waypoint, but in a size that I could carry on budget airlines as well as small puddle jumpers in other countries without incurring a fee.

The must haves were:

  • A quality frame and harness system: At 4’11” most clothing stores consider me a twelve year old boy, and on top of that I have narrow shoulders, so finding a harness that fits and distributes weight evenly is both vital and a little bit daunting.
  • Suitcase style/front loading openings. When you’re city hopping (and sometimes hostel hopping within a city) being able to pack up quickly and efficiently means more time to see and do. Also having quick access to your stuff can save a lot of headache.
  • Carry-on compatible. Standards vary, but after talking to friends I decided I wanted something under 22 inches and preferably closer to 20.

>> Check out these posts on front-loading backpacks, backpacks for slim and petite women, and why 40L backpacks are a great size for travel.

inside the osprey fairview 40 backpack
Opens like a suitcase: Inside the osprey fairview 40 backpack.

What do you like most about the Osprey Fairview 40? Any down sides?

This past March I took a long weekend trip to Montreal and decided to put the Fairview through its paces. So far it’s survived subway, train, bus, air travel and even went through customs. The harness is easy to get in and out of, and the pack was light enough to quickly store in and retrieve from all kinds of overhead bins, sleek enough not to get stuck in those annoying bungeed bus shelves, and narrow enough to hold between your legs on the subway without too much “spreading”.

Because the harness is small and doesn’t have to attach to the top of the pack, folding the straps away is incredibly quick and easy. You can even do it standing in security without slowing down the line! It also comes with a handy detachable shoulder strap, and while I am concerned that it could catch (it hasn’t yet), it makes carrying this pack easy when you have those awkward middle distances to transport it.

The Fairview has lots of little features that are easy to overlook, but good to have, like interlocking zippers to keep your belongings secure, a scratch free top pocket for sunglasses etc, compression straps in all the right places, and deep mesh pockets on the front. The top pocket also has a key hook which I really love, but makes it less ideal for sunglasses.

The Downsides:

The front organizational pocket would be fantastic if you were a business traveller or just want the option of a laptop pocket. Because of the pocket’s location, however, you’re at risk of bending your laptop if the main compartment isn’t packed completely flat. Since I don’t typically travel with a computer, I found the laptop sleeve and massive zipper pocket less than useful.

osprey fairview laptop sleeve and pocket
View of the front organizational pocket with laptop sleeve.

I’d have preferred either more small organizational pockets or an open space. That said, I roll my clothes and use packing cubes, so a laptop sleeve is a great place to stash one or two nice flat-packed dress shirts, and the zip sleeve is nice for any printed papers you might need.

I’m not sure who thought “ooh olive green and turquoise, how pretty!”, but they were wrong. (Pro tip, when osprey says grey, it’s typically a very green grey). Color-wise it’s one of the uglier bags I’ve owned, but the other option is a very bright forest green, which I didn’t like any better.

Tell us about the fit and comfort level of your backpack.

I didn’t realize I’d spent years trying to compensate for a too-large harness frame until I tried on the Fairview and barely had to adjust the straps. It distributes weight just as well, if not better, than my old Osprey, but feels drastically less claustrophobic: think more camel, less turtle.

Those two factors make this an extremely comfortable pack. I didn’t have it filled to capacity on this trip, and at that weight I barely noticed it. It felt more like carrying a heavy daypack. I can imagine that even on a longer trip with more distance walking it would be extremely comfortable. Carrying it with the shoulder strap is also surprisingly easy, and the strap is wide enough not to dig in.

For anyone who wants a female designed pack but is a little taller, the Fairview also comes in a S/M size, and the non-gender specific Farpoint is essentially the same pack and comes in even larger sizes (and more attractive colors).

osprey fairview 40l backpack review

If you want to take the Osprey Fairview as carry-on luggage, can you?

Absolutely. We had no problems on our flight and it’s within average size limits for US carriers. It’s just on the line for smaller European and Asian carriers (think Ryan Air), but should slip by unless you run into a gate agent having a bad day.

Have you found the size to be too small, just right, or too large?

It was too large for a long weekend, but I’ve done a test pack (yes I’m that girl) for my two-week fall trip and it fit just what I needed, helping me to not over-pack, but not forcing me to leave necessities behind.

One other unexpected perk I’ve noticed is that this pack fits an average sized hostel locker, something I’ve encountered problems with when using a larger pack.

Overall, would you recommend the Osprey Fairview 40L backpack?

Without hesitation. Color aside, this is a well-designed, well-constructed pack that I expect to last. There are some design features I’d love for Osprey to take a second look at, but they’ve hit all the big marks for me. I’m grateful to have a pack designed for a small person that will carry what I need and keep my back in condition to keep exploring for years!

About the Author: Kate Tooley is a writer and theater director currently making her home in Brooklyn, NY. She’s a compulsive traveller who’s never met a city she didn’t want to explore, and is always on the lookout for obscure museums, new food experiences, and great hikes. You can find travel photos and recommendations on her Instagram @talking2walls.

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osprey fairview 40 backpack
osprey fairview 40l travel backpack review

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Gear We Use

Organization

Packing Cubes – Organize your luggage with the lightweight, durable and compressible Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Compression Cubes.


Backpacks + Daypacks

Pacsafe – Since they come with extra theft-resisting features, Pacsafe bags make you a more confident traveler. We especially love this bag.

Sea to Summit – Of all the Sea to Summit products, our most recommended is the fits-in-your-palm, super packable Ultra-Sil Daypack.


Personal Care

Nalgene Toiletry Bottles – These leak-free toiletry bottles and tubs come in all sizes – even super tiny, helping minimalists pack it all without bulk.

Turkish Towels – They’re thinner than most travel towels, and they actually cover your body! We can’t get enough of Turkish towels for travel.


Clothing

Speakeasy Supply Co. – They make the awesome hidden pocket infinity scarves that are perfect for stashing secret cash, lip balms, and passports.

Anatomie – Anatomie travel pants come with luxury prices, but they offer many benefits for travelers. See our review of the famous Skyler pants.

Travel Resources

Booking Airfare

Dollar Flight Club – Get flight deal alerts for your preferred departure airport. There is both a free and premium version (recommended for more sweet deals). Members save on average $500 USD per flight!

Skyscanner – Skyscanner is our preferred site for searching flights. They offer unbiased search results and are free from hidden fees. You can also book your hotels and rental cars.


Accommodation

Airbnb – Airbnb is the best place to book out apartments around the world. Sign up using this link to get $37 USD off your first stay booking + $14 USD towards an experience booking!

Booking.com – Search for hotels, hostels, and apartments using this one resource. Use it for flights, car rentals, and airport taxis as well.

Hostelworld – For hostels, Hostelworld remains our number one source for booking stays. Choose from straight up hostels, budget hotels and bed and breakfasts.

Trusted Housesitters – Save money on travel accommodation by becoming a housesitter. Housesitters often have extra duties, like caring for pets and gardens.

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. Mary says

    Thanks for the review! I’m 5-2″ and just bought the Farpoint because I just couldn’t handle the colors on the Farview. The forest green reminds me of my good ol’fashioned Kelty backpacking bag, and the misty grey looks like my great-uncle’s WWI button bag. (I’m not young.) I wanted something I could use for work travel and got the Farpoint in black. I let Osprey know if they came out with better colors I’d hand down my Farpoint to my son in favor of the Farview. (Wouldn’t grey with colorful contrast top-stitching be awesome? And of course the interior lining has to remain light-colored so you can find things.) Happy travels!

    • Kate Tooley says

      Thanks for reading Mary! Hope you’re enjoying your Farpoint; I’ve had the older model for years and while I’m finding the Fairview is distributing weight a little bit better, the Farpoint is sill a fantastic and super comfy pack. I wish all outdoor companies would put out black bags for both genders– not all women want funky colors!

  2. Sarah says

    Thank you so much for this review! I just got my new Fairview after traveling last week and realizing that not only had I completely overpacked my Timbuk2 Wingman, but I really needed something with a waist belt to help support the weight. Passing my Wingman on to my husband, and excited to travel again soon with my Fairview!

    • Kate Tooley says

      Thanks for giving it a read Sarah! A waist belt is such a game changer! I hope you fall in love with your Fairview once you get a chance to take it on the road!

  3. m says

    Great Review! the locker info is very helpful. I think the smaller size is actually 38L, so you are doing even better than you thought on keeping it light.

    • Kate Tooley says

      I’m not sure what the concept was on Osprey’s part; I think it should always at least be an option. That said, for me personally, when this bag is filled to capacity, I think adding something onto the back would put too much weight far away from my body. I opted for a small collapsible day pack that I could shove inside. Helped me even more with not being tempted to pick up extra stuff on the trip.

  4. MaK says

    I read somewhere the extra day bag only comes with the larger versions of this bag (55 and 70? I think).

  5. MaK says

    Great review with lots of details. Thank you. Sooo with you on the colour choice ! Yukky forest green or turquoise blue…!? What a choice 🙁 I’m thinking of doing what the other reader did and go for the male version in a nicer colour.

    • Kate Tooley says

      You’re correct in the above comment. Only the larger sizes come with a day pack. I’ve finally become accustomed to the color (and I have to admit the light color inside makes it super easy to find things), but I’m still hoping Osprey starts making a black or grey option for both male and female packs. Thanks for reading!

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