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.
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.
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 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.
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).
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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