On taking into account the test reports from American and various European consumer organizations, the experiences of travel bloggers, and our 20+ years of combined road experience, we have previously recommended a few travel products (wheeled backpacks, a toiletry bag) from Osprey.

So we like Osprey quite a bit. But for this article we wanted to look at just those carry-on pieces that combine wheels with backpack straps — Osprey Meridian, Ozone, and Sojourn — and ask which of these is best for whom? Osprey's own marketing explanations on the subject are scatteredvague, and terse, so we're hereby providing a full, side-by-side explanation of the options in order to help you choose. We think Osprey makes excellent luggage — often the best in their categories — but wish they would make the differences a little easier to understand.

Update history of this article

Originally published April 18, 2017

 

Quick Comparison Table: Osprey Meridian, Ozone, and Sojourn Carry-Ons

Osprey Meridian 60L/22"


• Sober, professional style: More muted color options, sleeker, more "pro" look

Light: 8.37 lbs/ 3.80 kg; designed more for durability than to absolutely minimize weight

• Highroad Chassis: large wheels and good clearance for bumpy roads

• Good comfort as backpack: The shoulder harness can be quickly snapped on; no hip belt

• Feature-rich: Exterior water-bottle pockets, accessory pockets, zippered top pocket, laptop sleeve, compression straps, etc.

Osprey Ozone Convertible 50L/22"

• Youthful, techy style: Sporty/tech flair, though black option looks quite a bit like Meridian

Lighter: 6.3 lbs/2.86 kg

• Highroad Chassis: large wheels and good clearance for bumpy roads

• Great comfort as backpack: Shoulder and hip straps quickly slide out

Feature-rich: Exterior water-bottle pockets, daypack, accessory pockets, zippered top pocket, laptop sleeve, compression straps, etc.

Osprey Sojourn 45L/22"


• Backpacker style: These bags give an appearance of being ready for rough road use and adventures into the great outdoors.

• Lighter: 6.3 lbs./2.86 kg

• Highroad Chassis: large wheels and good clearance for bumpy roads

• Best comfort as backpack: Ventilated, detachable back panel with hip and shoulder straps

• Backpacker-oriented features: Excellent detachable ventilated suspension, zippered top pocket "straightjacket" compression straps, and external daisy chains for attaching additional gear

• No daypack included, but you can attach an Osprey Daylite Daypack

The Great Commonalities of these Osprey Convertible Backpacks

The Osprey Meridian, Ozone, and Sojourn bags share quite a number of common features. They are all well-regarded by critics, known for durability, and relatively light. Since these bags share so many design elements, they don't look all that different from each other; the style differences are minor.

Osprey is mainly known for high quality comfortable backpacker bags that carefully distribute their weight and can be worn for long periods, so it makes sense that these convertible bags would be much more than just square, unpadded wheeled luggage with straps tacked on as an afterthought. They are, rather, truly convertible pieces of luggage that work great whether rolling through a city or hiking to a hidden beach hideout. Osprey pieces are a delight to wear, carry, or roll.

They are also not as cheap as some of their competitors. If you only travel very occasionally and for short periods, forget Osprey and see some of our cheaper wheeled backpack suggestions. There are also a few Ozone models listed at the end of this article that are a bit cheaper, but that are simple carry-ons and do not convert to backpacks.

Here we're focused only on pieces that are small enough to work as carry-ons. As experienced travel snobs we're entirely convinced that it's best to hit the road with a single carry-on, and nothing else, whether you're heading out for days, weeks, or months.

Another important note for any of the bags discussed here: Osprey has a proven track record of backing up its All Mighty Guarantee ("any reason, any product, any era"). If something goes wrong they repair the piece for free, and if they can't do that, they replace it. If this befalls you, contact their closest international customer service center for details.

Best for Travel Pros: Osprey Meridian 60L/22"

Osprey Meridian 60L/22" is a sleek, fully featured wheeled carry-on that you can also pop on your back for short periods if needed. It is more for city travelers who are only going to occasionally use the detachable backpack straps for stairs, a rough bit of terrain, or quick bike ride. There is no hip belt, so this is not a wise choice for day-long treks in the woods.

This piece has very similar features to the Osprey Ozone Convertible 22"/50L. Both have attachable daybags with laptop sleeves and lots of other thoughtful little details that a serious traveler appreciates: accessory pockets, compression straps, a top quick-access pocket, and water-bottle pockets.

The Meridian is just a bit bulkier and heavier than the Ozone, and slightly more subdued and serious-looking. The Meridian also holds just a bit more, but this means that on some airlines you need to be careful not to overstuff it — particularly the attached daybag — so as not to run afoul of over-vigilant airline employees checking carry-on sizes.

Best for Light, Efficient Travel: Osprey Ozone Convertible 22"/50L

Osprey Ozone Convertible 22"/50L is the piece we most recommend and that we go on about at length in our wheeled carry-on meta-review. It is the single luggage piece that I, the digital nomad author of this article, currently live out of.

The Osprey Ozone Convertible 22"/50L quite closely resembles its Meridian counterpoint; it's main advantage is that it's just a bit lighter and not quite as bulky, so you're less likely to overstuff it and run into problems using it as a carry-on.

The Ozone Convertible 22"/50L can also look a bit sportier in its red version and "techy" with all its zippers and straps. Unlike the Sojourn, it has a dedicated laptop sleeve.

This piece is quite comfortable to wear on your back when needed for long stretches (in fact, I put the emptied bag on my back while writing this article at a standing desk, and after twenty minutes realized that I had forgotten to take it off.) It has a hip belt, making it suitable for longer treks. And, as with the other models here, it rolls well — the high chassis wheels are solidly built into the unit and give enough clearance to get you over rough terrain.

Best for the Smart Backpackers Who Still Want Wheels: The Osprey Sojourn 45L/22"

Osprey Sojourn 45L/22"  is rather unique in that it combines the features of a top-notch backpackers' pack with the great high-clearance wheels of the Ozone and Meridian lines — and it does all this in a carry-on.

That means maybe a bit of backpacker feature overkill for a small wheeled carry-on, but for those who need it mainly as a small, ultra-sturdy and comfortable backpack, it is certainly ideal. The back-panel suspension system is ventilated to keep you dry and everything about it is adjustable so that you can properly distribute your load. There are hip and sternum straps, and the whole suspension system is removable, for when you want to go with just wheels.

Just a bit of warning from the well-traveled: We think people tend to overestimate how much they'll use backpack straps and underestimate how much they'll love wheels. It's lovely to pull a piece rather than have that parasitic hump stuck to your back.

But for those who most often find themselves far from smooth pavement — and would also like wheels for when they're in more civilized territories — the Osprey Sojourn 45L/22" is going to feel great.

The Sojourn lacks a laptop sleeve, so it's not ideal for those who carry laptops or tablets, unless you also purchase an attachable daypack such as the Osprey Daylite, which is designed to hook onto the Sojourn.

There are a few other Ozone carry-ons to consider. These are marketed without the term "convertible"; they do not convert into backpacks.

The Osprey Ozone 22"/46L is very similar to the Ozone Convertible 22"/50L we discuss above, but lacks straps and a detachable daypack.

The Osprey Ozone 18"36L is a slightly smaller version, also without the daypack.

The Osprey Ozone Adult Day Pack is designed to slide over the handle of the two pieces above, and could thus accompany them.

On some airlines, for example many budget airlines in Europe, you cannot carry a personal item like a daypack in addition to your carry-on; you will thus be forced to check one of the two. It is for this reason, plus the simplicity of being able to fully zip everything together into a single pack, that we recommend the Osprey Meridian and Osprey Ozone Convertible carry-ons instead of buying separate pieces. But if those things aren't an issue for you, and you never need backpack straps, the options immediately above are excellent.

Osprey Meridian, Ozone, and Sojourn Specs Side-by-Side

Carry-OnDimensions (in.)Weight (lbs.)DaypackHipbeltLaptop SleeveUS Pricing
Osprey Meridian 22"/60L22 x 14 x 98.4YesYesYes
Osprey Ozone Convertible 22"/50L9 x 22 x 146.9YesYesYes
Osprey Sojourn 22"/45L22 x 14 x 97.9NoYesNo
Osprey Ozone 22"/46L9 x 14 x 224.4NoNoNo
Osprey Ozone 18"/36L9 x 14 x 194NoNoNo

Roundup: Which Osprey Convertible Carry-On Is Best for You?

If you're mainly in cities, carry a laptop, and only rarely will carry the bag on your back for short periods, opt for the Osprey Meridian 60L/22".

If you're on a variety of terrains, carry a laptop, and value lightness, the Osprey Ozone 50L/22" is your guy.

If you stick to rough terrain or just generally prefer carrying things on your back, go for the Osprey Sojourn 45L/22".