In the night sky, Centauri are the very bright stars which point to our Southern Cross. In stark contrast, Osprey’s new Centauri 22-litre pack is not conspicuously flashy at all. It is a refined and functional member of Osprey’s urban to trail ‘24/7 Series’ packs.
Ospreys packs are well known and liked by the Product Review team here at The Bushwalking Blog. We’ve always found them to have impressive performance in the bush and on the trail. This time we are looking at an urban descendant from Osprey – a new everyday laptop backpack.
Centauri is Osprey’s new daily backpack suitable for work, school or play. It has a 22-litre volume, a pared-down feature set and slick modern styling. Its slim flattened oval shape has no external interruptions, giving it an elegant, contemporary, clean appearance. Inside it has a padded laptop sleeve, a second sleeve for a tablet or A4 sized documents and two slip pockets. Outside it has two stretch side pockets and a roomy top pocket set into the front flap.
The Bag: The Osprey Centauri is a very neatly tailored backpack. The designers have made a deliberate effort to make it very sleek. The subtle Osprey logos and model name are discrete and look tasteful – experienced travellers often prefer luggage to look mundane and somewhat uninteresting to avoid attracting unwanted attention, especially if it contains valuable equipment. Available in five muted colours, we road-tested the Ethel Blue model which has grey straps.
Packcloth is a combination of 210/420/630 denier nylon dobby blend. This soft textured cloth has a good feel and looks dependable. The bottom of the pack is double layered for improved durability in this higher wear area. Inside seams are all fully bound with grosgrain tape.
The Centauri has deep weather flaps covering the zips for both the main and small compartments. These are conically cut to fit snugly over the zips, and they suit the clean lines of the bag. At 40mm deep they provide excellent weather protection, but they do make it a bit difficult to access the zips and can snag unless you clear the zipper pathway with a finger.
Weighing just 625 grams, it gives very good load carrying capacity for its weight.
Main Compartment: The main compartment is sealed with a heavy-duty #10 YKK zip with twin sliders. This U-shaped half zip provides a good compromise between interior access and security.
Inside: There is an internal sleeve attached to the back panel for a laptop. Osprey says it suits up to 15” laptops. I found that a bulkier 16” one easily fitted, also my slim 14” laptop didn’t slide around in the sleeve. The bottom of this padded sleeve is stitched 40mm above the floor of the pack. Suspended this way, you shouldn’t get a clunk from your laptop when the pack is placed onto a hard surface. This is the attention to detail that Osprey is renowned for.
A second internal sleeve is provided for A4 documents or a tablet. Two 10 x 10cm smaller sleeves and two internal pen slots complete the sparse internal accommodation.
A practical detail is the additional padding inside the front panel which protects the laptop from knocks and kicks when you put it on the floor while on crowded public transport.
My current laptop commuter backpack is an overly complex affair that looks like it was designed by Inspector Gadget with nine external zippers and a multitude of internal compartments. The sort of bag where you can never find what you want in a hurry. With just two compartments and a much cleaner layout, the Centauri offers a simpler, almost austere arrangement.
Outside: A good-sized external pocket let into the top of the front panel is lined with a new heat embossed fabric. This fabric is intended to be gentle on things like mobile phone screens or sunglasses. This compartment is reliably sealed with a #5 YKK zip with a single slider. Osprey have included a key retaining clip in this pocket, which is nice but seems at odds with the non-scratch environment.
Snug elasticized mesh pockets, each capable of holding a 1.25-litre bottle or collapsible umbrella are fitted each side.
The pack also has a discrete top aperture and chest strap elastics to route headphone cables. Osprey have used different sized zip pulls on the two zips to allow for more intuitive operation. To cap it off a padded, slim profile top handle crowns the pack.
Harness: Centauri is a one size fits all pack. The padded chest straps are nicely stiffened and fitted with mesh on the inside faces. The non-stretch sternum strap has a vertical adjustment range of 150mm and is long enough to suit even the most barrel-shaped chests. A whistle is moulded into the buckle.
A non-padded 19 mm webbing hip belt provides for stability during activities like cycling or running to keep the bag centred on your back. Osprey have made the hip belt removable.
Warranty: Outdoor Agencies, Osprey’s Australian distributor, warrants the product for two years.
What about real-world performance?
Public transport: The compact external dimensions and clean lines make Centauri a breeze to wrangle on crowded trams and trains. It’s small enough for overhead luggage racks, or under the seat in front of you, or on your lap. When placed on the floor the waist straps drag on the ground, and I have now removed them.
During the peak hour sprint to the train station barriers, I did find an issue with zips snagging on the storm flaps. You know the drill, slip the bag off one shoulder, and unzip the pocket to get out your Myki, Opal or Go card without breaking stride. With the Centauri, the soft zip flap gets caught in the zipper, so it’s almost a two-handed affair to open it.
Aircraft: With maximum dimensions of 460 mm (l) x 300 mm (w) x 260 mm (d) Centauri is within allowable airplane carry on size restrictions, unless it’s overloaded to resemble a giant unexploded football. The laptop readily slips in and out of its sleeve, so there’s no need for panic or fumbling in the x-ray queues.
Cycling: I found the pack sat well on my back on the bike with medium loads and that the hip belt was not really needed. No stability or balance issues. The back panel doesn’t ventilate as well as it looks like it would, however, and under moderate weather conditions, I found I was getting a sweaty back.
Osprey has provided a pair of slots for a tail light attachment. My tail light was a sloppy fit in these slots, and I would not trust this arrangement to be secure over rough roads. A lightweight reflector might be a more reliable proposition for these slots.
Walking: I’m medium-sized (5’ 7”, 73kgs) and found the pack sits comfortably above my waist and doesn’t rub on my hips or lower back. During my brisk 6 km walks, I had an issue with back ventilation, as with cycling.
In the Office: At 22 litres, there was no problem with the volume for my daily requirements. This includes carrying a laptop, snacks, lunch, rain jacket, thin polar fleece, book plus the occasional lunchtime shopping purchase. However, after several weeks of daily use, I found the internal layout to be a bit sparse for my liking. An additional small zippered compartment would be welcome, to put the little things that drift around inside the pack, like small change, USB drives etc.
Design, Comfort & Durability (Rating: 85%)
Functionality & Ease of Use (Rating: 80%)
What I Like
- Looks excellent. Clean lines, simple non-fussy appearance.
- Functional. Minimalist yet useful internal layout.
- Thoughtful, experienced design. Nice details, excellent build quality.
What I Don’t Like
- Zipper action constrained by the deep weather flaps.
- Poor ventilation of the back panel.