The Osprey Tropos is designed for the urban outdoorsman, so at first blush, it’s a left-field review for a hiker. On the other hand, who better to review an urban office worker’s backpack than a wilderness backpack junkie who totes a laptop for a day job?

Australia’s public transport system is way less popular than say our Asian cousins who pour in and out of subways on a daily basis. Our system falls down on the leg between home and the station or bus stop and this is where the office backpack comes in for those who are loathe to drive their car the short few kilometres to the station. Ride or walk, this backpack will do it. But the thing that excited me most about this pack surprised me and I reckon it’ll surprise you too.

Design & Durability (Rating: 90%)

The 34L Osprey Tropos comes in Kraken Blue, Rivet Red, Cypress Green, Sentinel Grey and Black. Great names for colours right? My go-to office pack for the last five years has been the Toshiba laptop backpack whose seams are coming apart and with vinyl cracking, so I was really ready to look at something else.

The 24/Seven series marketed as “Urban to Trail” is a suite of commuter packs of varying features and sizes.

Features of the Tropos include:

  • AirSpeed® ventilated backpanel
  • Integrated kickstand keeps pack upright and accessible
  • Separate zippered laptop / tablet access
  • Front panel vertical zip stretch pocket
  • Upper side compression straps with tuckaway garage
  • Lower compression straps
  • Front panel organization pocket with key clip
  • Heat embossed scratch-free slash pocket
  • Dual stretch mesh water bottle pockets
  • Blinker light attachment
  • Padded 17″ laptop sleeve and tablet sleeve
  • Magazine / document sleeve and internal organization

The fabric used by Osprey for this pack includes three weights of fabric; 210/420/630D Nylon Dobby Blend. This allows them to put the heavier weight fabrics where it’s needed and lighter weight fabric in the lower wear areas thus saving weight and cost. Total weight of the pack is 1.22 kg which is 500g heavier than my current laptop pack. This might sound like a disadvantage, but the real reason for the increase is what I love most about this pack.

Before I get to what excites me the most, there are a couple of other things to love about this pack. There are four main compartments and two of the big compartments have a subdivider and an inside mesh zip pocket in them respectively. Another compartment has smaller internal pockets suitable for pens, business cards and phones – pretty standard stuff. However, I’m used to a pack with only three compartments and was extremely disturbed one morning looking for my mobile. I’d checked the pack thrice and didn’t find it until I rang it and yep it was in the pack. The storage areas in this pack are ridiculously luxurious. The great thing about this is you can keep files, diary, laptop, keys, wallet, and lunch all separate instead of doing the great rummage that I normally do to find the one thing that Murphy’s law dictates will be the last thing I will pull out.

The hard plastic loop zip pulls are classic Osprey and they’re great because regular zips tend to disappear pretty easily into gussets and are hard to see and get hold of.

The semi-rigid haul strap at the top of the pack is like a big handle where a lot of smaller style packs have only a small loop of webbing. This enables one to carry the pack by hand for short distances when you don’t want to sling it over the shoulder.

Given that it’s summer now, the ventilated mesh Airspeed back panel (think mesh trampoline) maintains a breezy airspace between your back and the pack without which your back would be soaked after only a short walk. This design definitely keeps you cooler and drier a feature for which you’re happy to cop some extra weight.

Finally, the other extra weight comes from a really clever idea. There are two rigid hoops built into the pack itself, a feature which Osprey calls their Kickstand. Once I loosened the side compression straps after unboxing and loaded my laptop into it, I realised what the hoo-ha was about. The pack stands upright in place without toppling over. More on why this could be a game-changer later.

Osprey Tropos 34L Backpack Review

Functionality & Ease of Use (Rating: 90%)

I’m always in two minds about why these little day sized packs have a basic waist strap so I thought I’d find out. I deliberately parked a kilometre away from my meeting, walked to the meeting, placed my laptop on the floor (it didn’t fall over and I didn’t have to lean it against anything) and upon conclusion of said meeting, I snapped the waist strap in place, tightened the shoulder straps and chest strap and started jogging. I looked like a knob, but it was all in the name of science right? The pack really hugged my back and didn’t swing side to side like I thought it might. It passed this test with flying colours and I got my heart rate up before the three-hour drive home. At least if you’re ever running for that train or bus that’s about to pull away, you’ll know the pack won’t let you down.

The pockets are going to take a while for me to work out. This pack has an element of Narnia to it. Things are going in there, disappearing for a while and I’m spending ages finding them again. This is more about getting used to the greater options than I’ve had before in being able to divide my office gear up and eventually everything will find its own home.

One downside for me is the pack is designed with a 17” laptop sleeve and the hangtag on the bag indicated that it would fit a laptop with a diagonal span of 17”. My Laptop is a nominally 17” display, but the overall diagonal is actually 19” which means it doesn’t fit into the designated sleeve. It does, however, fit in the other longer compartment. The beauty of the designated sleeve is that this compartment is between the kickstand supports and it’s designed to hover above the ground. Your laptop doesn’t go clunk when you set the pack down. In my case, the compartment I’m using does touch the ground so I’ll just have to be careful. Just be aware that the 17” promoted in the pack features doesn’t mean you can fit a 17” (display) laptop in the laptop sleeve.

I’ve saved the best for last here. The real magic of this pack that totally excited me (told you I was a gear nerd) is that plonking the pack down on the polished floorboards of my office, it stood upright right where I placed it. Tada. It just sat there vertically like some kind of trick. I had always hated how my regular laptop pack slumped and fell over and as much as I’d prop it up against my desk or a wall, it always managed to slump and slide its way down until it was on its side, back or front on the floor. This is a game-changer. Apparently, success in business lies in identifying a problem and offering a solution and Osprey have totally done it with the kickstand. Other packs try and get some rigidity in there using back inserts but they’re just not enough to keep a pack standing up. Well played Osprey.

What I Like

  • It fits like a charm while keeping the back cool and dry
  • The haul strap is stiff and big like a handle
  • So many compartments. Just. So. Many.
  • You can run with it if you’re late for the train and it’s not going to slop side to side and take out other fellow commuters.
  • The plastic reinforced loop zipper pulls means no more fumbling for zips
  • The kickstand. I love standing the pack up on the floor.

What I Don’t Like

  • The laptop sleeve doesn’t accommodate a 17” display laptop even though the features indicate a 17” Laptop sleeve. A 17” Laptop is actually 19” total diagonal so check your laptop before you buy.
  • Even though I’m 6’2” and 80kg, the excess shoulder strap and waist strap is a bit ridiculous (about 30cm each) so it’s very flappy but if you’re handy on the sewing machine you can cut, melt and restitch the ends.

Get One

The Osprey Tropos 34L Backpack is available online from Wildfire Sports.
Osprey provided a Tropos backpack for review. The above Wild Earth link is an affiliate link. None of this has any influence over the opinions presented in the above review
Have you tried the Osprey Tropos 34L Backpack? Got any questions or comments? Let us know by commenting below.