Gear Review: Osprey Ozone 22″ Wheeled Luggage

BACKGROUND

Over the past few years I’ve been fed up with my wheeled luggage. Always a proponent of carrying on, I’ve had a 22″ wheeled bag from Delsey, except it’s not really 22″. It’s actually 22″ PLUS the height of the wheels. So whenever I put this in the overhead bin, the bag never fit the way it should with wheels going in first (wait, you DO know that the wheels go in first, right? Don’t be THAT guy who puts their bag horizontally when it can fit perpendicularly if you can help it). The combination of wanting a new bag + being a fan of Osprey + REI having a sale all finally culminated in the purchase of the Osprey Ozone 22″.

TECHNICAL SPECS

Volume and Weight

The Ozone series is new to Osprey as of Fall 2012. Osprey is one of the premier bag companies out there, specializing in backpacking/hiking bags and dabbling in travel luggage. The Ozone Series consists of ultralight luggage coming in 18″, 22″, 28″, backpack, and messenger bag variations. I chose the 22″ as it’s the maximum legal carry-on size for most airplanes. It has an advertised 46L of volume and only weighs 4lbs. 7oz. (2.02kg). In comparison, my Delsey Helium Breeze weighed a chunky 9lbs! When looking at ultralight wheeled duffels, I also looked at the Osprey Meridian (8lbs. 14oz.), GoLite Travelite (5lbs. 9oz.), Patagonia MLC wheelie (6lbs. 11oz.), REI Tech Beast (7lbs. 11oz.), and Timbuk2 Copilot (7lbs. 6oz.). The new Ozone is not only the lightest by about 2lbs, but it also had the 2nd largest volume capacity (first was Timbuk2’s Copilot with an impressive 52L).

Pockets/Storage

It’s no surprise that Osprey’s expertise in backpacks carries over to their luggage. When you pick up the Ozone, you can tell that the fabric, frame, and zippers are ultralight-backpack-inspired. It has one main compartment with two long zippered pockets along the sides (one mesh, one nylon) for storing socks, underwear, etc. and a mesh zippered panel to presumably put dirty clothes in. It also has 2 internal compression straps to keep your gear in place. On the outside, the bag has two deceptively large zippered pockets which can hold your shoes, a fleece, etc. Two compression straps cover the zippers for these pockets which means they need to be undone before accessing the large pockets. On top of the bag is a smaller zippered pocket to put your toiletries, headphones, or other small items in. Finally, the flat side of the bag has a zippered panel which reveals the frame structure and a cavity large enough to hold books and magazines. The panel also has a zippered mesh pocket which fit my Kindle perfectly. Finally, there is a luggage name tag flap that elegantly is velcroed down to prevent nosy eyes from casually finding out your contact info.

Handles

The Ozone features a single telescoping handle which easily extends and retracts with a push of a button. The length is perfect for wheeling behind without my heels kicking the bag. The bag also has four grab handles: three made of fabric on the top and sides, (I felt like the top handle could have been a little more taut…it was secured fine, but the length of the handle was just a half inch longer than my liking. This could be fine for people with larger hands) and one aluminum handle on the bottom which doubles as a kickstand to prevent the bag from toppling over from excess weight or top-heavy packing. I found this to be a superb feature as I’ve had other bags that have tipped over despite smart packing.

REAL LIFE USE

While in REI, I compared this bag to the REI Tech Beast and the Osprey Meridian. At $229, it fell much closer to the $199 Tech Beast than the $329 Meridian. At the time, REI was having a sale and I had some gift cards, so I only ended up paying a fraction out of pocket.

The Ozone was incredibly light compared to the Tech Beast and Meridian, and at first I was skeptical about the capacity. I stuffed each bag with the same sandbag and pillow to compare, and surprisingly the Ozone held it’s own. The Tech Beast seemed to initially hold the items better, but once zippered up, they were all about the same. The Ozone doesn’t seem as deep at first (see pictures below), but I think that’s because of the design: it has more fabric on the top of the bag than the bottom portion.

If you are like me, you might be considering wheeled duffels that have backpack straps, such as the Osprey Meridian. While I did consider this for awhile, I realized that I typically have a separate day pack or messenger bag while traveling to hold electronics, a fleece, and other things I keep under the airplane seat in front of me. I have never needed to carry my actual carry on bag on my back, however, if this is something you will need, then the Ozone is not the bag for you.

I used this bag for a trip from Philadelphia to Austin and in a nutshell, it was fantastic. I got the Ozone in bright green and yes, you will get a lot of attention because of it, so if you are looking for a more modest color, the Ozone series also comes in a grey/black color combo. The wheels rolled smoothly, the handle was solid, and the bag capacity was perfect for a 3 day trip. In the main compartment I fit an Eagle Creek Pack It cube and half cube, toiletry kit, my DSLR, and two lenses. In the two long outside pockets, I put my Inov-8 sneakers. In the top pocket I put my headphones, flashlight, and ultra-sil stuffed daypack. Finally, in the back panel I put a few magazines and my Kindle for easy access. This is really convenient, especially if you’re not carrying a separate day pack.

The only issue I had was zipping the bag up. One of the main zippers got a little stuck as it rounded the corner, so zipping it up with one hand was not as easy as with two. Some people might also think the zippers are flimsy. While this is true compared to the Meridian and other heavy duty zippered bags, we all know that zippers are heavy and this is a way of saving weight. My thought is that Osprey has a lifetime guarantee and if a zipper breaks, I can just send it back to them or return it to REI since they have the best return policy around. I think this will be a non-issue though, since these are not cheap zippers, they are just less heavy duty than other luggage zippers.

CONCLUSION

The Osprey Ozone 22″ is designed for those who want an ultralight wheeled duffel and know how to pack light. It is not for someone who packs everything and the kitchen sink for traveling. Due to the light nylon fabric, it also doesn’t offer much protection for fragile objects, though you could just pack these items within your clothes, as I did with my DSLR and lenses. The strengths of the bag lie in the low weight, sturdy frame, and minimalist design. If you are familiar with the Osprey line of backpacks, you will not be disappointed by the quality of construction and details. I’m very glad I purchased this bag and highly recommend it as an ultralight carry on.

Pros

  • ultralight
  • excellent capacity for its size
  • functional pockets and storage
  • sturdy frame; not easily tipped over
  • aesthetically pleasing design
  • lifetime warranty from Osprey

Cons

  • price might deter some people, but you get what you pay for
  • does not offer much protection for fragile objects
  • all your friends will be jealous of your kick ass bag when you travel together

Ozone 18″ bag         Ozone 22″ bag        Ozone 28″ bag

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