Osprey Transporter Wheeled Carry-On 38 Review

The Osprey Transporter Wheeled Carry-On 38’s roomy main compartment and convenient front pocket organization make it easy to pack at home and access on the go.

Our Verdict

7.5 /10
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  • Easy to carry by your side since its side profile is relatively slim
  • Surprisingly roomy front-side bucket space fits a pair of shoes
  • Front compartment provides storage for items you access to on the go


  • Handle’s ribbed underside isn’t grippy, which impacts comfort
  • Front gets lumpy since it can hold so much gear in a relatively slim package
  • It’s tricky loading up the tight front compartment when you have the bag on its side

Technical Details

62 %

Carry-on Compliance

View 90/145 Airlines

  • Capacity


  • Weight (lb)

    6.148 lb (2.8 kg)

  • Dimensions

    21.5 in x 14 in x 9 in (54.6 x 35.6 x 22.9 cm)

  • Notable Materials

    Recycled Polyester, Recycled Nylon, Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU), PFC-free DWR Coating, Meets bluesign® Criteria, Aluminum, YKK Zippers, Unbranded Hardware

  • Laptop Compartment Size


  • Warranty Information

    All Mighty Guarantee

Buying Options

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Full Review

If we’re all being honest (and we always are), Osprey isn’t the first brand that comes to mind when we think of carry on luggage. Nor is it the second. Nor is it the third. It doesn’t really make the top 5, really. Their expertise in outdoor backpacks makes it almost impossible to reconcile with the type of bag whose fiercest adversary is the airport baggage handler, not the dusty and rocky trails of the great outdoors.

Osprey Transporter Wheeled Carry-On 38 Back
Osprey Transporter Wheeled Carry-On 38 | Pulling up on two wheels.

Yet, the Osprey Transporter Wheeled Carry-On 38 shows that those two aren’t ends of a spectrum. Its TPU-coated fabric makes for a tough shell for a soft side carry on, roominess isn’t an issue, and the layout shows a level of intuitiveness we’ve come to expect from a brand that knows how to make travel backpacks.

External Components

Osprey is in the habit of using different fabrics on their bags, and the Transporter Wheeled Carry-On is no different. It’s a menagerie of fabrics, with the majority being made of 450-denier recycled polyester, the accents being 600-denier recycled polyester, while the bottom has 420-denier recycled nylon. Why the sudden switch to nylon for the bottom? Well, it’s a generally tougher fabric than polyester, and it’s the bottom of bags that usually scrape a lot. These denier values don’t really scream “heavy-duty,” which is fine for city use, though not so much if you plan on dragging this along a trail (probably not a good idea in general).

Osprey Transporter Wheeled Carry-On 38 Logo
Osprey Transporter Wheeled Carry-On 38 | The TPU coating gives it that slick look.

As an aside, the entire bag does feel relatively lightweight, even for a soft-side carry-on. Whether it’s because of the fabric or other weight-saving techniques Osprey’s performed, the result speaks for itself. By our own testing, this bag is lighter than similar-sized carry-ons like the Cotopaxi Allpa 38L Roller Bag and Thule Subterra 2 Carry-On Suitcase Spinner. The Eagle Creek Cargo Hauler XT Wheeled 21.5″ International Carry On Duffel is lighter by around half a pound, though it’s also two liters smaller.

Despite all the fabric, it’s really the TPU coating all the polyester that really catches the eye. It gives the bag its distinct sheen, which, combined with the black colorway we’ve chosen, lends it that “non-descript, government-approved, and standardized” vibe. If not for the overt Osprey branding, this bag would blend all too well on a luggage carousel. Unfortunately, there’s only one other colorway available at the time of writing: Venturi Blue and it’s not that stand out either.

Osprey Transporter Wheeled Carry-On 38 Zipper
Osprey Transporter Wheeled Carry-On 38 | YKK-branded zippers are a reassuring sign of reliability.

The hardware may be unbranded, but the zippers are from YKK. In case you’re not in the loop, YKK is as top-tier as you can get when it comes to zipper brands, and it certainly feels that way whenever we’re unzipping the different compartments on this bag. It has that chunky, quality feel and, more importantly, none of them have jamped throughout our testing.

Overall, the Transporter Wheeled Carry-On is solidly built with fairly robust materials. There is some play between the part of the bag that’s made of fabric (which is most of it) and the plastic frame serving as the platform and wheels of the bag. However, it’s only to an acceptable degree as the stitching joining the two parts appears to be as good as they could make it.

Osprey Transporter Wheeled Carry-On 38 Wheel
Osprey Transporter Wheeled Carry-On 38 | The two wheels don’t rotate like four-wheeled ones usually do.

At the very least, the bag and the frame (specifically called the HighRoad chassis) are joined well enough that you can used the underside handle in conjunction with the other soft handles confidently. These handles are handy for getting the entire bag out of tight spaces like car trunks and from underneath seats.

It’s worth noting that since the Transporter Wheeled Carry-On has a rather slim side profile, carrying it by the top handle is actually quite easy. It rests beside you without feeling clunky, and this comes in handy when you’re trying to board buses that usually have narrow entryways. All of that said, while this bag’s dimensions make it carry-on compliant with most major US airlines, it’s about an inch too big on all sides for international carriers—your mileage may vary.

Osprey Transporter Wheeled Carry-On 38 Handle Close
Osprey Transporter Wheeled Carry-On 38 | The ID slip isn’t provided.

At the top of the bag is a small I.D. window where you can insert a slip with your relevant contact information. This is a staple feature for most luggage, though we’d be remiss not to mention that others would at least include the actual slip (or even an entire luggage tag in some cases) and not just provide an empty window. It’s not a big deal if you already have your own luggage tag or use a smart tracker. If not, then prepare to get creative with a sheet of paper and a pair of scissors.

The main telescoping handle is made of a 6061 aluminum alloy. It sounds fancy, though it’s a common type of alloy, and aluminum is a typical choice for the handles most brands use on their luggage. Everything else is also quite standard for a telescoping handle, including the two-step adjustment and single-press lock release. There’s some wiggle once the handle’s fully extended, though, like the frame’s stitching, it’s to an acceptable degree.

Osprey Transporter Wheeled Carry-On 38 Grip
Osprey Transporter Wheeled Carry-On 38 | The ribbing doesn’t really help with anything.

The Transporter Wheeled Carry-On features two wheels, making it a roller luggage as opposed to a spinner. Spinners have four independent wheels, which give them a wide range of movement, whether it’s side to side, forwards and backward, or on two wheels or all four. Rollers like this one, on the other hand, can only be pulled along at an angle. In return, you get a much simpler design with fewer things to go wrong.

There are two fairly beefy 90mm wheels that faired well when we dragged them up and down a flight of stairs. Complementing these two wheels are front-side pegs that prop up the bag when you leave it free-standing. These pegs also flank the underside handle we mentioned earlier.

Fit Notes

Though having only two wheels limits the Transporter Wheeled Carry-On’s range of movement compared to spinner luggage, it’s enough since we end up pulling either type at an angle. The wheels roll smoothly as expected and they’re big enough that most surfaces pose no problem, even if it’s a gravel parking lot, for example. That said, a significant chunk of the wheels is shrouded by the plastic frame, and we can just imagine what would happen if stray discarded receipts, strings, and other debris get jammed within—let’s just hope the wheels never roll over freshly discarded gum.

Osprey Transporter Wheeled Carry-On 38 Handle
Osprey Transporter Wheeled Carry-On 38 | It rolls smoothly enough, though we wish the handle wasn’t ribbed.

The handle is ergonomically shaped, rounded, and curved appropriately. However, the ribbed underside doesn’t help with anything. You’d be forgiven for assuming it’s for grip, though the ribbing runs parallel with the direction you’re pulling, so it’s irrelevant in that regard. If anything, it just digs into your hand as you’re pulling the bag along, and it’s further exacerbated the heavier you pack the bag.

Inside The Carry On Luggage

Soft-sided carry-on luggage usually, but not always, comes with the advantage of featuring secondary compartments where you can store items you might need to access in a pinch. The first of these on the Transporter Wheeled Carry-On is a top pocket that’s lined with a soft and cushioned fabric. It’s an ideal spot for easily scratched items like a pair of sunglasses or your smartphone. This pocket may look shallow at first, but it’s almost as deep as it is wide, thanks to its pouch-like interior. With that in mind, this pocket gets pushed up once the interior is packed full.

Osprey Transporter Wheeled Carry-On 38 Glasses
Osprey Transporter Wheeled Carry-On 38 | This pocket’s soft liner doesn’t scratch your sunglasses.

Also available is an entire front compartment for the rest of your frequently needed gear. Zip it open, and you’re greeted by a laptop sleeve at the back, an adjacent zippered pocket, plus two liner pockets. All of these make the front compartment a good tech compartment where your laptop and tech accessories, like a charging adapter, cables, and travel mouse, can all be packed. Take note that while the official specs say you can fit a 16-inch laptop, the fitment is quite tight along the top. On the flip side, there’s plenty of space between the bottom edge and the floor to avoid impacts from below.

Our main gripe with this compartment is that access is fairly tight when the bag is on its side. You have to prop it upright if you want to pack its deepest areas easily, which is quite a hassle since the main compartment packs like a suitcase (i.e., being on its side).

Osprey Transporter Wheeled Carry-On 38 Laptop
Osprey Transporter Wheeled Carry-On 38 | The front compartment allows you to access frequently used gear with ease.

The entire front zips and folds out like most luggage, though the zipper runs near the outer edge. This would make you think that any front-side pocket or compartment would lack volume. However, we’re pleased to say that’s not the case at all. Thanks to the mesh’s inherent stretchiness, both of the twin zippered mesh pockets have adequate space for small clothing like socks, gloves, and underwear. Moreover, there’s a bucket space underneath that’s partitioned via a zipper closure which is surprisingly roomy.

Osprey Transporter Wheeled Carry-On 38 Empty
Osprey Transporter Wheeled Carry-On 38 | The bucket space beneath the mesh pockets is surprisingly roomy.

There’s enough room in this small bucket to pack a pair of large sneakers and an additional slim toiletry bag if we so desire. That said, though we don’t have any issues regarding space, the tradeoff is a lumpy look as the front fabric really conforms to the gear you have inside. Needless to say, this also affects the front compartment’s volume.

Osprey Transporter Wheeled Carry-On 38 Stuffed
Osprey Transporter Wheeled Carry-On 38 | The bulk of your gear resides within the left bucket space.

The main bucket space on the left is where the bulk of your gear will reside. You have a choice of either organizing your clothing in packing cubes like we usually do or relying on the built-in hold-down straps to make sure your folded shirts won’t slosh around. Either way, you’re going to have an easy time organizing your gear since the opening is very wide. The only thing you have to watch out for is the top pocket’s pouch getting in the way.

Usage Timeline

Initial Usage

Condition: Excellent

  • The wheels are incredibly beefy, so it seems like it’ll be good on rough terrain
  • We like that there are external compartments for quick access to gear (including a laptop)
  • Soft exterior and bucket shape make for easy packing—and overpacking
2 Weeks of Use

Condition: Excellent

  • A few blemishes around the bag, but nothing that impacts performance or aesthetics much
  • Digging the functionality of the exterior and quick-grab pockets
  • Segmented organization is handy for keeping gear in check without needing packing cubes
By Lauren Maternowski
Created July 8, 2024 • Updated July 8, 2024
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