Wait a sec, “wheeled” carry on? Are we sure we’re talking about the same Traveling Jackie? Yes! I normally carry a Farpoint 55 on my back, paired with a shoulder bag for long-term travel, but my poor shoulders need a break.
I’m in the middle of a one-month Euro trip. I traveled here from my home in Montana and I’ll be returning there when this month is over (instead of moving on to another destination), so this was the perfect opportunity for me to try out a new bag, with wheels, for a short-term trip. For this trip, which includes visiting friends and going to Oktoberfest in Germany, a bike ride through the Swiss Alps, and an adventure to Elba island and a conference in Tuscany, I chose the Meridian 60L carry-on.
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Why the Meridian 60L 22”?
I chose it because:
- It fits as a carry-on (carry-on dimensions vary by airline, but in general they are 22x14x9 inches)
- It has a detachable daypack
- I wanted wheels
- I wanted the option to carry it as a backpack if I needed to (it has hidden backpack straps)
In many ways, this is like a wheeled version of the Farpoint 55, which is exactly what I wanted… or so I thought (wait for it).
Here is my star rating from 1-5 (1 being not so great and 5 being great) of the following attributes of the Meridian, with explanations:
1. Use as a Carry-On: 4
In my opinion, this pack definitely wouldn’t work as a carry-on if you leave the daypack attached. It sticks out too (becomes too fat) far for overhead bins. Even separated, be careful not to stuff the main part too full or you might have trouble shoving it in smaller overhead compartments.
That being said, you could argue this exact thing about the Farpoint 55, and I managed to carry that on several flights while it was all attached together. It’s a risk. I traveled with the two pieces of the Meridian separated, and this definitely worked better for me.
The Meridian is 22”, which is the max size allowed for a carry-on bag. The bag itself, empty, is about 8 lbs, so be careful with weight. It is narrow enough for airplane aisles, and the handles are nice and sturdy so it’s easy to lift and arrange into the overhead bins.
2. Quality of the Meridian: 5
The grip is comfortable on the hand and the extended part feels stable. The wheels have been dragged through dirt and rocks and are holding up quite nicely. It doesn’t slide around on trains, metros, etc. because of the grip of the wheels. It is not front heavy, it stands on its own nicely even when the daypack is attached.
3. The Meridian’s Detachable Daypack: 2
I am used to the flexible daypack of the Farpoint, and the Meridian’s daypack is much more rigid and less comfortable. It does not have a flat bottom, but instead has a sort of angle that prevents it from staying in place when you prop it up, it slides down (spilling drinks, things fall out if it’s open, etc.). The water bottle holders don’t work well when the pack is full.
I do like that it has a laptop sleeve and inside zipper pocket and outside zipper pocket just big enough for sunglasses. I wouldn’t have gotten this bag if it didn’t have the daypack, because I love this feature, I just think the piece itself could be designed better. The straps are a little narrow around the neck, making it uncomfortable to wear with weight.
I like the way it attaches to the bigger part of the bag, just with buckles instead of a zipper. However, the buckles are not adjustable, which makes attaching the daypack a bit difficult (or impossible) if both parts of the bag are stuffed all the way full.
4. Compartments and Straps: 5
Inside the main part of the bag, there are compression straps that I definitely used, in conjunction with my packing cubes, to save space. Along the sides and on the flap of the pack are zippered pockets, perfect sizes for keeping odds and ends items secure.
There is also a zippered pocket at the top that perfectly fit my shoes, so I always kept a pair of shoes in there and didn’t have to worry about them getting any clothes dirty.
5. Backpack Straps: 3?
I hauled this thing up and down four flights of stairs in Germany, four times, and not once did I think it would be more convenient for me to use the backpack straps rather than just pick it up. The bag itself wasn’t that heavy, even packed full with all my stuff, and with its nice handle, it’s easier and faster in the moment to just pick it up and carry it that way.
In the end, I ended up stuffing extra clothes and other items into the hidden backpack strap zipper pocket. I don’t think think the backpack straps are completely necessary, and interestingly enough, they are clipped in and can be removed completely if you don’t want to use them, although that seems to defeat the purpose of getting a convertible bag. I do like the extra hidden pocket they provide, and they don’t take up that much extra space or weight, I just haven’t found them either useful or harmful, so they get a neutral rating.
My Overall Rating for Osprey Packs Meridian 60L: 3.8 stars
- If adjustments were made to the daypack to make it stand up on its own, be a bit more comfortable around the neck, and hold water bottles better, this pack would’ve gotten 5 stars from me.
- I love the quality, the arrangement of elements, and the design, but I would only recommend this bag if you need it for its particular functions. For example, the detachable daypack came in handy when I was on my bike tour and was only allowed one piece of luggage for our luggage transfer. I just clipped on the daypack and was good to go. However, if you don’t need the hidden straps or detachable daypack, it would be better to get a different version, perhaps the Ozone, and pair it with your favorite daypack or shoulder bag that you know is comfortable to carry.
- I will remove the backpack straps and continue to use the main part of this bag for short trips, but I will pair it with a different daypack that is more comfortable.
Want to try it for yourself? You can buy it on Amazon.
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