The Osprey Farpoint 40 is a super popular entry-level backpack. If backpacking came with a (literal) starter pack, then this would be (in) it.
I, too, started off traveling with this backpack many years ago.
Since then, I also traveled with (and reviewed) many other backpacks. I now realize some of its aspects make the Farpoint 40 not exactly flawless. Though when I went back to using it on a recent trip, I also remembered what I love so much about it.
In this review, I wanted to give you my perspective on this perennially popular pack. I’ll discuss the Farpoint 40 based on my long-term experience with it, sharing what I like and don’t like.
I’ll also share some alternative options that are better for certain trips.
Note: I bought this pack with my own money and this is not a sponsored review. This post contains some affiliate links, which is explained here.
- Lightweight (1.4kg / 3lbs)
- Easy to use, opens like a suitcase
- Fully carry-on compliant
- Amazing value
- Only basic organizational features (needs packing cubes)
- Not best for carrying a laptop
- Narrow water bottle pockets
Who is this backpack for?
The Farpoint 40 is a lightweight backpack ideal for budget travelers. It’s comfortable to wear, inexpensive, and you can take it as carry-on luggage on flights.
Whether this backpack is totally suitable for your needs I think depends on where you’re going. So let me give my 2 cent’s worth for some of the corners of the world that I’ve traveled.
Asia: The Farpoint 40 seems 100% made for backpacking Southeast Asia. You don’t need to pack much for a tropical climate, making it an ideal size. Chances are you’ll end up on a regional flight at some point (such as with budget airline AirAsia), in which case you won’t have to pay any check-in luggage fees. It’s also easy to throw onboard a tuk-tuk, haul onto a long-tail ferry boat, or carry across a beach.
For Southeast Asia, this is pretty much a 5 out of 5 star backpack.
Europe: If you’re going to backpack in Europe, the Farpoint 40 also a great pack. Again, the carry-on size is great for reducing air travel costs. A lot of backpackers who stay in hostels in Europe swear by this backpack. But if you need to cover both winter and summer situations, you may find it a bit small. For urban travel in Europe, there are also other lightweight packs with more internal organization to consider, such as the Tortuga Setout. Still, I think it’s a great pack for backpacking Europe, especially if you’re packing for a specific season like the summer. I believe the same pros and cons apply to travel within the United States.
Latin America: If you’ll be traveling in Latin America, then I think it’s nicer to have a slightly bigger backpack. That’s because of the varying climate conditions (e.g. the cold Andes, hot Amazon) which require more gear. Since flights in Latin America are often more expensive, people tend to travel more overland, so there’s less benefit to having a carry-on size pack. For a South American sojourn I prefer 55-liter bags, such as the Osprey Farpoint Trek 55.
As for other parts of the world, if you can pack light and if carry-on size will be important to you, then this backpack is definitely one to consider.
In a nutshell, the key advantages of the Farpoint 40 are:
- Carry-on size (no need to check in)
- Lightweight at 1.36 kg or 3 lbs (M/L version). It’s about ¼ to ⅓ lighter than many premium carry-on backpacks. This makes it easier to stay within carry-on weight restrictions.
- Inexpensive as you can get the Farpoint 40 for under 140 Euros or 160 US Dollars, depending on the model. You can check the latest prices and models at Osprey.
- It opens like a suitcase and not from the top. This is ideal for staying in hotels or hostels.
Is the Farpoint 40 comfortable?
The Farpoint 40 has a fully-featured harness, clearly showing off Osprey’s heritage as a trekking backpack manufacturer. You can see all the padding and many straps below.
However, at first, I did not think the Farpoint 40 was all that comfortable.
In the beginning, it would be just OK for a little while — for example when I had to switch buses at a terminal or walk some minutes to my next hostel. But any longer and my shoulders would really start to hurt.
I discovered that I was using this backpack like a total rookie. Your backpack should not be hanging around your neck like some fat lazy sloth!
This isn’t a school backpack.
The key is using all the straps correctly. Since the Farpoint 40 is rather deep instead of tall (to conform with airline regulations) it can really tug on your shoulders a lot if you don’t wear it properly.
Just follow these steps for maximum comfort:
- Close the sternum strap and tighten it so that much of the wight is ‘hanging’ from your chest. Think about how indigenous people in the Andes can carry tons of weight in just a cloth sack that’s tied together on their chest — you can do this too with your backpack! Using the sternum strap is essential.
- Close the hip belt and keep it nice and tight. This will distribute some weight to your hip.
- Pull the load lifter straps. These are the little straps attached to the top of your shoulder straps. Pull them so that the top of the backpack comes closer to your body, so your whole back can help carry the load.
- Pull the two little straps on the sides of your hip. Tighten them so the bottom of the backpack also is closer to your body.
If you do this well, you should feel the backpack lining up perfectly with your back, distributing the weight across your whole body. Your shoulders should be doing only a small part of the job!
When worn properly, the Farpoint 40 will be very comfortable. It’s not quite as comfy as some of the much more padded trekking-oriented backpacks (such as the Farpoint Trek), but it’s still fantastic. I’ve carried the Farpoint 40 backpack for hours on end without issues (when worn the right way!).
The Farpoint 40 is primarily a travel pack, so it’s not ideal for extended trekking. That said, I used it that way anyway, and it was still fine! A friend and I did the 5-day Annapurna Basecamp trek in Nepal with a Farpoint 40 and Farpoint 55 and we made it without major issues. However, I would mainly recommend the Farpoint 40 for maybe 1- or 2-day hikes max, as other packs can give you more features and better comfort for extended treks.
Downsides of the Farpoint 40
Although the Farpoint 40 has many advantages and is very comfortable, it’s not quite perfect. (Of course, no backpack ever is for every type of trip.)
For starters, the organizational features inside can be seen as a little sparse. Sure, there are a few pockets and pouches to store smaller items, but there are many backpacks that have a lot more separate storage spaces. This does also make them a bit heavier, so there’s always a trade-off.
The main compartment is really just one big space, though it has one zipped mesh compartment. To organize this space a lot better, be sure to get some packing cubes. It’s a small upgrade that will make a big difference. If you use packing cubes, the organization inside the Farpoint 40 just becomes way better.
If you travel with a laptop, the Farpoint 40 maybe isn’t ideal. That’s because the laptop/tech pouch is on the outside and not beside your back. This is not so great for load balancing. If you have just a tablet or a lightweight laptop you don’t need to worry about this at all, but with a bigger laptop you’ll feel the wobble. That doesn’t mean it’s not possible to carry a laptop in the Farpoint 40, just that it may not be as comfortable if that’s your main reason for using this pack.
That’s why for digital nomads, I think there are other options to consider, as they tend to travel with more electronics and accessories than most other travelers. If that’s you, consider the Peak Design Backpack or the Nomatic Travel Pack.
There is no rain cover included with the Farpoint 40. However, I’ve carried it through the pouring rain for hours on end without problems (it was during a tropical downpour in Nepal, no less!). The zippers of the main compartment are actually very well protected against rain.
There are two water bottle pockets on the Farpoint 40, but they’re quite narrow, basically fitting only a small bottle (like 330ml). In practice, I’ve never used them, relying only on the water bottle pocket on my daypack.
So, are any of these dealbreakers?
I don’t think so, especially considering the great value of this backpack, but they are some things to be aware of. If you’re a more demanding or professional traveler, you might consider a more technical or premium backpack.
How much fits inside?
It fits a lot more than you might think!
A few years ago I made a video showing how I pack my Farpoint 40 for a trip to Southeast Asia. Check it out:
Keep in mind that product images can be a bit deceiving. Yes, the Farpoint 40 might look a bit small. Some first-time travelers panic and get the insanely huge Farpoint 70, but I’ve often heard of travelers exchanging it for a smaller version.
70+ liter bags are really best for extended camping/trekking/etc. But if you’re just going to be traveling, then around 40 or 55 liters should be sufficient in most cases. Ask people who have gone backpacking (traveling) and they’ll probably give you this same advice.
Personally, I always travel with a ~ 40-liter carry-on bag in combination along with a smaller daypack. A daypack that works quite well in combination with the Farpoint is the Osprey Daylite.
If you can manage to be a light packer and if you don’t need to pack for multiple extreme climates, then the Farpoint 40 offers loads of space.
I do recommend using some packing cubes as the main space has no subdivisions at all. Packing cubes will just make it way easier to keep your stuff organized. The cubes from Osprey are lightwight and fit the Farpoint backpacks perfectly.
Which version should you get?
I think the Osprey Farpoint 40 offers amazing value, it’s comfortable, easy to use, and perfect for certain types of travel (especially backpacking-style travel).
Note there are two versions: the S/M and the M/L. Which one you should get depends on your torso length. Osprey has a helpful app (iOS, Android), that lets you easily measure your torso. It’s ultimately simple though: if you’re on the shorter side, get the S/M. If you’re relatively tall, it’s M/L for you.
The Farpoint is unisex and was long the only version available, but there is now also the Osprey Fairview 40. This is a women’s specific edition with some tweaks for extra comfort.
By the way, all Osprey backpacks come with their All Mighty Guarantee. It means they’ll repair any damage or defect for any reason free of charge during the first 7 years after purchase. I’ve not had to use this guarantee for any of my Osprey products, but it’s obviously an amazing level of warranty.
Overall, I think the Farpoint 40 is a real winner, especially if you’re a new traveller looking for that perfect balance between features and value-for-money.
What about the Farpoint 55?
Good question! I’ve used this version and liked it at first, but then gradually realized it’s not as good.
The Farpoint 55 is not just one size up. It’s an entirely different main body (which isn’t quite carry-on compliant) along with a detachable daypack.
It seems clever but, in practice, I never left the daypack attached. There just wasn’t any real reason to do it. The daypack is also very limited in size and not so comfortable. So you might as well get the carry-on complaint Farpoint 40 and then add any daypack you like, which most airlines will accept on board as your additional ‘personal item’.
If airline carry-on compliance is not a factor for you, I recommend the Farpoint 55 Trek instead. Unlike what its name suggests, it’s not just for trekking at all. But it’s obviously bigger than the Farpoint 40, has a more comfortable and advanced harness, and doesn’t come with an awkward daypack.
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