Gadling Gear Review: Ozone Ultralight Roller Bag

Ospery Ozone Superlight Roller BagI look for three things in a roller bag. The bag should be easy to handle, easy to pack and be as light as possible. Osprey has tacked the weight issue head on with their new Ozone line of roller bags, and they score on handling and packability, too.

The bag comes in three sizes: an 18-inch (backpack size), a 22-inch (maximum carry-on size), and a 28-inch (you’ll have to check this one, fliers). I tested the 18-inch bag for four days of late summer travel.

The bag holds it shape well enough when you’re packing it and it held almost everything I needed. I could not get a second pair of shoes in without sacrificing something else. I’m not a heavy traveler and most of the items I packed were for summer weather, so if you decide to go with this bag as your carry-on travel bag, get the 22-inch version. The interior is lined with mesh pockets so there are good places to stow your odds and ends, your cables and gadgets – that kind of thing. There are two exterior pockets on the front for stuff you need access to, like your bag of three-ounce liquids, for example. And there’s an external pocket on the back of the bag that was the perfect size to hold my netbook. Compression straps cinch everything down when you’ve closed the bag, so it’s a very neat little piece of luggage. That’s a nice feature in a soft-sided bag.

A single telescoping handle runs down the center of the back of the bag, but it’s easy to pack around. And the bag handles very nicely, the hardware is smooth and everything works well. Part of the ease of handling is, I’m sure, in the barebones weight – it’s much easier to wheel around a bag that’s half the weight of your typical denier fabric roll-aboard.Because the fabric is so light, you’ll want to pack really smart when it comes to your crunchables. This isn’t an issue with the bag so much as it is with what you’ll be doing with it, but be aware that if the baggage guys are hurling out of the hold on to a cart, there could be collateral damage. This is not a bag for protecting your belongings; you’re going to want hard-sided luggage for that.

I liked traveling with this bag a lot. I really appreciated how light it was and how easy it was to move around. The grips are in the right place, it’s easy to pack, and it’s well designed. There’s one feature the bag doesn’t have that I’d like: a shoulder strap or stowaway backpack straps. Let’s face it; sometimes you have to carry your bag. You can’t always wheel it and weaklings like me can’t carry a grip for very long.

The Ozone comes in two colors, a bright green and a gray. The 22-inch (that carry-on size) lists for $199.

Gadling Gear: Deuter Futura 28 Backpack (Warning: Not for Heavy Packers)

In the (very near) future I’m going to write a comprehensive article about why and how to pack light, so make sure you’re RSSed up and ready for that in the next week or two.

Consider this the prequel. The most important part of packing light is the bag, and I’m proud to say that I’ve found the ultimate bag for packing light, the Deuter Futura 28.

I found the Deuter Futura 28 by accident. I was at Whole Earth Provisions in Austin, Texas, getting ready for my 10 month trip around the world. I needed a bag.

I looked at the North Face bags, the Osprey bags, the Arcteryx bags, and all of the other usual suspects. None of them stood out.

As I was about to leave I saw a bag tucked away in the far corner. It was pushed back into the rack so that only someone obsessively evaluating every single bag would find it. That’s me.

I had never heard of Deuter, so I assumed they must be some no name budget brand. After just a few minutes of examination, though, I realized just how wrong I was. This was the ultimate bag for the light packer.

What makes the Deuter so unique?

First, and most striking, the Deuter has an “AirComfort” suspension system. In a nutshell this is a lightweight steel spring frame that pushes the bag off of the back and creates an airspace between the wearer and the bag. Sweaty back? Not anymore.

Besides keeping you cool, the AirComfort system also makes the bag more comfortable to wear by creating a bit of a suspension system. It’s not bulky and heavy like a camping backpack, but it serves much of the same function.

An unadvertised benefit that you only discover through real world use is that you can put the bag straps-down in a puddle or wet surface and it won’t seep into the bag and drench everything.

The Deuter has two openings, one at the top and one at the bottom. That means that your days of digging way deep into the bag trying to find something at the bottom are over. There’s also a divider in the middle that, once zipped, separates the bag into two compartments, one on top of the other.

I leave my bag in this configuration most of the time. It makes it easy to use one compartment as a stuff sack for stuff you won’t use often (rain gear, cot, etc), while leaving the other compartment nice and easy to work with.

A rain cover is built into the bottom of the pack in it’s own little pocket, ready to be used as soon as you need it. Unzip and pull it over the bag. There is a tether so that you can’t lose it.

The mesh pockets on the sides are excellent. This is a good example of the thought that was put into this thing. They stretch way far out so that you can put big things in them (a small sleeping bag in one case), but have good elastics and nylon straps to hold in even a very small water bottle.

There is a sleeve for a hydration pouch in the main compartment. I hate those things, but the sleeve is perfect for keeping a 12″ laptop in. The laptop ends up well protected between the stuff you’ve packed and the AirComfort suspension.

All of these features are enough to make the Deuter the perfect bag, but what really pushes it over the edge is the quality, both in design and build.

The bag is tiny by most standards, smaller than the iconic LL Bean or Jansport school backpack, but is so well laid out and so devoid of useless space wasters that I am able to pack for 10 months in it and still have enough room to hold four apples and some nuts for snacks.

The materials are all very durable. I’ve put my bag through a pretty thorough thrashing and it still looks brand new.

The bottom line is that Deuter 28 is the perfect bag for any serious traveler who wants a solid balance between capacity and mobility.

If you really can’t fit everything in there, they make much larger versions as well.

Deuter is a German brand that seems a lot more popular outside the US. It can be bought at some outdoor stores as well as Amazon. A hint if you find it at a local store – if you ask they will give you weighted bean bags to try the bag out with some weight in it.