Gear review: Osprey Nebula

Continuing the theme of gear, I recently contemplated the idea of switching from a messenger style bag to a backpack. In the end I decided to go with a backpack. Then began the arduous task of selecting a backpack that I liked. I first hit up an office supply store, but didn’t find anything that really fit well.

Eventually, I made my way to REI and after a couple of visits to try on various models, I decided on the Osprey Nebula, a 34 liter commuting pack. I was looking for something that wasn’t too large, as most of the time I travel very light for work (laptop, headphones, mouse, etc). However, I wanted the ability to also stuff in a bag of workout clothes for those times I want to run at work. This lead me to the Nebula, as it has an expandable middle pouch that compresses down when not in use, but can expand to hold a complete set of clothes as well as shoes.

IMG_1687.jpgThe laptop compartment is pretty simple, just a padded pouch for your device, as well as a zipper’d mesh pouch for a tablet. Since all the laptops I use are rather small, this compartment doesn’t take up much space. It does what it needs to, and the real work is done by the third compartment. This third space is filled with pockets and compartments of all shapes and sizes. It has more than enough space and spots for all of my miscellaneous junk, like phone charging cables, tablet pen, etc.

IMG_1686.jpgThe middle section is the really great section for optional workout clothing use. This section pulls flat (there are even buckles to really compress it), but when you pull it open completely it shows why this is a 34L backpack. The other day I managed to fit a pair of shoes, and a drawstring bag with a complete change of clothes in this compartment. This is alongside all of the standard gear that I carry for work.

IMG_1688.jpgAdditionally, there are other small pockets and pouches, including a waterproof brain pouch, and some mesh pockets on the side and back. The side pockets are the perfect size for my coffee mug, with a strap to keep it tight. I actually brought this bag over to the Hydro Flask display at REI and made sure my mug fit before purchasing! The large mesh pocket on the back can hold a full bottle of wine or 750ml bottle of beer. I’ve tested it…

As for fit and feel, this bag rides great. It’s nothing less than I would expect from Osprey. The shoulder straps are nicely padded, and there is a sternum strap that really helps to keep everything tight and comfortable. There is also a waist strap, however, I’m not sure how much it helps distribute the weight, since there is no fabric that wraps around the sides. It still is a nice feature to have though if you’re needing to walk a long way with a full bag. The mesh along your back is soft and slightly vented with a honeycomb structure to it. Overall, everything fits really well.

I’ve been using this bag for a few weeks now, and I’m so happy that I moved over to a backpack. It’s more comfortable for my walk to the car, and everything fits really well. The pockets and features of the Osprey Nebula work great for what I need, and I’m incredibly happy with this model. As with most Osprey items, they aren’t bargain priced, but I feel like the construction of this bag will last me for a VERY long time, meaning this is money well spent.

If you need a good commuter bag, give the Osprey Nebula a look. It might be the perfect bag for you.


Beer, running, and geeky things.

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