Osprey Flare 28 Review: The Perfect Backpack for Campus Life

CEO Tam DT
You can take a backpack to some of the most challenging places on earth - mountain climbing, rough seas, and scorching deserts. But what about the seemingly tame environment of a college campus? The daily...

You can take a backpack to some of the most challenging places on earth - mountain climbing, rough seas, and scorching deserts. But what about the seemingly tame environment of a college campus? The daily rush, heavy textbooks, and hidden dangers pose unique challenges for a backpack. And that's where the Osprey Flare comes in.

Designed for Campus Life

Osprey bills the Flare as a campus backpack, and it certainly lives up to that claim. With its excellent build quality and competitive price, this backpack is built to last. However, there are a few design choices that might not be ideal for campus dwellers, like the tight access to the front compartment and the annoying grab handle. But don't worry, there's more to discover.

Osprey Flare | Can it take on campus life?Osprey Flare | Can it take on campus life?

External Components

Let's start with the basics. The Flare is made of 600-denier recycled polyester with a durable water repellent coating. This material is used throughout the backpack, giving it a consistent and durable feel. The zippers are from YKK, ensuring their reliability.

Osprey Flare | We think the logo looks better on darker colorways.Osprey Flare | We think the logo looks better on darker colorways.

The Flare also features two large water bottle pockets on each side. While they can be a bit loose, the mesh material stretches to accommodate larger bottles. Plus, there are compression straps above the pockets to secure your bottle's handle, ensuring it stays in place.

Osprey Flare | The pocket may be loose, but the compression straps save the day.Osprey Flare | The pocket may be loose, but the compression straps save the day.

The front of the Flare has a spacious stretchy pocket, perfect for quickly stashing items on the go. However, be careful not to overstuff it, as it can reduce space in the main compartment.

Osprey Flare | There’s a healthy mix of external features here.Osprey Flare | There’s a healthy mix of external features here.

And if you're a biking enthusiast, you'll appreciate the blinky light attachment loop below the front "Flare" branding. It's the little details like this that make Osprey backpacks stand out.

Comfortable and Functional Harness System

The Flare's harness system is designed for comfort and functionality. The shoulder straps are well-padded and feature ventilated lower halves, ensuring a comfortable fit. There are also loops on each side for attaching additional accessories like more blinky lights.

Osprey Flare | It’s a fairly simple harness system, lacking a sternum strap and a waist belt.Osprey Flare | It’s a fairly simple harness system, lacking a sternum strap and a waist belt.

While the Flare lacks a sternum strap, it doesn't feel necessary for a backpack of this size. The back panel features Osprey's AirScape design, providing a combination of rigidity and flexibility for a comfortable fit. However, the grab handle can be a bit bothersome, as it tends to rub against the neck.

Osprey Flare | This is as bothersome as it looks.Osprey Flare | This is as bothersome as it looks.

Fit and Style

The Flare follows the classic Osprey design with its swooping lines, zippers, and panels. It's available in flashy colors like Succulent Green Deep Teal, as well as more muted options like black. The side profile is triangular, starting slim at the top and widening towards the bottom, giving it a unique and stylish look.

Osprey Flare | It looks and feels bottom-heavy.Osprey Flare | It looks and feels bottom-heavy.

When it comes to fit, the Flare can be a bit tricky. Carrying it high up on the back can cause the grab handle to brush against the neck, which can be annoying. However, adjusting the shoulder straps for a more relaxed fit can solve this issue. Just keep in mind that a looser fit may accentuate the backpack's bottom-heavy shape.

Osprey Flare | The fit is comfortable if not for the grab handle's constant brushing.Osprey Flare | The fit is comfortable if not for the grab handle's constant brushing.

Inside the Backpack

The Flare offers ample space and organization options to keep your essentials in order. The quick-grab pocket at the front is perfect for everyday carry items and is lined with scratch-resistant fabric to protect delicate items like sunglasses. For bulkier items like a hoodie or folding umbrella, you can use the large stretchy pocket or the bottle pockets.

Osprey Flare | There's more organization inside.Osprey Flare | There's more organization inside.

The front compartment provides additional organization with zippered and mesh pockets. However, be mindful not to overstuff the mesh pockets as they can interfere with access to the rest of the compartment. There's also a built-in key leash and pen holders for added convenience.

Osprey Flare | There's plenty of room, though adjacent compartments can cut in if they're packed tightly.Osprey Flare | There's plenty of room, though adjacent compartments can cut in if they're packed tightly.

The main compartment features a laptop sleeve that can accommodate up to a 16-inch MacBook. There are also two additional sleeves for documents and tablets. The false bottom and frame sheet provide extra protection for your devices.

The Perfect Campus Companion

Despite its quirks, the Osprey Flare offers excellent value for money. It's designed to withstand the demands of campus life and provides convenient organization options. Whether you're rushing to class or exploring the campus, the Flare has got you covered.

Osprey Flare | It's good value for money, but it's not perfect.Osprey Flare | It's good value for money, but it's not perfect.

So if you're in search of a reliable, stylish, and functional backpack for your college adventures, look no further than the Osprey Flare 28. It may not be perfect, but it's the perfect companion for your campus life.

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