For our trip to Japan, my husband and I decided that the best option would be to each have our own a convertible, wheeled carry-on luggage. We always travel with a small suitcase on wheels. Many people suggested that a backpack may be useful for some part of our trip. Obviously, I am not the backpack type. Since comfort is essential for us, we gave in to their suggestion and started looking for the ultimate luggage solution. We found the best of both worlds with the Osprey Meridian 22.
Background about traveling in Japan
Trains are the most effective way to travel within Japan. Since we plan to visit many destinations, we carefully looked at the train capacity. We learned that the overhead on the Japanese train system, even on their Green cars (the first-class), are smaller than the overhead bins on US airplanes. Plus, if your hotel is not on a JR line (ours were), you have to know that the subway stations in Tokyo and other cities are way deeper on the ground than the train (JR line). And many subway stations only have regular stairs; which means no elevator, no escalator to go up to 5 floors of stairs.
In general, the hotel rooms over Japan are much smaller than what we are used to in North America. It compares to small hotel rooms that are frequent in France. Therefore, the smaller your luggage, the better you will feel during your trip.
Why we Selected the Osprey Meridian
The luggage is lightweight (8 pounds, 11 oz.). The handle are comfy and the big rugged wheels ride well on lots of surface. The pack is in fact two bags: the main suitcase on wheels and a removable day pack.
I found that it is easy to pack your stuff into the different sections. You can fit a good amount of clothes. I was able to fit enough clothes for my 3-week vacation; I only had to hand wash a few items during my trip. The construction is robust. We packed it to the fullest in the middle of our trip and we did not feel that it would break. Plus, Osprey provides a no-hassle, lifetime guarantee.
The removable day pack has a padded section where you can secure a 15″ laptop, that I plan to use on shorter trip. For Japan, I filled my day pack with my shoes, beauty products, makeup and a space saver bag dedicated to my laundry. My husband used his day pack during the day to carry our camera equipment, sweaters or light coats.
If you remove the day pack, the main luggage may comply with some US airlines carry-on luggage size limits. As far as I know, it slightly exceeds the maximum specifications of Air Canada or Porter Airlines. While shopping for new luggage, I found out that most small suitcases do not comply with carry-on luggage size limits. We bought one that comply to bring back souvenirs and I can tell you that most people bring a bigger one. So maybe we can get away with bringing it on the plane.
How did it work in Japan
Because of our wise choice of hotels, we never had to use the backpack feature. The complete bag fits inside the overhead rail on a few local trains but not on all trains. We usually left the day pack on and put our suitcase behind the last seat rows on most of the trains, as it was simpler for us. Since green cars are not full and we often went to cities not typical for foreigner tourists, we always get a place to put our luggage.
A nice feature of the Osprey travel wheels collection is the accessory pocket where you put the liquid bag you need to pass through the airport security. This way, you have an easy access to it. Make sure to insert the liquid bag inside the accessory pocket before you fill up the inside of your pack to the maximum capacity.
I like the Osprey Meridian so much that it has become my number one luggage. I plan to use it instead of my green Delsey Carry-On Expandable Trolley.