Osprey Nebula Review (32L)

Looking at picking up an Osprey Nebula 32?

Not a bad choice if I do say so myself.

The Osprey Nebula 32 is a superb commuter backpack that can easily double for minimalist travel or one bagging.

The Osprey Nebula 32


  • Lightweight build
  • Stands upright
  • Quality construction
  • Great back comfort
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Fits laptop
  • Hipbelt is removable


  • Laptop sleeve is a little thin – designed with apple laptops in mind
  • Secondary tablet sleeve is unnecessary for me
  • No included raincover

Feature Summary

  • TSA approved laptop sleeve
  • Separate padded tablet sleeve
  • Front mesh pocket for your extra layers / rain jacket
  • Side mesh pockets for your water bottle / compact umbrella
  • Organization pocket
  • Light attachment point (for cycling)
  • Top grab handle loop

Fit & Carry Comfort

The Nebula will carry up to about 15lb comfortably but thats probably pushing it for longer carry times, further than that the straps start to dig in a little bit. The removable hipbelt helps in this regard a lot. I suggest at least keeping it with you if you plan on using this pack for some day hikes on your travels.

The Nebula’s back mesh provides a comfortable and airy carry.


At 2.3lb (1kg~) the pack it self is suprisingly light compared to similar style travel packs. Its actually even lighter than one of my hiking backpacks with the same volume – how they did it? They ditched the frame! But don’t let that scare you off, frames are really only needed if you’re carrying 20lb and up.

Below that, smart packing and simply having a laptop in the laptop sleeve will provide more than enough weight transfer to your hips (with or without the hip belt.)

Capacity & Organization

I found the 34L volume specification to be about spot on and technically under if you include the front mesh panel pocket which can hold a crazy amount of extra layers while you’re out and about.

The Nebula can hold a hell of a lot in this gaping hole of a backpack.

The extra organization pocket at the front of the pack means I can keep all my ditty bits organized and easily accessible throughout the day as I need them. I use this pocket to keep a pen, USB sticks, notepad, and a few bits of gear for my camera handy.

The top pocket provides a scratch free environment for your sunglasses or phone.

The side pockets stretch – a lot – I couldn’t comfortably hold my 32oz Hydroflask but my fiances 24oz did fit and seemed to stay in place for the short time I tested it walking around.

Laptop Sleeve

The laptop and tablet sleeves on the inner backside of the Nebula is a thing of elegance.

The backpack zips completely open for fast and hassle free TSA processing, the added benefit is it makes packing and finding things at the hotel a complete breeze.

Both sleeves are padded and scratch free. You precious electronics are secured by a small velcro flap and fits up to a thin 17″ or thick 15″ laptop.

The other design choice osprey made that I absolutely love is how the laptop sleeves are raised from the base of the pack meaning you’re far less likely to smash the corner of your laptop when you place your bag on the ground.

Osprey Nebula Carry On

The Nebula is my new go to carry on companion pack.

The pack fits neatly under airplane seats when I’m only using it to store a few bits for the day and have an accompanying suitcase. When I’m using it as a single bag its usually packed out a lot more and will need to go in the overhead (in which it fits with plenty of room to spare.)

Also of note, both the main pocket and front organization pocket has lockable zippers for peace of mind.


Osprey durability is second to none and the Nebula really is no different. With Osprey’s All mighty & lifetime guarantee you’re covered for pretty much any eventuality – not that I think you’ll ever actually need it – osprey packs are built to last.

Osprey Nebula vs Quasar

The Osprey Quasar is designed to be more commuter centric with less volume and smaller size for maneuvering through the hustle and bustle of a rush hour commute. You can read more about it in my Quasar Review.

Osprey Nebula vs Arcane

The Osprey Arcane is a great little daypack which is very similar to the nebula in features, its sort of like its little brother. The only real difference is in size of the pack and how much it can hold.

If you need to carry a lot of clothing, for after the gym for example, I suggest opting for the Nebula – especially if you need to carry a large pair of shoes inside the pack.

Osprey Nebula vs Nova

The Osprey Nova is the every so slightly smaller women’s version of the Nebula. Same features, slightly different weight and harness. If there is a minor difference or color you prefer the Nebula being unisex will still fit you just fine there is no real functional need to pick the Nova over the Nebula.

Osprey Nebula vs North Face Surge

The North Face Surge is a very similar backpack feature wise but I find its materials to be less water resistant than that of the Nebula’s. Use with caution if you live in a rainy location and carry a lot of electronics with you. The Surge is also almost an extra kg weight wise – I’d rather the lighter nebula pack especially with aircraft weight limits in play.

The Verdict

The Osprey Nebula 34 is an outstanding backpack for commuting, minimalist travel or even just a solid carry on daypack to use in conjunction with your more traditional suitcase.

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Best UseTravel
Bag StyleBackpack
Gear Capacity (L)34 liters
Gear Capacity (cu. in.)2,075 cubic inches
Number of Exterior Pockets4 + main compartment
Laptop CompartmentYes
Fits Laptop Size (in.)Unavailable
iPad / Tablet CompartmentYes
Carry-On SizeYes
Material(s)210-denier nylon Oxford
Dimensions20 x 13 x 12 inches
Weight2 lbs. 1.5 oz.