Minaal Carry-On Vs. Tortuga Outbreaker: A Travel Backpack Showdown

Minaal Carry-On vs. Tortuga Outbreaker. If you’ve been around the travel backpack scene, you’ve probably heard of these brands. Both have a huge following and make great products. But which bag is better?

Well, we’re going to find out. See, I’m no backpacker, but I’ve been traveling around for the better part of three years. While I prefer to stay in Airbnbs over hostels, I also like to travel light. Lugging huge bags from city to city is tiresome, and often fairly costly.

You’re much better off limiting yourself to carry-on luggage only. Some may disagree, but most long-term travelers would concur – a large carry-on bag with a personal item is the best way to travel.

Tortuga Backpacks: Spacious Enough to Nap In!

You’ll avoid checking bags at the airport, and it won’t take you but 15 minutes to pack up all your things and move to a new, unique city. Talk about convenience.

With regards to Minaal vs. Tortuga, both these companies offer a large carry-on backpack designed with digital nomads and city living in mind. So, which is better?

Who is Minaal?

Minaal is a luggage company dedicated to making travel faster and easier. As one of the first backpacks to crowdfund through Kickstarter, Minaal quickly gained a following.

Founders Jimmy and Doug we’re focused on building a brand the right way:

We don’t want to make just one bag. We want to build a long-term business that truly cares about the travel experience – and you, the committed traveler.

And that’s exactly what they did. Minaal Backpacks are well-thought out and designed to last a long time. They’re durable and stylish – ideal for digital nomads and backpackers alike.

Who is Tortuga?

Other than producing some of the best travel bags known to man, Tortuga Backpacks is a small business created for travelers, too. The company claims:

Our mission is to help you live, work, and travel on your terms.

After traveling with my Tortuga Outbreaker, I certainly believe them. The brand was created after a backpacking trip through Europe in 2009. The founders realized that backpacks were made for hikers – not digital nomads hopping from city to city.

So they worked to change that, and the Tortuga Backpack was born.

Read my full Tortuga Outbreaker review here!

Minaal Carry-On Vs. Tortuga Outbreaker: A Travel Backpack Showdown

Alright, now that we know a little about both companies, let’s dive into the great travel backpack debate. Minaal vs. Tortuga Outbreaker. Which bag should a digital nomad spend their hard earned cash on? Here’s my answer:

Size Matters

The Minaal and Tortuga backpacks are different sizes. If you get the large Tortuga Outbreaker it will be significantly bigger than the Minaal Carry-On. The dimensions of the bags are as follows.

Here are the specs for the 35L Tortuga model:

Height: 20.5″
Width: 13″
Depth: 9″
Capacity: 35 liters
Weight: 4 lbs, 11 oz
Laptop: Up to 15”
Tablet: Up to 13” (iPad Pro)
Fit: 16-19” torsos
Price: $224

And the 45L Tortuga Backpack:

Height: 22″
Width: 14″
Depth: 9”
Capacity: 45 liters
Weight: 5.1 lbs
Laptop: Up to 17”
Tablet: Up to 13” (iPad Pro)
Fit: 16-20” torsos
Price: $249

Now, let’s look at the Minaal Carry-On:

Length: 21.6″
Width: 13.7″
Height: 7.87″
Capacity: Minaal doesn’t list this any longer, but 35 liters seems to be the estimate.
Weight: 3.12 lbs
Price: $299

Now, I’ve traveled with and used both these bags for at least six months each. I know how they pack and I know how much stuff each bag hold.

The Tortuga Outbreaker 45L can hold significantly more clothing and items than the Minaal Carry-On when fully packed. There is not a shadow of doubt in my mind. To me, this is fact.

Packing the Tortuga Backpack.

Now, the question is does this extra size benefit you as a traveler or not. For some, the smaller bag is a huge win. The Minaal offers a sleek design, is lighter, and may be easier to carry for smaller individuals.

If you’re like me and jam as much stuff as possible into your carry-on, then the Tortuga Outbreaker is the winner.

  • Verdict: Tortuga Outbreaker. While many people find the Minaal has more than enough space, I find the extra 10L the Tortuga offers a big benefit.

Ease of Packing

Now, this may come down to personal preference. Some people rave about the unique “oval shell packing system” that Minaal uses. When you’re packing light and the bag isn’t too full, it works well.

When the bag is chalk full of clothing, stuff often ends up spilling out the side when you try to close it. It can be a hassle.

On the other hand, the Tortuga Outbreaker is designed to be a backpack that opens and closes like a suitcase. There’s a shell area that holds the clothing, and then the bag closes from the top.

How the Minaal Carry-On Packs.

Personally, I find packing much easier with this style bag. You can jam the clothing into the sides and fit more stuff. The ease of packing combined with the extra space ensures you’ll have a ton of space to fit whatever you need with the Tortuga Backpack.

  • Verdict: Again, I found the Tortuga to be the clear winner here.

TSA-Friendly

This is where things start to get interesting in the Minaal vs. Tortuga Backpack debate. The Tortuga comes in 35L and 45L sizes. The 35L is the maximum carry-on size allowed on most budget European airlines. The 45L is the maximum carry-on allowed on most North American airlines.

Minaal is roughly 35L. Thus, you can carry-on this backpack anywhere in the world. And you won’t have any issues. The Minaal is a sleek, stylish bag that won’t look too big on your back.

Tortuga’s Unique “Flop-Top” Design.

Both bags are TSA-friendly, but there’s no denying that the Minaal bag offers a sleeker design that would get by the stingiest of airport employees looking to force you to check a bag. Tortuga may get waved down in certain areas of the world.

  • Verdict: Minaal Carry-On, as the bag is sleeker and guaranteed to end up on the plane with you. But you shouldn’t have any issues with the Tortuga, either.

Looks Matter

If we’re honest, both of these backpacks look good. Minaal and Tortuga both put great amounts of thought into their design and look.

Minaal features a smooth blue color, while Tortuga went with a strong black look. Both designs work, but which is better?

Making the Tortuga Look Good 😉

Personally, I find the Minaal has a better look, especially when on the back. The Tortuga is larger, black, and square. The Minaal Backpack is oval, blue, and sleek.

For me, I value the size of a maximum carry-on more than how a bag looks on my back. But others may find the stunning look of the Minaal an important factor.

  • Verdict: Minaal, but this may just be my personal opinion.

Organization

Overall, both of these backpacks offer amazing organization. From pockets to built-in packing cubes and more – you can’t go wrong with the Minaal Backpack or the Tortuga Outbreaker here.

So, how did I pick a winner? Easy. The Tortuga features a TSA-friendly laptop sleeve that allows you to leave the device in your backpack while going through security. All you have to do is unzip it. You don’t have to take the computer out.

This is a huge benefit for someone who fills their luggage to the brim. With the Minaal, there were times I had to spend 2-3 minutes unpacking and repacking when I took my computer out at security. Tortuga solved this problem for me.

  • Verdict: Tortuga due to the unique laptop sleeve.

Comfort

Minaal and Tortuga Backpacks both do an exceptional job with comfort. Both bags feature fantastic shoulder padding and offer weight displacement options to take some stress off your back.

If this is one of your main criteria, I’m sorry. I just didn’t notice much of a difference.

  • Verdict: Tie.

Waterproof Abilities

With just the bag, Tortuga seems to do a better job waterproofing. This is thanks to the sailcloth’s ability to quickly repel any and all water it comes in contact with.

The Minaal Carry-On is made out of heavy-duty nylon. The fabric does a solid job repelling water, too. However, the Minaal also offers a rain cover to ensure nothing gets wet. I’ve used it, and it works well. But you do have to remember to pull it out of the compartment and cover the bag.

  • Verdict: Tie. The Tortuga has a better waterproof material, but the Minaal’s waterproof cover does an amazing job.

Price

No tie here. The Minaal Backpack is $299. The Tortuga Backpack is $249. Unless you want to spend more money, the Tortuga is the winner.

  • Verdict: Tortuga Outbreaker.

Minaal Vs. Tortuga: The Verdict

So that’s my comparison of Minaal and Tortuga. Did I cover everything? Maybe not. Did I give you enough information to make a solid buying decision? I certainly hope so.

How I see it – the Tortuga is best for larger travelers who need as much space as they can get in their carry-on bag. If size matters to you, the Tortuga Outbreaker is the clear winner.

If you value style, have carry-on size concerns, and don’t need as much space – than the Minaal Backpack is an excellent choice.

After using both bags extensively, it was an easy choice for me. Personally, I prefer the Tortuga Backpack due to the extra space provided.

Click here to buy your Tortuga Outbreaker today!

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Jake D

Travel junkie turned blogger. Location independent. From the Midwest, but often based in Latin America. Big on beaches, rumba, and rum. Addicted to the gym. Committed to showing a different style of travel - one that involves actually interacting with locals and exploring different cultures.

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JG - October 6, 2018

Jake- did you have any trouble carrying the 45L Tortuga on budget airlines?
Thanks!

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