Tortuga Outbreaker Review: The Best Travel Backpack Available?

I wish I could be unbiased. I wish I could be impartial. But this Tortuga Outbreaker review may seem far from it. This travel backpack is just too damn good to offer anything other than a glowing review. Still, I’ll try to be fair and reasonable.

I bought the Tortuga Outbreaker last year before I left for Colombia. After spending six months traveling all around that magical country with my Tortuga Backpack, I got to know the product pretty well.

My travel backpack has accompanied me to major cities, mountains, beaches, lakes, and so much more. To say the Tortuga is durable would be an understatement. These Tortuga Backpacks can take a beating and then some.

But enough with the small talk, let’s dive in and see if this is the best travel backpack on the market…

About Tortuga Backpacks

Well, other than producing the best travel backpacks known to man, the company is unique in that it’s a small business. When you buy with Tortuga Backpacks, you’re buying from a company created by travelers like you and me. Tortuga states:

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

And after using the Tortuga Outbreaker, I genuinely believe that. The brand began on a backpacking trip through Europe in 2009. Simply put, the founders quickly realized that backpacks were made for hiking mountains and rugged terrain back in the day.

There wasn’t a solid backpack for digital nomads who enjoyed urban living all around the globe. So Tortuga decided to create that backpack. And they did a damn good job.

Tortuga Outbreaker Overview

Tortuga is a luggage company. As such, they’re continually modifying, upgrading, and releasing new products and models. The Tortuga Outbreaker is an updated version of their original backpack.

The Outbreaker comes in two different sizes – 45 liters and 35 liters. The 45L backpack is the maximum carry-on size allowed on most North American airlines. The 35L is typically the maximum carry-on allowed by budget European airlines.

To make things simple, larger people may find the 45L model preferable. I know I did. However, smaller individuals may prefer the 35L backpack, as it’s lighter and won’t look as big on your back.

Here are the specs for the 35L 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:

  • 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

My Personal Experience With Tortuga

As I said, I’ve spent the last six months traveling around Colombia with my Tortuga Backpack. I also made a few trips back to the United States. And I’ve loved every minute of it.

Tortuga perfectly combines carry-on travel with a ton of space. 45-liter capacity ensures you don’t have to cut much from your wardrobe when traveling with the Outbreaker.

I’ve used this bag on long hikes into the mountains in the coffee region of Colombia. I’ve filled it to the brim and carried it on a plane when returning to the United States. I’ve taken it on weekend trips to Cartagena for some sun and sand.

And I’ve yet to have a single issue. This travel backpack has performed admirably in every situation I’ve thrown at it. After six months of travel, the bag still practically looks brand new, too.

Tortuga Travel Backpack: Pros

Now, before you buy this Tortuga Backpack, we need to get into the specifics. Tortuga offers a great product, but there are hundreds of other travel backpacks on the market. Why should you spend your hard-earned cash with Tortuga?

Well, here’s a few reasons I’d highly recommend it before your next big trip:

HUGE Carry-On Bag

If the romantic notion of hopping from country to country with nothing but a carry-on bag appeals to you, then the Tortuga Outbreaker is right up your alley.

See, most travel backpacks are simply too small to facilitate carry-on travel for more than a few weeks. Personally, 30-35 liters just isn’t enough space for me – especially when one trip may last 3-6 months.

I need all the space I can get. That’s why Tortuga Backpacks are the best. The Outbreaker offers a full 45 liters of space. Honestly, it’s even a little bigger than most rolling carry-on luggage.

If you want to carry-on, but have a lot of stuff to bring, this is by far the best backpack I’ve found. The Tortuga Backpack makes it possible to avoid paying baggage fees ever again!

No puppies were harmed in the writing of this review.

Suitcase-Style Design

Tortuga makes it incredibly easy to stay organized while on the road. See, the Tortuga isn’t designed like a hiking backpack. You don’t need to dump everything out to get the item you need.

The Outbreaker is designed in a suitcase-style. This means you open the bag from the top and place your clothing and things in a shell area that holds your stuff.

The design not only ensures you can hold a ton of stuff in the 45 liters, but that you’ll be able to easily access all of it by simply placing the bag on your bed and unzipping the main compartment.

Suitcase-style design offers easy access and a lot of space.

High-Quality Materials

Now, most travel backpacks do a good job of creating products made with high-quality and durable materials. No highly-rated backpack for digital nomads will be made out of cheap materials that rip easily or absorb water too often.

Tortuga takes things to the next level. The Tortuga Outbreaker Backpack is made with 4-layer, waterproof sailcloth materials. What does this mean? It means that the backpack was designed to repel water and last for years.

While the Tortuga isn’t a cheap backpack, the product is designed for maximum durability. Many travelers have had their original Tortuga pack for 2-4 years, and it still holds up.

Along with the incredibly durable sailcloth, the company adds the highest-quality YKK Zippers and Duraflex buckles to ensure the bag is ready to roll for dozens upon dozens of adventures.

Unique water-resistant sailcloth material.

Unique & Useful Laptop Storage

Most travel bags handle laptop storage well, especially when created for digital nomads. However, I found Tortuga’s system an improvement.

With the Outbreaker, you don’t even have to take the laptop out of the backpack. Simply unzip the laptop compartment and lie the bag open and flat. Tortuga follows TSA’s rules to a “T” and makes life easier on digital nomads than ever before (Source).

This is a huge benefit when your bag is close to full. Instead of having to yank your computer out and then reorganize stuff to get it back in, you just “flop it open” and TSA will run your Tortuga bag without you having to take anything out.

“Flopped” open for my friends at TSA!

Well-Thought Out Organization

With a computer slot, tablet area, and so much more – it’s clear to me that Tortuga Backpacks are designed by travelers – for travelers.

There’s also pockets for smaller electronics, chargers, cables, and more. There’s a lot of attention to detail that went into the Outbreaker. You’ll even find outer pockets for your water bottle, headphones or keys, and more.

One unique feature is the built-in packing cubes found throughout the main compartment. It’s super simple to store your merino wool socks and underwear in these little cubes while still saving space elsewhere.

Excellent organization everywhere.

Fantastic Shoulder Straps

I’m not as much of a bag nerd as some. Others claim they love the height-adjustable shoulder suspension system. I’m sure it’s nice and all. But I own the bag and still have no idea what that means.

What I do love is how comfortable this bag is when filled up. Due to heavily-padded shoulder straps, you feel comfortable walking around with the Tortuga Outbreaker filled to the brim.

I’ve yet to find a more comfortable travel backpack to hit the road with. There are even padded-hip straps that help take any extra pressure off your shoulders. A huge plus for me in the comfort department.

Incredible shoulder strap comfort.

Tortuga Backpack: Cons

Now, no product or travel backpack is perfect for every consumer. Some things I love about the Tortuga Backpack you may not like. Overall, I’m a huge fan, but here are a few negatives I noticed:

Big, Heavy Bag

If you’re looking for a lightweight or sleek travel backpack, the 45-liter Tortuga is not what you want. This is a maximum sized carry-on bag meant to carry a lot of stuff. It’s not meant to look sleek and stylish on your back when filled to the brim – although it doesn’t look bad at all.

The Outbreaker weighs 5.1 pounds when unpacked, which means alone it’s a fairly heavy product.

Not Useful For Most Day Trips

You’ll need a day trip bag when traveling with a Tortuga. This bag is simply too big and heavy to head off to the beach or some Mayan Ruins with.

I’ve taken the bag on long hikes when I packed some gear, food, and water. While it worked well, I always wished I had a smaller daypack to bring instead. The bag is just too big to pleasantly lug along on a nature-esque day trip.

Minor Details Missing

The shoulder straps don’t store away at all – another downside to using the bag on day trips. As well, there’s no side carry-on handle. Both of these features or details are certainly minor, but still worth noting.

Tortuga Outbreaker Travel Backpack Review: The Verdict

Overall, the Tortuga Outbreaker is the best travel backpack on the market. Tortuga is a company that takes nearly every detail into account before designing their products. This backpack is no different.

If you’re looking for a maximum sized carry-on backpack, then the Tortuga Backpack is ideal. You’ll be able to hit the road with only one bag and bring every single thing you’d want to. I cannot recommend this product enough.

Click here to buy your Tortuga Outbreaker Travel Backpack today!

0/5 (0 Reviews)
Jake Nomada

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.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below

Calm and Collected - August 9, 2017

Been using the same bag for 7 years now. This is the next one I’ll get. I love how much space it has. It’ll come in handy especially when I travel outside of the US.

    NomadicJake - August 10, 2017

    Yeah, the Outbreaker is a MUST when you head international.

Josh Bar - August 10, 2017

Me Gusta

    NomadicJake - August 10, 2017

    Real talk, the Tortuga Backpack is amazing. Probably one of my top three favorite purchases this year.

      Cameron Chardukian - August 11, 2017

      What are the others? We’d like to see a blog post about those shortly 🙂

        NomadicJake - August 11, 2017

        For sure, man. Along with cherry juice and my merino wool Henley, the Outbreaker is right up there!

Cameron Chardukian - August 11, 2017

I’ve been thinking I may need a new backpack in the next year or so. You may have just converted me.

    NomadicJake - August 11, 2017

    Do it! Can’t recommend this bag enough.

Cameron Chardukian - August 11, 2017

I normally travel with just a 19L bag, which is a bit tight. I usually find a way to make it work though by jampacking my jacket and shorts pockets. Sometimes I’ll wear several shirts or shorts if I’m going on a long trip. Are you saying that you could take the 35L bag as a carry-on? If so, that’s insane and an amazing deal for international travelers that aren’t such a hardcore minimalist like me.

    NomadicJake - August 11, 2017

    Dude, you travel with just a 19L bag?!!!! How on earth do you pull that off? I have the 45L Outbreaker and it can be carried on. The 35L would certainly not be an issue.

    As for traveling light, have you tried merino wool stuff? It makes packing less clothes a million times easier.

      Cameron Chardukian - August 11, 2017

      I heard Tynan recommend wool a long time ago. I always procrastinate purchasing it because my parents always buy me lots of clothes when I visit for the summer. Wool can be expensive when others are already eager to foot the bill lol. I’ve stuck in Asia the past 2.5 years, but when traveling somewhere cold I’m sure the wool pants would be clutch in saving space!

        NomadicJake - August 11, 2017

        Yeah, it’s impossible to beat free. But for travel merino takes the cake. You just have to find the right brand, as a lot of travel clothing is too thin and not stylish.

        The combination of merino wool and an Outbreaker is ideal.

Minaal Carry-On Vs. Tortuga Outbreaker: A Travel Backpack Showdown - Nomadic Hustle - August 14, 2017

[…] Read my full Tortuga Outbreaker review here! […]

LPP - November 3, 2017

Thanks Jake. Ive seen Tortuga come up before somewhere. I recently picked up a North Face Router Transit 20 or 40 L I think it is in Saigon Square 2. Havent put it through it’s paces but I will definitely look into ordering one of these from your site later.

    NomadicJake - November 3, 2017

    Hey LPP,

    Haven’t heard of the North Face bag, but if it meets your needs, then there’s nothing to complain about. Are you living in Saigon?

    Also, thanks for the comment. If you do end up grabbing a Tortuga, I’m confident you’ll love it. Mine has been great.

Leave a Reply: