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!
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.
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 & 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.
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.
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.
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.