Tortuga Outbreaker Backpack Review – I Love It

I have been traveling for the last 10 years and have used at least 7 different travel backpacks. But I have never really had a good backpack until I got a Tortuga Outbreaker Backpack recently.

Don’t get me wrong, I liked some of the other backpacks that I used in the past for traveling, but they all had something missing. They were either unergonomic or cheaply designed. The Tortuga Outbreaker Backpack, on the other hand, has everything I need for my shorter adventures.

Tortuga is a backpack company I have been perusing for some time, so when I received my new backpack and a set of packing cubes, I couldn’t wait to try them all.

I am looking forward to using Tortuga 35-Liter Outbreaker Backpack for years of adventures to come and I know it will not disappoint. It has the quality and the design (two necessary features for a good backpack) to ensure years of comfortable traveling.

Image: Sayed Hamed wearing Tortuga Outbreaker Travel backpack in Italy. Photo by Chasing The Unexpected

How Tortuga Backpack Evolved

To get to where they are and to make the Outbreaker Series, Tortuga has made several backpacks in the last couple of years. To be exact, I believe they made 7 different backpacks in different sizes, shapes, materials, and features.

The most advanced, feature-rich, and comfortable are the Outbreaker Series backpacks. There are two different sizes in the Outbreaker Series, the 35-L which is great for short trips, and the 45-L which has more space for longer trips. They are both carry-ons, so you should be able to take them inside the place without any issues.

Then there are the Setout Series Tortuga backpacks. They are in three different sizes (45L, 35L, and 26L) with men’s and women’s specific designs. Almost $100 less expensive than the Outbreakers but as expected the Tortuga Setout backpacks also have fewer features and different materials.

Last but not least is the Tortuga Prelude backpack. Again, backpacks in this series are less expensive than the Tortuga Outbreaker and Setout backpacks. As expected, they also have different materials and more basic designs which explains the lower price tag. Instead of 25L, 35L or 45L, it has a 39-L and a 17-L capacity which makes it unique and different from other Tortuga backpacks.

Without further ado, here is my in-depth review of the Tortuga Backpack. I will also add some of the images I took using the Tortuga Outbreaker backpack and a video I recorded explaining the features of this awesome backpack by Tortuga.

NameTortuga OutbreakerTortuga SetoutTortuga Prelude
Sizes35L & 45L25L, 35L, & 45L39L & 17L
Front Pocket211
Exterior Materials4-Layer Sailcloth900D Polyester900D Polyester
Highest Adjustment8-LevelNoneNone
ZippersWater Resistance YKKStandard YKKStandard YKK
Tablet and Laptop SleevesYesYesNo
Passport & Pen CompartmentsYesYesNo
Water ResistanceExtremeMediumAverage
Side HandleNoYesYes
Tortuga Travel Backpack Comparison Table
Image: Tortuga Outbreak Travel backpack. Photo by Chasing The Unexpected

Exterior Material

The Tortuga Outbreaker Backpack has an elegant exterior design with nice patterns. The fact that it doesn’t have a giant brand name or colorful logos printed all over the backpack makes it even look nicer.

The exterior part of the Tortuga Outbreaker Backpack is made of sailcloth which I love for several reasons. The first and most important is durability. Unlike cheap nylon, or a mix of cotton and nylon, the sailcloth last years, and it doesn’t rip or tear easily.

The sailcloth exterior material of this Tortuga Outbreaker Backpack is also waterproof. So, your clothes and more importantly, your laptop and other electronic devices remain dry even under heavy rain.

Additionally, I find it very easy to clean the Tortuga Outbreaker Backpack. With a piece of wet cloth, you can clean the sailcloth material without having to use a washing machine.

Image: Accessories pockets of Tortuga travel backpack. Photo by Chasing The Unexpected

Click here for more info and to buy it

Exterior Pockets

There are several perfectly sized exterior pockets that I personally love. There is a 10-inch wide 8-inch tall flat pocket and a 10-inch wide 10-inch tall flat pocket. They are both exterior pockets located in front.

In the front flat exterior pockets, I can’t put my Macbook air 13 but I can put pretty much everything else that I might need on the go. From power banks to DJI Gimbal, phone chargers, external hard drives, keys, and much more.

Then there are two slide pockets, I use one to put my water bottle, and the other one to put my hat and gloves when I am wearing them. They are 8-inch long and 5-inch wide, plus they are made of stretchy material with an elastic cord that makes sure your belonging doesn’t fall out when you are on the road or running to catch a train. I find them really handy when I am traveling.

There are also two more exterior pockets on the hip belts. They are 5-inch wide, 7-inch long, and 1-inch depth. They are perfectly designed with quality zippers. I often use them to put my important belongings including my wallet and phone there. There is plenty of space for other things too, I think you could also put a small power bank if you need to change your phone on the go.

Interior Material, Tablet, and Laptop Sleeves

Image: Sayed Hamed packing his laptop in the laptop/tablet pockets of his Tortuga travel backpack. Photo by Chasing The Unexpected

From mesh to soft paddings and a layer of stiff padding to keep the backpack in a nice shape, there are several types of materials used to make the interior part of the Tortuga Outbreaker Backpack.

In certain parts, there is less padding but for the parts that are needed like the laptop and tablet sleeves, there is plenty of paddings to protect the screen and other parts of your devices.

There is single-piece semi-hard padding on one side of the laptop and tablet sleeve while on the other side, you have flexible and soft paddings. It’s better and more protective compared to those that come with front and back soft paddings.

The padded laptop sleeve is 11-inch wide and 17-inch long. It can fit laptops up to 17-inches and if you have a bigger laptop, you can place it in the front compartment. It’s not dedicated to laptops but it’s a solution for bigger-screen laptops.

The tablet sleeve is 10-inch wide and 10-inch long. It fits all major tablet and iPad sizes. There is a padded Velcro strap that closes and keeps the laptop and tablet in place so they don’t slide out of the sleeves.

Several Interior Compartments

Image: Sayed Hamed packing passport and accessories in the personal belongings pockets of his Tortuga travel backpack. Photo by Chasing The Unexpected

Normally, you have one zipper that opens the backpack but the Tortuga Outbreaker Backpack has two zippers that open two compartments of the backpack. One compartment is for the tablet and iPad sleeves plus three mesh compartments for your socks, underwear, and hygiene products.

Then there is another zipper that opens completely to another compartment. This particular compartment is 6-inch depth, 22-inch tall, and 15-inch wide. There are two interior side pockets with zippers plus two huge mesh pockets.

I put pretty much all the clothes I need for a week of traveling and it fits them all without having to force the clothes. I also use specific packing cubes that are sold for this Tortuga Outbreaker Backpack which helps me save lots of space in the backpack.

Honestly, I am pretty impressed with all the compartments that Tortuga Outbreaker Backpack offers. It’s much more than what I got with Cabin Zero or similar products. It’s a whole different level and way handier than basic travel backpacks that you get for $50 on Amazon.

Zippers, Buckles

Image: Zip of Tortuga travel backpack. Photo by Chasing The Unexpected

Tortuga Outbreaker Backpack Zippers are by YKK Group which is one of the best on the entire market. The YKK Group is a Japanese group of manufacturing companies. As the world’s largest zipper manufacturer.

Not only they are smooth and look so durable, but they are also water resistant. So, it’s not just the backpack Sailcloth material but also the type of zippers that makes sure your clothes and accessories remain dry if you happen to travel in countries that rain a lot.

Not all zippers but those that open the major compartments can be locked with proper anti-theft locks. You need to buy the backpack zip locks separately and they cost very little. I used them often, they are worth it when traveling.

Just like the zippers, the buckles that are used on the Tortuga Outbreaker Backpack are Duraflex and high quality. Both male and female buckles are dual adjust so you can get that perfect fit for your body type. They are made of Nylon which is nearly unbreakable and way better quality than PolyPro buckles.

Backpack Adjustment and Straps

Image: Strap of Tortuga travel backpack. Photo by Chasing The Unexpected

This is another feature of the Tortuga Backpack that I absolutely love. Not only do its shoulder straps adjust but every little strap on the backpack can be adjusted. It’s designed to fit everyone from short to tall travelers.

Starting with the hip support belts, you can adjust or remove both of them to fit your waist. Additionally, it allows adjusting the actual shoulder belt size which I find so handy and unique.

There are 8 options for the backpack height adjustment. So, no matter your height, you can adjust to keep the backpack a little higher above your shoulder without dragging the bottom of the backpack on the ground while you set on a bench in a train station or in an airport.

Tortuga Backpack Breathability

Image: Mesh of Tortuga travel backpack. Photo by Chasing The Unexpected

Breathability is one of the features that I love the most about my Tortuga Backpack. Aside from the standard travel backpacks I also used military-issued backpacks, but the Tortuga Backpack has a whole different level of airflow.

It has an inch of striped padding that makes sure no matter how heavy the backpack is or how hot the weather is, you remain fresh. Most part of the backpack is not even close to my body and there is a good gap between my back and the pack that let the airflow.

The breathable, sweat-wicking back panel as well as the straps have a thick foam to provide support and comfort but also have mesh covers all over the back straps. So, you won’t feel overheated even in the hottest weather which is one of the problems I have had with many travel backpacks that I used.

Click here for more info and to buy it

Packing and Unpacking Comfort

Image: Sayed Hamed packing his clothes in the clothes compartment of his Tortuga travel backpack. Photo by Chasing The Unexpected

You will find this part of the Tortuga Backpack pretty awesome. The packing and unpacking of the Tortuga Backpack are really easy and comfortable because of its front-loading design.

Unlike top-loading backpacks where you can only open the top, this Tortuga Outbreaker Backpack has a clamshell opening structure. You can open the whole front part and leave it on the side while you pack your clothes, similar to packing carry-on suitcases.

There are a few additional things that will help organize and pack your accessories. For instance, it has a specific compartment to keep a notebook, a passport, cards, and pens. These are very basic things but very useful and I am glad the Tortuga Backpack has them all.

Unfortunately, the internal compartment where I put my clothes doesn’t have compression straps. So, if I run or walk faster while wearing the backpack, my clothes don’t stay in place organized, especially if the backpack is not full. Not only to keep the clothes tight in place but also a pair of straps help save space inside the bag. So, I think they should consider adding these straps in the future.

Backpack Weight, Size, and Capacity

Image: Soft interior of Tortuga travel backpack. Photo by Chasing The Unexpected

The backpack itself weighs 4.5 lb (2 kg) which I find a little heavier than some other travel backpacks I used. If it was lighter, I would have loved it but it isn’t too heavy to be a dealbreaker.

I think most of the weight comes from the solid back part that keeps the whole backpack in a good form and shape. So, I am okay to carry an extra pound knowing I don’t look like carrying a shapeless bag of potatoes on my back. Plus, the heavy material makes the overall backpack more durable and comfortable for longer walks.

As for the dimensions, at 20-inch long x 13-inch wide and x 8-inch depth (51 x 33 x 21 cm), the Tortuga Outbreaker is the perfect carry-on backpack for shorter trips. It has a 35-Liter capacity so most local and international airlines allow you to bring it inside the plane.

For a trip length that is a week, it should be enough unless you carry several changes and multiple pairs of shoes. In that case, you would probably want to use a larger backpack. I believe the standard carry-on backpacks can be up to 45-Liter.

But for a work trip or a weekend trip, the Tortuga Outbreaker backpack is a perfect choice. Depending on how restricted the airline of your choice is, you might also be able to take a carry-on suitcase inside the plane with you.

Price, Warranty, and Shipping

Image: Sayed Hamed packing socks in the accessories pocket of his Tortuga travel backpack. Photo by Chasing The Unexpected

Tortuga costs around $299 unless it’s on offer or there is a discount for the product. I believe it could have been a little less expensive. But it does have a good worldwide warranty policy so with the Tortuga Outbreaker bag you are sure to have peace of mind.

Like anything else we buy these days, the Tortuga backpack warranty does not cover damages resulting from normal wear, and tear, improper use, abuse, negligence, or accident.

If you don’t like the Tortuga Outbreaker backpack, you can return it (unused) within 30 days of your purchase for a full refund. Return shipping is free for orders being returned within the US. I think they are only shipping the product to the United States. If you are out of the US, you can probably get the backpack but you should first contact them and see your options.

Image: Sayed Hamed wearing Tortuga Outbreaker Travel backpack in Italy. Photo by Chasing The Unexpected

Tortuga Outbreaker backpack Cons:

  • No specific USB phone/tablet charging port to keep the battery inside and charge your device on the go
  • No internal compression straps to compress the bag to a smaller size when it is too full or half empty
  • At $299, I think it’s a little expensive and could have been a bit more affordable
  • 35-Liter capacity so probably not the best choice for longer trips
  • A handle on either side of the backpack could come in handy when you want to carry or place the bag somewhere horizontally
  • No stowaway sleeve/pocket to hide the straps when not wearing the backpack
  • The pockets on the hip belt are small and don’t fit a standard-size wallet
Image: Sayed Hamed with the Tortuga Outbreaker bag.Photo by Chasing The Unexpected

Tortuga Outbreaker backpack Pros:

  • Meets carry-on size restrictions for most domestic airlines
  • Lockable Japanese water-resistant zippers to keep your belongings dry and safe
  • Padded and mesh shoulder straps and hip belts can be removed when not needed.
  • Protected and padded laptop and iPad sleeves that fit up to 17-inch laptops.
  • Fully breathable and well-padded back design for additional comfort for longer walks.
  • 5 Separate Internal mesh compartments to keep your accessories organized and arranged.
  • 2 Exterior side water bottle holders and two pockets on the hip belt with zippers.
  • Hard to tear, extremely durable, waterproof, and easy to clean Sailcloth exterior material.
  • A well-designed and a spacious specific compartment for passports, pens, cards, and notebooks
Image: Sayed Hamed with the Tortuga Outbreaker travel backpack in Italy. Photo by Chasing The Unexpected


With years of experience and using several types of travel backpacks, I have never even closely felt as comfortable as with the Tortuga Outbreaker backpack. It has all the travel-specific features that literally have made traveling easier for me.

I have seen the Osprey packs too but the Tortuga Outbreaker backpacks are a whole new level of comfort and quality. I do think they could lower the price a little bit and add exterior as well as interior compression straps. But even the way it is, I think it stands head and shoulder above most of the competitors for the best carry-on travel backpack.

Click here to buy it

about me: Angela Corrias
About the author

I'm Angela Corrias, an Italian journalist, photographer, and travel writer located in the heart of Italy's capital. Welcome to my website, your comprehensive source for your travels and expert guidance for crafting your dream travel experience.

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