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Tortuga Backpacks Review 2021

Our Verdict

As travel backpacks that aim to be the same size as carry-ons, we've got what you need to know about purchasing or taking a Tortuga backpack on your next trip in this Tortuga backpacks review.

Some of the pros and cons that come with these backpacks include: 


  • Large, medium, and expandable carry-on sizes available.
  • Carry-on bags designed for both men and women.
  • Domestic and international max carry-on sizes.
  • Fits up to a week of clothes, a laptop, and then some.


  • Limited color selection.
  • A moderately high price tag.

When’s the last time you bought a backpack? What were you looking for that made you settle on that particular one?

Was it the color? Was it the strength of the straps? How about the way it felt against your back and shoulders? Was it simply just the one on top of the clearance pile? 

Whether it’s a backpack for carrying your books for school or packing carry-on luggage for all your scheduled (and unscheduled) road trips, you want to make sure what’s on your back holds all your gear with both fashion and function.

You won’t need to look any further than Tortuga Backpacks

Their Bag Finder Quiz will help you get what you want. You’ll stumble across that ideal around-the-corner or around-the-world travel sack with ample space and compartments for your travel essentials.

About Tortuga

Best Tortuga Backpacks

Tortuga Backpacks came to be because two friends went on an overseas trip and found their travel backpacks inefficient, unreliable, and poorly made. Fred Perrotta and Jeremy Cohen founded the company in 2010 after a trip to Europe the year before saw their travel luggage not cut it.

From the contents of Fred’s bag becoming disorganized after having to check it, to Jeremy’s shoulder straps tearing on the very first day of the trip, their frustration evolved into an opportunity.

One of their objectives was to create a travel backpack around the same size as a carry-on bag. Because they couldn’t find a bag before the trip that would be more than adequate for their travel needs, they made one after their trip.

Ten years later, they have designed a line of various travel bags for diverse user needs. 

Tortuga Backpacks has a philanthropic component as well. When you buy a Tortuga travel pack, your purchase contributes to their Tortuga Study Abroad Scholarship program. The twice-a-year program awards a winner $1,000 and a travel backpack. 

You also contribute to the Travel Access Project’s Gap Year Grant, allowing students to travel and have an educational experience at the same time. 

With destinations such as India, Nepal, Guatemala, Ghana, and more, pursuing your professional or academic goals while you travel gives you a transformative and fantastic experience.

3 Best Selling Backpacks

Tortuga has three signature backpack lines: the Outbreaker, the Setout, and the Prelude. Whether you’re looking exclusively for a larger travel backpack or something for everyday use, you’re in luck.

If you want a traditional pack or one that can fold into itself for more accessible storage, you have options.

Tortuga Outbreaker

Tortuga Outbreaker

The fully-featured carry on for organized travelers.

The Tortuga Outbreaker is top-tier for travel and daily-use backpacks. Their 45-L large travel bag is ideal for domestic travel, while the 35-L medium travel bag is the maximum weight for international travel. 

Rated as a 2020 New York Times Wirecutter Pick for “Best bag if you need a large suitcase on your back,” this waterproof, oversized carry-on will hold the majority of your travel essentials and then some.


  • Can hold a laptop with a screen of up to 17 inches.
  • Removable hip belt for extra carrying support.
  • Front-loading style.
  • Fits about a week of clothes.


  • Only two options to choose from.
  • Does not have wheels/can only be worn on your back.

Tortuga Setout

Tortuga Setout

The just-right carry on for city travelers.

With carry-on bags tailored for both men’s and women’s torsos, the Tortuga Setout is the second-level travel backpack. The three styles apiece (large, medium, expandable) come in both the 45-L U.S. maximum carry-on size and the 35-L international maximum carry-on size. 

The Setout won First Place at the 2018 Carryology’s Sixth Annual Carry Award for “Best Carry-On Bag.” It was touted as a “first-class effort” by Carryology for its blend of fashion and function.


  • Weather-resistant.
  • Holds roughly a week’s worth of clothes.
  • Lockable zippers.
  • Removable hip belt for extra support.


  • Does not have wheels/can only be worn on your back.
  • Limited color selection.

Tortuga Prelude

Tortuga Prelude

The basic carry on for budget travelers.

The third option of the signature travel backpack collection, the Tortuga Prelude is ideal for students and low-budget travelers. With enough space and storage for light travelers, this backpack will service your basic carry-on needs. 

The 10.5”-screen laptop storage, room for a week’s worth of clothes, and a 38.5-L size maxing out the international limits show why the Prelude may be all you need.


  • Hip belt to better disperse weight.
  • Weather-resistant material.
  • Air mesh padding for breathability.
  • Lockable zippers.


  • Only one option to choose from.
  • Does not have some accessories or features as other styles.

Materials and Aesthetic

The Outbreaker collection features a very durable, X-Ply waterproof sailcloth that withstands the elements exceptionally well. Between the U.V. resistance, waterproof coating, mold resistance, and rip resistance, the Outbreaker is the premier travel backpack.

The Setout collection showcases 100% recycled polyester, recycled water bottles, and recycled fiber, in addition to sporting the same waterproof coating the Outbreaker boasts.

The Prelude has 100% recycled polyester and even a matte TPU coating. 

The durability, environmentally-conscious foundation, sleek color ways, air mesh padding, and adjustable straps and waist belt make the Tortuga line a very viable option for travel backpacks.

Backpack Features

Tortuga products feature laptop storage, lockable zippers, compression straps, extra pockets inside and outside, and the ideal carry-on size between the medium and large-size options.

You can also buy packing cubes that allow for more organized and neat packing inside whichever backpack you choose.


Still got questions? We may have the answers you need below:

Does Tortuga make quality backpacks?

Yes, Tortuga makes high-quality, durable, sleek, and strong backpacks.

How long do their backpacks typically last?

With proper care and usage, the Tortuga backpack will last for years.

Is there free shipping available on every purchase?

Yes, free shipping is available on every purchase of $49 or more.

Do they ship to all 50 U.S. states?

Yes, Tortuga ships to all 50 states, even during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Do they offer money back guarantees?

Yes, Tortuga offers no-hassle returns and money back guarantees on all purchases.

Why Purchase Backpacks from Tortuga?

Affordability, durability, and convenient payment options are among the top reasons why choosing Tortuga is an excellent investment for travel needs.

It doubles as the perfect carry-on for a quick trip, but also the premiere out-of-town bag. Its maximum capacity all but ensures your clothes, toiletries, charge cables, and more will conveniently fit. 

The three size options allow you to actually choose what you want instead of choosing what you have to. Throw in the Bag Finder Quiz, and you have plenty of reasons to select Tortuga once and keep it forever.

Final Thoughts

Simply put, you can’t go wrong when choosing any of the Tortuga products that we've highlighted in this Tortuga backpacks review.

You have plenty of sizes and options to choose from that will indeed hold all of your essential travel needs. The waterproof outer materials will last in any climate, and the inner lining keeps your contents as dry as you packed them.

Tortuga products keep your bags from being checked and your stuff secure. The founders have personal experience with extensive backpacking troubles, so they set out to ensure no one else goes through what they did.

They designed and created a bag that you can trust. All that is why Tortuga is your one-stop-shop for travel backpacks. You won’t go wrong with choosing them.

Tortuga Outbreaker

The fully-featured carry on for organized travelers.

Tortuga vs. Competitors


Cotopaxi icon
  • Made from 100% repurposed fabric
  • Carry-on compatible.
  • Suitcase-style opening


Osprey icon
  • Lightweight and durable
  • Comfortable Fit
  • Stowaway Harness

Peak Design

Peak Design icon
  • Ultimate comfort
  • Custom organization
  • Travel Friendly

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Tortuga Backpacks
Best Tortuga Backpacks

Packs like a suitcase, carries like a backpack.

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backpacks, travel

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About the author 


I’m Donny. I can sum myself up with four simple ways. Online Entrepreneur. Author. Investor. World Traveler

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