REVIEW: Tortuga Outbreaker – Is This The Best Backpack for Travel?

Tortuga Outbreaker Review

I imagine you’ve landed here because you’re interested in purchasing a new travel backpack — more specifically the Tortuga Outbreaker Backpack, right?

That said, I’m sure you want to learn a whole lot more about this backpack before you go ahead and hit the buy it now button, I’ve got you covered.

From the basics of the pack to the materials used as well as the latest and greatest new features, this is hands down the most comprehensive review of the Tortuga Outbreaker that you’ll find on the web.

Let’s get started.

Tortuga Outbreaker Backpack Review

About Tortuga Backpacks

Tortuga Backpacks is the brainchild of Fred Perrotta and Jeremy Michael Cohen. When they started the company their mission was to help make travelers, adventurers and digital nomads lives easier by producing a backpack that would not only suit the needs of the above but also go beyond the necessities.

“Live on your terms.” ~ Tortuga Backpacks

It all started when the pair was backpacking through Europe in 2009. In frustrating fashion they discovered how ill-suited most luggage was for urban/city travel. So, Fred and Jeremy did what any intrepid traveler does – they went off the beaten path and started their own backpack company to create better bags for better travel on ‘your terms!’

Tortuga Outbreaker Backpack Review Front and Rear View

Tortuga Outbreaker Overview

Introducing the newest, and what many might call the best travel backpack on the market. Aptly named the Tortuga Outbreaker.

With the Outbreaker you’ll never need to worry about paying your airlines pesky baggage fees. Oh, and let’s not forget about the anxiety involved when you arrive at your destination and you’re waiting to see if your bag actually made it on the flight.

The Tortuga Outbreaker Backpack maximizes your carry-on space, no matter what airline restrictions there are. The Outbreaker Backpack gives you the freedom to go, see, do and carry what you need with ease.

This is the bag both city commuters and world travelers have been waiting for.

Similar to its predecessor, The Tortuga Outbreaker Backpack is designed for both urban and world travel which means you get everything you need in one stylish yet versatile pack.

This stylish and slick looking travel backpack has a padded, lie-flat laptop compartment and plenty of storage pockets for all your travel accessories, which is a must-have for today’s digital nomad, yet the Tortuga Outbreaker Backpack stores your clothes like a traditional carry-on suitcase.

For city travelers the Outbreaker’s packing system is superior to the traditional ‘top loading’ system that you find in most trekking and hiking backpacks. The Outbreaker’s clamshell design gives you easy access to everything you’re looking for without having to fumble around or remove and replace items from your bag.

The adjustable suspension system, with thick, padded shoulder straps and removable weight-baring hip belt ensures a snug fit with comfort.

And don’t worry about getting caught in the rain with the Outbreaker Backpack – it’s waterproof, so go ahead and sing in the rain without having to worry about your belongings. The Outbreaker has also lockable zippers so you know your valuables are safe.


Tortuga Backpack vs Tortuga Outbreaker Comparison

Tortuga Travel Backpack vs. Tortuga Outbreaker

For those of you who currently own the Tortuga Backpack (aka V2) and you’re wondering if you should upgrade to the new Tortuga Outbreaker, here’s a quick breakdown comparison between the two backpacks.

What’s the difference between the Tortuga Backpack and the Tortuga Outbreaker?

Think of the Tortuga Outbreaker as the Tortuga Backpack’s bigger, better looking, more intelligent brother.

Like the V2, the Outbreaker is a new solution to an age-old problem – finding a quality backpack that is functional, stylish, sturdy, and durable. The Outbreaker backpack doubles down on what the earlier version did best – providing a high-quality, well-organized travel backpack that will be your go-to pack for years to come.

The Tortuga Outbreaker’s New Features

The Outbreaker is a complete overhaul of its predecessor – everything from the materials to the design. The Outbreaker is the latest evolution of an already successful bag with proven quality, durability, function and style.

Let’s talk a little more about materials – because even though we hate to admit it, we all live in a material world.

Tortuga Outbreaker Backpack Review - Waterproof Backpack

Waterproof Sailcloth Technology

For maximum durability, the Tortuga Outbreaker Backpack is built from a four-layer, waterproof sailcloth that is impervious to scuffs and tears. The 210 denier nylon consists of four layers so it’s not only super strong, the Outbreaker offers lightweight protection needed for the everyday traveler.

Tortuga Outbreaker Backpack Ariaprene Back Panel

Ariaprene Back Panel

The backpanel of the Outbreaker is made of Ariaprene, a high-performance foam engineered to perform during the toughest days on the road. That means on a hot day, don’t sweat it, literally. The Outbreaker’s padded back panel won’t absorb sweat, so you can rest assured that you’ll stay cool and dry.

Tortuga Outbreaker Adjustable Height System

Built-in Height Adjustment System

Another big highlight of the new Outbreaker is that it comes with a built-in height adjustment system which allows you to adjust the torso height (learn more about fit in the FAQ section below).

This is key because it’s like an adjustable car seat – the same backpack can fit people of all different sizes (a feature which is usually found in hiking/trekking packs).

What’s even better? Adjusting the pack is as easy as it gets – simply undo the velcro, slip the tongue through the horizontal bars at the height you want and reconnect the velcro – that’s it for a custom fit!

Tortuga Outbreaker Internal Storage

Maximum Space & Organization

The bag has also been redesigned for maximum organization. If you need it, you can pack it and find it with ease.

The large main compartment includes zippered mesh pockets, so you can see everything in a snap, while extra side pockets are perfect for smaller items.

Tortuga Outbreaker Front and Rear Storage

Front & Rear Storage Panels

On the outside of the Outbreaker Backpack (front/side) there are two more pockets, perfect for water bottles, a notepad or city guide book.

On the rear you’ll find a incredibly well designed and padded lie-flat laptop & tablet compartment with plenty of zippered mesh storage pockets for all your travel accessories. The laptop sleeve itself is a clam-shell design as well and is lined with a very soft fleece type of material.

Tortuga Outbreaker Removable Hip Straps

Removable Hip Straps

Unlike the previous Tortuga Backpack (V2), the new and improved Tortuga Outbreaker offers removable hip straps. This is one of the features that I was hoping for this time around as I’m not always in need of the hip straps, especially when using the 35L pack as a daypack for day trips.

Thankfully, removing and reattaching the hip straps is super simple and can be done in mere seconds. Nice work, Tortuga.


Tortuga Outbreaker FAQ

What are the specs of the Tortuga Outbreaker Backpack?

The Outbreaker comes in two sizes – 35L and the 45L.

The 35L is designed to be the perfect carry-on size – even the strictest of airlines, like Ryanair, won’t be able to wage a complaint against you for carrying this travel backpack onboard.

  • Size: 20.3 x 12.9 x 8.2″
  • Weight: 4.6 lbs (2.15 kg)
  • Laptop: Up to 15″
  • Tablet: Up to 13″ (iPad Pro)
  • Fit: 16-19″ torsos

The 45L is technically too large for some budget airlines, but others that are not so strict will let you bring this pack on the plane. Remember, for many airlines it’s not so much the size of the bag, as it is the weight, so take that into account when packing.

  • Size: 22 x 14 x 9″
  • Weight: 5.1 lbs (2.3 kg)
  • Laptop: Up to 17″
  • Tablet: Up to 13″ (iPad Pro)
  • Fit: 16-20″ torsos

Which size is better for me — 35L or 45L?

The answer to that question depends on the kind of traveling you’ll be doing and how good of a packer you are. So let’s break it down by each Outbreaker Backpack size:

The 45L is best for you if you plan on being on the road for a while – and by that we means months. The 45L Tortuga Outbreaker has enough room for you to bring everything you’ll need without having to check a bag. It is also the best option if you like to bring more than just the essentials – think a snazzy outfit or two, with some extra shoes, for hitting the town at night. Or perhaps you are the traveler who brings home gifts for everyone. If you hit the souvenir shops hard you will definitely want the 45L. It has great compression straps so if you don’t fill it up, you can still stabilize the load.

The 35L would be best for minimalist packers, someone who is not a big shopper and those who usually fly budget airlines. If this describes some of your interests then I recommend going with the 35L. The 35L Tortuga Outbreaker Backpack still boasts plenty of room for weeks to months on the road, but without the extra size and weight.

How do I know if the Tortuga Backpack will fit me?

The fit is all by design and both of the Outbreaker travel backpacks are designed with that in mind. This means you can pick which size you prefer, the 35L or the 45L based on your packing/traveling needs rather than your body frame. The backpack’s adjustable suspension system conforms to all body types, male and female.

Note: One female reviewer said she is only 5’3” and finds the Outbreaker incredibly comfortable to wear and loves that the chest strap goes above the breasts so it’s comfy even when the bag is fully loaded.

Additionally you can get a snug fit by adjusting the hip belt, which also takes weight off your shoulders.

Note: As mentioned above, the hip belt is removable so if you packed light and don’t need to extra support you can take it off and make the Outbreaker even more custom for you.

If you order the Outbreaker travel backpack online and it doesn’t fit, Tortuga promise a 30 day return with a full refund.

Will Budget Airlines accept my Tortuga Outbreaker Backpack as a Carry-on?

The short answer is yes – no questions asked if you are carrying the 35L. The larger of the two Outbreaker Backpacks (45L) might require some fast talking at check-in, but in my experience I’ve never had an issue with the 45L. I would say as long as your pack isn’t bag isn’t loaded to the brim then you should be able to carry the 45L Outbreaker on without issue.

Are there any cons of the Tortuga Outbreaker Backpack?

Overall the Outbreaker Backpack is a fantastic bag. But we all know, nothing is perfect and for many the biggest con might be the backpack’s weight. The 35L weighs 4.6lbs (2.15kg) and the 45L weighs 5.1lbs (2.3kg), still pretty light but it’s something to consider when purchasing this pack.

Additionally the shoulder straps cannot be stored away – so it won’t easily convert to a regular bag, and if you do ended up checking the Outbreaker Backpack having loose straps is not ideal. Fortunately, those of you who are worried about the straps can pick up one of these duffles to protect your pack.

Note: The new Outbreaker does not have a side carry handle, so it truly is a backpack, even though it packs like a suitcase.

Final Thoughts

I can safely say that this is hands down the best travel backpack on the market. If all of the information above hasn’t convinced you yet, then maybe this pack isn’t for you.

Not only is the Tortuga Outbreaker Backpack perfectly named – because let’s face it – a turtle has to be one of the most efficient travelers – it teaches us that everything you need while you’re on the go, you carry with you – on your back.

The Outbreaker performs that function with style, durability, adjustability and ease of mind. For too long the only options for urban go-getters were the clunky trekking/hiking backpacks that didn’t really fit their traveling lifestyle. The Outbreaker changes all that with carry-on freedom, comfort and style.

Interested in purchasing the Outbreaker for your next big trip?



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About the Author

Ryan Gargiulo is a location independent blogger, digital influencer and world traveler with a serious passion for the sun, the sea and adventure.

When he’s not out wandering the world, you can likely find him instagrammin’ from a paradisiacal location or hunched over my laptop, working away, somewhere along the coast of the Caribbean Sea.

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      1. I really loved your review! I already was semi convinced on the bag but this review officially made me purchase it. Cannot wait for EU in summer and Asia in Fall!

        1. Hey Tevin. Thanks for the follow up. Nice to hear that I was able to convince you to make the purchase. To be honest it’s well worth the investment. I can’t get enough of mine. I thought the V2 was the best bag I ever owned — that was until the Tortuga Outbreaker was released.

          You’ll be well served in the EU and Asia with your new Tortuga Backpack. Best of luck my friend!

    1. The Tortuga Outbreaker by FAR. I can’t even begin to compare the differences in this comment. The Outbreaker is next level on all accounts and it looks a hell of a lot better than the V2. It’s slim, sleek and built with very high quality materials. It feels as if it’s going to last forever.

  1. I’d have to say, after purchasing the Tortuga V2 bag and now the Outbreaker, I am pleasantly surprised and impressed with the additions to the newest version. Not only do I find it more “compartmentalized” but it also gives you so much more space with an extra liter added from the V2. I am completely in love with the separated compartments of the laptop, the main compartment and the organizational segment. I think this was genius of Tortuga to incorporate this in our lives :D Needless to say, I now look at my V2 bag and I think to myself, “how did I ever live without the Outbreaker?!” The V2 had it’s positives such as the stow away straps in the back, however, that’s the only positive in comparison to the Outbreaker that I can find. The Outbreaker’s organizational pockets, small organizational pockets in the main compartment, helping to eliminate the desire to use packing cubes, as well as a suspended laptop compartment with fleeced lining (Job well done!) and also the shoulder strap suspension system (which was a completely must!). When traveling on my last deployment overseas, we were encouraged to use civilian backpacks, therefore I chose the Tortuga for my travels. And let me tell you, after about an hour of walking in the airport with this badboy, my shoulders were VERY upset with me. I sure hope the Outbreaker lives up to it’s name. Tortuga also has put out that they will be developing packing cubes as well as a companion Daypack for this line. I look forward to seeing what they have in store. I have to say, hands down, their packing cubes are the best, next to Eagle Creek. Traveling excites me, next to purchasing travel gear! Great review Ryan!

    1. Hi Candis. Thanks for the comment.

      I completely agree. The Outbreaker really crushes the Tortuga V2 with all the new additions and features. I still can’t get over how many pockets and compartments are in this pack.

      Yeah I feel the same way. I just stopped home and took a look at the V2 again and really can’t believe how much things have changed since the Outbreaker was unveiled. I agree about the stowaway straps but to be honest I’m more thrilled about the detachable hip belt straps. It’s a game changer!

      I have the old Tortuga Packing cubes and I still use them to this day. I’m looking forward to when the new ones are released. Thanks again for the feedback.

  2. Hey, I am thinking about buying the 35l outbreaker backpack! I am traveling throughout Europe for 4-6 months, and mainly flying budget airlines (ryan air).. Is the 35l guaranteed to fit their guidelines? I’m terrified of the extra costs they put on for anyone even just inches over.. Also do you think its possible to fit a pair of shoes in the bag, like low top converses?

    1. Hey Delan. The 35 will definitely work. I’ve traveled RyanAir on several occasions with my Tortuga V2 45L and never had an issue. I find that they usually target people with rolling carry ons far more than those with a backpack on.You can definitely lay a pair of converse inside this pack. It’s a slim bag but expands nicely. Best of luck!

  3. Hi Ryan,

    Great review!

    I received my Tortuga Outbreaker 45L last week. Very excited to use it on a trip to Peru at the end of May. It will be traveling deep into the Amazon with me…during the rainy season. This trip will put the bag, that I anticipate will perform extremely well, to the test! I’d like to purchase locks for the 3 locking zippers on it. Do you have any suggestions?

    Thank you Friend!

    1. Thanks Natalie!

      Yeah, that should definitely put the Outbreaker to the test! I’m really interested in hearing what you think so please be sure to follow up after your trip.

      I think any of the typical (small) travel combo locks should be sufficient enough. You could go the key lock route but if you lose the key, you’re screwed. I always prefer having a combo.

      Best of luck on your trip and be sure to follow up if you can remember!

  4. Hey Ryan! I am going back and forth between the outbreaker 45 L and an osprey far point 40. I definitely like the look and the features of the outbreaker the best, however my biggest concern is if I’ll be able to use it on budget airlines such as Ryanair. I’m afraid the 35 L will just be too small. Were you able to use the 45L successfully on budget airlines?

    1. Hey Megan. I can confirm that I’ve used the 45L Tortuga on several budget airlines without issue. To be honest I think the staff have their eyes trained to look for rolling carry-on bags more than anything else. I’ve always found that if it’s on my back, it’s no problem. As long as it’s a reasonable size (like the Tortuga). Hope this helps with your decision.

  5. Hey Ryan,

    Do you think the outbreaker would fit under the seat on planes? I love the idea of a backpack as my carry on but I also stash all my snacks and entertainment there and don’t want it in the overhead bins.


    1. Yes, I can assure you that the Outbreaker fits underneath the seat on planes (both the 35 and 45L) due to the slim design factor. That said, if you stuff it with all your gear and it’s bulging then it’s less likely to fit the 45L underneath. The 35L will fit with no problem. The other option would simply to be to store all your snacks and entertainment in a smaller hand bag.

  6. You’re right about most bags being ill-suited for travel. Having to carry my laptop around on long motorcycle. This really helps! Thanks

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