Tortuga Outbreaker Review [MUST READ!]

Tortuga means ‘turtle’ and that’s basically what we get from this company. They make backpacks that really feel like they’re part of you! Comfortable, reliable, durable, built to last – their bag solutions are definitely something we can get behind.

And right now, we’re all about the Tortuga Outbreaker. This dreamy backpack is all about one bag travel, digital nomads and not looking out of place in a city environment. Simple design and sturdy materials definitely make this a heavy hitter when it comes to the travelling backpack world.

But don’t just take our word for it. We’re going to be looking at this awesome bag in more detail. Maybe it’s for you, maybe it’s not for you. After reading our epic review of the Tortuga Outbreaker, we reckon you’ll know for sure.

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Ultimate Tortuga Outbreaker Review

Quick Answers – The Tortuga Outbreaker backpack IS for you if…

  • You want a backpack for one bag travel – Well, that’s basically what the Tortuga Outbreaker is all about: one bag travel. There’s enough room in both the 35 and 45 litre versions of this backpack for at least a couple of weeks’ worth of travel before you have to do any washing.
  • Organisation is totally your thing – The storage on the Outbreaker spread across three pockets, all of which are further split up into more and more pockets. This allows you to properly stash away various bits of kit and luggage in a neat, organised way. We’re fans.
  • You want a durable bag – Tortuga hasn’t scrimped on materials when it comes to making the Outbreaker. The outer material is made from a four-layered sailcloth, which is also waterproof. Shouldn’t scuff and definitely shouldn’t rip or tear on you. Will last you a few years without too much wear.
  • You’re a digital nomad – There’s a specific space in the Outbreaker for a laptop up to 17” as well as a tablet up to 9.7”. Both of these fit inside decently padded slots so they fit securely inside. There’s plenty of pockets for wires, adaptors, chargers, etc. without all of these getting into a total mess.

Quick Answers – The Outbreaker backpack is NOT for you if…

  • You want to go hiking – It may be durable, but this is first and foremost an URBAN bag. For URBAN travellers. This is the kind of thing that gets you off the plane and into the city. Perfect for weekend breaks or hopping from city to city, but for long treks? It’s probably not the one for you.
  • You want something more versatile – Unlike the Tortuga Setout, the Outbreaker doesn’t have the ability to hide its straps away. So you can’t really turn this one into a duffel bag, no matter how much you try. It’s always going to be a backpack.
  • You want a take a TON of stuff with you – There’s a 35 litre version, which is good for carry on. The 45 will probably have to be checked in. But even then, if you want even MORE space, you may want to look at something more around the 60 litre mark – like the Osprey Atmos AG 65 or the Osprey Aether AG 70
  • You want something more minimal – The Outbreaker is overkill for some. If you like light, minimal travel, you’ll love our Minaal 2.0 review.
  • You’re on a budget – Like the Nomatic Travel Pack, the Outbreaker isn’t exactly cheap. It’s pretty steep for anybody on a budget. We’re talking $299. You DO get a top quality bag out of it, but if money’s tight, then you’re going to want something more affordable – check out our Osprey Farpoint 40 review!

Different Tortuga Backpacks

Tortuga began life with a broken backpack and a dream. That was all the way back in 2009. Fast-forward to now and the company has been busy creating backpack solutions for travellers who want something a little different. Something between a suitcase and a big old hiking backpack: urban travellers.

This backpack company has been doing pretty well. And you know what? We’re fans. The simple style of the backpacks, the high-quality materials used in the creation of these durable bags, the organisational capabilities. It’s a new backpack game – and we like it.

At the moment, there are a couple of other bags on the market aside from the Tortuga Outbreaker. These are…

#1 – Tortuga Setout

Tortuga Setout
Tortuga Setout

The Setout is a great little carry on bag. You can stash away the shoulder straps and turn this baby into a duffel bag if you want. Compared to the three compartments on the Outbreaker, the Setout lacks the sort of interior organisation with its two pockets.

But if that doesn’t matter to you, you can save yourself around $100 and get yourself one of these instead. It’s not as sturdy and lacks the Outbreaker’s sailcloth fabric, but again: if that doesn’t matter to you, this budget-friendly option may be better suited to you.

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#2 – Tortuga Setout Divide

Tortuga Setout Divide
Tortuga Setout Divide

The Setout Divide is the smallest bag in the Tortuga backpack range currently. But even though it starts out at a pretty puny 26 litre backpack, it can extend to a 34L version of itself. That makes it good enough for short-term trips. It’s also got a waistbelt and a sleeve that means it can fit neatly onto a rolling suitcase – perfect for a long weekend break. And if you’re a smaller person, this may work better with your dimensions!

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#3 – Tortuga Outbreaker

Tortuga Outbreaker
Tortuga Outbreaker

The Outbreaker is what we’re talking about now. This bad boy is the king of the Tortuga backpack set. It’s “fully-featured” as described by the company themselves. There are three main pockets, tons of compartments, a load of organisational capabilities, and it’s super durable what with that nifty sailcloth going on. It’s bulkier than the other two, but there’s also a suspension system to take the weight off your back, so there’s that to take into consideration as well.

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Tortuga Outbreaker Features

Cool features are what MAKES the Tortuga Outbreaker what it is: a very, very handy backpack. But it’s not just about cool features that you may not necessarily need. There are features all over this bag that make it more durable, more comfortable, more stylish and more easy to carry overall than other Tortuga family backpacks. And more than other backpacks as a result.

Since there are so many of these smart and simple, we’re going to list some of the most useful features of this amazing travel companion. Let’s have a look…

Comes in Two Sizes: 35L & 45L

tortuga outbreakder 35 and 45

The Tortuga Outbreaker claims to be a carry on bag, so you can take it onto pretty much every airline. That’s mainly when it comes to the 35L Outbreaker. This will be ok on basically any plane. But the 45 might make it onto SOME planes, but definitely not all. Both are packed with the exact same features, but it just depends how you travel. Do you really need that extra pair of shoes? Will the 45L just make you pack more? That’s up to you.

  • Pro – Choose the type of bag that fits your travel style
  • Con – What if you want just a little more space than 35? Maybe an expandable Outbreaker would have been better

 

Clamshell Opening

Tortuga Outbreaker suitcase

The Outbreaker opens up like a suitcase – i.e. clamshell opening. Not only does this mean you’re able to pack your bag with precision, but it also means you don’t have to DIG to the very bottom of a backpack to find that ONE thing you were looking for. We’ve all been there. And it ain’t fun. It packs like a suitcase, travels like a backpack. What a dream!

  • Pro – Easy to pack, easy to find stuff
  • Con – If you’re disorganised, a clamshell opening won’t really help. Sorry.

 

Mesh Compartments

When you unzip this main pocket, you’ll find two zippable mesh compartments on one side. This allows you to further arrange your things for optimum space usage. Or if you want to put some shoes in, or belts, even makeup and a hairbrush, this is the place you can put it. Handy.

  • Pro – Added organisational possibilities is never a bad thing
  • Con – Could get a bit lumpy if you’re shoving too much stuff into these

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Secondary Compartment

Mesh Compartments

In addition to the main clamshell opening pocket of the Outbreaker, there’s two more pockets. The first of these is you’ll find the tablet and laptop slots, as well as some other organisational pockets. This is also a clamshell opening, from the top down (as opposed to the side opening of the main pocket). You don’t have to fully open it to get your laptop out – just open the top and slide it out. Simple.

  • Pro – Amazing storage for electricals
  • Con – If you’re not that bothered about laptops and things, this pocket could be useless

Laptop Sleeve

laptop sleves

The laptop sleeve on the Tortuga Outbreaker is somewhere we’d want to live. It’s fleece-lined, very soft, and as a result it’s a smooth action to take your laptop in and out. This also comes with a load of padding to keep your laptop nice and safe in your backpack.

It basically works as a case itself, so you may not even need one. Plus it fits up to a 17” laptop, which is great if you’re carrying one of those beasts around.

  • Pro – Should offer enough protection for your laptop
  • Con – If you don’t have a laptop, this feature goes to waste a bit

Tablet Sleeve

tablets sleeves tortuga outbreakder

If you’re one of those people that really goes to town when it comes to carrying electricals around with you, you’ll be pleased to know that there’s a dedicated tablet sleeve on the Outbreaker, too.

This sits right in front of the laptop sleeve and is good for anything up to 9.7” – even a Kindle if you feel like it. Even a good old-fashioned book. Or a PSP. Or a DS. Even a Switch. Whatever your entertainment is.

  • Pro – Nice little space to keep things safe and out of the way
  • Con – Not very well padded so you may want to keep your tablet (or whatever) in its own case as well

Organisational Pocket

backpack-front-open

And then there’s the third pocket. Right on the front of the bag, this is another pocket that opens up to halfway down the bag and folds down. In here you will find a whole load of pockets. Card slots, sunglasses slots, pockets for documents, even a clip for your keys. You’ll never lose anything again. Maybe.

  • Pro – Loads of different places to put your various important items
  • Con – Keeping it all in one place at the front of a bag could be a BIT risky…

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Exterior Pockets

Exterior Pockets

In addition to all those interior goodies that the Tortuga Outbreaker is packing, there are also a few exterior pockets on the front of the bag for even MORE organisation. This means you can stash a few things on the front so you don’t have to open the whole bag up. Pack of tissues. Hand sanitiser. A hat. A pair of gloves. The choice is yours.

  • Pro – Even more compartments to put stuff
  • Con – Can be hard to fit things in if the bag is already packed to the max

 

Sailcloth Material

waterproof tortuga outbreaker

The Outbreaker is predominantly made of high quality, four-layered sailcloth. This is some seriously hardy stuff. This means that the backpack is very sturdy, and not likely to rip, tear, scuff or anything like that. Plus, it’s VERY well sewn together. It never feels like it’s going to literally burst at the seams, as they say, if you overpack it. It’s basically built to last – and that’s what the guarantee says.

  • Pro – They’re very quick to tuck away
  • Con – It can still get annoying having to tuck them away at all

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Weather Resistant

Weather Resistant

Sailcloth is also waterproof. The clue is in the name: it’s used for sails. We’re not sure if this is going to completely cover you in a mad tropical downpour, but it will keep your stuff dry enough in ‘normal’ rain. It’s better than having to get out some ugly rain cover to hoist over your bag that you’ve just paid $299. Even the zippers and seams are coated.

  • Pro – Should keep your stuff dry in the rain
  • Con – Prolonged, very heavy rain might be a different story

Duraflex Buckles

Who wants buckles that are going to break on you? No one, that’s who. So the team at Tortuga have fitted out the Outbreaker with some sturdy as anything Duraflex buckles. This means they should stand the test of time and put up with a lot of usage. Not likely to snap or crack no matter how heavy the bag is.

  • Pro – Another feature that makes the Outbreaker a very durable bag
  • Con – Surely there’s something more stylish than a buckle to do the job

 

Lockable Zippers

lockable zipper

So we know the zippers are coated, that’s a big plus for keeping your things dry. They’re also YKK, which means they’re durable and high-end; Tortuga specifically chose ‘weather resistant’ zippers for this bag. They also fit very nicely together and come complete with a hole that you can fit a padlock through – added security!

  • Pro – Nothing wrong with being able to lock up your bag, especially in sketchy areas
  • Con – It’s only as secure as the locks you buy, unfortunately

 

Carry On Size

tortuga outbreakder 35 and 45

Both the 35 and 45 litre Tortuga Outbreaker are at least intended to be carry on size. The 35 litre, definitely. This will be accepted as carry on, or hand luggage, on pretty much all the airlines – that includes those budget European ones as well as Asian flights. This feature also makes it a super awesome travel business backpack!

The 45 litre may get through on some airlines, but it might be riskier. We’d say it’s carry on, depending on how much it’s packed out. Don’t forget: there’s (sometimes) a weight limit, too.

  • Pro – No hassle whatsoever at the airport. Smooth and easy transit
  • Con – The 45 litre Outbreaker may not be carry on. It’s more of a risk

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Padded Removable Hip Belt

hip belt tortuga outbreaker

Yes, there’s a hip belt on the Outbreaker and there’s two good things about it: it’s padded AND it’s removable. The best thing about a hip belt in general, however, is the fact that it takes the load off your shoulders. Especially good when you’re carrying some real weight.

Not only that, but it’s adjustable meaning it fits different body shapes. And when you don’t need it, take them off and look a bit more normal in an urban environment.

  • Pro – Padded and very comfortable; no digging in here
  • Con – When removed, you’ve got to put it somewhere. What if your bag’s full?

Hip Belt Pocket

Tortuga-Outbreaker-Hip-Belt

May seem like a bit of pointless addition, but trust us: it’s not. The hip belt pocket on the Tortuga Outbreaker is a very handy thing indeed. This is where you can put stuff like small change, train tickets, things like that which you’ll need easy access to when you’re in transit after a flight.

  • Pro – Always nice to have extra pockets, let’s be honest
  • Con – But also being honest, it’s easy to forget this pocket exists

 

Adjustable Suspension System

Tortuga-Outbreaker-suspensionback

The Tortuga Outbreaker boasts an impressive adjustable suspension system. What does that mean? This means that the weight of the bag can be easily transferred and doesn’t hang in just one place on your shoulders. You move this nifty little system up and down on the back of the bag according to your height.

  • Pro – Not everyone’s the same size and it makes it a lot more comfortable
  • Con – It’s great, but maybe overkill for people not carrying a TON of stuff

Padded Shoulder Straps

Unlike the Setout, the Outbreaker features some SERIOUS padding on those shoulder straps. The company have taken some cues from hiking backpacks and have come up with these amazing straps that form to your shoulders. The padding is super thick and we’re very thankful for that. Sore shoulders from inadequate straps is NOT fun, people.

  • Pro – Makes carrying even a heavy weight quite dreamy
  • Con – The padding does make the straps very bulky

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Ventilated Backing

Ventilated Backing

In another trait of hiking backpacks, Tortuga has utilised a padded, mesh ventilated backing system on the Outbreaker. This means the actual bag itself is off your back. And, the miracle of miracles, this means that you won’t be getting a sweaty back – hopefully anyway. Just allows for a little bit of air to circulate and we definitely like that.

  • Pro – Say goodbye to sweaty backs
  • Con – But there’s also a lot of padding, so adds extra pounds

Two Water Bottle Pockets

water bottle pocket tortuga outbreaker

Staying hydrated is important. We all know that. And so Tortuga. So they’ve equipped the Outbreaker with not one, but two water bottle pockets. The cool thing is not that there’s two, but that they’re both discreet. They lie flat against the bag when you haven’t got anything in them. Nice and neat – and we like that.

  • Pro – Easy access to grab your water bottles
  • Con – Honestly what urban traveller is walking around with two water strapped to them?

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Final Thoughts on the Tortuga Outbreaker

The Tortuga Outbreaker is a pretty regal backpack. The urban style of it is something that’s going to catch the eye of any nomad or backpacker who’s ever felt out of place with their Osprey or Karrimor backpack in a city. We’ve all been there.

So if you’re more about the urban side of travel, this one is definitely for you. But Tortuga hasn’t gone easy on the durability. In fact, they’ve taken features and facets from the hiking backpack world and used them in this awesome bag to ensure comfort and durability. The fact that it’s got things like sailcloth and ventilated backing makes it a dream to carry.

And then there’s the size. The 35 litre Outbreaker is carry on size. The 45 litre might not ALWAYS be carry on, but it still strikes a good balance between compact and high capacity that means it’s good for a longer trip.

This bag always gets glowing reports – and we’re giving it one now. Solving all sorts of problems that range from bags not being stylish enough, to a lack of padding, the Outbreaker is definitely a winner. It may be a little pricey, but it’s an investment that’s worth it

Aiden Higgins

Aiden travels for two things - food and sports! An avid football-fanatic, Aiden eats his way through Europe while catching every football he can manage! When he is not chasing matches around the continent, Aiden lives in Birmingham, UK.
Aiden Higgins

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