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Tortuga Travel Backpack - 44L Maximum-Sized Carry On Travel Backpack
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- 100% Nylon
- BRING EVERYTHING YOU NEED WITHOUT CHECKING A BAG. The Tortuga is a maximum-sized carry on backpack measuring 22 x 14 x 9".
- KEEP YOUR BAG ORGANIZED AND YOUR STUFF WITHIN REACH. The Tortuga is front-loading, like a suitcase. Neatly pack your clothes and find what you need in your bag.
- PREVENT DISCOMFORT AND INJURY. The padded hip belt transfers 80% of your bag's weight from your shoulders to your hips for a more comfortable carry.
- NEVER GET ROBBED. All of the Tortuga's main compartments have lockable zippers to deter pickpockets.
- PROTECT YOUR COMPUTER. The padded laptop sleeve fits up to 17" computers, has a lockable zipper, and is easy to access at airport security.
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Bring Everything You Need Without Checking a Bag
Suitcases aren't made for world travel. Their cheap plastic wheels break easily on the cobblestone streets of Europe and dirt roads of less developed countries. Most backpacks aren't much better. They're designed for hikers and are too big to be carried onto a plane. Because they load from the top, your clothes are disorganized and hard to reach.
In 2009, we took a backpacking trip to Eastern Europe. The trip was a blast, but our bags were a disaster. We couldn't find the perfect travel backpack, so we made it: the Tortuga Travel Backpack.
Never pay airline baggage fees again. The Tortuga is a maximum-sized carry on backpack. The Tortuga measures 22x14x9", the default measurements for carry on luggage. (Always check your airline's guidelines before flying.)
Carries like a backpack; packs like a suitcase. The Tortuga is front-loading, like a suitcase, not top-loading, like a backpack. You can easily pack your bag and keep it organized as you travel.
Save your shoulders with the Tortuga's hip belt. The belt transfers up to 80% of your bag's weight from your shoulders to your hips. Because the hip belt and shoulder straps are fixed, the Tortuga will fit best if your torso is ~18-22" long. Please check the fit before ordering.
The Tortuga also has locking zippers, a laptop sleeve, exterior and interior pockets, air mesh back padding, and a cover to protect the straps while in transit.
Is the Tortuga Right for You?
The Tortuga was designed for international travelers, backpackers, study abroad students, and digital nomads who want to pack light for trips of 1 week to 1 year.
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Seller Warranty DescriptionTo the original owner, the Tortuga Backpacks Warranty guarantees against defects in materials and craftsmanship for as long as you own the product. If your product fails due to a defect, we will repair it, replace it, or refund your money at our discretion depending on product availability.
Top customer reviews
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I started with an Osprey Farpoint 70. I graduated to carry-on only & bought a Farpoint 40. Then I found Tortuga, so I returned the Osprey 40 and bought the Tortuga. Here's why.
1. Tortuga carries 4 more liters (1 gallon) of stuff, but still meets carry-on dimensions.
2. Tortuga has large hip pockets for easy access to passport, keys, money, cards, tickets, mobile phone.
3. Tortuga has side pockets that zip closed.
4. Tortuga has more organizing pockets & compartments.
5. Tortuga's square shape allows for more efficient packing
6. Tortuga is very well-padded and constructed. Noticeably more so than most other bags..
Although Tortuga is best for me, Osprey's suspension is more adjustable. When you add to this Osprey's slightly smaller size and rounded corners, Osprey's Farpoint 40 is a better choice for those with small frames. Tortuga is too hefty for my slim, 5'5" sister because the suspension is fixed.
I went to REI Coop & looked at Osprey's Porter 46. That's half a gallon more space than Tortuga, but the hip straps have no pockets and are very flimsy. There is no place to carry a water bottle. The back padding has no air passage. The shoulder straps are not well-padded. Not a worthy contender.
As for the Farpoint 55, although the main pack of the 55 is only 40 liters, the very frame of the bag reaches beyond carry-on dimensions, even w/o the day pack attached.
Pacsafe, Minaal & Kelty also make quality carry-on backpacks. Pacsafe's niche is safety as their bags are enforced with a wire mesh to prevent slashing, they block RFID scanners as well. Minaal's bag is considerably smaller and plainer. It appeals to more minimalists and those who need their bag for business. Kelty's Redwing 44, with its adjustable suspension and bladder pocket, two outside pockets and two pouches, is more flexible and better suited for extended use. It's also the most affordable of the lot. Tortuga, with its impressive construction, side pockets and hip pockets, focuses on practicality and convenience. The build quality is outstanding. It may not win any beauty contests, but I'm pretty enough, so...
One caveat with the Minaal. It doesn't come with decent hip straps (or waist belt). So, much of the bag's weight rests on your shoulders. In my book, that's a no go. A bag that can hold 35 liters carries more weight than should be resting on my shoulders/spine. Tortuga, Osprey, Kelty & Pacsafe have strong belts that allow for their weight to be transferred to your waist. These bags fall away from your back. They don't sag or hang down on your shoulders. They won't bounce about on my (ample) booty because they are strapped to my waist.
One caveat for Pacsafe 45. There's not a single outside pocket or hip strap pocket, not even a pouch for water. That's really not acceptable. Good looking bag, but a deal breaker for me.
The outer pockets on the Osprey are only mesh and are cut off by compression straps. They're on the back, so you cannot reach them whilst wearing the bag. It has no hip belt pockets either. No bueno.
Kelty's Redwing 44 is almost perfect. Unlike Tortuga, it has an adjustable suspension, a bladder pocket, both outside pockets and outside pouches. It loads from top and side (though the opening is narrow whereas Tortuga opens completely up) and is currently on offer for only $119. That's right. More than half the price of Tortuga. So, why did I spend more than double that for Tortuga? Kelty's zippers are not lockable, first of all. Secondly, the Redwing doesn't meet the exact dimension requirements of a carry-on bag. In truth, this isn't an issue. I've seen plenty of Redwings on board flights. It doesn't look any bigger than Tortuga because it's not that much bigger. It's the dimensions that are different. No one is going to stop you. Part of the extra bulk is the adjustable suspension which is far superior to Tortuga's fixed suspension.
By now, you can understand how *I* arrived at Tortuga. In the end, any of these quality, carry-on backpacks would be a good choice. It all depends on your needs and how you travel. I wanted maximum space and convenience. I'm not always wearing cargo pants, but I want my passport, money, mobile phone, snacks & cash within easy reach, so I opted for Tortuga with it's side & hip pockets. I also wanted easy access to my water bottle & I like the zipping side pockets and the overall construction is noticeably superior. I was also a bit paranoid of meeting exact carry-on dimensions. Turns out it's not that serious.
With the exception of the Kelty, these bags are not cheap. So, if you only travel a couple times a year & you only wear the pack from car to airplane & airplane to hotel, you probably can get away with a cheaper bag or even a roller. It's not like carry-on bags see as much abuse as checked baggage. However, if you travel often and you're a bit more active... if you walk from hostel to AirBnB host... if you are hopping on and off airplanes and trains as well as rickety buses, then I'd go for a well-made, thoughtfully designed bag like Tortuga.
TRAVEL BACKPACK VS HIKING BACKPACK
These travel backpacks are not the same as those tall, slim, top-loading packs you see tall Germans wearing all over the world. Those are made for hiking and camping. The stacked packing is designed for the complete unloading and loading of all contents to set up camp every day. Travel backpacks are made for travel convenience and quick access to the things you need at any particular time. They have different features. If I want to retrieve something from Tortuga mid-flight, I can unzip the length of it and find it. With a hiking backpack, I'd have to unpack items from the narrow opening at the top. They are different animals. Most hiking backpacks don't have lockable zippers like most of the high-end travel backpacks.
As for why I only do carry-on... Unless you need to carry lots of equipment for work, or you're traveling with children, most folks can really get away with a full-size carry-on for surprisingly long periods of time. Think not? Give it a trial run w/that rolling carry-on bag in your closet. Roll your clothing tightly (or us packing cubes to condense your stuff) Pack no more than two shoes & sandals, aside from those you'll wear. You don't need a new outfit for every day of the week. Most will find that they can swing a carry-on, sparing the $50 baggage check, 30-minute wait & potential loss or damage to their bag. If you're a frequent traveler, avoiding baggage claim can save hundreds of dollars and hours of time - time & money better spent on... more travel. ;-) Finally, there is a peace of mind knowing where your stuff is... that it won't get lost... that it won't get damaged.
NEED MORE SPACE?
If you simply need more space, but you still don't wish to check your baggage, then invest in a packable/folding day pack. Most airlines allow for a carry-on of Tortuga's size, plus another item, like a laptop bag or something. Here's what you do. Get a foldable daypack - 20 to 30 liters. Two good options are - "Outlander Large Packable Handy Lightweight Travel Backpack Daypack." It holds 30 liters (of course there are smaller ones) - EcoCity Ultra-light Foldable Multipurpose Backpack. Both are about $25. Attach the daypack to your front, loaded with laptop, toiletries, books for your plane ride. Attach Tortuga to your back. Together you have 75 liters of stuff & all carry-on. Meanwhile neither Osprey's 70 nor 55 qualify as carry-on. If 45 liters is sufficient for you, a foldable daypack will fit under Tortuga's compression straps or even in one of the zipped outer pockets. Should you wanna hit the gym or beach, you have a suitable bag for a change of clothes. Should you pick up a few items along the way, you have space. Tortuga's offers a daypack. It costs twice as much as highly-rated 4.5-star bags I suggest. Sorry, Tortuga. $50 for a daypack is a joke. Daypacks don't need to be some over-engineered tank or cost as much as one. It's a frickin' daypack. Save your money and skip Tortuga's budget-breaking, over-engineered foldable daypack unless you just like throwing away money or you like to match. ;-) I choose my charities & Tortuga isn't one of them.
The beauty of travel backpacks is that many of them are lockable. The best luggage lock is Kolombo. It is a TSA lock so, should TSA search your bag, they won't have to break the lock. The best part is, Kolombo's lock won't allow the TSA agent to remove their key until they lock the device back. (I know. I know. This is a Tortuga review). Although carry-ons are usually with us during travel, if you're staying w/a host and you don't have a room w/a lock, having a bag lock allows you to securely leave your bag behind whilst you see the city or take care of business. In order to secure the the main compartment of Tortuga, you'll need two locks.
TO SUM IT ALL UP...
For the many reasons above, I'm glad I returned my Ospreys and purchased the Tortuga. It's not as handsome, but it's larger, exceptionally well-made, more functional & flies under the radar. The handle (top and side), the back, the hip belts - everything is so well padded. The split in the center allows for easy expansion and tension release on zippers. The compression straps double as holders for wet towels or dirty shoes or jackets. The zippered side pockets can hold water bottles, flip flops & a host of other items because they can be zipped closed. It's like a 1980s Mercedes - functional - not fancy or stylized. Everything about Tortuga tells you it was designed by folks who actually travel a lot & use the product they produce. However, at less than half the price, you'd be a fool not to consider Kelty's Redwing 44. At $119 and with a solid 5 stars, it's the steal of the century!
If I had a wishlist for the next Tortuga, it would be a more adjustable suspension even if it reduced the carrying capacity a bit. Waterproofing would be nice, though the bag is very water resistant already. Seriously, though - an adjustable suspension. The in-place straps greatly limit the size of people who can use this bag comfortably.
So, there you have it. Now that you have the skinny on the competition, hopefully you can make an informed purchase w/o buyer's remorse when you see other bags. If I never have to see (pay for and wait at) a baggage claim again, I wouldn't miss a minute of sleep.
See you out there...
This is primarily a weekend camping or travel backpack.
If you are looking for a travel bag with backpack straps, this isn't a good design.
Pro: The backpack straps are heavily padded and should make carrying heavy items for long distances comfortable.
Pro: Very durable construction should give decades of service.
Pro: Many little compartments for small items and gadgets.
Con: Too many little compartments that I haven't found a use for.
Con: The heavily padded backpack strap assemblies use up too much valuable space.
Con: The main clothing compartment is too small. OK for a weekend, but not for a week.
Con: Not one of the many zipper compartments are removable so you will still need a separate toiletry bag.
Even as full as I packed it, the pack closed with minimal difficulty, and fit into the overhead compartment of both West jet and Lufthansa comfortably. However, when one of my flights was very full, I was recommended to check the backpack free of charge, as it was 'big'- keep this scenario in mind if you're buying the pack to travel on cheap airlines with, as I am. My trick to avoid confusion is to tuck the waistbelt behind me when I pass the counter, so it looks smaller and I don't have to spend time proving that it fits into the carry on sizer, which it does if you've packed without cramming. On another note about the waist belt, it is wonderful, absolutely the selling point of the pack. It's comfortable, takes the weight off the shoulders and back just as it should, and makes it feasible to carry this pack fully loaded for hours.
Disclaimers about size: I bought this pack knowing it might be too big- I'm 5'4" and 120 lbs- because I needed the space. It is on the verge of being too big, and certainly looks big on my small frame. The waist belt is more of a hip belt for me, and I wear it as tight as it goes- if you are smaller than 30" at the point you'll wear the belt at, it may not be tight enough to fit you. In this case, I wouldn't recommend the pack, as the hip belt makes it feasible for the long run. Taking advantage of free shipping to try the pack on is your best bet to ensure a good fit, which is the most important aspect of a good pack.
Most recent customer reviews
Discrete, big enough for any trip. Fits most airlines carry on restrictions (I'd say all airlines...Read more