Skip to Content

Subscribe & get your free guide to going abroad!!

    Tortuga Daypack Pro Review: A Stellar, Packable Daypack for Nomads and “One Baggers”

    One of my favorite backpack producers, Tortuga backpacks which was formed by fellow travelers, is in the middle of testing and producing an awesome little compressible daypack that that combines old school functionality with new school tech and travel styles.

    The Tortuga team was kind enough to send me one of their first prototypes of the daypack ahead of their launch so I could test on travels through Latin America, Japan, Malaysia, and Bali. Spoiler alert – if you’re looking for a lightweight daypack and are the average digital nomad, one bag traveler, or minimalist traveler, I highly recommend this bag.

    Light “daily carry” for a day of exploring Tokyo, comfortably and easily carried in the Tortuga Daypack Pro

    Normally review posts like these contain affiliate links, but just to show my objectivity you’ll find no affiliate links in this article – just support for a cool new product from an awesome, traveler focused company, and straight information you need to find out if the Tortuga Daypack Pro is right for you. If you’re a nomad or minimalist globe trotter like me, it likely is.

    Now, let’s get into that review…

    The New Minimalist Daypack from Tortuga: A lightweight, packable, water resistant backpack that makes lightweight traveler easier.

    For savvy travelers, one bag travelers, and digital nomads, your choice of luggage for holding your life as you wander the world – hopefully a backpack – and daypack will add more ease to your days or add more stress to your adventures than almost any other piece of travel equipment.

    Pack lightly with just enough, and store your clothes and essentials in a comfy backpack that carries easily around city streets and onto planes without being checked, and you’re setup for a carefree travel adventure – feeling light enough allow the wind to carry you happily onto your next city, country, or adventure. On the other hand, overpack a large piece of roller luggage with 6 seasons worth of clothing and equipment for every sport imaginable and, trust me, you will be in a world of hurt and regret by the end of week two.

    With the array of backpack options for urban travelers, digital nomads, and outdoorsy adventurers, there is absolutely no reason to take the wrong backpack traveling.

    However, with daypacks currently available on the market, things aren’t so straight forward.

    Having a small daily use backpack for carrying your day’s essentials for adventures, a laptop for coworking, or even to keep the essentials nearby on a long flight is a must – but – finding a daypack that is spacious enough to hold 12 hours of essentials, compressible and packable enough to fit into your main backpack without compromising too much precious space, and durable enough to last a year of travel without breaking is tough.

    On the fast and furious 10 day tour of Japan by bullet train, the packable daypack stashed at the bottom of my travel bag was like a versatile Swiss Army Knife for daily rail and hiking adventures, packing away for flights and travel between cities

    The existing tough daypacks are too heavy and not conveniently packable for those super cheap (and painful) Ryan Air and Air Asia baggage restrictions. While the lightweight backpacks seem to break down if you carry more than a bottle of water. I’ve personally broken the straps on, torn, or worn holes in 10+ daypacks over 7 years of travel, and I made the annoying mistake of taking an unnecessarily overbuilt daypack on months of travel that weighed me down.

    As a city wandering nomad that prefers to spend my days wandering light (with a kindle or laptop of course) but wants to pack down to a single travel bag for flights, there really hasn’t been a good middle ground, versatile daypack option for one baggers and nomads…until now.

    For the past months I’ve been testing Tortuga’s new daypack prototype and, in short, its everything we’ve needed in a daypack. In this review I’ll explain what makes the Tortuga Daypack great, who its for, and who should skip it.

    Quick Review of the Tortuga Daypack Pro Concept

    In the words of the Tortuga team, “Carry everything you need, whether you’re sightseeing, working remotely, or commuting to the office.”

    This is a very accurate description. However…

    A more accurate description for me is…

    The Daypack Pro takes the classic design of your favorite book bag that got you through high school – think of a simple Jansport or Kanken backpack – then recreated it with tough, waterproof sail cloth, and added functional zippered pockets to store and organize nomad travel essentials – laptop, tablet, passport, cash, water bottle, and munchies.

    The resulting pack is functional, simple, durable, packs down small enough to hide in your travel bag, and will save your gear if you get caught in the rain for a minute. The result is a wonderfully functional bag thanks to simplicity and lots of thought from experienced travelers who’ve lived their lives out of backpacks.

    I’ve taken the Daypack Pro protype for a test drive through Latin America, the US, Japan, Malaysia, and Bali to see how well it works.

    My thoughts in a nutshell: The Daypack Pro plus a 45 liter travel bag will be my go to travel bag setup going forward with my “carry on bags only” travel.

    Highlights of the Daypack Pro: Packable, water resistant, durable, smart pockets

    Packable and Compressible: Perfect for one bag travelers, minimalists travelers, and budget airline travel, this bag folded down easily into the bottom of my travel bag so I could move through the airport and fly with a single carryon bag. Also fits easily into my motorbike boot in Southeast Asia

    Water resistant construction: The use of waterproof and durable sail cloth means you can rely on the bag to keep your goods dry if you’re unexpectedly caught in the rain for a moment (like I was in Japan and the Daypack Pro saved my Kindle)

    Functional, well thought out design:
    Pockets for all of the essentials – documents, laptop, water bottle, etc. – without overcomplicating things meant that I could load up with everything for a productive, adventurous day with this one bag.

    Durable construction: Durable Shell70RS sailcloth with strength you can feel, noticeably stronger than normal stitching, and nylon webbing in the right places make this a much more durable bag than other compressible daypack options – especially in the top of the straps. The most durable construction I’ve seen in a minimalist daypack

    Comfortable, breathable shoulder straps and back panel: Cellular foam padding makes carrying all day more comfortable than the compressible backs with simple nylon straps that cut into your neck by day’s end. The breathable cellular foam shoulder straps and back panel reduce the sweatiness that comes with Southeast Asia and Central America travel making this a perfect daypack for any climate – humid, rainy, or whatever.

    Downsides of the Daypack Pro: Available soon and “BIFL” price tag

    Higher than normal price…but you get what you pay for: The Tortuga Daypack is ~$40 more expensive than similar compressible daypacks on the market (like the REI Flash 22 or Decathlon Forclaz) – but, Tortuga Daypack Pro is worth the premium because you get what you pay for. Remember, buy cheap buy twice – as I learned with the ~10 other broken daypacks I’ve purchased. The Daypack Pro is a functional bag that’s built to last. This sample prototype was given to me free for testing, however, I would have purchased this bag with my own money to replace my old REI Flash 22.

    The Quick Bottom Line: The best compressible daypack and minimalist laptop bag I’ve tested

    I’ve lived abroad for 7+ years. Some of that time has been spent backpacking and hopping between cities weekly or monthly. Some of that has been spent hiding in Southeast Asia, chasing adventures by motorbike on the weekends. And some of that has been spent enjoying nomad hubs, balancing work life in coworking spaces with the best of the nomad life. In all of those situations, a nice lightweight daypack to hide my laptop, passport, and munchies has been a perfect addition, and the Tortuga Daypack Pro fits the job better than any I’ve seen.

    If you’re in the market for a compressible daypack durable enough to last for years, and built with the features nomads and travelers need, I highly recommend giving the Tortuga Daypack Pro a shot. You won’t regret it.

    Full Review of the Tortuga Daypack Pro

    So, you’ve read my praise of the new Daypack Pro prototype, but maybe you’re totally convinced yet.

    No sweat!

    In this section I’ll give you a deeper glimpse into my experience with the Tortuga’s new Daypack, it’s design and construction, and why I recommend it and will be making it my go to daypack.

    My Experience Traveling with the Daypack Pro: Fast travels in Japan, motorbike daily life in Bali, foot commuting in Argentina

    When you travel long term as a nomad or backpacker with your life on your back, every item chosen matters. With that, I take my backpack recommendations seriously and only recommend backpacks that I know from my own experiences wandering will enhance adventures, daily life, and exploration.

    Here’s a round of where the Daypack Pro took me and how this lightweight laptop backpack stood out.

    Quick Travel of Japan: Fantastic bag for lightweight daily adventures

    In the last few months, my favorite adventure was a blitz tour exploring northern Japan, and along the way I was lucky enough to test out the Daypack Pro as a travel bag.

    This was my fourth trip to Japan and, due to my sushi and ramen binging, I’d been a horrible traveler seeing a mere handful of cities each go. Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, you know…the all stars. However, I’d never purchased a Japan Rail pass and I’d never gone north of Tokyo. So, this trip, I gave myself exactly 10 days and a Japan Rail pass to overuse the bullet trains and explore everything from Tokyo to Hokkaido, ending my trip at the northernmost Japan Rail station (Wakkani Station), and getting as adventurous as hiking the old Samurai highway in the Japanese Alps.

    I won’t bore you with the details of impromptu sashimi, walking through Edo era villages, and exploring sake museums, but I will say that traveling with a single carryon sized backpack (like the 40L Tortuga Backpack Pro) was a perfect setup, when combined with the Tortuga Daypack Pro. With the easy to use rail pass and a carry on sized bag, I was able to easily bounce between cities every one to two days, simply waking up, Googling the Maps route to my next city, and throwing the single backpack on my back as I headed for the bullet train. Once I’d reached the new city, I checked into my hotel and pulled the Daypack Pro out of my bag, loaded up, and started the adventures in most cases. I can’t tell you how nice it was to wander through the epically crowded Japan rail stations with only a single, moderately sized backpack, but still being able to pull out a comfortable bag sturdy and functional enough to carry a laptop.

    In some cases, like when I hiked the Nakasendo Samuari Highway on a whim or decided to walk a few miles to the Sapporo Brewery and beer garden on my last day in Hokkaido, I was able to put my carry on bag in a locker, and load my valuables (passport, credit cards, and laptop) into the daypack for the adventure.

    The bottom line on Japan is I realized on Japan’s super busy trains and during the miles I’d walk with a pack, is carrying a single travel backpack (instead of a travel backpack plus external daypack) makes life much easier and more enjoyable while traveling. However, having a quality daypack to pull out is just as valuable and adds flexibility to your travels.

    Bali: Great for a daily life of travel, easily chucking it in the motorbike

    Back in Bali, life is weird. Interesting, but very, very weird, as if living on another planet. A morning may start with a surf session, then be followed up with coffee or a meeting or work (on the laptop) at a coworking space to justify existing, and then move to an epic gym for a workout followed by ice bath, sauna, and just hanging by the pool. What’s even more interesting is these set changes all happen via motorbike.

    So, this leaves two options.

    The first option is return home after every activity. Surf, go home to get the laptop, work, go home to get the gym clothes, etc.

    The second option is embracing island life and taking everything with you.

    The beauty of a compressible daypack like the Daypack Pro, is it compresses down to fit anywhere, and unfolds when you’re ready for it. The Daypack Pro fits a laptop and gym clothes and also actually fits under the seat of my motorbike, unlike larger backpacks like the GORUCK GR1 I have. At the same time, the size is just enough to carry everything I need for a day of island life.

    Additionally, in the humid heat that is common in tropical Bali and Asia, the breathable shoulder straps and back panel are great at letting your back and shoulders breath and dry, instead of getting sweaty and funky like most of my other daypacks. On the flip side, the waterproof sail cloth is a saving grace in the ridiculous rainstorms that happen on Bali. I wouldn’t fully trust this bag alone to keep my laptop safe in a downpour, but it is far better than the alternatives, and will do just fine when paired with a Ziploc bag or trash bag liner.

    Ultimately size, packability, and breathability make the Daypack Pro a great “go bag” for the motorbike and beach life that is common throughout Asia.

    Life in Argentina: Coworking commuter on foot (Tip, get foldable tote grocery bags)

    Last, onto my favorite place in the world and second home – Buenos Aires, Argentina.

    During the months I lived in Palermo Buenos Aires, I made it a point to enjoy the city by foot, walking down and soaking in the sights of its tree lined streets and beautiful views. Whether I was walking 20 miles through the massive parks of “bosques de Palermo,” commuting by food 10 blocks to a coworking space daily (with tablet, laptop, and munchies), or walking up the block to the butcher and pasta shop to do some shopping, the Daypack Pro performed well seamlessly. The comfort made the bag unnoticeable over literally 10 miles of walking per day, and the durability left me feeling comfortable carrying my groceries.

    Ultimately, as a light and comfortable commuter backpack ready to perform if sudden rains hit, the Daypack Pro again performed well.

    Design: Classic simplicity updated with tough & techy materials, and functional storage for modern travelers

    It’s probably clear at this point that I really like the Daypack Pro, and that’s dually because of its intentional design and high quality construction.

    Picture a classic Jansport backpack, that one that was so practical everyone in school had one at some point, but with additional functional pockets, techy and durable waterproof cloth, and heavier stitching and reinforced stress points, and more comfortable padding on the back panel and shoulder straps. That is essentially what Tortuga has created, taking classic and reliable simplicity and adapting it for the needs of lightweight travelers and digital nomads hopping around the world with their life and precious belongings on their back.

    Highlight Features

    • Lightweight: The backpack weighs under 1 pound taking a load off your shoulders and helping skate in under the Air Asia/Ryan Air luggage weight limits
    • Packable and conveniently compressible: The daypack pro folded over and compressed to fit into the bottom of my backpack unnoticed, saving valuable packing space. This compressible, packaway nature makes the Daypack Pro perfect for traveling through the airport with a single bag, then transferring valuables or things to be used in flight
    • Convenient size: The daypack’s capacity is enough to carry everything for a day, but still fits under the seat of a motorbike. Very goldilocks-ish…not to big, not too small. Just right for a minimalist daypack
    • Water resistance: I can’t count the number of times I was caught in the rain on the way home with my laptop in Buenos Aires, Medellin, and throughout Bali and Japan, but the the bag performed well and far better than others I’ve owned. Don’t count on this bag to be waterproof but the waterproof sail cloth is far better than the common ripstop nylon in terms of water resistance – but I still recommend be smart and carry a durable trash bag or Ziploc if you’ll be in the rain for extended periods
    • Well thought out pockets: Front and top access pockets for valuables and quick access, a laptop sleeve, and water bottle pockets mean this bag helps keep the essentials organized and in place.

    Comparison to other bags: Slightly pricier, but built far better, and perfectly tuned for modern travelers

    REI Flash 22 – Though the REI Flash 22 is cheaper, the Tortuga Daypack is far more durable and water resistance in materials and construction. I’ve owned two REI Flash 22’s and broke the shoulder straps on both, which I had to resew by hand mid trip. Given the durability and function, I 100% would purchase the Tortuga Daypack over my “old (semi) reliable” REI Flash 22

    Decathlon Forclaz – Until the Tortuga Daypack, the Decathlon Forclaz was possibly the best alternative to the REI Flash 22 as a compressible daypack. As much as I love the Forclaz, it suffers from the same weakly sewn and thin shoulder straps and thin, “flyweight” cloth that the REI Flash is made of. While these lightweight materials and build, in the REI Flash 22 and Decathlon Forclaz, add up to a lightweight bag, the lower weight isn’t worth the compromised durability. The strength, durability, and waterproofing of the “X-Pac sail cloth” used in the Tortuga Daypack makes it a better investment that I expect will last years longer.

    GORUCK GR1 – When it comes to “tough” backpacks, few brands make their bags tougher than GORUCK, and this is exemplified in their GR1. However, while the toughness that comes with GORUCK’s 450lbs max carrying load is useful when working out, rucking, or in a war zone, its 100% not suitable for nomads, one baggers, and minimalist travelers. If you are traveling for months, you should be looking for a durable daily use pack that can pack down and be stored in your main travel backpack for busses, trains, and planes, and easily unpacked to hold your passport, cash, and essentials handy. The GORUCK GR1 is a good “buy it for life” commuter daypack when you’re stationary at home – but when you’re bouncing from place to place, traveling for months on end with hundreds of stops (as I hope you are) the Tortuga Daypack is a far better investment

    All other Packs: You’ll be hard pressed to find another compressible daypack with the same durability, comfort, and travel focused function

    I’ve tested well over 50 backpacks of different sizes and styles, and the Tortuga Daypack prototype is the best, most durable, most functional daypack I’ve seen, using function, artful simplicity and good materials to make a better bag.

    Materials, Construction, and Features

    • Waterproof Shell70RS sailcloth
    • Water shielded, lockable YKK zippers
    • Cellular foam padded shoulder straps and backpack for breathability and quick drying during wear
    • Two external Water bottle pockets
    • Top external access pocket – perfect size for cell phones, sunglasses, and passports

    Durable, waterproof sail cloth outer and tough lockable YKK zippers are par for the high quality construction on this bag

    Padding in the shoulders and back with cellular foam make for a comfier, more breathable, and drier wearing experience in the heat of Southeast Asia and Central America

    Technical Specs

    • 21L capacity
    • Dimensions: 17.3 x 11.6 x 6.5 in
    • Dimensions: 44 x 29.5 x 16.5 cm
    • Weight: 1 lb
    • Weight: 0.45 kg

    Who is the Tortuga Daypack Pro best for: Modern travelers, onebaggers, and minimalists

    While the Tortuga Daypack is a great bag, no single backpack is perfect for everyone. So, who is the Tortuga Daypack best for? Lightweight travelers, digital nomads, and one baggers.

    The Tortuga Daypack’s two equal strengths are that is a compressible, minimalist bag while at the same time being made of far more durable and water resistant materials than the average compressible daypack on the market. Any “savvy” world traveler knows the smart way to travel is with one carry on sized 40L to 45L travel backpack – like the Tortuga Travel Pack – for moving between cities and countries, and one smaller “daypack” for daily use that fits in the main backpack when traveling but is still functional enough to store everything comfortably and safely on daily travel adventures. The Tortuga daypack is that daypack, with room for a laptop or tablet, zippered storage for a smartphone or documents, and space for water bottles, munchies, or gym clothes. The durable waterproof sailcloth keeps all of those goodies dry if you’re unexpectedly caught in the rain.

    Who is the Tortuga Daypack not great for: Overpacking commuters looking for a daily life daypack to overstuff and heavy packers.

    If you are looking for a commuter pack to take to work carrying an oversized laptop, 20lbs of gear, and groceries on the way home, this might not be the bag for you. Though the Tortuga Daypack will likely be the perfect bag for the vacation you’re planning during those train rides to work, there are plenty of other daypacks with larger capacity and reinforced shoulder straps to fit the heavier loads you may be carrying.

    If you’re a lightweight commuter (by train and foot) you’ll love this bags size, simplicity, and function

    Final Verdict

    For long term travelers and nomads, having a reliable, durable, and versatile daypack will enhance your travel experience and make life easier. Having a packable daypack that keeps your gear organized and dry will do even better.

    The Tortuga Daypack Pro is one of the best options on the market, being comfier, more durable, and more protective than any other compressible daypack and laptop bag, and is a worthy investment for the savvy traveler

    Subscribe & get your free guide to going abroad!!

      About A Brother Abroad


      Carlos is a nomad, slow traveler, and writer dedicated to helping others live abroad and travel better by using his 7+ years of experience living abroad and background as a management consultant and financial advisor to help other nomad and expats plot better paths for an international lifestyle. Click here to learn more about Carlos's story.