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    An Ultimate Tortuga Outbreaker Review: 5 Reasons this is the Perfect Bag for Modern Travelers

    Finding the right backpack for your travels – one that’s comfortable has just enough space, fits overhead in airlines, and protects your laptop & tech – can be pretty tough and aggravating…until now. In this Tortuga Outbreaker Review discover the perfect travel backpack for modern travelers and digital nomads.

    Tortuga Outbreaker Review as a travel backpack for digital nomads

    Waterproofed outer fabric and water shielding zippers, tons of pockets inside and out, a comfortable & adjustable shoulder harness, and more.

    Read on to discover why the Tortuga Outbreaker is the best travel backpack I’ve tested.

    This article may contain affiliate links. 


    The bottom line: The Tortuga Outbreaker is an extremely well-designed backpack aimed at digital nomads and modern travelers on the road for days, weeks, or months at a time

    1. Obsessive organization for a few weeks (or more) of clothes and storage
    2. Padded, dedicated, and zippered protective pockets for a laptop, tablet, and plenty of other mobile devices
    3. Easy access to everything thanks to double clamshell opening design
    4. Extremely comfortable, well-padded shoulder harness with adjustable height
    5. The waterproof outer material, and water-resistant/water shielding zippers keep your goods dry in the rain

    • Fleece lined pockets protect laptop, smartphone, tablet, e-reader, and more all while being immediately accessible without removing anything from the bag.
    Tortuga Outbreaker Review as a travel backpack for digital nomads
    • Adjustable shoulder harness system is soft, comfortable, and breathable under heavy loads while the adjustable height makes this bag suitable for the differing torso lengths of men and women.
    • Waterproof X-Pac sailcloth adds an extreme level of protection from the weather, keeping your gear and clothes dry when nature surprises you

    …and the list goes on.

    Continue for the full Tortuga Outbreaker backpack review …

    …or click here check prices Tortuga Backpacks

    Contents of this Tortuga Outbreaker Review


    I frequently joke with my friends that if I have my passport, a credit card, and a smartphone, I could travel the world indefinitely.  Though this may be a slight exaggeration, it’s not too far off. 

    The modern traveler wandering the world tends to be this same kind of minimalist that doesn’t need much…just a few pairs of clothes, a passport, a credit card, and those devices (laptop and smartphone) that help them record, share and support the journey. Everything else is optional.  The Tortuga Outbreaker is designed for this kind of modern traveler and connected wanderer, traveling light on plans and heavy on devices.

    This is a review of the Tortuga Outbreaker, and after a few months of exploring with the Outbreaker, as a backpacker and somewhat of a digital nomad, I’m convinced it’s the perfect carry on travel pack for techy wanderers, minimalist travelers, and any who stays light while they explore, but still wants to stay organized and comfortable with the load on their back.



    Inside the Outbreaker

    The obsessively designed organization makes great use of every inch of this bag, with “built-in packing cubes” and dedicated pockets for everything you’ll need for months of travel

    • 17″ Laptop pocket (in a separate laptop compartment ),  tablet pocket, fleece-lined, padded, and set up not to touch the ground if you drop your bag
    • 6 zippered pockets surround the main compartment to hold clothes, socks, toiletries, etc.
    • 3 additional zippered pockets and a fleece-lined tablet pocket line the front
    • 2 easy-access front document pockets
    • Removable, padded hip belt with two additional sailcloth, and zippered pocket on each side

    External Components of the Outbreaker Backpack

    Waterproof sailcloth and an adjustable and very well padded harness make the Outbreaker comfortable to use in all conditions

    •  Waterproof and durable sailcloth outer material (X-Ply Sailcloth) protects your gear from sudden downpours on the road
    • Amply padded shoulder straps made of breathable, durable foam rubber (the kind in many athletic shoes) breathable back panel and padded hip belt keep your shoulders and back comfortable under heavier loads and long walks
    • An adjustable shoulder harness to fit most torso heights – making this pack a comfortable option for the differing torso sizes of men and women
    • External water bottle pockets, and easily accessible tech and document pockets keep everything available that you may need immediately


    Over the past few months, I’ve wandered between Bali, Thailand, Texas, Georgia, Florida, and Malaysia, exploring, surfing, writing, and “nomading”.  During those travels, the Tortuga Outbreaker started as my bag of choice as a tester and is now my go-to travel bag, whether I’m going somewhere for a few days or a few months. 

    From weekend jaunts up to the low key beach party hub of Canggu, Bali, to discovering up and coming surf destinations in Malaysia’s Cherating, to visiting co-working spaces on layovers, I’ve been consistently living and wandering out of this bag, and it has stood up well to the claims. 

    I’m able to carry enough for a few weeks at a time while easily keeping the clean and dirty separated, all of my gear organized, and protecting my laptop, tablet, GoPro, and other not so necessary items.  But not just organized, accessible. 

    Tortuga Outbreaker Review as a travel backpack for digital nomads

    Thanks to the “double clamshell” design and obsessive organization, digging out my passport at the last minute, grabbing my laptop and a sweatshirt before stowing the bag under a bus, or grabbing the cash I’ve hidden in my bag are all easy.

    To top it off, this bag is insanely comfortable.  After an airport debacle, I had to sprint the Kuala Lumpur airport for 10 minutes straight and ~30lbs on my back.  My lungs were burning, but my back and shoulders felt fine. It’s the most comfortable backpack I’ve tested.

    Tortuga Outbreaker Review as a travel backpack for digital nomads

    I’m a fairly modern traveler, well-wandered backpacker, minimalist, and a bit of a digital nomad, and from my months of experience traveling with it, I love the Tortuga Outbreaker and highly recommend it for other, carry on only travelers exploring the world.




    • Very comfortable harness systems (shoulders straps and hip belt), adjustable for different torso sizes
    • Amazing use of packing space with plenty of well thought out zippered and tech pockets
    • Sized to fit on most airlines as a carry on backpack
    • Waterproof and durable sailcloth outer material keeps your gear dry and this bag durable
    • Durable materials, water resistant and proven tough on my travels – though not waterproof so plan accordingly and bring a waterproof bag if your adventures and gear warrant it


    • Shoulder straps do not stow away (in the unlikely event of checked bag travel)


    Minimalist, modern travelers and digital nomads that travel with a single bag and skip that “checked-bags” process

    The Tortuga Outbreaker combines the shoulder harness system of a comfortable backpacking backpack, the organization of a briefcase (for your tech), and the organization of a suitcase with packing cubes for your clothes, toiletries, and other belongings.

    Even if you don’t live your life tethered to a laptop, the Tortuga Outbreakers amazing layout of pockets can still make your travels (and separating your clean socks from the dirty ones, or separating your bottle of bug spray from your toothbrush) very easy.

    If you travel lightly, ideally with only a carryon bag for a few weeks, or even a few months, the Outbreaker is a solid option.


    I wouldn’t recommend the Tortuga Outbreaker for:


    As great as the Outbreaker is, I wouldn’t recommend it if you plan on dragging it across the ground, carrying extremely heavyweight (45lbs+).  The X-Pac sailcloth and durable stitching are awesome, but they’re not built for that.  Something 1000D Cordura nylon is more suitable for this kind of abuse.

    If you’re a hard user and abuse gear like I do on my adventures, read this review on the GORUCK GR3 during which I threw it off moving motorbikes and buses.  If you respect your gear a little more than that, the Tortuga Outbreaker is an excellent choice.


    The Tortuga Outbreaker is a near-perfect digital nomad backpack, however the weight and organization isn’t as suited to the outdoors as backcountry backpacks.

    For better, outdoor centric carry on travel packs I recommend instead checking out the REI Trail 40 for a serious and budget friendly outdoor travel backpack and the REI Ruckpack 40 for a 50/50 balance between backcountry backpack and urban exploration backpack, without all of the internal organization that the Outbreaker has.

    If most of your travels are urban-based, the Tortuga Outbreaker will be great for you.


    The Tortuga Outbreaker performs at its best, and benefits you the most when it is your only bag for travel and you pack lightly.  If you have trouble staying within this 45L limit, I would recommend instead getting a solid duffle bag that converts to a backpack (like the Northface Base Camp Duffle) and good daypack, like the REI Ruckpack 28 or the Tortuga Outbreaker Daypack for your travel kit.



    The Tortuga Outbreaker helps you use every inch of this bag better, even without using packing cubes.  Plenty (12) large, zippered pockets inside and out hold well over a week’s worth of clothing, socks, and undies.  Special pockets for each of your electronic devices (seriously), and zippered/secured document pockets, protect everything.

    Tortuga Outbreaker Review as a travel backpack for digital nomads

    DURABILITY (4/5)

    The innovative use of waterproof X-Pac sailcloth delivers a great combo of durability and function.  This 4-layer waterproof cloth was designed to pull 9,000 lbs sailboats, so the stress of your adventures and travels doesn’t stand a chance against this bag.

    Tortuga Outbreaker Review as a travel backpack for digital nomads

    Heavy duty, lockable YKK zippers, thick and comfortable aeroprene foam (used in running shoes) in the shoulder pads, and other hefty hardware add up to a very durable bag that’ll last years of urban adventures.  I wouldn’t go dragging this bag across the pavement — it would destroy the beautiful look and punch holes in the sailcloth pretty quickly — but I trust it for adventurous backpacker style traveling through Southeast Asia and South America.  More than the average bag.


    The Tortuga Outbreaker’s size is perfect for those who travel frequently and don’t need to bring their whole house.  Small enough to fit as carryon luggage for every airline I’ve flown on and easily fits into an airplane’s overhead compartment but large enough to carry the essentials for weeks or months.

    Tortuga Outbreaker Review as a travel backpack for digital nomads

    Despite its compact size, the 45L is more than enough space for year-long backpacking trips (just like I traveled with the 45L GORUCK GR3 for a year and a half).  However, the Tortuga Outbreaker one ups every other backpack I’ve tested with the tons of internal zippered pockets that help you max out the use of every inch of space and encourages me to pack better.  This 45L size is the perfect size for carryon travel – enough space to help you travel indefinitely, not too much that you’ll have to check the bag or have trouble bumping into people on public transportation


    It’s hard to get more travel-ready than the Outbreaker – because nomadic and backpacker-style travel is clearly what this thing was designed for.  Small enough to travel as a carry on or take onto a bus in Southeast Asia, big enough to make room for everything you’ll need for a year.  Thanks to thoughtful design (by people who clearly wander often) everything in the bag is easily and quickly accessible, regardless of where it’s at. 

    Tortuga Outbreaker Review as a travel backpack for digital nomads

    Your electronics are kept safe and organized by special soft-lined pockets for the laptop, smartphone, tablet, and a couple of other things, but still accessible quickly and easily.

    For the consummate traveler (or forever traveler), the Outbreaker’s design eliminates the need to buy the “extras” (toiletries bag, packing cubes, laptop case, etc.), making it easier to travel lighter yet stay organized.   The Outbreaker was clearly designed for real travelers.


    The Outbreaker is…oddly stylish compared to the backpacks, you’ll see many backpackers carrying.

    Tortuga Outbreaker Review as a travel backpack for digital nomads

    The uber-performance sailcloth and sealed zippers give the bag a very sleek and low key look.  The design, though function-focused, is rather minimalist and streamlined, which adds to the look of the bag.  The Tortuga Outbreaker looks like something you’d picture a digital nomad wearing and using – modern, sleek, techy looking, and generally cool

    VALUE (4/5)

    Though the price tag of $299 may seem high, it’s not.  Compared to the $100-$125 options on the market, the Outbreaker delivers exponentially more durability and unique function.

    The design of the Tortuga Outbreaker takes it beyond a normal backpack that you simply stuff things in – it helps keep your (minimalist) life organized while protecting your tech with the kind of attention to detail that’ll make this bag last (and perform) for years.  This bag will likely last twice as long as the $125 options, you’ll have to purchase less to use it (packing cubes, laptop pockets, tech bags), and you get the waterproofing.

    Yes, the broke backpacker in me wishes this was only $50, but you get what you pay for, and with the Tortuga Outbreaker, you definitely get what you pay for (and maybe more) making it a solid value.


    • Dimensions: 22″ x 14″ x 9” (45L) |   20.3″ x 12.9″ x 8.2” (35L)
    • Weight: 5.1 lbs (45L) | 4.6lbs (35L)
    • Fit: 16-20” torsos (Average man’s torso: 17 to 21 in. ; Average woman’s torso: 14″-18″)
    • Material: Waterproof X-Pac Sail Cloth ; lockable YKK zippers
    • Price: $299 available at Tortuga


    DESIGN, FUNCTION & ORGANIZATION: 5/5Pockets galore, internally and externally, give plenty of space for clothes, belongings, laptop, tablet, smartphone, valuables, and more in a very well designed way.
    DURABILITY: 4/5Heavy stitching and solid materials add up to a bag I expect to last
    SIZE (CAPACITY AND EXTERNAL SIZE): 5/5Sufficient for a year of travel at 45l, small enough to fit as a carry on for most airlines
    TRAVEL READINESS: 5/5This pack was literally designed for nomads and travel and performs well, like a bedroom wardrobe that fits comfortably on your back
    STYLE & AESTHETIC: 5/5Designed for tech heavy nomads and including a consistent look, style is subjective but as far as travel packs go, the Outbreaker is stylish
    CONSTRUCTION & MATERIALS: 5/5Tough and waterproof X-Pac sail cloth, durable stitching, and YKK Aquaguard zippers at up to a tough, well-made backpack that will last for years
    VALUE: 4/5Yes, this pack may feel pricey at $299 to $349, but if you’re a long term traveler its worth every penny


    After a few months of use, the Tortuga Outbreaker feels like home on the road, and a perfect bag for minimalist backpackers, tech-heavy digital nomads, and just wanderers trying to stay organized during months of travel.  I’m excited to travel with it in the future and I highly recommend it for your travels.Highly recommended.



    In my experience , the best backpacks are those that make travel easier by keeping you organized, keeping you comfortable, and making your adventures as smooth as possible (as an airplane carry on and during overland travel). 

    Over my few months of testing the Tortuga Outbreaker I dragged it through a variety of situations to test how well good of a pack it would be for most travelers. 

    Read on for the experience by experience overview as follows…

    • The Malaysia Surf Trip (Adventurous Travel with the Outbreaker)
    • US to Bali (Normal Airplane Travel with the Outbreaker)
    • Weekends in Canggu and cruising the island (Digital Nomading with the Outbreaker)
    • Almost missing a flight (A Test of Comfort Running with the Outbreaker)


    On the east coast of Malaysia lies a little known surf village called “Cherating,” hidden two train rides and a cheap bus ride away from the flashy and fast Kuala Lumpur.  This “town” of Cherating is so small that you literally don’t even need a car, or bike, to explore the whole town…because you can walk anywhere within 10 minutes. 

    During Malaysia’s monsoon season, swells roll into the little beach in front of Cherating, making it the single best spot in Malaysia for surfing as inviting waves curl toward this little known spot.  By night, knowledgeable Cherating locals host impromptu “firefly river tours” wherein they take riverboats into the pitch black of the Malaysian jungle, stop, and “call” hundreds of fireflies to surround you making for a uniquely unforgettable experience.  In between, Arabian, Malaysian, and Indian food abound as everyone in town flocks to one of two beach bars for sunset.  This was Cherating.

    After a few days of surf, sun, firefly clouds, and beach bars filled with locals, we reluctantly took a short taxi ride, a long bus ride, and a few train rides to take on the rest of Malaysia.

    Orangutans in Borneo.  Diving in Langkawi.  Posh rooftop cocktails and authentic Arabian food in Kuala Lumpur.  Beautiful green tea plantations in the Cameron Highlands.  Cow-working spaces and coffee shops dotted along the way. Plus, so much more.

    These are the kinds of adventures that the Tortuga Outbreaker not only makes possible but easier.  All possible from a single, carry on backpack.  All easier with the Tortuga Outbreaker…

    …but for now, let’s just talk about the surf trip to Cherating to show why I love the Tortuga Outbreaker so much.

    The adventure of surfing in Cherating started in Bali (my current home base), riding a motorcycle with the Outbreaker an hour to the airport before walking with it another mile to catch the flight for my two-week trip. 

    Inside the Outbreaker, everything I’d need for a 2+ week trip (in case I decided to stay in Malaysia longer).  Clothes.  Undies.  Toiletries.  Laptop. Tablet.  Phone.  Gadgets.  Cookies.  All of the essentials for two weeks of adventurous travel – city, buses, surfing, jungles, hiking, etc. – fit in the pack with ample room to spare.

    The Outbreaker definitely exceeded AirAsia’s weight limits (7kg) thanks to my overpacking, but the attendants didn’t question it because it looks like a carry on bag.  Walking around the airport, the bag felt great, comfortable on the shoulders, and easy on the lower back thanks to good weight distribution, a solid back panel, and the adjustable shoulder straps. 

    On the airplane, when I finally boarded my flight from Bali to Malaysia, the Outbreaker fit easily into the budget airline’s overhead compartment.  No need to jam it in.  The top carrying handle, combined with the sturdiness of the shoulder straps made it easy to toss overhead.

    The Outbreaker’s “double clamshell” design made it easy to access my laptop and tablet before the flight (to do some writing and catch up Mandalorian during the flight), and the zippered external document pockets made it quick and easy to grab my passport and document pouch at the same time – all while walking to my seat.

    As I arrived in Kuala Lumpur, I quickly dashed off the plane but was caught in hour-long immigration lines (literally).  Thanks to the Outbreaker’s intensely comfy shoulder harness, standing in place for an hour was the least of my concerns – still comfy the entire time.  After I finally escaped the KL airport, taking 3 trains during rush hour (for an hour of riding total) was easy – the Outbreaker’s boxy design and low profile with minimal straps kept me from bumping people and getting hooked on anything while I rushed to hop trains toward downtown Kuala Lumpur for our hotel.

    After a night of exploring Kuala Lumpur, I hopped a Grabcar (Kuala Lumpur’s rideshare), heading for the bus station.  The size was convenient once again as the bag was small enough to hold in my lap (instead of storing in the trunk – for safety reasons in foreign taxis) even though it had everything for my 2-week adventure.

    As we arrived at the bus station for our 5-hour ride to Cherating, prep again was easy thanks to the Outbreaker’s convenient storage – grabbing a sweater from the bottom of the bag and snacks from the top without unpacking the entire bag.  The bags small and boxy profile worked well again as we shoved our bags (the last to be loaded) into a corner under the bus.

    Our bus route actually passed the little village of Cherating but didn’t actually stop, as the official bus station was another 30 minutes away.  We had a choice – ride the extra 30 minutes and pay $15 USD to the village or hop of the boss on the side of the highway to walk in a mile to the city.  Having the Outbreaker as a backpack and having it be so comfy when walking (as opposed to a duffel bag or something) made a choice easy – get off and walk the mile.  We hopped off saving the cash and later used that saved $15 from the taxi ride on cocktails at “Cherating’s Beach Bar,” which is Cherating’s only beach bar, fyi.

    Once we arrived at our hotel, we decided to head to the beach and check out the conditions at our surf spot for the next few days, unpacking lightly first.  I managed to bring a few pairs of shorts, one pair for surfing and the others casual, a couple of pairs of pants, one pair for hiking and adventure, the other for rooftop cocktails, plenty of **socks** and undies, toiletries, 6 shirts, a drybag, and plenty of surf stuff (extra leash, fins, wax, first aid kit), as well as all of the tech stuff those “digital nomad types” carry (laptop, tablet, gopro+gear, smartphone, hundreds of cables).  All of this is more than enough for 2 weeks of travel, and it fits in the Outbreaker with ease.

    Fast forward three days of surfing and we took the same process in reverse to get back to Kuala Lumpur.  Repacking, bus hopping, train-hopping, long walks, brief stops at coffee shops to connect to the wifi, etc. before finally continuing the adventure back to Malaysia’s west coast – but that’s a different story.

    Through the rest of the adventure, the Outbreaker performed just as well as it did on the trip to Cherating – comfortably organized, and kept my goodies safe, even through some brief rains on my way to a bus stop.


    • Long haul international flights from the US to Bali were made easier (36 hours from Dallas–> Chicago–> Tokyo–> Bali) having all of my belongings with me and easily accessible.
    • Weekend trips riding up to the Digital Nomad hub of Canggu (1 hour away), the hippie hub of Ubud (1 hour away), and the freediving hub of Amed (half-day ride) by motorbike are comfortable and easy with the Outbreaker
    • Sprinting through the airport and (literally) jumping over children to avoid missing a flight, without breaking my laptop, finally proved how awesome this bag is (more on that later).

    For the nomad that wanders well, from the experience of my own adventures, I highly recommend the Outbreaker as a travel bag.  It’s hard to beat.

    A side story about how I wore the Tortuga Outbreaker through an unintentional obstacle course in the airport of Kuala Lumpur

    Note: As I was writing this review, in the immigration line at Kuala Lumpur airport, I realized I was only halfway through the immigration line I had been waiting 45 minutes in.  My flight closed boarding in 10 minutes, and I needed to move FAST.  I was wearing the Tortuga Outbreaker as my carryon bag for my flight back to Bali – which there was a heavy risk I would  miss if I didn’t start running…literally. 

    The Malaysia Airport backpack obstacle course, and an impromptu test of the Outbreak, was on.

    In the bag, I had two weeks of gear packed from a surf trip, so about 20lbs of gear with all of my devices.

    As I realized I need to get through this line, I started crouching and crawling under line separators to beg other passengers to let me pass so I wouldn’t miss my flight.

    First, I crouched and walked under the ropes separating the lanes, asking passengers if they’d let me through immigration.  The weight of the bag handled well as I crouched, nearly crawling and shuffling as I squeezed past people.  No shifting, no sliding, and the profile of the bag were small enough that I didn’t catch the ropes (while crawling) or bump people as I snuck by.

    Then I sprinted to the immigration desk with the bag on.  My passport was in the front waist pocket (on the detachable waist belt), so I got it quickly.  After a pretty apathetic and slow immigration process, I sprinted about 100 feet to the x-ray and security processing, removing the bag as I sprinted and throwing it on the conveyor belt.  — Points here: it was so easy to slip the bag off that I didn’t realize I did it.  I slammed the bag onto the steel rollers leading up to the conveyor belt with the backpack back down (with my laptop in it and the padded laptop pocket had enough protection that I didn’t break my Dell XPS laptop or my Samsung tablet.

    I hopped through the body scan machine , grabbed my bags, and then the real test started…

    My flight was closing in one minute, I had no idea how far it was (just the direction) so I had to sprint. FULL ON SPRINT.  I ran top speed, and the only time I slowed down was when I thought my heart was going to explode.  I can run a sub-1 minute quarter mile and I went full out sprinting through the Kuala Lumpur airport to my gate – like, full stride and everything, saving nothing

    Along the way, I was weaving, dodging, and sliding between the crowds that caused these huge delays.

    At one point, a kid dropped an ice right in my path, in the only open spot in the path…then bent down to get it.  I had no choice.  I had to jump…over the kid.  I promise, I’m not a horrible person in real life, but I completely cleared the kid (though I think I startled him a bit), and kept running with no issues.

    Finally, I arrived at my gate, making the final boarding call – 10 minutes later.  10 full minutes of sprinting at nearly top speed, weaving through crowds and (shamefully) jumping over a kid before almost collapsing at the gate.

    So what does this mean?

    As I arrived at the gate, I nearly collapsed because my heart felt like it was going to explode – but I forgot I was wearing the Tortuga Outbreaker.  THATS when I realized how great a pack this bag is.

    The shoulder harness system was so snug and comfortable that I didnt feel it while I was running, or weaving, or jumping.

    The load stayed in place so well and stuck to my body so well that I didn’t get thrown off balance twisting around children that popped out of nowhere, or in the starts and stops of my sprints.

    The bag organization and the system to tighten it and loosen it was intuitive enough that I didn’t get hung up in security taking out my passport, putting away my phone, or taking the bag off and on…I just did it without thinking while I was running.  Throwing ut around didn’t damage my laptop either.

    This was after I had walked right by the stickler budget airline (AirAsia – who are  very vigilant about weighing and measuring bags) not even bothering to weigh or check my bag (because Tortuga Outbreaker is pretty inconspicuous, even when it’s well overweight) while stopping everyone with roller bags and backpackers with summot bags.

    This was also after I had used the Tortuga Outbreaker on a handful of weekend motorbike trips, a week long surf trip by bus, and a handful of other adventures in which I really started to like the pack

    But after this – after taking the Outbreaker through this impromptu obstacle course – I was convinced.  This bag is pure awesomeness.

    If you’re an adventurous nomad that travels light with plenty of tech, then this high tech carry on bag is a solid investment.  Well organized, very comfortable, insanely well designed and intuitive, and more lovable the longer you wander with it.


    These are just stream of consciousness thoughts I write as I sit (relieved) on the plane for my flight to Bali for more adventures…hopefully with less sprinting and more surfing.

    For now, let’s return to the Tortuga Outbreaker 45l Review…



    Hopefully you’ll never have to run with the Outbreaker, and keep in mind it is not designed for that (if you want something for running, check out the GORUCK GR3 and GR2 instead).  However, from my experience of sprinting through the Kuala Lumpur airport at full speed for 10 minutes straight to avoid missing a flight, the bag is amazing – for the same reasons it would be good for hiking.

    The shoulder harness system is adjustable, meaning you can adjust the distance from the top of the shoulder straps to the bottom of the bag so that the bottom of the bag sits at your lower back, just above your but, instead of sitting on your glutes and impeding your stride.  This is an improvement over backpacks like the GORUCK GR3 wherein the shoulder straps can’t be adjusted so the bottom of the bag may sag down to your glutes.

    Additionally, the shoulder harness system is comfortable, when running fast or walking far, because of the thick athletic shoe rubber used – much more so than my REI Ruckpack 28 and thicker than the shoulder straps on my GORUCK GR3.

    Finally, the contoured shoulder straps provide for a great fit and cinch down well, which essentially sticks the bag to your body preventing movement.  Risers, on the top of the shoulder straps, are the final touch to make this bag very adjustable to your body and comfortable to use.

    The Tortuga Outbreaker’s downside, for hiking, is the weight.  At ~5lbs, it tips the scale for those trying to hike light.  For comparison, REI’s Trail 40 weighs in more than a couple pounds lighter at only 2lbs 13oz.  For me, the 2 pounds is worth the comfort and the additional pockets and organization that the Outbreaker delivers over hiking bags (like the Osprey Farpoint and REI Trail 40).

    Though I would recommend a true hiking backpack for those that plan to spend most of their time outdoors, such as the REI Trail 40 carryon sized hiking pack, the Outbreaker would still work very well for bouts of trekking and the outdoors that the average digital nomad runs away on from time to time.  Thanks to the comfortable harness system, detachable hip belt, and waterproof fabric, I would have been comfortable taking this bag on the Everest Base Camp Trek or similar as an impromptu adventure. 


    Full disclosure – I don’t have the courage to fully test the laptop protection on this bag…because I love my laptop too much, and I’m in Southeast Asian surf village (again), so it would be extremely difficult to get my laptop replaced if things go awry.


    From my travels, the bag appears to provide great protection for laptops.  The dedicated laptop storage pocket, which is fleece lined and padded, has been convenient, easily accessible, and protected my laptop through a handful of tosses and drops.

    A plastic frame sheet sits between the laptop and your back, both for stability and laptop protection, and the dedicated laptop pocket is raised about one inch above the bottom of the bag, and above the end of the frame sheet, with the same protective “margin” on the left and right as well. This means that when you do carelessly or accidentally your bag (like I did several times), your laptop will never actually absorb the shock of the ground.

    I have unintentionally dropped and thrown the bag a handful of times while the laptop was in the pocket, along with my smartphone and tablet, and I’ve experienced no issues so far, thanks to the cushioning and the protective “margin”. During the impromptu obstacle course in the KL airport I threw my bag, laptop side down, onto steel rollers in security twice.  On other occasions, I’ve accidentally dropped the bag onto concrete, back and bottom side first (so directly on the laptop) with no issues.

    Bottom Line: Through a handful of “real world tests” and careless mishaps, my laptops (and other devices) stored in the Outbreaker have escaped unscathed.  If you want a good laptop backpack with solid protection, this is an excellent option.


    Easy and perfect. 

    The Tortuga Outbreaker fits airline carry on bag restrictions for every airline that I’ve ridden.  Additionally, because it clearly looks like a carry on bag, I’ve rarely had it weighed and thus escaped lots of baggage fees which kick in if your bag weighs more than 7kg.

    On the plane, the Outbreaker fits easily into overhead compartment space.

    In transit, on buses and trains to the bus, the Outbreaker is easily worn without bumping into people or snagging things thanks to a well-streamlined design.

    Bottom Line: The Tortuga Outbreaker is a perfect backpack for airplane carry on and carry on only travel


    • DURABILITY (4/5)
    • LOOK & AESTHETIC (5/5)
    • VALUE (4/5)


    Tons of pockets with clear thought about what the average “one bag” travelers packing list looks like make the function of this bag (in terms of pockets) very awesome.  Just enough space for all of your electronic devices, a week’s worth of socks, underwear, shorts + pants, and shirts while keeping your toiletries kit organized and keeping all accessible is an amazing feat this bag accomplishes.

    The adjustable shoulder harness allows you to change the height of the torso to fit your own.  I didn’t realize how great this was before, but switching from my GORUCK GR3 to the Tortuga Outbreaker made me realized how nice it is to have a bag fit…perfectly to me.

    The removable hip belt is insanely comfy and has two sail cloth pockets for quick access items while you’re at the airport. The zippered on each hip belt is large enough to easily carry a cell phone, ear buds, cash, and a minimalist wallet, making staying organized and entertained the entire way through the airport very possible.

    The innovative use of sailcloth adds useful water repellant as the cloth itself is waterproof.  Rubber coated zippers add a bit more water repellency too.  Though I wouldn’t stand in a storm with this bag and my laptop inside, this bag can definitely withstand a good bit of rain and lend extra protection to your devices if caught outside.

    Dual side compression straps, along with tough sailcloth and durable stitching, make it possible to overpack slightly and compress the pack enough to fit into overhead bins easily.

    A simple removable waist belt adds a bit of comfort and a couple extra quick-access pockets.

    Two inner mesh pockets on the panel (on the top flap) make storage of flat items (books, notes, etc.) or folded items (undies, quick access t-shirts) nice and easy.

    Though this list of features may seem short, each is so well designed that it puts this bag head and shoulders above the rest.


    Time will tell, but months in the Tortuga Outbreaker shows no wear.

    Judging by the durable, high-quality materials (sailcloth, YKK zippers, heavy-duty nylon stitching), this bag has a lot of life in it under normal, urban travel. 

    I would avoid loading this bag with more than 40 pounds, and I would avoid dragging it but outside of those two restrictions, the Tortuga Outbreaker, looks, feels, and seems like a “buy it for life” backpack that will last for years.


    At 45L, this carryon bag nearly maxes out what you can carry, given the carry on airline restrictions. 

    At 5.1lbs, the Outbreaker weighs in at about the same as other travel bags like the GORUCK GR3 (5.15lbs) and the Osprey Farpoint 40 (3.2lbs) but its use of lightweight sailcloth, instead of standard nylon, allows Tortuga to achieve more pockets and organization with the same weight.


    High quality, intuitive design, and how much easier packing becomes makes the Tortuga Outbreaker a good deal.

    Though the lifespan of Tortuga’s sailcloth has yet to be determined, the backpack structure/harness is built extremely well, and the stitching is solid quality.  As long as you don’t mind paying to patch a few holes way later down the road, plan on this pack lasting for years as a solid investment


    The Tortuga Outbreaker 45l is carry on compliant, for US airlines and most international flights, however double-check with your airline’s carry on restrictions of strict budget airlines.

    For example, the Tortuga Outbreaker 45L is slightly over the maximum size for Ryanair’s carry on restrictions of 22″(56 cm) x 14″(36 cm) x 9″(23 cm) dimensions with the Tortuga Outbreaker 45l’s dimension of 22″(55 cm) x 16″ (40 cm) x 8″ (20 cm) exceeding the budget airline carry on limit by 1 inch in depth.

    The Tortuga Outbreaker 35l is carry-on compliant for most of the strictest budget international airlines with dimensions of 20″(51 cm) x 13″(33 cm) x 8″(21 cm) compared to Air Asia’s carry on limit of 56cm x 36cm x 23cm


    • Flip down front pocket (zippered) with organized storage of quick access travel items, like passports, other identification, cash, credit cards, phone, and more **
    • Dedicated tablet sleeve, in the same zippered compartment as the laptop pocket **
    • Boxy shape, uses every square inch available to carry on **
    • Super padded throughout, in the shoulder straps, back padding, and hip belt, for a very comfy wear **
    • Load lifters added on the top of the shoulder straps so you can customize how you carry your load.


    “The ergonomics and portability of a backpack with the obsessive organization and easy packing of a suitcase.”

    • “Double Clamshell” design makes for easy packing: Main compartment flap and laptop compartment fully unzip “clamshell-style.”
    • Adjustable harness: Allows wearer to adjust the height harness, so that bottom of the bag sits perfectly into the lower back
    • Hiking ready shoulder straps: Thick padding with breathable, athletic shoe rubber
    • Breathable Back Panel:
    • Removable Padded Hip Belt
    • Full-zip, Lie Flat Laptop Compartment: For easy access and removal at security checkpoints
    • Lockable YKK Zippers: Heavy-duty to resist wet and grime
    • Heavy Duty X-Pac Sailcloth Fabric: Water-resistant and more durable than ripstop nylon
    • Plenty of Internal Zippered Pockets: Act as “built-in packing cubes,” 6 zippered internal main pockets, 2 zippered internal front pockets (1 outer zip pocket, and 1 zippered front compartment that folds down to reveal plenty of quick access storage) , 3 zippered internal laptop compartment packets
    • Plenty of External Storage Pockets: 2 water bottle pockets, 2 external zippered pockets, two sailcloth zippered hip belt pockets
    • Soft Lined Laptop Sleeve: Fits 17″ laptop
    • Airline Carry on sized Dimensions: (22″ x 14″ x 9”)  (fits limits of every major airline and budget airline)


    Minimalist and savvy modern travelers and digital nomads that prefer to skip checking bags and travel with a single bag as well as.  If you travel light, but taking your tech is essential, the Tortuga Outbreaker will suit you well.

    The Tortuga Outbreaker backpack combines the shoulder harness system of a comfortable backpacking backpack, the organization of a briefcase (for your tech), and the organization of a suitcase with packing cubes for your clothes, toiletries, and other belongings.

    Even if you dont live your life tethered to a laptop, the Tortuga Outbreakers amazing layout of pockets can still make your travels (and separating your clean socks from the dirty ones, or separating your bottle of bug spray from your toothbrush) very easy.

    If you travel lightly, ideally with only a carry on bag, and you’re looking for a single bag to carry your life in for a few weeks, a few months, or a few years, the Outbreaker is a good option.


    • You carry quite a few electronics
    • You prefer not to check your bags
    • You are a light or minimalist traveler
    • Your travels happen mostly through cities and urban terrain with light trekking
    • You like to stay organized
    • You’re a digital nomad
    • You’re traveling Europe, South America, or Southeast Asia (places where you don’t need much)


    I wouldn’t recommend the Tortuga Outbreaker for the following groups.

    • Extremely hard users
    • Backcountry bound peeps
    • Overpackers


    The Tortuga Outbreaker is a very high quality backpack. The materials are higher quality and more durable than most on the market and the design is extremely well thought out for digital nomads, modern travelers, and onebaggers – but –  it was not designed for “pure abuse”.  The X-Pac fabric is too high tech to be purely beaten on and dragged.  The components, although well designed and likely to last, weren’t designed for sheer force and to be dragged and pulled.  Under hard use conditions, the sailcloth outer, as great as it is, would likely abrade when dragged across the pavement much more quickly than 1000D Cordura nylon would. 

    On some of my adventures, I am an intensely hard user of travel gear.  I’ve broken 2 Casio G-Shocks – one while surfing and one while working out. I’ve ripped the soles off shoes from running, and I have yet to keep a pair of sunglasses intact for more than a year.  This goes to show that I know how to break stuff – but I can also tell how long to expect a piece of gear to last under hard use.

    I highly recommend the Tortuga Outbreaker for the average traveler.  However, if you’re planning on throwing your backpack off of trucks, dragging it around, or using it as a pillow on jagged rocks midway through a trek, opt for trading off the “high-tech” materials and design of the Outbreaker for the pure durability of a backpack ready for hard use.

    On the other, my GORUCK GR3 is a pure abuse backpack.  I’ve thrown that backpack off trucks onto the ground, had it dragged across the pavement, filled it with weight plates, and done weighted runs and workouts with it.

    I wouldn’t trust the Outbreaker taking on that kind of abuse.  And honestly, as amazing as the Tortuga Outbreaker is, I wouldn’t want to subject it to that kind of abuse.

    If you need a backpack for nomading, staying organized, and protecting your digital goodies, the Tortuga Outbreaker may be for you.  If you plan to drag the bag the entire way, I recommend checking out this review of the GORUCK GR3 instead.


    As I’ve already said, The Tortuga Outbreaker is a near perfect digital nomad backpack.  However, the Outbreaker is not so perfect for hardcore backcountry adventures. 

    A mild trek, like the trek to Everest Base Camp would be doable in the Outbreaker, thanks to its comfy harness, but its hefty weight (at ~5lbs) is a drawback. If most of your travels involve wandering in the great outdoors, I recommend checking out the REI Trail 40 instead, which is 2lbs lighter and more backcountry ready.

    Puncture resistance, lighter weight, larger water bottle pockets, and a higher weight threshold (thanks to the shoulder harness system) are all things you would want more of in a backpack for outdoor exploration.

    For outdoor centric travel packs, I recommend also checking out the REI Trail 40 for a serious and budget-friendly outdoor travel backpack and the REI Ruckpack 40 for a 50/50 balance between backcountry backpack and urban exploration backpack.


    The Tortuga Outbreaker performs at its best, and benefits you the most when it is your only bag for travel.  If you would have trouble staying within this 45L limit, I would recommend either getting a 65L backpacking/summit bag (such as the REI Ruckpack 65) or getting a solid duffle bag that converts to a backpack (like the Northface Base Camp Duffle) and good daypack, like the REI Ruckpack 28 or the Tortuga Outbreaker Daypack


    Appreciation for the Tortuga Outbreaker goes far beyond my experience – I’m just another tester in a long line of travelers who have fallen in love with this backpack.

    Check out these quotes from other travelers that highlight the best aspects of the Tortuga Outbreaker.

    “Great pack for backpacking Europe, hopping trains and the Eurarail, budget airlines and all”

    “Easily fits into [overhead] luggage bins”

    “Super organized…fits packing cubes perfectly.”

    “Easy to use, plenty of compartments “

    “Carrying ~50lbs didn’t feel like it — takes way more of the strain off your shoulders and back than expected.”

    “Not Just for backpackers”

    “Suspension system is fantastic.”

    “Carries Two Tablets, a Laptop, Two Phones, Accessories”

    “Worked great for a 4 month trip through Europe.”

    “…tried everything from Nomatic to Osprey and found this to be the crossover that fits my needs — where outdoorsy bags are too “outdoorsy” and can’t be taken to the office, and laptop bags leave no extra room for storage.”

    “Sturdy, well-constructed, well-organized, sleek, comfortable, durable…”

    “The waterproof sailcloth came in handy as it poured on several occasions. My laptop and valuables remained dry.”

    “My husband has a bad back and had no problems with this backpack.”




    (Men’s torso lengths often fall between 17 and 21 inches. Women’s, on average, might be 14 inches to 18 inches) 



    The Tortuga Outbreaker’s main material, the X-Ply Sailcloth, is one of a kind and based on the VX21 Waterproof Sailcloth – a 4-ply cloth that, just like the sails on sailboats, is weather resistant, durable, and resists grime.

    Compared to 1000D Cordura Nylon, this X-Ply Sailcloth is lighter and waterproof while still providing the durability you’ll need for urban backpacking adventures

    • Waterproof
    • Abrasion Resistance
    • Puncture Resistance
    • Resists fraying
    • The 4 ply layer cloth including a PET waterproof film
      • 210D nylon with DWR and UV resistant coatings (durability layer)
      • Black polyester “X-Ply”
      • 0.25 mil (that’s 0.001″) PET film (waterproofing layer)
      • 50D polyester taffeta backing
    • Better strength to weight ratio than any other cloth on the market
    • More Info at

    The Result: Your backpack is waterproof anywhere that doesn’t have a zipper with the durability you need for years of adventuring.



    If the pricetag on the Tortuga Outbreaker has you hurting, but you still need a carry on backpack for your travels, Standard Luggage’s Carry On Backpack is an option at nearly half the price.

    Main Differences between the Tortuga Outbreaker vs. The The Standard Luggage Carry On Backpack

    Standard Luggage’s Carry Backpack is a simple option that is more suitable for road warrior corporate types than digital nomads.  The outer cloth isn’t waterproof or nearly as durable, the internal space is not nearly as well organized, and the shoulder harness system isn’t as comfortable as the Tortuga Outbreaker’s shoulder harness system.

    If you’re a “backpacker,” traveling for an extended period, doing lots of walking, or don’t want to buy packing cubes, opt for the Tortuga Outbreaker.

    If you’re trying to save a few dollars but still want a solid carryon backpack, check out the Standard Luggage Carry On Backpack for ~$179


    The REI Ruckpack 40 is a carry-on backpack that blends the best of urban travel with the potential for outdoor travel. 

    Main differences between the REI Ruckpack 40 vs. the Tortuga Outbreaker

    The REI Ruckpack 40’s zip away shoulder harness and hip belt system are better for checked bag travel – prevent the loose straps from getting caught in conveyor belts.

    In the Outbreaker’s favor, the Ruckpack 40 does exceed airline carry on restrictions by roughl 2 inches, so don’t overpack the top.

    Additionally, the Ruckpack 40’s wraparound zipper design makes it difficult to access luggage at the bottom of the ruckpack without unpacking the entire ruckpack. 

    Within the Ruckpack 40, a lack of internal pockets and organization (which the Tortuga Outbreaker has plenty of) make packing cubes absolutely necessary.

    Bottom Line: If you want to save money and need a back that is half outdoor backpack half urban travel backpack, check out the REI Ruckpack 40.  If your travels are more urban than not, do yourself a favor and opt for the Tortuga Outbreaker, for the function, additional storage and comfort over the Ruckpack 40.

    Click here to see available colors for the REI Ruckpack 40 or read the REI Ruckpack 40 review here


    If you plan to adventure hard, hit more trails than roads, need to travel light, and aren’t taking a laptop, the REI Trail 40 is a great option for you.

    The REI Trail 40 is lightweight and comfortable bag specifically designed for hiking, and it was my only bag for 6 months through Southeast Asia and South America, including the Everest Base Camp Trek. 

    At 2lbs lighter and only $129, this bag should be the choice if you’re hitting the trail and don’t have a laptop.  However, keep in mind that this bag has very little internal organization, so you’ll need packing cubes for extra organization and though the water bladder pocket could double as a laptop pocket, I wouldn’t recommend it.

    If you’re carrying a laptop (and other tech) sacrifice the 2lbs and the additional investment, and opt for the Tortuga Outbreaker

    Click here to check colors and availability for the REI Trail 40 or click here to read a full REI Trail 40 review


    The Osprey Farpoint 40 is a straightforward and durable travel backpack that thousand of travelers and backpackers have and love – and for a good reason.

    Differences between the Osprey Farpoint 40 vs. the Tortuga Outbreaker

    The Farpoint 40 Zip away shoulder straps and waist belt allow for checked bag travel without the bag getting caught in conveyor belts.  Side grab handles make the bag easier to move around with, without wearing, and hiking & outdoors focused design & abuse ready fabric make the Osprey Farpoint 40 more suited to the rigors of trekking, hiking, and camping.

    The Tortuga Outbreaker – Waterproof fabric and dedicated, soft-lined pockets make the Outbreaker better suited to traveling with a laptop.  The Outbreaker has many more zippered internal pockets set up more methodically, allowing you to stay organized more easily. 

    If you plan to backpack, trek, and wander hard, the Osprey Farpoint 40 is a much better option but don’t forget the packing cubes.

    If you’re traveling with a lot of tech or spend most of your time in cities, option for Tortuga Outbreaker.  The protection of the tech pockets and convenience of organization are worth sacrificing a little “trail readiness.”  Remember, you can still always adventure lightly into the outdoors with your Outbreaker.

    Click here to see available Osprey Farpoint 40 Colors or click here to read the full Osprey Farpoint 40 review


    The Patagonia MLC soft-sided briefcase is an amazing bag for travel, perfect for wandering, but if you’re carrying a laptop or intend to do lots of walking, opt for the Tortuga Outbreaker.

    If you’re not carrying a laptop and don’t plan on making many long hikes with your bag, the Patagonia MLC may be a good bag for you.

    Click here to learn more about the Patagonia MLC


    Whereas the Tortuga Outbreaker is a full-featured backpack with everything you could ask for, the

    The Tortuga Setout is lighter weight, full-sized carry on backpack from the same awesome company (Tortuga). 

    What’s different between the Tortuga Outbreaker and the Setout?  The Tortuga Outbreaker provides more internal organization via a plethora of zippered pockets and additionally uses the waterproof X-Pac Cloth throughout the bag.

    The Tortuga Setout weighs in 2lbs lighter and 900 denier polyester (which is a little weaker over time than the sailcloth) while delivering the same harness system and thought out features.

    If you need a bag that will keep you organized (without packing cubes) opt for the Tortuga Outbreaker

    If you want to save $100 while compromising the waterproof cloth and internal organization, opt for the Tortuga Setout


    The GORUCK GR3 is a fantastic travel backpack – made tough as nails and built to carry loads up to 450lbs.  Abrasion and tear resistant 1000D Cordura Nylon, heavy duty stitching, and a lifetime guarantee (your life, not the bag’s life) make the GORUCK GR3 an extremely tough bag.  Therein lies the major difference between the GORUCK GR3 and the Tortuga Outbreaker (both very good packs).

    The GORUCK GR3 is made to survive heavy abuse in hard environments.

    The Tortuga Outbreaker is made to help you stay organized and comfy while keeping your gear dry.

    If you plan to abuse your backpack, drag it, and carry heavy weight (like I did for a year and a half of travel) the GORUCK GR3 is definitely for you.  If you’re a digital nomad that will subject your bag to light abuse but mostly adventures through the city, opt for the Tortuga Outbreaker.

    Check out prices for the GR3 at or read about my experience traveling with the GORUCK GR3 for over a year of travel.

    The Tortuga Outbreaker is such a well-designed pack that only two things could possibly make it better



    The Tortuga Outbreaker has an ample number of pockets throughout the inside that helps organize socks, underwear, toiletries, electronics, cables, and more – but I still recommend bringing 2 -3 midsized packing cubes to organize shirts, pants/shorts, and dirty clothes.

    The Tortuga Outbreaker Packing Cubes is a perfect fit, and the smaller packing cube* actually make perfect toiletry bags.

    Another option is these packing cubes on Amazon that I used for just under 2 years. 

    If either of these options doesn’t fit your tastes, then check out our article, the 11 best packing cubes for travelers.


    Anyone who uses the Tortuga Outbreaker is likely to be a traveler that carries electronics, and electronics require…electricity.  Getting a universal adapter that allows you to quickly plugin to anywhere in the world is usually an afterthought, but it should be your first.

    I recommend getting a universal travel adapter with multiple USB ports that allow you to charge 2-3 devices (via USB cable) while your laptop plugs in.  Getting the universal travel adapter with USB ports is even useful for traveling in your home country and charging multiple devices on that sacred electrical outlet that’s the only one free.

    I recommend this specific CCJK universal travel adapter with 3 additional USB ports that I’ve been using for months.  Its perfect has an adapter forever country you’ll travel too and has no shortage of charging ports.

    Click here to Check out this CCJK Adapter Universal International Adapter


    For modern travelers with plenty of electronics devices, “onebaggers,” and minimalist travelers, the Tortuga Outbreaker is perfect for their urban wanderings.  Organized, comfortable, and delivering plenty of protection for your clothes and devices, this backpack is easy to live out of for days, weeks, or even months – which is why it is my new, go-to backpack for my next year of travel.


    The strength of the Tortuga Outbreaker is that it keeps organized so you can travel better when traveling light – but this is no use if you’re traveling with the wrong clothing.

    The best travel clothing goes (nearly) forever without needing a wash, dries quickly, feels great, and looks great.  And the best travel shoes keep your feet comfy while looking good enough for rooftop cocktails but ready for a hike through the Himalayas.  Not sure what that gear is?  Start with these great articles to help you plan your packing list

    1. The Rick Steve’s Carry On Packing List…Adapted for Adventurous Travelers
    2. The Best Travel Shoes for Men
    3. The Best Travel Shorts for Men
    4. The Best Travel Pants for Men
    5. The Best Travel Boots for Men


    1. The GORUCK GR3
    2. The REI Trail 40
    3. The REI Ruckpack 40
    4. The Osprey Farpoint 40
    5. Comparing the 4 best carry on backpacks for travel**

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      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.