Vegan Nom Noms Gear: Tortuga Backpack Review

I realized after my three month cross-country road trip through America that I should probably talk about my Tortuga Backpack, as a lot of people asked about it and it’s with me all the time!

Let’s start with this…the Tortuga backpack is freaking awesome.

How can I get so excited about a backpack you may ask? (Okay shhh I like storage, but anyway…)

Why Tortuga rocks my world…

– It’s a small company and product actually designed and created by backpackers.

– It opens like a suitcase, no rummaging around and pulling everything out to get to that thing at the bottom of your backpack!

– It’s carry-on size for pretty much all airlines! No checked luggage! I can personally vouch for this on my many flights with KLM, Delta, Easyjet, AirBerlin, Frontier and Alaska Airlines so far. (The regular Tortuga is slightly bigger than Ryanair’s requirements, but if it’s not totally full you can just squish it down).

– It fits a lot of stuff. Yes, it’s a carry-on, but I can happily survive two weeks with the Tortuga without doing laundry, infinitely if I have access to a washing machine.

-It has a separate padded laptop sleeve. Very important for me, since I take my computer everywhere and want to keep it safe. Makes going through airport security way quicker.

Padded hip belt. I don’t care if it’s not cool, my old backpack would kill my neck and shoulders for days just walking from the train to my hostel. The hip belt is a lifesaver! Especially when you’re like me and tend to hoard vegan cookbooks and heavy food items wherever you go!

–  Simple black color and design. It means it’s good for backpacking or bringing with me to a business trip. Whether I’m being hippy Nicole or working Nicole it’s got me covered.

No leather! I emailed the company to double-check, and the Tortuga is made of ballistic nylon. The lining is made of a ripstop polyester.

International shipping!

Which Tortuga is for you?

Tortuga has several different packs. The regular Tortuga is what I have, this is the biggest and the max carry-on size.

Regular Tortuga (largest, $199)


Volume: 44L (2,685 cu. in.)
Dimensions: 22 x 14 x 9″ (56 x 36 x 23 cm)
Fit: 18″+ torsos
Link: Regular Tortuga Pack

backpackers backpackView of the Tortuga opened

An accurate depiction of what I tend to pack. Yes, cookbooks and Earth Balance Mac n Cheese. I’d have put all 10 boxes in, but I only have two left. Americans, feel free to send more! 😉 You can see my trusty Kleen Kanteen I just got in America too, just make sure to empty that one before airport security!

Tortuga Backpack Closed | Vegan Nom NomsTortuga closed view.


Okay, not the best picture in the world, but you get an idea of the size. I am 5’9” (175 cm), for reference.

How much does it cost, you ask? $199.00 Okay, it seems like a lot, but it’s very sturdy and I use it all the time, everywhere. I tend to be a very cheap person, but I would pay for the Tortuga again. Better than buying a cheaper one and having it fall apart halfway through dragging it across the world with you. I used to have a very similar, cheaper backpack from eBags that made my neck constantly hurt for weeks!

Tortuga Air (medium, $174)


Volume: 27L (1,662.5 cu. in.); Expanded: 35L (2,137.5 cu. in.)
Dimensions: 19 x 12.5 x 7″ (48 x 32 x 18 cm); Expanded: 19 x 12.5 x 9″ (48 x 32 x 23 cm)
Fit: One size fits all
Link: Tortuga Air

I am tall, but if you are not the Tortuga Air might be a better size for you! You might have problems if you are much shorter than me, but! Tortuga has a smaller backpack called the Tortuga Air, so you can check that out too here!

Tortuga Daypack (small, $54)

tortuga-packable-daypack-rear-podshare_grandeVolume: 20L (1,216 cu. in.)
Dimensions: Backpack: 17 x 11 x 6.5″ (43 x 28 x 17 cm); Pouch (when packed into itself): 9 x 8.5 x 2″ (23 x 22 x 5 cm)
Link: Tortuga Daypack

I think this is amazing, because I always want a smaller bag for when I’m exploring away from my accommodation, but I never want a separate backpack to take up my luggage space. As you can see below, this one squishes down to a tony pouch! I think I’d even use it for grocery shopping, hah.

tortuga-packable-daypack-bottom-flat-vs-packed_grandeSquish, Tortuga, squish!

Packing Cubes (set of 3, $49)


Volume: Large: 6.6 L; Small: 3.3 L
Dimensions: Large: 13.5 x 10 x 3″ ( 34 x 25 x 8 cm); Small: 10 x 6.75 x 3″ (25 x 17 x 8 cm)
Link: Packing Cubes

I was sorta new to the idea of packing cubes, but it’s actually genius. Not gonna lie, one would totally be devoted to dirty clothes for me, which saves me from shoving everything into a big disorderly plastic bag. I’m a bit neurotic and don’t like tons of loose stuff rolling all over my pack so this way everything can have its place, plus it helps with squishing things down to fit more!

Curious? You can check out their website here. They have many, many much nicer pictures than I posted of the backpacks from every angle and review! Perfect as a gift for a traveling friend or, well…yourself. I don’t judge, I bought it for myself too! What’s your favorite travel gear? Let me know in the comments!


**Disclaimer** I bought this pack with my own money. Vegan Nom Noms earns a small percentage of any purchases made using the above links. If that makes you uncomfortable, feel free to head directly to instead. Any earnings go straight to funding further travels!

  1. I’m looking at this backpack too. Also cheap, but willing to pay for quality things that last. I don’t have any huge travel plans, but travel on a fairly regular basis and think this would be great for anything in my future. Women keep posting that it doesn’t fit great, but then reveal that they’re tiny little 5’2″ people. I’m 5’7″. Do you think the pack would fit me well? Thanks!

    Angela / Reply
    • I’m 5’9″, so only slightly taller than you, and it fits me perfect! If it’s any help, my experience with their customer service has been super amazing, I wrote them a year after I bought it that a strap was getting worn and they sent me a brand new bag no questions asked, so even if you do order it and it doesn’t fit I’m sure they’d let you send it back for a refund!

  2. Hi Nicole,

    finally, since some time ago, Tortuga is delivering to Europe. I’m considering ordering one, most of the reviews are good to excellent, but still I read some complains about the quality of the zip or the seams at the hip strap. It might be just bad luck for some people…? after all this time with your Tortuga, it is still in one piece? Just clearing some doubts before buying. Thanks for the advice

    Karl / Reply
    • Hi Karl, it is definitely still in one piece and I still use it for all my travels of 1 week or more! A couple years ago I got it replaced (for free) because the zippers melted in the car, but this was my fault as I shouldn’t have left it in the car during a Texas summer! I got to try out their Customer Service because of this and was very impressed. They sent me a brand new Tortuga free of charge to replace the damaged one and even chose another American living in Germany to write to me. Since then no issues!

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