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, Ryanair, 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, I’ve never had a problem).

– 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 waterproof, durable sailcloth (a.k.a. special types of nylon and polyester).

International shipping!

Update 7 August 2017

I’ve had my Tortuga since 2014 now and it’s still going strong! I even accidentally melted the straps by leaving it on the hot car during the Texas summer. I wrote them about it and they sent me a brand new bag, free of charge, no questions asked. They even had another American woman living in Germany deal with me (small world!). I am generally veryyyyyy skeptical of all Customer Service (a.k.a. I hate them all, even if I used to work in CS), but I was very pleasantly surprised.

Tortuga has since released an updated line, so I’ve re-done this post. My original review is at the very bottom.

Which Tortuga is for you?

Tortuga has several different packs.  I have the older version 2 Tortuga, which I’ve included pictures of below. Since then, Tortuga has come out with the nicer-looking Outbreaker line, which I’m super jealous of, so I’ve updated the photos for this below. You can see my original pictures of my actual Tortuga and original review at the bottom, but I thought I’d spare you my shitty photography to start with!

45L Tortuga (largest, $249)

Size: 22x14x9 inches

Weight: 5.1 lbs (2.3 kg)

Laptop: Up to 17 inches

Tablet: Up to 13 inches (iPad Pro)

Fit: 16-20 inch torsos

Link: 45L Tortuga Pack

View of the Tortuga Outbreaker opened

Look at all those compartments ahhhhhhh! They designed it so you don’t even have to take your laptop out to go through the scan, you just need to unzip it.

The 45L is probably best if you’re planning that multiple month world trip. If you are short or have a smaller frame, the 35L might be a better fit. One of the biggest complaints from the older Tortuga was that it didn’t fit the average woman, so the 45L and smaller 35L are there to solve this. Luckily, I am quite tall so never had a problem with the original.

35L Tortuga ($224)

This one is better for shorter trips, those who have mastered minimalism, or those with smaller frames.

Size: 22x14x9 inches

Weight: 5.1 lbs (2.3 kg)

Laptop: Up to 17 inches

Tablet: Up to 13 inches (iPad Pro)

Fit: 16-20 inch torsos

Link: 35L Tortuga

Tortuga Daypack (small, $99)

Tortuga Daypack from Behind

Squish, Tortuga, squish!

Size: 17 x 11 x 6.5 inches

Capacity: 21 L

Weight: 1.1 lbs (0.5 kg)

Laptop: Up to 15 inches

Tablet: Up to 10 inches

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, the squish potential is strong with this one. I’d even use it for grocery shopping, hah. I like the new version much better than the old, and am considering getting this too since my current daypack is out to die.

 

Tortuga also has packing cubes ($59), a duffel bag ($74)and a wet/dry bag ($49). They offer extra deals for buying certain items together on their website.

Tortuga Version II (older version)

This version is no longer available on the official Tortuga website. In case you’re poking around looking to buy a used one, I am leaving this here.

backpackers backpack

Tortuga Version II – Open View

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

IMG_4459

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!

If the regular Tortuga Version II is too big for you, the smaller Tortuga Air (medium, $174) might be a better fit!

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 affiliate links. If that makes you uncomfortable, feel free to head directly to tortugabackpacks.com 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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