Tortuga Outbreaker Backpack Review
Tortuga has been one of the major players in travel gear market for the past several years. When the original Tortuga backpack debuted, it took the travel world by storm. It quickly became one of the most popular travel backpacks on the market. But the original Tortuga had some room for improvement, and Tortuga has come through with an intriguing new bag.
Weight and Size
One thing to note the weight of the pack. In a world where every ounce counts, the Outbreaker is heavy! However, the strap system is so well designed, the pack doesn’t feel heavy when you are wearing it.
|Length||20.3 in / 51.6 cm|
|Width||12.9 in / 32.8 cm|
|Height||8.2 in / 20.8 cm|
|Weight||4.6 lbs / 2.15 kg|
|Torso Fit Range||16 - 19 in / 41 - 48 cm|
|Length||22 in / 55.9 cm|
|Width||14 in / 35.6 cm|
|Height||9 in / 22.9 cm|
|Weight||5.1 lbs / 2.3 kg|
|Torso Fit Range||16 - 20 in / 41 - 51 cm|
The shoulder straps contain load lifter straps, which help tighten the pack to your back. But it seems that the load lifter straps should join a bit further down the shoulder straps for better effectiveness.
A major feature of the harness system is the ability to adjust to various torso heights. The Outbreaker harness can move up or down along the spine of the pack for a customized fit.
The Outbreaker has an adjustable chest strap which provides extra support for the shoulder straps.
The waist belt of the Outbreaker contains plenty of padding and performs its job well. A tight waist belt transfers the load of the pack to the hips and off the shoulders. The waist belt is detachable via velcro straps.
The buckling mechanism on the Outbreaker waist belt is pretty standard fare. To tighten the waist strap, the wearer must pull the tightening straps away from the center of the body. The further you pull the straps, the harder it is to tighten. The Scherer Cinch System is much better, since it works like a pulley to effortlessly tighten the belt. Waist straps can be tucked behind the waist pockets to keep them from dangling.
Like the Tortuga backpack before it, the Outbreaker is available only in black.
Tortuga have always prided themselves on subtle branding. The Outbreaker features a small, black Tortuga logo on the back of the pack, and some subtle branding inside the laptop/tech compartment.
The Outbreaker features high quality YKK zippers. The exterior zippers are coated for water-resistance. If you get caught out in the rain, the water-resistant zippers will keep your stuff dry for a while.
Each of the Outbreaker’s three main compartments have lockable zippers.
The top of the Outbreaker contains a padded carry handle. The side handle from the previous Tortuga backpack has been removed.
Even though the Outbreaker isn’t very deep, there are compression straps along the sides if you want to make is thinner. The beauty of the compression straps is that they don’t cross over access points or pockets. The straps are woven in a unique way so that you can tighten the bag without compromising usage. The downside of the design is that the compression straps are at the top part of the pack. This means that the bottom part of the pack where most of your stuff settles is not compressible.
The Outbreaker no longer has a zip-up back flap for stowing away the straps. There may be a good design reason for this, but it has left users of the previous Tortuga backpack scratching their heads. Tortuga recommends removing the straps and stowing them in the front pockets. In that case, you’d better make sure those front pockets are empty to accommodate the straps.
Ease of Packing
One of the things I love about the new Outbreaker is that it has plenty of pockets for organizing. In fact, it has 20 major pockets, and that doesn’t include the 9 smaller pockets in the organizer panel.
The front of the Outbreaker has two deep, flat pockets. These are great for items like books, papers, or small items. The top pocket is fairly flat, but the bottom pocket has a bit more dimension.
There are two long, mesh pockets on either side of the Outbreaker. The mesh pockets are primarily designed to hold water bottles. The pockets are plenty deep, ensuring that your water bottle isn’t going to slip out. The mesh is pretty tight, so fitting something wide like a Nalgene bottle may prove to be a difficult.
The organizer compartment at the front of the Outbreaker contains three large pockets. The zippered pocket on the flap has mesh walls for easy viewing of contents. A flat zippered pocket at the top is good for small items. A felt-lined, open pocket is large enough for a tablet or e-reader. Also, there are nine smaller organizer pockets or pens, cards, and other sundry items. A key clip dangles from the top of the organizer compartment.
The inside of the main compartment lid contains two zippered mesh pockets. These are large enough for small, loose items like socks, underwear, or belts. You could even fit a flat pair of shoes or some sandals in them!
The main compartment of the Outbreaker has sidewall pockets inside. The 35 L pack has two long pockets, while the 45 L pack has four smaller pockets. These zippered pockets are handy for storing small items that need to remain separate from the contents of the main compartment. They stick out into the main compartment a bit, so you won’t be able to fill them much when the main compartment is full. The pockets smash flat against the walls of the bag when not in use.
The laptop/technology compartment is at the back of the Outbreaker. The compartment can be partially unzipped for easy access to the contents inside. It can also be completely unzipped, allowing it to lie flat for easy loading. The lay-flat design also should allow you to send your laptop through airport security without having to remove it.
One side of the laptop/technology compartment has three zippered mesh pockets. The other side contains two felt-lined pockets for a laptop and a tablet or e-reader. A velcro strap keeps your electronics from sliding out.
The final two pockets have been carried over from the Tortuga backpack. These are the very handy pockets in the waist belt of the Outbreaker. These are great for storing items like keys, a passport, a phone, or a small camera. The waist belt pockets are so useful that I’m surprised when other travel packs don’t include them.
- Subtle branding: Understated; nothing too flashy.
- Water-resistant: Waterproof fabric and coated zippers keep moisture on the outside.
- Tough: Durable sailcloth design should last for years.
- Wide open: Opens like a book for easy packing.
- Plenty of space: Outbreaker accommodates several packing cubes, a pair of shoes or two, toiletries, and other essentials.
- Adjustable strap system: Customizable to any size.
- Plenty of padding: No fatigue after long periods of wear.
- Pockets, pockets, pockets: Did we mention the pockets? And an organizer pocket for your small items.
- Organized: Plenty of places to pack away all your goodies.
- Lockable zippers: Keeps valuables in and curious hands out.
- Laptop compartment: Organized with plenty of storage space, and tight against the back, right where it should be.
- Compression straps: They don’t keep you from accessing your stuff.
- Multiple sizes: Comes in 35L and 45 L varieties.
- Waist straps: A bit difficult to tighten compared to other systems.
- Single color: Not a big deal, especially if you like black.
- No stowaway straps: A stowaway system would probably just make the bag heavier.
- Heavy: Several pounds heavier than the competition. Fortunately it doesn’t feel that heavy on your back thanks to the strap system.
- Expensive: A bit pricey, but you get what you pay for.
The Outbreaker improves upon the original Tortuga travel backpack in practically every way. Despite the weight of the pack, the Outbreaker is comfortable to carry for long periods of time. The Outbreaker has enough great features that we’re willing to ignore that the straps are no longer easily packable. The Outbreaker is a bit pricey, but the quality of the pack is worth the cost.