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Tortuga Outbreaker 45L Review

An extremely comfortable travel backpack complete with ample padding, a highly adjustable harness system, and plenty of packing space
Tortuga Outbreaker 45L
Photo: Tortuga
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $350 List
Pros:  Comfortable, highly adjustable harness system, breathable padding, spacious, decent organization, sleek body
Cons:  Only one color option, bulky, expensive
Manufacturer:   Tortuga
By Hayley Thomas ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 4, 2021
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83
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#3 of 13
  • Comfort - 25% 10
  • Features - 25% 9
  • Packing & Accessibility - 25% 7
  • Volume to Weight Ratio - 15% 6
  • Durability - 10% 9

Our Verdict

This sleek-looking 45-liter pack is among the most comfortable we have had the pleasure of testing, even when stuffed to the gills. The heavily padded but still breathable back panel helps contribute to the comfort, but the real star of the show is the highly adjustable harness system. The large main compartment is best utilized with packing cubes, but there are plenty of mesh zipper pockets for smaller garment organization. With quality materials like YKK zippers and Ripstop nylon, the Tortuga Outbreaker is built to last, making it worth the higher price tag. If your main concern is comfort, there is no better option out there.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards Top Pick Award Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award Best Buy Award Top Pick Award 
Price $350 List$300 List
Check Price at REI
$149 List
$149.00 at REI
Check Price at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
Check Price at REI
Compare at 2 sellers
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Pros Comfortable, highly adjustable harness system, breathable padding, spacious, decent organization, sleek bodyComfortable, innovative, feature rich, sturdy, great for camera gearTapered for easy loading, comfortable harness system, adventure friendly, very lightVersatile, sleek, camera box, vented wet shoe compartmentVersatile, duffel-like ease of use, simplistic features, max volume carry
Cons Only one color option, bulky, expensiveHeavy, expensive, finite amount of spaceDoes not sit upright, laptop sleeve unpaddedNo waist belt or sternum strap, no water bottle holder, back panel not very breathable, tallSoft body sags when not stuffed, harness system not fit for long adventures
Bottom Line An extremely comfortable travel backpack complete with ample padding, a highly adjustable harness system, and plenty of packing spaceThis beautiful and comfortable pack will have the weekend getaway enthusiast, business traveler, or avid photographer swooningWith its tapered shape and backpacking pack structure, this is the perfect bag for the outdoor adventurist that doesn't want to spend an arm and legWith its convertible camera cube, ventilated shoe compartment, and padded device sleeve this travel bag was made for the outdoor photographer on the goA well thought out, user-friendly, and versatile pack fortified by an Ironclad guarantee and cutting edge company ethics
Rating Categories Tortuga Outbreaker 45L Peak Design Travel 45 REI Co-op Ruckpack 40 Mammut Seon Cargo 35L Patagonia Black Hol...
Comfort (25%)
10.0
9.0
9.0
8.0
5.0
Features (25%)
9.0
9.0
8.0
7.0
9.0
Packing & Accessibility (25%)
7.0
9.0
7.0
8.0
9.0
Volume To Weight Ratio (15%)
6.0
6.0
10.0
9.0
8.0
Durability (10%)
9.0
9.0
8.0
9.0
9.0
Specs Tortuga Outbreaker 45L Peak Design Travel 45 REI Co-op Ruckpack 40 Mammut Seon Cargo 35L Patagonia Black Hol...
Volume of Main Compartment 45L 45L 40L 35L 45L
Measured Weight 5.13 lbs 4.51 lbs 2.10 lbs 2.10 lbs 3.35 lbs
Volume to Weight Ratio (bigger is better) 9.78 9.98 19.05 16.67 13.43
Detachable Daypack? No No No No No
Dimensions 22" x 14" x 9" 21" x 13" x 6.5" 24" x 13" x 10" 24" x 14" x 9" 22.8" x 8.6" x 14.5"
Carry-on Size Compatible? (22" x 14" x 9") Yes Yes No Yes Yes, if squished
Stuffed Dimensions 22.2" x 14.2" x 9.3" 21" x 10" x 14" 22" x 9" x 14" 24" x 14" x 9" 22" x 14" x 10"
Fabrics VX21 waterproof sailcloth 400D nyon and polyester recycled nylon ripstop and recycled polyester lining (bluesign approved) 600D waterproof polyester, 840D ballistic nylon Polyester ripstop with TPU laminate
Frame Type Foam padding Foam padding Ventilated mesh Foam padding Foam backpanel
Access Type Clamshell Top and panel loading, zips all the way open Top loading Panel loading Clamshell design
Number of Pockets 1 main, 1 laptop, 1 tablet, 5 zipper mesh, 3 face zipper, 4 interior zipper, 2 water bottle 6 zip, 2 watter bottle 6 zip, 7 no zip, 2 water bottle 3 small zippered, 1 ventilated, 1 camera comparment, 1 main 9 zip, 8 no zip
Laptop Sleeve? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Waist Belt Type Padded N/A Padded None None
Sternum Strap Yes N/A Yes Yes Yes
Different Sizes Available? Yes No Yes No Yes
Volume Options 35L, 45L 45L 18L, 28L, 40L, 65L 35L 26L, 45L

Our Analysis and Test Results

This 45-liter travel backpack distributes weight impeccably. Read on to see why we think the Outbreaker is a bag you'll love to own.

Performance Comparison


A roomie backpack with a crazy comfortable suspension system.
A roomie backpack with a crazy comfortable suspension system.
Photo: Matthew Blake

Comfort


Comfort is paramount, especially for packs as large as 45 liters. Not only can an uncomfortable pack dampen your ability to enjoy your travels, but it can cause longer-lasting issues like back or shoulder injuries. The Outbreaker blows its competitors out of the water in this metric.


There are two long strips of perforated Ariaprene foam on the back panel equipped with mesh coverings for breathability. Ariaprene foam is firm, comfortable, hypoallergenic, and non-abrasive, making it easy to wear with clothing or directly on the skin. These half-inch thick pads are placed vertically from the hips to the shoulder blades allowing for ample airflow to the middle of the back, where most sweat collects.

The thick padding is breathable and comfortable.
The thick padding is breathable and comfortable.
Photo: Matthew Blake

At the top of the back panel are the shoulder straps, complete with a sternum strap, and at the bottom, you'll find a wide hip belt. Both are comprised of the aforementioned Ariaprene foam-mesh combination and are highly adjustable. The hip belt can be removed if you prefer a pack without one. However, this impacts the perfectly calculated weight distribution and will negatively affect the overall comfort of this backpack. The shoulder straps can be adjusted both in length and positioning. Rounding out this nearly perfect harness system are the adjustable load lifters that ensure complete control over the weight distribution.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

Tortuga claims that the Outbreaker fits 16 to 20-inch torsos, and we agree. While this is a decently wide margin, those with particularly long or short torsos may find this backpack to be less comfortable. Some also may feel that the amount of padding on the Outbreaker is excessive, resulting in an unnecessarily bulky pack, but the thick padding is strategically placed, and the weight distribution is superior.

With all this padding and a highly adjustable suspension system, the...
With all this padding and a highly adjustable suspension system, the Outbreaker is truly built for comfort.
Photo: Matthew Blake

Features


While comfort is a must-have, special features are what set one pack apart from the rest. The Outbreaker is sleek and straightforward, but it is not without its thoughtfulness.


As we mentioned above, the harness system is highly adjustable. This is not necessarily a unique feature in and of itself, as many high-end travel backpacks offer adjustability, but the Outbreaker executes this in a very user-friendly way. The hip belt can be removed and shoulder strap height adjusted in a matter of seconds with a simple tug on some velcro.

Adjustability is the Outbreaker's most impressive feature.
Adjustability is the Outbreaker's most impressive feature.
Photo: Matthew Blake

The YKK AquaGuard zippers help keep your belongings safe from the elements, and the thoughtfully placed lockable zippers help keep certain belongings, like your laptop, safe from theft. The Outbreaker has lockable zippers on the front, main, and laptop compartment, giving you some options as far as where to distribute your valuables. The carry handle on the top of the pack helps with stowing and retrieving your bag, and the hanging handle comes in handy when you'd rather not place your belongings on the ground, like in an airport bathroom.

The lockable YKK zippers offer added security for your valuables.
The lockable YKK zippers offer added security for your valuables.
Photo: Matthew Blake

The compression straps on the outside of the pack are a nice touch, but they don't make a significant difference in the overall size. The strap keepers, which help reduce dangly bits, are somewhat primitive in design. That being said, the Outbreaker does a good job of not having too many loose straps to begin with.

The compression straps don't compact the backpack much but we...
The compression straps don't compact the backpack much but we appreciate them nonetheless.
Photo: Matthew Blake

Packing & Accessability


Comfort and features heavily affect how a travel backpack performs, but packing and accessibility play a big role in convenience. The Outbreaker performs admirably in this department, offering standard organization solutions for a clamshell-style travel bag.


Let's start with the exterior. The Outbreaker has three pockets on its face, two water bottle pouches on either side, and two zipper pockets on the hip belt. The largest of these three pockets offers some pencil, card, and electronics organization and a lockable zipper. Aside from the one mesh zipper pocket, the organizational solutions in this compartment are simple pockets with no elastic, zippers, or velcro to keep your belongings in place. We find that when the bag is jostled around, these pockets become useless.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

Let's move on to the interior. The front flap opens up clamshell-style to a large rectangular main compartment. On the flap, you'll find two large mesh zippered pockets perfect for socks, underwear, or any other small garments that would otherwise get lost in the larger compartment. On the walls of the main compartment are four small zippered Ripstop nylon pockets for extra organization. The 35-liter version of this pack only has two. This is a great spot for items like your contact case or toothpaste. The main compartment is easy to pack but works better with packing cubes, as there are no compression straps on the interior.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

The electronics sleeve is found on the panel closest to your back for safekeeping. The padded laptop sleeve easily fits a 17-inch laptop, and the small, soft tablet sleeve fits a tablet up to 9.7 inches. There are also three zippered mesh pockets in this compartment which we liked to use for our chargers.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

While the Outbreaker does just fine in this category, there is room for improvement. When the pack is stuffed, a few pockets are difficult to access. The bottom pocket on the face has a small flap over the zipper to help keep your valuables safe, but this makes it difficult to access with a full load. The same thing goes for the two water bottle pockets. The electronic sleeve could also use some attention. While we love a mesh pocket for visibility, this compartment could use a little more electronics-focused organization, like cord keepers. Our last bone to pick is that there is no designated space for dirty laundry or shoes. Most of these issues are small and can easily be remedied by not packing your bag too heavily or introducing organizational tools like packing cubes and a laundry bag.

Some pockets, like the water bottle pockets, can be difficult to...
Some pockets, like the water bottle pockets, can be difficult to access when the pack is full.
Photo: Matthew Blake

Volume to Weight Ratio


This is an important metric, but the distribution of said weight is arguably more important. That is why this metric only accounts for a small amount of each travel backpack's overall score.


Weighing in at 4.6 pounds, this 45-liter pack is not what we consider lightweight. All that padding is very comfortable, but it gets a little heavy. The saving grace for the Outbreaker is how impeccably the weight is distributed across the body.

The suspension system makes carrying this hefty pack a breeze.
The suspension system makes carrying this hefty pack a breeze.
Photo: Matthew Blake

Durability


Durability is mainly determined by the materials a product is constructed with. From the zippers to the ripstop nylon, the Outbreaker is made up of some pretty high-end materials.


The exterior is made of VX21 waterproof sailcloth, which is highly durable in addition to being waterproof. The AquaGuard zippers are YKK, a well-known and highly trusted zipper manufacturer. The hardware is all made by Duraflex, and as the name suggests, it is durable and long-lasting. The interior of the pack is ripstop nylon. While ripstop is not immune to tears, the technology stops the rip from spreading, so one little hole won't be the death of your pack.

These durable materials are built to last.
These durable materials are built to last.
Photo: Matthew Blake

Value


Although the Outbreaker is not what we consider a budget-friendly option, it is a high-quality product and completely worth the investment. The 45-liter model costs a little more than the 35-liter, so if you do not need the extra room but are interested in the superior comfort and design, the smaller size is a great option.

Conclusion


This high-performing travel backpack owes its award-winning comfort to calculated weight distribution and plentiful Ariaprene foam padding. The respectable organization and abundant space make it perfect for week-long trips or longer. While it is on the expensive side of the spectrum, the Tortuga Outbreaker is made of very durable materials, ensuring a long healthy life making each dollar stretch a little further. If you are looking for a large travel backpack whose comfort is uncompromised by weight, this is a great choice.

This highly adjustable, comfortable and roomie backpack is a great...
This highly adjustable, comfortable and roomie backpack is a great value.
Photo: Matthew Blake

Hayley Thomas

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