Tortuga Setout 35L - Women's Review
Cons: No secure easy access pockets, sub par volume to weight ratio
Our Analysis and Test Results
This comfortable pack is versatile in both looks and application. The simple black fits in anywhere and the lack of dangly bits gives it a sleek put-together look.
The Tortuga is nothing if not comfortable. The open-cell PU foam padding on the shoulder straps, hip belt, and back panel is both plentiful and breathable. Not only is the padding on the back panel perforated, but its sheer thickness allows for ample space between your back and the pack, facilitating optimal airflow. The harness system comes complete with load lifters, a sternum strap, and a hip belt. The load lifters and sternum strap are adjustable and the hip belt is removable, although it is worth noting that it takes some finagling to get off. The hip belt sits very high up on the waist which we found to be very comfortable, but can be a rather polarizing feature.
The Tortuga is one of the more comfortable packs in our test suite, but it may not fit all bodies. The version we tested is woman-specific which, gender aside, means it was built for a smaller frame and a higher waist. The harness system is adjustable but fits those with narrower shoulders best. Those with broad shoulders, longer torsos, and a less curvy frame should check out the men's version, which sports a lower hip belt and wider shoulder straps.
The biggest bone we have to pick with this pack is that it is bulky and strappy. It protrudes far off your back when stuffed and the stiff straps are annoying when they are not in use. That being said, the hip straps are removable, so if you're not planning on wearing them, you can always take them off.
Overall the Tortuga is a simple pack. The main compartment easily fits up to 7 days worth of clothing, but the compression straps do wonders when you're traveling light. The main compartment comes equipped with locking zippers for security and the shoulder straps sport G-clips which makes tucking them away a breeze if you check your bag. The material is weather-resistant and can withstand a decent amount of moisture. If there is a torrential downpour, however, we suggest taking cover as the zippers are not waterproof and leakage is inevitable. There is an affordable rain fly sold separately, so if you tend to travel to places with excessive rain, this would be a great purchase. This travel bag sports two comfortable carry handles centered on the top and side to ensure balanced handling.
We love having the option for a rain fly, but we'd love it even more if the bag came with it. That being said, the Tortuga and its accessories are all fairly priced, so we can't complain too much. The water bottle pocket takes some convincing if you carry a larger bottle. We were able to fit our 32-ounce Hydro Flask, but we may have broken a little sweat trying to get it in there. Overall the Tortuga is a spacious and simple bag and we quite like that about it.
Packing & Accessibility
This simple travel bag offers a lot of space in the main compartment. The clamshell opening and slight structure provided by the foam frame makes packing a breeze, with or without cubes. The two mesh zipper pockets on the flap of the main compartment are perfect for undergarments or toiletries, as long as you are not worried about them exploding. The second pocket opens up halfway and offers one small zipper pocket, a series of small zipperless pockets for pens, business cards, etc., and one G-clip for your keys. The easy access pocket is spacious but vulnerable as it has no locking ability or anti-theft loops. The waist strap offers two zipper pockets, which is a great place for your small valuables if you are traveling to a place where pickpocketing is prevalent. It is worth noting that a wallet or passport would not fit in these pockets, but keys, cash, and a credit card will. The Tortuga has a spacious device pocket that opens up separately from the main compartment. It can fit a 17-inch laptop and a 9.7-inch tablet.
The only thing that could improve the main compartment packability is some compression straps for those travelers who do not use packing cubes. There is no great place for toiletries, so it's best to keep them in a waterproof bag in case something leaks. While we appreciate the plethora of pockets in the second-largest compartment, most of them are useless. There is no velcro or elastic and only one zipper pocket, which means that anything you try to organize just falls out into the larger compartment the moment your bag is not upright. There is nothing to write home about as far as organization goes, but not everyone is looking for a pack with a shoe compartment and secret pockets. If you appreciate a simpler organizational system, then the Tortuga is right up your alley.
Volume to Weight Ratio
This 35-liter pack weighs in at about 3.6 pounds with the hip belt on. This volume to weight ratio is subpar when compared to some of the other bags in our test suite. That said, the harness system is soft, supportive and it distributes the weight very nicely across the entire upper body, so the extra half-pound or so is less noticeable. Less padding would surely make this pack weigh less, however, it would also render it less comfortable.
The Tortuga is made mostly of 900D polyester from recycled bottles. It is not the most durable in our test suite but we love how eco-friendly it is and we did not experience any issues with the fabric during our testing. The outside is treated with a Durable Water Repellent (DWR) coating. This is wonderful, but without waterproof or even water-resistant zippers, will only take you so far. We are unsure why all the zippers except the main compartment are equipped with YKK zippers, but we didn't seem to have any issues.
The Tortuga is right in the middle as far as pricing goes. While this pack may not last through decades of heavy travel, it is not cheaply made either. This 35-liter pack is aptly priced and worth every penny.
If your main concern is comfort, the Tortuga fits the bill. It may be a little heavy and stick out from your back like a turtle shell, but the surplus of padding, paired with the perfect weight distribution makes it a very comfortable option. Its friendly price and convertible harness system also give it some versatility. It is important to note that the women's-specific Tortuga is narrower in the shoulders and sits very high on the hips, whereas the one made for men simply sits lower on the hips and offers more room for the shoulders — so keep that in mind when you are deciding which version to purchase. If you are looking for simple organization, ample room, and optimal comfort, this is a good choice.
— Hayley Thomas
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