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Have you ever walked into an REI (or visited their website) in search of a new bag and found yourself immediately overwhelmed?

I know I have and I design bags for a living. Everything on the wall looks both incredibly similar and vastly different. I mean, on the surface the backpacks all do the same job. They all allow you to carry a bunch of shit, hands free, with the weight distributed across both of your shoulders. But, I know these are all different; figuring out how they’re different is the hard part.

Which Bag is Right for You?

Things don’t get much easier when you isolate a single brand. Earlier today I was looking at a bag company’s website, a bag company I really like, and they listed 12 backpacks that look virtually the same in size, shape and function. These aren’t just different colors or different materials, but completely different bags. They are sized and shaped slightly differently. They have slightly different features.

They are all presented, however, as equally sized tiny thumbnails in 4 neatly organized rows. Sure, it looks pretty, but it makes the differences in the products nearly imperceptible.

I don’t want to blame the designers here. I know many of them. They’re really smart and talented. I know they have a specific person and experience in mind when they design each and every bag. As a consumer, though, I can’t figure it out.

Extensively researching the the things I buy is something I enjoy; it’s fun. But figuring out which bag I like shouldn’t require an advanced degree. Bags just aren’t that complicated.

Solving this problem… in addition to, you know, designing awesome products… is one of my main jobs at Tortuga. Our solution? To design collections of products around specific travel experiences. Each individual product must be awesome on its own, but also function seamlessly with the other products in the collection. The Outbreaker Collection is the first incarnation of this idea. Click to continue…

Don't Leave Anything Behind

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“Indy, your dad is missing. He was last seen in Venice. I think something’s happened to him.”

“Hang on, while I go put on my travel clothes,” said Indiana Jones.

That scene never happened in any Indiana Jones movie.

Why? Because Indy hopped on a plane, with a single black satchel for his carry on, and flew to Venice, Italy, to find his father.

He didn’t stop and put on travel clothing because he was traveling. He didn’t pack his one and only bag with travel clothing.

True, he left his professor outfit of tweed jacket with elbow patches and glasses at home. He swapped them out for his more-comfortable adventure outfit of soft khakis, worn boots, and swashbuckling fedora. Tucked in a corner of his bag is his whip, right next to his problem-solving skills and appetite for adventure.

If Indy can save the world and attempt to land a plane in simple khakis and white shirt, why do we think we need clothes that are made only for travel?

As though traveling is an action that requires specific clothing, like race car driving or being an astronaut.

I don’t own a piece of “travel clothing.” Because I hate this type of clothing. Travel clothing sucks. Let me tell you why: Click to continue…

Even though I’m already a light packer, the capsule wardrobe trend recently inspired to pack even less (clothing). Usually, I’ll travel with about four outfits that I can mix and match with each other but this past winter, I cut that in half. In essence, I wanted to create a minimalist travel clothing capsule that I could tweak slightly depending on the destination (add in a swimsuit, take out a sweater, for beach vacations — vice versa for cold climate trips).

Minimalist Travel Clothing Challenge

I traveled to 6 cities for 25 days with only 2 outfits.

For 25 days this past winter, I put this test to the test and traveled to 6 different cities throughout the U.S. — Seattle, New York, Boston, Washington D.C., Portland (Maine), and L.A. — with only 2 outfits. That’s a total of:

  • 9 articles of clothing (not including undergarments)
  • 6 accessories
  • 2 pairs of shoes

Best yet, I built it from my existing wardrobe and it took up about half a duffle bag. At the end of my travels, I never felt like I’d been unprepared for weather or the types of activities I wanted to do. Below is what my minimalist travel clothing capsule looked like, and how it functioned in action: Click to continue…