Why We’re Raising the Price of the Outbreaker Backpack

The Lab,  
Fred Perrotta

Hi, I’m Fred, the CEO of Tortuga. I wrote this post to personally explain to you why we’re raising the price of the Outbreaker backpack.

First, I’ll review Tortuga’s history to show you how we got here. Then, I’ll explain how our production costs have more than doubled for the Outbreaker while the prices that you pay have increased by only a quarter so far. Finally, I want to explain how we’re creating a sustainable business that sells best-in-class products below retail prices and that will also offer more affordable products in the near future.

TL;DR

The price of the Outbreaker Backpack will increase on August 16, 2017.

  • The Outbreaker Backpack 45L will increase from $249 to $299.
  • The Outbreaker Backpack 35L will increase from $224 to $269.

We will announce the next collection, Homebase, to our email list with limited-time, pre-launch pricing as a thank you for your support.

UPDATE: the Homebase collection’s presale has ended. The Homebase backpack and duffle case are now available for purchase.

History

Jeremy and I started Tortuga in 2010 with our own money. We’ve always been bootstrapped and have never raised money from outside investors or even run a crowdfunding campaign.

We launched the Tortuga V1 in 2011 and the redesigned V2 in 2013. Before releasing the Outbreaker backpack, we referred to it publicly as V3. We intended to build the third version of the Tortuga Travel Backpack. Instead, we created the Outbreaker and, with it, a new category of pro-level travel gear.

The next collection, Homebase, will also be pro-level gear and was designed for the cutting edge of long-term travelers: digital nomads.

Since we launched V2 in the fall of 2013, we’ve seen a proliferation of similar bags launched via Kickstarter. The travel backpack category that we pioneered has gotten much more crowded.

We could have made a few small tweaks to V2 and called it a day. But we knew that we had an opportunity to do something bigger to serve you better and to keep earning your business.

To stay ahead of the me-too Kickstarter bags, we chose to push the boundaries of what’s possible with travel backpacks with the Outbreaker collection.

Hiking and commuting bags shouldn’t have a monopoly on innovation. Frequent travelers need great gear too. We want to bring the best materials, hardware, and construction from across industries and use them in luggage. We also want to create our own innovations.

The Outbreaker is just the most recent step on a long journey.

Production Costs Have Increased

We care about the problems faced by city travelers, cultural explorers, and digital nomads. That’s who we are. We like “scratching our own itch.” That’s how Tortuga started.

When transitioning from V2 to Outbreaker, we hoped to keep the price the same. At the same time, we wanted to make the Outbreaker a dramatically better product. Doing both was impossible.

The Outbreaker was a significantly larger investment for us to make. The Outbreaker backpack costs more than twice as much to manufacture as the Tortuga V2 did. 

Here’s a quick breakdown of how the bills of materials compare.

  • 2x: The Outbreaker costs 220% as much to make as the V2 did.
  • 3x: The Outbreaker’s waterproof sailcloth is triple the price of the V2’s water-resistant nylon
  • 9x: The Outbreaker’s coated zippers cost 9 times as much as the previous coil zippers
  • 20x: Ariaprene, the new sweat-wicking performance foam, is 20x the price of the air mesh that most bags use.

Those price differences are just in the bill of materials. They don’t include the additional labor for building the more comfortable and adjustable suspension system, the more accessible and lie-flat computer pocket, the more useful hip belt pockets, or the improved organization and pocketing.

The Outbreaker costs 220% of what the V2 cost to make. Yet, we were wary of raising prices too much. After much debate, we settled on an increase of only 25%. We later found that this was not a sustainable price.

We felt the pull of the old, V2 pricing ($199) and imagined that the Outbreaker had to match it as closely as possible. This cognitive bias is called anchoring. If we had started the company from scratch with only Outbreaker, the bag would have cost more than $249. However, we felt the pull of staying true to our origins and of meeting your expectation of a $199 bag.

Therefore, we must increase the price of the Outbreaker Backpacks from their current prices ($224/249) for sustainability. The prices of the Outbreaker Backpack will change on Wednesday, August 16, 2017.

  • The Outbreaker Backpack 45L will increase from $249 to $299.
  • The Outbreaker Backpack 35L will increase from $224 to $269.

What This Means for the Future

Moving forward, pricing will reflect our new, collection-based approach to product design.

Frequent travelers and nomads demand a lot from their gear. They need the best. A “good enough” bag is not good enough for them. Thus, the Outbreaker and Homebase collections will be pro-level gear. Pro-level doesn’t mean that these collections are for people in the travel industry. Pro-level means that this is a best-in-class collection of products using top-of-the-line materials and hardware.

At Tortuga, we make and sell our own gear directly to you, the customer. No middle men. No stores. We are a v-commerce company. Without retailers adding their 50% margin, we can make high-end, technical gear at competitive prices. For example, compare the Outbreaker to Tumi’s backpacks, which cost $300-450 despite being smaller, less versatile, less comfortable to carry, and lacking the Outbreaker’s waterproof sailcloth material and coated zippers.

By selling to you, not to stores, we are able to offer a better product at a lower price.

Not everyone needs a pro-level product like Outbreaker or Homebase. We will supplement those collections with products for travelers who don’t need pro-level gear or aren’t ready to make that investment. Rest assured that these products will still be up to Tortuga standards and will receive the same attention to detail as the other collections.

If you’re a frequent traveler, you know the value of great luggage and if the investment is worthwhile for you. If you’re new to travel, you might not know what you need yet. Over time, you’ll figure out your travel style and better understand your needs. Then you can buy the right luggage for you.

I took this same path. On my first backpacking trip, I couldn’t find the right bag, so I chose the big, cheap hiking bag that most backpackers carry. On that trip, I learned what I needed in a travel bag. Nothing on the market met those needs, so Jeremy and I started Tortuga to make the bags that we wanted. Seven years later, we’re still at it, trying to do better and better.

Conclusion

To recap, the price of the Outbreaker Backpack will increase on August 16, 2017.

  • The Outbreaker Backpack 45L will increase from $249 to $299.
  • The Outbreaker Backpack 35L will increase from $224 to $269.

Thank you for your support,

Fred and the Tortuga Team