Tortuga Travel Backpack vs. Outbreaker Backpack
Six years after the launch of the Outbreaker Backpack (codename: V3), we are ready to launch the Tortuga
In this article, we’ll cover why now was the right time to update the
At Tortuga, our goal is to make evergreen products that last for years and never become obsolete or go out of style.
But being evergreen doesn’t mean getting complacent. When we innovate with new fabrics and features in the travel market, they slowly filter down to other companies. As other brands copy those innovations, we have to keep pushing forward.
That means we’re always looking for new opportunities to improve our products.
Sometimes that opportunity is a small tweak that we can make between production runs and doesn’t require a major update or announcement. But when we have a lot of changes on our to-do list, and we see an opportunity to take a true leap forward, we know it’s time for a version update.
Each new version update has taken more time to design and develop. The V2 took two years, V3 took three years, and V4 took six years. Finding a good enough reason for a version update is becoming harder and harder with each new iteration. But we keep looking. If we aren’t getting better, we’re falling behind. If we’re falling behind, we’re failing you.
Thanks to your feedback and reviews, we had a shortlist of needed improvements to the Outbreaker Backpack:
- Improve access to the lower front pocket so that it’s easier to use when the bag is full
- Soften the corners of the bag so that the shape is “softer” and the zippers slide more easily
These were easy, medium-sized updates. But what would be the big leap forward to justify the next version?
Right before the pandemic, we found it. A new material with the same waterproofness as our previous body fabric, X-Pac® VX21, but more durable, lighter weight, and 100% recycled. We call it SHELL200.
With a new and improved fabric, a list of changes based on your feedback, and six more years of design experience, we were ready to tackle the
What’s Not Changing
First up were the non-negotiables. We had improvements to make but also standards to uphold.
Those are the most important features in a travel backpack as we’ve defined the product since creating the category in 2010.
With the constraints of the project in place, we outlined five larger goals for the
- Update the size
- Improve the silhouette
- Reduce weight and complexity
- Switch to recycled fabric
- Make the suspension system easier to adjust
Update the Size
You might be surprised to hear that we’re updating the size of the travel backpacks. Previously, the sizes were:
- 45L (22 x 14 x 9 in): The maximum-sized
carry onfor most US airlines and fare types.
- 35L (20 x 13 x 8 in): A smaller
carry onthat fit both US and international carry onlimits.
After surveying and testing, we learned that our customers strongly prefer maximum-sized international carry ons that can be brought on any airline worldwide. That’s 40L, not 45L or 35L.
With 40L set for the larger size, we updated the smaller size from 35L to 30L, a perfect size for short trips like a long weekend and a better fit for petite frames and minimalist packers. The 27-32L range has been popular for past products like the Tortuga Air and Setout Divide Backpack.
Improve the Silhouette
The main aesthetic feedback on the Outbreaker was that it was too boxy.
Airlines define their
While a perfect rectangle may maximize packing volume, most people don’t want a bag that’s all straight lines and right angles. The shape isn’t as attractive, especially at the size of a large
Bags may be functional, but you also wear them. People care about how they look. Even people who want to maximize packing space will trade a bit of volume for softer corners and a less boxy shape.
Reduce Weight and Complexity
The other complaint about the Outbreaker was that it was too heavy. The 45L weighed 5.1 lb, and the 35L weighed 4.6 lb. Both were heavy relative to the 22 lb weight limit imposed by some airlines.
The Outbreaker was heavy because it was a big, complex bag. The pockets and organization added weight because of how heavy the zippers are. The advanced suspension system added weight for the adjustability features and extra padding.
We did this on purpose but knew that the weight would be a deal-breaker for some travelers. This is because the Outbreaker Backpack was meant to be the fully-featured, top-of-the-line bag in our product lines.
We intended another bag, the Homebase Backpack, to be the simpler and lighter
As part of the effort to reduce weight, the
We only made these changes when we felt we could make the bag lighter and simpler without impacting overall performance.
Switch to Recycled Fabric
As already mentioned, we were excited to be able to switch our flagship product line to use a recycled body material. Previously, our other lines used recycled body fabrics, but the Outbreaker only used a recycled lining fabric.
We wrote a post on the new fabric and changes from the previous VX21 fabric. The short version is that we’ve switched from virgin nylon to recycled polyester as the basis for our sailcloth fabric. The new version, SHELL200, is more durable, lighter weight, and (still) completely waterproof.
As a bonus, the new fabric is 100% recycled and contains no fluorocarbons or VOCs (volatile organic compounds).
Improve Suspension System
You didn’t request the final upgrade. But we saw an opportunity to improve one of the most important features and had to take it.
We want everyone to be able to travel comfortably with a Tortuga. But sizing can be challenging. As a small, bootstrapped business, we can’t support infinite sizes and fits across every product.
But every bag with a hip belt must fit well, or it will be uncomfortable. Some brands don’t include hip belts with their backpacks or make them optional to get around this issue. That’s a cop out, not a solution.
When we launched the Outbreaker, we created the first height-adjustable
The Outbreaker used a webbing “ladder” which took longer to adjust and was less flexible in sizing. You had to choose one of the rungs of the ladder to use. With the velcro piece, you can dial in your fit as specifically as you’d like.
You can also loan your bag to a friend or family member who can quickly adjust the straps to their height while they use it.
Travel Backpack vs. Outbreaker Backpack
You already know that the new Travel Backpacks have a softer shape, are simpler, and have an easier-to-use suspension system.
You’ve also read that they are a more internationally-friendly size, lighter, and use a better (and recycled) fabric. Below is a comparison of the specs of both bags so that you can see the objective improvements.
|Outbreaker Backpack 45L||Travel Backpack 40L||Outbreaker Backpack 35L||Travel Backpack 30L|
|Dimensions (in)||22 x 14 x 9 in||21.7 x 13.8 x 7.9 in||20 x 13 x 8 in||20.5 x 12.2 x 7.5 in|
|Dimensions (cm)||56 x 36 x 23 cm||55 x 35 x 20 cm||51 x 33 x 21 cm||52 x 31 x 19 cm|
|Weight (lb)||5.1 lb||4.5 lb||4.5 lb||4.0 lb|
|Weight (kg)||2.3 kg||2.0 kg||2.0 kg||1.8 kg|
|Fabric||X-Pac® VX21||SHELL200||X-Pac® VX21||SHELL200|
Each size of the bag is more than 10% lighter.
We hope that you’re excited about the improvements to the
Thank you again for joining us on this journey.
The new Tortuga Travel Backpack will launch on January 17, 2023.
Tortuga Travel Backpack $349
40L: Max International Carry OnShop Now