With this backpack review, I’ll be going a bit outside my usual focus on larger carry-on travel backpacks to take a look at this relatively smaller 27-liter pack.
If you’re still unfamiliar with the manufacturer Tortuga, they essentially have two main product lines. Their Setout packs are mid-budget and suitable for general travel, while their Outbreaker line is more targeted at pro-level travelers.
Now, the Outbreaker has a brand new addition in the form of the Outbreaker Laptop Backpack.
- Crazy amount of internal organization
- Premium materials (incl. sailcloth and protective inner lining)
- Notably padded & comfy shoulder straps
Who is this pack for?
This is a laptop- and air travel-focused backpack with pro-level features.
While it’s big enough to use on its own for a short trip (at least, if you’re a minimalistic packer), its size makes it more likely to be used in conjunction with rolled luggage or a duffel. A passthrough at the back will let you stack this on top of rolled luggage easily, while the 27-liter size makes it easy to store either in overhead bins or under the seat in front of you.
Even though the Tortuga Laptop Backpack is designed for air travel, I can see other great use cases for it, too.
In my own testing, I used it primarily as a commuting and office backpack, as I worked from various co-working offices around the city. Of course, it’s perfect for storing a laptop, laptop stand, electronics accessories, notebooks, and other work items.
Thanks to its premium weather-proof materials, I can also see the Outbreaker Laptop Backpack used as a large tech-focused daypack for digital nomads, content creators, or on an adventure trip — for example to store a laptop, drone, and so on.
The Outbreaker Laptop Backpack has more internal organization than you can shake a stick at.
And I know this because shaking sticks at internal organization is all I do.
Err, in a manner of speaking?
Anyway, the first thing I like about this pack is the materials used. The nicest surprise happens when you touch the interior of the laptop or tablet pouch, which is layered with a fluffy soft fabric. Not only is it really nice to touch a fabric that feels like a plush toy triple-washed in fabric softener, but it also lets you rest assured that your electronics will be protected from any scratches.
The laptop sleeve fits my 15″ Dell XPS easily, with some room to spare. It should fit pretty much any 15″ laptop (perhaps with the exception of a few humongous gaming laptops).
The main compartment is spacious, with two zipped mesh pouches for storing smaller items. This space is large enough to store 2 to 3 days worth of clothes, or more if you’re a minimalist.
This main area opens from the sides much like a suitcase, so you can lay the backpack horizontally on a table or hotel bed and get everything you need right away.
I’ve counted over a dozen different pouches and sleeves to put your stuff, not even counting the small pouches for things like pens or USB sticks or the elastic smartphone pouch.
On the outside, you have a water bottle pouch with a side-zip. This lets you expand it if needed, but keep it nicely tucked in when not in use.
I’ve found this backpack amazingly comfortable to wear. I’m particularly impressed with the two shoulder straps.
The foam that’s used inside the straps is fantastic. The straps are softer and feel much more voluminous than most other packs. In fact, I went back to the latest five backpacks I reviewed lately to compare and these straps are definitely on another level, even beating Peak Design’s travel backpack for comfort.
The softness of the straps I can appreciate especially at the top of the shoulders, where normally strains are first to show up. But these straps, along with the nicely padded back panel, make the Outbreaker Laptop Backpack very comfy to wear.
One thing to note is the outer material, which is VX21 waterproof sailcloth. It makes a bit of a crinkly noise when touched, though it makes this pack highly durable and weather-resistant, along with the weather-sealed YKK zippers.
This may be subjective, but it did seem like stains were a bit more noticeable on the sailcloth material. Luckily, they don’t really go into the fabric, so a quick wipe is all that’s needed. Over time, the diamond mesh pattern inside the material does appear to become a bit more ingrained.
I tested this pack for several weeks while living in sun-dappled southern Spain without a drop of rain, so I did not use it in any bad weather, though while using the larger Outbreaker Travel Backpack last year I experienced no issues.
Note that although it has an adjustable sternum strap, it lacks a hip belt. But given this pack’s intended use, a hip belt isn’t all that necessary.
This is a fantastic backpack with all the pro features you’d want, while still being wonderfully comfortable to wear. Although the Tortuga Laptop Backpack comes with a certain price tag, if you’re in the market for a serious travel backpack then I can highly recommend it.
At 27 liters, this is very much a backpack to use for shorter trips, or in combination with other luggage. It also can serve very well as a (larger) daily carry. Alternatively, if you’re looking for a pack that can be a daily carry and a maximum carry-on backpack to use on its own, I recommend also taking a look at the Tortuga Setout Divide (which can expand from 26L to 34L).
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