Before starting Tortuga Setout review, I must confess. Until now I have never owned a carry on suitcase. I could have borrowed one, if needed, but actually even when going on one-week long trips I usually just squeeze all of my stuff in a small skater – snowboard style backpack. Which is cool, but sometimes can be way too tight.
So, when I was offered to test this Tortuga Setout hybrid backpack, I immediately understood, that this piece of travel gear is going to spoil me. And I will gladly allow myself this little luxury.
So lets start this Tortuga backpack review!
Tortuga Setout Review: The Hybrid
I’m using the word hybrid here, because the Tortuga Setout is not a simple carry on backpack. What makes this bag different from hundreds of others, is its unique design. It can be worn as a backpack, but has a form of and opens like a suitcase. That means, when packing this bag for the trip, you have the opportunity to store your belongings neat and nicely, having a complete overview of how and where you are putting each one of the items: like in a suitcase.
It’s a really nice feature and it’s pretty trendy now. So I’m sure that you are going to see it more and more in near future.
One tip: roll your clothes to save space like a pro!
And think of getting yourself some quality packing cubes, like Zero Grid!
However, this hybrid type suitcase – backpack doesn’t have the wheels. It has a side handle, so you can carry it either on your shoulders or in one hand.
If you need a backpack with wheels, check out this our article!See the technical details of Tortuga Setout! See the ultralight Tortuga Homebase!
As my test trip was just a long walk around my own hometown, I packed the bag hypothetically for approximately a 6-days long trip. Needless to say, the bag is way more capacious that I have ever used for a trip this short.
Besides the main compartment, which opens like a suitcase and has 2 transparent zipper side pockets for underwear and toiletries, the Tortuga Setout has another compartment in the back of the bag with a sleeve for your laptop, and another one in the front of the bag for documents, keys and books. Both of these additional compartments in the front and on the back open from the top, so you don’t have to put down the backpack in order to get to your essentials.
Oh, yeah, and there is a stretchable side pocket for a water bottle on one side of the bag.
My personal favorite, though, is the key holder in the front compartment.
As an additional feature this bag has a removable hip belt with 2 spacious side pockets for some smaller items like a mobile phone and chewing gum.
Tortuga Setout Is a Maximum-Sized Carry On Bag
The Tortuga Setout backpack is designed to be used as a carry on bag.
Different airlines have different hand luggage dimension and weight allowances. However, on average it’s something like this – 21.7” x 16” x 8 ” (55 x 40 x 20 cm), and 17 to 22 lbs (8 to 10 kg). Therefore Tortuga Setout with its size of 22” x 13.8” x 9” (56 x 35 x 23 cm) barely, but meets the allowances of most of the airlines globally.
It’s important to note here, that the hip belt is removable and the bag is soft, therefore “squeezable”.
The bag itself weights only 3.3 lbs or 1.4 kilos, but its capacity is way over 22 lbs (10 kilos), so watch out, if you are going to use airlines, who are very strict regarding the weight of the hand luggage. Better use the luggage scales and remember – even if the trip is planned to be short, you will still have to carry the bag on your back. Don’t overpack!
Features and Comfort
One of the first things to notice about the Tortuga Setout backpack is its shoulder straps. The duraflex buckle shoulder strap material is light and comfortable and the injection molded foam back supporting system is surprisingly solid and well functioning for a suitcase to be worn on the back.
So don’t worry, even if you happen to be in the situation, where you have to walk around the city, looking for the right hotel of cafeteria a bit longer, you will be OK. I walked around the town with approximately 17 lbs (8 kilos) of weight on my back for more than an hour, and it was just fine.
The shoulder straps are not removable, but you can detach the bottom part of the straps, and hide the straps in another extra secret compartment on the back of the bag. This is quite useful, if you happen to wear an accurate dress or suit and can not allow to damage your outfit and looks with a backpack on the back. This way you can make it look just like a regular suitcase. Smooth and neat. Loving it!
Design and Material
Last but not least. As if all the goodies of this smart bag weren’t enough. It is also weather-resistant.
This super stylish city grey tone Tortuga Setout backpack is made of 900D heathered polyester, which promises to keep your belongings dry through some rain and snow. When I was out in the city, it was sunny and very cold. But I am sure, this bag would do its best also in less pleasant weather conditions.
Tortuga Setout Backpack Review: Cons
- I would have more peace of mind with a bit smaller bag, because this model barely meets the carry on luggage size allowances. Which means that with some airlines it can be tricky.
- The heavy-ish rectangle form of the backpack might not be everyone’s cup of tea. At the same time the bag is visually inconspicuous, which is a great advantage if you are going on a business trip in the city.
- On a shorter person it looks awkward.
Is this bag suitable for everyone? Definitely not. But it’s gonna be the perfect backpack for the right person and the right length and style of the trip.
Perfect travel buddies for this backpack:
- Forever city geeks and people on regular business trips;
- People who admire style and functionality and are rather city dwellers than adventurers;
- Travelers who love things to be well organized;
- Travelers who prefer airplane over bus or train;
- Travelers who love bicycle rides through the city;
- Everyone who prefers backpack over a suitcase but still wants to look classy.
- 5 to 10 day long trips to any city;
- Trips to the cities with fairly wet and and sometimes unpredictable weather conditions, like Northern European capitals (who wants to roll the suitcase on a muddy snowy road?);
- Trips to places, which are famous with their particularly rough roads and pavements (cobblestone paved streets of Paris and Riga, the steep ups and downs with countless stairs in Lisbon etc.);
- Cities, which are gonna put you on the bike even against your own wish (Amsterdam, Berlin, Malmö etc).
Or if you are after something smaller in size, but still top-quality, check out the ultralight Tortuga Homebase!
Since I’m planning a lot of business trips this summer season, this bag obviously is going to be my best buddy for a while.
So if you are going to have some more questions about this backpack, do not hesitate to contact us (or me directly)!
Disclosure: Although the Tortuga Setout was sponsored by Tortuga, my opinions shared are my own.
Author: Gundega Liepina
Gundega is a passionate traveler and adventure seeker, who likes to learn more about different lifestyles. In the last decade up until 2017 she has lived in 8 and traveled to more than 40 countries. She is also a self-taught circus performer, hula hoop dancer and fire performer. If you want to get in touch with Gundega or maybe you want her to perform at your event or party – contact her on Facebook – Gundega Liepina.