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Brooke Hurford

Workfrom Product Review: Tortuga Backpack

Photo by Rebecca Georgia | @rebecca.georgia on Instagram

I’ll start by saying that I’m not an expert on backpacks. And while I recently began my journey as an international digital nomad, I still wouldn’t consider myself to be an avid backpacker.

That said, I am someone who knew I would need a reliable, well-designed backpack for my travels. Maybe it was serendipity that I heard about Tortuga through Angela, one of the company’s employees who is a part of our Slack channel at Workfrom. At the time, I was just starting to plan and prepare for my nomadic adventures. So when I began looking for backpacks to take along on my trip, I thought of her, and went to their website. I still wasn’t sure how to decide if it was for me, so I reached out to see if there was a brick-and-mortar shop in Portland, Oregon, where I could try one out. Angela said no, there wasn’t, because they were coming out with a new backpack; however, would I be interested in trying one out when it was ready? (Yes!)

A Brand I Can Get Behind

During that time, the company came out with their “On Your Terms” campaign. It represented an overhaul of their brand, which was totally focused on designing your life–and people living and working on their terms. As I work for a company that is behind the future of work movement, I was totally in love with the messaging direction that Tortuga had taken. Shortly after the campaign launched, they sent us a backpack for me to try out.

Tortuga is trying to solve an interesting problem in that many people who are traveling and working don’t have many options to accommodate them. Instead, they use hiking backpacks. These are not made for frequent fliers or for those on urban commutes with laptops in tow. Tortuga aims to make a backpack for people like me: those who don’t want to check a bag when flying so often but can easily take their computer and other small items needed for travel and for work.

Traveling Non-Negotiables

Before receiving the backpack, I had a few things on my end that were totally necessary. It should be the only bag I would need to take with me, and it also needed to have a safe place for my laptop. I liked that it had a lot of little pockets because I tend to carry a lot of random little things with me (essential oils, fold up flask, etc.) And my hope was that it would keep me more organized. The last time I traveled, my hiking backpack was basically a black hole that I just put my hand into, hoping I’d find whatever I needed. I would NEVER have been able to use that on this trip.

The Skinny on My Tortuga Backpack

My absolute favorite part is where I put my laptop. The whole area zips open making it a breeze when I need to take it out and use it or go through airport security. The space for my computer is as soft and cushioned as a fleece coat, so I never have to worry about whether it’s safe.

When I finally started packing, I realized that something I gave up for the other compartments was definitely room for my clothes. They have some smaller pockets on the inside of the main area but I didn’t actually use these because I felt that they took up too much space that could otherwise be occupied by my wardrobe. When I first packed, I thought this would wind up being a complaint about the product, but after traveling for a month I realize (as everyone likely does) that I simply packed too many clothes. I’ve realized that I really do value the extra spaces designed for packing these things, so giving up some room for it is perfectly OK with me now.

Anyhow, Turtles are Awesome

In terms of appearances, I did notice that the backpack looks a bit gigantic on my back. Some friends started joking that I looked like an actual turtle. (Haha, whatever.) I’m fine with it because although it may look a little big, it doesn’t feel big or heavy when I’m walking. The amount of pads for my backpack make it quite comfortable and it feels very stable and well-supported on my back.

Because it has my whole life in it, the weight does cause me a little embarrassed on the plane when I go to pick it up over my head to put in the overhead bins, but I think that’s more about my weak biceps than the backpack. 🙂  And hey! It fits in the overhead bins–saving me hundreds of dollars in the long run.

And those little compartments? They definitely make me more organized. I’ve got to be careful about stuffing it too full, though, because if I do my water bottle will not fit in the side holders. As for the front compartment, I don’t use it too much; it’s a spot for my Kindle and the Moscow Mule cocktail kit (a must have, clearly) that a friend gave me.

Recommendations for Fellow Travelers & Nomads

The Tortuga backpack is great if you’re flying a lot, need to carry around a computer with electronics, or if you’re living out of a backpack for long periods of time. It almost has this feeling of mobile drawers or closet space that allow you to mentally organize your things.

I definitely think this backpack will benefit a person like me: someone who is traveling to live. Someone who wants to be able to get around with just a backpack for a long period of time and not feel like their stuff is just thrown haphazardly in a bag. If this sounds like you I’d definitely recommend Tortuga. Your back (and your peace of mind) will thank you! 🙂


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