Tortuga Air Carry On Backpack

A backpacking backpack designed by backpackers.

Tired of my wheeled carry on that's on it's last legs and looking for something more portable to use for weekend trips or hauls where I get away with less clothing items, I decided to get the Tortuga Air.

The regular Tortuga website's recommendations suggested I might be too short for their regular Tortuga backpack, which holds about 20% more stuff and comes with a few more bells and whistles.

So what does the Tortuga Air feature?

A laptop compartment on the backside, a clam-shell open compartment for clothes/shoes with one side being zip-closure netting to help separate dirty from clean (though I used it for my shoes), some side pockets, a mid-size front pocket with more compartments and a hook to clip on keys, water bottles, whatever, and a small top pocket.

The keyword here is: pockets. They got them.

The straps were designed with comfort in mind, and feature some extra padding to help minimize stress if the backpack is too heavy. A strap across  the chest also helps to distribute this stress. While this definitely helped, I did notice that it also at times made it easy for my back to get warm quickly. Particularly noticeable at airports, where the climate is never manageable.

The cool thing I appreciate about Tortuga is they make the effort to give you as much detail about their product range so you can make the right bag choice, and they also have short videos on recommended ways to pack.

How did it do on my weekend to Portland?

Well, you can supposedly get away with a weekend to up a week's worth of clothes in this, but I think when they say that, they aren't accounted for plus-size. Because  (TMI) my bras are bigger in the cup and I wear plus-size, it did mean I would have to pack very consciously and take up all the space. I could probably fit two pairs of shoes, 3-4 bras, two pants, 1-2 skirts, and few underwear and tops in there. Jackets might be pushing it. But, I haven't tried seeing yet how packed I can stuff it and it does expand to an extra two inches of space around when you unzip part of the front. It worked for a weekend, but were I to use it as my luggage for a week, I'd have to be more economical in my clothing options.

That being said, clothes aside I was able to fit a water bottle, glasses, 3 books, and the like in it and still have a lot of pocket room for phone cords, pens, etc. Tortuga definitely did a good job thinking of all the things you'd want to fit in a carry-on backpack and with travel in mind when you don't have time to faff around looking for passports or your wallet on the go.

I think ultimately despite it requiring some real trial and error on my part due to the cut of my clothing, it's quite a good bag at a good price point and as airlines debate on cutting carry-on size down and budget Euro airlines have smaller size restrictions, this one should squeak by just fine.