Tortuga Setout Backpack Review: Everything You Need to Know

This page contains affiliate links. Please read our disclosure for more info.

Update 2021: Tortuga is no longer selling the Setout Backpack and is focusing on the Outbreaker collection instead. See our Tortuga Outbreaker Backpack review for more details.

Tortuga makes the best carry-on travel backpacks. Simon travelled full-time with a Tortuga backpack for five years and with each new release, their backpacks got better and better.

The Tortuga Setout isn’t a new version of the Tortuga Outbreaker (Simon’s previous backpack)—it stands along side it as a lighter, more affordable, but less full-featured bag.

In this detailed Tortuga Setout review we share the pros and cons of the backpack and compare it to the Outbreaker so you can decide which is right for you.

The review is based on Simon’s experience of travelling with the Setout for two years as well as the seven months I also used the Setout—you can read a woman’s perspective of the backpack below Simon’s review.

I had the men’s version of the Setout, but there is now a women’s Setout and you’ll find the details below.


Tortuga Setout Review

One of the reasons we love Tortuga so much is that the founders Fred and Jeremy really understand the needs of travellers.

They created the original Tortuga backpack after a backpacking trip to Europe when they discovered that traditional hiking backpacks are inconvenient for travel—they stand out too much, it’s hard to access your stuff, and there’s no storage for electronics.

Since then they’ve been striving to create the perfect travel backpack for urban travellers and each backpack gets better and better.

The Tortuga Setout Travel Backpack is our favourite so far.

Simon travelled with the largest 45 litre version of the Setout (the maximum carry on size allowed on most planes).

In 2019 Tortuga added a women’s 45 litre backpack as well as 35 litre versions (in men’s and women’s fits) and new colours for both sizes (and the new ones are made from recycled plastic bottles). 

Back to Contents

Tortuga Setout 45 L Backpack Details

Tortuga Setout backpack review - a fantastic carry on backpack for digital nomads and long term travellers

Dimensions (inches): 22 x 14 x 9 inches
Dimensions (cm): 56 x 36 x 23 cm
Volume: 45 litres
Weight: 1.77 kg (3.9 lbs)
Colours: Heather Grey and Black 
Price: Usually US $199 (and free US shipping) – currently on sale for $139
Buy from: Tortuga website

Back to Contents

Setout Backpack Pros

Carry-on sized

As with all Tortuga backpacks, the Tortuga Setout is carry-on-sized, so you can take it on the plane and save time and money. It’s the maximum carry-on size allowed on most airlines and it holds a surprising amount of stuff.

Simon isn’t exactly an ultralight traveller—his current electronics collection includes a 15-inch laptop, 13-inch tablet, and Nintendo Switch games console—but he has plenty of space for all his stuff.


Our biggest issue with the Tortuga Outbreaker was how heavy it was. The Setout is the lightest maximum carry-on-size Tortuga backpack at just 3.9 lbs. 


The Setout is the best looking Tortuga backpack yet. Simon has the Heather Grey version and the soft, matte grey fabric and rounded corners feel more stylish than the previous blocky Tortugas. It’s a simple, understated design that looks fantastic and won’t stand out in cities.

The Setout is also available in black. 

The Tortuga Setout backpack review

Padded hip belt

Most carry-on-sized travel backpacks don’t include a padded hip belt, but we think it’s essential to transfer the bag’s weight from your shoulders to your hips and avoid back pain. This is especially important if you travel with heavy electronics as we do.

The Setout has a robust padded hip belt that takes the load off and makes it comfortable to carry, even when Simon’s backpack weighs 11 kg (24 lbs).

If you don’t want to use the hip belt you can unclip it.

Padded shoulder straps and hip belt on the Setout backpack
Padded shoulder straps and hip belt on the Setout

Front-loading like a suitcase

Like all Tortuga backpacks, the Setout is front-loading which means it opens along the entire front (along three sides) like a suitcase.

This is much better than hiking backpacks which open from the top as it’s easier to access your stuff and keep things organised.

The main compartment of the Setout opens like a suitcase
The main compartment of the Setout opens like a suitcase


Even after two years of travelling full-time with the Setout, it still looked great, and I expect it to last a long time. 

The backpack is water-resistant but not fully waterproof. All Tortuga travel backpacks are made with Duraflex buckles and YKK zippers—widely regarded as the best in the business. Tortuga does not skimp on materials.

Electronics storage

The tablet sleeve on the Setout backpack by Tortuga
Simon’s iPad Pro in the tablet sleeve. As it’s 12.9 inches it does pop out so he stores it in an additional neoprene sleeve.

The Setout is ideal for digital nomads as there are dedicated sleeves for a laptop (up to 17-inch), tablet (supposedly up to 9.7-inch but larger ones work), and e-reader.

The padded laptop sleeve is in a separate compartment at the back of the bag, close to your body for the best weight distribution. Simon packed his 15-inch MacBook Pro in a neoprene case first for extra protection, but there’s enough padding to skip the case.

In front of the laptop sleeve is space for a tablet. This area isn’t padded so a case is a good idea. It’s only supposed to hold tablets up to 9.7-inch, but Simon’s 12.9-inch iPad Pro (one of the biggest on the market) fit in just fine, although the top pops out (not a problem if it’s in a case).

The e-reader compartment is a lightly padded sleeve at the front of the bag for easy access.


There are enough pockets to organise your stuff, but not too many.

There are three sections in the Setout, each accessed by a different zip at the top of the bag.

Front section

Lots of storage pockets in the easily accessible front compartment on the Tortuga setout backpack
Lots of storage pockets in the easily accessible front compartment

The front section unzips about a third of the way down and is designed for easy access to small items in transit. There’s a zippered pocket and an organiser panel for items like pens, phone and notebook. Behind that there’s a lightly padded sleeve for an e-reader and above there’s a clip for keys.

Larger items can fit in the bottom and take up the whole compartment if needed—perhaps snacks or an extra layer for travel days.

Main section

Simon's packing cubes in the main compartment of the Setout backpack
Simon’s packing cubes in the main compartment

The middle main section is the largest and unzips on three sides, so it’s really easy to pack.

It’s ideal if you use packing cubes to keep your clothes organised (and save space). Simon uses an Eagle Creek compression cube for his clothes.

There are two zippered mesh compartments on the opposite side which are useful for small items or dirty laundry.

Electronics compartment

Laptop sleeve of the Setout backpack by Tortuga
Simon’s 15-inch laptop does fit completely inside the sleeve.

The electronics compartment is at the back and unzips about a third of the way down. It’s easy to reach in and grab your laptop or tablet, which have separate sleeves (described above).

Simon didn’t use this section for anything else, but you could fit flattish things in front of the laptop sleeve.

External pockets

The Tortuga Setout backpack has a lie-flat water bottle holder on one side.
The Setout has a lie-flat water bottle holder on one side.

The external storage consists of:

  • One small zippered pocket on the front of the backpack.
  • A lie-flat water bottle holder on one side. Unlike on most backpacks, this is more than large enough to hold our one-litre Vapur water bottle and has come in really useful.
  • Two small zippered pockets in the hip belt that are designed to stash coins, phone and keys when going through airport security. 

Injection-moulded shoulder straps

The Setout’s shoulder straps are injection-moulded which means they conform to your body and get more comfortable over time. They did feel a bit stiff when Simon first wore the backpack, but it didn’t take long for them to become comfortable. 

The latest version of the Setout has load lifters which help you bring the shoulder straps closer to your body. 

Lockable zippers

We lock our backpacks with a small combination lock to prevent opportunistic theft. All three compartments of the Setout are lockable.

You do need two locks to secure the backpack fully. The two front compartments are close enough together to share a lock (or Simon kept the front compartment unlocked for easy access) and you’ll need a second lock for the electronics compartment at the back. Or you could choose just to lock your electronics compartment.

Hideaway straps

You can unclip the shoulder straps and tuck them away into the back panel. Simon never used this feature, but it could be useful if you want it to carry it like a suitcase with the side handle or check your bag.

The Tortuga Setout backpack has a side carry handle unlike the Outbreaker
The Setout has a side carry handle unlike the Outbreaker

Good value

At $199 the Tortuga Setout isn’t cheap, but it’s good value for the quality and will last you many years. It’s $100 cheaper than the Tortuga Outbreaker and other similar backpacks like the Minaal Carry-On 2.0.

Multiple Sizes Available

The 45L Setout may be able to fit on a plane, but it’s a big bag. Simon likes to pack as much as possible as a full-time traveller, but for some people it’s overkill, especially if you are on a short trip, travelling only to warm climates, or don’t need to travel with as many electronics as we do. 

So we’re really pleased that there’s now a 35-litre Tortuga Setout. The bag is exactly the same, just a little smaller and lighter (full details below). The 35L also comes in a women’s fit.

Another even smaller option is the Setout Divide, which is expandable from 26 litres to 34 litres. This is ideal for short trips or minimalist packers. 

Free shipping

Tortuga offers free US shipping and if the backpack doesn’t work out for you after a test pack, return it unused within 30 days for a full refund. They also pay for the return shipping on US orders.

Back to Contents

Setout Backpack Cons

45L too big for some people

The Setout 45L is a maximum size carry on bag and may be too large for some people. Simon doesn’t have an issue but as a smaller woman, it does feel bulky to me (see my thoughts below). 

This is no longer a problem as there is now a 35-litre Tortuga Setout in both men’s and women’s fits. 

No height adjustable suspension system 

Unlike the Outbreaker, the Setout doesn’t have a height adjustable suspension system (rare for travel backpacks anyway). This isn’t a problem for Simon, but if you have a short or long torso, the Outbreaker might fit better.

Larger than some airlines allow

The 45L Setout is within most airlines’ allowed carry-on size, but it’s a few centimetres over the size allowed by some strict carriers such as Ryanair, which has a 55cm x 40cm x 20cm limit (and only if you pay for priority).

We have travelled on Ryanair multiple times with the Outbreaker, though, which is the same size as the Setout and had no problems taking it on the plane.

We don’t find airlines to be that strict about size and weight if you are travelling with a backpack as it’s less visible than a rolling suitcase.

If you are worried about this or just want a smaller backpack, check out the 35-litre Setout or Setout Divide

No shipping outside the US (for now)

The backpacks are only available from the Tortuga website, and as of 2019, they no longer ship internationally. 

Tortuga is working on a better solution for shipping abroad with lower postage and customs fees. We’ll keep you updated. In the meantime you could use a freight forwarder

Less full-featured than the Outbreaker

The Setout has fewer features and less organisation than the Outbreaker. See our comparison below.

Back to Contents

Tortuga Setout Summary

The Tortuga Setout is the best carry-on backpack on the market. It’s spacious, stylish, durable but light, and very well-designed with just enough support and organisation. It’s ideal for anyone looking to maximise the amount they can travel with carry-on only. 

Click here to buy the Setout Backpack on the Tortuga website.

Back to Contents

Tortuga Setout For Women

Tortuga Setout 45L backpack worn by a woman

In 2019 I decided to give the Tortuga Setout 45 a try for myself. I used to think it was too big for me as a 5’4″ woman, and I was happy with my Osprey Farpoint 40, but after nine years of living out of one bag, I was ready for more space.

We’d been travelling to an inconvenient mix of hot and cold countries, and I had lots of extra clothes that were a tight squeeze in a smaller bag.

So seven months, five countries, and dozens of trains and planes later, what did I think?

These are my thoughts on travelling with the men’s version of the Setout 45L. I don’t recommend this as there is now a women’s version of the Setout, which I haven’t tried yet (details below).  

Back to Contents


Packing is so much easier with the Tortuga Setout! The main compartment is huge and the way it unzips on three sides makes it super easy to access every corner. Even with my overload of clothes (including a thick Christmas jumper) and five pairs of shoes (including fleece-lined winter boots!) I could fit everything in easily.

Even when the Setout seemed full, I would turn it upright and a magical new pocket of space was created at the top (enough to fit three vegan pot noodles at a Japanese train station!).

I love all the pockets too. The mesh compartments in the main section are great for dirty laundry. The small front pocket is useful for quick access items (tissue, pen, eye mask and ear plugs), and the front compartment has various padded pockets for my Kindle, phone, and Apple Watch.

I also think the design is more stylish than the Osprey Farpoint and I’m a big fan of the Heather Grey colour.

Back to Contents


Erin wearing Tortuga Setout backpack in Kyoto, Japan

The problem with a large bag is that you fill it. I wanted the extra space but fully packed it does feel too big and heavy for me. It’s so bulky that I find it difficult to lift up and swing over my shoulder easily.

Once it’s on my back it’s not so much of a problem, and the hip belt does take some of the weight off, although I find the hip belt a little too large and difficult to quickly tighten.

If I had the 35 litre women’s version, I think I’d be fine. It’s designed for women’s frames so it would fit more comfortably, and as it’s smaller it would be easier to wield. I’d have to pack less though, which for most women on most trips would be no problem (I did it for nine years).

The Tortuga Setout is a brilliant backpack, but at this stage of my nomadic life (travelling slowly with more stuff) I’ve decided to switch to a rolling suitcase (the Away Bigger Carry-On).

So far I am loving not having to carry my bag through airports, but I do miss the Tortuga’s excellent organisation, lighter weight, and the convenience of a backpack when climbing stairs. I’m also much less likely to get away with taking a suitcase as a carry-on on stricter airlines.

Back to Contents

Women’s Setout 35L and 45L

I am so pleased that Tortuga has released a new women’s version of the Setout backpack. I haven’t tried it myself, but it sounds like it solves the issues I had with the men’s Setout. 

It’s available in black in 35 litre and 45 litre versions. 

The women’s Setout has all the same features and look as the men’s backpack, but it’s designed to fit women’s bodies better. 

Here’s what’s different: 

  • The hip belt is smaller and tightens more to transfer the load from your shoulders
  • The shoulder straps are more cushioned
  • The shoulder straps fit narrower frames more comfortably
  • The chest strap is higher up—just below the collarbone so it doesn’t squish your boobs
  • It’s designed to fit torso lengths 15.5-18″ (the men’s fits 17-19″ torsos)
  • It’s 0.2 lbs heavier due to extra padding

Tortuga says it should work well for women of all sizes and in testing they’ve seen “women from 5’0 to 5’11 adjust the shoulder straps to a height that works perfectly, and women from size 0 to size 16 tighten the hip belt to a comfortable, weight-bearing level.” 

Here are the specifications for the 35 litre women’s Setout: 

Dimensions (cm): 54.6 x 34 x 19 cm
Dimensions (inches): 21.5 x 13.5 x 7.5 inches
Volume: 35 litres
Weight: 3.6 lbs (1.63 kg)
Colour: Black 
Price: US $179 (and free US shipping)

Back to Contents

Tortuga Setout 35L: Men’s 

The new smaller 35-litre Tortuga Setout is ideal if you don’t need as large a bag as the 45-litre or if you are travelling on airlines with stricter carry-on limits. 

The features and materials are the same as the 45-litre, but it’s smaller, lighter, and $20 cheaper. 

Here are the men’s Setout 35L details:

Dimensions (cm): 54.6 x 34 x 19 cm
Dimensions (inches): 21.5 x 13.5 x 7.5 inches
Volume: 35 litres
Weight: 3.4 lbs (1.54 kg)
Colour: Heather Grey, Black and Navy 
Price: US $179 (and free US shipping)

Back to Contents

Tortuga Setout Divide

The Setout Divide is an expandable carry-on backpack and is the smallest bag in the Tortuga Travel Backpack line. When unexpanded it can fit under a plane seat.

It’s ideal for short trips and light packers. The expandable design means you can adjust the bag to suit your current trip (or fit souvenirs in for the journey home). 

The two-compartment layout is different from the classic Setout and allows you to pack dirty and clean clothes separately. It fits a 15-inch laptop and 9.7-inch tablet and is made from the same material as the Heather Grey Setout. It can be paired with a rolling suitcase with a sleeve that passes through the handles. 

Note that the different design means it’s actually heavier than the Setout 35.

The divide is available in men’s and women’s fits. 

Dimensions (inches): 20 x 13 x 6 inches (expands to 8 inches)
Dimensions (cm): 51 x 33 x 15 cm (expands to 20cm)
Volume: 26 litres (expands to 34 litres)
Weight: 3.8 lbs (1.72 kg)
Colour: Heather Grey
Price: US $179 (and free US shipping)

Back to Contents

Tortuga Prelude

If you don’t need a laptop sleeve, you might consider the latest backpack in the Tortuga lineup—the Tortuga Prelude. This is their cheapest (at $149) and lightest (at 2.5lbs) travel backpack. 

The downsides are no laptop sleeve, less organisation, and less space (at 38.5 litres). It could work for you if you just want a basic bag for clothes and a tablet. 

Back to Contents

Tortuga Setout vs Outbreaker: A Detailed Comparison

Tortuga SetoutTortuga Outbreaker
35 or 45 litre35 or 45 litre
1.77 kg (3.9 lbs)2.3 kg (5.1 lbs)
Not height adjustableHeight adjustable
Hideaway strapsNo hideaway straps
Fits 17-19″ torsosFits 16-20″ torsos
Laptop up to 17-inchLaptop up to 17-inch

Simon travelled happily with the Tortuga Outbreaker for over a year to eight countries. He wasn’t in the market for a new backpack, but when the Setout was released he thought it was worth trying because the only real issue with the Outbreaker is how heavy it is (5.1 lbs/2.3 kg).

How does the Tortuga Outbreaker backpack compare to the Tortuga Setout?
The Tortuga Outbreaker
The Tortuga Setout vs Outbreaker -a detailed comparison
The Tortuga Setout

Here’s a comparison of the two backpacks so you can decide which one is right for you.

Compared to the Tortuga Outbreaker, the Setout Backpack is:

  • 1.2lbs (0.54kg) lighter
  • $100 cheaper
  • Made from a matte fabric that has a nicer feel (and comes in three colours)
  • Water resistant rather than waterproof
  • More stylish looking (in our opinion) with rounded corners rather than a rectangular shape
  • Not as rugged (and possibly less durable)
  • Less organised (although there are still plenty of pockets)
  • Less padded
  • Less adjustable to find the perfect fit

Another major difference for some people is that the Setout has hideaway shoulder straps and a side carry handle, which the Outbreaker doesn’t have.

The Setout also comes in a women’s fit which the Outbreaker doesn’t. 

Here’s a comparison of each of the Setout’s areas:

Front and sides

The front of the Outbreaker and Setout backpacks compared
The front of the Outbreaker (left) and Setout (right)
  • There’s only one pocket on the front rather than the two on the Outbreaker (Simon never used the second one).
  • There’s only one water bottle holder on one side rather than on both sides (again, never used both).
  • The other side now features a carry handle. For us this is more useful than a bottle holder, especially for getting the bag down from overhead storage or carrying it like a suitcase.

Front compartment

  • This compartment is now the full length of the backpack (as there’s no second front pocket) which means you can fit bigger items in it.
  • Most storage pockets are similar but there’s no mesh pocket on the Setout.
  • The e-reader compartment is not fleece lined.

Main compartment

A comparison of the main compartments of the Outbreaker vs Setout backpacks
The main compartments of the Outbreaker (left) and Setout (right)
  • As the fabric is lighter the sides are floppier. It still opens on three sides and is easy to pack.
  • There are no small compartments around the edge (the Outbreaker has four). This was the feature Simon missed the most as he used them to keep his AeroPress and coffee separate from the rest of his gear, but he switched to using a lightweight Eagle Creek Spectre packing cube for them instead. There are still two mesh pockets on the other side. 

Laptop compartment at back

  • The Setout laptop compartment doesn’t completely open up and lie flat. On the Outbreaker this was supposed to enable you not to remove your laptop at airport security, but we never got away with this.
  • It doesn’t have the Outbreaker’s three mesh pockets on the opposite side of the laptop sleeve (Simon never used them).
  • The laptop compartment isn’t fleece lined but is still padded. Simon kept his 15-inch MacBook Pro in an additional neoprene case for extra protection anyway.
  • The tablet compartment is supposedly smaller—Tortuga says it fits 9.7-inch tablets rather than 13-inch for the Outbreaker—but it seems similar to us. Simon’s 12.9-inch iPad Pro fit just fine—the top pops out of the sleeve, but it did on the Outbreaker too. As he uses a neoprene sleeve it’s not an issue.
  • The tablet compartment is not padded, so you may need an additional case.


The suspension systems of the Outbreaker and Setout backpacks compared
The back of the Outbreaker (left) and Setout (right)
  • You can unclip the shoulder straps and hide them away in the back panel (Simon never used this).
  • The shoulder straps are less padded but are made from injection-moulded foam which conforms to your body and gets more comfortable over time.
  • There’s less back padding, but this always seemed like overkill on the Outbreaker.
  • You can’t adjust the height of the shoulder straps. This isn’t an issue for Simon but could be if you have a particularly long or short torso. The Outbreaker fits torsos 16–20 inches whereas the Setout fits torsos 17–19 inches.

Back to Contents

Which Tortuga Backpack is Right For You?

Tortuga backpacks comparison: Setout, Outbreaker and Setout Divide
Three Tortuga backpacks

Which Tortuga backpack should you choose? The Setout meets the needs of most people and it’s lighter and cheaper than the Outbreaker. We think it’s the best Tortuga backpack yet.

If you need to pack away the shoulder straps or carry it by a side handle, the Setout is the right choice. 

The Outbreaker is still a fantastic backpack and is better for you if you have a very long or short torso, want lots of internal organisation, or will wear it in the rain frequently. Read our Tortuga Outbreaker review for more details.

If you are looking for a smaller bag, the Setout 35 litre is the best option, although if even that is too big, the Setout Divide is the smallest backpack and is expandable from 26 litres to 34 litres, so you can add more space if needed. 

For women, the Setout 35L is the only backpack that comes in a women’s fit designed specifically for women’s bodies and is likely to be more comfortable to carry than the other bags. There’s now also a 45L version but if you have a smaller frame, I’d recommend the 35L if you can pack light enough. 

If you still can’t decide, Tortuga offers free returns on unused products within 30 days (and covers the shipping), so you can compare them side-by-side at home.

Compare all the Tortuga travel backpacks on their website here.

Back to Contents

Setout Daypack and Packing Cubes

Tortuga offers accessories to go with the Setout backpack.

Setout Packable Daypack

Tortuga Setout packable daypack review - Simon wearing the Setout Daypack in Paris
Simon with the Setout daypack in Paris

The Setout Packable Daypack is the best packable daypack we’ve tried and have been travelling with it full-time for years.

The padded back and shoulders straps make it more comfortable than most packable daypacks, but it’s still light and folds into its own pouch. It easily fits inside the Setout Backpack on travel days and then can be taken out and used for sightseeing in your destination.

It features a simple black design, a zipped front pocket, two stretchy water bottle holders on the side, and a sternum strap (which most lightweight daypacks don’t have). The sternum strap is surprisingly useful as it stops the bag from slipping off your shoulders.

If you buy the Setout daypack at the same time as the Setout backpack, you’ll save money.

Setout Packing Cubes

Tortuga Setout packing cubes

We are obsessed with packing cubes. They help you fit more in your luggage and keep everything organised. We couldn’t travel without them.

We haven’t tried Tortuga’s packing cubes, but the Setout cubes are designed to fit perfectly inside the Setout backpack with a unique curved design. They come in a pack of one large and two small and are made from high quality materials.

The max-sized cubes fit the 45L Setout and the mid-size cubes fit the 35L. 

If you buy the Setout packing cubes at the same time as the Setout backpack, you’ll save money.

Do you need some packing tips?

See our carry on packing list for what Simon fits inside his Setout and for tips on packing light, my book, The Carry-On Traveller: The Ultimate Guide to Packing Light, will teach you everything you need to know.

If you enjoyed this post, pin it!

Tortuga is a fantastic brand for carry on travellers, but their newest backpack might just be their best yet!

Many thanks to Tortuga who provided us with a Setout backpack for review. We were under no obligation to write a positive review or keep travelling with it for so many years. As full-time travellers our luggage is extremely important and Simon would not still be travelling with the Setout if he didn’t think it was the best backpack.



  1. I hope the post is not too old and you’ll answer. I’m about to buy one but i can’t decide between 2 very similar model, and I like to have your opinion. Considering that I live in London and To be sure that I can use it on all low cost flight I’ll go max for 35L. I’ll probably have laptop and/or tablet with me(I’m a Man 1.82m height).

    The 2 backpacks are:
    Aer travel pack2 (33L)
    Tortuga setout (35L)
    Which one do you suggest?
    I like that the Aer has a couple of more pockets on the internal front, I’ll probably don’t use the shoes pocket but can be good for dirty clothes since is there.
    But the tortuga seems to fit more stuff inside.
    Big dilemma please help!

    Reply ↓

    • We’ve only tried the Setout but I would go for that. It’s currently on sale which makes it really good value and the Aer charges extra for a hip belt (which we find essential if you are carrying electronics).

      We find the Setout has plenty of pockets for organisation and it has some mesh pockets inside that are good for dirty laundry. The Setout 35L is also a bit lighter. Good luck with your decision!

      Reply ↓

  2. Hi Erin ! Not exactly related to this post but have you had the chance to test the new Tortuga Setout for women ? If so what do you think about it ? I have been waiting for the woman specific version for months and I’d love to have your input !

    Reply ↓

    • I haven’t had a chance to try it yet but I do recommend women get the women’s version as it sounds like it will fit better.

      Reply ↓

  3. Great review… I recently had to go with a wheeled carry-on after a rib and foot injury and knew my trusty Far point 40 would be too painful to
    navigate Northern Japan and all the plane and train travel… I did some research I went for the Osprey Ozone wheeled Global carry-on
    38L/ 19.5 …not cheap but you know Osprey makes quality products and this purchase is a definite winner…That and my medium size messenger bag all I used for 3 weeks of varying temperature travel (hot and cold clothes)… Still cant believe how lightweight and easy navigate it ..So Erin, when your ready to take the rolling plunge check it out…

    Ok, Travel on….

    Reply ↓

  4. Hi. I have a flight on Peach Airline hitch has a size restriction nineteen.six inches x x nine.eight so does that mean I could not take the setout as carryon? This site won’t let me use numbers….
    Is the setout collapsible ie I can crunch down to make it under twenty inches tall?

    Reply ↓

    • Technically the Setout would be over those dimensions and it doesn’t really squish down lengthwise. In our experience airlines aren’t that strict if your bag is a little over the allowed size (we’ve never had to put our bag in the sizing frame or been denied entry), but we haven’t flown on Peach so I can’t say for sure. We would probably risk it and just accept there’s a risk we’d be made to check it.

      Reply ↓

  5. At 5’4 and about 130 lbs , is the set out 45l too big for a 2 month trip to Asia?

    Would the Cotopaxi Allpa be better fit?

    Reply ↓

    • I’d recommend the new Tortuga Setout 35 litre. I’m the same size and switched to the Tortuga 45 five months ago (Simon has been travelling with it for years) and although I love many things about it, I do find it a bit too bulky.

      Reply ↓

  6. Hello,

    I need some help deciding on which bag to buy. I enjoy your writeup and blog…as a seasoned Setout user, I hope you can answer a few questions for me. I’m leaning towards the setout (either 35L or 45L, the divide is a bit small). My main other consideration is the AER Travel Pack 2. The main compartment size of the Setout 45L is 34L, the main compartment volume of the 35L Setout is 25.4L, the main compartment size of the AER is 28.5L.

    what I like about the AER is that it is compressible using the compression straps. The 45L bag will usually be bigger than I need, which is not really a problem if it can compress well…but in the pictures I’ve seen, the compression straps don’t do a good job. They seem to pinch it at two points, and all the stuff sinks to the bottom. Question 1: how does the 45L Setout perform when it is only 50-70% full??

    I am also a bit concerned about the attachment point of the compression strap. it is just under the main compartment zipper (instead of going over the main compartment zipper like on most bags..and this seems to put a lot of stress on the zipper of the main compartment. Question 2: Have you seen or heard of any problems with the integrity of the main comparment zipper over many years??

    The setout seems to sag off the shoulders. Question 3: now they are adding load lifters, do you think they will solve this problem?

    Reply ↓

    • 1) Neither of our Setout backpacks are ever 50% full so I can’t say for sure but if you don’t need all the space I would go for the 35L. The 45L is a big bag! If it wasn’t full, I think things would fall to the bottom of the backpack but I personally wouldn’t find that a problem. We use packing cubes to sort of stack things.

      2) We’ve had no issues with the zipper at all. Still in perfect condition.

      3) I think load lifters will help.

      Good luck with the decision! Tortuga offer free returns if you want to try it out.

      Reply ↓

  7. I received a Setout Divide today. It now has load lifters. I wasn’t sure if the smaller size was too small so I packed it and managed to fit: 2 pair pants (Bluffworks), 5 under shirts, 2 long sleeve dress shirts, 3 short sleeve dress shirts, 5 pairs socks, 5 underwear, workout shorts and t-shirt, toilet kit, dress shoes, and laptop (15″) and charger. Oh, and the day pack. Thanks for the recommendation on Tortuga!

    Reply ↓

    • Hi Terry,
      I am looking into backpacks and like the Setout when I saw your post this is exactly what I am planning to pack and am now thinking go with the Setout Divide. Did you use packing cubes if so which? And roughly what size are your clothes if you don’t mind sharing? I am taking a 10 day trip to Italy where we will move 3 times but I am lucky enough to have a washer and dryer on the 5th night I will be there…

      Reply ↓

  8. Any update on how you liked the setout as a woman compared to your Osprey? I’m currently trying to decide between the two of them for a Europe trip. I’m 5’6″. Thanks!

    Reply ↓

    • I didn’t use packing cubes. I might eventually. I do use an folded clothes organizer (Eagle Creek). I tend to fold some clothes and roll other clothes, like t-shirts, in the available space. And I put clothes in the extra shoes. I am 6’3″ with pants being 34w36l and shirts are tall/large.

      Reply ↓

  9. Hello, thanks for this review it’s really helpful! I’m thinking of getting the Setout for a trip I’m taking next year, but just wanted to check, have you ever had an issue with the weight restrictions of carry on with this bag? I know a lot of airlines are 7kg and this looks like it could pack more…thank you

    Reply ↓

  10. Thanks for this comprehensive review. I have the Tortuga V2 and I think I’ll keep it for now – despite being on the road fulltime for 2 years with it, it still does the job for now. It doesn’t appear to weigh much more than the Setout from what I can still find in the various reviews on it.

    Reply ↓

  11. did you guys tried the nomatic backpack. I would be interested in a comparison as the price range is also similar.

    thank you

    Reply ↓

  12. Blah, you’re telling me I have to get the one that costs $100 more because I decided to get a 17″ laptop… :/ Do you really think a 17″ laptop wouldn’t fit in the Setout? It looks so huge, way bigger than the backpack I have now that fits my laptop just fine.

    Reply ↓

    • Simon’s 15-inch laptop is pretty snug in the Setout (with a neoprene case) so I’m not sure a 17-inch would fit. You could always try it yourself as Tortuga offers free returns with the US.

      Reply ↓

  13. Thankyou this is so helpful- i think we will buy a Tortuga pack now!!! The setout looks perfect for me and my husband as we travel a lot also and prefer not to check in luggage if possible.
    Are the packs made of material that would be slash-proof ie: if someone tries to open them with a knife is the material able to withstand that?

    Thanks again

    Reply ↓

    • The Setout material is fairly sturdy but I don’t think it would be slash-proof. The Outbreaker is much more robust so if that’s important to you it could be a better option.

      Bear in mind that your laptop and valuables are kept at the back of the bag so it would be quite hard (impossible?) to cut through the front two sections to get to them.

      Reply ↓

  14. I have a question regarding the suspension and comfort. I had a Tortuga V2, but found it killed my shoulders after a few hours and had to change the way I travel by the sixth day of a two week trip. I tend to walk a lot with the backpack on and explore new areas, and finally choose a place to stay at night after a day of travel, so leaving the backpack at a hotel/hostel and taking a day-pack during the day is not appealing. I have a farpoint 40 right now, but never was a fan of the laptop placement of the bag. Since Simon has had a chance to use the V2, Outbreaker, and Setout, I was wondering which is most comfortable for long treks? To me, it seems the Setout scaled back on the suspension system compared to the Outbreaker, but it is still better than the V2. I would like a cary-on one bag that I can wear all day and not end up killing my shoulders, and trying to figure out if the Setout would suffice, the Outbreaker is a better choice for that, or if I should consider a different pack completely.

    Reply ↓

    • We never carry our backpacks for that long, but the Outbreaker is definitely the most comfortable backpack Simon has tried. The suspension system is very robust although it does make the bag heavier.

      He doesn’t find the Setout quite as comfortable, but as he doesn’t tend to carry it for too long it’s worth the trade-off to save weight.

      I’d say it’s worth trying the Outbreaker.

      Reply ↓

    • I haven’t heard of a similar backpack sold in Canada. You can get Tortuga backpacks delivered to Canada but you’ll have to pay postage and customs.

      Reply ↓

  15. Hey

    First, love the blog – been following it for a while now. Especially love the vegetarian recommendations.

    Re: carry on. Most airlines now tend to impose a 7kg limit for carry-on. So has that been an issue for either of you? As a couple, we’ve attempted to travel with just carry-on, but it’s the weight rather than the size that prevents us – we often have to put our backpacks on the scales.

    It’s a pain the bum too be honest!


    Reply ↓

    • Our backpacks are pretty much always overweight but we’ve never been prevented from taking them on-board. The trick is to avoid getting them weighed. The best thing is to check-in online so you can avoid the check-in desk where they are most likely to weigh it. I think it also helps to only have one piece of luggage (no additional item) so you don’t look weighed down with stuff. And try to make the backpack as compact as possible.

      Late last year on Bangkok Air Simon’s backpack did get weighed (we stupidly didn’t check in online). But he explained it was full of electronics and couldn’t be checked and they let him on.

      Reply ↓

Leave a Reply

Required fields are marked *. Your email address will not be published. By clicking the Submit button, you give consent for us to store your information for the purposes of displaying your comment and you accept the terms of our Privacy Policy.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.