Author with the Tortuga Setout

Tortgua Setout Review (Did the Travel Backpack Pass Our Test?)

Editor’s Note: The Tortuga Setout has been discontinued. For the latest version of Tortuga’s backpacks, see our Tortuga Travel Backpack Review.

Considering the Tortgua Setout travel backpack but want to make sure it’s really worth the price tag?

In this Tortgua Setout review, I’m going to test out one of the most popular travel backpacks out there … and tell you if it’s really worth the price. 

After all, making sure you find the right travel backpack can be just as important as finding the perfect travel companion – so it’s worth taking the time to get it right. 

In this Tortuga Setout review I’m going to break down popular Setout travel backpack, and tell you why we think it’s one of the top travel backpacks out there. 

Note that I tested the Women’s 35L size, but the Setout backpack also comes in the 45L size and there is a Men’s version as well.

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Tortuga Setout Review: A Quick Summary (& Video Review!)

Video Review: In addition to this post, I made a short video reviewing the Tortuga Setout backpack too! Check it out here: 

Tortuga is known for quality and the Tortuga Setout is a premium product that lives up to the high expectations you would have for a travel backpack at this price point. Plus, you can really feel the quality of the bag when you hold it in your hands. 

So, if you’re looking for a durable and super-practical travel backpack that you’ll use for years to come, then by all means it’s worth the investment in the Tortuga Setout. 

Researching Alternatives? While the Setout is a solid bag, if you want an even more premium version, you can also read our review of the Tortuga Outbreaker. Or, for something more budget, consider the Osprey Porter.

Pros and Cons of the Tortuga Setout

Tortuga Bacpack Review Pros and Cons

Ok, ready to dive into our full Tortuga Setout Review? 

First, let’s check out the pros and cons of this travel backpack:

✔️ Pros

  • Organizes Like a Suitcase – This is the perfect backpack if you like to stay organized on the road – no need to dig from the top to the bottom, because it’s organized like a suitcase!
  • Waist compartments – These handy waist compartments make it easy to access your phone, wallet, or passport right away.
  • Good amount of  padding on back and straps – There is a lot of padding on this backpack so it is very comfortable to use.
  • Hideable Straps – The shoulder straps can be tucked away in case you wanted to use the side handle instead. This feature helps avoid the inconvenience the shoulder straps may cause while you’re walking around.
  • Lockable zippers – This is great for places that are known for having pickpockets.

❌ Cons

  • Side pocket – If you have a large water bottle, you might need to opt for a slimmer one if you’re going to get this backpack.
  • Sizing – Though fine for most people, smaller folks might find the bag a bit too large.
  • Price – Though more affordable than Tortuga’s other bags, the Setout ain’t cheap. But, look, you get what you pay for …

Is the Tortuga Setout Travel Backpack Right for You?

Different types of travelers need different types of bags, so I took some time to list below several types of travelers and trips that are either good or poor fits for this backpack. 

The Setout is Great For …

The Frequent Traveler

The great thing about the Tortuga Setout is that it’s made so well and is incredibly versatile. 

Which means that if you’re the sort of traveler who plans to be taking your bag all around the world to places like ThailandMexico, and everywhere in between, then you’re going to need a truly sturdy bag. 

So if you’re looking to invest in a high quality travel backpack that will last for all sorts of trips around the world, this is your bag. 

Tortuga Setout Review

The Weekend Tripper

The 35L Setout Backpack is perfect for a weekend trip. 

It can pack at least 3-4 days worth of clothes, your toiletries, an extra pair of shoes, and you technology. 

What’s great about the Setout Backpack is that since it’s a backpack, you will be a lot more mobile than you’ll be with a suitcase. 

So if you’re a frequent weekend traveler looking to ditch your suitcase, the Setout Backpack may very well be your answer. 

Avoiding Checked Luggage Fees

When you need to bring a large amount of clothes with us for a trip, your go-to solution for that issue would probably be just to bring a huge suitcase to check in.

But we all know that checking in a suitcase has its risks, such as the suitcase potentially getting left behind at a layover stop or even worse, lost. 

Not all travelers can afford these types of accidents to happen.

For travelers who wish to avoid these potential travel inconveniences, the Setout Backpack is the perfect solution.

Like I said earlier, the 35L Setout Backpack can pack at least 3-4 days worth of clothes, toiletries, an extra pair of shoes, and your technology. 

Honestly, you might even be able to pack a whole week’s worth of clothes in the Setout Backpack if you push it.

Between the Setout Backpack and your carryon suitcase, that’s practically the same amount of packing space as your check in.

Hedy with the Tortuga Setout backpack
The bag fit me reasonably well

Trips That Aren’t Wheel-Friendly

While many touristy cities have well maintained streets and paved roads, not all tourist spots have that kind of development. 

If you find yourself going to a place that has cobblestone, dirt roads, or no roads at all, this backpack will soon become your best friend.

No one likes lugging around a suitcase with a broken wheel on an uneven surface. 

With the 35L Setout Backpack, you can pack a lot and avoid needing to lug around a less mobile suitcase.

Strict Carry-on Size Guidelines

Airlines can be sticklers for making sure your carry on bags are in accordance with their size limit. 

But these size limits are something you won’t need to worry about with the 35L Setout Backpack.

The dimensions for the 35L Setout Backpack is 22″ x 14″ x 9” which is known as the universally accepted carry on size. 

So when you’re standing in line waiting to board your flight, it will never be a gamble of wondering if your bag is following the carry on size limit.  

Now let’s move on to the scenarios for when this backpack isn’t a good choice.

Tortuga Setout Backpack
So many ways to stay organized!

The Setout Isn’t Perfect for…


This backpack is not a camera bag! I repeat, this backpack is NOT a camera bag.

If you’re a photographer or videographer looking to buy a travel backpack that can also carry your camera equipment, the Setout backpack may not be for you. 

Unlike your average camera bag, the Tortuga Setout backpack does not have any divided compartments to help protect lenses and other camera parts. 

There is just one large compartment with small side mesh pockets for slim items.  

So unless you don’t mind your equipment to be jumbled into one large mess, this backpack is good for photographers or videographers. 

Overnight Hiking Trips

This backpack shouldn’t be bought for overnight hiking trips. 

Although this backpack can pack a lot, it shouldn’t be used for backpacking. Hiking backpacks are sturdy like travel backpacks. 

However, hiking backpacks are lighter, are made of a different material, and are fundamentally designed differently from your average travel backpack. 

The Petite Traveler

Some reviewers of this backpack have expressed their wish for a smaller version of this backpack due to their petite body size. The Tortuga Setout 35L was simply too big for them.

I will say though that am just under 5ft 4in, and I personally don’t have an issue with the 35L backpack. 

I think my lack of issues with this backpack is due to the fact that I have a wider frame, which helps counter balance the backpacks relatively large size.

Still, I might tell petite travelers to beware when they’re considering buying this backpack. 

Detailed Tortuga Setout Review – Let’s Check Out the Specs!

Hedy with the Tortuga Setout backpack on her Back
Showing off the Setout backpack on the back

If you’re still not sure if the Setout Backpack is or isn’t the one, that’s okay! 

For this next part of the review, I’m going to go more into detail about my thoughts on the 5 characteristics I have listed in the table chart above. I’ll also describe the backpack in more detail.

Weight, Size, and Color

The Women’s Setout Backpack comes in two different sizes, the 35L and the 45L. 

It also comes in different colors such as black, heather grey, and navy. 

As for the weight, the backpack is quite light. The 35L Setout Backpack only weighs 3.6 lbs. 

Tortuga Setout Backpack Review
Tortuga Setout Backpack Review


This backpack’s middle name should be comfort. 

There is a lot of padding on the back and shoulder straps. The back side of the backpack is also very sturdy. 

The shoulder straps aren’t narrow either so they won’t dig into your shoulders. 

The extra buckles around the chest and waist area help with making the back feel secure on your back. 

So if you find yourself running in an airport in need of catching a flight, this backpack won’t be jostling around to slow you down.

Not to mention, the inside of the waist compartments also have padding for more comfort.

And if your shoulders happen to get tired and need a break, there is another way to carry on this backpack around.

The shoulder straps can be unclipped from the bottom and tucked away into the flat compartment right behind the back padding. 

From there you can use the handle on the side of the backpack and give your shoulders a rest.

Organization and Design of the Setout

Main compartment

At the very back of the backpack there is very sturdy laptop sleeve that can fit a 17” laptop.

In front of the laptop sleeve is the main compartment of the backpack.

The main compartment opens up and looks much like that of a normal suitcase.

There aren’t any dividers in the main compartment to help keep items organized but there are two mesh pockets on the opposite side of the main compartment for smaller items.

And if you want to keep your main compartment more organized you can always invest in some packing cubes.

Front section

In front of the main compartment is a smaller compartment filled with small pockets. 

This area is also where you can store a tablet up to 9.7”. The varied size packets will definitely help with keeping your small yet important items organized.

You can use this section for pens, important documentation, portable chargers, or any small item you may need at the ready.

The last pocket in the front is just the standard single pocket at the front of the backpack. You can use it however you like.

Waist straps

The waist straps are a really cool feature on the Setout Backpack. 

Each side has a small zip up compartment which are perfect for holding your phone, wallet, keys, boarding pass etc. 

I think this feature is especially great for my ladies out there with small pant pockets and need a little extra storage space.


The Tortuga Setout, one of the best backpacks for Europe

I’ll be honest and say that I haven’t had the backpack for a long time and I also haven’t aggressively used it.

But I will say from touching it, using lightly, and inspecting the stitching, the quality seems exceptional. 

The material feels very durable and sturdy. 

Summary of My Tortuga Setout Review

While the Setout Backpack has its pros and its cons, it’s a super solid travel backpack that will fit the needs of most travelers. 

Plus, it’s put out by a small company started by two travelers – so you can feel good about where you’re spending your money!

Still, I encourage you to really think about what you’re looking for in a travel backpack and see if the strengths of this backpack match what you need. 

So click here check out the specs of the bag (and be sure to scroll down to read the customer Tortuga Setout reviews). 

Oh, and while you’re here, be sure to check out these other articles:

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