Tortuga Outbreaker vs. Peak Design? Yikes—that’s a tough question!
In an age of cheap flights and expensive baggage charges, why would you want to throw extra money away at the check-in desk? It could be much better spent on a few nice meals, some nice drinks (or a lot of cheap drinks!) or a much more rewarding experience at your destination.
Not to mention, traveling carry-on only forces you to cut down on all the crap you think you need. It’s like going Marie Kondo all over your luggage. Minimalist travel is the best way to get the most out of your travel experience.
Less stuff = more adventures.
But you need a bag you can trust.
As a traveler who likes to stay mobile and hates looking like a gawky tourist, I love all the innovative new backpacks on the market that cater to the more adventurous types. They walk a perfect line for travelers:
- They are perfectly sized for carry-on travel, meaning you get the absolute maximum out of your baggage allowance.
- They are comfortable and easy to wear out and about.
- They come with heaps of organizational features to make your life easier.
- You can take them on a trip for a few days, a few weeks, or a few months—they are made to survive anything.
In my opinion, the Tortuga Outbreaker and the Peak Design Travel Bag 45L are the top two offerings on the market, and both have made it into our list of the top carry-on travel backpacks. That’s because both companies make super high-quality backpacks for travelers.
Both bags have their advantages and disadvantages, so how do you choose just one?
Lucky for you, we’ve done the hard work already. Read on as we take an in-depth look at both bags to show you which one we would recommend for you as your next travel backpack.
Tortuga Outbreaker Overview
The Tortuga Outbreaker is another suitcase/backpack hybrid, retaining the excellent functional aspects of both.
The Tortuga brand was born by two travelers on a Euro-trip with failing backpacks. It was then that they decided to create their own lines of durable backpacks that could withstand the rough and rugged nature of travel.
In building the Outbreaker—Tortuga’s flagship bag—they worked to strike a balance between sturdiness and an ergonomic, user-friendly design. What they ended up with was a bag built for organization.
With a double-clamshell design, one side of the bag is designated for your electronics while the other side is dedicated for your clothes and other wearables.
And while Tortuga doesn’t make quite as many organizational accessories as Peak Design, they do make a fantastic set of packing cubes that are sized perfectly for the bag.
Tortuga Outbreaker Features
- Double clamshell design
- Front-loading organization
- Shoulder straps with chest clip
- Ventilated backing
- Adjustable harness system
- Comfortable hip belt
- Extra packing features sold separately
For a complete overview of this bag, check out the full review here.
Peak Design Travel Bag 45L Overview
Peak Design is an American company based in San Francisco that started out designing and building accessories for photographers. They’ve since grown and, on top of those offerings, they now create organized, ergonomic camera bags for travelers and commuters. As a result, it is a particularly good choice for people who travel with photography gear.
But they’ve been very careful about making their bags suitable for everyone. Yes, they serve photographers well, but they serve everyday travelers, too.
The Peak Design Travel Bag 45L is built as a kind of suitcase hybrid. With a clamshell design and access points on the top, sides and front, it’s more versatile than any other bag we’ve come across.
Inside, the Peak Design Travel Bag uses a modular organization system, which can be filled with any of their organizational add-ons, customizable by you. Combine the 2/3 packing cube with the 1/3 camera cube. Or the 2/3 and 1/3 packing cubes. Or one giant camera cube. Or, frankly, whatever system works best for you.
They have an entire ecosystem of travel and photography products which seamlessly integrate with one another. When you start building out that ecosystem of products, it’s amazing, because everything works together.
They’re like the Apple of backpacks…but they don’t collect all your data.
One of my favorite features is this bag’s ability to compress. With a literal pinch, 45L becomes 30L, turning this travel backpack into a daypack! This is one-bag travel at its finest.
Peak Design Travel Bag 45L Features
- Clamshell design with lots of entry points
- Convenient pockets including a hidden security pocket
- Easy strap storage
- Rigid construction
- Built-in compression features
- Extra packing features sold separately
Who Are the Tortuga Outbreaker and the Peak Design Travel Bag For?
Both these bags are a top pick for travelers with a minimalist mindset. If you’re planning to spend most of your time in cities, towns and beaches—and you don’t want to be weighed down by a suitcase—these bags are exactly what you’re looking for.
Plus, they are tough enough to last for years of adventures.
Anyone Traveling for More Than a Day or Two
These bags will be able to hold enough clothes and electronics to keep you going comfortably for a couple weeks—or for a month or more for those willing to strip their gear right down to the bone.
Many of these bags are marketed as “weekenders,” but that’s taking into account the packing habits of the majority of travelers. Which is to say, the majority of travelers overpack.
But 45L is more than enough space for long-term travelers if you’re willing to take a more intentional approach to your packing.
One-bag travel is excellent for finding out what really matters most to you.
These are perfect bags for going to warm places, as your summer outfits won’t take up much bag space. This leaves plenty of room for you to pack a couple extra bits like cameras or that book you’re totally going to read this time.
With all the extra features in both bags—along with their high durability—either one would make the perfect companion for someone working remotely with a lot of electronics.
Both bags are built with “connected travelers” in mind, meaning they have well-placed (and well-protected) laptop sleeves, and are built to carry an extra tablet, external hard drives, power banks, chargers and anything else you might need in your mobile office.
If you often find yourself going to new places for work, which requires you to take clothes and equipment with you, these bags are a great choice. Our top choice for business travelers, however, would be the Peak Design Travel Bag, simply due to aesthetics as well as the organizational add-ons (like the shoe pouch) that would suit business travelers.
People Who Hate Waiting at Baggage Claim
If you’ve traveled through an airport, you know that waiting at baggage claim sucks. Both the Tortuga Outbreaker and the Peak Design Travel Bag are carry-on sized so you don’t have to check your bag and then worry about finding it—or waiting for it—later.
Who Aren’t These Bags For?
The Tortuga Outbreaker vs. Peak Design travel bag—maybe neither are right for you.
Hikers and Trekkers
These bags are not equipped for the bush. While they would do the job if you wanted to go on a quick walk during your trip away, they are not designed to be taken on long treks. These bags are for city slickers through and through.
These bags are too bulky for a regular commute. At 45L, they would be very inconvenient to cycle with, and you would not make many friends on the train taking up that much space with your backpack.
That said, both companies make excellent bags for everyday use. Tortuga has the Outbreaker Daypack and the Setout Laptop Backpack , while Peak Design has the Everyday Backpack in both 20L and 30L sizes (our top pick).
Unfortunately, if you’re going somewhere chilly, you won’t be fitting many coats in these bags. You could try going full Yeti mode and wear all your layers on the plane. But, to avoid heatstroke, it might be better to just pay for a checked bag.
If you love Peak Design (like we do), and want the same high quality design and features but in a larger bag, the Peak Design Travel Duffelpack 65L might be the choice for you.
If you just can’t go on a trip without a pair for every occasion, you will have to rethink your outfits or stick to a suitcase. In my opinion, each bag could probably hold one extra pair of shoes. Anything beyond that and you might want to look at some other carry-on luggage options. In that case, the whole Tortuga Outbreaker vs. Peak Design travel bag debate is useless.
While both bags look pretty cool, they are also very utilitarian. If you are looking for Gucci or Prada, you should probably stick with a suitcase.
Tortuga Outbreaker vs. Peak Design Travel Bag
So, why have we chosen to compare these two travel bags?
- They are marked at a similar price point.
- Each come in similar sizes.
- Both have similar purposes.
- Both are marketed for the same type of traveler.
But the difference is that each bag has unique features that makes them stand out in different ways, meaning one might be better for your needs than the other.
To be clear, we don’t have a “favorite,” as these are both very strong bags. But we will discuss their strengths and weaknesses to give you a more personal, overall recommendation.
Both of these bags are the same size at 45L, the approximate size limit for cabin baggage of almost all airlines. But the Tortuga Outbreaker vs. Peak Design travel bag—which one carries more?
In our opinion, the Peak Design Travel Bag comes out on top here. While the Tortuga Outbreaker does come in a 35L variation, the Peak Design bag collapses from 45L to 30L, meaning you basically have two differently sized bags in one.
Saying they are both 45L is all well and good, but what can actually go into that size of bag? This is my go-to packing list for a trip abroad with this bag size:
This is a typical list of travel gear that I would pack for a trip ranging from two weeks to several months. If you wash your clothes while you travel, you can keep going pretty much indefinitely with this list.
Don’t forget: For most airlines, carry-on bags have to be under 15 pounds, but if you want to take more, you can always wear it on the plane!
|Peak Design Travel Bag||30-45L|
🏆 Winner: Peak Design Travel Bag
Size and Dimensions
Once you start looking at how these backpacks are built, the differences begin to emerge.
For starters, the Peak Design bag has one major advantage in that it is designed to compress to a smaller size should you need it. It can be shrunk to 35L with a compression zip, then down to a 30L daypack with some extra straps.
The Outbreaker does have straps on the side that could be used for compression, but it’s not a key feature that affects the functionality of the bag. The compression of the Peak Design, however, is a key part of the bag’s design, which means that anything put inside while the bag is compressed will sit more naturally and comfortably.
The compression straps seem like more of an afterthought on the Outbreaker, though. This advantage gives the Peak Design bag points for versatility.
In terms of physical dimensions at full extension, the bags are pretty similar, as they are both designed to comply with airline cabin bag restrictions. However, the Tortuga is slightly slimmer, which has made a slight positive difference to how the bag feels when full, according to some reviewers.
However, this advantage is negated by the fact that the Outbreaker is significantly heavier, at 5.1 pounds to the Peak Design’s 4.5 pounds. When you already have up to 15 pounds on your back, every extra pound will make a difference.
Overall, I think the Peak Design Travel Bag comes out on top in this round.
|Tortuga Outbreaker||22” x 14” x 9”||5.1 lbs|
|Peak Design Travel Bag||21” x 15” x 5.75”||4.5 lbs|
🏆 Winner: Peak Design Travel Bag
This is my favorite part of a bag review, because no matter if it’s on rain jackets or backpacks, I just love some well-designed pockets. And the Tortuga Outbreaker vs. Peak Design Travel Bag organization rivalry is real.
The Outbreaker has a different logic, with more focus placed on the extra pockets than the main compartment. The main compartment of this bag is sandwiched between two slim vertical compartments full of organizational features. On the back, there is a padded laptop sleeve and a tablet sleeve, with space to put all your cables, portable chargers and more.
The front has two half pockets with space for guidebooks or notepads, then a larger compartment with storage for sunglasses, pens, notebooks and a clip for your keys, as well as a zipped pocket for a purse.
The main compartment can be opened clamshell-style from one entry point only, with zippable mesh pockets and four side pockets—perfect for organizing your underwear and toiletries. There is a video on the Tortuga website which demonstrates all these features; I have watched it several times because it is absolutely mesmerizing.
Peak Design Travel Bag
The Peak Design Travel Bag has been designed with sensitive photography equipment in mind, so the designers have gone to great effort to accommodate your electronic babies.
Starting at the back, there’s a built-in 17” laptop sleeve, padded on both sides for maximum protection. This can be accessed easily from the zip when you take it off, but is out of reach of potential pickpockets while worn.
This back zip can also open clamshell-style so you can access the main compartment quite conveniently.
On each side, there are zippered entry points to access the main compartment. This is a signature feature that was carried over from the Peak Design Everyday backpack which works quite well in this larger backpack, too. If you’re out exploring the city for a day, you don’t have to go digging through your bag from the top—just enter through the side and grab a snack or that hoodie you stuffed away.
There is a small front pocket for your sunglasses and other bits. And by your hip, there is a hidden security pocket that is perfect for passport storage.
The inside of the main compartment is undivided, allowing you maximum space to store your things. If you desire some more organization, the company sells extras such as packing cubes, which are compatible with the bag.
So, which one is better? Honestly, this is a close call. The Tortuga has the better selection of pockets—that can’t be denied. However, I think the flexible construction may mean that your contents can get easily disorganized. Plus, the fact that you would always have to lay the bag out flat and unzip it to access the contents is a downer.
Meanwhile, the Peak Design has plenty of access options. The drawback is that, to get anywhere close to the level of interior organization that the Tortuga offers, you need to buy extra features.
In the end, I think the big push for pockets wins this round of the Tortuga Outbreaker vs. Peak Design travel bag. The Outbreaker it is.
|Tortuga Outbreaker||Plenty of pockets|
Smaller main compartment with more
Bag must lie flat for main compartment access
|Peak Design Travel Bag||4 points of access|
Open main compartment
Packing cubes available for purchase
🏆 Winner: Tortuga Outbreaker
Straps, Backing, Harness System and Overall Comfort
If you’re going to put your possessions on your back, you’ll want to know that they will be comfortable up there. So, how do these backpacks rate in this crucial test of functionality?
First: the Tortuga.
The designers have opted for maximum padding to help you shoulder the weight of your things, along with a height-adjustable suspension system to accommodate your torso. There are chest and hip straps secured with standard buckles. And there is also plenty of padding on the back, which will also keep your laptop safe (and it sits facing your back).
One big advantage for the Tortuga is that it is height adjustable. The straps can be moved up and down to accommodate a range of heights and torso sizes, which makes it a good buy for anyone who struggles with one-size-fits-all backpacks.
One significant disadvantage is that the straps are very thick and bulky, leading to restricted movement and an inability to reach the side pockets while wearing the backpack. Having to take the backpack off to take your water out is a bit of a bummer.
Peak Design Travel Bag
Peak Design, on the other hand, have included slightly less padding, but use a different suspension system and thinner straps to keep your pack comfortably mounted.
The hip and chest straps are a little strange. Instead of the usual buckle, they have a metal catch that hooks one side to the other. Although this isn’t quite as convenient as a buckle (you can’t pop it off with one hand), it will definitely be more durable than the standard plastic buckle system. So, it’s a little annoying, but possibly a benefit in the long run.
The main straps are fairly thin on the Peak Design, but have sufficient padding to be comfortable, especially once the hip and chest straps are engaged. This means you have more freedom of movement while wearing the bag. However, there’s no system to adjust the straps for your spine length.
While this may not matter if you’re an average-sized human, if you have had issues with bags in the past due to your height, this is something you should consider.
Overall, when it comes to debating the Tortuga Outbreaker vs. Peak Design Travel Bag for comfort, both bags have their pros and cons in this category.
I would say that the Peak Design has the edge here. The fundamental purpose of good straps and padding is to make the bag easy to carry, and a bag that restricts your movements with its straps represents a major flaw to me.
|Tortuga Outbreaker||Regular Clips||Hip and |
|Peak Design Travel Bag||Unique Metal Clips||Hip and |
🏆 Winner: Peak Design Travel Bag
Materials and Durability
It’s hard to fault the materials of either bag. The outer shell of the Peak Design is made with 400D nylon, which they claim is made with recycled material. The Tortuga is made of VX21 Sailcloth. Both materials are designed to be very durable to withstand the beatings that bags like these usually receive from an active, adventurous traveler.
It’s unknown how well the pockets and interior material hold up over time, but I think it’s safe to assume that neither company has skimped on quality in any aspect of these bags, least of all the organizing elements.
One difference is that Peak Design claim their material is “weatherproof,” while Tortuga claim theirs is “waterproof,” which leads me to believe that the Outbreaker has the superior material.
However, I have no way to verify this, as these terms have no set standard for measurement. Certainly, neither company makes any specific claims about how much weather or water their bags can resist. Both companies state that the zips—made by outside manufacturers—are waterproof and durable over the lifetime of the bag.
All in all, I think the Outbreaker wins this category.
|Tortuga Outbreaker||VX21 Sailcloth||High||Waterproof|
|Peak Design Travel Bag||400D Nylon||High||Weatherproof|
🏆 Winner: Tortuga Outbreaker
While we’ve already mentioned that you probably aren’t buying these bags with designer looks in mind, the look of these bags is still a central concern. After all, they’re going to be very visible. So which one has the edge—the Tortuga Outbreaker vs. Peak Design Travel Bag?
The Tortuga is quite blocky, staying true to the utilitarian, suitcase-with-straps mentality that brought these backpacks to life. It’s pretty rectangular all the way around, with right angles at every corner.
The only color available is black, so no choice here at all. However, the pale grey interior is a nice contrast to that dark exterior, and the fabric crosshatching that provides some extra durability also gives the material a nice texture.
By contrast, Peak Design have been a little more adventurous with their design. The outer corners of the bag are rounded, giving the bag as a whole a trendier look. The inside of this bag is also pale grey, which is again a nice contrast. However, the bag comes in two colors—black and a lighter grey-green color—with brown leather zips, which looks very sleek.
I think there’s a clear winner here: Peak Design. They have clearly tried to create a bag that is not only functional but that also looks great, especially in that lighter color.
The rectangular Tortuga may be successfully squeezing in a couple of extra inches of space from the airline baggage allowance, but it has come at the expense of its looks. While function is prized over form in bags like these, there is still a place for aesthetics in everyone’s mind when buying a backpack.
|Peak Design Travel Bag||Sleek with Rounded |
🏆 Winner: Peak Design Travel Bag
Security is always important when it comes to any bag, but especially in a bag that will carry all your travel gear and electronics. You don’t want any of your vital things going missing while you carry the bag, when you put it in a luggage rack, or when you’re asleep in a dorm room.
So how do these two heavyweights stack up in this round?
Both companies explicitly built in security features to their bags. On the Tortuga Outbreaker, the zips to the three main compartments are lockable and fit TSA-compliant locks. The laptop and tablet pouches are attached to this part of the bag and stay facing your back, the most secure location of any bag.
However, the place for your passport is at the front of the bag, which makes me nervous. Not that you have to put them there of course…but if not, what’s the point of those pockets?
Peak Design Travel Bag
Peak Design has done things a little bit differently, though. While the Outbreaker has obvious security features like a place for a lock, the Peak Design Travel Bag security features are more cleverly integrated. Every zipper can be hidden away and reversed and locked from the inside, making zip access from the outside completely impossible.
I think that, ultimately, security isn’t a key design feature of either of these bags. They’re not meant to be traveling safes.
There are some basic elements of security that you wouldn’t find on a hiking bag, for example, but in the end, these bags are designed to be carried with you where you can keep an eye on them, rather than left in unsecured places such as baggage claim.
Both bring an equal amount of security features to the table, so I don’t see a clear winner in this category. That said, if security is a primary concern for you, you might want to consider a brand like Pacsafe or a hardshell suitcase.
|Bag||Security Strengths||Security Flaws|
|Tortuga Outbreaker||Few entry points|
TSA compliant lock
|Passport/purse pocket at front|
|Peak Design Travel Bag||Hideable zippers|
Hip security pocket
|Multiple entry points|
🏆 Winner: Draw
The prices are fairly similar here, with each one running for about $300 USD.
Then you need to take into account the accessories to go with each one. For example, packing cubes are going to run you another $30-60 for each bag. And if you’re buying a $300 backpack, you might as well spend another 10-20% in order to get the most out of it.
In all seriousness, these are expensive bags. If you’re looking to get a budget bag, you’re looking in the wrong place. The Tortuga Outbreaker and the Peak Design Travel Bag are serious bags, designed to be your travel companion for years to come. They’ll take all the knocks of life on the road and still keep all your stuff safe and organized every time you open it up.
While these are top-of-the-line bags with top-of-the-line prices, whichever one you choose should, quite frankly, be the last travel bag you ever need to buy.
One extra thing to note is that, if you buy three Peak Design products at the same time on their website, you save 10% on the whole order. So, if you were also looking at a camera cube and some packing cubes, this is a great deal to take advantage of.
|Tortuga Outbreaker||$299 USD|
|Peak Design Travel Bag||$299.95 USD|
🏆 Winner: Draw
Warranty is an often-overlooked aspect of buying travel gear. While it doesn’t affect your day to day experience of the bag, it is important to know whether or not the company will respond if any defects should emerge in your travel bag, particularly given the price you pay.
Peak Design are very committed to their warranty guarantee. They have a lifetime warranty if any part of the bag is found to be “non-functioning or defective.” This means that they won’t replace a bag damaged from use, but if a part should fail, they will gladly replace it.
As the website states, the company is committed to ensuring their bags stay in use and out of the garbage, which I think is an admirable goal.
Tortuga offers a similar guarantee, stating, “if your product fails due to a defect, we will repair, replace or refund your money at our discretion, based on product availability.”
They also mention that they take a personal touch, since they are a small company competing in a market with billion-dollar corporations. So, they won’t give their customers the corporate run-around with warranties. I think this is a great way to treat their customers, and it makes me feel very safe about a potential purchase.
Overall, both companies seem to have a very customer-friendly warranty policy, meaning you will be well taken care of if any problems emerge. So forget the Tortuga Outbreaker vs. Peak Design Travel Bag comparison here; you’ll be in good hands either way.
|Tortuga Outbreaker||Replace/Repair Defects|
|Peak Design Travel Bag||Replace/Repair Defects|
🏆 Winner: Draw
Tortuga Outbreaker vs. Peak Design Travel Bag: Final Thoughts
As you have seen, both bags are very strong contenders to be your next travel companion. Both the Tortuga Outbreaker and the Peak Design Travel Bag have many advantages that make them some of the best travel gear in the world.
Specifically, both have great warranty policies, the same price tag and the same carrying capacity, with a few key differences in weight, comfort, materials and organization that set them apart.
There are some groups of people that will probably want one bag over the other for specific reasons.
For very small or very tall people, the Outbreaker is probably the best pick thanks to the height-adjustment system with the straps.
But for photographers, the Peak Design is designed with so many useful features, such as a sturdy shell, compatible add-ons sold separately—like camera bags and lens holders—and an open interior to help you store bulky items. It’s a no brainer, really.
Personally, the Peak Design Travel Bag is my favorite. I’m a sucker for clever and thoughtful design and, while out on the road, I find the little things to sometimes make the biggest difference.
It’s the hidden straps that come in handy at the most random of times. It’s the attachment clips that work with the Everyday bag, plus their keyring, plus their camera straps, etc.
The whole Peak Design ecosystem is what really makes this bag shine, but buying into this ecosystem does, indeed, come with a price tag.
And, at the end of the day, a bag that goes on your back must be comfortable first and foremost. And on my body, the Peak Design is the clear winner in that category, making it the best overall pack for me.
But just because it’s my favorite doesn’t mean it has to be yours. When comparing the Tortuga Outbreaker vs. Peak Design Travel Bag, either option is a fantastic choice. Quite frankly, you can’t go wrong with either one.
So go ahead and just pick the one that’s calling to you and get ready for your next adventure!