Picking the right backpack is important. Your backpack kind of represents your whole life while you’re abroad.
When I went on my first extended backpacking trip in 2008 with my mom and sister, my lovely mother got us all matching Rick Steves backpacks. As cute as that was (and I do love my mama), this is an upgrade.
Tortuga is a company started by a couple of travelers who were searching for the perfect city travel backpack and couldn’t find exactly what they wanted, so they made it themselves. How industrious! After doing my own shopping around, I have to agree. This has all the right features.
I hate checking bags at airports, and this one is designed to be the exact size of a carry-on while maximizing the space available. It has all manner of little pockets and zippers for keeping small items organized. That was one problem I had with my old backpack. I was keeping phone/laptop chargers in the same compartment as my personal hygiene items (like my toothbrush for example). But no more!
The pockets on the waist strap are a good spot for a passport or something you need to keep handy. It’s really best to keep that kind of important stuff in front of you anyway for security purposes.
There’s also an easy open zipper on top for laptop storage, if that’s the kind of thing you’re doing. Not everyone travels with a laptop, but for digital nomad types, it’s obviously pretty necessary. It’s nice to be able to get your laptop out quickly at airport security checkpoints. It fits laptops with up to 17 inch screens.
On the sides, there are two funny little pockets that zip on top. Tortuga describes them as being for water bottles or guidebooks. Since I’ve kind of given up on guidebooks as I feel they’re somewhat limiting in the current internet age (which probably deserves its own post at some point), I don’t imagine I’ll use the pockets for anything except bottle storage. Gotta stay hydrated!
I did my homework on backpacks and Tortuga is what I went with. Now is actually a good time to buy, too. They’re coming out with a newer version soon, so they’ve cut the prices significantly. I got mine for only $124.
If you decide to be one of the cool kids and get a Tortuga, all I ask is that you use this link. I’ll get a little percentage, and you get a screaming deal on an awesome backpack. I wouldn’t recommend this if I didn’t actually believe in it, just so you know.