Tortuga Outbreaker and Aer Travel Pack 2 are both premium travel backpacks. They are designed for people who are tired of suitcases, and want the organizational features and convenience of a carry on backpack.
Both of them have some amazing features, and are made from high quality materials. But, when you put them side by side, there can only be one winner. And that’s what we’re going to figure out in this detailed comparison - which of these two premium travel backpacks is ultimately the better choice.
I’ll talk about all of their features in detail, in order to help you decide which one you should buy. Read on to find out which of these two packs is the best option for you!
Before we start comparing all the features of these backpacks in detail, let’s talk about their basic specs first. You can see the dimensions, weights and capacities of all the backpacks in the table below:
TORTUGA OUTBREAKER 45
Dimensions: 22” x 14” x 9”
Weight: 5.1 lbs
TORTUGA OUTBREAKER 35
Dimensions: 20.3 x 12.9 x 8.2”
Weight: 4.6 lbs
AER TRAVEL PACK 2
Dimensions: 21.5” x 13.5” x 8.5”
Weight: 3.7 lbs
It is obvious that the Aer pack is the lightest out of the bunch, but not the smallest. This is an advantage, since no one like to carry heavy backpacks. However, there’s no size variety with the Travel Pack 2 - it is available only in the one size, which frankly doesn’t fully utilize airline carry on requirements. It also manages to be bigger than the Outbreaker 35L, but with smaller capacity.
Tortuga gives you a choice when it comes to size. The smaller backpack is the better option for people who are petite, or who don’t actually need anything too large. On the other hand, the bigger backpack is a great option for those that are going away for a long time, and also for people that have bigger bodies.
In addition to that, the Outbreaker can fit a 17” laptop, while the Travel Pack 2 fits only 15.6” ones. If you have a 17” laptop, then you don’t even need to look at the other features. But, for those of you that carry 13” devices, either one is going to be a valid option.
Anyway, you should take a look at all the other features, before you actually decide which backpack is the better option for you. So, let’s compare the Outbreaker and the Travel Pack 2 in detail, and see which one takes the crown for the best travel backpack!
We’ll compare the backpacks in areas which matter the most: comfort, durability and functionality. There can only be one winner in each section, and by the end we’ll see which pack pulled ahead more times. And that’s going to be your undisputed winner.
With backpacks that have prices in the triple digits like these two, durability is one of the most important features. Since you’re paying quite a lot of money for a backpack, you want to be sure that you can use it for years, if not decades to come. So, that’s the first thing we’ll be discussing in this detailed comparison!
These two backpacks are made from very different materials. The Aer Travel Pack 2 is made from ballistic nylon - a material used in backpacks and luggage very often. Let me rephrase that - a material used in much cheaper luggage and backpacks really often. Because of its tight weave, ballistic nylon is water resistant, but the Aer backpack does not feature any kind of additional waterproofing.
And that’s not perfect, especially for such a pricey backpack. There’s a really good chance you’ll get caught in the rain at least once during your trip, and the Aer doesn’t do much to protect your belongings from that. And you should particularly worry about your technology.
The Outbreaker backpack actually surpassed my expectations here. Not only is it made from sailcloth, which is a material used for making sails, it is also nearly 100% waterproof. Which means that you can’t really submerge it underwater, but that all your stuff will stay dry even if you wind up walking around during a blizzard.
Sailcloth is also incredibly sturdy, and it won’t tear apart at the seams. Especially because the Outbreaker features an additional layer of PET film, which will really hold your backpack together.
In general, the Tortuga pack is the obvious choice for someone who is prioritizing durability over everything else.
It’s important for your backpack to have sturdy zippers. Nobody wants to spend a couple hundred dollars on a backpack and then deal with a broken zipper two days in.
Which is why you will be happy to know that both of these packs feature lockable YKK zippers. But there is a slight difference - the Outbreaker features waterproof YKK zippers on every single pocket and compartment. The Travel Pack 2, on the other hand, only has waterproof zippers on the laptop compartment.
This is not a make-it-or-break-it feature, but I really appreciate that Tortuga went all out with making their packs as weatherproof as possible.
Winner: Tortuga Outbreaker
The backpacks we are comparing here both have capacities well over 30 liters. Which means that they get heavy when fully packed. And that translates to sweating, sore shoulders and back pain.
In order to avoid that, you have to make sure that you are getting a very comfortable pack. Something that won’t make you sore and that will keep you cool and dry even if you’re trekking through Thailand in August. Read on to find out which backpack is the better and more comfortable option!
The backpanel is the most important part of any backpack, when it comes to carrying comfort. It should be padded, so that nothing from the interior of the pack ever pokes you in the back. And it needs to be ventilated, so that you don’t sweat buckets when you’re walking around with the backpack on your shoulders.
The Outbreaker is both of those things. It is made from Ariaprene, a high performance foam that is frequently used in workout gear. The foam wicks away sweat and does not retain any moisture, which is crucial for staying cool during hot summer days. In addition to that, it is soft and comfortable, so that the pack feels really nice against your back.
What about the Travel Pack 2? Aer went with a material we see more frequently in (cheaper) backpacks - air mesh. It does a decent job at keeping you cool and comfortable, but it does not perform as well as Ariaprene.
Honestly, I’m a little disappointed that they went with air mesh, considering the price point of their backpack. It’s something that you get in $50 backpacks, and that’s not even a quarter of the Travel Pack 2’s price point. Therefore, the Outbreaker by Tortuga is the clear winner here, and the better choice for staying cool and comfortable throughout your travels.
Both of these backpacks feature a sternum strap - the feature that lets you lock the two shoulder straps together, so that they stay in place. This helps make you more comfortable while you are walking around ensures that the backpack stays secured to your body.
Another really important feature is a hipbelt. It helps transfer the weight of the pack to your hips, which are the largest muscles in your body. That way you don’t feel 30+ lbs on your shoulders, since the weight is distributed more evenly.
The Outbreaker features a padded and ventilated hipbelt, which is comfortable and gets the job done. Plus, it also has pockets so that you can have some items easily accessible at all times. With the Aer, there is an option for a hipbelt, which is also padded, ventilated and comfortable.
But there’s a catch - the hipbelt for the Aer backpack is sold separately. So, if you want to have that convenient feature, you will need to spend an additional $20. Which is not a lot of money, but it’s still not something I approve of. I would recommend purchasing the hipbelt if you know you’re going to be travelling with the pack at maximum capacity, since it can really help you avoid back pain.
WINNER: TORTUGA OUTBREAKER
Both packs are designed for travel. But do they have all the features necessary for them to be really good travel backpacks? And which one is ultimately the better choice to replace your carry on suitcase? Let’s find out.
A huge selling point for both these backpacks is that they are carry on sized. Actually, make that all three backpacks, since the Outbreaker does come in two different sizes. Which means that you can replace your carry on suitcase with either the Travel Pack 2 or the Outbreaker.
But, even though they are small, you can still use them for longer trips. As long as you know how to pack rationally, you can squeeze enough clothes for two weeks in either one of these backpacks. This is what makes them perfect for travellers, and an excellent option for your next trip.
Both backpacks feature a laptop compartment, as expected. The compartment of the Tortuga backpack can fit 17” laptops on both sizes, and it includes a smaller padded sleeve for your tablet.
The laptop compartment of the Aer Travel Pack 2 is big enough to fit 15.6” laptops, and it features waterproof zippers.
But, the Tortuga Outbreaker is the clear winner because the laptop compartment on it is TSA compliant. This can really save you some time if you’re travelling to the US, as it helps you get through the checkpoints quicker.
In addition to that, the compartment on the Outbreaker features multiple zippered pockets for all your chargers and cords. And since the pockets are made from mesh, you can always see exactly what is packed where. I really like this feature, as it helps you stay organized and get to the charger you actually need in a matter of seconds.
A front compartment with an organization panel is another common feature of these two backpacks. And it’s very similar on both packs - it features several slip pockets, a couple pen holders, a large zippered pocket and a key clip.
The panel on the Tortuga backpack also has several slots for your credit cards, which the Aer pack doesn’t. But then again the Aer has one more slip pocket than the Tortuga, so it all evens out. The organization panels are really similar on both of these backpacks, so they’re not going to be the reason why you should buy one pack or the other.
However, how you get to use them might help you make up your mind. See, the Outbreaker by Tortuga actually has other dedicated pockets for your tech accessories (chargers, cords, headphones etc.), which the Travel Pack 2 doesn’t. So, you might have to pack all of those in the organization panel of the Aer backpack, which wouldn’t leave you with much space for other items.
A stretchy side pocket is something you get on both of these backpacks. It is normally designed to hold a water bottle, so it can fit one easily. But, you can use this pocket for whatever you like - I generally stuff my small umbrella in this pocket, especially if it’s wet.
There is a difference in the amount of pockets you get - the Outbreaker features two of them, one on each side. And the Aer Travel Pack 2 only has one pocket, because it has compression straps on the other side. It’s not a huge difference, but the Tortuga backpack does pull ahead here.
Both backpacks have two external zippered pockets, which differ in size and placement. The Outbreaker features two medium-sized pockets on the very front of the backpack, and they’re great for any last minute items you forgot to pack.
The Travel Pack 2 has one medium-sized pocket on the front panel, and then a smaller pocket on the top of the pack. Aer called it a quick-access pocket suitable for your phone and passport, but I don’t necessarily agree. Is it really a quick-access pocket if you have to take off your backpack to reach it?
Both backpacks have a front loading main compartment. Basically, that means that you can pack them just like a suitcase - the pack lies flat and you put all your stuff inside, and then you zip it up. Easy peasy.
And both packs have several pockets inside this compartment, which allow for easy organization. Since they are so similar, the main compartment is not going to make up your mind which one you should buy.
WINNER: TORTUGA OUTBREAKER
There are some features that are unique to either one of these backpacks. Let’s talk about those first, and then we’ll see which one is ultimately the better choice.
The Outbreaker is available in two different sizes, and that is a huge advantage. Both are carry on sized - the smaller backpack will be accepted by every airline without exception, while the larger pack pushes the limits. This also helps you get the backpack that’s more suitable for your body, but also get the capacity that you need for your upcoming trip.
It is really important to be able to choose, because one size does not fit all. The 45L is going to be too large for a lot of people, especially those who are of smaller build.
Another feature unique to the Tortuga backpack are the hipbelt pockets. If you’ve read any of my other backpack reviews, then you know just how much I love this feature. They are the ultimate quick-access pockets, since you never have to take off the backpack to get to them. And they’re perfect for your phone, passport, cash and boarding pass - the things that you need to have really handy.
The Aer Travel Pack 2 features a luggage strap on the backpanel, which is a rather useful feature. Especially if you’re travelling with the backpack and a suitcase - you can mount the pack on top of your suitcase, and just wheel it around wherever you go. This is the one feature that I really miss on the Outbreaker, and a big plus for the Aer backpack.
Travel Pack 2 also has a dedicated shoe pocket, which is something you don’t get on the Tortuga backpack. But, do you really need that pocket? It’s going to take away from the capacity of the main compartment, and you can pack more efficiently if you put the shoes at the bottom of the bag.
Plus, are you only going to pack one pair of shoes? Because you can’t fit more than one pair in the dedicated compartment.
It’s not so hard to guess which backpack is better, since the Outbreaker pulled ahead in every single aspect that matters. It has the better backpanel, a TSA compliant laptop compartment, it’s made from waterproof materials and it comes with a hipbelt. Plus, you can choose between two sizes, and really get a backpack that’s perfect for your needs and body.
But that does not mean that the Aer Travel Pack 2 is a horrible backpack. It really isn’t - it features waterproof zippers, a luggage strap, a spacious main compartment and several internal and external pockets. It’s actually lighter than either Outbreaker, which is a huge bonus - nobody like carrying heavy items for hours on end.
Both of these backpacks are premium options and their prices clearly show that. But, when you put them side by side and really compare every single feature, the Tortuga Outbreaker is clearly the better option. And if you want the best money can buy, it is the backpack that you should get.
Roger is a little obsessed with travel. He has been to over 40 countries, broken 3 suitcases and owned over 10 backpacks in 12 months. What he doesn't know about travel, ain't worth knowing!