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Am I Too Old to Wear a Traveling Backpack? A Travel-less Tortuga Backpack Review.

Actually, that question is rhetorical as I don’t give a darn if people think I’m too old for anything except for wearing Aeropostale shirts and/or twerking on the Internet.

After a 1.3 mile trek from Penn Station in NY to our hotel last month, I decided that it was time to retire the Travel Pro convertible backpack that mostly sits in my storage closet. My shoulders and back were achy after about 1/4 mile, and I was constantly having to reposition the backpack back into place. The thought of rolling the backpack through the crowded streets of Manhattan didn’t appeal to me either.

At a cost of about $110, the Travel Pro was the most expensive piece of luggage that I owned when I purchased it 10 years ago. (I have a fantastically sturdy roll aboard that I bought in the mid-90s that I got for about $20 at Service Merchandise and a wonderfully light and large Kiplinger rolling duffle that I got at TJ Maxx for about $60.)

So why, with my traveling blitz behind me did I decide to splurge $200 on a traveling backpack? Because it offered a lot of promise. I actually don’t mind checking a suitcase when I fly because I get my first bag free thanks to my credit card. What I do mind is being bogged down with stuff when I travel. I love the concept of carryon-only travel and the perception of freedom that it provides.

Since I hadn’t fully unpacked from my holiday travels, it was easy to test out the Tortuga backpack. It held a week’s worth of fair-weather clothes (assuming that I don’t resume my prior overpacking tendencies), my laptop (with plenty of room to spare for my iPad and a couple of magazines), my makeup case, toiletries bag, and a baggie full of TSA-approved liquids. I would still need a personal item bag to carry my smaller necessities and camera.

I tested out the bag by wearing it for 1 hour in my home and while outside talking to my neighbors who were way too polite to ask why I was wearing a large backpack. The Travel Pro did not have hip straps or chest straps, so I had no idea until today how wonderful an invention those straps were.

The Tortuga did not disappoint me. It’s not an pretty bag, nor does it initially appear to be up to the task of holding a week’s worth of items, but it holds a ton of stuff and has great features (such as zippered compartments on each side of the hip strap and lockable zippers). The most important feature was how comfortable it was to wear. The padding is superb as is the rest of the construction. I am very much looking forward to using it on my next trip in March where I will be spending a few days at a resort. I’m challenging myself to get everything into my backpack- including my semi-formal attire that I will need for the trip.

My mid-life crisis requires that I be able to backpack through Europe at a moment’s notice. I’ve never been to Europe, nor have a traveled to another country with just a backpack. (My international travels typically require serious luggage because I bring back so much stuff.) But as I look back at the things I’ve admired about other people, one of the things I’ve noticed is that I really look up to people who travel around the world with just a carryon. So, even though I have no immediate plans to do so, I now am ready for that magical day. (Yes, I’m rationalizing the expense.)

Is the Tortuga bag enough to convert me into a lighter packer? Time and travel will tell. Am I too old for a traveling backpack? No. I’m never too old for comfort and convenience. What I am too old for is to care what other people think about me.

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