A glimpse inside my Tortuga Backpack
A glimpse inside my Tortuga Backpack

**Update August, 2015- Check out my video review of the Tortuga Backpack: https://youtu.be/B4Jnq9qO918

Is the Tortuga backpack up to the task of turning a chronic overpacker into a one-bag traveller?

A four-day trip to Marco Island, FL provided the perfect opportunity for me to finally try out my new backpack and my new commitment to packing lightly. Now that I’ve actually accomplished the task, I feel empowered to pack even lighter on my next trip.

For the trip to Florida, I went with 100% one-bag travel. My “personal item” was tucked inside the backpack until it was time to board the plane. The personal item was a cloth cross body tote which folds into almost nothing. The Tortuga easily fitted into the overhead bin, leaving me with the my tote for the items which I wanted to have throughout the flight. The return trip was a little trickier because (1) shopping happened and (2) we each received a lovely corporate gift- an incredibly soft, plush bath towel with the company logo. Normally I’m not a fan of corporate swag, but these were great towels- much better than the 16-year old, barely absorbent towels we normally use.

As a result, I couldn’t put my personal item inside the backpack for the return trip. No worries though. I still had my hands free, and that’s what matters the most to me.  Tote contained purse, camera, snacks, Kindle.  New acquisitions- a pair of Keds for my daughter’s vacation use, a pair of Oofos sandals, a pair of tie-dye palazzo pants (because I’m that type of woman), and a few other small purchases. This + the plush bath towel + everything other than what was in the tote fit into the Tortuga for the return trip.

Here’s what I was able to get into the backpack as I traveled to Florida:

Jeans- 1 + I wore a pair


Dress pants-1

Tie-dye tube dress/maxi skirt

Sequence tank

Shells-3 + I wore one

Wrap-1 tissue-thin wrap blouse to go over my shells, if needed

Sleeveless blouses-2


Underwear and bras (Love VS’s No-Show seamless panties- hand wash in the evening, and they are dry by morning)

Compression hose-2 + I wore a pair

Shower shoes- cheapies from Target which I would have ditched if I ran out of space on the return trip

Formal flats- cheapie rhinestone thong sandals from Marshall’s

Infiniti scarf- made a nice wrap for the formal and could also provide modesty with shells


Makeup bag- fully loaded because I’m a makeup junkie

Liquids bag- filled to the brim with toiletries, makeup, and other essentials

Toiletries inc. contact lens items, wipes

Purse- a wonderful Johnny Farah Viterbo bag that I picked up at a consignment shop years ago

Crossbody cloth tote- a cotton, tie-dye hippie sort of bag to balance out the Johnny Farah

Baggie of jewelry- a plastic travel envelope about the size of a pencil case.

Nikon Coolpix- compact and much better quality than iPhone photos

Kindle- no more bulky books and magazines

iphone- AKA the security blanket

iphone charger

Kindle charger- totally unnecessary because a charge lasts for several weeks when the wifi is off


Pill organizer

Ear buds




18.5oz iced tea- purchased for a small fortune once I got past security

Pack of body cleaning wipes

Makeup removing wipes

Misc. hygiene items

2 large chocolate bars- because….vacation

6 Larabars

Samsonite Tote-A-Ton- just in case this whole one-bag thing didn’t work out -or- in case I had to gate check my new backpack which fits inside with room to spare

There was room to spare because I intentionally kept the side pockets relatively empty (and very squishable), and the only thing in the front pocket was the folded up Samsonite because I wanted to avoid bulk.

Packing the Tortuga was a breeze, and the features were wonderful. I kept my boarding pass, ID, and phone in the pockets attached to the hip strap for easy access. Liquids were easily accessible from the top of the bag.  The laptop section kept my camera nice and secure.

The only downside was that the Tortuga was slightly long for my torso. I measured before ordering and went with the larger backpack rather than the Tortuga Air because I wasn’t sure how invested I would be in the one-bag lifestyle and figured I’d need to have access to plenty of space. The size wasn’t overwhelmingly large, but my back did feel a little fatigued by the time I reached ground transportation.

The Tortuga was a definite hit for me. I get zone 1 boarding on Delta, so fighting for overhead space is usually not an issue. My next goal, though, is to be able to travel with one bag which fits under the seat of the plane. Can I do it? Stay tuned  ’til June. I’m doing my homework and thinking about the Osprey Porter 30.