My perception of size is rarely accurate when it comes to any type of luggage.

I’ve bought suitcases thinking they could easily hold a week’s worth of clothes and toiletries – wrong. I’ve bought duffel bags thinking they’d be great for an overnight and slide easily under my seat on the plane – wrong again.

When I pulled my Tortuga backpack from its box, I thought “wow, this is going to hold a boatload of stuff.” Wrong yet again. It holds more.

I had three short stacks of clothes on the futon – mine, my husband’s, my mother-in-law’s. Light clothes, seeing as we were going to the coast for the weekend. Next to that, flip-flops, TOMs, soap, combs, extra contacts (in case of sandage), toothbrushes, dog food, bone. On the table, chargers for too many electronic devices we can’t go even one weekend without. And two backpacks – the Tortuga, and a second, smaller pack.

I unzipped the bottom compartment. (This bag loads from the front, not the top.) Shoes for three, toiletries, curling iron. In the main compartment, my clothes were stacked on top of my mother-in-law’s, followed by my husband’s, with room to spare. Chargers and phones in the right side pocket, BPA-free water bottle in the mesh pocket below that. Sack of dog food and favorite bone in the left pocket.

The second backpack sat empty – I think I ended up using it for my SLR and other camera accessories.

Photo courtesy of Tortuga

All the essentials for a weekend trip for three in one pack, and I’m pretty sure we could’ve taken a fourth person along. The Tortuga looks impressively big at first, but it swallows stuff – the more you pack, the more room it seems to have. The back pads and straps make the bag quite comfortable to wear, and it’s designed to distribute the weight in a way that won’t weigh you down; there’s an interior mesh pocket in the main compartment for heavy items like laptops, which keeps them closer to your back. The padded hip belt also came in handy when I did a little climbing by taking some of the weight off my shoulders.

I didn’t get to test out my Tortuga in the air, but I discovered a compartment on the bottom of the bag hiding an attached cover, which you can zip over the straps to keep them from getting damaged or caught in overhead compartments and baggage carousels. Very smart. I’ll be using this pack on my next solo overseas trip…although I might need to find a few travel partners to help me fill the thing up.

Price: $199
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