In 2009, we backpacked through Eastern Europe from Germany down to the islands of Croatia.
We were in our early twenties and broke, so we spent months saving up for the trip and weeks trying to find cheap flights to Europe. Once we booked our flights, we started planning the rest of the trip.
The hardest part was finding the right luggage. We knew we wanted backpacks. This was a backpacking trip after all. But which ones?
If we were spending over $100 on a bag, we wanted to find the perfect one. After asking friends, shopping at REI, and doing (way too much) research online, we couldn't find a bag that we loved.
Fred chose a typical backpacker's bag by GoLite: tall and cylindrical. The bag turned out to be better suited to hiking than to traveling. The backpack opened from the top. Whenever he needed something, he had to dump everything out then repack the entire bag. It was a constant headache.
To save money, Jeremy bought a used JanSport bag from Craigslist. His backpack was better designed for travel, but the shoulder strap broke on the very first day of the trip. From then on, he had to carry his bag by a single strap, which was extremely uncomfortable.
The trip was a blast, but our backpacks were a disaster.
We learned that the ideal travel backpack should be spacious but carry-on-sized. It should open from the front, like a suitcase, not from the top.
We were frustrated by the existing options. Travelers had to choose between wheeled suitcases, unsuitable for rugged city travel, and oversized, top-loading hiking bags made by outdoor companies.
The perfect travel backpack didn't exist. So we made it.
The Tortuga Travel Backpack is our flagship product. We designed it for urban travelers. The Tortuga is carry-on-sized, organized, and comfortable to wear.
We love it and proudly travel with it. We hope you will too.
Fred and Jeremy
Co-Founders, Tortuga Backpacks
Tortuga Backpacks was founded by Fred Perrotta and Jeremy Michael Cohen, two childhood best friends from New Castle, Pennsylvania.
Fred Perrotta is an entrepreneur and avid traveler. His first trip outside the US was to Niagara Falls, Canada, as a kid.
After graduating from the University of Maryland, where he started his first company, Fred moved to San Francisco to work for Google. While there, he worked abroad in India and Australia and continued to travel for fun.
After 3 years at Google, he left the company to co-found Tortuga Backpacks with Jeremy Michael Cohen.
When not working or traveling, Fred can be found exploring the restaurants, concert venues, and comedy clubs of San Francisco. His favorite meal abroad was spicy beef ramen in Tokyo.
Jeremy Michael Cohen is a film writer and director, as well as co-founder of Tortuga Backpacks. He started traveling overseas as a baby when his parents dragged him to Israel.
Originally from New Castle, Pennsylvania, Jeremy attended the University of Maryland as an undergraduate and then earned an MFA from USC's School of Cinematic Arts in Film Production. Jeremy had a brief study abroad stint in Paris as an undergrad and was inspired to start Tortuga while backpacking Eastern Europe with Fred Perrotta while on summer break from film school.
When he's not busy performing filmmaking skulduggery, Jeremy enjoys reading great books, traveling, and playing sports. He is a passionate, lifelong Pittsburgh Steelers fan. He currently resides in the lovely Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles.