How It All Started

In 2009, we (Fred and Jeremy) 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 backpacking bag by GoLite: tall and cylindrical. The bag turned out to be better suited to hiking than to traveling. It opened from the top. Whenever he needed something, Fred 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. For shorter trips and lighter packers, we designed the Tortuga Air.

We proudly travel with our bags and hope you will too.

Safe travels,

Fred and Jeremy

Co-Founders, Tortuga Backpacks

Meet the Team


Fred Perrotta, Tortuga Backpacks

Fred Perrotta is the co-founder and CEO of Tortuga Backpacks. He oversees Tortuga Backpacks' products and marketing.

Fred is an avid traveler and has visited, lived in, or worked in over a dozen countries. Aside from travel, he nerds out about live music, standup comedy, movies, nonfiction books, coffee, the NBA, and yoga. When not on the road, Fred can be found eating his way through San Francisco.


Jeremy Cohen, Tortuga Backpacks

Jeremy Michael Cohen is the co-founder of Tortuga Backpacks as well as a film writer and director. He is responsible for Tortuga Backpacks' product photography, videos, and podcast.

Jeremy started traveling overseas as a baby when his parents dragged him to Israel. 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.


Lauren, Tortuga Backpacks

Lauren Kulifay is the Tortuga Backpacks Concierge. She is most customers' first point of contact.

Lauren has one major goal: see it all. While currently living in Germany, she has visited 11 European countries, and will soon see many more. She loves to read, write, watch movies, listen to music, play piano, sing, and eat. She’s not opposed to the idea of driving to Paris for a meal, and she thinks life is better when it’s funny.

Core Purpose and Core Values

Inspired by our friends at Bootsnall, we've written out our core purpose and values and published them here for you to read. If you believe in our purpose or identify with our values, we hope you'll support us.

The core purpose is the why. Why do we do what we do?

To make travel easier and more enjoyable.

The core values dictate every decision we make. These values are what we stand for and what we look for in new teammates.

  • Scratch Our Own Itch: We created our first product, the Tortuga, because we needed it. Each new product must solve a problem that we have and be a better solution than what already exists. We don't just slap our brand on another "me too" product for the cash. We build products that solve our own problems. If we won't use it, we won't make it.
  • Prioritize the Customer: If you have a problem, we'll fix it. When you contact us, you're always speaking directly to someone with the authority and ability to fix your problem.
  • Live (and Work) On Our Own Terms: Our team is location independent. Everyone sets their own hours and chooses where to live and work. Sharing a core purpose is more important than sharing an office.
  • Build and Improve Systems: We use software and systems to minimize mistakes and to free us to focus on what matters: product and people (that's you).

Giving Back

We've been lucky to travel all over the world. A trip to Europe led us to start Tortuga Backpacks.

Everyone should have the opportunity to see the world and to experience other cultures.

Traveling can be expensive, especially on a student's budget. To help young people travel, we founded the Tortuga Backpacks Study Abroad Scholarship. The scholarship is awarded biannually to passionate students who want to live and study in another country.

With every purchase you make at Tortuga Backpacks, you aren't just buying stuff for your own trip. You're also giving someone else the opportunity to travel. Thank you for your continued support in our charitable efforts.