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How to Choose a Carry On Backpack

Most frequent travelers have had their luggage soiled, broken, or lost because they chose to check it, rather than carry it onto their flight. Putting your luggage into the airlines' hands is risky.

Using carry on luggage is a better, safer choice.

To ensure that you're never forced to check your bag, use a carry on backpack rather than a suitcase. If your flight is full, overhead bin space will fill up quickly, and passengers will be asked to gate check their bags. Passengers with wheeled luggage are told to check their bags, while passengers carrying backpacks, or duffel bags, are often exempt.

What Size Carry On Backpack Should I Buy?

The most important factor when choosing a carry on backpack is its size. Each airline sets its own guidelines for the maximum allowable size for carry on luggage. Most airlines allow bags up to 45 linear inches (length + width + depth) or 22" long, 14" wide, and 9" deep. To prevent problems at the airport, your bag should be no larger than these dimensions. Before flying, check your airline's website for their carry on luggage size and weight guidelines.

The Outbreaker travel backpack is exactly 22" x 14" x 9", which allows you to maximize the stuff you bring without checking a bag.

The maximum weight for carry-on-sized luggage also differs by airline. When packing, use a luggage scale to weigh your bag so that you are within the carry on luggage weight guidelines set by your airline.

Will it Fit?

Humans come in all shapes and sizes. Make sure your carry on backpack has an adjustable suspension system to fit your body.

Adjust the shoulder straps up and down to fit your torso. Make sure the chest strap and hip belts are snug. The hip belt should rest on your hips in order to transfer weight away from your shoulders. If it’s too high, or too low, adjust the shoulder straps accordingly.

The secret to a comfortable carry is the right fit. Don’t sacrifice ergonomics.

Pain-Free Packing Requires Organization

Your carry on backpack should have pockets to keep the essentials at hand. The main compartment should allow you to organize your stuff quickly and easily.

A carry on backpack should open like a book and pack like a suitcase. Backpacks that open from the top, rather than the front, require you to dump everything out to find that one thing lodged at the bottom.

Take stock of the internal pockets and use them to your advantage. If everything in your backpack has a dedicated place, then your stuff will stay organized and you’ll quickly find what you need.

Breeze Through Security

The biggest potential hassle with carry on backpacks is taking them through security. You should have a bag designed to help you move through the security line quickly and efficiently.

The TSA allows travelers to leave their laptops inside of their backpacks if the bag has a separate, lie-flat compartment. Unzip the laptop compartment of your travel backpack to save time in the line.

Most people carry a one quart, plastic toiletry bag which must be removed from your bag and placed in a small bin for inspection. To simplify this process, choose a bag with large exterior pockets. The Outbreaker has a quick-access, front pocket that can easily fit a quart-sized toiletry bag. This pocket allows you to quickly remove your toiletries for inspection then swiftly repack them before heading to your gate.

Good carry on luggage will also have pockets to hold your boarding pass, ID, and anything else emptied out of your pockets while going through airport security. These pockets should be easy to reach when you're wearing your bag, zip closed so that nothing spills out, and be solid so that no one can see what's inside.

We've placed these pockets on the hip belt of the Outbreaker so that they're within reach when you need to empty your pockets in the security line. Just place your wallet, cell phone, and any other personal belongings in the zippered hip belt pockets before placing your bag on the conveyer belt. When your bag comes out the other end, put it back on and your personal belongings will be back at your fingertips.

Which Carry On Backpack Should I Buy?

Like any good carry on backpack, The Outbreaker travel backpack fits within airline guidelines, is durable, organized, comfortable, and helps you breeze through airport security. Learn more about the Outbreaker here.

Travel On Your Terms

We started Tortuga in 2009 so that we could live, work, and travel on our terms. The tools we make help you to do the same. The Outbreaker is designed to be the only luggage you need for your next city adventure - no matter how you travel.