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Aer Travel Pack vs Tortuga Outbreaker

Poor Ergonomics

The Aer Travel Pack is missing one vital feature: a hip belt.

Without a padded, weight-bearing hip belt, you carry your pack’s entire load on your shoulders. Without a hip belt, too much weight will always be borne by your shoulders. It simply won't be comfortable.

A hip belt’s entire purpose is to distribute weight from your shoulders and onto your hips. This shift of weight means you minimize the strain on your shoulders and back. Your stronger glute and leg muscles can now carry 80% of the load. A hip belt spares you lots of shoulder and back pain.

The Aer Travel Pack is a small 33L, but it'll feel heavier than its load because all the weigh rides on your shoulders.

Even though the Outbreaker is a larger bag at 35L and 45L, with its padded hip belt, your shoulders and back will be more comfortable.

"The most major pain point for me was literally the pain of carrying it on my back. Because I almost always pack the bag full, it is pretty heavy, and the bag’s affordances to alleviate or distribute the load were found wanting ... I was still feeling sore shoulders after walking with this bag on my back around the airport after just 15–20 minutes." Hain-Lee Hsueh at Pangolins with Packs

No Reachable Pockets for Passport or Phone

Aer has a zippered pocket on the top of their backpack, pointing out this pocket is a “dedicated quick access pocket for your small items and travel documents.”

Only this pocket is not quick access. You have to take off the backpack and swivel it around to access the pocket, wasting valuable minutes.

Wouldn’t it be easier to have the pocket on a hip belt, accessible in a single movement from your hands?

Your phone and passport are the last two things in your hands at the airport whether you’re in security or at your gate. These two items are your most valuable. If you lost your phone or passport, your trip would hollering mayday and preparing for emergency exit escapes.

We want them close, too. Always.

The Outbreaker’s hip belt has two zippered pockets for your most valuable items. So if one of your hands is full with a drink or snack, your free hand still accesses your phone or passport in a pocket right on your hip.


Aer made one big mistake with the Travel Pack's laptop compartment: it doesn't lie flat. This means that it's not TSA compliant, and Aer customers will have to remove their laptops at checkpoints.

Their compartment doesn’t unzip into two halves and open up. This feature is important per TSA’s guidelines so a laptop is checkpoint-friendly. Specifically, the laptop-only section of your backpack needs to completely unfold and lie flat on the X-ray belt.

If you travel with the right backpack like the Outbreaker, you can leave your laptop in your bag and get through security faster.

At security checkpoints, unzip Outbreaker’s entire electronics compartment in the back panel and lay it flat on the conveyor belt. Breeze through the rest of security, grab your backpack and head for your gate with time to browse a bookstore or people-watch with a cup of coffee in hand.

Stop taking risks with your expensive gear. Travel with a backpack like the Outbreaker where your laptop travels in fleece-lined comfort and never leaves your bag through security.

Where’s Your Water Resistance?

Everyone has been caught in an unexpected rainstorm. They happen in European capital cities and tropical destinations alike. When it pours on your trip, it can be super hard to keep your bag dry.

Unfortunately, Aer Travel Pack has no water resistance in its fabric. The backpack is made from ballistic nylon, offering some minimal water protection due to the fabric’s tight weave.

Like with most fabric, the Aer's material allows water to seep into your belongings. 

Not so with the Outbreaker. Crafted from waterproof sailcloth and sleek coated zippers, the Outbreaker backpack is almost completely weather resistant.

Here’s why: sailcloth is made up of four layers. Two of those layers deal with water resistance: a 210D nylon with DWR (or durable water repellant) coating and an ultrathin layer of PET film.

Breathe easy when it starts to rain with an Outbreaker on your back. Your stuff is safe.

Aer's Ballistic Nylon Unravels

If you get a small hole in the Aer Travel Pack, your backpack will eventually unravel. You don't want to spend time worrying about this problem on your trip of a lifetime. 

This is what happens when travel backpacks are crafted from ballistic nylon. Once a hole starts, it slowly keeps growing. If your backpack tears or is punctured while you’re far from home, it's a problem that's only going to get worse.

We wanted durability, so we searched for nontraditional fabrics to craft the Outbreaker.

Sailcloth was our answer. Instead of one layer with a water-resistant coating, our sailcloth is made of four layers. Each layer serves a unique purpose to improve the durability and longevity of your travel backpack. The diamond pattern on the sailcloth means that it will not fray or rip at the seams, unlike Aer Travel Pack’s ballistic nylon.

Not Maxing Carry On Space

Aer Travel Pack is 33 liters while the carry on maximum is about 45 liters. If you travel with their backpack, you’re leaving a lot of free space on the table.

Airlines are notorious for rigid restrictions on baggage, so don’t make it harder on yourself by not taking advantage of every inch of packing space you’re allowed.

With the extra space that an Outbreaker affords, you could bring extra electronics, another change of clothes, or leave room for souvenirs you buy on your travels.

The Aer Travel Pack only comes in one size: 33 liters. For most people — no matter how experienced a packer you are — wasting over 10 liters of packing space is a huge problem.

The 35 or 45L: that’s your hardest decision when getting the Outbreaker.

Whichever you decide, you're getting more and better designed packing space from Tortuga.

Cheap Mesh Back Panel

The back panel of your travel backpack puts up with a lot. It’s exposed to unfortunate amounts of back sweat, protects your skin from abrasion, and supports your pack’s weight. The back panel might not be glamorous, but it's crucial.

Aer Travel Pack’s back panel is made of mesh that chafes in wet conditions (like back sweat) and holds onto moisture. That combo is uncomfortable and might irritate your skin.

For the Outbreaker’s back panel, we chose Ariaprene. It’s a high-performance foam engineered for tough workouts like your travel backpack sees daily. This foam wicks away sweat and doesn’t hold moisture. Finally, a cool dry back beneath your backpack.

Read more about the Outbreaker and how we crafted it to be our favorite pack on miles of adventures.

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