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Osprey Porter vs Tortuga Setout

The Osprey Porter is a common sight in airports around the globe. Despite its popularity, this travel backpack has several serious drawbacks that might make you wonder why you see it everywhere.

Not Carry On Sized

The Osprey Porter 46 is two inches too tall to qualify as a carry on.

Most airlines’ max carry on size is 22” x 14” x 9”. But the Porter is 22” x 14” x 11”. That last number is the deal-clincher.

Nothing is worse than thoughtfully packing in a carry on, only to have the airline force you to check your bag at the gate. Just because your luggage is too tall.

And now you’re forced to wait at your destination to pick up your cursed luggage, wasting precious moments of your life when you could be out exploring your new destination.

What a letdown.

Measuring 22” x 14” x 9”, the Setout travel backpack actually does qualify as a carry on. Meaning you won’t have to bide your time at the luggage carousel, eagerly awaiting the arrival of your backpack.

So you can finally get on with your trip.

Flimsy Hip Belt

What’s more miserable than a traveler burdened down with a heavy bag, shoulders slumped and knotted in pain?

Not much.

Which is why it’s surprising that Osprey -- a company specializing in hiking backpacks where you’re carrying a heavy backpack for miles -- would include a flimsy hip belt on the Porter.

Perhaps they don’t know that a good hip belt transfers up to 80% of your bag’s weight from your tender shoulders down to your strong hips.

Because your hips are directly over your muscular legs, they can carry your bag’s weight easier. They also don’t get painful knots that cause headaches, like your shoulders tend to do.

With the Setout backpack, your shoulders are guaranteed to have a good time, thanks to its high-quality, padded hip belt. This hip belt does its job so efficiently that your body feels great carrying your packed-to-the-brim backpack -- even after mile two of walking to your hotel.

The Curse of Curves

When hunting for a good travel backpack, you want one without curves. Curves are dangerous in a travel backpack, like a twisting road is to someone prone to motion sickness.

Why? You want your backpack to use all available space, so you can pack more into it.

Before designing the Tortuga Setout, we experimented and tested with dozens of shapes and layouts.

Our goal was to find the best balance of functionality and aesthetics for a backpack. Through these tests, we discovered that rectangular luggage with straight sides does two things:

  1. a) maximizes the amount you can carry on a plane
  2. b) easier to pack your bag and visualize what it can hold.

The Osprey Porter has some serious curves to it; it’s shaped like a teardrop. Which means you can’t fit small items into the corners, thereby packing more.

Not so with Tortuga Setout. Sure, its corners have a little curve to them for aesthetic reasons. But its edges are straighter, more like a traditional suitcase. Because we want your packing to be easy and fast.

What Reachable Pockets?

How many times have you whacked the person in line behind you when taking off your backpack to grab your wallet? Or passport? Or ticket? Or chapstick?

Yeah, us too. That’s why we included two large pockets on the Setout’s hip belt. Now you can store your most valuable items within a finger’s reach while wearing your backpack.

The Osprey Porter’s hip belt has zero -- count ‘em, oh wait you can’t because there aren't any -- pockets.

Which means you’ll be whacking the person in line behind you more times than you care to. Might as well start practicing your “apologies” face now.

Then feeling quite a lot like Goldilocks in not being able to relax, enjoy the moment, and soak in the atmosphere around you. Because you’re still adjusting for a good fit once you sling your bag back on.

Masters of Hiking, not Travel

According to Osprey’s main site menu, they serve three customers: outdoor, travel, and biking.

Travel is only one-third of their focus. A house divided is sure to fall, as the saying goes.

Because of that, Osprey is forced to please many different types of customers, with vastly different goals, and ideas on how a backpack should function. They need to design bags for multiple purposes.

“Jack of all trades, master of none” pops to mind.

At Tortuga, we focus on one thing: travel. Travel is our only consideration. You might say it’s our purpose for being. Our obsession.

And you’d be right.

Travelers are the only customers for whom we design. That maniacal single driving focus lets us make our bags better and better at their only job: to be the ultimate travel backpack.

What you focus on, you get more of is a law of life. That’s why we focus on bags for travelers like you. 

Read more about how we designed the Setout travel backpack for your comfort and ease on the road in mind.