Finding the perfect backpack that marries functionality with comfort is not always easy.

Well, here enter the Tortuga Travel Backpack Lite 40L, an absolute game-changer for savvy travellers who seek blend of minimalist design and spacious utility.

Designed with the modern nomad in mind, this backpack promises not only to store all your travel essentials but to do so in a way that makes bustling through airports and navigating new cities feel like a breeze. As someone who has navigated the globe with everything from suitcases to duffel bags, I was eager to put the Tortuga Lite to the test on my latest adventure.

Over the course of this review, I will tell you everything you need to know about the Tortuga Travel Backpack Lite 40L. I will tell you how it feels, how much stuff it fits, whether its worth the price (it is) and how it compares to the rest.

Let’s dive into the review and see how the Tortuga Travel Backpack Lite 40L fared on the road.

Tortuga Lite 40L
Look at me, I’m a travelling turtle!

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About The Tortuga Travel Backpack Lite 40L

The Tortuga Travel Backpack Lite is designed as a lightweight option for travellers who need a reliable carry-on for trips of a week or more. This 40L backpack emphasises a high volume-to-weight ratio, making it one of the most efficient bags in terms of carrying capacity relative to its own weight.

It’s specifically made to be carry-on-friendly, even on budget and European airlines, ensuring that you can bring it aboard the overhead bin with ease. The backpack features a more simplistic design which contributes to it being over 10% lighter than its predecessors, with the 40L model weighing about 4.5 lbs (2 kg). Its dimensions are 21.7 x 13.8 x 7.9 inches (or 55 x 35 x 20 cm for the metric system), making it suitable for the overhead compartments of both US and international airlines.

Word up – Note that the Lite is the brand spankers new, Lightweight version of their mighty Travel Backpack 40L product which we previously reviewed.

Tortuga Travel Backpack Lite 40L
  • Dimensions – 21.7 x 13.8 x 7.9 in (55 x 35 x 20 cm)
  • Weight – 3.5lB (1.59KG)
  • Capacity – 40L
  • Price – $250

Size, Weight and Capacity

Overall Tortuga Travel Backpack Lite strikes a very impressive balance between size, weight, and capacity as is one of the best carry-on backpacks on the market at the moment.

Its dimensions are carefully chosen to comply with the carry-on requirements of most airlines, making it an ideal choice for travellers looking to avoid check-in fees and wait times. It should also sit quite nicely on most frames at this size as well.

Vitally, the pack is indeed very light for a 40L. Whether it feels heavy or not largely depends on how it is packed, but its ergonomic design ensures weight is evenly distributed across your back. In terms of comparisons, it weighs almost half of my Peak Design 40L carry-on which makes it a lot nicer to carry over long distances.

Still, despite its lightweight design, the backpack does not compromise on space, offering ample room to fit all your travel essentials. 40L is classic long weekend, brief vacation territory. Most packers can probably get 4 to 5 days worth of gear in a 40L backpack.

If you’re set on this size of bag from Tortuga, you could also check out the Tortuga Travel Backpack 40L.

Storage, Packing and Access

One of the true standout features of the Tortuga Travel Backpack Lite is its thoughtful storage and packing design.

With multiple compartments and pockets, organising your belongings becomes a breeze. The main compartment opens fully, like a suitcase, allowing for easy packing and access to your items without the need to dig through everything.

There are then two zip-open pockets on the inside lid which could fit a few small compression sacks, flip-flops, toiletries and cables for example.

Tortuga Lite 40L
The laptop compartment is my favourite feature.

Outside the pack there are two handy pockets running down the side and along the top (great for travel documents and a book) of the front ‘door’. Then at the rear, we have the zip-accessed, fully padded, 16” laptop case, making it a good shout if you’re after a good tech and laptop bag that’s on the larger side. To top it off there is also a stretchy water bottle pocket found on the left-hand side.

For me this is pretty much simple perfection. More or less everything has a place and there is enough flexibility to suit your own packet style.

Materials, Durability and Aesthetics

Crafted from high-quality, durable materials, the Tortuga Travel Backpack Lite is light, but is still built to withstand the rigours of travel.  Its water-resistant fabric ensures your belongings stay dry in adverse weather conditions, while the reinforced stitching in high-stress areas adds an extra layer of durability.

I have not had this pack very long so cannot offer much insight into its true durability but it feels rugged and resilient to me and remember, I have tried, tested, badgered and busted some 100+ packs so I certainly trust my own intuition when it comes to the best heavy duty backpacks.

Then aesthetically, the backpack features a nicely sleek, modest but modern design. It doesn’t ‘leap out’ or anything, and does not look uber-cool like the Nomatic, but this is absolutely and totally fine with me.

Carrying Comfort

Comfort is key when it comes to travel backpacks, and the Tortuga Travel Backpack Lite does not disappoint. It features padded shoulder straps and a ventilated back panel that helps minimise sweat, even after hours of wear. The adjustable sternum strap and hip belt further enhance its carrying comfort, distributing the load evenly and reducing strain on your shoulders and back.

Best Uses

The Tortuga Travel Backpack Lite is versatile enough to suit a good and broad range of travel needs.

Remember that it is designed for carry on and this is its best use. So think short and sweet budget backpacking trips, city breaks or long weekends. Ultimately the only limitation here is the size – I personally would not really want to travel for a 2 week vacation or month-long backpacking jaunt with just 40L and would instead look to check a 60L + bag. But as a carry-on weekend bag, it’s ideal.

It’s also pretty well suited for urban explorations and day trips although the question here is why you would need 40L for these occasions. It does feature waist and sternum straps so could also be adapted for hiking and camping trips. Just remember that this is not its primary use so it would feel quite as comfortable as a property ergonomic, fully lightweight hiking pack and won’t offer the same level of resilience either.

Price and Value


Costing $250, the Tortuga Lite might be more expensive than some of you out there have paid for travel gear before. After All, you can probably pick something up at Amazon for as little as $20 and even high street standard gear from Decathlon or REI can be picked up for $100.

But we are in the realm of proper travel gear here – high-end gear made from one of the best backpack brands out there. With its features, durability, and design, the Tortuga Travel Backpack Lite 40L offers great value for its price. While it may be a bit of an investment upfront, the backpack’s versatility and longevity make it a cost-effective choice for frequent travellers who demand quality and performance.

I honestly think this is a very reasonable price for a 40L pack. In the next section, we will compare it to some packs that cost a damn sight more.

Alternatives To The Tortuga Lite 40L

I will be honest, this is such a bloody great carry-on backpack that I am tempted to tell you to look no further – this is the one when it comes to your next new backpack. But there are alternative carry-on backpacks out there and it is duty to at least offer up some comparisons.

Nomatic Travel Pack

Nomatic Travel Bag 40L

The modern classic that is the 40L Nomatic Travel Pack is a highly versatile and durable backpack designed for travellers who want serious organisation, flexibility, and efficiency. It’s known for its innovative features, including a water-resistant build, a compartmentalised design for better organisation of clothes, tech, and necessities, and various pockets and compartments tailored to the needs of modern travellers.

It also typically offers a sleek, professional look suitable for both leisure and business travel, transforming from a backpack to a briefcase for versatility in different settings. Its size is optimised to meet most airline carry-on requirements, making it a popular choice among frequent flyers.

Costing $300 and weighing 3.42 lbs, the Nomatic is more expensive but slighter lighter than the Tortuga. If you’re looking for a more compact version of this bag, there is also the Nomatic Travel Pack 14L.

Peak Design

Peak Design Travel Backpack 45L

The Peak Design Travel Backpack is a versatile, durable, and thoughtfully designed backpack that caters to the needs of modern travellers, photographers, and commuters. Engineered for maximum efficiency and organisation, it features a sleek, minimalist aesthetic while offering a high degree of functionality and customization.

The backpack’s innovative design includes multiple access points, allowing for easy packing and retrieval of items from the top, sides, or back. It’s a great camera backpack for those needing a higher capacity.

The issue with the Peak Design offerings is that the 45L version is over the carry-on standards of some airlines and the 30L version does not offer enough storage capacity for anything longer than a weekend.

Osprey Farpoint 40

Osprey Farpoint 40

The Osprey Farpoint 40 is a highly acclaimed travel backpack known for its comfort, durability, and practical design, making it a favourite among backpackers and light travellers. Specifically designed to comply with most airline carry-on requirements, the Farpoint 40 maximises storage capacity while remaining compact and easy to carry, which is ideal for weekend getaways or minimalist travel.

At $184, the Farpoint 40 is a bit of a bargain. In some ways it actually has the edge over the Travel Pack Lite – for example, it is more hiking-friendly and comes with the Osprey All Mighty Guarantee. However, I don’t like the storage and access function as much and aesthetically it takes things in a very different direction.

Final Thoughts

Tortuga Lite 40L
The Tortuga Travel Backpack Lite looks great even in sunny Yorkshire.

The Tortuga Travel Backpack Lite 40L stands out as a highly functional, durable, and stylish option for travellers who value simplicity and efficiency. Its thoughtful design touches, from the fully opening main compartment to the ergonomic support system, highlight a deep understanding of the needs of modern travellers.

Whether you’re navigating airport terminals, exploring new cities, or trekking through nature, this backpack proves to be a versatile and reliable companion.

Its carry-on size compliance is a significant advantage, allowing travellers to bypass check-in queues and baggage claim waits, seamlessly moving from one location to the next.

While the price point may be higher than some alternatives, the value it offers through its robust build quality, thoughtful features, and aesthetic appeal justifies the investment, especially for those who travel frequently.

If you love this bag but you’re looking for something a little bigger or a little smaller, then check out the Tortuga Outbreaker that comes in both 35l and 45l.

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