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  1. #1
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    Tom Bihn vs. Tortuga vs. Minaal for extended international carry-on travel?

    Over the next few years, I expect to do some serious international travel -- trips of one to two months at a time, mostly in the "developing" world, in places ranging from Peru's sacred valley to Indonesia and Cambodia to Morocco and Egypt, among others.

    The first of these trips will be in May, and I've begun researching bags. I'd like to be well-organized and avoid checking a bag when possible, so I'm looking at carry-on travel bags rather than hiking backpacks. After much thought and googling, I've tentatively narrowed things down to three options: a Minaal Carry-on 2.0; a Tortuga Outbreaker; or something from Tom Bihn. The new Mission Workshop Radian is also intriguing, but it comes with serious sticker shock -- $585!

    For those who don't know them, the other two bags are here ..

    Minaal Carry-on 2.0
    https://www.minaal.com/collections/b...l-carry-on-bag

    Tortuga Outbreaker
    https://www.tortugabackpacks.com/pro...ravel-backpack

    One of the biggest points in favor of TB is the legendary quality and durability, plus the fact that TB is a well-established company that will still be around a decade or two from now. Both Minaal and Tortuga are recent start-ups, and who knows whether they'll survive long enough to honor their warranties?

    Points in favor of the others? With the padded hip belt, the Tortuga in particular may be more comfortable to carry loaded, especially for longer periods. And both the Minaal and the Tortuga may offer better weather resistance -- the Minaal has a raincover; the Tortuga is made from waterproof sailcloth.

    I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on the merits of a TB bag for my intended uses, even if you've no experience with the other bags. Idle speculation is welcome.

    And just to be clear: it's my hope that you can talk me into going with TB.

    Thank you!
    Last edited by Buffalonian; 08-24-2018 at 08:13 AM.

  2. #2
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    Incidentally, the folks at Tortuga have a rather snarky series of "Outbreaker vs. ----- ?" pages on their web site, including one for the Outbreaker vs. the TB Aeronaut:

    https://www.tortugabackpacks.com/pag...uga-outbreaker

    The accuracy of their claims aside, their snarky attitude alone makes me dislike them.
    Last edited by Buffalonian; 08-24-2018 at 07:38 AM.

  3. #3
    Forum Member yeg780's Avatar
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    The bags you listed look great! I have an A45 and I was drawn to it because of its expanse. I love that I decide how itís customizable. I donít want to be forced to use a number of different pockets, slots, and dividers based on the manufacturer. I could be wrong, but at quick glances, thatís what the other bags you have listed seem to be doing - forcing the user into an organization system.

    The A45 lets me organize the way I want to organize. Thatís where all the great Tom Bihn accessories come into play. I can make the A45 into whatever I want it to be.

    Iíve used the A45 on many occasions, from road trips to airplane carry on. The durability and attention to quality is top notch.

    Just my two cents. Iím a Tom Bihn convert, though, so Iím biased Heresy? Tom Bihn vs. Tortuga vs. Minaal for "One Bag" Travel?


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  4. #4
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    Do you absolutely need to bring a laptop on this trip?
    If yes the Tortuga is great. If no that the A45 will be the best for one bag travel. Or the A45 and a laptop carry on. Since your new to this the 40 to 45L range is your buddy. Love the more more minnal but not for your trip.


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  5. #5
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    For many minimalist long term travelers, you are only every carrying enough for a week... you do laundry (sink or machine)

    There are people who travel with the S19 or S25 and that's it... (see Chase Reeves, Snarky Nomad, etc)

    Even though TB says they are 'weather resistant' they are pretty close to water proof due to the material (update your water proofing every few years if you're in rainy areas) and the water guard zippers.

    Hard to evaluate your situation without an idea of your packing list... since it sounds like you'd be moving around a lot, a smaller bag would be easier than a larger.
    I like all the blues and greys...and all the happy citrus colours too! My search unicorn is the Sapphire Dyneema original Small Shop Bag...

  6. #6
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    Thanks for the comments thus far -- especially on the water resistance of TB bags.

    Just to be clear -- I do expect to bring a personal item and will carry my laptop in that, so I don't need a main bag with built-in laptop padding. I tried to edit the title of the thread accordingly, but couldn't.

    Also, I'm prepared to be quite minimalist about this -- I'm traveling for pleasure, and will spend most of my time with a nomadic friend who's been living overseas from a 60L Gregory backpack for the past five years. There's little I "need" to bring, and if it would be useful, I'm sure I can get things down to a personal item (a Pilot or Stowaway?) plus a main bag a good bit smaller than an A45.

    Incidentally ... I just purchased an S25 Guide Edition in Mars Red on Ebay (new and unused -- it still has the tags!). I also have a Mission Workshop Rambler (expandable from 22L to about 35L). I haven't ruled out the possibility of trying to do this, at least on my first trip, with one of those backpacks and a 12-13L bag from TB as a personal item.

    Before I buy another main bag, I'll buy that personal item and try packing what I'd want to take in that bag and the backpacks (one at at time -- I wouldn't take both).
    Last edited by Buffalonian; 08-24-2018 at 09:18 AM.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Buffalonian View Post
    Thanks for the comments thus far -- especially on the water resistance of TB bags.

    Just to be clear -- I do expect to bring a personal item and will carry my laptop in that, so I don't need a main bag with built-in laptop padding. I tried to edit the title of the thread accordingly, but couldn't.

    Also, I'm prepared to be quite minimalist about this -- I'm traveling for pleasure, and will spend most of my time with a nomadic friend who's been living overseas from a 60L Gregory backpack for the past five years. There's little I "need" to bring, and if it would be useful, I'm sure I can get things down to a personal item (a Pilot or Stowaway?) plus a main bag a good bit smaller than an A45.

    Incidentally ... I just purchased an S25 Guide Edition in Mars Red on Ebay (new and unused -- it still has the tags!). I also have a Mission Workshop Rambler (expandable from 22L to about 35L). I haven't ruled out the possibility of trying to do this, at least on my first trip, with one of those backpacks and a 12-13L bag from TB as a personal item.

    Before I buy another main bag, I'll buy that personal item and try packing what I'd want to take in that bag and the backpacks.
    Test packing is a great idea - it really lets you see what you have and where it could fit. The Synapses have a lot of build in organization already, so it reduces the need for other cubes/pouches.
    Take time to consider whether you'll be moving around a lot or staying put for a days/weeks at a time, that may affect your choices... depending on your size/strength/comfort level, you'll probably want to put the heaviest bag on your back...so your smaller carry might be better off as a briefcase/shoulder style...
    Or you can do the classic hack of bringing a Shop Bag... the small carry backpack goes in the shop bag to make it a hand carry, whilst the larger bag is on your back.
    I like all the blues and greys...and all the happy citrus colours too! My search unicorn is the Sapphire Dyneema original Small Shop Bag...

  8. #8
    Forum Member DeBru's Avatar
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    I have no experience with Tortuga, I thought they have a great concept, but the bag is just too heavy. I got a Minaal (before I got an A30), and again, a great concept IF you need space for a laptop, otherwise there is some wasted space, and the clamshell wound up being difficult to live out of. The Minaal has not been used once (need to Ebay it) since I got my A30 and Pilot combo. The quality of TB materials and craftsmanship is second to none, and every other bag I have seems flimsy by comparison. And amazingly I can fit more in my A30 than I was able to in the Minaal. I’m sure that the Minaal and Tortuga are great bags, but for me, it’s all about TB.
    current EDC- Black Ballistic Travel Cubelet with an Orange 152 COW. I have MANY pouches... My goal is 1 in every color 好的朋友

  9. #9
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    Personally, I think the Tortuga bags are ugly from the outside. Granted that's a personal opinion, but it matters to me what the bag looks like, and Tortuga just doesn't do it for me.
    I think their bags are little too organized for me. I think all the zippers and pouches would get in the way more than they would help me, but you may be different. I liked their smaller day bag

    If I'm truly worried about my bag getting wet, I'll carry a few trash bags and either throw one over the bag or (more likely) put the stuff inside the bag in a plastic bag so it won't get wet. Usually though I can avoid being out the rain for too long.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by DeBru View Post
    The Minaal has not been used once (need to Ebay it) since I got my A30 and Pilot combo. The quality of TB materials and craftsmanship is second to none, and every other bag I have seems flimsy by comparison. And amazingly I can fit more in my A30 than I was able to in the Minaal. I’m sure that the Minaal and Tortuga are great bags, but for me, it’s all about TB.
    That's useful to know. Thanks!

    Quote Originally Posted by Kelly S View Post
    Personally, I think the Tortuga bags are ugly from the outside. Granted that's a personal opinion, but it matters to me what the bag looks like, and Tortuga just doesn't do it for me.
    I totally agree! The look of the Outbreaker is ugly and boring.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Buffalonian View Post
    Over the next few years, I expect to do some serious international travel -- trips of one to two months at a time, mostly in the "developing" world, in places ranging from Peru's sacred valley to Indonesia and Cambodia to Morocco and Egypt, among others.

    The first of these trips will be in May, and I've begun researching bags. I'd like to be well-organized and avoid checking a bag when possible, so I'm looking at carry-on travel bags rather than hiking backpacks. After much thought and googling, I've tentatively narrowed things down to three options: a Minaal Carry-on 2.0; a Tortuga Outbreaker; or something from Tom Bihn. The new Mission Workshop Radian is also intriguing, but it comes with serious sticker shock -- $585!

    For those who don't know them, the other two bags are here ..

    Minaal Carry-on 2.0
    https://www.minaal.com/collections/b...l-carry-on-bag

    Tortuga Outbreaker
    https://www.tortugabackpacks.com/pro...ravel-backpack

    One of the biggest points in favor of TB is the legendary quality and durability, plus the fact that TB is a well-established company that will still be around a decade or two from now. Both Minaal and Tortuga are recent start-ups, and who knows whether they'll survive long enough to honor their warranties?

    Points in favor of the others? With the padded hip belt, the Tortuga in particular may be more comfortable to carry loaded, especially for longer periods. And both the Minaal and the Tortuga may offer better weather resistance -- the Minaal has a raincover; the Tortuga is made from waterproof sailcloth.

    I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on the merits of a TB bag for my intended uses, even if you've no experience with the other bags. Idle speculation is welcome.

    And just to be clear: it's my hope that you can talk me into going with TB.

    Thank you!
    First of all, I don't think its ever "heresy" to evaluate or re-evaluate choices, either in life or bag purchases. In fact, just the opposite---to me, picking a bag without performing due diligence on all available options is simply illogical.

    As you haven't really picked a certain TB bag, its impossible to perform an exact comparison of bags. However, I'll provide some of my generalized thoughts, most of which are highly correlated.

    • I generally trust TB as a company. As you mentioned, TB has a stable history and, as far as I know, will likely exist for many years, whereas the long-term goals of kickstarters like Minaal are more amorphous (Minaal's page indicates "We made a bag (with help from our Kickstarter friends), then some more bags (with a little more help from our friends), then some other things. We will probably make more things in the future.")
    • I don't like flashy marketing campaigns, coupons, or gimmicks, as they devalue the class and value of a product. E.g., I just visited the Minaal 2.0 page and got not one, but two pop-up advertisements for a $20 shipping discount and a chance to win $150 credit each month if I join their mailing list, plus a disingenuous third popup to chat with a company rep. Tortuga's page had a popup to get discounts and a carryon packing list if I joined their list (why should I give away my email address to receive a packing list?) I prefer a company that sets a fair, stable price for its products, because any discount generally means either they're overcharging for products to offset the discount, or their price is higher to pay for marketing.
    • The customer base demographic is very different. Reviewing the instagram pages for Minaal and Tortuga, the average photographed person is late 20's, in good shape, and often white, often male, and generally 'trendy' (this is obviously a generalization, and there are clear exceptions.) TB's instagram is filled with people from various ethnicities, different genders, often older (and often younger children, too), and not always so...well, svelte (again, I'm generalizing.) A brand can not directly control which type of person buys the brand's products, but customers often guide a company's direction, and I think it provides insight into the company's vision. Each buyer has individual preferences for the vision they prefer.
    • Experience, drive, and commitment are commodities than can not be undervalued. The Tortuga "About" page indicates that the idea for the company was formed in 2009 when the backpack of one of the company's founders ripped. So, even if they started designing and sewing bags immediately, they've got 8-9 years of experience, assuming they quit their other jobs and began to focus on bags immediately. Alternatively, TB started making bags/equipment when he was 10 years old, and has been making bags for over 40 years. This is not a hobby or fall-back plan...this is TB's life. I don't get the same feeling from other companies. The counterpoint is that younger companies often have younger designers often come from a different starting point, and can focus on different needs and ambitions. Again, a potential buyer should consider all aspects to find what is best for them.
    • Fabrics matter. Minaal's 2.0 webpage isn't clear about the type of fabric used for the bag; I actually had to go to a third party review to get the fabric details, which is apparently mostly 600d nylon, with some 1000d nylon. Tortuga's outbreaker uses 210d nylon sailcloth. TB uses a variety of materials, but most travel bags are 1050d ballistic nylon.
    • Weight matters. The tortuga is listed at 5.1 lbs, the 2.0 is 3.12 lbs, and, for comparison, the A45 in 1050 ballistic is 3.06 lbs. (Of course, weight is relative to any extra features you might add, like hip belt, internal frame, etc.)
    • Location matters. Both Tortuga and Minaal's companies/key people are spread throughout the globe. The Tortuga Outbreaker is made in China and the Minaal 2.0 is made in Vietnam. TB is located, of course, in the U.S., for both oversight, design, and production.


    As I've mentioned multiple times, each person must determine which bag/company matches their needs and desires. I can see value in each of these bags, but the corporate message and history of TB simply resonates with me better than Tortuga's or Minaal's. No company or bag is perfect for everyone, though.
    Last edited by ThomGault; 08-24-2018 at 12:09 PM.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by ThomGault View Post
    First of all, I don't think its ever "heresy" to evaluate or re-evaluate choices, either in life or bag purchases. In fact, just the opposite---to me, picking a bag without performing due diligence on all available options is simply illogical. ...

    As I've mentioned multiple times, each person must determine which bag/company matches their needs and desires. I can see value in each of these bags, but the corporate message and history of TB simply resonates with me better than Tortuga's or Minaal's. No company or bag is perfect for everyone, though.
    Thank you for all of that, ThomGault. I appreciate your comments, and TB resonates better with me for all of the reasons you mention.

    And that bit about "heresy" was intended very much tongue in cheek!

  13. #13
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    As far as tortuga goes, the Setout bag is the one you want to look at. Itís lighter but still very comfortable to carry when full. Both minnal and tortuga do a fantastic job of protecting a laptop and handling cords and dongles and hold enough clothes for a minimalist to be gone for weeks. If your a blogger that makes a lot of sense. Keep in mind airlines in Europe have stricter carry on bag requirements. The A45 gets checked on Ryan Air.


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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by xnykid View Post
    The A45 gets checked on Ryan Air.
    Have you had personal experience with this? I was hoping that a vastly underpacked A45 would possibly sneak through, especially with their latest baggage size limit policy released this week.

  15. #15
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    I saw a passenger in Italy with a standard roller bag be told to go wait in the line to check that bag. The bins on their plans are smaller than in the USA. In Europe I mostly use an A30. If itís only 7 days I use the S25. Much prefer the synapse because itís not to big to carry every day. Itís probably my favorite travel companion


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