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Patagonia MLC vs Tortuga Setout Backpack

The Patagonia MLC sacrifices several gotta-have carry on bag features in an attempt to be all things to all people.

Too Big to Quality as a Carry On

The Patagonia MLC claims to be a rugged bag that “meets most airline carry-on requirements.” Great, but what are the precise measurements of the Patagonia MLC?

After some in-depth searching, these measurements were finally located. They were hidden in a hard-to-read, confusing size chart. Almost like Patagonia didn’t want you to find them… and realize how misleading is their claim of meeting carry on requirements.

The maximum carry on size for most airlines is 22” x 14” x 9”. The Patagonia MLC’s dimensions are 22” x 16” x 9”. Not sure which airlines they're referencing, but it certainly breaks the rules for United, Delta, American, and most others.

Those two inches -- for the middle number -- means a world of difference. It puts the Patagonia MLC squarely in the “too big for a carry on bag” realm. That breaks the cardinal rule for a travel backpack!

You’re gambling against the finicky airline gods when you try to carry on the Patagonia MLC. Compared to the Tortuga Setout with dimensions of 22” x 14” x 9”, where you're carry on compliant every time.

Poor Ergonomics

Did you know that a high-quality, padded hip belt transfers 80% of your bag’s weight to your hips, saving your shoulders from tight, headache-inducing knots?

Until you’re carrying a full backpack, you don’t realize a hip belt’s true magic.

Patagonia MLC’s designers didn’t add a magical hip belt. So if you travel with this bag, you’ll never know the blissful feeling of knot-free shoulders. Or the weightlessness of hefting a heavy backpack onto your back, then clipping the hip belt to find the weight lifting off your back.

We want you to be comfortable on your trip. That’s why the Setout Backpack has a full-weight bearing hip belt. Your stronger leg muscles carry a full 80% of your bag’s weight so your shoulders feel light and fancy-free.

Speaking of your shoulders, they’re delicate beings which is why we made our shoulder straps from injection molded foam. That’s the same foam used in the soles of your favorite running shoes. Over time, that foam breaks in -- in the best way possible -- and conforms to the shape of your body.

How do the Patagonia MLC’s shoulder straps compare? We wish we could tell you. Patagonia doesn’t describe the shoulder straps other than “ergonomic shoulder straps.” But, judging from the pictures, those shoulder straps are thin, flimsy things that have been denied proper substance and care.

In other words, under a heavy load, chances are high they’ll dig into your tender shoulders. So you’ll feel every single ounce of weight riding on your sensitive neck.

Sounds like a great time, eh?

Tries to Be Too Many Things

The Patagonia Headway MLC tries to be both a backpack and duffel bag. Shoulder straps zip away into a inner compartment when it’s in duffel bag mode.

A house divided always falls, so goes the saying.

At Tortuga, we aim to do one thing and do it really well instead of doing many things in a mediocre fashion. In other words, we don’t believe in self-sabotage.

That’s why we designed the Setout to be one bag: a travel backpack. The Setout's straps hide away for protection if you need to gate check the bag, but it doesn't sacrifice ergonomics by trying to be a Transformer.

Let the Patagonia MLC trip itself up by trying to be two bags at once. The Setout aims to do one thing and do it well.

What Reachable Pockets?

When you have the ability to keep your most valuable items -- like phone, boarding pass, passport -- close to your body, you’re enveloped by a warm feeling of security.

At Tortuga, that’s the feeling we want to give you.

No digging through pockets, frantically searching for an elusive boarding pass. Or holding up the line at customs trying to find that darn passport hiding out in the bottom of your bag.

Your trip should be smooth. Especially in the spots where we have the power to change your mood. Like putting two reachable pockets on a hip belt, so all your favorite MVP items are close at hand.

How many reachable pockets does the Patagonia MLC have?


If you’re looking for a backpack that makes your trip smooth, keeps your fav items close at hand, and ensures you’ll arrive at destination with knot-free shoulders and neck, check out the Setout Backpack.

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