Finding the best backpacks for digital nomads was a tough job. As digital nomads, Adam and I literally live and work from our backpacks. I would go as far as to say that for digital nomads, backpacks are perhaps the most important thing we own.
That’s a lot of pressure to find the best backpacks for digital nomads!
Between us we’ve been through several backpacks, some awesome and some not so awesome. We’ve also had the chance to take sneak peaks at the backpacks of our digital nomad friends to work out what really works in the best backpacks for digital nomads.
Before we get stuck in, here are some of the features and things you’ll want to consider if you’re after the best backpacks for digital nomad life.
Quick Guide To The Best Backpack For Digital Nomads
What Will You Use Your Digital Nomad Backpack For?
Is this backpack primarily for moving from room to room? Or will you be using this backpack as an every day bag to get from café to café or to explore cities?
Once you’ve narrowed down the main use for your backpack it will help you to narrow down what size you need it to be.
It Needs To Be Big (But Not Too Big)
Whatever you think you’ll be using your backpack for, my recommendation is to buy ever so slightly bigger. You don’t want a bag that’s too big, as you’ll be lugging round extra weight for no reason. But if your bag is too small you’ll have an absolute nightmare every time you have to pack it up.
If you make sure your bag is slightly bigger than you think you’ll need then you know you’ll have space for those extras that you don’t plan for. The sandwich you picked up on the way home, the extra jumper you needed in case you went to the beach after work.
It’s handy to have just a little extra room for those unplanned items – but not too much extra room.
The Best Backpack For Digital Nomads Should Be Lightweight
When you’re a digital nomad you’re carrying your backpack nearly every day. It will be carrying your life – your laptop, hard drives, phone, headphones, microphone. Whatever it is you do for work, you’ll want it all in that backpack.
I assumed all backpacks were designed to be lightweight, and it would be what was in them weighing you down. But when I met Adam and tried out his backpack I realised this wasn’t true at all. His backpack alone weighed so much!
Where ever possible, go for a lightweight backpack. Even if the bag you love isn’t as lightweight as you’d hoped you can get round it if the bag has decent hip and chest straps to help you distribute the weight. This is why Adam never even noticed how heavy his actual backpack was and why he still claims it’s the best backpack for digital nomads that he’s ever owned!
A Durable Digital Nomad Backpack Will Last Longer
This bag is going to end up in some sticky situations. From being thrown around by luggage handlers to having to survive being thrown in muddy puddles or dragged across concrete hallways. The best backpacks for digital nomads will be made from tough, durable material that can take a bit of a beating!
The Best Backpack For Digital Nomads Will Have Safe Storage For A Laptop
This is a pretty non-negotiable requirement for the best backpack for digital nomads. When you work while you travel one of your most important items is your laptop. Without a laptop you’ll be out of a job, have no money and have to come home.
A safe storage pocket for a laptop is essential in the best backpack for digital nomads.
Look For A Theft Proof Pocket In The Best Backpack For Digital Nomads
There are lots of ways to keep valuables safe while you travel, so although I don’t think theft proof pockets are essential, they certainly are quite handy and they do give a certain peace of mind. It’s up to you to decide whether you want to prioritise this feature, and I’ll give some tips below on how to keep your valuables safe while you travel in case your favourite backpack doesn’t come with theft proof pockets.
Organisation Is Important For Digital Nomad Backpacks
Riffling through a full backpack every time you arrive somewhere new is an absolute nightmare. Packing cubes are everyone’s favourite go to for bag organisation on the road and I can see why (they’re an amazing invention!) but you might also want to consider the organisational features of the backpack itself.
Does it have adequate pockets for your needs? Where and how does it open? Finding out what you prefer now can save you hassle in the future.
Is It Waterproof?
I actually think this is one of the most important features of a backpack for digital nomads. When you travel you can’t dictate the weather and you often have to walk in the rain to catch buses or flights. You also want a bag that will keep your belongings safe when you go on boat trips or more more adventurous excursions. With so many valuable electronics in your bag you’re bound to have a water related disaster if your bag isn’t waterproof, or you haven’t bought a waterproof cover for it.
Do You Want To Take It As Carry On?
If you’ll be flying regularly then you might want to consider a backpack that’s small enough to fit hand luggage regulations. It’s so much easier flying when you don’t have luggage to check in and collect at the other end! If you want a bag small enough for hand luggage then you’ll have to be prepared to pack pretty light, as airlines are toughening up on their hand luggage requirements (always double check before you fly as every airline is slightly different, and many are changing their requirements regularly!)
What’s Your Budget For The Best Backpack For Digital Nomads
Budget is obviously important, but remember this backpack is carrying all your belongings. You’ll want to find the right mix between saving some money and getting something that’s going to last, and that’s going to keep all the expensive things you own safe.
Luckily I wasn’t a digital nomad when my first travel backpack ripped open at the seams on a bus journey in Vietnam. I lost a towel, but it could have been a lot worse! Try not to compromise too much on key features when buying the best backpack for digital nomads.
The Best Backpacks For Digital Nomads
I’ve split this section into bags that I would consider the best for day backpacks (taking on trips around the city, taking your office to the café for the day) and the best backpacks for digital nomads to take as their main luggage bags. You’ll probably want both eventually, a day bag and a luggage bag, as both have slightly different purposes. But if you’re like Adam and happy to travel light then you might get away with just a day bag!
The Best Day Backpacks For Digital Nomads
Osprey Porter 30
The Osprey brand has an incredible reputation among the digital nomad community for a reason. Osprey bags are well thought through, quality bags that are built to last without compromising on weight.
Aside from being a great looking backpack, the Porter 30 has multiple storage options including a padded laptop sleeve at the back of the bag, making it easy to remove at airport security. It has a hip belt to spread the load for when you’re carrying heavier items.
It’s designed to be rugged and really last, with reinforced construction and it’s even eco-friendly and made from recycled materials. It’s small enough to fit the luggage requirements for most airlines, but the straps can all zip away making it the perfect backpack for putting in the hold if you ever need to.
On top of it all the Osprey Porter 30 comes with a lifetime warranty (yep, that’s right!)
If you ever want it to double up as your main backpack for travel then there is just enough room, though it would be getting a little tight to fit in all the essentials for longer trips.
If you’re looking for something bigger to keep all your luggage in for longer trip then check out the Osprey Porter 46.
Nomatic Backpack For Digital Nomads
This is a backpack that has literally been designed for digital nomads.
For starters, it made of a waterproof, rugged material so you can take it literally anywhere, but it still looks professional and is the sort of bag you could easily take to business meetings.
It’s expandable, so it fits the not too big but not too small category perfectly! At it’s biggest it’s only 24l, so it’s definitely a day bag only rather than a travel bag. You can switch easily between a rucksack and a briefcase depending on your needs.
Organisation is easy in this bag as it unzips all the way around, giving you great access to all your belongings inside (no rummaging around for the pen at the bottom!) It also has 20 different pockets. Yes 20! All of them designed with a purpose. Things like a padded laptop pocket, notebook pockets and sunglasses pockets, but also with security pockets and hidden pockets for safety.
It’s such a well thought out bag with so much attention to detail. It’s hard to fault it – apart from the slightly hefty price tag! This is definitely a forever backpack for digital nomads.
Hanergy Solar Backpack For Digital Nomads
Hanergy really do know solar energy, and they really do know what the best backpacks for digital nomads look like. This is one of the most technologically advanced digital nomad backpacks you’ll find out there, providing you with enough power to charge your phone from your backpack almost as quickly as from the wall socket!
Not only is it one of the best solar backpacks out there, it’s also designed with travel in mind. It’s waterproof and rugged, with easy to organise compartments and pockets. It has hip straps for extra support and Hanergy have designed backpacks in enough different sizes to ensure there’s a solar powered backpack out there for whatever your needs.
Tortuga Setout Backpack
This is the perfect carry on backpack for either day use or for short trips away. It’s designed with laptops in mind and has a secure, padded space for them along with your cables and chargers.
It’s also probably the most comfortable of our best backpacks for digital nomads (in our opinion) with super comfy foam straps. It’s missing a waist strap as it’s designed only for day use, which is a shame as it limits the weight you can carry.
It also unzips all the way around so you can pack it like a suitcase and access all your things really easily.
Matein Travel Backpack
The Matein travel backpack is probably the best budget backpack for digital nomads out there. It has a safe pocket for your laptop along with many other compartments to keep your things organised. It’s sturdy enough and although it doesn’t carry the same warranty’s as some of the other bags listed here, for the price it should last a while.
It has an anti-theft pocket at the back to keep valuables secure and a padded back for better ventilation.
If you’re after the best budget backpack for digital nomads then this is your bag!
Lekesky Backpack For Digital Nomads
I’ve included this option as it’s a little more fun. It’s not ‘the best’ backpack for digital nomads if you’re looking for all the mod cons and high tech features, but this is a cute digital nomad backpack that does it’s job for the money you’ll pay.
When it comes to finding a practical backpack we often forget that the way a bag looks can also be a top priority, and this bag is an attractive day bag as well as having all the important features in a backpack for digital nomads.
It had a decent sized laptop pocket and lots of other useful compartments, it is wide opening for ease of access and made from durable, water resistant fabric. It also has an anti-theft hidden pocket at the back.
This is a cute yet professional option for any female (or male!) digital nomads wanting a backpack with a little more curb appeal.
The Best Luggage Backpack For Digital Nomads
Here are the best backpacks for digital nomads to use as their main luggage bag. They’re a little bigger than the kind of backpack you might want to take around town for the day (although a lot of them will double up and do this job too!) Many of these options are also just about small enough to fit in the cabin as carry on luggage.
Pacsafe Venturesafe EXP45
If security is a priority for you then this is your backpack. These guys have won awards for their innovative anti-theft travel gear designs. It looks simple from the outside, but this digital nomad backpack actually has 5 different built in security features including internal locking cables, slash proof materials and even a cable for you to lock the bag to an unmoveable object like a lamp post if you ever needed to leave it.
At 45l it’s a great size for anyone wanting a compact travel backpack that will fit in the cabin of a lot of flights, or can be easily zipped up and checked in. It has a hip belt for carrying heavier luggage, it opens like a suitcase so you can pack effectively and it has tonnes of storage organisation, including a padded laptop sleeve.
This is a great backpack for digital nomads wanting something with the extra space for all their packing.
Osprey Fairview 55
The Osprey Fairview is a good choice of backpack for any digital nomads heading off on a longer trip. With enough capacity to count as a proper backpack for travel, this bag comes with a detachable smaller rucksack for day use making it a two in one bag for all your needs.
There’s a hip belt and this and the shoulder straps pack away for easy storage. It opens fully like a suitcase for packing ease and it has lots of useful pockets for storage organisation.
The detachable day bag has a designated laptop and tablet sleeve and a scratch free pocket for things like sunglasses or phones.
Osprey bags are some of the most popular around for a reason – they’re excellently built to last using high quality materials and they’re designed with travellers and digital nomads in mind.
Peak Design Travel Line Backpack 45L
This design is very clever. It zips up to change from a 45l to a 35l bag to meet the international max carry on standards, so you can choose whether you want to travel light or put your backpack in the hold for extra packing space.
It has side and back zip up pockets for ease of access to essentials like cameras and laptops, making it a great choice for digital nomads.
This is also a backpack that’s been made to last, with it’s 400D weatherproof nylon, a weatherproof bottom liner and robust zippers. You can’t really beat a quality design and build in a backpack for digital nomads – I guess you really do get what you pay for.
How To Keep Your Backpack Safe As Your Travel
Our top tips for keeping your digital nomad backpack safe as you travel.
Pack Light In Your Digital Nomad Backpack
This is an obvious one that isn’t always easy when you’re a digital nomad. The best way to keep your things safe when you travel is to just leave them at home! But when you’re working as you travel this is pretty impossible.
You can still keep this in mind when you pack. Leave behind the expensive clothes and jewellery that you don’t need with you and only take the essentials.
Keep Valuables Out Of Sight
An easy way to help keep your valuables safe is to keep them hidden in public places. Having a decent bag that will store your expensive laptop safely and out of sight is really important. When you’re travelling on public buses and trains try to resist the temptation to pull out your laptop and check your emails.
Lock Up Your Digital Nomad Backpack
Use a padlock on your backpack to lock up the zips. This is cheap and so easy to do, and will send a warning to any potential thieves that your bag is not an easy target! Buy a decent quality lock that won’t damage or rust quickly.
Invest In A Decent Backpack For Digital Nomads
This is your best bet if you can afford it. High quality backpacks for digital nomads are built with tough, durable material (some are even built with slash proof material as you’ve seen!) They are water resistant and come with waterproof covers. If you spend money on a backpack now then it’s unlikely you’ll be needing to replace your belongings in the future.
Think Before You Sleep
We’ve looked a little at how to keep your belongings inside your backpack safe, but keeping the actual backpack safe too is important.
Always carry your valuables in a backpack that will be allowed with you on public transport (and won’t have to go into luggage departments). If you’re sleeping on trains or buses then sleep on your backpack or wear it while you sleep. I’ve had many a friend put their backpack on the floor and wake to find it gone.
Get Decent Travel Insurance For Digital Nomads
Obviously, no matter how hard you try to protect your things, accidents and disasters do happen. There really is nothing you can do to 100% protect yourself except by getting decent travel insurance.
We use World Nomad’s as they have plans tailored to long term travellers and digital nomads, but there are so many insurance companies around these days that there’s no excuse but to get your things covered. You’ll be so pleased you did when disaster strikes!
Top Tip: Make digital copies of your important documents and store them with family or friends or securely on the cloud. This will make the claims process a lot easier if you do lose your documents.
So here are our top picks for the best backpacks for digital nomads out there. Hopefully this has helped you choose your ideal digital nomad backpack – or at least helped narrow down your choice! Let us know in the comments below if you chose any of these backpacks and how they’re working out for you!