Best Backpack For Digital Nomads

Best Backpack For Digital Nomads

When looking for a digital nomad backpack there are so many factors to consider. As a digital nomad, you have pretty different needs to backpackers, for starters, you are going to be carrying your office on your back and so as well as comfort and durability, the safety and security of the content of your digital nomad backpack is vital.

To come up with this list of the best digital nomad backpacks I enlisted the help of 8 fellow digital nomads. Each of them shared with me their favorite tried and tested digital nomad travel bag including a review of why they love it. Every bag on this list is great for digital nomad luggage for slightly different reasons.

Some things to consider before buying a digital nomad backpack

There are 6 things that you need to consider before buying a backpack for digital nomads and they are:

Waterproof – This is a biggie. It’s worth investing in a digital nomad backpack that is at very least water-resistant. Otherwise, you may end up doing what I’ve had to do several times, wrapping your digital nomad gear in a bin bag! Or putting your bag in a bin bag (true story). Saver time and stress by buying a waterproof bag from the get-go.

Laptop storage – Your digital nomad bag needs to keep your laptop safe. It is, after all, our number one priority. So finding a bag that has a safe space to hold your laptop and keep is safe is a big bonus.

Make sure it is light to carry – this is for 2 reasons, firstly because you don’t need to be carrying around any unnecessary weight. And secondly, because airlines are getting more and more strict at inforcing the weight of carry-on bags, I’ve personally had mine weighed several times in the past few months. Every pound helps!

Size is everything – Your backpack for digital nomads needs to be big enough to fit everything in and small enough to be taken as a carryon when flying. So it’s important to pay close attention to the size. Every bag on this list of the best digital nomad bags can be used as both a carryon. I’ve included the actual bag dimensions to help.

Security – The security of your bag needs to be considered. Making sure the bag isn’t easily opened, has some hidden zips and secure spaces to hide your digital nomad gear.

Cost – You should see buying digital nomad equipment as an investment. It’s worth paying for a bag that is going to meet all of your needs and stand the test of time. But if you are on a budget then there are some options out there that don’t cost the earth.

The best backpack for digital nomads
the best backpack for digital nomads

The Best Backpack For Digital Nomads 2020

BackpackBest forWeightVolumeDimensionsPriceBuy
FE Active 30LAdventure and traveling on/ near water2lb30L21 x 13 inUnder $40Buy on Amazon
Cargo Hauler DuffelAdventure and durability
1.8lb40L22.75 x 8.75 x 12.5 inUnder $100Buy on Amazon
Osprey FarpointThe minimalist traveler
3lb40L22 x 14 x 9 inFrom $120Buy on Amazon
Pacsafe VenturesafeSecurity3.3lb45L21.7 x 13.8 x 8.7 in
Under $200Buy on Amazon
Tortuga 35 SetoutWomen3.8lb35L22 x 14 x19 inUnder $200
Eagle Creek Global CompanionOrganization and adventure3.5lb40L22 x 14 x 9 in
Under $170Buy on Amazon
The Wayks
eco-conscious digital nomads5.3lb45L23.6 x 12.2
€289.00
Lowe Alpine Carryon
Space3lb45L9.8 x 13.8 x 21.6 inUnder $200Buy on Amazon
Cabin ZeroLightweight travelers1.11lb44L20.1 x 14.6 x 7.9 in
$88Buy from Cabin Zero

FE Active 30L Waterproof Dry Bag

So this isn’t my day to day Digital Nomad backpack, I switch between Cabin Zero and my Kanken. But it’s the one I take with me when I’m doing crazy things like visiting the Amazon or hiking through the Jungle.

The FE Active 30L is the only daypack I trust to keep my laptop and digital equipment safe and dry while I’m traveling in places with the risk of getting wet. This could be in a hot and humid jungle, or it could be while island hopping in Thailand.

Knowing my laptop is safe and dry while disembarking boats, or even just chilling by the pool gives me huge peace of mind. There are padded straps so it’s good for hiking and a chest strap so you can distribute the weight more evenly. Inside there is just one zipper pocket where I can put things like keys, bank cards, and headphones that I might need to access quickly.

There are grab and go pockets on each side for my water bottle as well as a built-in bungee cord on the front which can come in really handy for holding wet towels, or a t-shirt. Best of all, it’s normally under $50 on Amazon!

So if you are a digital nomad who likes to live a little on the wild side then this is the bag for you!

Claire 

Pros

  • Cheap
  • Completely waterproof as it’s a dry bag
  • Quick access for a water bottle
  • Light – Under 2lb
  • Padded shoulder straps and back support
  • Built-in bungee cord (for yoga matt etc)

Cons

  • No separate laptop storage
  • No waist strap to help with weight distribution
  • At only 30L it’s on the small side if you want just one bag to travel with.

Cargo Hauler Duffel 40L

Since 2019, I’ve been using the Cargo Hauler Duffel 40L by eagle creek. I opted for the 40L, but they are different sizes available as well as different colors. I like how practical it is, I can wear it as a backpack or as a duffel bag. It’s the perfect size if you travel with a piece of carry-on luggage only.

It’s also made to protect your valuables from rain and snow which helps if you’re a nomad. You got to protect that laptop of yours. Practical, the Cargo Hauler Duffel looks amazing and is also made of durable materials. After a few months of traveling, it still looks new!

The bottom is padded so you won’t get worried about your valuables and you can also lock the bag with a padlock if you need to leave your bag somewhere for some reason.

As a digital nomad, I need to have a practical bag that I can use to protect all my travel gear but also to protect the tools I use on a daily basis. Since I’m based in Southeast Asia, I can’t buy a proper backpack here. I do need to have a high-quality bag and this is exactly what I found with eagle creek.

Melissa from Nomad Life

Pros

  • This is a seriously heavy-duty bag and will last a long time.
  • lightweight
  • Can remove the backpack straps and use as a duffle bag
  • Water-resistant
  • Carryon size
  • Folds up into itself
  • “No Matter What” warranty
  • Comfortable to wear
  • Six heavy-duty lash points for attaching this bag to a roof rack
  • 10 lockable zippers with storm flap

Cons

  • No compression straps
  • No waist strap to help with weight distribution
  • The end pockets don’t have lockable zippers

Osprey Farpoint

One of the best backpack lines for digital nomads to choose from is undoubtedly the Osprey Farpoint series. All of these backpacks are designed with comfort in mind and are extremely lightweight and have an adjustable harness and lockable zippers on the main bag making it ideal for digital nomads.

The Osprey Farpoint comes in 4 different sizes:40L, 55L, 70L and 80L with each bag having different pros and cons for use as a digital nomad.

The Osprey Farpoint 40L is the ideal backpack for digital nomad minimalists who want to avoid baggage fees as you are able to use this bag as carry-on and are traveling with minimal electronic gear.

The Osprey Farpoint 55L & 70L are more suitable backpacks if being carry-on only isn’t essential, as they come with a detachable daypack. This makes both models ideal if you want to have a smaller backpack for daily use. It is also possible to get away with having the Osprey Farpoint 55L as a carry-on bag depending on how strict the airline is and how fully-packed you have the bag.

The Osprey Farpoint 80L is a larger backpack without a detachable daypack and isn’t ideal for digital nomads unless they have a lot of gear.

It’s worth keeping in mind that Osprey also have a Fairview series, which is quite similar to the Osprey Farpoint series but designed specifically for women. The Fairview comes in 40L, 55L & 70L versions.

Michael from The World Was Here First

Pros

  • Lockable sliders on main compartment zipper
  • Laptop and tablet sleeve secure in a lockable compartment
  • Internal compression straps
  • Slash pocket
  • Padded top and side handles
  • Comes in different colors
  • Meets most airline carry-on requirements
  • LightWire frame suspension
  • mesh back panel for ventilation
  • Stowaway back panel so you can cover straps and check it in
  • Front compression straps
  • Lockable main compartment

Cons

  • The water bottle compartment isn’t easily accessible
  • The laptop pocket position is at the front and throws off the weight distribution
  • No hip belt pockets

The anti-theft Pacsafe Venturesafe

The anti-theft Pacsafe Venturesafe EXP45 is a great option for digital nomads. It’s the perfect size for carry-on, hopping on and off trains and buses and navigating the underground and if you need a nap at the bus station or the airport you can attach the backpack to a stationary object.

While it holds up to 45 liters (you can also easily fit a 15-inch laptop), and comes with a spacious main compartment for valuables, security is what makes this particular backpack so special.

For safety reasons, the Pacsafe backpack features slash-proof materials and internal locking cables that will prevent pickpockets from cutting the water-resistant fabric and breaking into your backpack.

These stainless steel locking cables come in handy for locking the backpack to a table in a café or for using it in a locker room at hostels.

The Pacsafe Venturesafe EXP45 is very lightweight, roomy, and you can open it like a suitcase. It has adjustable shoulder and waist straps and a chest strap that can be easily stowed away. The straps and hip belt evenly distribute the weight of a fully-loaded backpack.

The front zippered compartment has a large velcro pocket so that you can make the most of its storage space, and more than a dozen zippered mesh pockets and storage dividers can be used to totally customize the internal storage organization.

Ivan from Mind The Travel

Pros

  • Antitheft design – securable and puncture-resistant zippers
    cut resistant fabtic
  • Includes stainless steel cable to lock bag to objects with padlock
  • Carryon size
  • 5-year warranty
  • Water-resistant
  • External compression straps
  • Three external attachment points to fit jackets, yoga mat, or sleeping bag
  • Padded & adjust. shoulder straps
  • Hip belt for better weight distribution
  • Height adjustable sternum strap
  • Book-style opening to the main compartment
  • Side stretch pocket for carrying a water bottle
  • Color choice

Cons

  • Padlock not included
  • No rain cover
  • The laptop compartment is at the front of the bag which can make it awkward when the main compartment has a light load.

Tortuga 35L Setout women’s

As a frequent traveler, I have tried out many backpacks. I like to pack light, and I travel carry on only 99% of the time. One of the best backpacks I’ve tried recently is the Tortuga 35L Setout women’s backpack. It’s great for digital nomads or anyone else who travels a lot with a laptop. The bag has a dedicated laptop sleeve, which makes it easy to take out your laptop at the security check.

There’s also room in that pocket for a tablet, an external harddrive, a notebook, or anything else that’s fairly flat. Just don’t pack your laptop cord in there because it would be too bulky against your back.

Another reason I like this backpack is that is opens like a suitcase, which makes it easy to find things in it. There are several other pockets too, so it’s easy to keep your things organized.

You can never have too many pockets. The Tortuga Setout is a roomy bag, and I can easily fit the things on my typical packing list into it. I was skeptical of the waist strap since it’s removable – permanently attached ones tend to be better – but I was pleasantly surprised by how much support this one offered.

Since it’s a women’s backpack, it’s designed with the female frame in mind, so it fits better than a male or unisex backpack. It doesn’t look like a hiking backpack, so it’s great for people who might want to look a little more professional. And at 35L, it’s the perfect size for carry on travel.

Ali Garland from Travel Made Simple

Pros

  • Packs like a suitcase and carries like a backpack.
  • Carryon size
  • Padded removable hip belt
  • Laptop and tablet sleeves
  • Hideaway shoulder straps
  • Weather resistant
  • Organization pockets
  • Lockable zippers
  • Water bottle pocket

Cons

  • On the heavy side at almost 4lb
  • Accessing the front organization pouch or the laptop pocket can be difficult when the bag is full
  • The compression straps aren’t as effective as they could be

Eagle Creek Global Companion 40L

We’re both big believers in the carryon-only approach to travel. Not only because it’s more eco-friendly and economical to pack light and avoid paying extra airline baggage fees, but also because we know WAY too many people who have had their trips ruined by an airline losing their luggage.

Then, of course, there’s the added convenience of being able to access our camera gear, laptops, and other travel blogging essentials during flights or long bus/train rides.

Since neither of us are hardcore backpackers, our needs for a backpack are pretty simple. We want something light, standard carryon size, with plenty of storage pockets for gear organization. It’s also got to be rugged enough to stand up to our outdoor adventures, which have included hanging with Penguins on the ice in Antarctica, trekking to see Mountain Gorillas in the forests of Rwanda, climbing glaciers in Norway, and lots of hiking in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of North Georgia and North Carolina.

Eagle Creek’s 40-liter Global Companion backpack has met all of these needs perfectly the last few years. In fact, it’s literally the only backpack I’ve used since we got it, accompanying us on every single trip we take. Measuring 13.75 x 21.5 x 8 inches (35 x 55 x 20 cm) and weighing 3 lbs 9 oz, it’s got loads of features that make it a great choice for outdoor enthusiasts.

The bag is designed ergonomically for a comfortable carry, with padded, moisture-wicking straps, back panel, and hip belt. The hip belt, sternum straps, shoulder strap adjustors, and top load adjusters allow you to customize every aspect of the fit for your personal center of gravity, which helps stabilize the pack on long hikes.

In terms of storage and organization, the bag is designed with a large butterfly opening and two separate internal compartments, more like what you’d expect from a piece4 of luggage. The 17″ padded laptop sleeve can be accessed from inside the bag or from the top; there’s a shoe compartment in the bottom to keep dirty shoes away from clean clothes; and there are two zippered front panel pockets with mesh slip pockets, a padded electronic pocket, a key fob, and a pen slot. There’s also a mesh stuffer pocket in front for storing your wet items separately.

For security and safety, the Global Companion has self-repairing lockable zippers, which can be used to secure the bag even when it’s stuffed to the brim without risk of breaking. The lockable top zippers can be double-secured by linking into the Central Lock Point, and there’s also a safety whistle attached to the bag for emergency situations.

Best of all the Global Companion 40L is completely covered by Eagle Creek’s No Matter What Warranty, so you’ll never have to worry about whether or not they’ll accept a return on the bag. Not, in our experience, that you’re ever likely to need it… –

Bret Love & Mary Gabbett of Blue Ridge Mountains Travel Guide

Pros

  • Ergonomically shaped with padded shoulder straps and hip belt ‘
  • Book-style opening reveals and packing compartments
  • Padded 17″ laptop sleeve in the main compartment
  • Lots of little pockets to help you organize things
  • Water-resistant

Cons

  • A lot of hanging straps – The shoulder straps can’t be stowed away and the waist straps cannot be removed
  • Bulky

The Wayks

The Wayks is a versatile recycled backpack that is designed in Berlin and ethically made with reputable and certified suppliers who take their social and environmental responsibility seriously.

The young German startup strives for every one of their actions to significantly and continuously reduce the social and environmental impact of all their products.

But eco-consciousness aside, the bag really delivers as a seriously reliable travel companion. The 45L modular bag is not only robust and very well made, but it is also stylish and very practical.

The bottom part unzips to become a camera or cooler bag and the top part a smaller day pack. The yoga mat strap is a nice addition for those on yoga holidays. A really nice alternative to the bigger brands out there.

Amelie from Mostly Amelie

Pros

  • Can transform into a day bag
  • Roll-top and clamshell opening
  • Inside organization including a laptop section
  • Modular design
  • Adjustable straps to your height and size
  • Removable back panel
  • Sturdy, removable bottom compartment and hip belt
  • Carryon size
  • Waterproof, recycled fabric
  • Very comfortable
  • Easy access outside pockets
  • Super functional stylish bag

Cons

  • Can be hard to access your laptop easily and quickly when full
  • The sand color will get dirty quickly
  • Zippers a little small
  • Heavy at 5.3lb

Lowe Alpine Carry-on 45

When looking for a backpack that is suitable for work, life, and travel be sure to consider the Lowe Alpine Carry-on 45. As a digital nomad, I have tried and test various backpacks along my travels around the world.

The great thing about the Lowe Alpine Carry-on 45 is that you can carry it on the as hand-luggage and it fits in the overhead compartments without any trouble whatsoever.

With the dimensions being (55 x 35 x 20-25cm) it is specially designed to fit the requirements of the hand-luggage policy of any airline. Which makes it a great option for any business traveler and even the minimalist traveler who wants a light piece of luggage they can rely on.

The Backpack is also equipped with side compression straps, that allow you to squish the backpack down even further to fit the requirements. Although it does not have a dedicated laptop section, one other great feature is how amazingly light it is. Not to mention the tamperproof zips which allow me to open the backpack all the way around from the front. Meaning, I can get easy access to all my belongings.

The generous space also allows me to fill up the backpack with ease and has two support inside to secure my belongings.

By Daniel James from Layer Culture

Pros

  • Foldaway harness
  • Shoulder strap
  • All locking zippers have tamperproof zippers
  • Internal and external load
  • Compression straps
  • Padded laptop sleeve
  • Hydration sleeve
  • Removable rain cover
  • Handles made for easy grabbing

Cons

  • On the heavy side at 3lb
  • Mesh side pockets too shallow for water bottle

Cabinzero

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I’m a firm believer that a good backpack for digital nomads could be also good for almost anyone else (after all, at this very right moment, I do not consider myself a digital nomad since after my trips I return to a base in the beautiful Galicia, in northern Spain) and I need you to know that I have tried many, many backpacks. So the choice of this one is pretty justified, after a few years of trial and error.

So much so, that after discovering it about five years ago, my life has been simplified in such a way that it is the only backpack that normally accompanies me in every adventure I undertake.

That’s right, the Cabinzero 42L is perfection made backpack. Neither too big nor too small, with just enough space to maximize the cabin allowance that allows you to travel from a weekend to several months if you know how to prioritize and pack as light as possible.

Among all those offered by the brand, the ‘Urban’ stands out for being water-resistant. Now, I am going one step further and for a year and a half, I have not traveled with anything else but my – slightly smaller – Cabinzero 28L. Laptop, camera, toiletries, clothes and all.

I recommend you check them out, my life has changed (for the better) since I lightened what I carry on my back and Cabinzero is to blame for this.

Inma Gregorio from A World to Travel

Pros

  • Super lightweight for the size
  • Top and side handles
  • Lost and found tags built in for tracking
  • Lockable zip
  • Quick access front zip panel
  • Bright colors
  • Simple stylish design

Cons

  • Ergonomics aren’t great so it can feel very heavy when fully packed
  • A little large to use as a day bag
  • No wast strap

Book your trip now

Are you ready to book your trip?  To help you get the best deals and service here are the companies that I personally use to book all of my travel online. I always shop around before booking anything, but these are my tried and tested starting places.

  • Skyscanner – I’m a bit fan of Skyscanner, it is who I use to book all of my flights. I often will check other like Google Flights or Momodo, but I always go here first and it is who I book 99% of my flights with.
  • Booking.com – I LOVE booking.com especially when I can book and cancel free up until a certain point, mostly because my plans are forever changing. It’s easy to use and has one of the widest selections.
  • Airbnb – I’m not a huge user of Airbnb, but sometimes I do like to use it, and I ALWAYS check it before I book anything else. You can get some really cool places to stay here, and it is especially good in places like Cuba. If you don’t have an account and you click on this link then you will get $36 off your first booking.
  • Hostelworld – If you are looking for hostels then this is a great place to check first. They often have additional places that you won’t find on Bookin.com.
  • Agoda – Although I don’t use it as much as booking.com, Agonda is especially good if you are traveling in Asia as they really do dominate there.
  • Worldpackers – If you want to travel on the cheap and save money on accommodation then you need Worldpackers in your life. You can read more about it here. If you click this link to sign up and use the code CLAIRESITCHYFEET then you can get a 40% discount on your membership!
  • Book a Way – If you are traveling in Asia and want to pre-book your transportation then bookaway.com is a fantastic site to do so. They have buses, trains, and cars.
  • RentalCars – Looking to rent a. car while you are away? I always book through Rental Cars as they do a search of all of the big sites and find the best deals.
  • Welcome Pickups – Very occasionally getting from the airport to my accommodation is a total pain in the butt, or I’m traveling in a group and it makes sense to arrange a pickup. When I do I use Welcome pickups.
  • World Nomads – If you are looking for flexible travel insurance then it’s World Nomads all the way. I wrote all about insurance here if you want a more thorough review.
  • SafetyWing – AsI’m a Digital Nomad and not moving around quite so much anymore I personally use SafetyWing now for my health insurance. I wrote a full review here.
  • Viatour – Sometimes it can be a little expensive, but I like Viatour for somethings, especially if you can get a discount code! It’s also great for inspiration.
  • Klook – If you are traveling in Asia, then Klook is great! You can book all kinds of tours, activities, and train tickets, plus they even have sim cards and WiFi.

Claire Summers

Dancer, producer, traveller, photographer, cake maker, dog lover and knitter of Christmas scarfs.

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