A Nomad Backpack For Every Travel Style
A backpack for a digital nomad is much more than a travel accessory. It’s your home, your office, and your closest companion – it’s essential. If your backpack’s compromised, you’re done! No more work, no income, and one colossal headache to get the ball rolling again.
Choosing the best backpack for your needs should take time. It deserves the same amount of attention as the actual journey planning, because a poor investment at the start can bring everything crashing to a halt far earlier than expected.
The best digital nomad backpack is the one that suits your needs, your style of travel, and your lifestyle.
Whether you’re a city travel person, taking the daily commute to the local coworking space or love traveling for days, living the adventure travel dream, your bag needs to support you.
On this list, you’ll find the perfect backpack to match your style of travel.
Features to Consider When Buying Your Digital Nomad Backpack
Whatever your style, there are some constants. Consider these options when shopping around:
A heavy backpack is the worst start, trust me! If you can already feel the weight before you’ve packed a single thing, you’re in trouble. There’s nothing worse than the sinking feeling every time you have to load up with an uncomfortable backpack.
If you plan on flying with only carry-on luggage, the weight of the actual bag means less weight allowance for your travel gear.
Your digital nomad bag needs to be big enough to carry all your essential gear, but small enough to fit as carry-on luggage. Airlines losing or misplacing bags is a genuine concern, so you want to avoid that by only flying with a carry-on travel backpack.
You should also have a small, collapsible day pack for day-to-day living or weekend trips, but you should store that within your nomad backpack.
If you’re wondering exactly what should be on your packing list, check out our post on the essential gear for digital nomads.
The perfect travel backpack keeps your gear safe at all times, come wind, hail or shine. It doesn’t matter how many cool features it has if everything inside’s smashed after the first bus ride.
Look for key features like waterproof fabrics, compression straps to keep everything tight, resistant zippers, ripstop nylon, and a bombproof laptop pocket (yep, we cover that in the list).
This depends on your travel style and belongings. If you’ve got expensive photography gear and you’re backpacking off the beaten track, you’ll likely need more security features than if you’re a travel blogger writing in Iceland.
At the very least, you should have a waist strap, lockable zippers, a dedicated laptop sleeve, and a couple of stash pockets. An anti-theft pocket with RFID blocking material can be handy too, but use your common sense.
If your electronics get wet, it’s game over.
Most nomad backpacks have some form of water resistance, waterproof fabrics or even a rain cover. Some form of water resistance is essential, even if you’re not visiting wet climates – my bag got soaked while in the hold section on a bus ride in Paraguay. No rain, no puddles… still to this day, I do not know how it got so wet.
Suitability for travel
The perfect travel backpack should fit your situation, both in looks and style. Lugging around a military-grade travel pack on the streets of London will probably make you stand out. Likewise, a super sleek design with shiny accessories will stand out like a sore thumb in a tiny village in Southeast Asia.
Before splashing out on unnecessary cool features, consider:
- Is it suitable for your destination?
- Will it help me blend in?
- Does it provide adequate protection against the elements?
This is subjective, but you want the best possible bag for your budget. Don’t think of it as a one-off purchase. For long-term travelers, it’s an investment.
A good backpack should last for years. Whether you’re traveling with comfort in mind or planning your next bungee jump, your backpack should outlast your trip many times over.
Most digital nomad backpacks come with a lifetime guarantee. While I’ve never cashed in any of mine, it gives peace of mind to know you can swap it out should it ever suffer damage, free of charge.
The 7 Best Backpacks for Digital Nomads
Osprey Porter 46
The Osprey Porter 46 best suits travelers who love to travel light.
- Weight: 3 lb 6 oz / 1.5 kg
- Size: 21 x 14 x 9 inches / 55 x 36x 23 centimeters
- Cost: $175
The backpack’s lightweight and compact, easily fitting in overhead storage space as carry-on luggage. Padded shoulder straps make it comfortable, whether carrying for short- or long-term travel, plus both the hip belts and shoulder straps tuck away when you’re using the top or side carry handles.
The padded laptop sleeve ensures your computer remains protected at all times, and the water-resistant fabric means you’re safe from all but the heaviest of storms.
Combined with packing cubes, this bag is like the Tardis from Dr. Who. It holds so much! The mesh pockets inside help with organization, and the additional security pockets mean you can stash all your valuables away in not-so-easy-to-find locations.
The Osprey Porter 46 features lockable zippers which feel robust and durable. Another safety feature I appreciate is that you hide nearly all the zips when the compression straps are tight, making it impossible for street thieves to unzip while you’re on the move.
Overall, the Osprey Porter 46 is one of the best digital nomad backpacks available – lightweight, durable, spacious and reasonably priced.
PeakDesign Travel Backpack 45L
The PeakDesign Travel Backpack 45L is great for photographers and light travelers.
- Weight: 4 lb / 1.8 kg
- Size: 22 x 13 x 9.5 inches / 56 x 33 x 24 centimeters
- Cost: $299.95
The PeakDesign Travel Backpack 45L is international carry-on approved, meaning no additional check-in luggage charges and a quick airport getaway.
Adjustable padded straps, chest straps, and waist straps all help ensure it molds itself to all body shapes, and the external stowable straps mean you can carry additional items – tripod, yoga mat, etc. That’s a feature missing from the Osprey Porter 46 so, if you plan to carry additional items that don’t fit inside, this could be a winner.
There is a top carry handle and a funny one on the back, but the sides house external pockets for bottles and less bulky items. This makes it a little less versatile than the Osprey, but this is a minor inconvenience.
Padded, dedicated laptop and tablet sleeves mean your electronics are safe, but it really shines when combined with the Peak Design Packing & Camera Cubes – cubes designed for this bag with photographers in mind. No wasted space and everything fits like a jigsaw.
If you’re traveling with expensive camera gear essential to your digital nomad lifestyle, the Peak Design Travel Backpack 45L could be your winning ticket.
If you’re truly embracing the minimalist nomad lifestyle, PeakDesign also offers a 30L which collapses to 27L with compression straps, and expands to 35L without. As with the 45L, it marries perfectly with the packing cubes.
Minaal Carry On 3.0
The Minaal Carry On 3.0 is a hard case laptop backpack, designed for those digital nomads who like to get off the beaten track.
- Weight: 3 lb 12 oz / 1.41kg
- Size: 21.6 x 13.7 x 7.87 inches / 55 x 35 x 20 centimeters
- Cost: $349
Compliant with both US and European airline carry-on limits, the Minaal Carry On 3.0 is smaller than the previous two bags (35L) yet still packs a punch.
The adjustable straps, or Unified Harness to use the official name, innovative design provides “ultimate comfort”. If you’re hiking or planning long walking sessions, the Minaal Carry on 3.0 is well worth consideration.
It’s a little disappointing they sell the over-shoulder carry strap and hip pads separately, although they throw in a free waterproof rain cover to sweeten the deal.
If you’re going off-road, you’ll want peace of mind that your equipment is safe. Minaal doesn’t disappoint, offering a shock-proof double device sleeve that fits up to 16″ laptops & 16″ devices.
Designed with Minaal packing cubes in mind, you can squeeze a lot into the 35L. The unique Clamshell Scoop design makes this easier, meaning it opens out fully for faster access and packing.
Rugged, durable and extra lint-resistant, the Minaal Carry on 3.0 is the ideal digital nomad backpack for those trading a coworking space for the great outdoors.
Pacsafe Venturesafe X40 Anti-Theft Backpack
The Pac Safe Venturesafe is for digital nomads who value security above all else.
- Weight: 3 lb 13 oz / 1.73 kg
- Size: 22.1 x 11.8 x 8.7 inches / 56 x 30 x 22 centimeters
- Cost: $329.95
With a reasonable 40L of space, it meets most international airline standards for carry-on luggage.
The straps may not provide ultimate comfort, but they’re breathable to allow airflow and the adjustable, padded hip belt comes as standard.
People who buy Pacsafe backpacks aren’t bothered by little details like that though. If you purchase a Pacsafe Venturesafe X40 Anti-Theft Backpack, you know you’re getting one of the most secure pieces of luggage available.
Slash-proof mesh and straps, RFID blocking materials, and multiple lockable zips – this is the Fort Knox of backpacks! It also features anti-theft hidden pockets for additional peace of mind.
There’s a scam that sometimes happens in Southeast Asia where someone distracts you from the front while their partner slashes your bag and runs away with your belongings. Good luck to them if you’re carrying a Pacsafe backpack. They’d need a lightsaber to cut through these materials.
For a digital nomad, your equipment is your livelihood. There’s no safer digital nomad backpack than a Pacsafe Venturesafe Backpack.
The Goruck GR3 is the perfect backpack for those digital nomads who find themselves in extreme situations.
- Weight: 5 lb 15 oz / 2.3 kg
- Size: 22 x 14 x 9 inches / 55 x 36 x 23 centimeters
- Cost: $425
At 45L, Goruck GR3 is the largest possible carry-on bag, plus the heaviest on this list. It’s also the only backpack on the list that’s bombproof! You definitely get more bang for your buck with this bag.
Special Forces Grade water resistance, zipper pulls constructed from parachute cord, and a separate bombproof laptop compartment capable of securely holding a 17-inch laptop. The Goruck GR3 is a beast!
Some may call this excessive, but there are some rough coworking spaces out there!
The Goruck GR3 is designed for constant use, with padded top and side handles plus extra padded shoulder straps.
If your digital nomad lifestyle involves outdoor adventures, you’ll need extra storage space, plenty of stash pockets for accessories, and confidence your pack is made from durable material. The GR3 ticks all those boxes and much more.
Even if those specs are above and beyond what you’d ever need, this is a bag that lasts. The Goruck GR3 was built for long-term travel, regardless of your destination.
CabinZero ADV Pro 42L
The CabinZero ADV Pro 42L is perfect for digital nomads who prefer a minimalist design.
- Weight: 3 lb 5 oz / 1.5 kg
- Size: 21.7 x 13.8 x 7.9 inches / 55 x 35 x 20 centimeters
- Cost: $170
The CabinZero Pro 42L is the ideal backpack for the minimalist, preferring a sleek design over unnecessary bells and whistles. They also have a greater range of colors than any backpack on the list, which makes it perfect for fashionistas who love to accessorize.
Top and side handles make it a versatile bag, while the choice of top or side loading makes it nice and easy to get to your gear wherever you are.
If you travel light with only a laptop, a few clothes and little else, the CabinZero ADV Pro is the perfect piece of gear. The padded laptop sleeve can comfortably hold a 15-inch laptop, and the durable materials ensure it’ll survive the entire journey.
The low cost makes it well worth considering for travel bloggers, e-commerce workers or anyone with minimal travel gear.
Tortuga Outbreaker 35L
The Tortuga Outbreaker 35L is a jack-of-all-trades backpack.
- Weight: 4 lb 5 oz / 2 kg
- Size: 20 x 13 x 8 inches / 51 x 33 x 21 centimeters
- Cost: $299
The 35L meets carry-on size limits for international flights, while the bigger 45L only meets US requirements.
A removable hip belt, sternum strap and thick, foam-padded shoulder straps all add to the comfortable experience, while the breathable, sweat-wicking foam on the back panel makes warmer hikes more pleasant.
The Tortuga Outbreaker is full of special pockets, with a well-thought-out, intuitive design. Padded laptop and tablet pockets, organizational pockets, water bottle pockets… it’s basically a bag of pockets – the perfect nomad backpack for those who cherish order and tidiness.
Lockable, water-resistant zippers, and an anti-rip material mean security shouldn’t be an issue.
The unassuming design and organizational possibilities make it a suitable travel bag for long-term travelers, weekend warriors, and co-working space visits.
What’s Your Favorite Digital Nomad Backpack?
Whatever your travel style, there’s a backpack for you.
With digital nomads, there is no average traveler. You’re unique, and so are your needs and requirements.
Your backpack should serve those needs and requirements.
Don’t just grab the first bag you see because “it’s just a bag”. Think about your destination, your style of travel, the potential situations you’ll find yourself in and what gear you’ll be packing.
There are as many travel bags as there are digital nomad jobs. Take your time, shop around and find the perfect match. You’ll thank yourself later.
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