Discover what to look for in a backpack suitable for the digital nomad lifestyle. Useful tips and insights into choosing the best digital nomad backpack.
Digital nomads tend to have different needs than regular backpackers, mainly due to the extra amount of electronic gear they carry around with them. This means that not all packs and bags that would suit a backpacker would be an ideal fit for the digital nomad.
Ideally, a backpack or combo day pack and backpack, should offer protection for gear such as laptops, be rugged and long lasting, and look neat and tidy.
You might be someone who's just thinking about the idea of becoming a digital nomad or perhaps you're fully on your way towards living a laptop lifestyle, either way we can help with some advice when it comes to choosing your backpack.
In this article I'll go over some general considerations you should make when choosing the best digital nomad backpack for you.
Do you want to travel with just carry on?
Digital nomads soon realise that checking luggage in and out of airplane cargo holds is time consuming, and runs the risk of luggage being delayed or lost. For that reason, many people choose to travel with just carry on.
With few exceptions (low class airline Ryanair being one of them!), you can get away with a 45L backpack as carry on. This volume must also comply with dimensions that are designed to fit comfortably into the overhead luggage lockers. There's also a weight consideration, with airlines allowing between 6 and 10 KG of weight.
Bottom line: If you want to travel light and fast, consider traveling with just carry on, and buying an appropriately sized backpack for your digital nomad needs.
Backpack and Daypack combo for digital nomads
If packing your entire life (and office!) into carry on luggage seems unrealistic to you, it might be a good idea to go for a backpack and day pack combo. Some backpacks come with a detachable day pack. This makes it easy to travel with your laptop, camera, tablet and other items that are too big for the daypack.
Alternatively, you can buy a separate day backpack (perhaps one which also converts into a backpack) or shoulder bag. The choice is yours!
Of course, you'll be checking your main bag in each time you fly, but you'll be taking the essentials with you (laptop and cameras etc) as carry on.
Bottom line: If you want to travel with a mix of carry on and checked baggage, consider going for a backpack and daypack combo.
Wheeled Backpacks for Digital Nomads
While the image of carrying a backpack through the streets of a new city might be romantic, the reality is that it's hard work, especially if you've packed it full!
There are several different styles of wheeled backpacks that you can get. Inevitably, the wheels will get worse over time, but if you look after the pack well enough, it should see you through many years of digital nomading.
Bottom line: If you want to travel long distances and/or over terrain that's difficult to walk on, consider getting a wheeled backpack.
Why you should choose Waterproof or Water Resistant backpacks
It’s worth investing in a digital nomad backpack that is at very least water-resistant. Otherwise, you may end up wrapping your gear in bin bags if you are traveling in rainy countries! It will save time and stress by purchasing water resistant or waterproof backpacks before your digital nomad journey begins.
Why Durability is important in a digital nomad backpack
The durability of a backpack is very important as it has to endure bus rides, trips on a plane, and being carried around from workspace to workspace.
You need your pack to be study and long lasting – normally of course, this also comes at a price! if there's one thing I've learned though, it's that if you buy cheap, you buy twice. Keep that in mind when looking for your digital nomad bag.
Comfort is key
Comfort is perhaps one of the most underrated factors when choosing a backpack and yet it's one of the most important especially as you'll have to carry it around with you everyday for months at a time. The top priority is to choose a backpack that has wide padded straps and so distributes the weight more evenly across your body. Padding in key areas such as between your shoulder blades and along the base of the bag are also important to ensure you don't feel any pain or discomfort while wearing it.
A backpack is one of the most important pieces in a digital nomad's wardrobe. It needs to be secure, and not easy for thieves to break into without attracting attention. Then there are also considerations like compartments with hidden zips or spaces that can easily store your valuable laptops, tablets and phones securely while you travel around the world.
A digital nomad backpack should have plenty of compartments to help you organise your belongings inside and so that they are easily accessible when looking for something specific. A few good examples of pockets include one at the top which can fit your passport securely, another in the main compartment where you can store small items such as chargers or earphones, and then lastly an external pocket with several smaller pockets inside for anything else.
Of course there's no need for your pack to look like a hiking backpack unless you're going on an actual hiking trip – it just needs to look like any ordinary dayback. Look for one which has a design that will fit in with your digital nomad lifestyle.
Generally speaking, something low key that doesn't scream ‘laptop!' is probably best.
Why packing cubes are essential if you're going to be carrying around lots of clothes, shoes, or other items in your bag
And another final note – you might want to get a few packing cubes to travel with.
With packing cubes, you can organise your clothes and belongings into separate compartments within your backpack so that it takes up less space, you can see exactly what's in there when everything is packed away neatly, and then you can just pull out the cube(s) which have the item(s) that you need without having to unpack everything else first – great for when you're about to head off somewhere or arrive tired at your AirBnB!
Read: Packing cubes for travel
Best Backpacks for Digital Nomads
Here's some of out top choices for backpacks that are suitable for the digital nomad lifestyle.
NOMATIC 40L Travel Bag- Duffel/Backpack
Probably the top choice for a perfect digital nomad travel bag is this 40L offering from Nomatic.
Ideal for: Digital Nomads
The Nomatic Travel Bag is the ultimate travel bag for the organized and efficient traveler. Designed to fit everything you need for a short business trip or vacation, it's perfect for both men and women who want to travel light without sacrificing style. With multiple pockets that allow you to separate things like shoes, liquids, clothing, accessories & more — you'll never have to dig around your bag again!
Key features: – 20+ Innovative Features: Find your things easily with pockets designed specifically for shoes, liquids, tech & everything in-between.
Available on Amazon: Nomatic 40L Backpack
OGIO Layover Travel Bag (Stealth)
If you're looking for a professional layover bag that doubles nicely as a digital nomad bag, this might be it. The wheels are great, but perhaps it's let down slightly by not having backpack straps.
Ideal for: Frequent Flyers
The OGIO® Layover bag is a multi-functional, lightweight carry on that’s perfect for any travel needs. With its skate wheels and retractable handles, the bag provides optimum mobility in all terrains.
The two low profile external pockets offer additional storage space for your personal items. The internal compression straps keep clothing from shifting inside the bag while traveling or at rest. A custom OGIO ID sleeve allows you to display your name and contact information for easy identification of lost bags.
Available on Amazon: OGIO Layover Travel Bag (Stealth)
NOMATIC Travel Pack
The NOMATIC Travel Pack is for the busy traveler. It's durable, made with water-proof materials and zippers so you can store anything in it from laptops to clothes as well as all of your essential items like toiletries and travel documents.
Idea for: Minimalist traveler
There are ample pockets for securely storing your items (up to 20+ features!) while easily being able to find them when needed most. And don't worry about having a bulky backpack weighing you down – this pack converts between carrying on your back and with shoulder straps making traveling lighter!
With just a few simple movements, this versatile carry-on will allow you go anywhere without sacrificing any storage space!
– STRONG, EASY ACCESS – The NOMATIC Travel Pack is made with water-resistant material and zippers so you can store anything in it from laptops to clothes as well as all of your essential items like toiletries and travel documents. There are ample pockets for securely storing your items (up to 20+ features!) while easily being able to find them when needed most. And don't worry about having a bulky backpack weighing you down – this pack converts between carrying on your back and with shoulder straps making traveling lighter!
– MULTIPLE POCKETS – This bag has multiple pockets including 2 large compartments, 1 smaller compartment, a front pocket, an internal laptop sleeve that fits up to 15″ laptops, an external phone pocket that fits iPhone 6+, side mesh pockets for water bottles or umbrellas, 2 pen holders on the top flap, 1 key clip inside the main compartment and more!
Available on Amazon: Nomatic Pack
FAQ About Digital Nomad Backpacks
Readers looking to buy a backpack for their digital nomad journey often ask questions similar to:
What should I pack as a digital nomad?
Many digital nomads find that it is better to travel as minimally as possible. When staying in a place for a month or longer, they might find it more convenient to buy what they want to use, and then leave it behind when heading to the next country.
What is the best travel backpack?
When choosing a travel backpack, it is best to look for something that has comfortable straps, is durable and water resistant. It should be roomy yet not too big as you will have to carry it around day in day out.
Are Nomatic bags worth it?
While they are quite expensive, they are well designed with the digital nomad in mind. Some people have made comments that the zip quality could be improved upon.
How many Litres backpack do I need?
A 40L backpack is big enough for many digital nomads who like to travel lightweight and have the bag as carry on. A 60L backpack will provide more room for clothes and other items, but will need to be checked in when flying.
If you're a digital nomad, it's important to choose the right backpack that is both comfortable and durable. For more information on how these specific features of backpacks can help with comfort and organization as well as staying safe from thieves, feel free to reach out!
We are happy to answer any questions about choosing the best digital nomad backpack for your needs.