Best Backpack Picks for Digital Nomads and Travelers

It’s not uncommon for digital nomads to pack their most essential items in a bag or backpack and then set off to see the world. The last thing you would want is your backpack to fall apart in the midst of your travels. It would also be very unfortunate to get all the way to the airport only to be told you can’t bring your bag onboard a plane.

That’s why, among all the backpacks you might come across during your browsing and shopping, I recommend the Osprey Farpoint 40 most. It’s a tough, durable backpack with back ventilation and a design that cuts down on chafing. You even get attachment points to bring more stuff if you need to.  Besides that, it looks modern and fashionable.

While cheaper is sometimes better, that’s often not the case with backpacks. You do a lot of traveling, so you need a hardy bag that can keep up with your lifestyle. A cheap backpack won’t fit the bill.

What to Look for in a Backpack

Digital nomadism has a certain trendy look to it, doesn’t it? You might want a backpack to match, but sometimes the chic bag doesn’t really handle that well when going through customs or backpacking through Europe.

To ensure you don’t get caught up in the window dressing, here are some factors to keep in mind as you shop for your backpack.

  • Size: The size of the backpack you need is directly dependent on what you bring during your adventures. If you need to fit a large laptop, then a small shoulder bag wouldn’t really work. If you have one of those ultra-lightweight, thin computers, then an oversized bag seems excessive. Remember, either way, you have to carry this bag for hours at a time, so size it right.
  • Depth: Some backpacks look deep until you open them up. Then you realize there’s not a lot of room inside. Deep bags can house all your necessities and personal items, but do make sure there’s not so much depth that you actually lose things.
  • Zippers and pockets: In the hustle and bustle of traveling, you don’t always get to put everything in its place. If there’s a handy pocket for your tablet or a zippered pouch for a stylus, you can travel with the assurance these items are safe and easily reachable. Speaking of accessibility, if you want to quickly reach your phone or even a bottle of water, there should be side pockets or compartments on your backpack for keeping these items.
  • Padding: As I said before, you’ll probably end up wearing your backpack for hours at a time. If the shoulders and back aren’t padded, then you’re going to detest each minute you spend with the bag on. Worse yet, you’ll probably wake up the next day with an achy back and shoulders, which can derail your work and travel plans in a hurry.
  • Adjustability: Some people like carrying their backpacks higher on their back and others lower. No matter your preferences, you should have ample freedom to adjust the straps and other parts of the backpack until it fits as you want it to.
  • Comfort: Both padding and adjustability contribute to the comfort of using your backpack. I can’t stress this enough: you’re going to carry this bag for long periods. If anything about your backpack is painful or even uncomfortable, keep looking for a plusher one that feels better on your body.
  • Waterproof: There is a difference between waterproof and water-resistant bags. The latter have a coating that keeps rain and other liquids rolling right off the backpack. Once this coating wears away, your backpack becomes as good as useless. The weaving of the bag often does not keep water out, meaning your stuff can get soaked if you get caught in the rain. Waterproof bags have no such coating. Instead, the weaving and stitching of their very design ensures your most prized possessions stay dry.
  • Price: As I said before, you get what you pay for when it comes to backpacks. An inexpensive bag is often made of cheap materials that can easily rip. This bag probably has a water-resistant coating, so it’s not truly waterproof. Padding may come at a minimum, and the same goes for pockets and zippers. As a digital nomad, you treat yourself from time to time. Make this one of those times.

The Top Backpack Brands to Consider

  • Osprey: My top pick is the Osprey Farpoint 40. It comes with padding on both the side handles and the top of the back as well as compression straps from StraightJacket, a hip belt with a harness, and a stowaway back panel. You’ll also find tons of pockets and compartments in the Farpoint 40, including a flap zippered mesh pocket around front, a tablet and laptop sleeve that locks, two mesh pockets at the front, and a main compartment that zips and locks as well. There’s even a daypack you can remove for those lighter traveling days.  
  • Voltaic Systems: Although bulkier than the other picks, the OffGrid from Voltaic Systems will serve digital nomads well. It can power digital cameras, tablets, all sorts of smartphones, and more with its USB cable hidden in the backpack. Voltaic Systems outfitted the OffGrid with monocrystalline solar panels. These send juice to the power bank, which then keeps your devices running. The laptop sleeve accommodates computers up to 15 inches and comes padded for protection. Other pockets and zippers will hold sunglasses, water bottles, phones, tablets, and even charging cables.
  • Pacsafe: The Venturesafe EXP45 backpack from Pacsafe is made of a mix of polyester and nylon. It has external compression straps for flattening the bag onboard a plane. Since it’s carry-on size, most airlines should accept the Venturesafe. This backpack includes padding at the shoulders and the back; the latter has honeycombed fabric. You can wear the hip belt and loosen or tighten the shoulder straps as needed. The Venturesafe has two compartments and can fit water bottles and a laptop up to 15 inches. It also has a padlock locking feature so no one steals your valuables.
  • Kopack: Another great anti-theft backpack comes from Kopack. Their stylish bag, between 15 and 17 inches tall, should also fit on a plane no problem. The compartments can fit everything from a power bank to your tablet, laptop, or even several changes of clothes. The included USB port means you never have to worry about your phone dying when you need it most. Kopack’s bag is made of anti-scratch fabric with ABS plastic at the bottom. The rain cover makes this bag closer to waterproof.

By choosing one of the above bags, especially the Osprey Farpoint 40, you should find that your digital nomad travels are more effortless and not nearly as painful. You won’t have to scramble to track down that laptop cord when your computer has two-percent battery life. You don’t even need to send your bag on the airport carousel when you can take most of these backpacks with you as a carry-on.