If you are looking for the best digital nomad backpacks out there, have a look at the following list. I have used quite a few bags in the past 10+ years of extensive traveling. That’s why I’d love to show you from my experience, what you need to look for in a good travel backpack and which ones I can recommend.
What to look for in a good Travel Backpack?
I believe that there is not one perfect backpack for all digital nomads. It completely depends on different factors which bag you should buy. Here are the most important ones to take into consideration:
1. Travel Period
If you are currently based somewhere and “only” want to go on a two-week vacation, you will most likely be ok with a smaller backpack. One, that could actually work as cabin luggage.
However, if you left your home country for good and are traveling around indefinitely, you might want will probably bring more with you and thus, want to go for a bigger bag.
Many travelers and digital nomads prefer to live a minimalistic life. They only bring the bare necessities, which means they don’t need too much luggage. As a consequence, they often don’t need any check-in items but can usually bring their backpack as hand luggage.
Others find it harder to minimize their luggage and are happy to bring an extra piece of baggage.
3. Physical Features
When it comes to carrying around and big backpack for a while it is super important that it fits your body size perfectly. Men usually have a bigger torso and wider shoulders.
If you are a tiny girl and carry a massive jam-packed backpack around which was made for a man’s back, it is soon going to be very painful for your back (trust me, I have made that mistake before). So make sure you get a bag that works for your body, e.g. the hip belt sits properly on your hips.
4. Season / Country
If you are planning to spend the next year around sunny beaches in Southeast Asia, you will be fine with light clothes, bikinis, and flip-flops. If you want to go to places like northern or eastern Europe or Canada and Alaska, you will have to pack proper shoes, warm jumpers, and jackets.
That also means you need a bigger backpack.
5. Travel Style
When it comes to backpacks for digital nomads it is also important how you travel. Will you only go from the airport to your accommodation, store your backpack underneath your bed and use a different one as a daypack? Or will you actually use it for frequent other activities, such as hiking trips or trekking tours?
A quality nomad bag can easily cost a couple of hundred dollars. When you are starting out as a digital nomad, you might not have a big budget or prefer saving your money for now. You don’t necessarily have to go for popular brands and can surely find decent ones for less money.
But be aware that these ones might not be the best quality. It happened a couple of times to me that zippers bust, shoulder straps ripped or buckles broke when using super cheap ones.
7. Personal Preferences
Well, maybe not the most important factor but a valid criterion for many. Some don’t care how their backpack looks like as long as it is functional. Others only go for bags that have a certain style, color or anything like that.
If you want to find out what you need to pack into your backpack, check out this packing list for digital nomads!
Best Digital Nomad Backpacks: My Recommendations
The following list contains digital nomad backpacks, that I have used, that I am still using or of which I have plenty of first-hand recommendations that confirm the quality of the bags. I have also tried to pick backpacks of different sizes, functionalities, appearances, and prices, so you have a greater range to choose from.
1. Osprey Farpoint 40
The Osprey Farpoint is an absolute classic among digital nomad backpacks. It is fairly small and thus, works great for cabin luggage.
It is also very lightweight with only 3 pounds (1.4 kg), which means you still have a lot of weight left for your personal belongings before you reach the carry-on luggage limit of 15 pounds (7 kg).
In terms of material quality, Osprey is one of the best brands you can get. The zippers are very sturdy and you can lock them with a luggage lock if needed. It is made from ripstop fabric, which reduces the chances of tearing.
While it is not waterproof, it is still water-resistant and can definitely take some rain. If you want to be completely safe you can buy an additional rain cover.
Not only does this nomad bag come with the usual padded shoulder, chest and waist straps. You can also turn it on its side and attach an additional shoulder strap. In case you don’t want to carry it on your back, you can also carry it on one shoulder.
Another advantage is the fact that this bag is a clamshell backpack. That means you can open it and lay it out flat. That makes it so much easier to pack and find items at the bottom without rifling through the entire bag.
The only thing that I find a bit odd with the Osprey Farpoint is the laptop compartment. Unlike most other backpacks, Osprey placed it right at the front of the bag. I find that you get better stability if you place heavy items, such as the laptop, at the back of a backpack.
But maybe this is just something you have to get used to.
Note: If you like this model but need a bit more volume, go for the Osprey Farpoint 55 or 70 (they don’t come with an additional shoulder strap).
Get the Osprey Farpoint NOW on Amazon!
2. Pacsafe Venturesafe EXP45
Another fantastic digital nomad backpack, if you want to go for carry-on only, is the Pacsafe Venturesafe EXP45. This is particularly useful when you want to travel to a region which is not exactly safe or known for pickpockets.
Why? Well, it doesn’t get much safer than this bag. First of all, it is very lightweight, spacious, and again, you can open it like a suitcase. It has padded shoulder and waist straps and a chest strap. All of the straps can be stowed away if needed.
The Venturesafe can also easily fit a 15-inch laptop. But again, the laptop compartment is on the front of the backpack.
What makes the Pacsafe so unique and special are its safety features. The zippers might be the best I have ever seen. They are not only super robust and puncture resistant but they can also interlock. That makes it harder for pickpockets to quickly unzip the bag.
In case someone tries to slash the outside fabric to get your valuables, you are safe, too. This backpack comes with built-in stainless steel wire mesh in the most vulnerable areas of the bag. No chances for slash-and-run thefts.
On top of that, the Venturesafe comes with a stainless steel locking cable. This can be used to lock the bag to a table in a café or anything like that to protect it from theft.
Although the bag is water-resistant, I would prefer to have an extra rain cover. However, I couldn’t find one, which means you will have to buy one from a different brand.
Get the Pacsafe Venturesafe EXP45 NOW on Amazon!
3. Deuter Transit 50
Deuter is another great brand when it comes to backpacks for digital nomads. They are known for their outstanding quality and innovative designs. The Deuter Transit 50 is absolutely no exception.
What do I like most about this backpack? It comes with an attachable day pack! The main backpack is very spacious and fits 50 l. Despite being so big, it still works as carry-on luggage for many airlines, which is super handy.
Again, you have a fully accessible U-shape compartment to make packing and unpacking easier. It has padded shoulder and waist belts and a chest belt, which can all be stowed away.
In addition to this, you can attach the included long shoulder strap to carry it on one shoulder like a normal bag.
Another outstanding feature is the Aircontact system. A pumping effect circulates air through the breathable back padding with every movement. The result is 15% less perspiration than with other similar backpacks.
Perfect if you have to walk with it for a while or are in a warmer climate.
The smaller backpack fits about 12l and can easily be attached to the main bag with a zipper. This is the perfect size if you want to go out and explore the city without bringing a big backpack.
The only negative point I have found on the Deuter Transit 50 is that it does not have a dedicated laptop compartment. However, if you put your laptop in a padded sleeve, which you should do anyway, and place it in the main compartment with your clothes, it should be safe enough.
Get the Deuter Transit 50 NOW on Amazon!
4. Mountainsmith Apex 60
This backpack is brilliant for every digital nomad who likes being active. If you are looking for a bag that doesn’t only carry your belongings between two countries but one that you can go out hiking with, look no further.
The Mountainsmith Apex 60 backpack was made for long-trail hikes and extended journeys. That means it focuses a lot on ergonomics. The fabric is super durable and water-resistant.
It comes with an adjustable torso suspension, an Anvil Airway ridged back panel padding and an easy forward pull waist belt. So it can be adjusted to smaller bodies and fits different back sizes perfectly.
You can easily pack it through the U-shaped zipper to the main compartment. Several compression gear straps and lash points on the outside help you to store tools like hiking poles. The water bladder pocket on top of the back is useful to stay hydrated.
Again, this backpack comes with no dedicated laptop compartment. But I haven’t found any nomad bag in this size that does. As mentioned before, simply use a padded laptop sleeve and you should be fine.
If you want a backpack that you can use for hiking trips or if you simply bring a lot of stuff with you, the Mountainsmith Apex is a fantastic choice.
Get the Mountainsmith Apex 60 NOW on Amazon!
5. Osprey Ozone Convertible 70
My fifth choice for the best digital nomad backpacks would be another Osprey. To be precise: The Osprey Ozone Convertible. Yet again, a completely different style. In case you have a lot of luggage to carry, this 70 l bag should fit it all.
But packing more also means it gets heavier. If you don’t want to drag all that weight, roll it!
The Osprey Ozone is a convertible, which means you can use it as a backpack and roll it just like a suitcase. Two in one! The high-quality wheels roll easily on bumpy roads, like cobblestones.
The suspension system, as well as the padded shoulder and waist straps, make it also a very comfortable backpack. On top of that, the convertible comes with an attached day bag of 18 l, which is perfect for day trips.
The main compartment is lockable, has wide U-shaped access but again no laptop compartment. However, you can find a laptop sleeve in the removable day pack.
The downside of this convertible is definitely the price. It is not exactly cheap. On the other side, you get a lot for it: A backpack/wheeled duffle back, a day back and outstanding Osprey quality including a lifetime warranty.
You will probably find cheaper convertibles on the internet. But be aware that their shoulder straps and back system are often very poor and can cause terrible back pain when you actually have to carry it.
Get the Osprey Ozone Convertible NOW on Amazon!
Here you can see my choice of the best backpacks for digital nomads at a glance:
|Osprey Farpoint 40||Pacsafe Venturesafe EXP45||Deuter Transit 50||Mountain- smith Apex 60||Osprey Ozone Convertible 75|
|Volume||40 l||45 l||50 l||60 l||75 l|
|Dimensions H x W x D||22 x 14 x 9 inch||22 x 14 x 9 inch||25 x 33 x 26 inch||26 x 10 x 7 inch||28 x 14 x 13 inch|
|Weight||3 pounds||3.13 pounds||5 pounds||4.15 pounds||6.93 pounds|
|Day Back Included||No||No||Yes||No||Yes|
|Special Features||Included Padded Shoulder Strap||Five anti-theft features, e.g. interlocking zippers or fabric with steel wire mesh||Included Padded Shoulder Strap, Aircontact system for better air circulation||Perfect backpack for activities, such as hiking||Backpack converts to a wheeled piece of luggage|
Get Your Perfect Travel Backpack
As you can see, it’s not that easy to pick the best digital nomad backpack because there are many different models out there. It depends strongly on your needs and preferences, which one works best for you.
So before you buy one, make sure you know what you want to do with it, how you want to travel and what you actually need. Test, if your chosen model fits your back and if you feel comfortable with it.
Looking at the budget the best ones are surely not very cheap. But then again, you get great quality with these bags and can rely on them for years and years.
What do you think? Which digital nomad backpack do you prefer? Do you have any other recommendations for us? Let me know in the comment section below!
Hi Geoffrey, great to hear you like the Osprey 40, too :) I know, finding the right bag for the new “personal item” policy is not easy. I’ve managed two trips with a small no-name backpack from Amazon. However, I’m not 100% convinced yet. So I’m still looking for the perfect option, too.
I used the Osprey Farpoint 40 for a three month world tour. It was the perfect carry-on only size and I never had to check luggage. Now I’m looking for an even smaller bag to meet the “personal item” criteria instead!