What's the best digital nomad backpack?

I hear stuff about Tortuga and Minaal, although I’m myself using a fake Chinese one I bought here in Bali.

What do you currently have and what’s the best?

2017 UPDATE: I made a gear page now:

The one thing I’ve heard about Minaal which puts me off (and confirmed by people in Slack) is that the hip belt doesn’t do much to take the weight off so not ideal if you’re going to be trekking.

That issue aside it looks like the perfect pack, especially for a Digital Nomad.

Last point in this article: http://www.tortugabackpacks.com/pages/minaal-carry-on-vs-the-tortuga-travel-backpack


Currently, I’m using a Timbuk2 Showdown (http://www.timbuk2.com/showdown-ipad-macbook-laptop-backpack/346.html).

It’s been wonderful for me. Great organization, super durable, and a great padded laptop compartment. That said, I travel pretty light. Only a few shirts, one pair of pants, and so on. I’m able to comfortably pack in the 22L Showdown, but I realize that it might be a bit small for most folks.

If I was looking for a bigger bag, I’d definitely check out some of Timbuk2’s other offerings. The Showdown has held up really well on the road. Couldn’t wish for a better bag.

I tend to pack very light so I opted for the Deuter Futura 28L and it’s been great for my trip.

I can fit my 15" Macbook Pro in there and enough luggage for almost two years of travel, and is still suitable for Carry On luggage for all flights.

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what about the Venturesafe 45L from Pacsafe? http://www.pacsafe.com/venturesafe-45l-gii-travel-backpack.html
Anyone using this? I’m really considering getting this for when I start my journey.

Re: Minaal vs Tortuga

I’d characterize it like this. Minaal is luggage, Tortuga is a backpack.

Which is to say, Minaal is great to get you from point A to point B. You can travel with it easily and when you get to your hotel, you unpack it a bit and stay for a while. But it isn’t built to stay on your back for days on end, it isn’t built for a purely backpacker/hiking/camping/couchsurfing lifestyle. I’d consider it a “traveling professional” bag.

The Tortuga is great for backpackers. Its a bit more rugged and built to be worn for longer periods. It’s less expensive, a bit larger (though not by much; specs on paper are a bit misleading) and I could see living out of it in a hostel or couchsurfing easier than the Minaal. But it is less stylish, more bulky, and not as versatile. I’d consider it a “long term backpacker” bag.

Just my $0.02 on comparing the two.

Hi guys

I’ve set up this speadsheet to compare the best backpacks for digital nomads.
Everybody can edit it, so feel free to add you own bags :smile:



I’m thinking on buying a Tortuga but the Minaal is very good too. So… I really don’t know :confused:
http://www.minaal.com/products/minaal-carry-on-bag or

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I like the Chrome rolltops, you can get vertrical with them and extend capacity. I use the Yalta.

Mostly agree with @mitchell. I’ve been travelling with my Minaal as my main container for stuff for half a year now, and some things begin to bother me:

  • can’t expand it to fit a bit more
  • no built in straps or nets to hold things in place
  • could need another pocket / net / strap on the outside to attach my ukulele :slight_smile:

I usually use two compression packs and on average only unpack / pack it once a week, which takes about 15 minutes.

That said, it’s still classes better than any other “carry-on size” backpack I’ve ever seen. And the fair comparison is probably Minaal vs. Tortuga Air. You can’t go wrong with either.

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There is also the new SOOT bag which has built in battery and a camera compartment that can be detaches and used as a daypack.


But it also looks like its lacking the padded hip-belt, so wouldn’t use it for trekking.

I usually carry 2 bags, a big normal backpack (65L) for all my clothes and a day pack where I’ll put all the electronics, snacks, books and jackets in.

I’m all for stylish looks so I bought a Hershel Supply Little America backpack from here: [http://www.revolveclothing.com/dp/HERS-UY56/][1][1]: http://www.revolveclothing.com/dp/HERS-UY56/

It survived me through my NZ trip without breaking. I climbed Mount Ngauruhoe and slid down a snow with it so I’d say, pretty durable. :smile:

It has a small front sack, a laptop compartment, and 2 small pouches for your phones.

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I only found out recently (after two years) that I accidentally bought a female backpack (for short backs). It fits perfectly for my short stubby back though.

I think it’d be hard to find one pack that fits all best due to the vast variety of body shapes and use cases.

Use case has always been a big factor for me. I recently bought a new roller bag for short trips w/ long haul flights, even though I have two decent bags that I could probably make do with.

I’ve travelled for months using my girl sized $200 28l Deuter made for one day trails, and then also months with just my $500 leather messenger bag - a fashion piece not made for more than carrying your daily paperwork.

I’m sure there are a dozens of high quality bags that will out do all of mine in every category (at least on a paper), but at the end of the day the situation the bag is being used in changes everything.

I have never tried the Minaal, but I’m currently using the Tortuga.

I was previously using eBags Mother Lode Weekender, which could fit more and was easier to keep organized. It was also easier to compress your stuff to get within approved carry-on dimensions. However the hip belt (strap) was a joke, and doing much more than carrying it from gate to taxi to hotel was less than ideal. I did a 4 hour trek with it across a timorese island once, and it was really killing me.

That’s why I switched to the Tortuga and to be honest I like that it can fit slightly less (due to more padding) as it forces me to carry less stuff. And the hip belt is a godsend.

Things that annoy me ever so slightly with the Tortuga:

  • Not possible to lock side pockets.
  • No proper compression straps for main compartment.
  • The “turtle shell” design that’s meant for expanding capacity automatically has no way of being “disabled”. Basically if you try to compress anything without compression cubes or sacs the pack will likely be too deep for approve carry-on dimensions.
  • Overall poorer for organization than what I’m used to with the eBags

Still, the added comfort (and the 3x price of the eBags) is easily worth it for my travel style… But if you’re not going to carry your pack much I’d say the eBags Mother Lode is as close to perfection you can get. And it’s cheap too. I think it was around $70 in Amazon when I got it, but the price has jumped a bit since.

EDIT (Jan 22, 2015): I have traveled a bit more with the Tortuga now, and reduced the amount of clothes I bring even further. And I am more in love with the Tortuga now than ever before, and I’m very happy I made the switch. I had to make some adjustments, such as getting a couple compression cubes (instead of regular packing cubes) and a Victorinox travel organizer, but I’m super happy with the end result!

I use one of these instead of my backpack to walk around, they’re great for carrying water bottles and smaller stuff that doesn’t break easily.

For the “one bag” folks, I’ve always wondered whay they do for a “daybag”.

I’ve long carried 3 bags.

  1. A Osprey Porter 90 (just because it’s 90L doesn’t mean I fill it, except on rare occasion hauling gifts when I go home for the holidays like I am right now). Obviously I always check that bag when I fly.
  2. Crumpler Sinking Barge, This is my carry on and used to carry laptop+dSLR+lenses, but I stopped carrying a dSLR around so for the last year it’s half empty, still nice for carrying a jacket on-board planes… AND I use this when I’m scootering around SEA going to/from co-working spaces, etc…
  3. Black Diamond Bullet - this little thing I roll carry empty inside my Osprey and use when I’m out and about and not carrying a laptop. Good for snacks/water bottle etc.

So, For those 1 bag people… How do you haul a laptop around town? What do you use when just out for the day?

I’m really tempted by a Tortuga (My beloved Osprey is on life support and so empty most of the time the cinch straps do nothing), but I think I’d still check in the Tortuga most of the time on planes.

I might be in the minority here, but I only travel with a single daypack. My bag is 22L and has a built in laptop compartment so I just remove my clothes, toiletries, etc. and then I’m ready to head out for the day.

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I use that backpack from Quechua for under 50$ and it still works for more than 2 years traveling.

Going to Coworking Spaces with my Air I use my Berlin Elance-oDesk Hipster Bag:
Securing my stuff on the road I use the 20l Pacsafe. You could lock it anywhere…

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I’m very happy with the 511 RUSH 72 or smaller 24

These things are incredibly robust and built to last. Recommended!