What's the best digital nomad backpack?

I’m using a GORUCK GR1 (26L) rucksack combined with the GORUCK 32L Kit Bag. It’s the perfect combination for me and superior to the GR2 as I’ve enough space and a rucksack which I can also comfortably use as a day pack.

I’m also looking to buy one in Hanoi, Vietnam.
Any luck finding out how to get one in SE Asia?

I’ve only really used my Minaal as a daypack so far, but will be travelling using it as my only bag shortly, and I’m quite confident it’ll do the job very nicely.

From reading some of the reviews around, like the comparison with the Tortuga (which I note is on the Tortuga site, so… you know), it seems a better comparison would be the Tortuga Air. Which appears to have a lot of the differences mentioned in the Minaal vs Tortuga article too!

I’ll challenge a sacred cow.

Nomad Backpacks are overrated.

I am not on the road as much as I used to be, but still travel often enough.

When I first started out, I always used to travel with a big, bulky backpack like these.

I had an EagleCreek, which took me through India and South America at one point.

Honestly though, I had a revelation about larger, travel backpacks.

I hated them.

I despised hauling a big bulky backpack like these, and feeling like I was wearing a sumo suit, as the bag inadvertently smacks people and objects as it’s hard to have spatial awareness (even when it is strapped to the front) lugging these awkward things.

And yes, I have seen all these. No offense to present company.

Backpacks do not wear or hold their form over time well.

Doesn’t make sense to me for most of the long term travel I have done.

I’m mostly in cities, and going between tight transportation points.

Not in the jungle.

Sure, maybe in India it makes sense, but then again, most transportation points are filled with touts to haul your bags anyhow.

Thus, at some point, I switched to a hard side piece of luggage with durable wheels and a smaller backpack for my laptop and items, which needed to be accessible.

Never sweated checking something if I had to, which wasn’t always the case.

If I was in a place for a longer stretch, I would simply buy a cheap duffle bag for short trips, leave my stuff and come back.

My life got a hell of a lot easier.

At some point, I had failed to see the utility in the large backpack form for all my travel and transportation needs. I was just going city to city. Plane to car. Plane to train.

Not hauling it through the mountains or jungle.

Also, traveling with more than one pair of shoes and packing them in a backpack is a pain in the ass. I’m a shoe guy, and I like a few pairs of shoes with me, so I don’t look like a bum walking into a club or restaurant.

I found packing shoes in a hard side that way was easier.

And, in general, I found it to be a lot easier to maximize the use of space in a hard side.

Maybe that’s not for everyone, but I was happy I made the switch, as was my back.


didn’t read any of the posts, but I feel the backpack thing maybe is a bit overrated and people are a bit over-concerned about this? If you’re a real hiker (mountains, cold climates, etc) it’s VERY more important what kind of backpack you have. Otherwise, if you go from city to city I guess quality and getting your stuff to fit is all you need. I think most digital nomads don’t move around that much with their main backpack, but rather with their daypack.

Anyway to add to the chaos of posts and suggestions here is another one I saw with beautiful pictures, but the maker does not respond to any question on twitter. Almost feels like it’s fake :wink: https://nomada.io/products/547ed6e717cc2620a8eda3b4

Great compilation of backpacks: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1fiwY3_R5_GpL5QZXMp-DY2t225OjUKEQ80lT27NVKUU/edit#gid=0

Credits to http://reddit.com/r/onebag


I use Minaal and it’s great but yes, could be bigger for longer trips as well as have a better belt strap… Other than that perfect and works great for what it was intended (a professional looking backpack)… But I’ll get Tortuga too, maybe wait for the “next version” and read more reviews… I read one that says it’s made of questionable material… but for sure I’ll order their day pack once it comes out… For this I now use: http://www.seatosummit.com.au/products/outdoor/ultra-sil-day-pack/ and it’s just AWESOME as a complement to Minaal. It can hold all the weight (laptop etc) you want but it lacks a second compartment which I miss sometimes… upside is that empty is very small and takes no space packed in Minaal. When I get Tortuga daypack I will probably still use sea2summit on some occasions when I don’t need to go around the target city that much with a laptop or when I really have no enough space to take Tortuga with me in Minaal.

GORUCK Radio Ruck. Bought it nearly four years ago. Adjusting to the size (24L) was an issue but it gave me an excuse to trim the fat. Has held up through a Challenge and my parent’s dog. I have no excuses to look for another pack, other than gear masturbation.

Wish the Tortuga Packable Daypack was available… Instead I’m ordering a pair of Hikpro bags and a sea-to-summit ultra-sil. None of which are quite what I want since I really want a tablet/laptop sleeve. Shouldn’t be hard to get added.

Side note, the Tortuga Packable Daypack really does looks awesome and exactly what I’m wanting right now, except that horrifically bright green Tortuga logo. Love you guys, still don’t want a bright green logo on my bag. Hoping it’s not too difficult to remove.

Ha “horrifically bright green.” You use adverbs as dramatically as I do. :smile:

You should know that we punch up the colors in Photoshop to break up the monotony of black in the pictures. What color logo would you prefer? Gray?

Well, personally I prefer no logo… Even when it’s brands I love, I don’t want their logos on my stuff. Something subtle, grey, would certainly be preferable to the lime green. I didn’t think about the photoshopping making it look brighter than it might actually appear in person. I’ll find out soon enough, just pre-ordered one.


I think the two color logo from the big bags probably wouldn’t be as obnoxious (or eye catching if you prefer – hehe). It looks screen printed on the packable bag though and I get: 1) screen printing that logo in two colors is probably double cost of the single color; 2) making it a “patch” would increase weight and decrease packability.

The logo is screen printed for softness, primarily. It’s slightly brighter than the color on the logo patches inside the bigger bags, but don’t worry, it’s not lime green. :slight_smile: Thanks for the pre-order. Looking forward to your feedback.

I long thought of getting a Minaal or a Tortuga. From user reviews and the looks of them seem very alright.

At first I considered Minaal, but I wouldn’t put that much money in a backpack, no matter how good it is. I turned onto Tortuga, but shipping expenses from US to Europe or US to Asia (I’m based between these two) were a bit of a turn off.

Finally an old pal gave me the best backpack I could ask for right now - that pal would be the old me! :slight_smile:

On my last trip home in Europe I figured out I had buried in my junk an old Tamrac backpack, this one: http://www.tamrac.com/products/expedition8x/ - I had got it many years before when I was working as a photographer’s assistant. This was long before I started travelling and I almost forgot it I had it, it was buried in a suitcase I didn’t use. Back then I saw it as a tool to carry heavy and fragile camera and video equipment. But after I got it again in my hands, I realized it’s perfect for nomadism! It’s designed for carry-on, it’s ultra comfortable, I think has better lumbar foam padding and ergonomics than Tortuga or Minaal (again since it’s meant to carry heavy stuff). It can carry a laptop up to 15 or 17" (mine is 13), it opens like a suitcase, it’s water resistant. It has inserts inside that can be removed or rearranged, meant to store photo equipment like camera bodies or lenses, I took them off. The only “drawback” is that it weighs more than 2kg (the new version on the website even more than that), since it has extra foam meant to protect electronics. It’s not a big deal to me and makes whatever you’re carrying extra safe, the rest is perfect. It’s discreet, has a minimalist design, black/gray colour. I also have two extra removable pockets for it, it has velcro and hooks if you want to customize it or attach something.

There are probably out there more photo backpacks which can be converted to general travel/nomad purpose. Some are expensive, but they are very durable. If you are concerned about weight, there are lighter/smaller ones than mine too.

Minaaaaaal. Frigging love that thing and use it every day. Got it for $175 (or so) in the kickstarter, but would buy it again in a heartbeat should I need to.

I use a 511 tactical backpack. I’ve had it for about 2 years now. It’s very tough and is perfect for traveling. I have the Rush 72 (kinda big), but I’m thinking of switching down to a Rush 24. These backpacks are on par with GoRuck backpacks, but much cheaper.

I’ve gone through many bags in search of the perfect bag including several Tom Bihn bags and looked closely at the Minaal and Tortuga Air.

With that said, I am SOLD on my Deuter ACT Trail 30.

This is the new version that just recently came out. It has the best back support of any backpack I’ve found. It is top AND panel loading. The hip straps can be tucked inside to keep it streamlined. There’s a bladder slot that works perfectly for my 13" laptop. Probably would fit a 15".

No SwissGear/Wenger fans, really?

Would’ve thought this http://www.amazon.com/Wenger-GA-7305-14F00-SwissGear-Computer-Backpack/dp/B000NONHYY would come as a top recommendation. Not a very good looking backpack, but super durable and comfortable with no redundant straps that always get in the way.

Hi Frederik, how’s the Khard 30 so far?
Would u recommend it?