Our digital nomad backpack for work and travel around the world

Sturdy and versatile for everything from clothes to computers: A short, sweet & essential guide

When we started traveling the world full time in 2022, Jodie and I knew we would each need a sturdy digital nomad backpack. It had to fit our stuff and be carry-on size for flying. The right pack can carry clothes and computers without feeling burdensome during long travel days.

From under airplane seats to sitting on bus floors, our packs have been to over 10 countries, and they’re still going strong. Here’s the short, sweet, and essential guide to what we chose and why (and you can do a deeper dive about our backpack choice here).

Our digital nomad backpacks for work and travel around the world

Freshly arrived at the bus station in Chiang Rai, Thailand, and ready to go.

Cotopaxi Allpa 35L Travel Backpack

Since 2022, Jodie and I have each worn a Cotopaxi Allpa 35L Travel Backpack. (In true Anthony and Jodie style, they really are his and hers too. My pack is blue, and Jodie’s digital nomad backpack is purple.)

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What we considered in a digital nomad backpack and why we chose the Allpa

The clamshell opening makes it easy to pack, organize, and get stuff out of the Cotopaxi Allpa 35L.
The clamshell opening makes it easy to pack, organize, and get stuff out of the Cotopaxi Allpa 35L.

Open like a book, not a bucket

I’ve worn lots of packs over the years, and there’s a common element I’ve always disliked. Many packs are big, top-opening buckets. They’re like pits. It’s harder to organize your stuff. Finding things takes longer, and it’s much easier to over-pack.

  • The Allpa opens like a book. Like a book, everything you need is right in front of you. It’s easier to organize your stuff, and you are less likely to over-pack.
  • The left side breaks down into 3 zippered compartments. The top 2 are small, while the bottom is larger. Tucked in the open space behind the top two compartments is a hidden fourth.
  • The right side has a single compartment with a zippered mesh cover, allowing you to see the contents and keeping them in place when the pack is upright. There’s also a small, inconspicuous zippered pocket.

Dedicated tech compartment

Jodie and I are digital nomads. Each of us travels with a work-essential notebook computer. We also share a tablet for work and entertainment.

  • The Allpa has a dedicated side-opening zippered tech compartment (with a loop for adding a lock, for additional security). It’ll hold a notebook computer and its power cable.
  • The tech compartment is in direct contact with your back. For more security and protection, the tech sandwiches between your body and the rest of your stuff.
  • An inner open pocket is useful for storing a tablet or external keyboard.

Lots of external loops help you customize the exterior

We use carabiners and an elastic strap to secure our water bottles to the outside of our hers and his family travel backpacks.

The Allpa doesn’t include an external side pocket for a water bottle. Initially, this can seem like a negative. We have learned that Cotopaxi’s design choice makes the Allpa more versatile and customizable. Instead, the Allpa’s exterior has lots of fabric loops and straps (not to mention grab handles on the top, bottom, and each side). Here’s how we use them:

  • Elastic straps passed through a top and bottom loop work as secure water bottle holders
  • Use another elastic strap to cinch a jacket.
  • You have the option to add hooks, straps, or carabiners for external carrying.

A zippered top compartment holds what you need on travel days

The Allpa’s exterior has a zippered top compartment that is ideal for stashing your essentials on a travel day. Here’s some of what’s in mine:

  • E-reader
  • Powerbank and charging cables
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Learners and Makers stickers
  • Snacks
  • Tissues
  • Sunglasses

Stow straps for storage or to keep them out of the way

The padded shoulder straps, padded waist strap, and sternum strap don’t just help you customize the fit, so the pack carries well on your back. The straps also tuck away inside the padded liner. When we are storing our packs, we find that this keeps the straps cleaner. Plus, they’re less likely to snag or catch.

After over 10 countries and more than a year of full-time travel, our digital nomad backpacks continue going strong

Our packs remain durable, versatile, and easy to organize, even after over 10 countries and more than a year of full-time travel. The Cotopaxi Allpa 35L Travel Backpack is an excellent, reliable digital nomad backpack that’s ready to travel the world but not feel like a burden on your back.

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About the author
Anthony St. Clair
We are the St. Clair Family: Anthony, Jodie, Connor, and Aster. As Learners and Makers, our family of four slows down, connects, and enjoys the world and each other's company. We have been traveling full time since 2022.

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