Now that we all got used to wearing padded laptop backpacks, why would anyone come up with the opposite concept?
This idea found me when I was not looking. I would never have thought of a laptop backpack that is soft and has no padding at all, and actually there are no other laptop backpacks with no padding in the straps and no padding whatsoever in the main compartment, that I know of.
At first I didn’t think it could work because all the laptop backpack brands are putting more and more emphasis on heavy-duty padding and multiple compartments. But this was a non negotiable requirement by the experienced digital nomads I was talking to in Tulum.
The main reason behind this concept is: it allows to pack the bag flat in checked luggage using minimal space. When digital nomads or international students arrive at their destination, they «ditch» their larger travel backpack and grab this smaller daypack for their daily commute to the work space or to go to the gym or the beach! It works both for work and leisure.
This is actually important to them - being able to take along a packable backpack for everyday use that remains comfortable enough to carry when holding a laptop, and also that is not sticky in the heat (natural fibers) while being rainproof!
The nomads I met were unable to find a backpack of this type so they just stuck with their large and sweaty backpack every day or were using a makeshift bag that was not practical. They simply asked me to create the backpack of their dream! This was in March 2021 in Tulum, Mexico.
The absence of padding is compensated for by wide straps (5 cm, 2 inches wide) that allow to carry the backpack comfortably enough even when it holds a laptop, but laptops need to be inside their own padded sleeve.
The absence of padding inside the main compartment also allows to use this backpack for non-laptop day trips or overnight trips while enjoying the full capacity of the bag, which means that it can be used daily by anyone, not only digital nomads, such as university students, moms, dads and travelers in general.
When came the time to try out this backpack with an older 15.6 inch Toshiba laptop (thick and heavy), I was very surprised how comfortable it was to carry just like this. It is a different sensation from a padded backpack but it feels nice.
This is what the Tulum backpack looks like with a thick 15.6 inch Toshiba laptop inside it, plus a notebook, water bottle, wallet and gadgets.
One thing that can be done to promote comfort is to set a sweater or any type of soft layer on the side of the backpack inside the main compartment that will be in contact with your back and then to place the laptop or books against this soft layer. This way you create your own padding if you want to.
Laptops 13-15.6 inches inside their own padded sleeve fit in this bag. It is also possible a 16 inch MacBook Air may also fit (I haven’t tried this yet).
So now that this backpack is created, I thank my digital nomad friends for their valuable input, and I trust I am offering a solution that will be useful to many nomads.
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