Carrying laptops while backpacking and hiking is becoming more common due to an increase in digital nomads and remote work employees.
This article will dive into the pros and cons of taking your laptop on a backpacking adventure.
In a world where almost everything, from working to dating can be done online. It has never been more important to stay connected, But it has also never been more important to switch off.
What Are The Advantages Of Taking A Laptop Backpacking?
A laptop can be useful for many purposes whilst traveling. Modern technology has allowed them to be smaller, lighter, and stronger than ever! Allowing laptops to easily fit into your backpack and your adventures.
Many hiking backpacks like the ones listed in this article come with protected compartments that keep your laptop safe when traveling.
Wifi is available in almost every cafe, restaurant, and hotel these days. This makes it possible for travelers to continue their daily lives, even careers whilst adventuring through some of the most spectacular destinations in the world. Sounds pretty good right?
Advantages of taking a laptop backpacking
- Access to emails and social media.
- Ability to watch movies, TV series, and Youtube.
- Access to work programs and portals.
- Ability to play video games.
- Great camera and microphone for meetings.
- A good keyboard for writing.
- Lots of data storage.
- Photo and video editing.
Working On The Trail
The phrase “digital nomad” has been around for a while now, and the trend continues to grow. Digital Nomads have no fixed office, traveling from country to country and city to the city armed only with their laptop and their skillset.
This way of working lends itself well to such careers as:
- Graphic designers.
- Social media managers
- Digital marketers
Maybe not so much towards bus drivers and teachers.
With the growth in digital nomads, there has been a growth in co-work spaces and even co-work accommodation, allowing backpackers to travel the world whilst staying connected. Working side by side with like-minded people.
For such people, a laptop is an absolute “must-have” item in their backpack.
FACT TIME – You can even get WIFI at basecamp on Mount Everest, Nepal! Why not check in to that zoom call with a new client just before summiting the highest mountain in the world…
If you are staying in a tent for a couple of weeks or in a country whose language you don’t understand, you may not have much entertainment at nighttime or on bad weather days.
Having a laptop with some movies, a game, a digital book, or some music downloaded can be very handy…as long as the battery lasts.
Laptops can be very useful when backpacking as they provide an easy way to arrange trip logistics.
A laptop is a versatile logistical tool and can be used for:
- Booking travel – Flights, trains, etc
- Booking accommodation
- Planning routes
- Checking weather
- Checking travel restrictions and local news
- Changing currency
- Looking at guides and instructional videos
TOP TIP: If you are traveling in a group, it is useful to carry one laptop for everyone to share. This lightens the load.
Laptop VS Phone For Backpacking
For most backpackers, travelers, and hikers who are not working whilst traveling, a smartphone can be a much better option.
Modern smartphones share many functions with laptops but are much lighter and more compact. They are harder to break and easier to pack in your bag (or carry in your pocket)
The quality of sound and video that they provide is great for watching movies or listening to music and they charge much quicker than laptops.
Phones are the perfect tool for backpackers, proving so many functions in a tiny package!
Although Cyber cafes are a thing of the past, many hotels, campsites, and coworking spaces can rent desktops to those in need of features such as a keyboard or high-quality video meeting equipment.
Tablets can bridge the gap between a laptop and a phone but often come up short on many of the same issues as carrying a laptop (discussed in the next section)
Before setting off backpacking, ask yourself if you need to pack a laptop, or if a phone will be enough… usually it’s the latter.
Disadvantages Of Backpacking With A Laptop
There are many disadvantages of backpacking with a laptop and most travelers choose to leave theirs at home.
The main disadvantages of backpacking with a laptop are:
- They are heavy and bulky
- Laptop chargers are heavy and often specific to the model so are not easily replaceable.
- They are fragile and easily damaged by drops, impacts, dust, and water.
- They are expensive to replace
- Due to their price, they are often a target for theifs
- It can be easier to hack a laptop than a smartphone so data privacy is an issue.
- They take a long time to charge
Backpacks are not the most secure and protective vessels for a laptop. Especially when dragged all around the world, being carried across mountain ranges, left in shared dorm rooms, and slung on public transport.
For this reason, many backpackers choose not to add the stress of carrying a laptop unless completely necessary. Choosing instead to either use their travels as a welcome break from the digital world or to find other ways to connect when necessary.
How To Pack A Laptop When Backpacking
Buy A Good Laptop Case
Laptop cases come in all shapes, sizes, and materials but backpackers should look for one that provides rigidity to the shell of the laptop and shock absorption. The case should supply these features whilst still being very light and compact… A big ask
We recommend finding a plastic shell, specific to the laptop to protect it from flexing and sharp objects. Then place the laptop in a soft case, made from a material such as neoprene for maximum shock absorption.
There are backpacks on the market that provide laptop compartments inside the bag. This compartment is often waterproof and sits up against your back providing stability, and protection but may come at the cost of some comfort.
Pack Your Bag Well
Your clothing can provide lots of protection to your laptop and you may not even need a case as long as it is packed correctly.
When packing your laptop into your backpack try to:
- Keep the laptop away from any sharp objects like knives, cooking utensils, and camping stoves.
- Wrap the laptop in soft clothing, preferably something waterproof
- Keep the laptop above liquids
- Try to place the laptop in the center of the backpack or close to your back.
- Buy a small padlock for the zip of your backpack
Share The Load With Your Group
If you are hiking with a group, try to take just one laptop and distribute the accessories between backpacks. Pack each backpack to ensure the laptop is best protected and away from sharp objects and liquids.
- Traveller 1 will take all cooking materials and the charger.
- Traveller 2 will take all the clothing and the laptop.
- Traveller 3 will take any camping material, spare batteries, or hard drives.
What Is The Best Laptop For Backpacking
When picking a laptop for backpacking it is important to consider:
The lighter the laptop the better. Sometimes to make a laptop lighter, manufacturers will cheapen materials, making it more fragile and susceptible to damage. We recommend choosing a laptop with an aluminum body to reduce weight but keep it strong.
Taking an expensive laptop on a backpacking adventure is not a great idea unless you need to perform specific tasks.
An expensive laptop such as a MacBook Pro can make you a target for criminals who are looking for high price technology that is easy to sell. This can be a risk to your wallet and your safety.
We recommend taking a laptop that has been stripped down to the minimal functions for which you intend to use it.
Try to find a small laptop with around a 13″ screen or less. This will allow you to pack it easily and safely but still have a screen and keyboard big enough to type or do finite work.
Tablets with detachable keyboards such as the Microsoft Surface or the Apple Ipad are ideal for this.
Should I Take My Laptop Backpacking? : Conclusion
If you are a remote working professional that would like to continue working whilst backpacking then you should take a laptop with you. If not; A smartphone should be more than enough to deal with day-to-day life and logistics whilst traveling.
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