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Best Waterproof Laptop Backpack 2020

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Finding a genuinely waterproof laptop backpack can be difficult. So many companies market their products as such when, in reality, they can only stand up to light splashing.

If you’re looking for a backpack that you can wear in torrential rain without getting even a drop of water on your laptop, you’re in luck. In this roundup, we’re going to take a look at the best options currently available.

Waterproof Laptop Backpack Overview

For many people, splash-proof backpacks offer more than enough protection. If all you’re doing is commuting to and from work, you don’t necessarily need a backpack capable of being submerged.

There are many of us, however, who require something more heavy-duty. Let’s explore the benefits of getting a truly waterproof laptop backpack if you’re among the latter group.

What Are the Benefits of a Waterproof Laptop Backpack?

Go Anywhere, Do Anything

It goes without saying that, as digital nomads, we travel a lot. That can lead to some pretty spontaneous adventures. For the best waterproof laptop backpacks, that’s not an issue. Whether your activities involve hiking through heavy rain or kayaking, your backpack will keep up with you.

Peace of Mind

Even though I know most backpacks can handle light to medium rain without issue, I still get nervous. After all, I frequently travel and work in parts of South America where I’d have a hard time getting a new laptop if my current one sustained water damage.

Good All-Around Durability

If a manufacturer has gone through the trouble of making a waterproof computer backpack, they’ve probably also included some other good durability features. For example, waterproof backpacks also tend to protect your laptop from impacts.

Feature-Packed

Waterproof laptop backpack manufacturers usually design their products with utility in mind. As such, they typically come with many more features than you’d find in a traditional backpack. Examples include:

  • Built-in LED lights for cyclists
  • Convertibility
  • Ergonomic features like lumbar pads
  • Large side pockets for water bottles

Relatively Affordable

While you might assume waterproof backpacks are super expensive, the truth is that they’re typically much more reasonably priced than many designer products.

As you’ll see in our roundup, there are many great options to be had well under $100. Products above that price point offer practical features you’re unlikely to find in conventional backpacks.

What to Look for in a Good Waterproof Computer Backpack

Let’s take a look at some specific features the best waterproof laptop backpacks offer. These are among the criteria we used when selecting the top products for this roundup.

1. True Waterproofness

I’ve had bad experiences with backpacks claiming to be “waterproof” before. They hold up to some light splashing but fail when you need them most.

True waterproofness is the bare minimum requirement for any bag in this roundup. Each product performs as advertised.

2. Dedicated Laptop Compartment

The best waterproof laptop backpacks have compartments capable of holding a standard-sized (15-inch or more) computer. These compartments shouldn’t be an afterthought, either. They should be padded enough to protect your laptop from impacts.

3. Build Quality

A waterproof laptop backpack is no good if it starts coming apart at the seams. The best products avoid this by employing strict quality control measures. Stitching is either minimal or very well executed.

4. Proven Track Record

There isn’t much room for error when it comes to waterproof laptop backpacks. Failure in the form of a leak can cost you hundreds or even thousands of dollars plus the hassle of recovering data from your ruined laptop.

To avoid this, stick to backpacks that have many good reviews. All products get the occasional negative review but you’ll rarely, if ever, find someone complaining about a good waterproof backpack leaking.

5. Solid Warranty

The best waterproof computer backpacks come with good warranty coverage. You should be confident in your ability to get a prompt replacement if the unit arrives defective.

This also means that preference goes towards backpacks produced by reputable companies. Even better if their products are fulfilled by Amazon.

6. Aesthetics That Match Your Style

You might be surprised to learn that waterproof backpacks are more varied in aesthetics than the rugged and ultra-sporty picture of them you probably have in your head.

Because this market segment is fairly large, you should have no problem finding a backpack that matches your style. As you’ll see in our roundup, there are even some good semi-formal options available if you need something you can also bring to the office.

Five Best Waterproof Laptop Backpacks for 2020

Now that you understand the advantages of a waterproof backpack, let’s look at the five best options on the market, based on our analysis.

A-LAB Model D Waterproof Backpack with 15” Laptop Sleeve

Pros

Perfect for the Office: If you’re in search of the best waterproof laptop backpack for commuting to the office, this could very well be it. A-LAB designed this product to be very discrete. It looks like a typical rucksack backpack.
Reassuringly Sturdy: While most backpacks in this price range are made from thin nylon, this one come sin 500D tarpaulin, which — in addition to being waterproof — is quite rigid and resistant to tearing.
Secure Laptop Compartment: Included with this A-LAB backpack is a removable laptop sleeve. Velcro allows you to fasten the sleeve securely when it’s inside the bag.
Very Reasonably-Priced: The A-LAB Model D is affordable when compared to similar products. Its look and design compete with backpacks that cost twice as much.
Good for Cyclists: The inclusion of an attachable LED light makes this a safe bag to use when cycling at night.

Cons

Not Super Spacious: The A-LAB Model D can hold a 15-inch laptop but not much else. If you’re a student who needs to carry lots of textbooks, you’ll prefer one of the more spacious options on this list.
Stitching Isn’t the Best Quality: Some of the nylon utility straps attached to this backpack are prone to coming loose. On the bright side, A-LAB claims to have solved this issue with all batches as of November 2019. Customers who receive older bags with this defect can contact the company to have it rectified.

Pelican ProGreat S100 Sport Elite Laptop Backpack

Pros

Great for Hiking: The padding on this backpack from Pelican is unlike anything I’ve seen before. You have the traditional rear abdominal supports but there’s also padding for your lower back, which makes this great for carrying a full load while hiking.
Capable of Withstanding Rough Use: The 15-inch laptop compartment in this backpack is made from a hard crush-proof material. There’s no doubt that your laptop will be secure, even through the roughest of treatment.
Good Travel Bag: Another perk of this backpack’s crush-proof design is that it makes for a great travel backpack. I’d have no hesitation cramming the bag into an overhead bin or even checking it in if needed. Other travel features include plenty of side and front compartments for holding things like passports.
Good All-Around Backpack: The Pelican ProGreat S100 backpack is very tactical but also doesn’t look out of place on the subway. This makes it useful for more than just hiking.

Cons

Weak Shoulder Loop Connector: Some reviewers on Amazon have complained that the plastic connector holding the shoulder loop can snap with excessive force. The good news is twofold. First, most buyers don’t seem to have had this issue. Second, you can easily fix the issue yourself with some washers and screws.
Pricey: The Pelican ProGreat S100 is the most expensive option on this list by far. While it’s worth it if you want something reliable and long-lasting, the high price tag is worth noting.

IDRYBAG Waterproof Hiking Dry Backpack

Pros

Zero Doubts About Waterproofness: This backpack is almost cylindrical in shape, leaving very few seams for you to worry about water seeping through. IDRYBAG rates it at IP68, which makes it capable of being submerged up to 19 feet for an hour.
Highly Adjustable in Size: Extended fully, the IDRYBAG waterproof laptop backpack is 30L in size. You can roll the top down to make it more compact, however. When rolled down, the backpack’s zipper is hidden, which adds to its waterproofness.
Perfect for Outdoorsy Types: While some waterproof laptop backpacks are geared towards a single outdoor activity like camping or hiking, the IDRYBAG is good for just about anything. It’s ergonomic enough to carry for hours yet rugged enough to be dragged behind a canoe, as shown in IDRYBAG’s promotional video.

Cons

Too Rugged for Urban Use: If you’re looking for a backpack you can take to school or work in an urban setting, the IDRYBAG isn’t for you. Even the darker variants look way too sporty to be worn anywhere but in the field.
Not Good for Organization: If you’re a neat freak who likes compartmentalizing items, you’ll be frustrated by this backpack’s single main compartment. You can still fit your laptop and other items; they’ll just be in the same compartment.

Waterproof Laptop Backpack from North Face

Pros

Best Waterproof Laptop Backpack for College: This backpack is very discrete, making it suitable for not just sporting activities but also wearing while commuting to college or work.
Good Protection for Your Laptop: In addition to offering good waterproofness, this waterproof laptop backpack from North Face has a dedicated padded compartment for your laptop. You may find this more reassuring than the IDRYBAG’s single large compartment.
Neat Freak-Friendly: North Face designed this bag with lots of compartments. The front-most zipper reveals slots for your cellphone and some small tools, for example.
Good Options to Choose From: While some of the aforementioned backpacks come in fairly unconventional colors, North Face offers this one in both discrete and bold hues.

Cons

Colors can be Misleading: While you have several variants to choose from with this backpack, North Face didn’t do a very good job photographing them. Some reviewers on Amazon have complained about their backpacks looking darker than expected in person.
Not Ultra Rugged: This bag doesn’t scream “apocalypse-proof” as the IDRYBAG does. While its water-resistance seems more than sufficient for canoeing or heavy rain, you might hesitate about submerging it fully for extended periods.

COR Surf Waterproof Dry Bag with Padded Laptop Sleeve

Pros

Ultra-Spacious: If you’re looking for a 17-inch laptop backpack that’s waterproof, you’d be hard-pressed to find something better than the COR Surf. It comes in a 40L size capable of holding enough items for a week-long trip.
Great for Storing Food: The COR Surf backpack is made from airtight PVC. The roll-down top allows you to remove excess air from the backpack, which prevents food from going stale on long camping trips.
Perfect for Boating: A waterproof backpack isn’t much good for canoeing if it sinks when dropped overboard. The COR Surf backpack will actually float on the surface, allowing for easy retrieval.

Cons

Not the Most Rigid Construction: This backpack contains quite few seams that can wear down over time if you treat it roughly. While the quality is on par with what you should expect at this price point, this is still worth noting.
Less Suited for Urban Use: As mentioned with the similarly-styled IDRYBAG, the fold-down design is a bit too much for day-to-day use in an urban environment. The CORD Surf backpack will look a little out of place in offices and on the train.

Conclusion

Whether you’re seeking a waterproof laptop backpack for college or camping, I hope this roundup has been helpful for you.

All this considered, I’d rank the Pelican ProGreat S100 as the best option, with the A-LAB Model D coming in at a close second. To understand why I’ve reached this conclusion, let’s look at the backpack in terms of the desirable features I mentioned earlier.

There’s no denying that this backpack is waterproof. Its hard laptop compartment is, of course, non-porous. The rest of the backpack is made from thick nylon that is similarly reassuring as far as waterproofness goes.

Build quality is very good as well. While some users have reported issues with the strap connector, this isn’t widespread. Even if you do experience the issue, you can solve it with a simple DIY solution. There are no other durability flaws to speak of.

You can also be confident in buying this backpack thanks to its track record. It has numerous positive reviews on Amazon and is made by a reliable company; Pelican is known for producing rugged cases and bags.

As far as versatility, the Pelican ProGreat S100 looks equally at home while hiking and commuting to the office.

All things considered, you’d be hard-pressed to find another backpack that strikes as good a balance between universal appeal and utility.

The A-LAB Model D is not far behind; its smaller size is the primarily thing holding it back.