Level8 Atlas Review: One of the Best Waterproof Laptop Backpacks

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Before we start our review of the Level8 Atlas backpack, let me state this: here at Travelling Weasels we are very particular about where we source our clothes and accessories from. So particular in fact that we usually get second hand (or third or fourth, etc). Except of course in two special areas: shoes and backpacks (okay, and truth be told: underwear). Why? Because whilst it doesn't really matter that much if our clothes fall apart and whilst wearing second hand clothing doesn't really affect our bodies, these things cannot be said when it comes to shoes and backpacks. Good shoes help your posture, as do good backpacks. (Also, if you're simply interested in a Level8 coupon code, feel free to jump right to that section below!)

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Our Level8 Atlas Laptop Backpack Review

Additionally, good backpacks mean a lot to us travellers - it is, after all, where we keep the vast majority of all our worldly possessions. Unlike with our clothes, if our backpacks fall apart mid trip, it is a big deal (which is exactly what happened to me in Egypt a few years ago and it was a complete nightmare). So when it comes to reviewing backpacks, we are strict, we are fair and we are doing it primarily with full-time travel in mind. So without further ado, here's our review of the Level8 Atlas Backpack.

#1. Comfort: back padding and shoulder straps

First things first, a travel backpack has to be comfortable - it's going on your back all day, after all! - and it's nice to be nice to your back. This is especially true for full-time travellers. Even if you're the kind of traveller who takes taxis everywhere, there are still going to be occasions when your back is on your back for longer periods of time, e.g. waiting in line for visas or waiting around whilst your host over-explains where things are - trust me, you want your backpack to be comfy. So is the Level8 Atlas laptop backpack comfy? On paper (aka their website) they absolutely are - with 'heavily padded back straps'. But paper (or online) can potentially be different from in real life, so it's best to check and that's where we come in.

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Well, I'm happy to report that I tried it myself and to the touch they truly do feel heavily padded, and on my shoulders that feels really nice, like wearing a cushion. You can adjust the straps to help your posture and chose where you want to carry your weight. Additionally, I discovered that it's not just the straps that are heavily padded but the back section as well - this feels really nice on my back, and there's even a padded part for the lower back too. All in all, I believe that they passed the comfort test with flying colours.

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The only downside that I would like to mention is that the backpack does not come with chest straps or waist straps, for that matter. Now whilst I personally do not mind not having waist straps, I do miss the chest straps - they are really useful when it comes to carrying heavy tote bag with say groceries on both shoulders (you can hook them on the strap making sure they don't fall off) or if you want to keep your umbrella or anything close by. Chest straps are useful and I will probably DIY it and sew some on myself in the future (photos coming soon).

#2. Aesthetics and colour

Whilst it's important that a backpack is comfortable, this isn't all that we're looking for - we want a backpack to be practical too. Firstly, this backpack is black, and whilst I do sometimes like to be cute and colourful, I think when it comes to backpacks black is the most practical colour: it's inoffensive, for starters, and it's also kind of unnoticeable but in a good way, aka it's not a beacon to pickpockets and thieves that screams 'hi, I'm a tourist please rob me'. Black blends in, which is the most practical thing here.

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It's also very nicely streamlined and I really like the minimalistic Level8 logo too! Plus the handle looks cool I think.

#3. Water Repellency

Now whilst we mainly try to stick to warmer countries ('follow the fruit', as they say!), no matter where we go it does still sometimes rain and as we carry most of our worldly possessions - not to mention valuable electronics like cameras and laptops - it's really important to us that our backpacks are waterproof, which the Level8 Atlas Laptop Backpack is! And not just waterproof but water repellent as the fabric is made from water repellent polyester.

#4. Size and compatibility with airline carry-on luggage restrictions

The Level8 Atlas Commuter Laptop Backpack is 12.6 inches by 6.5 by 18.6 - translated into centimetres that comes out to 32 cm by 16.51 cm by 47.24 cm. For me this is a great size - it's big enough that I can fit everything I want in it (see below) but not so big that I overpack it with things I don't actually need (and end up upsetting myself). So it works for me but what about budget airlines and their strict hand-luggage restrictions? All airlines have slightly different rules, so it's worth checking with the ones you're intended to fly with. When it comes to Ryanair and Easy Jet, technically this bag is slightly too big for their hand-luggage only tickets. But there are a few ways around that.

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Firstly, in my experience in the last few years (since the pandemic basically) they have become way more lax about these things and won't even check (unless your bag is humongously over-sized, which this one won't be). If you're worried though you have two options: go for it anyway and if they do 'catch' you, don't worry, they'll still let you take it on for a small fee. Or you can simply go for a ticket with extra hand luggage. Problem solved. Ultimately though none of us should be flying really, and I for one am taking this as an extra kick in my pants not to fly period. Overlanding here we come!

#5. Laptop slots

Speaking of laptops, we do carry our laptops with us wherever we go and thus it's important for there to be a padded laptop section. We tried out a DB backpack a few years ago, and whilst it had a laptop section, it wasn't padded which was bad for two reasons: 1) it didn't protect the laptop and 2) it was uncomfortable on my back.

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Fortunately, Level8 is better than this (dare I say, it's a level or two up). There is a heavily padded laptop section, padded with 3D EVA foam, which, I don't think my laptop will mind me telling you, makes her feel like a princess.

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Unlike other backpacks which have a laptop section that opens up to a singular opening, the Level8 Atlas Laptop Backpack is more sophisticated than this - you unzip the zip, and then you open up the Velcro opening. I think this is great because it adds an extra layer of protection from moisture, dust, pickpockets, etc.

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It also means that if you leave the zip accidentally open for some reason, the laptop is still safe and won't just fall out. Also, believe it or not, my boyfriend was able to fit both his laptops (his main laptop and his backup emergency laptop) in there: the 15 inch in the bigger laptop slot and the smaller, 13 inch one in the smaller slot for papers. How wonderful!

#6. Further pockets

It doesn't just stop at the laptop pocket, there's more. Now, I have a bit of a thing for pockets. I love them. I think they're really awesome and the more practical and hidden and super secret traveller's pockets there are, the better. Not only do they keep your possessions safe and sturdy, they also keep them well organised. And 'when everything has a place and every place has a thing' it makes it that much easier to pack (useful when you're doing it as much as us... which is basically every month) and it makes it that much easier to check that you have everything. Now, the Level8 Atlas Laptop Backpack has a whopping 25 pockets in addition to that special laptop pocket. This includes two side pockets - one for my water bottle (an absolute must) and one for my umbrella - it's so useful having both of these things on the outside for two reasons - 1) easy access (ey o) and 2) because water bottles and umbrellas tend to be, well, wet, it's important for them to be separate from the rest of my stuff.

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But back to the pockets. There's a big front pocket with space for diaries and maps, and inside that pocket there are extra pockets for pens, a passport, and something like a deck of cards. There's a top pocket for easy access to sunglasses or reading glasses (or something else around glasses size). Then there's the main pocket which has an insert that you can choose to use at the base (or not) - so you can have a sturdier bottom or a flatter bottom, up to you - I really like that we have both options. Inside that main pocket is, you guessed it, more pockets - a big zipped mesh pocket and a smaller Velcro pocket. To demonstrate: my boyfriend tried downsizing all his travel gear and stuff and found that he could fit all his necessary and must-have full-time long-term travel items into this backpack. I'm not kidding. Not just his two laptops - his sandals, too. Here's a photo:

review of level 8 atlas backpack

Here's a full list of items he could fit in there:
  • two laptops with charger cables;
  • a pair of sandals;
  • a portable external hard drive;
  • a pack of vitamins and antihistamines;
  • a couple of rolls sellotape and duck tape;
  • some earplugs and hairbands;
  • swimming trunks and a swimming cap;
  • a three socket extension cord;
  • a pair of scissors;
  • passport and other important documents;
  • a pair of small headphones;
  • a couple of tote bags;
  • six textile handkerchiefs;
  • a portable beard trimmer with charger cable;
  • a winter hat, mittens and a scarf;
  • a Swiss army knife;
  • thick winter socks;
  • a bamboo spoon, fork and knife;
  • a reusable metal water bottle;
  • a 2 metre long UTP Ethernet cable;
  • two permanent marker pens;
  • a sieve and knife sharpener;
  • a case for glasses;
  • a converter for non-European sockets;
  • a toiletries bag with toothbrush, floss, adhesive bandages, etc.
  • a face mask;
  • an extra waterproof cover for the backpack (just in case);
  • a mini tape measure;
  • a little tin box of needles and thread;

Awesome, right? The reason he didn't put any clothes in there (apart from the stuff for cold temperatures) is that we usually wear most of our clothing if we're flying - yepp, the easiest way to get multiple shirts and socks and a pair of long johns through is to wear all of them when you get on the plane and take them off once you're on the plane and tuck 'em away into the tote bags you had in your backpack. Also, it's easier to just travel with one outfit and then buy second-hand clothes wherever you go and leave them behind when you leave.

A Level8 Discount Code for Our Dear Readers

I love discount codes almost as much as I love pockets, so if you're anything like me you'll be pleased to hear that we can offer you a 10% discount code for this Level8 backpack and other products! To use your code simply use this link and insert the discount code luggage10% when prompted.

Wrap Up: Level8 Atlas Laptop Backpack Review

As I'm sure you've already figured, I like this backpack a lot. When it comes to backpacks, I'm looking mainly for it to be waterproof, comfy and have a decent laptop pocket, which this backpack has, any extra pockets are not in my list of needs, but they definitely are on my lists of wants and the Level8 Atlas laptop backpack has so many useful well thought out pockets, honestly, I'm in love. It's such a nice extra bonus to a bag I was already digging. All in all, I think this backpack is a smart choice for a long-term full-time traveller like myself. However, I can also think outside of myself and would recommend it to those that aren't travelling regularly either - this backpack would be great if you work in an office and need something that looks smart, is practical for the commute and has a lot of great pockets.

P. S. We can offer you a 10% discount code for Level8 backpacks and other products! To use your code simply use this link and when prompted insert the discount code luggage10%

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We overland. We eat plants and fungi. We live outside as much as possible. We are all connected. A female travel blogger overlanding and writing about ecotourism, ethical and sustainable travel, socially conscious travel and housesitting. An online travel magazine since 2015.


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