The tomtoc Navigator-H71 20L Laptop Backpack is a professional and smart-looking backpack designed to protect your digital gear during travel. It has plenty of useful features and is available to purchase at a competitive price. For a 20L Laptop backpack, it looks stylish, it feels kind of comfortable and it has some cool design features.

One of my favourite features of the pack includes its plentiful pockets. But this pack, just like most others, is far from perfect. There are some flaws and design faults that come with it, but that’s to be expected.

The brand ‘tomtoc’ prides itself on having affordable packs, with the Navigator-H71 20L Laptop Backpack being designed with high-quality materials. The backpack’s main purpose is to act as a protective barrier between your valuable digital gear and the uncertainties of travel.

So, how does it do? Read on to discover if this pack is worth buying in 2024!

tomtoc Navigator-H71 backpack on train
The tomtoc Navigator-H71 20L Laptop Backpack

Quick Answers – Overview, Specs, Pros & Cons

Right off the bat, I’m not going to beat around the bush with this review. The tomtoc Navigator-H71 20L Backpack has some wonderful design features and practicality. However, I did notice some basic flaws during my usage of the pack. Overall, I would recommend this pack for those of you who travel with expensive digital gear but don’t want to blow loads of cash on an expensive backpack.

The Pros:

  • Protective casing
  • Many pockets
  • Competitively priced
  • Stylish and professional design

The Cons:

  • Difficult to use all the pockets
  • Rigid bag walls make for limited storage
  • The water bottle compartment
  • The additional top handle

The tomtoc Navigator-H71 20L Laptop Backpack is designed with the everyday traveller in mind. Most of us travel daily; whether it’s to work, school, or up mountains in Pakistan. The Navigator-H71 is perfect for those who travel with (expensive) digital gear and want to look professional while doing so.

In this review, I will dissect everything to do with this pack; the good, the bad, and the ugly. All the features, materials, capacity and storage, pockets and compartments, and best uses of the pack will be explored. All so that YOU can make a smarter and more informed consumer choice.

I’m not here to persuade you to buy this pack, but I will tell you that I would recommend it. But why? Well, let’s find out.

Specs

Capacity – 20 Litres

Dimensions – 17″H X 14.5″W X 5″D

Weight – 2 lb

The Compartments:

The tomtoc Navigator-H71 20L Laptop Backpack is primarily designed to protect your digital gear. And, to be fair, it does this pretty well. However, maybe too well.

This backpack is great for storing flat items such as laptops and notepads, but when it comes to storing gear like cameras or even clothing in this pack is more challenging than it should be.

One of the outstanding features of this pack is its many pockets and organisational potential. This is somewhat of a double-edged sword. As useful as numerous pockets/compartments are, I found that many of them compete for space with the pack’s interior, and couldn’t take advantage of them all.

Pockets galore!

The Main Compartment:

The main compartment of this pack consists of a standard main section with an additional rear sleeve (great for items such as notebooks) and a zipped mesh pocket. During my use of the pack, I found it somewhat challenging to use all the compartments at once due to the competition for space in the pack’s interior. When I was filling the zipped mesh pocket with bulkier items such as my camera or laptop charger, access to the bottom of the main compartment was limited.

Additionally, this backpack wasn’t the best for storing items of clothing. In order to access the bottom of the main compartment I found myself holding my jumper by hand.

Furthermore, whilst the black interior looks slick, I did find it to hinder my ability to see what’s in the main compartment of the pack. It was a bit of a black hole, to be frank. I did temporarily lose some pens and pocket change in this void.

But, with the negatives out of the way, it’s important to remember that the main compartment of this pack is not the main compartment of this pack. Storage of regular items is not the priority of this backpack. This is where the laptop compartment comes in.

The Laptop Compartment:

This was by far the best part of the pack (unsurprisingly). As a digital nomad, who relies on transporting my digital gear to make a living, this pack exceeded my high expectations.

The folks over at tomtoc nailed the party piece here, and it does EXACTLY what it’s supposed to… Protect your digital gear. Good job tomtoc.

With a 16″ MacBook Pro fitting comfortably in the laptop compartment, there are numerous features of this compartment to shout about.

  • Padded false bottom
  • Soft-lined sleeve
  • Protective side barriers

What I loved about this compartment was the protection from all sides. The false bottom was about an inch or so of protective material to ensure your laptop is not damaged when you drop your pack on the floor or place it down too hard. The soft-lined sleeve was not only comfortable enough to be a blanket but also provided extra padding to protect the rear of your laptop.

The ultra-padded laptop compartment is this backpack’s best feature

The orange foamy bits were a sweet addition too. Despite this pack being designed to stay upright, in the hustle and bustle of travel, it’s easy for regular backpacks to neglect this area. I have personally had times where my bags fall over and the contents are vulnerable to damage via side impact. The tomtoc Navigator-H71 20L Laptop Backpack really does negate this common backpack defect through a unique, clever and functional design addition of these colourful side strips.

The Front and Side Pockets:

The front pocket of this pack is situated on the bottom half of the pack’s front. It comes with two equally sized sleeves ideal for small items such as a smartphone, a useful key leash, and a main compartment where I put my diary. There’s not much to say about this compartment except it lacked flexibility.

Usually, I prefer to be able to put items such as raincoats or snacks in my front pockets for accessibility reasons, and that wasn’t possible here due to the pocket’s rigidity. But, if you are looking to store flat items such as a book, this will do just fine.

The water bottle compartment (or side pocket) was good, but not faultless. I have a short and wide water bottle, which fits snugly into the pocket. However, for a standard flask or Chilly’s style water bottle, I have concerns about the security of this compartment during travel.

tomtoc backpack joe image1
The front pocket was slim, but fit my diary nicely

Additional Features:

Additional features of the pack include handles, zips, and my favourite, the shoulder straps and their pockets. Overall, these features are definitely positive. But, there are one or two things to critique.

Firstly, we have the handles. tomtoc opted to have a back handle to carry the bag sideways or slip onto a suitcase and two handles on the top of the pack. These come with advantages and disadvantages. But I found them to be incredibly useful in transit. Secure, comfortable, and stylish.

I found the rear top handle to occasionally feel like it was in the way of me trying to unzip the main, or laptop compartment. It also tickled my neck when wearing the pack annoyingly. The back handle may cause a larger water bottle to slip out of the side pocket occasionally.

The zips were smooth, and high quality. I didn’t notice any flaws with them during my two-week usage. Pretty standard to be honest.

The shoulder straps were very comfortable and came with sufficient padding to allow me to wear the pack for upwards of two hours without discomfort. My favourite design feature however was the shoulder strap pockets. This is very slick from tomtoc and I haven’t seen this on too many bags before.

Unlike my other bags which require a zip or buckles to secure the straps in place, this quick, easy, and comfortable pocket serves as extra padding for your lower back whilst also providing a functional solution to loose parts with the potential for getting snagged. This is perfect for when you are holding the pack by hand, stowing the pack in storage, or catching a flight – love it.

The shoulder strap pockets are a great feature

Price:

  • $80.

I would say that the price of this pack is one of its best features. Available for $80, this backpack is a great budget option compared to other products within its niche. Absolute bargain in my opinion.

I would further compliment the price by adding that it makes for a reliable and worthwhile investment by protecting your potentially extremely valuable digital gear very well.

Materials:

From what I can tell, the pack uses good-quality materials, and tomtoc pride themselves on using high-quality materials in the official product description.

The reliable and notorious YKK zippers were one of the first things I noticed about the material choice. The foam and padding were comfortable and withstood two weeks of usage flawlessly. It’s hard for me to guarantee the long-term effectiveness of these materials without testing within that timeframe though.

My favourite material is the nylon fabric used for the exterior of the backpack. I liked this because despite walking through London in the rain, my digital gear was bone dry. I think that this is a key feature many other packs within the same ‘digital gear’ niche neglect. Not tomtoc.

Aesthetic:

The tomtoc Navigator-H71 is fully corporate-compliant, by looking professional and low-key. It makes for a great business or school accessory. Whilst it is most suited to this environment, the fully black exterior is flexible and can be styled with almost any outfit.

Weight:

At only 2lbs, this pack is extremely lightweight. Considering its protective properties, this is a testament to its good design. I could wear this pack for hours without discomfort and hold the pack in one hand without needing to switch.

The comfort of the straps was additionally complementary to its lightweight and you could really load this pack up with some heavy digital gear such as hard drives or even heavy books and not have to worry too much about the weight of it.

Capacity and Best Uses:

As this pack has a 20L capacity, it’s unlikely you could fit enough in here for much more than a day’s work. It’s not a pack I would recommend for an overnight stay or an expedition of any kind.

It is however perfect backpack for college or school, those who need a bag for commute on trains, walk to offices or even take regular quick flights. If you are constantly transferring digital gear from A to B, I would recommend this pack to you. But, if you are looking for a more multi-functional pack for weekends away, day trips or far-flung adventures, opt for another pack.

Joe wears tomtoc Navigator-H71 20L Laptop backpack
Side reference of a 6″0′ (183cm) tall male wearing the pack loosely

tomtoc Navigator-H71 20L Laptop Backpack vs The Rest

Now that I’ve reviewed the tomtoc Navigator-H71 20L Laptop Backpack, hopefully, you know if you’re digging it or not. If not, no worries. Here are some other similar backpacks I can recommend. I have compared them to the Navigator where possible.

Osprey Apogee

The Osprey Apogee

Other commuter backpacks such as the Osprey Apogee compete well with this pack. The Apogee comes with greater storage capacity (28L) and is better for those looking for a more general day pack, that can still protect your laptop well.

Whilst it is challenging to compete with a brand like Osprey, I do feel that the tomtoc Navigator-H71 is a superior option for those who want to look more professional, spend less AND are more concerned about protecting digital gear.

Despite the Osprey Apogee being a more versatile pack, I think the tomtoc Navigator-H71 sits nicely in its niche here and does what it is designed to do well. Oh, and it’s $20 cheaper.

Aer Day Pack 2

This is the most similar backpack I could find to the Navigator. At only 14.8L and 2.9lbs this pack is smaller and heavier than the Navigator. But overall, I think it’s so similar that it’s tough to say which is better.

What I can say though, is that tomtoc continues to undercut the market with its tough-to-beat price, so if you’re a broke backpacker like me, I would save the extra $60 and go with the Navigator.

However, one thing I much prefer about this pack is the front pocket. The fully sized, more accessible front pocket allows for more versatile storage.

Both packs flex a minimalistic and professional design, and the Aer Day Pack 2 is a good alternative choice.

Aer Day Pack 2
The Aer Day Pack 2

tomtoc Navigator-H71 20L Laptop Backpack: Final Thoughts

The tomtoc Navigator-H71 20L Laptop Backpack is a stylish and functional backpack choice for workers, commuters or travellers. Despite having some minor design flaws, this pack is a solid option who those whose main priority is protecting their digital valuables.

The stand-out features of the Navigator-H71 include superb laptop padding, a waterproof nylon exterior and a few clever additions such as strap pockets. My personal opinion is that despite its aforementioned minor flaws, the functionality of this pack well exceeds its cost of only $80, making it a great investment.

I think that tomtoc did a great job in targeting this product to a specific type of consumer. If you think you fit into this category, I would say… give it a go! I can honestly say that I would recommend this pack to fellow travellers.

If you have any comments or questions, feel free to drop them in the comments section below.

Why stop here? Check out more ESSENTIAL backpacker content!

And for transparency’s sake, please know that some of the links in our content are affiliate links. That means that if you book your accommodation, buy your gear, or sort your insurance through our link, we earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you). That said, we only link to the gear we trust and never recommend services we don’t believe are up to scratch. Again, thank you!