What Are the Best Travel Laptops?

Posted by Jackie Anderson on 29th Sep 2022

Updated June 13, 2023

Man sitting on rock taking a picture, laptop on lap

Whether you travel frequently for work or enjoy traveling for leisure, you know that taking your laptop with you can get dicey. We’ve all cringed when we witnessed airport employees slamming our bags down over and over or when we had to carry our laptops through rain, snow, or extreme heat.

Our laptops carry our important work and projects- they connect us with friends and families- even from abroad. So, it just makes sense that we want to protect our precious cargo.

While you can place a case on your expensive MacBook, relying on a case can be hit or miss (with as much as an Apple laptop costs- stressful). If you often find yourself on the go, investing in a rugged laptop that can handle just about whatever you throw at it might be a good idea.

What You Should Know

Luckily, rugged laptops exist. These computers are (literally) built and tested to work in tough environments. I know what you’re thinking- “well aren’t those for people with really rugged jobs- such as military personnel, police, and other first responders? I might not need something that tough”...

To answer your question- yes! Military personnel, police, and first responders do use these computers- fully rugged, fully secure laptops. However, there are levels of rugged-  semi-rugged, and fully rugged to be exact. In addition, these computers are incredibly customizable, so you can choose what options you need, and skip the ones you don’t!

You might also have questions about how bulky a rugged laptop may be in comparison to a consumer-grade laptop such as a MacBook. Generally speaking, the more rugged the laptop, the thicker and bulkier it will be. However, just like the consumer-grade market, rugged laptops have gotten slimmer over the years with advancements in technology. 

Semi-rugged Panasonic Toughbook CF-54 MK2:                        Fully rugged Panasonic Toughbook CF-19 MK8: 

Semi-rugged Panasonic Toughbook CF-54 MK2          Fully Rugged CF-19 MK8

Things to Consider

That being said, before you start shopping for travel laptops, you should have a general idea of how tough you need yours to be. Will it simply be jostled around and possibly dropped, or will it need to resist water, sand, dirt, or oil on top of daily abuse? This will help you to decide on the level of ruggedness to look for.

Another question you should ask yourself when shopping for a travel laptop is “what kind of features do I need?” Are you looking for a touchscreen? What about a DVD drive or a webcam? Perhaps you're in need of SSD storage or more memory (RAM). Answering these questions will help you to narrow the selection even further.

Lastly, you should consider your budget (if you have one). Refurbished rugged laptops generally range from $300 on the very low end to $1500+ on the high end. Strictly speaking though, just as in the consumer-grade world, the newer and more heavily upgraded laptops will be more expensive.

If you are looking to get a lot of upgrades on a smaller budget, there is the option for  refurbished rugged laptops. On the other hand, maybe a brand new rugged laptop is important to you and you are willing to sacrifice some features that you might not necessarily “need”- or maybe you want it all and don’t care what it costs! The best part is, no matter your price range, as versatile as rugged laptops are- you are very likely to find something that fits your needs.


So, what are the best travel laptops? The fact is that the best travel laptop for you might be different than what is best for someone else. Whether you go all out on a brand new model or decide to stick to a budget with a refurbished laptop, it’s up to you- the answer is simply what fits your travel plans and needs the best. 

Need assistance with your selection? We can help! Just fill out our  Selection Assistance form, and we will work with you one-on-one. 

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