Best Rugged Laptops
Wouldn’t it be nice to unplug yourself from all of the devices that hold dominion over you and go live in the woods for a while? While it might seem like a nice fantasy- it actually could be a reality if you invest in the right gear.
With the help of a rugged laptop in your backpack- you’ll be able to check in on your business before you set off in the morning and before you go to bed. They were originally manufactured for those working in harsh conditions such as field service and the military, but have generated a following from consumers that are a little rough on their tech. These devices are really able to take a beating, so you won’t be constantly worried about that status of your electronic devices that are slung over your back.
In a Hurry? The test winner after 15 hrs of research
16 GB of storage
- ASUS C202SA-YS0
- ASUS VivoBook
- MobileDemand LC
- Panasonic Toughbook 19
- Panasonic Toughbook 53
- Getac B300
- Lenovo ThinkPad
- ASUS Chromebook Flip
- Dell Latitude
- Criteria Used for Evaluation
- Other Factors to Consider
- Frequently Asked Questions
Top 10 Picks
1. ASUS C202SA-YS0
16 GB of storage
Doesn’t run Windows
Doesn’t have all of the keys of a standard keyboard
Asus is one of the leading brands when it comes to these types of products, and has landed multiple spots on our list due to their tough designs that also can complete a myriad of tasks without skipping a beat.Read more
The exterior shell doesn’t exactly look like a tough and boxy tank like some of the others on the market. It has a sleek and thin shell that fits easily in the palm of your hand, and it can slip into a backpack without taking up that much room. It has a white case with black trim around the edges.
Inside, there is a surprising amount of memory for a Chromebook- an impressive 16 GB. It runs on an Intel Celeron N3060 Processor and runs on a Chromebook interface. If you need to open or gain access to Microsoft Office documents, you can simply download Microsoft Office Online. However, Google Drive is a great place to keep and view all of your necessary documents- even the ones that are saved as .docx.
The average battery life of this laptop is 10-hours.
The outside is lined with rubber bumpers that allow all of the components as well as the 11.6-inch screen to survive about a 4-foot drop. The shell is considered to be spill proof. Even if you dump an entire cup of coffee onto your keyboard, simply turn it onto its side to drain the water and wipe it down with a soft cloth, and you are good to go. It has all of the standard features that you could possibly need- a USB port, headphone jack, memory card slot, HDMI 1.4 port, and a Kensington Lock.
The price of this unit is incredibly affordable and costs just a fraction of what some of the designs that run a full Windows program might set you back. If you need easy access to all of your files in a package that can really take a breaking- and it won’t cost you all that much money- this is an excellent choice for the next time you need to break out of the office.
2. ASUS VivoBook
Runs Windows 10 S OS
Cannot install anything outside of the Windows store
Asus makes this list yet again with their slightly different VivoBook. This design still has that same exterior shell that the C202SA-YS0 had- it’s sleek and lightweight while still being incredibly rugged. The only difference with this design is what comes on the inside. If you feel you cannot work using Chrome, and you have to use Windows- this is going to be your best bet.Read more
The exterior design is made to be carried around from place to place. The outer shell folds up to be incredibly thin, so it will be able to fit into a backpack without taking up all that much room. It sports a solid black shell with black rubber protective bumpers.
This device uses a Windows 10 S OS, so you will have easy access to all of the files and programs that you would have access to on your office computer. It has an impressive 64 GB of internal storage and runs on an Intel Celeron processor. Unlike Chromebooks, this computer has access to all of Microsoft Office, so creating and sharing new documents will be incredibly easy. Also, this model has one of the longest battery life out of many of the other products on the market.
It can run for about 11 hours before a charge is needed.
The outside shell of this model is where it really shines. The screen is made from a matte material which makes it really easy to read outdoors without contending with an impossible glare. It also has all of the ports that users could ever need such as a USB port, a port for a flash drive, and an HDMI port for those times you want to stream Netflix on a larger screen. It also comes with a built-in camera along the top of the screen so that you can video chat to friends or partners.
If you need something that will hold up to whatever you can throw at it, but it can also run a full Windows OS, which can give you access to pretty much all of the files and programs found on your desktop at your office- this is going to be a great fit. The best part about it is that it cost a fraction of what other Windows devices will cost.
3. MobileDemand LC
Access to all Microsoft Office files
Runs Windows 10
64 GB storage
Hard outer shell
Keyboard doesn’t fold up with screen
The FLEX 10A lives somewhere between a tablet and a laptop. It has a touchscreen like that of a Windows tablet, but it also has a functional keyboard that is able to be attached and detached when needed. It has a tough exterior shell that can really take a beating.Read more
The exterior shell of this unit is built like a tank- and it looks like it would be able to absorb a bullet (we don’t recommend shooting your electronic devices). The has a thick black outer shell that might fit to be a little bulky in your backpack.
Inside, this device can run everything that a Windows device is capable of running. It uses at Windows 10 OS, so you will be able to access and open all of your Microsoft Office files similarly to the way you would open them on your office computer. It has a hard drive that can hold up 64 GB of storage. The exterior screen is a touchscreen, so you can use a stylus to navigate your way through the OS without the need of a mouse- which is perfect when you are on the go and conducting a little business while leaning up against a tree stump.
The battery of this laptop can last up to six hours.
This device is able to withstand being dropped from a height of 4 feet about 26 times- and that is even when it lands on concrete. Its exterior shell is a little bit bulky, but that just makes it even tougher. The screen measures to be 10.1 inches- which is just a little bit smaller than many of the others out there on the market. The downside to this model, however, is that it doesn’t have the exterior ports that many of the others have such as USB, memory card, HDMI, and ether ports.
The price tag of this unit is a little bit higher than some of the other Chromebooks and Windows devices making this list, but it a really good deal considering that you will have access to all of your files from Microsoft Office without the price tag of a full computer.
4. Panasonic Toughbook 19
Runs on Windows 7
A little bulky
Heavier than some of the other similar designs on the market
Some find the mouse is not very responsive
Panasonic is another name that you should keep your eye on because they have a whole line of toughbooks that users have come to really appreciate. This device looks like it could withstand a nuclear blast, and still be able to pick up right where you left off without so much as batting an eye.Read more
The exterior shell of this model looks like something a CIA office would carry. It has a silver case with sharp black accents. It is a lot bulkier than many of the other designs out there on the market, and quite a bit heavier as well. However, these negative design features are due to the fact that this piece of gear can deliver far more than its competitors.
If you are someone that cannot function with an abbreviated version of Windows or Chome, and can only function with a full version that is almost identical to your computer at your office- this is going to fit your needs perfectly. This unit runs on Windows 7- which while it is an outdated version, it is widely considered the best Windows operating system to date by Windows users. It runs an Intel Core i5 processor and is a dual-core. What is most impressive about the guts of this device is that is has a whopping 500GB of internal storage.
In the product description of this laptop, it is said that the battery only lasts for approximately two hours. However, customer feedback claims six hours. Overall, it depends on how many and which applications you have open.
This unit comes with an impressive number of ports for such a small device. It has 2 USB ports, a microphone, and headphone jack, an SD and SDXC card reader, LAN port, VGA, and a 4-pin FireWire. It weighs just over 5 pounds- which is a little bit heavier than the other models out there on the market. However, if you consider what you are getting on the inside- the little bit of extra weight might be well worth it to you.
Hold on to your pocketbook- because this little device is going to set you back quite a bit of money. The price of this will likely double that of what you likely spent on your office computer. However, if you consider the benefit of packing up your office computer and taking it everywhere that you go- it is well worth the padded price tag.
5. Panasonic Toughbook 53
4 USB ports
14 inch LED backlit screen
Panasonic is making out the list yet again with this innovative design to help you keep in contact with the world while out in the middle of the wilderness. It has all of the features that you will need while out and about, and it comes in a really durable shell that is also incredibly lightweight and easy to carry.Read more
This model doesn’t have the military design as some of the other Toughbooks- it is a little bit more sleek and smooth which will make it easy to throw into a backpack before hitting the trails. It is offered in a solid matte black design that also has a really thick handle to carry it outside of your bag.
This is probably one of the more impressive models that you might find out there on the market. Not only does this come with a lot of power- it might even be more powerful than your desktop PC. It has an impressive 750GB of internal storage- which far surpasses anything of its kind currently for sale. It runs on Windows 7 and has an Intel 2.5 GHz processor. It also has 8GB of RAM- which is double that of many of its competitors.
The battery claims to last for ten hours but reviewers say it's closer to seven and a half hours.
All of the ports that you would ever need can be found on the outside of this design. It has 2 USB 2.0 ports, and 2 USB 3.0 ports. It also has a microphone and headphone jack, a LAN port, and an HDMI port. It has a simple to use standard mouse pad, and a gray and black keyboard that isn’t backlit. It also sports an impressive 14-inch screen- which far surpasses anything else like it on the market.
The cost of this unit, while expensive, isn’t as expensive as some of the other designs from companies like Getac. It will set you back a good deal of money- comparable to what you might have spent on your office PC- but if you need something that can do all of the things your desktop PC can do while you are on the road- this is well worth the padded price tag.
6. Getac B300
Getac makes computers specifically for outdoor use
Runs on Windows 7
Excellent internal storage
You might not have heard of the brand Getac before when shopping around for computers for your home or office, and that’s because they are a company specifically designed to make tough devices that are meant to take a beating. Getac knows that various messy situations outdoor adventurers can get into, and create products based upon those needs. The B300 is no exception- its internal capabilities are just as impressive as its external frame.Read more
The exterior shell of this model looks like it is up for the challenge. It has a hard solid black and gray shell with a thick and sturdy handle at the base for easy carrying.
If you are unwilling to use any type of device that just doesn’t have the same features as your computer in the office- this is going to be your best bet. It runs off of Windows 7- which again, it might be an older version but it is considered to be the best version among Windows users. It has an Intel i7 processor and has an impressive 8GM of ram. It also sports 250GM of internal storage, which is probably pretty comparable to your office PC.
This laptop runs on an ion lithium battery. So, depending on the quality of the battery, this changes how long it will stay charged. It has been said that this can run anywhere between three and nine hours.
The screen for this device measures to be about 13 inches- which is just slightly bigger than many of the other displays out there on the market (most models have a screen that measures to be 11.6 inches). The keyboard is a mechanical backlit keyboard which is always very helpful when working in lighting that is less than ideal.
The downside to a computer that is able to really take a beating while still offering you all of the features that you would find in your office computer is the price tag. This unit costs about double what you likely spent on your office PC. However, if you are someone that is always on the go and likes to take your work to remote places- this is going to be well worth the price tag.
7. Lenovo ThinkPad
5 hour battery life
Limited hard drive space
Lenovo has been making really great quality products that are offered at an affordable price point since 1984. This ThinkPad has a narrow design that makes it perfect for popping in the back of a backpack, but it is also powerful enough to allow you to get all of your work done and sent before heading to the lake for some early morning fishing.Read more
The exterior shell of this model is a solid matte gray and black. When completely folded, it is incredibly thin and easy to throw into a backpack. Simplicity is the name of the game when it comes to the Lenovo Chromebook ThinkPad.
This uses the Chrome OS operating system. What this means is that you will have access to all of the Google extensions and systems such as Google Drive- and the programs associated with it such as Google Docs, Google Sheets, and Google Slides. All Google documents have the ability to be saved as a .doc, so you will still have access to all of the Microsoft functions and abilities. It runs on a solid state hard drive which makes it quick as a whip when it runs, uses a 1.65 GHz Intel Celeron processor, and it has a 16GB hard drive for interior storage.
The average battery life is five hours.
This design is incredibly lightweight and won’t hold you back while backpacking across long distances. It weighs in at just under 3 pounds, and it has a screen that measures to be 11.6 inches. The screen has a matte finish, which makes it perfect for working on it outside without dealing with a glare or an annoying reflection. It also has all of the ports that you will need to get your work done. It has 2 USB ports, an HDMI port, a slot for an SD card to add additional storage, and a headphone jack.
The price tag of this model is one of its most handsome features. This is priced to be the most affordable option out there on the market. If you need a way to stay connected while you are traveling through the great outdoors, but don’t want to spend a whole lot of money- this will be an excellent addition to your next outdoor adventure.
Eight hours of battery life
Doesn’t come with a standard keyboard
This style is a bit different than our previous entries. This rugged "laptop" is actually more of a tablet. However, it does still feature an HDMI and USB slot. Slap a detachable or Bluetooth keyboard on this durable tablet and you've got yourself a laptop that boasts a drop grade of 1.2-meters!Read more
Just by looking at the Vanquisher, you can see it’s durability. The device has an eight-inch screen size and a weight of 1.39-pounds. The height of the tablet is .65-inches. It looks as though it has a tough case on the outside, but this is just the product itself. It is only available in black and features ridges along the backside to help with the grip.
This tablet runs on Windows 10 OS and has an Intel X5 Cherry Trail quad processor. The speeds range from 1.44 to 1.92 GHz. It boasts 4G of RAM 64G of ROM. Reviewers are thoroughly impressed with the speeds and functionality of the machine. Other than a few minor differences (and the size), you may mistake this for your desktop computer.
As an added bonus, this tablet also features a front (2-million megapixels) and back (5-million megapixels) camera!
This tablet runs on one lithium-ion battery, which is included. The battery life of this tablet is said to run for about eight hours.
Aside from all of the great things that we have already mentioned about this device, the durability is where it really shines. It has been put to the test and these are the results:
It can function well in 5%-95% humidity. It has a waterproof and dustproof rating of IP67. It has a drop grade of 1.2 meters on wood floors. As a working temperature, it functions between -20 and 60 degrees Celcius. For storage temperature, it can withstand -40 to 60 degrees Celcius. Reviewers are very impressed with the durability of this tablet.
As mentioned, this addition is a tablet. It is almost indestructible, but you will also need to invest a couple of accessories to use this as a laptop. A Bluetooth keyboard would be a great investment to be able to use the tablet as a laptop. Overall, we believe this is a great addition to this list and will travel with you over the world and into the woods.
9. ASUS Chromebook Flip
Touch screen rotates 360 degrees
Battery lasts up to 12 hours
Some find that it runs rather slows
Reports of frequent crashing when running too many programs
The ASUS Chromebook Flip has all of the features that you would expect from an Asus product. It is incredibly tough and resistant to water as well as being dropped. The Flip design offers users just a little be more functionality that will be helpful if you are working in less than ideal conditions. These extra features do come at an additional cost, so be prepared for a slightly higher price tag.Read more
The exterior of this unit is made with a matte gray exterior that has a special textured finish that prevents scratching. It folds up to be incredibly thin so that you can easily put it in your backpack along with all of your other traveling essentials.
This product runs off of Chrome OS. What this means is that all of the documents that you will be using and opening will use the Google Docs add-on. Fear not, because Google is more than capable of opening every type of document out there, so you won’t be left in the middle of the woods with a .docx that you cannot open on your device. It also means that it doesn't have a lot of internal hard drive storage, because most documents are saved to the Google cloud. The Chromebook Flip has 16GB on internal storage, and it runs off of Intel Celeron processor.
This amazing little machine has an average battery life of twelve hours!
Just like any of the ASUS products that came before this- it can hold its own in some really tough circumstances. If you happen to spill water on the surface, simply tip it to the side and let the water drain off, and then try it with a soft towel. The rubber grips on the side will prevent it from taking damage if it is dropped from 4 feet (and that includes being dropped on concrete). The screen is also a touchscreen, and it is able to be flipped 360 degrees. It comes with a stylus so you can write on the surface of the glass- which is perfect when you are working in less than ideal locations. Users can select from a glossy glass finish or a matte finish- which reduces glare and makes working outside easier.
While the price isn’t nearly as painful as some of the other models making this list- it is slightly more expensive than some of the other ASUS products out there on the market. However, if you would like something that has a touch screen for easy use, can hold up to whatever you can throw at it, and has a long battery life- this will be an excellent addition to your next adventure away from the office.
10. Dell Latitude
128GB hard drive
Limited battery life
It wouldn’t be a computer party if Dell wasn’t invited. The Dell Latitude isn’t as tough as some of the other designs on this list- so if you are planning to really rough it this weekend, this might not be the design for you. It is, however, incredibly powerful, and is probably pretty comparable to your PC in your office.Read more
The exterior shell of this design offers a sharp silver finish that is punctuated by black edging. The interior is all black with black keys and white print. It also sports a thick handle along the top making it easy to carry alone without the need to throw it into a case.
This unit runs using Windows 7 Professional. Although it is an older OS, it is considered to be one of the best and is still used by a lot of professional even today. It runs off of an Intel 2.6 GHz processor and has an impressive 128GB hard drive for internal memory. All of these features should mirror what you have on your desktop computer at your office- so you should have no trouble getting your work done on the go.
Perhaps the worst battery-life on this list, this battery only lasts for about three hours.
The outside has a tough shell that is able to take quite a beating, although you will want to be careful not to get it too wet for fear some of the components will not work properly. It has all of the ports and jacks you will need to get your work done, including 4 USB ports, a headphone/microphone jack, an HDMI port, and a memory card reader. It also has DVD drive- which is something that you don’t find anymore.
The cost of this model is just slightly more expensive than some of the other brands such as ASUS and Lenovo, but it is still considerably more affordable than some of the higher priced models. If you are looking for something that is incredibly powerful, but it won’t set you back a lot of money, this is an excellent choice.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
It seems as though in this day and age that when we have the opportunity to customize something, we do it. Whether it's a monogram or simply a great color, it's always good to feel confident about your purchase and show a bit of your personal style. Laptops are no exception. In this section, we commented upon if the exterior of the laptop was shiny or matte, black or white, rigid or smooth, and if it is easily packed. While this may be one of the least important aspects of a rugged laptop, we still wanted to include it.
Working remotely on a computer that doesn’t run as well as your desktop computer can be incredibly stressful. We made sure that each product hosted a respected processor such as Intel. If the CPU is slow and chugs along at a frustrating pace, it will make getting work done that much harder. We made sure to try and avoid that possible annoyance by taking a look at the processor to ensure that it is up to our standards. We also listened to what previous users had to say about the performance of a product. If it ran slow and crashes constantly, we made sure to take note. Withstanding high heats and rainfall is important- but if you can’t even check your email, then it is nothing more than an expensive paperweight.
Additionally, in this section, we focused on the USB and/or other plug-ins that are present.
When you are out traveling far from home- the reveal of an open electrical outlet resembles an oasis in a dry and brutal desert. Worrying about battery life is something that no user likes to contend with. That’s why we made sure to check to see how much life one charged battery would provide users. Some of easier designs that run off of Chrome OS and do not have that many programs installed can hold a steady charge for up to 12 hours. Plus, many users have reported that battery performance doesn’t wither with every charge. From the day that you unpack it to a year later, these products should still offer you about 10-12 hours of power. When you get into the more powerful designs that run a Windows OS and have over 100GB of hard drive storage- the battery life begins to dwindle to around 3-5 hours. This isn’t ideal, but considering that amount of things that you can do on these models, it might be worth the limited battery life to suit your needs.
While we don’t condone actually throwing things at your computers, we did want to make sure that the products we selected would be able to take a beating. While you are out there on the trails, the last thing that you want to worry about is the status of your gear. We have all been there before- feeling the need to constantly check to make sure the screen isn’t cracked after an unfortunate tumble. While conducting our research, we make sure to select products that had a tough enough outer shell to be able to absorb most falls. Another thing that we felt was important was the ability to repair them. Sometimes you might hit it at just a right angle that makes something inside break. For many of these products, you almost have to disassemble the entire unit just to replace one component. We tried to keep our eyes on products that were easy to repair. Most brands making this list can have individual components replaced simply by lifting up the keyboard.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
These laptops can withstand high temperatures, shock and vibration, corrosion, and toddlers. Plus, many of them are water resistant and spill-proof, so getting caught in the rain doesn’t mean it is the end of your computer. These devices typically have a pretty long battery life, so you will be able to get a lot done until you reach the next town for a power-up.
While this isn't always an important aspect of investing, sometimes it's a good criterion to go by. With big brands, such as ASUS or Dell, you can be sure that they are large enough to offer great customer service and warranties. They have been in this game for a while and know what they're talking about.
Other Factors to Consider
You might already have a desktop PC set up in your office that set you back a pretty penny- so it might be hard to sink even more money into a portable version. We kept an eye on the price to ensure that it didn’t cost you too much, while we still kept an eye on the components used. One way that companies were able to cut cost is by utilizing the Chrome Operating system. This system takes us virtually no space on the hard drive and uses extensions and add-ons that are hosted on the cloud. If you are wanting to cut costs and are willing to use an OS that isn’t hosted by Microsoft or Apple- the Chrome OS is the way to go to save some of your hard-earned money.
One other aspect that we didn’t touch on much was screen size. The size of the screen varies from product to product, and the size will completely depend upon your needs. It goes without saying that a bigger screen will take up more room in your bag- so you will need to decide if it is something that is important to you. Sizes start from about 10 inches and run all the way up to around 14 inches. Sizing all depends on what you are using this product to achieve. Whether you are bringing it along on a week getaway to the woods, or you are taking it along with you to a job site- investing in one of these devices will help keep you active and in touch no matter where you are.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: Who uses these products?
Originally, these products were designed for those professionals working in the field under harsh conditions- such as field service workers, construction workers, and military personnel. Over the years, the average consumer caught wind of these durable products and started buying them to take along for all of their outdoor adventures. Over time, they even started to be adopted by school systems to give to students to work on in the classroom. No one is harder on tech that kids- so if they can hold up in a classroom filled with children, they should have no problem coming along with you on a camping trip. Today, they are used by pretty much anyone that is rough on their tech and needs just a little bit more protection than others.
q: What’s the difference between a laptop and a Chromebook?
There are two big differences between the two products, so make sure you know what you are getting before you make a purchase. Chromebooks don’t have the same level of storage that a Windows OS has. You cannot download programs or games, and you cannot really store a lot of things on the small hard drive. However, it does provide an excellent document program that is able to speak seamlessly with Windows programs. Plus, all of you information is stored in the cloud. What that means is if your motherboard happens to die in the middle of a large project, all of your information is stored on the cloud and is able to be retrieved from any computer.
q: Do I need an internet connection?
To do any work offline, you won’t need an internet connection in order to save anything. However, if you want to conduct basic functions such as sending emails, you will need an internet connection. How will you establish a connection in the middle of the woods, you ask? Many cell phone providers offer (for an additional charge) the ability to turn your cellphone into a WiFi hotspot. That way, you can connect your device to the WiFi that emits from your phone to connect to the internet wherever you have your phone.
q: Are they heavy?
For the most part, these products typically weigh under 10 pounds. Most of the products that we selected on our list weigh between 2-3 pounds, with some of the performance-heavy options weighing close to 8 pounds. One component part that typically adds a lot of weight is hard drives. The higher capacity the hard drive can hold- the heavier your unit will be. For instance, the Getac has a hard drive that holds about 250GB, and it weighs about 10 pounds. The Lenovo Chromebook, on the other hand, has a 16GB hard drive and weighs under 3 pounds.
q: Should I get a glossy or matte screen?
The type of screen that you land on all depends upon what you intend to use it for. The glossy screens are typically a little bit more sturdy, but that sturdiness comes at a cost. You are likely going to be using this device outside, and it is almost impossible to read a glossy screen on a bright and sunny day. The matte designs are a little less durable, but they are a lot easier to read on bright and sunny days because you don’t have to contend with glare and reflections.
q: What happens if something inside breaks?
While these products are tough- they aren’t indestructible. When the time comes when something inside breaks, there is no need to throw out the entire device. Many of these brands construct their units to make it easy to replace individual components because they know that on a long enough timeline- something inside will break. If you feel something rattling around in there, simply lift off the keyboard. With many traditional models, getting in there to replace a part means disassembling the entire thing. IN the case of these products, it is as simple as lifting up the keyboard. Once you have identified the broken component, simply order a new one off of the internet. However, if you feel like this is going to be way outside of your skill set, you can also pop into your local computer repair store and have a professional take a look.
q: What does semi-rugged mean?
You might have noticed that the Dell model that we selected is slightly different than many of the others making our list. Products that are listed as semi-rugged are good to take a bit of a beating. You can drop it and subject it to high temperatures and it will continue to plug right along. However- it does have a weakness when it comes to water. These products can handle a little bit of water, but you have to be careful when working in extremely wet conditions.
q: Can’t I just put a durable shell on my Chromebook?
One might think that they can simply put a durable shell on the outside of their old personal computer and they are good to hit the trails- but they would be wrong. While the outer casing of these products does protect them- there is a lot more going on under the surface. Many of these products are constructed from component parts that are specially designed to be able to withstand high temperatures and vibrations. If your home laptop isn’t considered to be rugged- slapping a shell on the outside won’t protect it from all of the elements out there.
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