Best Laptops for Outdoor Use in 2021 – Reviews and Buyer’s Guide


Laptops are a very convenient device to use, because they can be used pretty much anywhere, and you don’t have to carry any cables with you.

However, just as mobile phones can get damaged from exposure to the elements, so can laptops – which is why you need to choose one that’s tough enough for outdoor use.

If you’re an outdoor enthusiast who needs to get some work done while on the go, then finding the best laptop for the job is a must.

Whether it’s working with spreadsheets or creating the next Pinterest-ready scrapbook, we all need to find a way to get our work done from time to time. Let us save you some time and show you the five best laptops for outdoor use.

Best Laptops for Outdoor Use 

1. Lenovo ThinkPad T490s

When we were testing the Lenovo ThinkPad T series, we called its design impeccably simple. The latest T490s sports a design that’s understated but still attractive by today’s standards. The rigid chassis is smudge-resistant, and the display is mounted flush to the lid.

The ThinkPad T490s offers all-day battery life, a large touchpad, four speakers, optional discrete graphics, and the classic black chassis that you’ve come to expect from the world’s best-selling business laptop.

The new Lenovo ThinkPad T490s laptop is our top choice for outdoor use overall because it combines a premium design and nearly impeccable keyboard with the latest Windows 10 Pro software, an incredible display, and a powerful 1.9GHz Intel Core i7-8665U processor.

ThinkPad T490s notebooks are some of the most efficient and longest-lasting laptops that we have tested. The non-touch FHD model of the ThinkPad T490s lasted 5 hours and 16 minutes on our battery tests, which simulates continuous Web browsing over Wi-Fi.

It also comes with a 14-inch display that offers a great pixel density and comfortable resolution. Image quality is ideal due to its high brightness, Narrow Edge Bezel, accurate sRGB color coverage, and wide viewing angles. 1440p display offers vibrant color and high-res detail (Full HD).

Pros
  • Good quality and durable

  • TrackPoint buttons are smooth

  • The backlit keyboard makes typing easier

Cons
  • The speakers are not good

Bottom Line 

The T490s can be considered the perfect business Ultrabook for outdoor use. It even has a few optional extras that set it apart from its top-end competitors, including an in-display fingerprint reader and optional Thunderbolt 3. The Lenovo ThinkPad T490s proves that full-powered laptops are not dying out anytime soon.

2. Dell XPS 13 9380

The latest in performance and thin design, the Dell XPS 13 9380 is a premium 13-inch laptop that provides the performance of an elite desktop in the size of a midsize laptop. The large Infinity Edge display and advanced camera make it ideally suited for video conferencing.

It offers a jaw-dropping display, plenty of horsepowers, and strong security. All in an ultrathin package that weighs less than three pounds and is a hairline thinner than Apple’s MacBook Air, which is pretty fascinating at this price point.

Featuring an edge-to-edge 13.3″ screen, Dell XPS 13 is the smallest, thinnest, and most powerful XPS laptop yet. Premium materials and a modernist-inspired exterior combine with modern technology to create a truly immersive experience for work and play.

The device’s battery life is what you would expect from a slim 13-inch laptop – not too shabby. It lasted a good six hours and 11 minutes on our battery test, which involves continuously surfing the web at 150 nits of brightness, which is about 30 minutes longer than the ZenBook 3 Deluxe.

Experiencing great sound should not be limited to those with stereos and surround sound systems at home. XPS laptops are designed for premium sound, so you can enjoy crystal clear highs and booming lows wherever you are.

Pros
  • Backlit Keyboard

  • Runs cool and quiet

  • Several Ports and connectivity options

Cons
  • Includes bloatware

Bottom Line 

After testing the Dell XPS 13 9380 for several days, we can say that it’s an excellent everyday laptop—and a great value for the money from a trusted PC manufacturer. The display, performance, and battery life will satisfy even the most demanding users.

3. Samsung Galaxy Book Flex 13.3” QLED

Designed to fit comfortably in your hand, the Samsung Galaxy Book 13.3” is compact yet fully capable. It features an upgraded 360° rotating kickstand which allows you to choose the perfect angle for viewing, and an S Pen for taking notes or drawing with precision.

It also comes equipped with powerful performance that will help you stay on the cutting edge of work and entertainment, and is powerful enough to easily run your favorite apps. You can take your Galaxy Book anywhere you go – even if you’re away from the office.

With the redesigned Galaxy Book you can multi-task like never before. The battery life lasts up to 16 hours and operates with Windows S-mode enabled. It is equipped with a sizeable 8GB RAM and 256GB of internal storage.

The Galaxy Book is optimized for Samsung Applications, features Windows 10, is powered by Intel Core processors, and can be connected to the Galaxy Tab S4 via Samsung Flow to share Smartphone functions seamlessly.

This Notebook computer also has a leather-like finish wrapped around its thin metal shell that feels smooth to the touch. We also noticed that the LED display with multi-touch support is incredibly responsive, so you can confidently swipe, pinch and zoom in on webpages and images.

Pros
  • Stylish design

  • Speedy data transfer

  • Long battery life

Cons
  • Only two USB ports

Bottom Line 

The Samsung Galaxy Book was created with the technical specs of a full-sized laptop, but designed to be as lightweight and flexible as a tablet. The laptop features a large 13.3″ QLED display and either an Intel Core i5 or i7 processor, granting it the power to use all the apps you need without sacrificing portability.

4. Microsoft Surface Book 2

 The Surface Book 2 is a stunning 13.5-inch convertible laptop that can be used as a standard Windows 10 desktop or detached to run as a Windows tablet, turning your favorite apps into touch-friendly programs with the 8th generation Intel Quad-Core i7 Processor.

This 2-in-1 PC is also equipped with a hefty graphics card for those looking forward to intensive gaming sessions. Moreover, we never had a problem using it in well-lit conditions and can certainly refer to it as one of the best laptops for outdoor use.

The Surface Pen magnetically attaches to the side of your laptop for convenient storage. With this, you can write above your screen or take notes on the palm rest, as well as more conventional uses. These do not get in the way while typing on the keyboard.

Different strokes for different folks, Microsoft designers have created a notebook that expands how we get things done. The stunning exterior mirrors the industrial minimalism of Microsoft Surface Studio, while the 13.5-inch PixelSense display snaps onto a sculpted magnesium-alloy base to become a satisfyingly powerful 3:2 aspect ratio tablet.

The 13.5″ PixelSense Touchscreen display with extreme contrast, 267dpi, 10-point multitouch, Inky black levels, a million-to-one contrast ratio, and ability to show true blacks makes the Surface Book 2 screen ideal for any application that requires pixels to look good and be read easily, even in outdoor environments.

Pros
  • Optimized keyboard for all-day use

  • Flexible enough to work with or without the screen

  • The screen is beautiful and wide

Cons
  • Heavy and bulky for a tablet

Bottom Line 

The Surface Book 2 is a different beast entirely – It’s not just an Ultrabook, but can be used as a tablet and has plenty of processor’s muscle when you need it. At this stage, we can’t comment on the reliability or battery life of the device, but we believe it will be sufficient for most users.

5. Apple MacBook Pro 13

 From the original black MacBook, Apple has redefined stylish design. The new MacBook Pro is crafted from a single block of aluminum for a clean modern look and provides the ultimate in portable power.

Its 13.3-inch LED-backlit display is bright and crisp, and the keyboard is full-sized with a minimal bezel surrounding it. With a battery that lasts up to 7 hours, it’s perfect for taking your work on the go. It comes with powerful Radeon Pro discrete graphics in every configuration.

This allows it to feature over 40 percent faster performance than the previous generation. This edition of Apple’s flagship laptop is a beautiful, powerful machine, and you’ll find it shines in different ways depending on how you work.

The MacBook Pro 13 inch has a 2560 x 1600 pixels resolution screen, with an IPS panel and 300 PPI. The display is bright with a 500 nits brightness rating, has an excellent viewing angle of ±88 degrees, and has an anti-reflective coating on it.

This anti-reflective coating is slightly different than previous versions of the surface on recent MacBooks. Previously, Apple used a significant amount of texture to the anti-reflective layer, which resulted in a reflectance value of around 4.3%. On this new screen, the reflectance value before calibration is 4.7%.

Pros
  • The battery life is decent

  • Speedy performance

  • Ultra-slim design, lightweight and portable

Cons
  • Costly to repair

Bottom Line 

The new MacBook Pro is simply fantastic. The new Retina display is one of the best available, and the latest Intel Core i5 and i7 processors are noticeably faster than in years past.

Add to that the revamped keyboard and glass trackpad, Thunderbolt I/O connections, incredible HD FaceTime camera, expansive battery life, and speedy flash storage – Both versions of the new 13-inch MacBook Pro are sure to impress even the most discerning users.

Buyer’s Guide – How to Choose the Best Laptop for Outdoor Use? 

1. Display 

The brightness of the screen is measured in “nits”. The higher the number of nits, the brighter the screen will be. A laptop with a screen that can display a high number of nits will be easier to use in outdoor environments.

The display brightness should be adjustable and at least 300 nits. Screen finish, or panel finishing, is a factor that determines the visual quality of your screen. A glossy finish screen has no anti-glare coating and can produce glare when used in daylight conditions.

This type of screen is often found on laptops. matte finish screen reflects less light from your environment and is easier to see in bright conditions. You should pay attention to screen brightness and panel finishing at the same time.

2. Portability 

If you want to get the most of your hands by working on the go, then it’s best that you buy a slim and portable notebook. It’s illogical to buy a 17-inch notebook when you’re looking for a travel companion instead.

Typically, a 14-inch laptop is the best size for mobility. But if you’ll need this laptop for more serious work, like gaming or video editing, you may want to consider buying a larger laptop. It should feel portable enough to you to carry with ease.

However, you should make sure your laptop satisfies the requirements that are vital to you. If you need a more powerful processor or more RAM, you should choose a larger laptop even if it’s heavier.

3. Battery 

It’s quite hard to find a laptop with high brightness, a compact body, and long battery life. Factors that have a big impact on the battery life include processor power, display screen brightness, and storage technology.

If you’re looking for a long backup, you should choose a laptop with an energy-efficient processor, as well as an SSD storage device. However, one thing is certain that you should never compromise on the brightness of your laptop, especially if you’re planning to use it outdoors.

4. Build Quality 

Unlike using your laptop in a room, it may need to face several inappropriate situations — such as inhaling dust particles, hard sunlight, or even chances of getting dropped. However, a laptop that is highly durable means you have to spend more money.

There are ways to get durability without spending too much. It’s a good idea to have a durable laptop, but it shouldn’t be so rugged that you can’t carry it around easily. A laptop with a metallic body is more durable than one with a plastic body. You can also consider getting a protective case to reduce the damage risk.

Frequently Asked Questions 

1. Is 300 nits enough for the outdoors?

For a screen to be easily readable for long periods of time, it must have a brightness of at least 300 nits and twice the illuminance of its surroundings (200 lux in a room). For outdoor screens, a brightness of 3000 nits or more is acceptable.

2. How can I use my laptop outside without glare?

If you can’t beat the glare, you might be able to drown it out. Increasing screen brightness is one way of doing that. Wearing polarized sunglasses is another.

In addition to a glare-resistant screen surface, you may also opt for accessories like a screen protector or an anti-glare screen film, which will not only help reduce glare but also protect your screen from scratches.

You can even minimize glare further by positioning your laptop so that it faces away from the sun.

3. Is it bad to use your laptop in the sun?

The sun’s rays can be destructive to your device’s screen. While it’s safe to use your device outside on a sunny day for a short period of time, leaving it out there all day long is never a good idea. Plus, sunlight causes glare on screens, which can be more straining on your eyes.

4. How can I cool my laptop outside?

If it’s nice out, you may want to consider taking a laptop outside but remember that laptops can overheat. There are several things you can do to protect yourself from the heat. For example, you can use a cooling stand or pad.

Bottom Line 

A laptop is an important tool for a number of people. If you need portability and battery life, then a laptop can be a great option.

It’s also convenient to be able to take your work wherever you go. Whether you’re taking your computer to class so you can make revisions on a paper or getting work done while on vacation, it depends on the type of vacation you’re having.

If it involves a lot of outdoor activities (if it involves walking, biking, climbing, and fishing), you are probably going to want something more rugged than the average laptop.

This is why most outdoorsy people invest in a high-end outdoor laptop that will stand up to various types of wear and tear while being used outdoors.

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