The ideal DJ bag has separate compartments for your more delicate equipment, like your laptop and controller, and ways to comfortably organize all your cables and other supplies. Depending on your style, a backpack that can fit vinyls or portable hard-drives safely and securely can also be a requirement—and of course it’s got to be durable and able to protect your gear from the hazards of travel.
Generally speaking, the larger and more customizable a DJ bag, the higher the price tag. Consider your equipment before you start shopping. If you use a small 4-channel controller and don’t carry a lot of extra gear, a smaller bag will suit your needs better than a larger, which may actually be less safe for your equipment by giving it more room to shift around. Below are our suggestions for the 4 best DJ backpacks on the market:
This extra large DJ back has the space for all your equipment. It’s got a separate padded area for your laptop plus plenty of space for any standard 4-channel mixer in the main compartment, which comes with a variety of removable dividers and foam panels that you can adjust exactly to your mixer’s dimensions. Despite its size, the Magma Riot (see full specs) is comfortable to wear, with an ergonomic back panel. It’s also extremely durable, designed for heavy daily use by traveling DJs, and 100% waterproof, meaning your gear will stay safe no matter what happens.
Big Namba Studio Backpack
Designed by a team of professional DJs and musicians, this DJ bag is perfect if you’ve got a lot of gear or a large mixer. The backpack (see full specs) can hold most 25-key MIDI controllers, in addition to a 17” laptop and an assortment of vinyls, with a built-in cable management system to keep your hook-ups organized. It’s also got an assortment of pockets with access only from inside the bag so you can keep your valuables secure while you’re on stage. The outer shell is constructed from a ballistic PVC poly nylon and will keep whatever’s inside protected and secure, made to endure daily abuse without tearing. This should be on anyone’s list of the best DJ backpacks.
Slappa M.A.S.K. Jedi Custom
Designed to be used by anyone who needs to transport electronic equipment from, DJs to gamers, the Slappa Jedi is a versatile bag that will suit the needs of mostly digital DJs. The main compartment will comfortably fit a 4-channel mixer and it has a separate compartment for a 17” laptop, with removable faces that can be adjusted to suit your storage needs. The 1680D Ballistix Nylon construction is water resistant and almost impossible to puncture. The edgy design of the front panel has a really nice aesthetic appeal, and the replaceable inserts come in a variety of colors and patterns to further customize the appearance.
Odyssey Redline Series Backspin 2
Backpacks designed for DJs can be costly but the Odyssey Backspin, selling for right around a hundred dollars, has all the space and compartments a DJ needs for about half the price of most DJ-specific brands. It’s got dedicated compartments for your laptop, laptop stand, and headphones, with enough space and pockets for your controller, microphones, cables, and vinyl. It’s fully padded both inside and out to ensure your comfort and your gear’s safety. It’s also been designed with easy access in mind, with sturdy feet to keep it upright while you’re digging out your equipment. Without a doubt, this is one of the best DJ backpacks for the money.
Protecting Your Controller
Even if your backpack has adjustable interior panels for protection, it’s a good idea to get a separate case for your controller if it didn’t already come with one. The faders and knobs on the face of your controller can be easily damaged in transit unless protected by a hard-sided case or cover. If you don’t have a separate case, it’s imperative to make sure the controller fits snugly inside the compartment using foam panels so it can’t shift positions during transit, causing damage. Make sure to place it with the controls facing outward and nothing loose in front of the controller that could tangle in or hit the face.
In Case of Emergency
Since your backpack will be coming with you to every gig, it’s a great place to keep an emergency pack in case of equipment failure during. You can use a clear plastic organizer with a snapping lid like those sold for fishing tackle or craft supplies. The exact contents of your emergency pack will depend on your specific set-up, but to start with you’ll want to include a variety of adapters: a couple 1/8” to ¼” jacks, a couple RCA ¼” female to male jacks, a couple female to female adapters to extend cables, and a female pair to ¼” male stereo jack.
If you’re a video DJ, a DVI to HDMI adapter is also a necessary inclusion. You should also have some spare cables—at the least a USB cable and a pair of spare output cables, along with a 1/8” male to female cable and a female to male pair, in case you need to plug in something like an iPhone. Video DJs may want to include a spare HDMI cable, as well. Modify that list to include any extra cables or adapters your specific set-up uses—the idea is to be able to replace or repair any piece of faulty equipment before it can ruin your entire gig.
If something should go wrong and there are delays in starting, it’s also a good idea to include a thumb drive in your emergency kit featuring a personal mix to plug in and play while you fix the issue. It’ll be a better way to fill the silence than whatever the venue would choose, and will serve to entertain the crowd while you troubleshoot your issue. Back-up copies of your DJ software can’t hurt, either.
Just like with most emergency preparations, the hope is that you’ll never have to use this kit, but if something should go wrong you’ll feel much better with all these supplies assembled in one place—and you’ll look incredibly professional to venue owners who may be used to dealing with under-prepared musical acts. And the first step in being professional is finding the best DJ backpack for your needs, and we hope we’ve helped in that regard. Good luck!