After more than a year of working from home, you may have forgotten about how important a good laptop bag can be — or maybe you never knew, since, pre-pandemic, most of us left our computers at work each night. But now, with offices reopening and many people facing the prospect of working (and chugging free LaCroixes) next to colleagues only two or three times a week, lugging a laptop back and forth is a new reality. For those new to laptop backpacks, let us ease your fears: They’re nothing like the padded tech briefcases they used to be. In fact, many of them could pass as standard backpacks or even high-end outdoor gear. A good laptop backpack needs a dedicated compartment that you can store your laptop in, of course. The best options are also padded and can fit laptops as big as 15 inches. To help you find the best one for you, we talked to ten stylish people. Here are the bags they say can protect your tech — without compromising your style.
Best laptop backpacks for a daily commute
Peter Hunsinger, co-founder of Kane 11 Socks, likes the Herschel City Backpack because of its “slim profile. You can leave it on in elevators and sometimes on the subway.” Because it’s a smaller bag, he only uses the Herschel for short commutes and wouldn’t recommend it for traveling. It has a magnetic-strap closure that is easy to access and close. There’s even a hidden pocket for small items like a charging cable or your wallet. Herschel’s quality is amazing, Hunsinger says. “I had a strap rip off after two years and they replaced it for free.”
“My Fjällräven backpack is filthy,” says Strategist staff writer Lauren Ro. “But it should be. In the six years I’ve owned it, I’ve put this bag through everything.” She bought the bag because “at that point in my life I was toting my MacBook to my job at a small film-production company every day and wanted to give my shoulder a break. As opposed to being inside the bag, the laptop compartment is in a separate, zippered pouch at the back,” she says. “That makes it extremely convenient for slipping my computer in and out without having to open the main compartment.” The laptop compartment also has padding, eliminating the need for a bulky laptop sleeve. “Whether I’m heading to the office or to the airport, the Kanken fits exactly what I need — and helps me carry it comfortably,” Ro says.
Best laptop backpacks for travel
Tom Wahlin, an editor and writer at PackHacker, says that while the Tom Bihn “gives off some dad vibes,” there’s a reason this style is such a classic. “When it comes to laptop storage, you can choose how you want to get to your tech,” he says. “Grab your laptop by unzipping the main compartment like you would a regular backpack or unzip the dedicated side zipper to get quick access from the outside.” It’s especially useful if you fly frequently, since you can easily access your laptop (in a multitude of ways) for TSA checks. “It also features plenty of internal organization, so if you’re the type of person who carries around a ton of cords, this bag can keep them all separated,” Wahlin says.
“The Knomo Beauchamp has multiple compartment areas — zips at the front, a laptop area, zips inside for more valuable items, side holders, everything. It’s light, durable, and has never let me down,” writes Rossalyn Warren, an international reporter and contributor at the Strategist UK. Her bag, which holds laptops up to 14 inches in size, has water-resistant fabric to protect her belongings from unexpected showers. And the durable nylon outer layer means that despite having been dragged across multiple continents, the bag barely has any scratches on it.
Micki Kosman, a travel blogger at the Barefoot Nomad, says the eBags Pro Slim is her go-to travel laptop bag. “The separate laptop compartment easily fits my 15-inch laptop. It’s packed with pockets for my chargers, cables, and other electronics, and has a larger main compartment for clothes,” she says. “I have the heather graphite color, because it hides dirt well and goes with anything, but it also comes in navy, black, sage green, and dark blue.” Her favorite aspect of this bag is its padded bottom. “Years ago, I had a cheap backpack with a laptop sleeve that wasn’t padded on the bottom. I set my backpack down on the concrete floor in airport customs and heard a crack. Because there was no padding, I’d cracked plastic around my power input on my laptop. I was really lucky that the laptop was still usable, but I’ve made sure that my backpack has a padded laptop sleeve since then.” The eBags Pro also has an easy-access compartment that lets you pull your laptop out without digging through your bag while moving through airport security.
Best laptop backpack for gym enthusiasts
“The Aer Fit Pack is a great option for professionals who like to hit the gym after work. There are two built-in sleeves: one for up to a 15-inch laptop and one for a tablet or notebook,” says Wahlin. It’s a bag meticulously designed to protect your tech while also being spacious enough to carry gym clothes. “There’s a shoe compartment so you can bring your workout gear to the office. It’s completely separate, meaning you can store your shoes inside without worrying about dirt transferring to everything else in your backpack,” he says. The materials are “super-durable, which adds comfort for commuters, and it features plenty of internal organization to keep small gear safe.”
Most stylish laptop backpack
Strategist writer Chloe Anello recommends the Dagne Dover backpack and says it was great for her long, two-hour commute from Beacon to our offices downtown. “In the before times, I would work from home on summer Fridays because I would commute the same amount of time I was actually in the office, so that backpack was my favorite for lugging stuff back and forth,” she says. The Dagne Dover has a dedicated mesh laptop sleeve. Your water bottle can sit in the two exterior mounted pockets, and there’s also a detachable key leash for easy access when you get close to your house or apartment. The main interior pocket has smaller zipper pockets that are convenient storage for your lunch, headphones, snacks, wallets, and whatever else. “It holds everything imaginable,” Anello says.
Note: The Dakota is currently out of stock but should be available soon.
Best high-capacity laptop backpack
Rick McGuire, who runs the Instagram account Subway Creatures, recommends this bag for any heavy-duty travelers. If you’ve got more than a laptop that you need to protect, this high-capacity bag will come in handy, he says. “It’s extremely useful for carrying my equipment, such as mic stands, mics, wiring, etc. It includes tons of padding and space for everything I need to haul,” he says. Considering everything that gets packed in the bag, McGuire says it’s actually pretty comfortable, too.
Best laptop backpack (with an extra pocket for your tablet)
“I’ve had the same laptop backpack for a few years now,” says Matthew Spade, a freelance writer and content creator at Buckets and Spades blog. “It comfortably fits my rather bulky old 13-inch MacBook Pro in the dedicated compartment,” he says. Plus, there’s a second, smaller compartment that’s also padded and can hold a tablet. “It has loads of space and pockets for the rest of my overnight essentials,” Spade says, and since it’s made of nylon, the bag can get rained on, “and I don’t have to worry about any water leaking through.” Many of the bags he used before this one didn’t have proper cushioning and left him with back pain, but Spade says that’s no longer the case with the Eastpak Tecum L: “It feels like a breeze to carry now.”
Best waterproof laptop backpacks
Timothy Grindle, co-founder of the menswear boutique Canoe Club, often travels to Paris, L.A., and New York for buying trips. He says the Visvim backpack is great. “I have an organized system with that bag, where it just fits things perfectly and easily fits on the plane — and then when I need to commute around upon arrival.” He appreciates the waterproof Cordura material and taped zippers, which protect his camera and laptop. “Additionally, and maybe more importantly, it has a super-sturdy and tight compartment for the laptop that would accommodate almost any size. Because it’s so snug I don’t feel it moving around a ton when I move or take off the backpack.” He also likes that it has a ton of compartments and a subtle style. “It doesn’t look too slick or techy, but also doesn’t look like the JanSport I wore in middle school,” he says. “It is just an elevated piece that can blend into almost anyone’s personal style.”
I have been using the Rains backpack to protect my laptop for three years. It survived New York blizzards, torrential downpours, and the occasional drop on the floor. The Rains backpack also has a minimalistic design that doesn’t take up much space on a crowded subway and can be easily stored away while traveling. The interior laptop section has a dedicated strap that could easily store my 13-inch MacBook Pro without my having to worry about it being jostled around while on the move. There’s also a hidden phone-pocket zipper on the back of the bag that you can use to store a phone or quickly access an ID or MetroCard. It has a magnetic-snap closure and an adjustable strap that you can tighten and another carabiner closure.
Best sustainable laptop backpack
The Ten Tree Daily Backpack comes recommended by Joe Parenteau, CEO of Fable, a sustainably designed tableware company. It’s sustainably made from durable recycled polyester water bottles, and the interior is made of an Algae recycled foam for padding. After owning the bag for six months, he says it’s held up well “heading into a co-working space or walking around a new city.” It has multiple internal pockets, and along with a dedicated padded laptop area, and he says the main compartment is “nicely padded, with lots of extra room for a camera and chargers.”
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