Your laptop sees a lot of handling while traveling — taking it out for the TSA screening, bringing it back out to squeeze in a few minutes of work in the lounge, repacking it to board, and so on. Getting a dedicated laptop backpack will make sure that your prized possession is kept safe and snug in its sleeve, and easily removed or returned when you need it to be.
Derek Meister of Best Buy’s Geek Squad recommends travelers keep in mind five key considerations when buying a new laptop bag: protection, storage space, organization, comfort, and style. Most importantly, you'll want to find a backpack with a padded, laptop-specific pocket that's large enough to fit your machine, and maybe even waterproofing depending on your use.
Then, consider what else you’ll likely be carrying and how a backpack can help keep you organized so that accessories aren't bumping into each other and smaller items won’t get lost.
While a short commute may let you feel like you can get away with a less comfortable bag, you’ll definitely start to notice if the straps dig in if you’re adding a stroll around a new city to your afternoon. Make sure your straps are padded, adjustable, and can fit over a winter coat, if needed. And, of course, your favorite color might be a bonus.
We took all of these factors into account — and talked to a few seasoned travelers — to find the absolute best laptop backpack picks on the market.
Best All-in-one Laptop Backpack: Nomatic Travel Pack
Designed to carry all the gear you need for a weekend trip, the Kickstarter-favorite bag expands from 20L to 30L in capacity and is loaded with bonus features including hideaway convertible straps, magnetic side pockets, pass-through cable slots, a waterproof finish, and more.
To buy: amazon.com, $240
Best Anti-theft Laptop Backpack: Pacsafe 'Venturesafe' 15L
After being on the road for seven years, travel blogger Nina Ragusa is devoted to the Pacsafe Venturesafe for its inconspicuous design and extensive anti-theft features. (Think: interlocking zippers, slashproof fabric and straps, and RFID-blocking internal pockets.) “Unlike name brands with similar price points, these bags don’t look like you spent a million bucks on them, which is a good thing.” she said. You can even lock the bag to furniture in your room if you’re leaving tech behind for the day.
To buy: amazon.com, $90
The Stylish-yet-comfortable Pick: Herschel Little America
Jenny Lachs of Digital Nomad Girls carries the Herschel Little America laptop backpack. “It was important for me to find a backpack that protects my laptop while looking stylish and [one] that also has enough space to carry all my other electronics and gear like an external keyboard, laptop stand, mouse, microphone, and headphones,” she said. “The Herschel is perfect because it's beautiful and doesn't look like a typical laptop bag, just like a normal backpack. I also love how comfortable it is to wear, the straps are very padded and so is the back panel.”
To buy: amazon.com, from $85
Best TSA-friendly Laptop Backpack: SwissGear ScanSmart
This pocket-loaded SwissGear backpack includes a laptop compartment that unzips from the rest of the bag to minimize hassle in airport security. It's a clear crowd favorite, with more than 5,000 five-star reviewers on Amazon.
To buy: amazon.com, from $60
Best Charging Laptop Backpack: eBags Professional Slim
The Lifeboat Edition of the eBags Professional Slim pack comes with a portable battery pack, along with plenty of pockets. The laptop sleeve, which can accommodate devices up to 17.5 inches wide, is separate and individually lockable.
To buy: ebags.com, $170
The Amazon Best-seller: Matein Travel
This budget-friendly pick is the Amazon top seller in this category and has a separate laptop pocket along with plenty of other storage space, USB charging cord, and luggage strap to attach it to a carry-on handle.
To buy: amazon.com, from $32
Best for 15-inch Laptops: Incase Icon
Journalist Karlis Herrera carries the Incase Icon on her frequent freelance writing travels, and it’s a favorite over at Wirecutter and Outdoor Gear Lab, as well. “It has awesome space management and a lot of room inside accompanied by different pockets strategically located in the backpack to store our things,” she said. Bonus: The sleek exterior won’t look out of place in first class.
To buy: ebags.com, $200
Best 17-inch Laptop Backpack: Timbuk2 Q
To buy: amazon.com, $59 (originally $99)
Best Roll-top Laptop Backpack: Thule Paramount 24L
Thule’s Paramount 24L also came out on top at Outdoor Gear Lab and Wirecutter in the weather-resistant category. It has both laptop and tablet pockets and a distinctive roll-top design.
To buy: amazon.com, from $120
Best Budget-friendly Pick: Targus Metropolitan
Meister’s current choice is the Targus Metropolitan. “The straps and back ventilation are comfortable and it has a good mix of storage space for its size and weight,” he said. “I also like its little features, like the ‘handle’ built into the top of the straps as well as the built-in rain cover that folds out to protect the bag in inclement weather.”
To buy: bestbuy.com, $55
The Best Rolling Laptop Backpack: Kenneth Cole Roll-on Backpack
To buy: ebags.com, $105
Tortuga Setout Laptop Backpack
This clever laptop bag by Tortuga was designed specifically with the traveler in mind. It has a sleeve for a laptop up to 15 inches and a tablet up to 9.7 inches and tons more features that will make carrying your essentials easy, like a luggage handle pass-through and a zip-flat water bottle pocket. The bag's front panel can also unzip so that it's totally open, like a suitcase would, to make packing a breeze.
To buy: tortugabackpacks.com, $125
Best Laptop Bag for Adventure Trips: Deuter Stepout 16
Consumer education and travel writer Janice S. Lintz carries the Deuter Stepout 16. “The bag has a storage compartment in the back for documents and laptops, but the Airstripes meant that I didn't sweat when I lugged it while traveling,” she said. “The pack has extra stability, and I found my back didn't hurt from the bag on my recent seven-week trip to Africa, compared to my former inexpensive backpack. For me, skimping on a pack is a no-no since I will pay for it in the long run with my back.”
To buy: ebags.com, $60
Best Waterproof Laptop Backpack: Fjallraven Kanken
Kid & Coe Director of Marketing and Communications (and bike commuter) Laura Hall swears by her Fjallraven Kanken laptop backpack, which fits a 15-inch device. “The backpack is durable, waterproof, windproof, has a protective pocket and looks great,” she said. “I live in Copenhagen where design is important; this one is the best.”
To buy: nordstrom.com, $140
Best Covert Camera and Laptop Backpack: Pacsafe Metrosafe LS450 25L
Photographer Jimmy Chan of Pixelicious is also a Pacsafe fan and recommends the Metrosafe LS450 25L. “All of my shoots are done on location so I regularly bring my laptop along for retouching,” he said. “This also means that my backpack carries expensive equipment that I don't want to advertise, especially when walking through crowded environments.”
To buy: zappos.com, $120
Best Convertible Laptop Backpack: Minaal Daily Bag
Frequent traveler Michael Alexis regularly lives out of his Minaal Daily Bag, which can switch between backpack, shoulder, and hand-carry options with its hideaway straps. It includes a DeviceNest laptop compartment for computers up to 15 inches and a lifetime warranty. “Recently, I was carrying an extra 20 pounds of weight in it and it still seemed sturdy, while less well-constructed backpacks could have torn at the seams,” said Alexis. “It looks great both for casual travel with friends as well as attending business meetings and conferences.”
To buy: minaal.com, $249
Best Leather Laptop Backpack: Moore & Giles Quinn Commuter Backpack
If only leather will do, go full-on with the Moore & Giles Quinn backpack.
To buy: mooreandgiles.com, $715