By their nature, laptops are designed to be moved around from place to place. If you’re a remote worker–whether that’s a digital nomad changing country every week or someone who regularly moves between cafes, offices, and the kitchen table–chances are your laptop will be coming along for the ride.
Lugging a small computer around, however, comes with a few challenges. Keeping it protected from drops, knocks, and spills is vital, as is finding a way to carry it comfortably and easily. If you’re going through airport security on the regular, it also needs to be accessible without unpacking your entire bag.
Laptop bags come in a wide variety of styles and materials to suit different needs. With features like floating sleeves and extra padding for protection, extra compartments for accessories, and straps for comfortable carrying, they’re the obvious way of keeping your laptop protected while on the move.
With so many options on the market, however, tracking down the right model for your specific needs can be a challenge. That’s why we’ve put together our picks for the best laptop bags on the market right now, all of which help make transporting your computer a safer, easier, and more comfortable experience.
Before making a purchasing decision, you’ll want to keep a few key factors in mind. Consider how much space you need in your bag for other items beyond your laptop: do you need a larger “do everything” bag, or a smaller one that’s dedicated to only carrying electronics?
Comfort is vital, especially for bags that you wear on your back or shoulder. That’s doubly-true for larger versions that can get quite heavy when you fill them to the brim. How good is the padding on the straps and back? Does it evenly distribute the weight, while still protecting the items inside? Is it the right size for your frame and body shape?
Quality matters: you’ll be relying on this bag to protect thousands of dollars worth of gear. Is it made from high-end materials? Does it have robust zips, and straps, handles, or wheels that won’t break when under load? Will it actually keep the laptop and other expensive items safe from drops and knocks?
Lastly, take a look the bag’s design with your specific needs in mind. Is style important? Does it have an appropriate number of pockets and compartments for your needs? Is it easy to access the laptop and anything else you regularly need, even when the bag is full?
With all that out of the way, let’s take a look at what we’re recommending at the moment!
- Style: Backpack
- Material: 840D nylon
- Max Laptop Size: 16-inch
- Extras: Charging cable hole, sternum strap
- Style: Tote
- Material: PU leather
- Max Laptop Size: 15-inch
- Extras: Removeable strap, bottle pockets
- Style: Messenger
- Material: Canvas
- Max Laptop Size: 15-inch
- Extras: Adjustable padded strap, front buckle closures
- Style: Convertible (messenger/briefcase/backpack)
- Material: Canvas
- Max Laptop Size: 15-inch and 17-inch versions available
- Extras: adjustable laptop belt, hidden backpack straps
- Style: Backpack
- Material: unspecified
- Max Laptop Size: 17-inch
- Extras: USB charging port, glasses hook
- Style: Backpack
- Material: Leather
- Max Laptop Size: 15-inch
- Extras: lengthy guarantee
- Style: Rolling bag
- Material: 1200D nylon
- Max Laptop Size: 16-inch
- Extras: retractable handle, trolley strap
Best Laptop Bag: Incase Icon Slim
The Incase Icon Slim is our pick for the best laptop bag, thanks to its impressive organizational capacity, comfortable carrying straps, and high levels of protection for your laptop.
The Icon’s straightforward design is sleek yet functional, with a distinctive streamlined look that stands out from the sea of generic black laptop bags on the market. It’s not the sexiest bag we’ve ever seen (is that a thing?), but it’s attractive enough in an understated way.
It’ll accommodate laptops up to 16 inches in size in a dedicated fleece-lined section, which covers any travel-focused machines out there. That’s pretty normal for any decent laptop bag, but it’s the versatility of the other parts of the backpack that puts it head and shoulders above the rest.
As well as that laptop compartment, there’s a second section intended for iPads, Kindles, and other smaller electronics. Both are accessible from the side, which is useful when you’re in a hurry. The thinner front section has a bunch of pockets for everything from pens to chargers.
The pocket selection doesn’t end there, though: a pair on the sides lets you stow things like music players and power banks, and there’s a cable hole in one of them so you can charge your phone on the move. With over a dozen pockets in total, you’re not going to run out of storage space!
Constructed from tough 840D nylon, the Icon is durable and hard-wearing, and should stand up to years of use. That nylon can easily pick up lint and fuzz, however, so you might want to give it a quick going over with the lint roller before heading off important meetings.
Thanks to its boxy shape and rigid materials, the bag stands upright on its own, making it easy to pack and unpack and reducing the chance of accidental toppling. That rigidity does make it harder to cram that last extra item when the bag is nearly full, but for most of us, that’s a price worth paying.
There’s plenty of padding on the back panel and straps, and those straps are nice and wide to help distribute the weight. There’s an adjustable sternum strap and load stabilizers as well, but no waist straps. That said, there’s a limit to how much you can stuff inside, so it’ll rarely be heavy enough to need them.
If you’re after an attractive, protective, and functional backpack-style laptop bag that’s appropriate in almost any situation, you’ve found it here.
Best Low-Cost Laptop Bag for Women: KTMOUW Laptop Bag
Finding a laptop bag aimed at women that’s both stylish and functional is hard enough at the best of times, but it’s especially difficult when you’re on a budget. Of all those we’ve looked at, the KTMOUW tote bag is the best of the bunch.
The bag comes in various color options, so you can find one to match your style, and there’s plenty of space inside for essentials beyond your electronics. A bunch of pockets help with organization, and provide extra versatility that makes the bag useful for a range of different purposes.
You’re obviously not going to get genuine leather at this price point, but the faux-leather material is still an attractive option. Aided by a sleek design, the tote has a chic look that largely hides the fact it’s a laptop bag at all. It is quite large, though: a benefit for some people, and a downside for others.
There’s a removable shoulder/crossbody strap that makes for easier carrying when there’s a bit of weight in the bag, but doesn’t flap around and get in the way if you’d prefer to hold it by its handles. The bag is split into three sections, which helps with both organization and weight distribution.
The first compartment can hold a 15.6″ laptop and iPad with room to spare, while the second has a large open section for other items, including pockets at each end for things like water bottles. The third compartment has a further range of pockets for cords, chargers, and other accessories, and a thin, zippered section let you securely store documents and files.
The bag doesn’t stand completely upright unless it’s relatively full, but that’s more of an aesthetic issue than anything else: it doesn’t affect the functionality. Professionals or college students on a budget who are looking for something more stylish than a typical laptop backpack could do a lot worse than the KTMOUW tote.
Best Low-Cost Laptop Bag for Men: RAVUO Messenger Bag
There are plenty of options out there for men who just want a functional laptop bag, but if you’re after one that combines functionality and style and doesn’t cost a fortune, your options are much more limited? That’s where the RAVUO Messenger Bag for Men comes in.
The bag comes in two classic colors, black and coffee, with accents of brown leather on the zipper pulls, handles, and straps. The water-resistant cotton canvas exterior is durable yet relatively soft, providing a rugged look that’s still professional enough for the office.
The interior has well over a dozen pockets and compartments to help easily organize your chargers, cords, and whatever other accessories you’re carrying. The padded laptop compartment is large enough to fit a 15.6″ machine, with a flap closure that secures with a pair of buckles to keep everything safe.
People often complain that shoulder laptop bags are uncomfortable to carry, but the RAVUO bag does what it can to minimize the issue, with a thick shoulder strap and movable shoulder pad for extra comfort. The bag’s design allows it to be used as either a crossbody or shoulder bag, whichever you prefer.
We’d have liked to see the manufacturer use better zips–they’re not the strongest we’ve come across–and the bag can get quite bulky when full, especially if you stuff things into the outer pockets. Even so, this is a functional and well-designed bag with little touches of style that you don’t often see at this price point, and we’re happy to recommend it on that basis.
Best Laptop Messenger Bag: CoolBELL Convertible
Looking for a laptop bag that’s more professional than a backpack but easier to carry than a traditional briefcase-style version? Messenger bags are the way to go: the right ones are stylish enough to take to a client meeting, yet able to hold plenty of weight without your arm falling out of its socket.
The CoolBELL Convertible is a lightweight, commuter-friendly messenger bag with a few tricks up its sleeve. The water-resistant canvas does a good job of keeping your gadgets and paperwork dry in the rain, while the durable shoulder strap makes it easier to carry around.
Four zippered pockets on the bag’s exterior provide quick access to frequently-used items like your phone or passport, while keeping them safe from prying fingers. Inside you’ll find a pair of large compartments, one of which can fit a 17.3″ laptop and has a telescopic belt that you can tighten to keep it from sliding around.
While we’re focusing on the CoolBELL’s use as a messenger bag, and expect that most people will use it that way, you’ve actually got a range of options here. You can turn it into a briefcase by removing the shoulder strap and just using the grab handle, or pull out the hidden straps at the rear to use it as a backpack.
Any downsides? We’d have liked to see some extra padding around the edges of the laptop section, and like many bags at this price point, the zippers aren’t as durable as they could be. Even so, if you’re looking for a stylish, functional, and versatile laptop bag, this is a smart pick.
Best Low-Cost Travel Laptop Bag: KROSER Laptop Backpack
If you’re frequently taking your computer through airports and on long-distance trips, it’s worth buying a laptop bag that’s designed with travel in mind. In general, this means it has to be durable, have plenty of capacity (while still fitting inside carry-on limits), and be easy to carry even when you have other luggage.
While we’ve covered a number of laptop-friendly backpacks appropriate for digital nomads and other frequent travelers in the past, not everyone has the need (or budget) for higher-end bags like these. If that sounds like you, I’d suggest taking a look at the KROSER laptop backpack instead.
Water-resistant and surprisingly durable for the price, the backpack can stand up to plenty of abuse. The large laptop compartment is roomy enough to fit a 17.3″ machine, and has multiple other sections and pockets to keep your items separated and organized.
Usefully for those on the move, there’s an inbuilt USB charging port that connects to any power bank you own, and lets you charge your devices on the go. Extras like lockable zips (plus a combination lock to go with them), a glasses hook on one of the straps, and a strap to secure the bag over your suitcase handle, are also all useful touches.
A few corners have been cut to achieve this bag’s low price, however. There’s only partial padding at the back, which can make the bag uncomfortable to wear for long periods, especially when it’s full. The rough black mesh that surrounds it also adds to the discomfort.
Even so, there’s plenty to like about the KROSER, and if you don’t fancy the idea of spending upwards of a hundred dollars on a travel laptop bag, this is one to keep in your sights.
Best Leather Laptop Bag: Solo New York Reade
In a sea of nylon and polyester, a leather laptop bag stands out. The stylish yet durable nature of the material makes it well-suited to this sort of use, but of course, not all leather bags are created equal.
The Solo New York Reade Vintage Leather Backpack is our top pick in this category. The full-grain, vegetable-tanned leather looks great out of the box, and develops an attractive natural patina as it wears over time.
The blue interior lining adds a pop of color, while the padded back and straps make the pack comfortable to wear even with plenty of weight in it. The bag comes with a five-year guarantee, far longer than most in this category, which speaks volumes about the quality of the manufacturing.
The backpack’s padded main compartment can fit a 15.6″ laptop, and there’s also a quick-access pocket for your most-used items. The zip-down organizer section at the front is ideal for pens, notebooks, and other small accessories.
We’d like to see protective bottom padding for cameras, lenses, and other heavy electronics that are likely to find their way to the base of the pack, but that’s the only real downside of what is a stylish, functional, and durable laptop bag for everyday use.
Best Rolling Laptop Bag: Targus Metro Rolling Laptop Case
While shoulder and messenger laptop bags are great for daily use, they can be a pain to carry, especially if you need to transport a bunch of other stuff at the same time. That’s where rolling versions like the Targus Metro Rolling Laptop Case come in handy.
Our top pick in this category, this large and durable rolling laptop case from a well-known manufacturer comes with a bunch of useful extra features. This bag is spacious enough to hold overnight essentials as well as your laptop and other office equipment, which is super-useful on short business trips (or when you know you’ll be pulling an all-nighter).
The durable and water-resistant 1200D polyester helps keep your gear safe, as does the padded laptop compartment that includes a velcro strap to keep anything up to a 16″ machine in place. There’s also a dedicated tablet pocket that’s lined with soft material to prevent scratches.
The telescoping handle retracts into a zippered compartment when you’re not using, making the bag much easier to carry up and down stairs or stow under your seat or in an overhead locker.
As well as the large main compartment, the case also has a zip-down organizer section at the front for small, frequently-used items. The inline wheels and telescoping handle make it relatively easy to wheel the bag around, although that gets a little more difficult with heavy loads.
You’ll want to avoid overstuffing the bag for another reason, too: the wheels aren’t really designed for carrying large amounts of weight, and have been known to buckle after extended rough use. If you want a neat rolling laptop bag that can carry light to medium loads, however, this is an excellent option that won’t break the bank.
Main image via Dean Drobot/Shutterstock.com, product images via Amazon