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Best Laptop Backpacks

Updated August 2018
Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
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How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

  • 67 Models Considered
  • 10 Hours Researched
  • 1 Experts Interviewed
  • 115 Consumers Consulted
  • Zero products received from manufacturers.

    We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

    Why trust BestReviews?
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

    Shopping guide for best laptop backpacks

    Last Updated August 2018

    Whether you’re a student, a businessperson, or a gamer, you have the need for for some type of gear to carry your laptop, as well as your textbooks or office materials.

    Traditionally, students and gamers carried backpacks, and businesspeople carried briefcases, and sometimes either one of them would carry messenger bags.

    But now that virtually everyone has a laptop, there’s a need for a hybrid of the backpack and messenger bag; a laptop backpack that is specifically made for hauling your electronics.

    A lot more goes into the decision to buy a laptop backpack than just picking one up at the store, and bringing it home to pack your things.

    You need to make sure it fits the important tools and supplies you bring with you every day, as well as adequately protecting your expensive electronic devices.

    If you’re a music or podcast fan, look for a backpack that has a port you can feed your headphones through. Some backpacks even have speakers embedded into the backpack. For those into energy conservation, some laptop backpacks have solar panels that can recharge your devices while being stored away.

    In the matrix at the top of the page we have highlighted what we feel are the five best laptop backpacks.

    BestReviews was not given or gifted any products in the process. Our research and opinions are always unbiased.

    But you don’t have to only take our word for it. If you’d like to learn more about laptop backpacks in order to make an informed purchasing decision, read on.

    EXPERT TIP

    Keep the weight of the bag in mind when choosing a laptop backpack, especially for school-age children. They’ll be carrying around the weight of the bag, the weight of all their textbooks, and the weight of their laptop.


    Why can’t you just use a regular backpack?

    Why do you have to have a special backpack just for using a laptop? Why can’t you just use a regular backpack that you already have, or that you may be able to pick up more cheaply?

    You certainly could use a regular backpack; however, your laptop wouldn’t be as protected. It would just be floating around in the empty space in the pack, leaving it open to damage.

    Additionally, your charger and all your other accessories, such as flash drives, CDs, peripherals, and mobile devices, are also banging around in the bottom of that backpack, along with textbooks, gaming controllers, or paperwork important to your business.

    With a special laptop backpack, you won’t need to worry as much about the safety of your expensive laptop or other materials. It’s constructed in a way to keep everything safe and separate, while also making it easy to find everything.

    FOR YOUR SAFETY

    When buying a laptop backpack for a student who either walks to school or the bus stop, look for reflective fabric on the backpack for the times he or she might be walking in the dark.

    Laptop backpack vs. messenger bag

    The most obvious difference between a laptop backpack and a messenger bag is the way it’s carried. Sure, some people carry a backpack just on one shoulder, but primarily it’s meant to be carried on your back, over both shoulders.

    A messenger bag, however, is just carried on one shoulder, other than occasionally when you have a longer strap and carry it cross-body.

    Surprisingly, messenger bags and backpacks offer close to the same amount of space and volume. While it would seem you would be able to fit more in a laptop backpack, that’s just not the case.

    When looking at accessibility, the edge has to go with the messenger bag, with an exception. Messenger bags keep everything right at the ready for you whenever you need it, whereas you have to dig a little more in your backpack. However, you’ll get more versatility out of the pockets in a laptop backpack.

    EXPERT TIP

    If you have the opportunity, you may want to bring your laptop into a store and try it out with the backpacks rather than trusting the sizes online. Sometimes openings can be smaller than indicated, even though a pack is meant for a certain size of laptop.


    Features to look for in a laptop backpack

    Once you decide for sure that it’s a laptop backpack you’re looking for, there are a number of features to look for to be sure you get a bag that will truly help you and suit you well.

    Laptop capacity

    Just as laptops themselves are never created equal, neither are laptop backpacks. Every backpack won’t fit every laptop. That huge screen may work out will for you, but you might struggle to find a pack to carry it in.

    Laptop backpacks have sleeves or special compartments that the computers fit into to keep them protected. You need to either check the specs to see if it will fit your laptop, or physically try your laptop in the bag to be sure it will fit.

    CAUTION

    Make sure your laptop fits in the laptop sleeve snugly. If it’s too large it won’t be fully protected, as it will stick out of the bag. If it’s too small, it also won’t be fully protected, as it won’t stay still and could get damaged while bouncing around.

    Construction and design

    The next things to examine when choosing a laptop backpack are the construction and design.

    One very important factor in the construction is that it be made from a waterproof material, to be sure your laptop will be kept safe in the rain. You’ll also get a secondary benefit of being protected against spills and leaks. Sometimes they even offer a secondary level of protection, by having either foam or a hard plastic shell in addition to the waterproof material.

    The other factor to check for in the design of the laptop backpack is the arrangement of pockets that are included for you to pack away your charger, other cords, flash drives, and more. Only you know how you’ll be using the bag, whether for business, school, gaming, or something else entirely, so only you know the design that will work best for you.

    If you plan to travel with your laptop backpack, you may want wheels and a handle on the bag so that you can pull it through the airport, making it a true carry-on bag.

    DID YOU KNOW?

    Not all bags are TSA compliant. While going through a pre-check TSA line means you don’t have to remove your laptop from your bag, TSA needs to be able to see through the materials to check your laptop. Not all bag materials are transparent to x-ray scanners.

    Comfort

    Carrying a laptop backpack rather than a briefcase or messenger bag allows you to keep your hands free, but you don’t want to compromise your comfort.

    Make sure that the shoulder straps are strong enough to hold the weight of everything you’re putting in your bag; it would be a shame to drop your bag and possibly damage your laptop.

    Also be sure you can adjust them to keep the backpack riding at a comfortable position on your shoulders.

    Before buying, check the angle the laptop is being stored at in the backpack, to ensure it doesn’t have a corner or edge sticking out, and poking you in your back.

    When checking the size of a backpack to be sure it “fits,” it should line up with the curve of your lower back, and shouldn’t fall more than four inches below your waistline. The anchor points on the shoulder straps should hit one or two inches below the top of your shoulders. When looking for added comfort, an abdominal strap can help distribute the weight of the bag evenly around your body.

    Price

    Laptop backpacks are priced on a very widespread scale.

    You can get cheap, non-name-brand bags with no extras for as little as $15.

    Alternatively, you can choose to pay $400 for a more premium model.

    Some laptop backpacks can be made to order, so if you’re having a difficult time finding the features or size you want, this is another option that can cost you anywhere from $20 to $200.

    FAQ

    Q. I spilled something in my laptop backpack. Is it possible to clean it?

    A. It may be, but you need to check with the bag’s manufacturer to see how to clean your particular bag, since they are made from a variety of different materials. Sometimes you can even put the bag in the washing machine, but not always as it could ruin the waterproofing feature.

    Q. I have heard that some bags allow you to charge your devices through the bag. Does this work with laptops?

    A. Only some of them. Devices such as mobile phones, tablets, and iPods charge through USB, and those can be charged on a backpack with a built-in USB power device. However, almost all laptops require a 110V power supply, versus the 5V USB chargers, so only backpacks that have a backup battery included in the bag can charge a laptop.

    Q. I have an opportunity to purchase an older laptop bag. Do they change along with technology or are older bags still adequate?

    A. There aren’t major things that change regarding laptop bags, but older bags may not have all the extras that you’re looking for such as a battery or USB port. Like buying a new bag, just make sure it has everything that you’re looking for.

    The team that worked on this review
    • Devangana
      Devangana
      Web Producer
    • Eliza
      Eliza
      Production Manager
    • Jeff
      Jeff
      Editor
    • Laura
      Laura
      Writer