“What is the best laptop backpack?” is a common question on social media platforms.
Below is the exact question on Quora – the question and answer website.
It is also one of the frequently asked questions by my readers here at Travelccessories.com.
Why many still travel with laptops
Despite the remarkable advancement in modern smartphone technology, there are still things we can’t do on our mobile devices today. Things that still have to be done on the PC/laptops.
Today, you can’t complete serious spreadsheet-related tasks on your smartphones.
You can’t do comprehensive photo editing.
And you can’t even compose rich text messages or manage your emails effectively.
These and a host of other reasons is why many people – particularly professionals – still carry their laptops with them when they travel.
Yet laptops are precious cargo, and must be handled with care during transit. Hence, the interest in backpacks that are specifically designed to carry our machines.
In this post, I will be addressing the question and sharing my own personal recommendation with you.
What makes for the best laptop backpack?
There are a number of factors to consider when determining the best laptop backpack. And the notion of “Best” is quite subjective; it really depends on what you’re looking for in laptop backpacks.
But I think the following factors are pertinent when it comes to choosing the best of the bunch. The top factors I look out for include:
- designated laptop compartment (you want to shield your laptop from abrasions, and accidental drops);
- durability (you want a backpack made with material that you can trust to survive whatever is thrown at it);
- whether it is water-resistant or not (for protection from water in instances when you are caught in the rain); and
- comfort (especially if you’ll be hauling your gear around for long periods)!
So, what is the best laptop backpack?
Throughout this piece, you’ll find a number of great laptop backpack recommendations.
Recommendations that are based on the aforementioned factors and other factors such as style, size, price, sustainability etc.
However, if I was hard-pressed to choose the best laptop bag, it would be the AER Day Pack 2.
AER is a carry design company that was created by Allen Choi in 2014. They are well known for their focus on making sleek functional bags that cater to the need of the modern traveler.
Their AER Day Pack 2 is the best of the bunch because it meets my expectations of a decent laptop backpack. Here are some of them:
- it has a well-padded laptop sleeve with a false bottom, meaning that your laptop is safe from scratches, or damage from hard impacts if you inadvertently drop the bag;
- it is made of durable water-resistant material, giving you the assurance that your backpack will last long, and that your laptop won’t get wet if you are caught in the rain; and
- it comes with solid harness system for a spectacularly comfortable wear.
And that’s not all!
You can read more about this remarkable bag in the main review below.
But as I alluded to earlier, the answer to the question, “What is the best laptop backpack” is quite subjective.
My recommendation is based on (essential/non-essential) characteristics that are most important to me.
Your (non-essential) preferences might differ to mine. Perhaps capacity or style of the bag is important to you. Or maybe you like eco-friendly backpacks.
Whatever your preferences, you will see from this guide that there are several other good options for you to choose from.
My hope is that this piece gives you plenty of information and inspiration to decide which is the best laptop backpack for you in 2021.
And if you have any questions about these backpacks or you want to leave your own personal opinion, you are welcome to leave a comment below.
For the die-hard minimalist: AER Day Pack 2
Summary: Aer Day Pack 2 is a sophisticated and versatile Everyday Carry(EDC)/tech bag that offers quality build, minimal design, insane organization, weather protection and great protection for your tech.
If it’s very important for you to find a backpack that protects your laptop and still maintain a sleek and clean vibe, this is a useful bag to consider.
First off, the Pack 2 offers a well-padded 16-inch laptop compartment, with a false bottom to protect your tech from the side effects of daily abuse, scratches and accidental drops.
All of this mean that if your laptop ever gets scratched, it’s won’t be from carrying it in your backpack as the inside is lined with a soft fleece-liked fabric.
Also, the organization in this bag is well thought out. Apart from the top pocket for your sunglasses/phone, the front compartment features organizational pockets for your mouse, cables, headphones, flash drive, stationery, and other gears.
Simply because, getting contents wet is the worst-case scenario for a techie, the Pack 2 is thankfully water resistant.
Made with durable 1680D Cordura ballistic nylon, 840D nylon with a PU (polyurethane) coating, YKK zippers and Duraflex hardware, you can expect this bag to serve you faithfully through years of intense use.
The harness system features padded straps, breathable back panel lined with mesh and a nice sternum strap. You will find it a comfortable wear, even when the bag is fully packed out.
Additionally, it features a self-standing design and a luggage pass-through for hitching a breezy ride on your wheelie suitcase.
What’s not so great
Sadly, it’s only available in one color (black).
Overall, this pack is pretty impressive and AER offers a lifetime warranty on manufacturing effects to seal the deal.
Alternative to consider: Incase Icon Backpack
Summary: It combines classic style, urban functionality and optimal organization into a modern tech carry.
When it comes to optimal organization and maximum protection of your tech and daily essentials, the Incase Icon backpack doesn’t mess around.
Which is why there is a dedicated and well-padded felt compartment that supports up to a 15-inch MacBook Pro and a separate tablet compartment to avoid stacking it with your laptop.
Essentially, the bag does a good job of protecting your expensive devices from scratches and bumps, thanks to a super soft faux fur and a slightly suspended and padded bottom.
If you’re anything like me, you’d take into account things like the quality of the material used. Well, the Incase Icon bag is constructed with a durable 840D nylon that doesn’t readily show scratches nor wears.
While it is not waterproof, it is water resistant, so you won’t have to worry about getting caught in the rain.
From urban to running errands, you can pretty much do anything with it.
And if your battery is low, it has a special wing like pocket for your power bank so you can charge on the go.
Even though it’s just 17L, you’ll be amazed at how much this bag can take!
What’s not so great
There’s no single water bottle pocket on the side, the color options are limited and the price isn’t the friendliest.
Overall, the Incase Icon can take the wear and tear of everyday carry while providing much needed protection and internal space for your tech gears.
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For those who want a few more bells and whistles: The Peak Design Everyday Backpack V2
Summary: If you want a sturdy tech bag for your camera, laptop, tablet, and other everyday accessories, this is the bag you go for.
There’s putting your precious device into any backpack and there’s putting it in a Peak Design Everyday Bag v2 well-designed laptop sleeve.
A protective laptop sleeve that you can adjust to fit any size of your gear -be it a 15-inch or a 13-inch device -along with pockets for tablets and documents.
Simple because a solid tech pack should be able to hold everything you need to get your work done, the Peak Design bag can also be used as a camera bag and even for minimal travel.
Designed with the finest materials, you can use this camera focused bag anyhow you like thanks to the Peak Design lifetime guarantee.
Not to mention that it’s made of 100% recycled plastic, is water resistant and is sophisticated such that you won’t mind being seen with it.
What’s not so great
It’s especially great for people who carry their camera around a lot but doesn’t really do much for the casual user.
Sure, you can remove the dividers to have a clear space but the inside isn’t expandable and the bag itself is expensive.
Nonetheless, you’ll love the tech protection, pockets and organizations this bag affords.
Alternative to consider: Herschel Little America Backpack
Summary: If you want a stylish backpack to accommodate your items, the Little American backpack might just do it for you.
The Little America pack from Herschel Supply Co. offers a streamlined casual laptop backpack that ensures you never stay out of style thanks its mountaineering flaps and buckles that manages to be minimal and rich at the same time.
Perhaps, its most notable feature is how it doesn’t joke around when it comes to protecting your laptop.
It features a 15” floating laptop sleeve that serves as protection from drop impacts. It is also well-padded and fleeced lined, which means your device is safe from scratches.
Should you plan to carry the bag for day-to-day commute and for hours on end; the Little America pack provides ergonomic carry technology with a limited lifetime warranty that ensures you get the bang for your buck.
Even better, the colors and style options are aaaamazing! I promise you’ll continue to get compliments on it.
What’s not so great
It doesn’t offer much in the way of organization in term of pockets and compartments.
There are not enough of them unless you make do with packing cubes or pouches especially for smaller items.
Overall, this is a well-designed bag with a large 25L capacity, a durable polyester material, and a well-padded laptop sleeve.
For the eco-conscious gearhead – Bellroy Transit Backpack
Summary: The Bellroy Transit Backpack has it all – quality Eco-friendly materials, dedicated laptop compartment, stylish vibe and is equipped for travel.
The Bellroy Transit Backpack is one of the best laptop backpacks for work, travel and pretty much everything thanks to its spacious main compartment and smart organizational pockets.
One very useful aspect of this bag is that it has a sleeve for storing your 15-inch laptop in the back panel.
I especially love how the sleeve is padded and protected in the bottom. This helps protect your gear against hard impacts if you were to drop the pack by accident.
I however must let you know that if your main compartment is fully stuffed, it would eat into the laptop space and makes bringing out your device a bit difficult.
Behind the laptop slit is a zippered pocket where you can store your other tech accessories like charger, USB drive etc.
Even better, Bellroy materials are not only durable, but are environmentally sustainable. Recycled fabric is used because it’s eco-friendly and helps to keep plastics out of landfill and oceans.
Also, organizational capacity is another place the Bellroy backpack excels – a 28L one-bag travel solution.
Plus, the bag measures 21.3 x 15.3 x 7.1 inches, and weighs just 2.4 lbs, which will pass as a personal item on major flights.
What’s not so great
It’s not suitable for all body frames. The curved back panel and straps is better suited for those with small body size. But those with a bigger torso may not find it very comfortable.
Nevertheless, going for this quality backpack with eco-friendly features is decidedly a step in the right direction.
For Heavy Duty Use: The Tom Bihn Brain bag
Summary: If you need something rugged, the Tom Bihn Brain bag is easily one of the most durable in the market.
When it comes to basic protection, there are more backpacks out there than we can count, but Tom Bihn has become somewhat synonymous with indestructible and utility focused packs.
It’s therefore not a surprise that the Brain bag is designed with a TSA-friendly laptop compartment that lets you breeze through airport security without having to remove your laptop.
Plus, it literally swallows everything you put in there. At 36L capacity, you’ll love the enormous space (two main compartments, four pockets and 9 O-rings), and organizations this bag affords, even for your tech gears.
Designed with the finest materials, you can use this bag anyhow you like thanks to the Tom Bihn’s lifetime guarantee.
What’s not so great:
There’s no false bottom to protect your laptop from hard impacts in case you inadvertently drop the bag.
But you can buy Tom Bihn’s thick-foam padded laptop sleeve accessory (or Cache as its referred to on their website) for added protection.
What’s more, the Cache will protect your laptop from scrapes and scratches, and is available in many sizes, so you’ll be sure to find one that fits your gear.
Overall, this is a great backpack that’s incredibly well made to survive travel or heavy-duty use.
For a gearhead on a Budget: The North Face Jester backpack
Summary: If you’re not entirely sold on spending more than 100$ on a backpack, this Jester backpack is an affordable entry point.
Whether it’s a bustling morning commute or an urgent trip, the North Face Jester backpack makes carrying your laptop around so much easier without sacrificing your style.
I especially love how the laptop compartment which can fit a 15-inch laptop is suspended off the bottom so you wouldn’t have to worry about your gear’s protection.
With two storage compartments and many easy access pockets, an adjustable sternum strap and super reinforced handles for easy, you can comfortably use this bag for hiking, school, and travel as well as a number of other uses.
The North Face Jester Backpack is made of a recycled 600D polyester material and water-resistant exterior that helps shrug off daily abuse while staying lightweight at 1.6 lbs. only.
At the back is the North Face FlexVent suspension system. It includes a heavily padded back panel and mesh shoulder straps with custom injection molded foam for extra comfort and ventilation.
What’s not so great:
The Jester however has a slightly limited space compared to the Borealis backpack.
Sure, you can fit a decent number of things – a 15-inch laptop, a few books, and maybe a change of clothes, it sadly doesn’t have much space for more.
What I really appreciate about the Jester pack is its simplistic, practical, stylish design and reasonable price tag.
Best Laptop backpack for Women: Fjallraven Kanken Laptop Backpack
Summary: An iconic piece for iconic women, the Fjallraven Kanken is a stylish computer bag for work, school and even travel.
If you’re in the market for a stylish EDC laptop backpack that’s specially designed for women but with a well-protected laptop compartment, then the Fjallenraven Kanken laptop backpack is a safe bet.
It comes with a separate and well-padded laptop compartment that’ll keep your device snug and protected wherever you go.
Worried about the size of your laptop? After all you wouldn’t want a tight fit or your laptop jostling about on your back due to a way to big sleeve.
Luckily, the Fjallraven Kanken has three different laptop versions with a dedicated laptop compartment for your 13” 15” and 17” laptop in the Kanken Laptop 13”, Kanken Laptop 15” or the Kanken Laptop 17” respectively.
Designed with thinner but padded straps instead of bulky ones that may rub on the neck or fall off the sides, it sits properly on the female shoulders while being light at the same time.
Did I mention that the Vinylon F material used in the pack is hardwearing and water resistant? Yeah, your device is safe even if you are caught in a slight rain.
All in all, you can be confident that the Kanken laptop backpack is not only durable, they are iconic – likely to stand the test of time in a world of fast fashion bags that can sometime break down all too easily.
Alternative to Consider: Women’s Borealis Backpack
Summary: Durable, stylish and versatile, the North Face Women’s Borealis is a worthwhile entry as one of the best laptop backpacks for women.
Women who have slimmer build may not necessarily find unisex backpacks as comfortable or a better fit.
Which is why The North Face designed the Women’s Borealis Backpack model tailored for… you know it, women.
Perhaps for me, it most defining feature is the insanely padded, highly-protective laptop sleeve that allows you store your 15-inch laptop or MacBook.
There’s more – an organizer compartment in front of the bag which features pockets as well as a fleece lined tablet sleeve to help you organize and protect your electronics.
Oh, the bag can also stand up completely unsupported, is incredibly lightweight and comes in 22 exciting color varieties!
With its simple design, harness system and exceptional build, you can’t go far wrong with the North Face Women’s Borealis backpack.
Not all backpacks are fit for your laptop.
If you’re in the market for the best laptop backpack for work, school, outdoor and every other thing, start with these top-rated pack recommendations.
Since this list is just to guide, and is nowhere comprehensive, I’ll like to hear your thoughts on which bag(s) really is the best laptop backpack.
Kindly let me know your stance in the comment section.
This article is not sponsored in any way by any company. These backpacks have been independently selected by myself and my team. And the only thing I receive is a small commission from our affiliate program if you buy any of them through the links and buttons on this page. It doesn’t cost you a penny. But it really helps me out as this money goes to paying for maintaining the website, editing software, my time, team and everything else that goes into preparing this post.