A quality laptop backpack lets you slide your computer securely into place and head to or from work without worrying that your device will suffer damage during the commute. Unlike backpacks used for hiking, those specifically designed for laptops often include a padded compartment for your laptop or other devices, perhaps held in place with a zipper. The padded compartment should be cushioned both along the sides and bottom in case the backpack is dropped.
But with various types of laptop backpacks available, finding the right one for your needs can be challenging. Use this guide to help you get a handle on the factors and features to consider when shopping, and learn why the following models are considered among the best laptop backpacks on the market.
- BEST OVERALL: Osprey Daylite Plus Daypack
- BEST BUDGET: Amazon Basics Everyday Backpack for Laptops
- BEST UPGRADE: Herschel Little America Laptop Backpack, Classic
- BEST STYLISH: Kenneth Cole Reaction Manhattan Colombian
- BEST CLASSIC: Handmade World Brown Vintage Leather Backpack
- BEST LEATHER: Samsonite Classic Leather Backpack
- BEST FOR TRAVEL: VASCHY Backpack for Men Women, Classic Lightweight
- BEST FOR MOBILE CHARGING: SWISSGEAR 1900 ScanSmart Laptop Backpack
- BEST FOR PHOTOGRAPHERS: USA GEAR DSLR Camera Backpack Case
What to Consider When Buying the Best Laptop Backpack
There are various considerations to evaluate when shopping for a quality laptop backpack. It’s got to be the right size, constructed in such a way as to protect your pricey device, comfortable to carry, and suited to your personal style. Keep the following factors and features in mind to zero in on the best laptop backpack for you.
Backpack size is measured in liters, which is determined by combining the height, length, and width. A 20-liter to 35-liter backpack may allow most commuters to pack for a single day. But larger capacities, up to 45 liters, are available and may suit folks who tend to carry more supplies. So assemble all the gear you’ll typically want to tote in your laptop backpack to get a solid sense of what size will suit you best. Aside from your laptop itself, you may want to bring food, a reusable water bottle, travel coffee mug, notepads, pens, books, and perhaps even an extra pair of shoes or cold weather accessories, like gloves and a scarf.
Once you get an idea of the backpack size best suited to your daily commute, you may realize how heavy it might be to carry around when full. So consider how hefty the backpack itself will be. An empty lightweight backpack might weigh 0.5 pound or less, while heavier options like leather, especially with a lot of zippers and strap buckles, can weigh up to 5 pounds.
As a rule of thumb, average healthy adults should be able to comfortably carry about 15 percent of their body weight in a backpack. So a 150-pound person might find it burdensome to tote a backpack and gear with a combined weight of more than 22.5 pounds.
Materials most commonly used for backpacks are water repellent, lightweight, durable, and resistant to tearing. Ripstop nylon, pack-cloth nylon, and modern canvas are designed to have these qualities. Though traditional cotton canvas and leather are durable and attractive, they can be heavy. Increasingly, manufacturers are adding memory foam to backpacks, which adds to the comfort factor as well as shock absorption, just in case the backpack is jostled or dropped.
Handles and Straps
Quality straps and handles can make carrying a backpack more comfortable. Look for adjustable or customizable straps, which may be padded or molded to tailor the backpack to your back or shoulders. Some straps and handles may be entirely removable as well.
One of the most common reasons for discarding a backpack is the tearing or loosened stitching of straps, handles, and zippers. Choose products with double-stitching along the straps and handles, and check product descriptions for padded shoulder straps composed of a material like foam for comfort.
Compartments and Pockets
A well-designed laptop backpack will have a separate compartment for your laptop, preferably padded on all sides with memory foam (or a similar type of cushioning) and secured with a zipper. Standard dimensions for laptop compartments include 15-, 16-, and 17-inch compartments.
In terms of airport security, a checkpoint-friendly backpack is explained in detail by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), but the key features are:
- The backpack must have a designated laptop-only portion that can lie flat on the belt to be scanned.
- The laptop-only section must contain only the laptop and be free of metals like zippers, buckles, or snaps.
- It must also be free of pockets on all sides.
- It should be easily removed in case the TSA agent asks to inspect it.
Folks who carry a laptop on their commute are likely to tote other tech items and accessories, too. A well-designed laptop backpack should include additional compartments to ensure that chargers, USB sticks, cables, your phone, and other accessories are not squashed, pinched, or tangled.
As to other places to stow gear, a laptop backpack will also have a large compartment in the main part of the backpack, usually accessible by a zipper on the top of the pack. For convenience, opt for a backpack that also features smaller compartments and pockets on the sides, back, and/or front of the pack. These compartments and pockets will help you organize and keep accessible items such as business cards, writing utensils, and beverage containers. You may choose to dedicate the front compartment for frequently used items so you needn’t search for supplies.
Modern backpacks may include innovative ways to make your experience more comfortable. Memory foam, commonly used in pillows and mattresses to alleviate pressure and provide comfort, may be employed in backpack pockets and shoulder straps to contour to the body and/or absorb any shock from being dropped.
Pockets and back panels made of mesh circulate cool, fresh air throughout the backpack allowing it to “breathe.” If you’re commuting on a hot day, the airflow through your backpack can help keep your back well-ventilated and cooler.
The shape of a backpack’s straps can impact comfort. Their design may be straight, bridged, or contoured, and each type fits against the body differently. Contoured straps, for example, are shaped like crescents, curving in toward the center of the body when worn. These can reduce how much your body rubs against the fabric of the backpack and straps themselves. Laptop backpacks use contouring straps somewhat, although not as much as fashion backpacks would.
There are also compression straps, which minimize extra fabric when your backpack isn’t full by drawing it inward. And suspension straps run along the top of your backpack, helping to more comfortably distribute weight as you carry it.
Our Top Picks
The laptop backpacks summarized here were selected according to the criteria detailed above. They suit particular categories of commuters’ priorities and professions, and each one is considered among the best laptop backpacks on the market.
This 20-liter backpack, constructed of lightweight, weather-resistant, durable 210D Nylon Double Diamond Ripstop, features an internal laptop sleeve that can accommodate a 15-inch laptop without a protective case or a 13-inch laptop with a protective case. The laptop compartment is separate from the main compartment and easy to access, thanks to the simple buckle at the top.
The back panel is covered in mesh for breathability, while the straps are a harness system padded with dense foam. There are several pockets to stow other items and a convenient key clip in the front. The Osprey Daylite Plus Daypack weighs 1.2 pounds and is available in 15 colors and patterns.
This basic, nicely priced backpack, made of water-resistant polyester, features a laptop compartment that fits models up to 15 inches. The laptop compartment is well-padded to help protect your computer from damage if the backpack is jostled or dropped.
There’s also a large main compartment to hold books and assorted supplies, two side pockets, and one zippered interior pocket that can hold cables, phone, keys, writing utensils, and more. Carrying straps are padded and adjustable for comfort. The backpack weighs 1 pound and is available in five colors.
A daily commute may not be as arduous as climbing Mount Everest, but this well-made, innovative backpack can help you, your laptop, and the rest of your gear get to and from work in comfort, security, and style. The 25-liter pack has a padded, fleece-lined laptop pocket that can fit up to a 15-inch laptop. The spacious, triple-lined main compartment closes with both a drawstring and hidden magnetic clips. It’s crafted of polyester and nylon, and its body-contouring customizable shoulder straps are made of faux leather to be a fully vegan choice.
The front pocket has a key clip and a handy hidden zipper. There’s also an internal pocket designed for your phone with a headphone port so you can listen to your favorite tunes or podcasts as you travel. Available in numerous attractive color combinations, this Herschel model measures approximately 7 inches by 11.25 inches by 19.5 inches and weighs 2.01 pounds.
For a laptop backpack that complements an elegant working wardrobe, consider this spacious Kenneth Cole model. It boasts a sleek rectangular shape and features a full-grain Columbian leather exterior in a choice of cognac, brown, and black. Fortunately, it’s about more than mere fashion; it features a TSA-compliant laptop compartment (fitting up to a 16-inch model), a tablet pocket inside the first zipper compartment, and a padded phone pocket inside an interior zipped enclosure to keep your devices protected and accessible.
The front exterior pocket is lined with brushed polyester to protect valuable supplies, while a zippable interior pocket boasts a business organizer with space for pens, paper, sticky notes, and business cards. The organizer pocket is RFID-protected, meaning it shields your belongings from the electric charges of radio frequency identification devices. Padded air mesh across the back provides good airflow, while a rear trolley tunnel is designed to fit on top of a carry-on suitcase’s upright trolley handles for hands-free carrying. With all these features and the luxe leather exterior, the backpack weighs in at 3.15 pounds.
If you favor old-world styling over trendy materials and bold colors, this handsome model may be just the ticket for your commute. Made of 100 percent genuine full grain leather, this laptop backpack has a vintage vibe as well as solid craftsmanship that harkens back to another era. However, its padded laptop compartment, which sits among two other spacious interior sections and fits devices up to 15 inches, is thoroughly modern.
The exterior has four small pockets, two with zippers, plus rust-proof steel buckles. Designed for carrying versatility, it easily converts from a backpack into an over-the-shoulder office bag or briefcase with the simple adjustment of straps. It comes in only one shade of brown, which is expected to darken with use. The manufacturer does not list the weight, but this leather model with steel hardware is likely quite a bit heavier than a nylon backpack.
If you want the luxury of leather and a spacious, well-organized interior for your multiple devices, consider this Samsonite model. It has room for two laptops—or a single 15.6 inch laptop as well as a tablet—in its nylon-lined, padded interior compartments.
There’s also a zippered front organizer with two phone pockets, pen pockets, and a SmartSleeve across the back that slides over most upright handles for hassle-free combination travel. The smooth exterior is water resistant, comes in cognac or black, and weighs 3.73 pounds.
Security and organization are among the keys to a successful business trip, and this 20-liter polyester backpack provides both in spades. It will let you pack for a business trip while keeping your devices and presentation materials both secure and accessible. Your tablet and laptop (up to 15 inches) will sit snugly in a padded interior compartment, while your phone, charger, and other supplies can be neatly organized in the main top-loading compartment and the two exterior zipper pockets on the front.
The back panel is fully padded for optimum carrying comfort. In addition, the pack has a padded, reinforced bottom to protect items in case of accidental drops. The sturdily crafted backpack is both water resistant and heat resistant. It weighs a mere 0.79 pounds and comes in 14 colors, including a classic camouflage pattern.
If you depend on multiple tech devices, this 31-liter, weather-resistant, 1200D ballistic polyester backpack may be the one for you. Stow a laptop (up to 17 inches) in the padded laptop compartment and a tablet in the TabletSafe tablet pocket. Enjoy the capability of USB-equipped charging on the go for your smartphone and other devices as well as RFID-blocking pockets to prevent information theft through the fabric of your backpack. The pack will also help you breeze through airport security, thanks to ScanSmart lay-flat technology that allows for a fast, easy TSA scan with your laptop in its case.
There’s ample organized space for pens, paper, keys, a water bottle, umbrella, or even a change of clothes. Ergonomic, contoured shoulder straps; a heavy-duty, easy-to-grab handle; and airflow back panels for circulation all make your commute more comfortable. This backpack weighs 3.3 pounds and is available in blue and black.
If you’re a photographer who depends on a laptop as well as your camera equipment, you may appreciate this 21-liter nylon backpack designed with your needs in mind. This pack features a spacious padded top compartment (compatible with many DSLR cameras) with removable dividers you can arrange to customize the case to suit your equipment. For convenience and easy access, there’s a side door that opens up just enough to let you grab your camera, leaving all the rest in its place.
The case features a padded space for a 15-inch laptop and a total of six compartments and pockets, including two with hook-and-loop closures for easy access to the camera compartment, and five net-mesh accessory pockets for chargers, cables, and more. The pack weighs 2.5 pounds and is available in black with six interior color options.
FAQs About Laptop Backpacks
If you still want more information about buying and using a laptop backpack, consider the answers to these commonly asked questions.
Q. What makes the best laptop backpack?
The best laptop backpacks are durable with a secure, preferably padded, space designated for laptops. The backpack should also include organized compartments for other items and be comfortable to carry.
Q. What is a padded laptop backpack?
A padded laptop backpack has foam padding in the laptop compartment to protect your laptop from damage while in transit. It may also have padded straps for extra comfort across the shoulders and back.
Q. How can I protect a laptop in a backpack?
It’s always best to keep your laptop stored in its designated space, secured properly in place surrounded by the cushion of memory foam in case it gets jostled around or dropped. Also be sure to close the laptop compartment and the entire backpack securely and handle with care.
Q. Are laptops safe in the backpack?
If you shut down your laptop, disconnect all cables, and place it into a protective case, it should be safe from damage as long as you zip it in securely and carry the backpack with care. You may also want to look for a backpack with anti-theft features.