Gone are the days when the business or home computer was destined to remain in one place. New technology, together with slim and lightweight laptops, has made mobile computing more practical than ever before.
It does't matter whether you are taking your laptop to college to study, to surf the Internet in a local coffee shop or using it remotely for business. This expensive and essential machine requires safe transportation.
Traditionally, bags or briefcases made specifically for laptops were the carrying method of choice. While practical, they were large, bulky and had little room for other items. This meant that a backpack or an additional bag was necessary.
With laptop backpacks, the problem is solved. Specific compartments for the computer prevent damage from pens, keys or other items. What’s more, these backpacks are now designed with the laptop user in mind, and have useful features you wouldn’t find in a normal bag.
Below are our top five laptop backpacks picks, suitable for every budget. Furthermore, at the end of the article we have included tips on what to look for in your backpack.
See Related Article: Laptop Stand Buying Guide
Mancro Laptop Backpack
The Mancro laptop backpack is a highly-adaptable product that comes in at less than $30.00. With its stylish looks, unisex design and additional features, it is a backpack that can cater to children and adults alike.
The main reason that this backpack made the number one spot is its universality. It’s not the most avant-garde product on the market, and is unlikely to turn heads.
However, its minimalist approach means that it is appropriate for many uses. It is great as a college bag, everyday backpack or for the business professional.
The Mancro backpack has a built-in USB charging port on the exterior. This means your cell will always have access to charge during time away from the home or office.
What’s more, security is taken seriously with the inclusion of a combination lock. This keeps unwanted hands away and provides increased peace of mind. Finally, all these features are provided in a rugged backpack that is available at a bargain price.
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Unfortunately, this laptop backpack will not hold computers that are 17 inches in size. This may make it unattractive to the mobile gamer or business person who owns one of these larger size laptops.
For some, the plain design is a selling point. For others who wish to make a statement, social or fashion-wise, they may find this bag lacking.
As a basic laptop backpack, it is not revolutionary. However, it is great to see it includes:
- External USB charging socket.
- Built-in charging cable.
- Sturdy combination lock.
- Water-resistant material.
- Reinforced bottom.
This backpack has general all-round appeal, clean, slim styling and an external USB port. All for a very reasonable price. However, pass on this backpack if you'll be carry a larger sized laptop.
The name AmazonBasics may not sound like the most exciting in the world, but this laptop backpack is a high-quality product that will not break the bank.
Firstly, it’s great to see that this budget laptop backpack can fit larger computers up to 17 inches in size. Many of the lower-priced products are for the smaller computers only.
Design wise, it looks like a traditional backpack. With its soft polyester exterior and black coloring with orange trim, it does not shout “laptop”. This may be useful if you are concerned about security - and do not want to declare to the world you are carrying over $500.00 worth of tech on your back.
While externally it may not look like a laptop backpack, inside it is certainly designed as such. It has a specific, padded, laptop compartment, together with other pockets, for tablets and your cells. An external, quick-access phone holder means no rummaging around in your backpack to read that all-important message.
For people who will be doing a lot of walking, the heavy-duty padding on the carrying straps provides additional comfort.
As mentioned, this does not look like a laptop backpack. Although a positive for some, for anyone wishing to make a statement it could prove a little reserved.
The manufacturers have paid attention to the serious tech-geeks here - with laptop, tablet and cell phone pockets. But surprisingly, they have failed to include any USB cables or sockets.
There are sufficient compartments inside to hold a power bank. However, accessing your electronic devices could prove difficult.
Despite the lack of USB port, this laptop backpack does have some great user-friendly conveniences, such as:
- Heavily padded - for comfort on the move.
- Exterior water bottle holder.
- Secure external cell holder.
To be honest, we very nearly placed the AmazonBasics backpack in first place. Its numerous compartments made it a very close runner. However, it slipped into second place for its lack of a USB port.
Over the last couple of years, Yorepek has been creating some buzz in the backpack market. Unlike many other manufacturers, their production is solely based around backpacks. Their recent line includes one made specifically for laptops.
If there was a laptop backpack created with the busy international businessperson in mind, then this is it.
Appearance wise, it looks remarkably like an airline-cabin case, but with more rounded edges - showing that it is indeed a laptop backpack. Its aesthetics are classy, tech-looking but fashionable. It features textured, black polyester with non-obtrusive red trim.
Inside, it is a case which does not hold back on space. It can easily hold a 17-inch laptop, but in addition possesses over 20 further compartments. Ideal for folders, pens, tablets and cables. However, if you are not carrying that much equipment, adjustable straps allow the size of the backpack to be reduced.
An external USB socket, with charging cable, allows your tablet to remain charged throughout business trips. In addition, for those people who like to hear their tunes while on-the-move, the backpack contains a headphone socket (⅛ inch). This allows your MP3 player or cell to remain within your bag.
One of the most distinguishing features about this backpack is that it can unfold to 180 degrees. This has allowed it to be approved by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).
In essence, this means that when going through airport security, the laptop does not have to be removed from the bag for the x-ray machine. Instead, a quick-release zip is pulled allowing it to open fully into two halves. This exposes the laptop - saving time and limiting dropped items in the airport.
One negative about this backpack appears to be its stitching finish. Many customer testimonials have indicated that the shoulder straps began to fray after a couple of months’ use.
This has not affected the strength or safety of the straps, just that it looks untidy - which you would not expect from a backpack at this price.
Furthermore, it appears that some 17-inch laptop owners (mainly Dell) have found the backpack slightly too small. This is despite being designed for computers of this size.
- Airport-friendly, TSA-approved 180-degree opening function.
- External, micro USB with a built-in charging cable.
- Headphone socket.
- Interior toiletry bag.
- Steel handle (plastic-coated).
Angled at the business traveler, this large and sturdy backpack has everything one requires. It did not reach the top spot as it is a little pricey, and does not have the all-round appeal of the top two.
SwissGear Travel Gear Scansmart Backpack 1900
SwissGear is well-known for their sturdy luggage and travel equipment. They have produced a backpack which includes its trademarked Scansmart and Tabletsafe features.
If you know your backpacks, you will immediately recognize the familiar design of the SwissGear Travel Gear 1900. The narrow-to-wide shaping, Swiss flag and the characteristic, external carabiner are all here. However, it is separated from their normal backpack lines with its specific laptop features.
The Scansmart feature allows the backpack, as with the Yorepek, to open at 180 degrees for airport security checks. What makes it different, however, is that the laptop is allowed to ‘float’ in its own specific pocket - preventing damage or slippage when opened.
Furthermore, the laptop compartment can be accessed from the side if desired - meaning the entire bag does not have to be opened for access.
This feature is further developed in the specific tablet compartments. Tabletsafe means the pockets are provided with extra padding. This allows even the most fragile of touchscreen technology to be protected while on the move.
User comfort is also heavily catered for. Firstly, as with all SwissGear backpacks, it has heavy-duty, reinforced straps with thick cushioning. This prevents injured or sore shoulders.
Secondly, it contains an ‘airflow’ back panel. This ensures that adequate ventilation can reach the back when worn - preventing sweating.
For a product which prides itself on its two trademarked features, it's surprising to see a lack of USB ports (although it does have a headphone socket). It is considerably more expensive than the winner in our top five (which does contain a USB port.)
Furthemore, SwissGear make no claims that this product is waterproof.
- TabletSafe pocket to prevent screen breaks.
- Scansmart airport facility to speed through checks.
- Airflow panels to prevent perspiration.
- Side-entry for easy access to the laptop.
- Water-bottle pockets located on either side.
- Holder for accordion files.
With SwissGear, you already know you are getting a quality product. Sturdy, comfortable and reliable, this backpack will see you through many years of use. The attention paid to tablet protection and airport use makes it a good backpack.
With its simple design and canvas skin, this is a laptop backpack equally suited to town and country use. A little pricey maybe, but worth it.
With its simple design and canvas skin, this is a laptop backpack equally suited to town and country use.
The Vancropak backpack is probably the sleekest and least overthought of all the products on this list.
The designers behind this laptop backpack have taken seriously its outdoor capabilities. The exterior canvas material is both rugged and waterproof, giving you confidence to take your laptop into the great outdoors.
Furthermore, it has just two, outer (semi-concealed) zips. This ensures no unwanted snagging on trees, camping gear or other countryside hazards.
But do not think this is purely a camping backpack. It is packed with features for the tech enthusiast. It includes a safety pocket, to hold 15.6-inch laptops and smaller, a USB charging port, plus headphone opening to ensure the leads are stored tidily away.
Although mentioned as a positive above, the limited number of exterior pockets may prove too few for some users. For example, those who demand easy access to numerous equipment items. Furthermore, it is a shame that it cannot accommodate a 17-inch laptop.
This laptop backpack is perfect for those people who want to take their tech out into the wilderness. Reduced features can sometimes be a benefit.
Why Should I Buy a Laptop Backpack?
If you are someone who needs portable technology, seriously consider a laptop backpack. Like traditional laptop bags, they protect your tech while on the move, but with the added features of:
What Should I Look for in a Laptop Backpack?
It is not a case of one-size-fits-all with laptop backpacks. The requirement for additional features, size and place of use all affect which product is ideal for you. We have outlined below a few elements that you should consider when looking for a laptop backpack.
Size is important, but bigger does not necessarily mean better.
It may sound obvious, but you must ensure that your laptop will comfortably fit inside the laptop bag. Always check the internal dimensions and product descriptions before you decide to buy.
Many laptop backpacks are designed for computers that are 15.6 inches or below. This means that they are unusable for people with 17-inch laptops or above. Also remember that your actual computer is referred to by its screen size, not the overall volume of the machine. Manually measure your laptop itself before purchasing your backpack.
If you are using the product for college or business use, consider how many additional items you require the laptop backpack to carry. For example: folders, pens, calculators, etc.
If there are numerous other things, you will need a larger backpack and perhaps one with additional pockets or compartments.
Where Will You Use It?
If you are transporting your laptop around the city, but spend most of your time on trains or the subway, there is little requirement for it to be waterproof. However, if you are out in the elements frequently, or want to take it camping, being able to keep your laptop dry is essential.
Furthermore, are you going to be doing a lot of walking? Laptops, although lighter than a few years ago, will still be placing poundage on your back. If you’re going to be mobile, it might be worth looking at a backpack with heavily-padded straps for comfort.
In addition, if you are going to be in public spaces, it’s always worth considering the safety aspect. Does the laptop backpack come with a lock or other safety features? If not, is it easy to use a third-party mechanism to keep your contents secure?
Finally, if you are a frequent user of airports, always look for a backpack that has side- access for easy accessibility. Or, choose one which can flip open at 180 degrees. This will make x-ray checks much easier and quicker.
This relates to how often and where you are using the laptop backpack. Lower quality backpacks may be perfectly acceptable if you are only using it a few times a year.
But if it is going to be used daily, and out in the elements, you want a seriously well-built backpack. Not only will this last longer, it will ensure that the contents are always protected.
For us, the new trend towards external USB ports is a great feature. So many of us use power banks these days - but charging your phone with them while on the move is difficult. It either means charging inside the bag, making it inaccessible, or holding both bank and cell in your hands.
The ability to simply charge your phone with an external socket is great for people with heavy cell usage who want to be sure they have enough power to last the day.
Depending on the specification, your laptop could be one of the most expensive things you own. Even if not, it can contain images, work and videos that are irreplaceable.
Either way, it is important that when you are mobile around the city or the world, your laptop is protected.
Laptop backpacks provide a convenient and safe method of transporting your computer. What’s more, they have additional benefits over traditional laptop bags. They can carry other essential items for your daily life, and in some cases, charge USB devices.
This article includes our top five laptop backpacks available today. All of them, in their own way, have their benefits. It’s up to you to decide which one fits your needs best.
From the excellent bargain backpack, the Mancro, through to the serious business-traveling Yorepek. One of these backpacks will help you transport your laptop safely and securely.