The 7 laptop backpack Best Laptop Backpacks 2021 Reviews by Wirecutter
Flaws but not dealbreakers: The Räven 28 fit our 5-foot-6 and taller reviewers perfectly, but it was a bit large for another tester, who’s 5-foot-1. Why it’s great: If you’re going to be wearing a backpack every day, you may want it to be fashionable, but it still needs to be functional, comfortable, and smartly organized. The sleek, minimalist lines on the Rains Backpack Mini keep things professional, but it also comes in a wide range of subtle to punchy colors, which feels fun. This backpack looks good with business-casual office wear but also perfectly cute thrown over a pair of denim overalls. Who it’s for: The Rover Pack will suit you if you’re a practical city commuter who appreciates a mountain aesthetic. The Hakuba by Lo & Sons does all of that: Its 15-inch external laptop pocket allows you to completely separate your computer from where you stash your dirty gym clothes. At the top of its main compartment are pockets for your notepads and books; underneath, the Hakuba has a compartment for your shoes. If you need to carry something particularly big, you can pull out the insert and use the entire space. Even while doing all of that, the Hakuba maintains its shape. So don’t worry about what—or how—you’re packing. The pack is extremely light, and its shoulder straps are cushy and padded, so it will remain supremely comfortable even after you’ve filled it with all of your work essentials. And its fabric is water resistant, so if you get caught in a drizzle, you can rest assured that your gear will stay dry. Wirecutter editor Thorin Klosowski has had his Topo Rover Pack for eight years and says it’s still in excellent shape and looks new despite heavy use. The Timbuk2 Authority Deluxe’s huge number of pockets and compartments let me slot everything I wanted to carry into specific places so items were easy to find. The back compartment is suitable for a memo pad or a laptop up to 17 inches, as is the main pocket in the bag’s central compartment. The front compartment has an assortment of storage options: a large zipper pouch, two open pockets, and two pen slots. I found the two separate exterior zipper pockets on the front useful for smaller things that I wanted to grab regularly, such as my external battery pack and an SD card. There’s also a luggage pass-through on the back that attaches to the handle of a carry-on, which is a nice touch. After hands-on testing, we determined that the Thule Pack ’n Pedal Commuter Backpack 24L was fussy to use and looked too sporty for this category. Justin Krajeski is a staff writer reporting on everyday carry at Wirecutter. He previously wrote about tech at Wirecutter. He carries things every day. He’s very well versed in carrying. Why it’s great: The Fjällräven Räven 28 Backpack is durable, water resistant, and equipped with a plethora of pockets, but most important, it’s comfortable to wear for a long day of traveling. Its internals are conveniently organized, and it includes a pair of external water-bottle pockets that can double as holsters for travel documents such as a boarding pass or a customs form. And even though it can fit neatly underneath your seat while you’re traveling, it’s big enough for a 15-inch laptop, business gear, a change of clothes, and a pair of slim shoes. A briefcase is still de rigueur for certain careers, and these picks will suit anyone for any purpose, from internship to retirement party. Dimensions: 21.5 by 13 by 7.8 inches Weight: 2.8 pounds with insert, 2.4 pounds without insert Water-bottle holders: two Warranty: one year Maximum laptop size: 15 inches Colors: black Chrome’s Urban Ex Rolltop has handy loops for hanging a helmet or U-lock, plus plenty of room in its main compartment for a laptop, a change of clothes, and more. Flaws but not dealbreakers: The thin straps on the Rains Backpack Mini make it less comfortable than other, thick-strapped bags. But because the bag can’t fit a big load anyway, your shoulders will be safe from strain. After six months of using the Rains, tester Jordan Bowman told us the straps sometimes burrowed into his sides, but the bag was so sleek and well designed that he didn’t mind. Who it’s for: If you ride your bike to work, you need a backpack that’s sturdy, durable, and comfortable. It should also be big enough to hold all your gear, such as a helmet, a bike lock, a water bottle, a raincoat, pants, and more. While testing this bag in Cambodia, Wirecutter’s Korrena Bailie found that the Patagonia comfortably held a travel pillow, two paperbacks, her laptop and charger, a rain jacket, her cell phone and charger, snacks, and a large bottle of water. “Even when it was fully stuffed,” she said, “I was able to easily pull out my laptop and slide it in again.” The Arbor Classic performed well on walks, bike rides, buses, and trains. The padded straps are comfortable and easy to adjust, even when the bag is loaded with more than 20 pounds. The Timbuk2 Authority Deluxe bag easily holds and organizes everything you need for the workday. It’s made with tough materials, so it can take a beating on your commute. Although every person has different criteria for what makes a perfect backpack, all the bags we recommend hold a laptop and its power supply, remain comfortable to wear for an entire commute, and look stylish. We have backpacks that are great for people who ride on tightly crowded buses and train cars or bike in downpours , for ultra-organized tech wranglers and for people who want a main compartment that’s a black hole , for the fashion-forward and those who want something small and super stylish , for road warriors who fly regularly , and for fitness-minded folks who bring their gym gear to work . Flaws but not dealbreakers: Of the eight bike-appropriate models we tested, the Urban Ex Rolltop is the biggest. And although we think its large size is a plus, it might be too bulky for some people, especially more casual commuters. Compared with other bags we tested, this model also has a slightly less intuitive closure, since you have to roll up the top and strap the ends down with buckles on the side. Finally, the Urban Ex Rolltop doesn’t have a designated spot for a water bottle. In addition to its massive main compartment, the Arbor Classic has a laptop sleeve and two deep zippered pockets . It closes via drawstring, so when you’re carrying a lighter load, all you have to do is tighten the drawstring and its flag straps to reduce the bag’s footprint. Flaws but not dealbreakers: The Hakuba is big, and at around 3 pounds, it’s quite heavy, too—but when a backpack holds gear for work and the gym, it needs to be generously sized. We loved the long and trapezoidal shape, but it may not be what you’re looking for. With separate sections for your shoes, gym clothes, laptop, and files, Lo & Sons’s Hakuba is easy to organize and comfortable to carry. After some preliminary testing, we ruled out the Helly Hansen Stockholm Backpack . It comes with only a two-year warranty, in contrast with others that have lifetime warranties. And the materials seemed flimsy, plasticky, and less durable than those of other bags we tested. We liked the look of the Bellroy Classic Backpack Plus and appreciated its plethora of organizational elements. This bag is chock-full of secret zippered compartments and mesh areas designed to hold specific daily-commute items. But we found that its tall height made it uncomfortable. Dimensions: 18 by 12 by 3 inches Weight: 1.6 pounds Water-bottle holders: two Warranty: lifetime against defects in materials and workmanship Maximum laptop size: 15 inches Colors: olive/navy, forest/kelly, natural/black, navy/red, navy, turquoise/clay, ballistic black, royal/black, silver/charcoal Who it’s for: If you’re a stylish commuter who heads to the gym before or after work, the Hakuba makes it easy to pack a change of clothes and shoes for the day. The Rains doesn’t have space for much inside, but its laptop pouch and inner zippered pocket will keep your basics organized with room for a couple more small items if needed. The Rains bag’s magnetic flap snaps and carabiner closure make it hard for thieves and nosy friends to get into your bag when you’re not looking. Dimensions: 18.9 by 11.8 by 5.1 inches Weight: 2.6 pounds Water-bottle holders: one Warranty: lifetime against defects in material and workmanship Maximum laptop size: 17 inches Colors: navy blue, black, dark gray, gray, tan Flaws but not dealbreakers: Although the Timbuk2 Authority Laptop Backpack Deluxe can comfortably hold a wide variety of tech gear, it doesn’t have quite the capacity of other bags in this category, such as the eBags Pro Slim Laptop Backpack . Both water-bottle pockets are sewn close to the sides of the bag. This design ensures that they won’t look flabby when they’re empty, but it also means that your bottles might be a snug fit; a fully loaded bag might even bulge enough to prevent you from fitting bottles in the pockets. Although our tester—and some of our colleagues—loved the bright, bold color options of the Topo Rover Pack , the colors may be a little too loud for everyone’s tastes. The Rover Pack does come in a few more subtle colors if you’re more demure in your fashion choices. The Public Rec Pro Pack Plus has a bunch of useful, organizational pockets for pens and a passport, as well as a luggage-strap handle in case you need to go to the airport from the gym. Unfortunately, its shoulder straps were too thin, causing strain on our shoulders. And if its side pocket were bigger, it would accommodate a wider variety of different-size water bottles. Flaws but not dealbreakers: The Arbor Classic doesn’t have a water-bottle pocket, although it offers plenty of space inside to tuck in a bottle. A small zippered, internal pocket would be a practical addition, too, for keeping items such as a passport or a pair of headphones safe and easy to find. Why it’s great: The Topo Rover Pack combines a campground aesthetic with a practical design that is perfect for subway commutes. Its main pocket is a large bucket that can easily expand to fit a wide variety of stuff—notebooks, chargers, books, lunch containers, headphones—and has a divider for your laptop. For security, the Rover Pack cinches closed, with a buckle-down flap to keep the top fully covered. During testing, the bag’s outside zippered pockets were big enough to fit a portable charger, a snack, some cables, and a Kindle. The bag also has two expandable side pockets perfectly sized for a Zojirushi travel mug and a Hydro Flask water bottle . The Arc’teryx Granville 20 Backpack was one of the most comfortable backpacks we tried; our tester rode 3 miles through San Francisco with it. However, it couldn’t deliver as the black-hole backpack of our dreams, since the opening at the top of the bag was smaller in circumference than the bag itself and limited how much we could fit in there. I ran with this bag on my back for 3½ miles, and it never felt like I was carrying too much. The bag spread weight evenly across my back, and its pads were cushioned enough that they never dug into my shoulders. We also love the waterproofing on the Rains backpack. Two testers routinely used the Rains during thunderstorms, and the bag always kept their possessions dry. Finally, the Rains is one of the most affordable small backpacks we tested, and it comes with a decent, two-year warranty. Why it’s great: A polished gym bag should be large and well organized enough to hold a change of clothes and shoes, keep what’s dirty separate from the office supplies you’re carrying, and look good enough that you won’t be embarrassed to carry it to work. We’ve confirmed that all of our picks are still in stock, and we’ve updated the guide to make it easier to read. Korrena also noted that the bag’s informal retro-schoolbag looks would pass muster in casual San Francisco but might look out of place in a cocktail bar. We tested the beige color, but it’s available in a few darker hues that might blend into more situations. Dimensions: 17 by 10.5 by 4 inches Weight: 1.6 pounds Water-bottle holders: none Warranty: two years; 30 days to return Maximum laptop size: 13 inches Colors: black, light gray, lavender, mint green Who it’s for: This bag is a roomy choice if you have a large amount of stuff you need throughout the day but don’t want to be limited by internal dividers or organization. A laptop sleeve will protect your computer as you move from place to place without a bag—and we’ve found fantastic sleeves in a variety of styles. The zippered middle pocket is roomy enough for a change of clothes, shoes, and a toiletry kit, which means you don’t have to push those items out of the way to get to your laptop. The other organized pockets on the front of the bag allow you easy access to pens, business cards, adapters, and cables, which would otherwise roll around in the main compartment. If you want a fresh-looking backpack and don’t mind fussing to open and close the bag, the Everlane Modern Snap Backpack is a favorite among Wirecutter staff members. Its main pocket is large enough to accommodate everything you need for work, but its namesake snap closures can be difficult to use while you’re in motion. This bag is not as boxy as the Fjällräven Kånken , and it has much less obvious branding. You can get one in a businesslike black or a slightly more interesting navy blue, and the company offers nine other color choices to fit a multitude of personal tastes. If you’re considering comfort, the back and shoulders of the Urban Ex Rolltop are cushy and well padded, plus they have mesh and built-in slits for ventilation. The dual handles on the top and the side make the bag easy to grab and carry. The Arbor Classic gives you a ton of space but lacks interior organization. Its retro look is high on charm, if low on polish. Why it’s great: The Timbuk2 Authority Laptop Backpack Deluxe holds and organizes an impressive amount of gear without bulging or coming across as aggressively techy-looking. It has a tough polyester exterior that guards against bumps and bruises as you lug it to and from the office, and it’s backed by a lifetime warranty against defects. Even more important, it’s comfortable to sling over your shoulder. laptop backpack If you need to carry an entire office’s worth of gadgets in your bag but you want something that looks more understated and stylish than the Timbuk2 Authority Deluxe , we love the Aer Day Pack 2 . Despite having a ton of pockets and organization, the Day Pack 2 sports a minimalist exterior that makes it less techy looking. However, its high-sheen front panel is a polarizing style that not everyone loves. Dimensions: 19 by 13 by 9 inches Weight: 2.2 pounds Water-bottle holders: two Warranty: lifetime Maximum laptop size: 15 inches, with room Colors: dusk, storm, redwood, black, navy, dark olive, blue ridge, deep blue, dandelion, super grey, chestnut We knocked the Thule Paramount Backpack 24L off our list for its lack of waterproofing. Timbuk2 also sells the simpler Authority Laptop Backpack , which is a good, similarly sized bag but doesn’t offer the Deluxe version’s extra-comfortable padded straps and padded back panel. It’s also shorter and wider by around a half-inch. The Rains bag offers smart organization and a petite size, both important factors for a commute. It has a zippered section to securely hold your phone and transit pass, and its small, flat shape means it’s much less likely to knock into someone when you’re sprinting to catch a train. When that train is too crowded for backpacks, you can slide it off your back and hold it by its top handle. The Thule Vea Backpack 17L is a good daily gym and work bag, but if you’re planning on taking your bag on a trip, we recommend something bigger. The Thule EnRoute Backpack 18L almost made our list as a road-warrior rucksack runner-up thanks to its easy laptop access, its stretchy mesh bottle pocket, and its crush-resistant sunglasses/phone pocket. But its large branding and multiple reflectors made it seem better suited to being a bicyclists’ commute bag rather than one you might want to bring from the airport to a business meeting. If you’re a photographer and you want to grab your camera without taking off your backpack, the 20-liter Peak Design Everyday Backpack Zip has an unusual opening system that lets you access a camera while still wearing the bag. Though the feature is good for those who are constantly finagling with their camera equipment, it’s unnecessary for most people. When Korrena injured her arm, she found that using the drawstring and buckles was finicky—squeezing the buckle open hurt her arm, and she was never able to find a good way to negotiate the drawstring one-handed. If you have trouble using your hands or arms, whether because of an injury or limited mobility, a bag with a zipper will be more convenient. If you have a short, leisurely bike commute and you don’t need to carry a ton of gear, we love the Timbuk2 Custom Prospect Laptop Backpack . Our pack, customized with waterproof fabric, stood up well to the elements, felt comfortable, and offered good organization. It didn’t carry as much as the Chrome Urban Ex Rolltop , though, so this bag is a good choice if you’re a light packer. Our favorite laptop bags are more stylish than a messenger bag but also more refined and work-appropriate than a tote you might take to a grocery store. Wirecutter is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more The Lululemon City Adventurer Backpack 17L is too small for most commuters. The bag features a laptop pocket, a short main compartment with two zippered pouches, and a separate compartment for smaller shoes . But when it was full, we struggled to fit a laptop charger or a paperback into the bag. © 2021 Wirecutter, Inc., A New York Times Company We thought the Herschel Nova Backpack Mid-Volume was comfortable, and its canvas material felt more breathable than most. But its wide straps and extended front pocket also made it look more juvenile than other bags we considered. It would look great on a college campus but not so much on Wall Street. Many of the tech bags we tested cost upwards of $140, five times as much as the Matein Travel Laptop Backpack . And since it had 14,000 positive reviews on Amazon at the time of our research, we figured it was only fair to try this bag. Unfortunately, the fabric felt scratchy and cheap, the bag was ugly to look at, and we worried about its ability to withstand rough treatment. Who it’s for: This is a great bag that has a lot of space if you intend to carry around a ton of tech and your main concern is keeping it all organized and safe. Plus, its looks suit an office setting well. This striking bag’s pocket design allows you to separate your work essentials from the books and beverages you use during your commute. From laptop bags to headphones to chargers to dongles galore, here are the essential accessories to help you use your new laptop. Why it’s great: The Patagonia Arbor Classic Pack 25L offers next to no internal organization, so it can just as easily hold the ingredients for a dinner party or a weekend’s worth of clothes. And when you’re not lugging the kitchen sink around, the bag shrinks to a more manageable size. The Urban Ex Rolltop is widely available, relatively affordable, and covered by a limited lifetime warranty. But most important, it has adjustable buckles across the chest to keep the pack secure while you’re riding, as well as MOLLE loops on the outside to clip on a helmet, a U-lock, a light, or other biking accessories. Although it’s wise to attach extra reflectors and lights for riding at night, the reflective strips on the Urban Ex Rolltop are more substantial than those on some other bags we tested . Flaws but not dealbreakers: The pockets on the front of the Topo Rover Pack are a little small. Ideally, a backpack’s outside pocket should be large enough to accommodate a small book so that you don’t have to unbuckle, uncinch, and rummage through the interior just to access something to read during your commute. But if you use a Kindle or prefer zoning out to a podcast, that won’t be a problem. Who it’s for: This bag has enough space for an overnight business trip and enough organization that you can grab things quickly in a TSA line, plus a structure and style that will still look good when you show up at the office after taking the red-eye. The Bellroy Classic Backpack is comfortable and cute, and it has a three-year warranty. But it provides only one compartment and offers fewer pockets than our stylish picks do. Save Whether you’re traveling to work or school, using a backpack is the most comfortable way to carry your laptop, books, and anything else you need for the day. A backpack is more ergonomic than a messenger bag, holds more than a briefcase, and looks more stylish than a rolling bag. We’ve tested 53 backpacks on buses, trains, cars, bikes, and planes to find the best laptop backpacks for commuting. “In our tests we easily zipped a laptop in and out of the bag while in a TSA line, saving precious seconds and avoiding glares from fellow travelers,” Wirecutter senior staff writer Joel Santo Domingo wrote in a previous version of this guide. “The laptop compartment has a spacious open area and a second pocket for organizing documents, tucking in a binder, or holding a tablet for in-flight entertainment.” The Räven 28 is made of a durable poly-cotton blend, and it offers decent water resistance. If you need more protection, you can have the bag waxed like a storm coat. Even with all of that stuffed inside, the bag was comfortable and easy to lug around. Because of quarantine orders throughout 2020, I couldn’t travel far, but I did spend hours wearing the backpack while walking around my neighborhood to get a sense of how it distributed weight. Since this guide’s inception, we’ve tested more than 50 backpacks across a variety of types, including stylish packs and long-term travel bags plus those for organizing your tech, commuting, going to the gym, carrying lots of stuff, and biking. We had different requirements for each category, but across our testing, we sought bags that were comfortable, good-looking, durable, and able to hold a 13-inch laptop. We wanted to see if a 10-liter bag like the Osprey Arcane Small Day Pack could work as an underseat personal item. Although it easily swallowed our 13- and 14-inch test laptops, you’d have to choose between carrying work-related items or a change of clothes, not both. Also, its backpack straps bunched at our shoulders, and its looks made it too small and awkward to be a constant companion. The 7 laptop backpack Best Laptop Backpacks 2021 Reviews by Wirecutter
The 7 laptop backpack Best Laptop Backpacks 2021 Reviews by Wirecutter
With sleek lines and a flat-to-the-body shape, the Rains is tiny and stylish—but it’s suited to only the most minimalist of commuters, since its thin straps make it uncomfortable to wear with heavy loads. Mission Workshop’s The Sanction is made of a thick, rough material that makes it a bit uncomfortable to wear. Plus, it’s expensive, it holds only 20 liters, and it doesn’t offer much in the way of organization. We also eliminated Ortlieb’s Commuter Daypack City and Commuter Daypack Urban for having flimsy, thin fabric and fiddly closure hooks. by Tim Barribeau, Daniel Varghese, and Justin Krajeski Thanks to the bag’s robust padded straps and back panel, my walks were always pleasant. The pack’s fit was stable and comfortable thanks to a removable sternum strap that connected its two shoulder straps, as well as an air-mesh ventilated back panel that helped minimize back sweat. If you need something waterproof or prefer Aer’s aesthetic over that of other gym backpacks , we love the Aer Duffel Pack 2 and Aer Fit Pack 2 , though we admit that they’re aggressive in their minimalism. Aer backs up their looks with a tough waterproof exterior, tons of organizational features, and a lifetime warranty. The brawny Patagonia Black Hole Pack 25L had more interior pockets than the company’s Arbor Classic, as well as plenty of space, and its weather-resistant coating stood up to a midafternoon rainstorm in Cambodia. However, its brawniness was also its downfall as a commuter bag: Unlike with the Arbor Classic, with the Black Hole bag you can’t really reduce its bulky footprint, no matter what’s inside. The Hakuba comes with Lo & Sons’s one-year warranty , which covers product defects and damages. If your bag is beyond the yearlong warranty, though, Lo & Sons recommends reaching out to the company with the details. The eBags Pro Slim Laptop Backpack that we tested in spring 2020 is the remodeled version of a former pick. This design zips open on the top and one side, so the other side remains permanently shut, and its water-bottle pocket was not big enough for a decent-size bottle. Who it’s for: The stylish and slim Rains Backpack Mini is a good choice if all you need to pack is a small laptop, a juicy novel, and a light sweater. Dimensions: 24 by 16.5 by 7 inches Weight: 2.5 pounds Water-bottle holders: none Warranty: lifetime Maximum laptop size: 15-inch MacBook Pro Colors: black, khaki, red Dimensions: 20 by 12 by 9 inches Weight: 1.3 pounds Water-bottle holders: none Warranty: lifetime guarantee if you’re not satisfied with your item or it doesn’t perform to your satisfaction; wear-and-tear damage Maximum laptop size: 15 inches Colors: black, navy with brown trim, khaki with teal trim, gray with green trim, purple with teal trim, brown with khaki trim, teal with gray trim For two weeks, I carried a 13-inch MacBook Pro and its charger, an iPad , a planner , a notepad, a keyboard , a Nintendo Switch Lite , various cables, two power banks, a Skooba Design Cable Stable DLX full of other small appliances, my keys, and a travel mug inside the Timbuk2 Authority Deluxe. We had high expectations for the expensive Sandqvist Alva based on its online description and photos, but we ended up disappointed when we tested it in person. There’s no doubt it’s stylish, but the rough cotton canvas acted like a magnet for sweater fuzz, subway particulates, and the random detritus of city living. Its drawstring closure was a pain, too. If you commute with your laptop, a backpack is the most convenient and ergonomic way to carry your computer, cables, and everything else you need for the day. Unlike briefcases , messenger bags , or totes , backpacks spread the weight of your gear across both of your shoulders, which is more comfortable and better for your back over the course of a long day. The Fjällräven Räven 28 looks like a minimal backpack, but it has the organization you need while you’re running to catch your next flight out of town. The Moshi Hexa Backpack had good security features, such as a hidden RFID-blocking document pocket and a lockable front compartment. However, its main compartment was more of a giant maw than an easily organized space, and its longish Velcro tie-down strap just got in the way in the TSA line. We narrowed our contenders by considering factors such as look, size, warranty, availability, and price. Our testers then evaluated the bags for comfort, ease of access, and design by commuting via public transit networks in New York City and San Francisco, biking through Central Park, hazarding TSA check-in lines, and traveling on the streets of Cambodia. We then brought in the few finalist bags from these tests for group evaluation to get a broader base of feedback on their style and how they fit on more people. Although the AmazonBasics Sport Laptop Backpack is affordable and has a handy shoe storage pocket, it lacks the capacity of most other gym laptop backpacks we tested. Save up for the larger Lo & Sons Hakuba instead.
Why it’s great: The Chrome Urban Ex Rolltop 28L Backpack is fully waterproof, has a rugged exterior, and fits 28 liters’ worth of gear. “The bag is big enough to carry everything a bike commuter needs but not so large that it’s unmanageable,” said Wirecutter staff writer and tester Sarah Witman. Its roll-top closure allows you to easily expand the main compartment when you need to cram in lots of gear or shrink it for lighter loads. It also offers two internal pockets: a padded laptop sleeve that’s big enough for a 15-inch MacBook Pro, and another with slots for a phone and a couple of pens, plus a key ring. There’s also a watertight zip-up pocket on the top. On top of the bag, you’ll find two zippered pockets for incidentals such as your wallet, keys, lip balm, and headphones. It has two side pockets that can unzip to expand large enough to hold a 32-ounce water bottle. The Hakuba can also attach to most suitcase handles via the sleeve on its back. Timbuk2’s Division Laptop Backpack has many fans at Wirecutter because it’s a compact bag with a surprising amount of structure and organizational options. But because its internal pockets sit on the front flap, the bag is a hassle to open and close when it’s full. We wanted to test the Ares Backpack , laptop stand walmart