A backpack is an essential item for many of us, so it’s not a decision to be taken lightly.
With so many options out there, one way to narrow it down is by what you’ll want to carry in it. And if that includes a laptop, only some bags will fit the bill. Ideally, you’ll need one that can comfortably fit your laptop and still have space for other items.
The good news is that many laptops are thin and light, so you shouldn’t have to worry about it weighing you down. But you’ll still want a relatively light backpack which keeps your device secure and protected from damage.
As such, each option this list has a dedicated spot for holding a laptop. They’re also all relatively discreet, as you certainly don’t want to advertise the fact that you’re carrying around an expensive computer.
Each backpack in this list has been tested and recommended by us, so you can be sure you’re getting a great product. Whether design, comfort or pure protection is most important to you, there’s a laptop bag to suit you. For everyone, we’ve included the maximum size of laptop it’ll take, plus the overall capacity in litres (L).
Need a laptop to put in your new bag? Take a look at the best laptops to buy as well as the best budget laptops.
Best laptop backpacks 2023
WaterField Essential Laptop Backpack – Best laptop backpack
Fleece-lined laptop pocket
Laptop size: up to 16in
The ‘Essential’ laptop bag from WaterField is, well, focussed on the essentials – but it really nails them.
The aesthetic is simple, but sleek, with a choice of colorful accents below the black body. Built from water-resistant nylon, with waterproof seals around the zips, this is sturdy enough to survive the elements, with a structured body that holds its shape even when the bag is empty.
Outer pockets on each side will hold water bottles or small umbrellas, and there are zipped compartments on both the inside and outside for keeping track of your loose bits and pieces.
The single padded and fleece-lined laptop pouch is big enough for 14in and even some 16in devices, with a simple velcro strap to hold things in place.
There’s also a well-made messenger bag version if you prefer a shoulder bag. This round up is mainly for two-strap backpacks, but the quality of the Waterfield Essential messenger is so good we also wanted to give it a shout out. Its simplicity is its secret – a slender bag with surprising capacity that fits up to 14in laptops along with books, chargers, water bottle and more.
It has clever magnetic snap-shut buckles that slide open and a clever orange lining—instead of black—that helps you easier quickly glance and see what’s inside.
Stubble & Co The Backpack – Stylish & high quality
Laptop size: up to 16in
We’ve no doubt that Stubble & Co is making some of the most stylish and well-made bags around. And we’ve included two here because they’re both so nice.
First up is ‘The Backpack‘, which isn’t an overly complicated rucksack with more pockets than you can remember. Instead, it’s simple and effective with just a pocket on the front and a small one inside. You also get two side pockets for items such as a water bottle and umbrella.
This updated model has a 21L main compartment and you can fit up to a 16in laptop in the protected section at the back. Furthermore, the material is now water-resistant premium Tekwax canvas (also found on the new The Weekender – a holdall with a laptop compartment). If you need a fully waterproof bag then look to The Roll Top.
Not only does The Backpack look great—available in All Black and Pirate colors—the craftsmanship is exceptional. The magnets on the lid have been replaced with a more secure G clip.
The Commuter (pictured on the left, $155/£125) is available in two colors and is also made from British Millerain premium Tekwax canvas. It’s a more traditional shape with comparable 20L capacity along with more sections–namely a dedicated laptop compartment with its own zip–and pockets if that’s more the kind of thing you need.
Timbuk2 custom classic messenger bag
Good custom options
Left-handed carry option
Floppy unless full
Uncomfortable when very heavy
Laptop size: up to 17in (Large size)
Capacity: 9L (XS), 14L (S), 21 (M), or 28 (L)
Timbuk2 is a well-established San Francisco bag brand originally designed for bike messengers to carry stuff in. That’s where the term ‘messenger bag’ comes from in the first place.
OK, OK, so this isn’t technically a backpack. But it’s good enough to make our list of the best laptop bags because of how customisable it is at purchase, and how versatile it is in day to day use. You can opt for the regular classic messenger bag in an array of colors at prices from $99/£117 for the medium size we recommend (it comes in several), but you might want to check out the company’s custom classic messenger purchasing option instead—also available at Amazon U.S. and U.K.
The custom model is only on the US site, so if you live in another country you might have to pay import tax. But that aside, it costs from $124 for the smallest size and gives you tons of options to build your bag. Importantly, it lets you pick if you are a left-handed wearer of a messenger bag so would want to wear it over your right shoulder. Regular Timbuk2 messengers are for right-handed left shoulder carry only as the straps are not reversible.
You can also choose to add different color panels, rain resistant or other materials rather than the normal Cordura fabric, and internal divider, or at additional cost inner water bottle pockets and a padded laptop sleeve. We tested a bag with all the trimmings and think you should get the internal dividers because without them even the medium size is a very large bucket of a bag. If you don’t fill it then it can be quite floppy and saggy – it’s more comfortable when bulked out.
It’s a shame that it is a little uncomfortable if you’re lugging around very heavy loads (an optional shoulder pad straps helps to an extent) but if you can find the right amount of gear to carry, this is a very nice looking and well-made bag with clever design choices like an easy-wipe internal lining in case of spillages and a great quick release strap to quickly tighten or loosen the fit.
Aer City Pack – Superb build quality
Suspended laptop pocket
Laptop size: up to 16in
One of the very best laptop backpacks is the City Pack made by San Francisco company Aer. The bag is well-designed and of excellent quality with top materials, zippers, and compartments.
The outer material is a very hardy 1680D Cordura ballistic nylon complete with YKK zipper and Duraflex plastic on the tag pulls that makes for a premium feeling product. Importantly, the padded laptop pocket (up to 16in) is suspended so your laptop won’t hit the ground when you put the bag down. The straps are also very comfortable for all-day wear.
There are tons of storage pockets to organise your stuff in the front compartment, as well as two outside pockets, one of which has a soft lining for your phone or glasses. With a tiny pocket inside the bag to slot an AirTag, this is a modern backpack with superb attention to design detail.
The one downside is the bag only has a 14L capacity despite being relatively large and boxy. That’s because the main compartment has good length and width but not much depth at only 5in (12.5cm). It means you must stack items such as coats, shoes, lunch box or headphones on top of each other, tower style, and you run out of room surprisingly quickly.
Otherwise this is a stellar choice.
Chrome Industries Urban Ex 2.0 Rolltop – Best laptop backpack for rain
No external pockets or bottle holder
Laptop size: up to 15in
Capacity: 20L or 30L
If you cycle and need to carry your laptop then look no further than this awesome lightweight, fully waterproof rolltop backpack from Chrome Industries.
The knurled welded material means this feels like a dry bag, and it pretty much is one – but it’s got more shape and organisation. A padded laptop sleeve on the inside fits up to 15in computers, and two other pockets let you slip a book, phone and pens into place so they don’t clang around the main part of the bag with your larger items.
As this is a rolltop with clip-down closure there are no outside zippers (no zips at all in fact) and no water bottle pockets. This is worth bearing in mind if you are one to be taking things in and out of your bag a lot, but remember you are gaining full waterproofing by making that sacrifice – giving great peace of mind when lugging your laptop through the rain.
The U-loops on the back for a U-lock are cleverly reflective, and the straps with a chest strap are very comfortable. For a sleek minimalist look with enough laptop and weather protection not to worry, this is a great choice. You can even put larger, taller items in the bag when unrolled as the material stays upright and stiff, and there are carry handles for when you do.
We tested the 20L version but there’s a larger 30L one if you carry around a lot of gear.
Stubble & Co The Adventure Bag – Best laptop backpack for travel
Huge 42L capacity
Fits (most) airline cabin limits
Clam shell flat opening
Plenty of pockets
Check your airline limits
Laptop size: up to 16in
Sneaking as large a carry-on bag as possible when taking a flight is now standard practice for most of us. It saves a lot of money on putting another bag in the hold and can get you out of the airport much faster—leaving those sad baggage carousel waiters in the dust. And there’s much less chance of the airline losing your gear.
The lightweight (1.7kg; 3.7lb) and comfortable Adventure Bag from premium luggage maker Stubble & Co (see above) has been praised in many places as the ultimate flight carry-on luggage as it has a massive 42L capacity but still fits within most airlines’ carry-on baggage size limits.
It features a large and easily accessible side-opening, padded laptop compartment that will easily fit a 16-inch laptop, although maybe not if it’s in its own protective case. Other laptops should be fine, and well protected inside.
Its Height/Width/Depth dimensions are 55 x 38 x 24cm (22 x 15 x 9 inches). That is pretty much bang on or fractionally over the limit, which is widely regarded as 55.9 x 35.6 x 22.9cm (22 x 14 x 9 inches) for domestic flights. As it’s a backpack, you don’t have to factor a handle or wheels into that limit. It is within BA’s 55 x 40 x 23cm limit but over United’s 56 x 35 x 22cm. Looking at the most popular airlines, we think the Adventure Bag should just fit if you don’t overfill it—put that coat on when checking in or going through the gate. The bag’s soft sides and side compression straps also allow a bit of squidging if you are made to load the bag into one of the dreaded Departures size cages.
If travelling by train or coach, you have fewer size-limit fears, and the 42L capacity should be enough for a short break without requiring a suitcase.
Like all the best bags, the Adventure Bag opens out flat in a ‘clamshell’ format, making access to even deep items much easier than with a more closed design.
There are ten durable pockets—four external for accessibility. Generous interior pockets are meshed so you can quickly see where all your items are stored. An elasticated water-bottle pocket fits a decent sized flask and a standard plastic bottle. And there’s a hidden pocket at the back for your valuables.
Some airlines charge over $100 per flight for a bag in the hold, so while The Adventure Bag is expensive it could save a frequent flyer that purchase price several times over.
Troubadour Apex 3.0 Backpack – Best-looking laptop backpack
Fits up to a 17in laptop
Laptop size: up to 17in
This backpack is a little on the pricey side, but we included it here thanks to the sheer quality of materials and the fact it’s one of the few backpacks out there we think genuinely looks good with a suit, if you need to dress up your laptop-carrying look.
The Apex’s 25L capacity is well-spaced out enough to fit in a 17in laptop as well as lunch and gym gear (trust us we’ve done it although it feels wrong to stuff your sweaty shirt into), which is protected from the elements with waterproof outer fabric, lining and zippers.
A very comfortable back panel holds the pack slightly off your back to make it more breathable, while the leather accents on the black, green or blue (navy or air-force blue) colorways help to add class to the bag.
For travelling there’s a trolley sleeve on the back to attach to a wheelie bag’s handle, and there are tons of internal and external pockets to please even the fussiest of organisers, including a smart phone pocket in one of the straps that you can unload without removing the bag, and a pocket for an Apple AirTag or other bluetooth tracker.
Both side water-bottle pockets are roomy enough for a 1-liter container.
Read our full
Troubadour Apex 3.0 Backpack review
Stubble & Co The Tote Bag – Best backpack for everyday use
Can be tote or messenger bag
Laptop size: up to 16in
You might think of tote bags as something used for shopping or everyday supplies. But have you ever thought about using one to carry your laptop? Most bags aren’t suitable, but Stubble & Co’s tote bag is designed for it.
A dedicated compartment within the 43 x 33 x 13.5cm bag helps keep laptops up to 16-inches secure, while adding just 0.76kg to the total weight. The eye-catching orange interior isn’t particularly subtle, but makes it easy to find everything.
And with a capacity of 21L, it’s surprisingly spacious. Most people will be able to comfortably fit a laptop, accessories and all your other daily supplies in the zipped main compartment, which also includes a water bottle holder.
A separate zip on the front enables easy access to some items, while a sleeve on the back lets you easily attach it to a suitcase. You can also attach the included shoulder strap and turn it into a hands-free bag, making it impressively versatile.
The Tote Bag feels very premium, yet is partly made from recycled materials. That includes PET plastic for the main body, top and lining which feels like leather. The exterior is also waterproof, and can easily be cleaned.
Overall, Stubble & Co is an excellent bag for carrying your laptop and plenty more besides.
Troubadour Orbis Duffle – Best eco-friendly laptop duffle bag
Fits up to a 16in laptop
Laptop size: up to 16in
Duffel or duffle? Apparently you can spell the name either way. Just note that a duffle/duffel bag is a great alternative to a backpack. Although we’ve reviewed several very smart laptop backpacks here, we have to admit that sometimes they can look a bit casual, and a good-looking duffle bag can appear more chic when turning up at a swanky hotel, airport lounge or the gym.
From the same luxury brand as the Apex laptop backpack reviewed above, we rate the Troubadour Orbis Duffle not only for its stylish good looks and, of course, its padded laptop compartment, but its eco credentials. Not only is it made from 100% recycled materials, but it is also 100% recyclable at the end of its lifespan; the same is true of the whole Orbis range that includes backpacks and a tote. It achieves this circular recyclability by being constructed with just one material, even the bag’s linings, reinforcement and zippers: durable recycled PET/polyester, the same as a plastic bottle.
The Orbis Duffle is also a great laptop bag, with multiple pockets, including an interior bottle holder, and three zipped pockets on the exterior—one hidden at the side, perfect for keeping your keys and valuables, and one that can unzip into a trolley sleeve.
Two concealed zips underneath let you expand the capacity. It comes with a detachable padded shoulder strap if you want to cling it over your shoulder instead of using the handles.
Super smart and good for the planet, you’ll not only look great but feel good at the same time.
Bellroy Tokyo Totepack – Tote and backpack in one
Nice internal pockets
Not completely waterproof
Laptop size: up to 15in
Capacity: 14L or 20L
This backpack has large tote handles on the top so it can be carried as a tote if you want to, and the back straps fold neatly away.
But this bag is still best when used as a backpack and is pleasingly protective and comfortable despite the slightly unusual design. We tested the larger 20L version (there’s a smaller 14L too) and managed to fit in far more than expected with a 15in laptop, books, headphones, keys, lunch, and spare shoes all fitting in there with room to spare. It’s a bit of a Mary Poppins bag.
There are clever touches like the two internal pockets for water bottle, umbrella, or shoes as well as two outside zip pockets for easy access to smaller items. The top zipper has a weather flap underneath to make up for the fact the zippers and materials used here aren’t waterproof. But this is an excellent and excellently well-made laptop backpack from Bellroy that manages to be lightweight but sturdy.
STM Banks – Lots of space
Special laptop protection features
Laptop size: up to 15in
STM Banks is the latest laptop bag from Australia-based STM, offering a accepatible 18L capacity without compromising the slimline design. There’s also breathable mesh fabric on the back, helping to avoid the awkward back sweat when carrying a rucksack.
It’s designed to be an everyday bag as well as a laptop bag, with plenty of space for your laptop (up to 15in), charger, phone, lunch and even a jacket – believe me, I’ve tried. There are plenty of pockets of all shapes and sizes that’ll hold everything from sunglasses to phones to battery packs and more.
That’s not to say that it doesn’t have some impressive laptop-specific features including the company’s own Slingtech protection that suspends the laptop sleeve from the ground to protect it from drops, while also providing extra cushioning at the corners.
It also features the all-new CableReady routing system that allows you to store run cables through different sections of the bag, perfect for keeping your smartphone or laptop topped up while on the go.
Our only criticism? While there is plenty of storage, we found that the openings were a little tight for our liking, making peering into the contents of the bag a slightly awkward process. It’s a similar story with the front pockets, meaning you’ll be relying more on your sense of touch than sight when fishing for your iPhone cable or headphones.
Moshi Muto – Compact, secure & stylish
Limited UK availability
Laptop size: up to 13in
The Moshi Muto is a wonderfully stylish and functional bag for 11in to 13in laptops. As a three-way convertible bag, you can use it as a backpack, a crossbody sling, or briefcase.
It’s well made and designed with both anti-theft and RFID protection. It’s also comfortable to wear with padded straps.
Clipping in the staps to use the Muto as a backpack was pretty obvious, slightly less obvious was understanding how to re-orienting the straps to use the bag as a sling. Hint: you’ll need to connect one of the straps diagonally and tuck the other one away under the flap on the back.
If you’re using the bag as a briefcase, you’ll need to tuck both straps away under the back flap. A brief instruction note would have been useful — but that’s about the only criticism I have towards the Muto.
I really liked the clean minimalist design. It’s a great choice for the office or a wander around the city. You can keep all your essentials in one place with peace of mind. There’s also a pocket for your water bottle.
Mous Extreme Commuter Backpack
Large main compartment
Lots of pockets
A faff to open
Laptop size: up to 16in
Phone case and accessory company Mous has moved into the bag game with the Extreme Commuter Backpack, a laptop bag that has the style and resilience its products are known for. It’s very protective and is designed to carry all your day and tech gear with you no matter the weather thanks to YKK AquaGuard zippers and a water resistant coating.
At 25L this is a relatively large backpack that’s also quite heavy even when there’s not much in it, let alone your laptop (up to 16in). That’s down to it being a structured bag with a large main compartment for storing all your tech gear like mouse, cables, and chargers in the stretchy mesh and zip pockets, but also room for things like a raincoat, umbrella, or even gym shoes.
Despite the utilitarian look, it’s adjustable to fit people from 4ft 10in up to 6ft 6in, and it has enough padding that Mous is confident your laptop will be alright even if you drop the bag onto a hard surface. The FidLock buckle is hard for thieves to opportunistically undo, plus the main compartment is completely zippered underneath the main flap – great for security, but it does mean this is not the best bag if you want to be quickly grabbing things from it during the day.
You can have any color as long as it’s black, but we quite like the look, which will fit in any casual or corporate situation. Overall this is a thoughtful – if expensive – backpack with secret compartments and enough protection for your laptop and daily tech carry.
Osprey Talon Earth 22
Great for biking or walking
Not many internal pockets
If you want a backpack you can carry your laptop to work during the week but also want to use the same backpack at the weekend to hit the trails, this is the one to go for. In fact, it’s a great unisex commuter bag either way thanks to a lightweight but supportive 1.1kg design with an adjustable back depending on your height. It also fits a water reservoir for drinking on the go.
The design is quite bold whether you go for the blue, brown, or green, and definitely screams ‘outdoors’, but if this doesn’t bother you then there’s a zipped, padded laptop sleeve that will comfortably fit a 15in device. There’s also a small top-load pocket and a large 22L main compartment, though this only has one small net pocket inside. That’s all the pockets you get, so this isn’t top choice if you like to stow gadgets and cables in little compartments, but there are two hip belt pockets and two stretchy ones on the sides.
It’s best if you lug lunch, a rain jacket, water bottle, or gym clothes to work, as that main compartment has a bit of a Mary Poppins vibe where you can stuff far more in there than you think. There’s also Osprey’s clever LidLock clip on the outside for securing a bike helmet to, as well as a clip for a blinking light. There’s even an ice axe attachment that you’ll (probably) never use.
But with a supportive belt and chest clip (with whistle) this is an excellent pack that you can wear to the office or on the hill, and saves you having to buy two bags. A limited edition, it’s also Bluesign approved so it is made with recycled and sustainable materials.
Harber Commuter Backpack – Fashion-focussed
Special tablet section
Laptop size: up to 16in
Harber’s Commuter is a backpack for the style over substance crowd. Handmade in Spain from a combination of recycled fabric and full grain leather, this is undoubtedly a looker, and oozes quality from top to bottom.
Built for laptops from 13in up to 16in, you get a padded compartment for your PC – with a false bottom so that it won’t thud into the floor when you drop your bag down. An additional tablet section is ideal for those of us wielding dual devices, but be warned: that’s all you get.
There aren’t any other pouches or pockets, inside or out, which means this only suits minimalist tastes – if you tend to carry a load round with you, it’ll all have to go loose into the main compartment.
Laptop bag buying advice
Every laptop bag has a dedicated compartment for your computer, and bags usually advertise the biggest laptop you can carry by giving a screen size in inches. You might find that a laptop with a 16in screen will fit due to its dimensions, even if the bag says ‘up to 15in’ – although it may be a tight fit.
if you want a bag just for your laptop and tech accessories, check out our roundup of the best tech organizer bags. You migth even decide to kep it with you in one the backpacks reviewed here.
Pockets and flaps for easy access
Frequent travellers should look for a bag with an easy-access laptop pocket, so you can quickly whip out your device at airport security. A luggage pass-through flap will also help you attach the bag to your suitcase’s telescopic drag handle.
The amount of protection varies from bag to bag, with some manufacturers providing all-around padding (with double at the bottom) and others just an internal pouch with no top cover. Read our reviews to find out what level of protection each bag offers.
As well as your laptop, you’ll need room for the power supply, other accessories and your own gear, whether that’s a gym kit, water bottle, documents, keys, phone and other gadgets. Most bags have a nominal capacity, but this is usually the total volume, rather than a single space for stuff besides a laptop.
Multiple pockets are useful as they help keep everything separate and organise, while a bag with a large extra compartment is good for bulky items such as shoes. Look for a capacity in litres, but bear in mind that the larger the capacity, the bigger (and usually heavier) the bag you’ll have to carry everywhere.
Some bags have a dedicated pocket for tablets and another for smartphones or media players. The latter sometimes have a hole through which you can route your headphones.
It’s useful to have several zipped pockets which can be accessed independently, rather than having to open the main zip to get at internal pockets. That gives would-be thieves a view of what you’re carrying and isn’t nearly as convenient.
Strap quality: comfort, comfort, comfort!
If you’re wearing your backpack for several hours at a time, you’ll want to stay comfortable. Look for one with well-padded straps and – if you’ll be walking long distances – a chest strap to help stabilise the load. Some bags even have a hiking-style waist strap, but that’s overkill on a laptop carrier.
Many will also be designed to help with airflow so you’re not a sweaty mess after a little exertion.
Protection: Water, RFID and antibacterial
Many laptop bags use water-resistant material either on the outside or in the lining. If this is a priority, bear in mind that only bags marked as waterproof will ensure your kit stays dry. Some bags come with a separate rain cover which you can pop over the rucksack in a downpour to keep your kit bone dry.
Water resistance doesn’t mean the same thing as waterproof. If you’re cycling in the rain, it’s wise to use additional protection such as a proper rain cover or keep some large freezer bags to seal in your gadgets.
Now that lockdowns are beginning to ease, you may also want to think about added antibacterial protection – especially if you’re one to keep your backpack on dirty tube floors or on the ground. Some brands like The Pure Bag even use silver-ion fabrics that prevent bacteria growth. Though an easier solution may be to opt for a backpack made with easy-to-wipe fabrics or plastics.
Additionally, if you keep your wallet, credit cards, or even Oyster card in your backpack, you might also want to consider a bag with RFID protection to keep the baddies from getting their hands in your funds. Or get yourself a smart wallet.
Prices vary widely, and you don’t always get what you pay for. Buying a laptop bag from a fashion brand, for example, might be more costly, but doesn’t guarantee better quality zips or fasteners than a cheaper bag. That’s where our reviews come in, of course.
Computer Accessories, Laptops