11 Best Laptop Backpacks: Your Buyer’s Guide (2018)

best laptop backpack

Nine out of ten times, I just use my backpack as a glorified laptop case. Whether you use your bag for travel, commuting, or school, there’s a chance you share the same experience.

That’s why one of the most important factors for a backpack has to be a well-padded laptop compartment. So how do you pick the best laptop backpack?

It all comes down to the size of your laptop as well as what kind of items you carry on a regular basis. PC protection is arguably as important as a durable build and high storage capacity, but you’ll want a bag with all three.

With these criteria in mind, we’ve selected a list of ten of the best laptop backpacks across all different shapes and sizes.

So whether you need a fully loaded travel pack or a day to day bag, read on below to check out our picks for the best laptop backpack options.

What Are the Best Laptop Backpacks in 2018?

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  • Comfy straps
  • Lifetime warranty
  • High storage
Price: $63.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
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  • Easy to load
  • Durable
  • Quick-access daisy chain
Price: No price available Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
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  • Turtle shell design
  • Comfy straps
  • Lots of pockets
Price: $121.86 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
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  • Lots of color varieties
  • Durable
  • Compact
Price: $109.95 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
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  • Lots of pockets
  • 32L storage
  • Shove-it pocket
Price: $100.20 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
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  • Spacious main pocket
  • Comfy straps
  • Accessible laptop sleeve
Price: $58.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
lifeproof squamish xl backpack
  • 32L storage
  • Comfy back panel
  • Lots of pockets
Price: $179.00 Shop at lifeproof.com Shop now Read our review
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  • Compact
  • Hardshell document pocket
  • Padded laptop and tablet sleeves
Price: $99.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
citylite pro premium laptop backpack
  • USB charge port
  • Rigid convertible form
  • Lots of pockets
Price: $109.00 Shop at us.targus.com Shop now Read our review
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  • Spacious main pocket
  • Padded laptop sleeve
  • Rigid design
Price: $199.95 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
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  • Cheap
  • Lots of pockets
  • High storage
Price: $29.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Our Unbiased Reviews
  1. Targus Drifter II Backpack

    Pros:
    • Shock-absorbing straps and back padding provide maximum comfort
    • Limited Lifetime Warranty
    • High storage volume
    Cons:
    • Backpack depth not adjustable
    • Shoulder straps are bulky
    • Zippers can be finicky

    The Drifter II Backpack is a versatile bag that offers an impressive 30L volume across two main compartments and several zippered side compartments.

    The largest compartment features a well-padded laptop sleeve that can hold a laptop up to 17 inches in size.

    The other portions of the bag are equally sturdy, right down to the two side water bottle pockets.

    The Drifter II has exterior dimensions of 14.6 x 20.1 x 7.9 inches, which does make it a little on the bulkier side.

    The bag’s shock-absorbing shoulder straps and thick padding on the back help ease the burden of a full bag load. Their wide and simple design gives the bag a spartan look.

    Even if it isn’t the best looking or most compact bag around, but it offers utility no matter how you use it, and plenty of storage for the price.

  2. Timbuk2 Rogue Laptop Backpack

    Pros:
    • Large opening makes it easy to pack and unpack
    • Durable water-resistant exterior
    • Daisy chain webbing to attach quick-access items
    Cons:
    • Minimal compartmentalization
    • Shoulder straps aren’t well padded
    • Cosmetic top straps get in the way of zipper pocket

    The Rogue Laptop Backpack from Timbuk2 is an elegant one compartment bag that acts a reprieve from overly complicated routines, especially for those who live or commute in the city.

    The Rogue bag keeps all of your necessities in one 25L water-resistant compartment, accessible by a top flap that makes it easier to load your pack in a rush.

    Your laptop is kept separate from the rest of your stuff in a raised and padded stretch pocket, which can fit a 15-inch laptop or smaller.

    A small exterior zip pocket, a water bottle pocket, and several rows of daisy chain webbing help you keep other key items separated.

    The back panel is well ventilated, though its shoulder straps aren’t particularly well-padded.

    Still, a removable sternum strap can help offset some of the load. Plus, with a backpack of this size, you shouldn’t be carrying around burdensome loads anyway.

  3. Booq Boa Squeeze

    Pros:
    • Unique turtle shell design evenly distributes weight
    • Ergonomically contoured shoulder straps
    • Ample compartmentalization with soft herringbone material
    Cons:
    • Backpack does not stand easily on its own
    • Zippers are stiff until worn in
    • 20L volume could be larger

    The Boa Squeeze’s unique turtle shell design might be off-putting at first.

    But this bag is thoughtfully designed by manufacturer Booq to help distribute the weight of your bag load better than your average backpack.

    Its main compartment has a tiered internal organizer that helps your store more stuff without needing more room. The total volume of the Boa Squeeze is pretty modest, but it works fine as a daypack.

    One such organizational element is a laptop pocket, which is padded with soft herringbone lining. It is sized for laptops up to 15 inches.

    Items that don’t have a perfect place in the main compartment can fit into one of this bag’s two side pockets, which sit where a water bottle pocket would usually go.

    The one downside of this design is that the snakelike Boa Squeeze won’t stand up on its own, instead rolling onto its face most of the time.

    And while we’re nitpicking, the zippers are somewhat stiff until you wear them in.

    But the Boa Squeeze has enough strong points to ignore these gripes. One of the bag’s nicest features are its ergonomic shoulder straps, which contour to your torso for a tight fit.

    They are amply padded and don’t cut into your neck even if you have wide shoulders.

    Combine this with the fact that all of your heaviest stuff is no longer sitting at the bottom of your bag, and you’ll be able to comfortably wear this bag all day long.

    Buy the Booq Boa Squeeze here.

  4. Fjällräven Kånken Laptop Backpack

    Pros:
    • Comes in a variety of different colors and sizes
    • Durable material cleans easily
    • Stores a lot without being bulky
    Cons:
    • Not all packs have reflective strips
    • Material feels overly stiff before it is washed
    • 20L volume could be larger

    The Fjällräven Kånken Laptop Backpack still has the same functional Swedish design as when it was first introduced in 1978.

    This timeless pack has been modernized with a padded laptop sleeve, and it comes in three different sizes for the perfect fit.

    The pack has a version for 13-inch (13L), 15-inch (15L), and 17-inch (20L) laptops, though there is certainly nothing wrong with going up a size for more storage space.

    The backpack’s Vinylon F material comes in a variety of different colors, some of which have reflective strips for added visibility when commuting.

    The material resists water and abrasion. It actually gets both tougher and softer once it is washed.

    Even if you don’t soften it up in the wash, the pack still has naturally soft padding on the back and shoulder straps.

    The Kånken is designed to sit high up on your back, but it is lacking a hip belt or sternum strap for support.

    The pack has a basic three pocket configuration, and its boxy shape helps you really load the main pocket full.

    The other pockets aren’t nearly as big as the spacious main one, but they do help organize your smaller items without over-compartmentalizing.

    All in all, there are better packs out there for those who need a large storage space, but the Kånken Laptop Backpack is a stylish and durable mid-size option for someone who wants a long-lasting investment.

  5. Thule Crossover Backpack

    Pros:
    • Unique compartments for any need
    • Massive 32L storage volume
    • Shove-it pocket with compression straps
    Cons:
    • Shoulder straps are overly stiff
    • Shove-it pocket impacts rigidity of bag
    • So-so zippers

    The Crossover Backpack from Thule is a sturdy pack with a massive storage capacity that bridges the gap between a commuter pack and a camping bag. It offers loads of versatility, with a pocket for anything you might need to store.

    The main compartment makes up most of the bag’s carrying capacity and handles bulky items with ease.

    The Crossover has a crush-proof compartment for sunglasses and other delicate items. It has deep water bottle pockets on both sides.

    A separate front pouch is connected via compression straps, creating not only a place to hold small trinkets but also a shove-it pocket which you can use to tuck away items for quick access.

    One downside of this is that this pocket will sag when packed, even if you compress the bag all the way.

    A dedicated laptop compartment sits nearest to the Crossover’s ventilated back plate. It elevates and stores laptops up to 17 inches in size.

    It also has a tablet sleeve and access to a bottom pocket to store accessories.

    This pack has decently padded shoulder straps (plus an optional sternum strap), but they are overly stiff at first, and simply don’t match the quality of the rest of the bag.

    That said, the Thule Crossover is one of the best bags out there, especially for organization addicts who need a pocket for everything.

  6. SwissGear ScanSmart 1900

    Pros:
    • Large pockets with plenty of subcompartments
    • Well-padded shoulder straps
    • Laptop sleeve with full-body zippers
    Cons:
    • Needs more smaller pockets on the outside
    • Lacking sternum strap or other added support
    • So-so zippers

    SwissGear backpacks like the highly rated Travel Gear ScanSmart Backpack warrant a comparison to the renown Swiss Army knife. They fit an unreal amount of utility into a sleek, sizable package.

    This TSA-friendly pack is designed with convenience and security in mind. It is likely the best laptop backpack for travel.

    It has a special compartment for your laptop which unzips flat and allows you to keep your laptop in the sleeve as you send it through an airport luggage scanner.

    It also has a padded strap to accommodate laptops up to 17 inches in size, basically anything but monster gaming laptops. Its dimensions are 18 x 13 x 9 inches, but it flattens out decently when lightly packed.

    Across its three other compartments, the pack also has a mobile phone pocket, sunglasses holder, side water bottle pocket, organizer pocket, and an accessory pocket.

    Its back offers plenty of airflows, and its padded straps are nice, minus the lack of waist or sternum strap.

    The glasses holder on the strap is a nice touch, as is the headphone hole and media pouch for storing a phone or mp3 player.

  7. Lifeproof Squamish XL Backpack

    Price: $179.00
    Pros:
    • Massive 32L storage volume
    • Comfortable molded back panel
    • Unique compartments for any need
    Cons:
    • Bag depth not adjustable
    • Main compartment doesn’t open wide enough
    • Backpack does not stand easily on its own

    You may know Lifeproof from their, well, practically everything-proof phone cases.

    They have now ventured into manufacturing protective travel bags, including their Squamish line of backpacks. The Squamish XL is their largest addition to the line, sporting a considerable 32L storage volume.

    But as you should know by now, the layout of a pack is almost more important than its volume. Looking at the compartments, this bag splits most of its carrying capacity between a large main compartment and a smaller subcompartment.

    The main compartment houses a fleece-lined laptop sleeve that will fit most 15 inch laptops. The smaller compartment has an organizer section for smaller items and a fleece-lined pocket for a smartphone.

    There are a number of other smaller storage spaces on this pack, the coolest of which is a thin side zip pocket with a second padded sleeve to house a tablet.

    You also have two side zip pockets for small items, two huge mesh water bottle pockets, and an expandable front cinch pocket that’s big enough to hold a bike helmet.

    The bottom zip pocket is one last space that serves two purposes. One, it makes items that would sit at the bottom of your backpack accessible. Two, it allows you to place your more padded items like a jacket at the bottom, providing further protection for you.

    Add a set of skateboard straps on the back, and you the last thing you will need out of this backpack is more storage. The only downside to the way these pockets are laid out is that the main pack opens up so close to the front of the pack that it can be hard to dig things out from the bottom.

    Also, because the bottom compartment lacks rigidity, the bag will not stand up on its own unless you keep a puffy jacket in there at all times.

    These gripes aside, the bag is pretty much perfect. The laptop and tablet sleeves are all raised from the bottom of the bag, so there is no chance they’ll absorb any shock when you toss it around.

    The bag has comfortable padded shoulder straps with a rigid backplate that provides extra airflow when you’re on the go. It has a detachable sternum strap for when you need to carry a particularly heavy load.

    The rest of the pack is made from durable and water-repellent 305D Cordura material. Cordura is lighter than ballistic nylon, which helps reduce the load your shoulders are left to bare.

    All in all, this bag has an enormous selection of useful pockets and ergonomic features, making it a great pick for college or travel.

  8. eBags Professional Slim Laptop Backpack

    Pros:
    • Slim, professional design
    • Secondary document pocket and hard shell pouch
    • Well-padded laptop and tablet sleeves
    Cons:
    • Bag material is heavy
    • Total volume could be larger
    • High price tag

    If you want to escape the bright neon colors and superfluous doodads of camping packs, the eBag slim backpack is a piece of luggage that offers a more professional and refined style.

    The eBag backpack is made from a fairly heavy material, making it a little heftier than it needs to be but also giving it a nice rigidity. The backpack straps feel comfortable, and they have a sternum strap for added support.

    If you want to use this backpack more like a laptop bag, you can simply tuck one backpack strap away, and use this bag horizontally like a briefcase.

    The main pocket makes up the bulk of this bag’s 21.6L volume and has a brightly colored lining to help you find objects at the very bottom.

    It houses both a laptop sleeve and a tablet sleeve. Each one is well padded and very spacious. The bag also has a “2D” secondary pocket with room for documents, and a Napoleon pocket with an organizer.

    Beneath this main compartment is a removable hard shell pouch for carrying sunglasses or other delicate goods.

    The slim bag even has a zip-out water bottle holder that is there when you need it.

    The eBags slim backpack is a versatile dress code pack that checks all the boxes for a great bag without packing any bungee cords, exterior mesh pockets, carabiner clips, or other outdoorsman bling.

  9. Targus CityLite Pro Premium Convertible Backpack

    Price: $109.00
    Pros:
    • Built-in USB charge port
    • Rigid convertible form factor
    • Great compartmentalization
    Cons:
    • Low storage capacity
    • Small water bottle pockets
    • Not waterproof (USB cable)

    Targus backpacks have traditionally focused on providing the maximum storage capacity for traveling and adventuring. Their latest line of CityLite backpacks, however, seeks to provide a backpack that is both slimmer and more feature-packed.

    For starters, if you are looking for a looking for a backpack with some serious carrying capacity, then the Drifter II is a much better choice. But if you use your backpack for carrying everyday items through a commute, the CityLite Pro Premium is a great choice that offers versatile carrying options and loads of organization.

    The CityLite Pro Premium may only have 12.65L of storage capacity, but it stands out for its ability to convert into a briefcase whenever the situation calls for it. Its padded shoulder straps tuck away with ease, and a small side handle allows you to take on a more professional look for the office. The shoulder straps have high-quality metal clips and extra features like a sternum strap and a built-in emergency whistle. The whole bag is fairly rigid, so it sits up nicely in either of its two forms.

    The main storage pocket isn’t massive, but this backpack is so full of smaller storage pockets and organizer tools that I probably didn’t even find them all. Its front pocket has a button-off elastic latticework organizer for pens and other small items. It also has a special laptop pocket with a padlock-supporting zipper. This pocket supports laptops up to 15.6 inches and is padded with Targus’ Dome 2.0 material, a textured material designed for maximum shock dispersal.

    The bag also has a generous hardshell sunglasses case to store anything that you don’t want to be crushed. If you feel it eats into the main storage pocket too much, you can remove the hardshell insert to net you some more space. In that main pocket, there are smaller mesh compartments and a padded book organizer for tablets. The main pocket has a built-in USB port and cable, allowing you to connect a battery pack and externally charge a USB device. This is handy on a commute, but not so great when it is raining.

    There are even more pockets than these ones listed, and they each fill a unique niche. The only pocket that disappoints me is the small side pocket, which doesn’t quite fit a water bottle. But this is all in the name of looking professional enough for the workplace so it can be excused. So if you need to look good while packing the necessities, then the CityLite Pro Premium is likely to be the best laptop backpack for you.

  10. Incase Icon Pack

    Pros:
    • Spacious main compartment
    • Faux-fur-lined laptop compartment is well-padded
    • Rigid and sturdy design
    Cons:
    • No water bottle pocket
    • Black interior makes small items hard to find
    • Boring design

    Though Incase is best known for making protective cases for laptops and tablets, it has also had some highly successful forays into the backpack world, namely the beloved Icon Pack.

    This boxy backpack doesn’t offer much in the way of looks but provides ample storage and comfort for wearers of all sizes.

    This bag has three main compartments, the first of which is a dedicated laptop compartment, with a raised faux fur-lined laptop sleeve for 15-inch laptops.

    The second compartment accounts for most of the pack’s roughly 30L of storage volume. Because of the compartment’s depth and black material, it can be easy to lose things at the bottom of this compartment.

    The organizational compartment at the front of the pack does not have this same issue, thanks to an array of smaller pockets to store small items like keys or pens.

    This bag does not have any water bottle pockets but instead has two small zip pockets in their place.

    It’s shoulder straps are wide and comfortable, and the bag doesn’t slouch even when empty. As long as you don’t mind its incredibly plain design, this bag is a great choice that is both spacious and compact.

  11. AmazonBasics Laptop Backpack

    Pros:
    • Low price tag
    • Two water bottle pockets plus sub-compartment storage
    • High storage volume
    Cons:
    • Generic design
    • Minimal fabric padding
    • Lacking sternum strap or other added support

    When it comes to offering what you need at the right price, AmazonBasics products usually deliver. The AmazonBasics Laptop Backpack is no exception as a #1 Best Seller for laptop backpacks.

    Its external dimensions of 15 x 7 x 19 inches allow this pack to hold up to a 17-inch laptop, something really seen in backpacks of this price.

    You can fit a week’s worth of class materials in its 32L of storage volume. Additionally, you have organizational compartments for pens, keys, your cell phone, and even a smaller padded pocket for tablets.

    These sub-compartments are practically distributed throughout the five main pockets of the pack, except for two water bottle pockets on the side.

    The backpack is devoid of branding, and consequently, does not look particularly interesting. This is expected, considering this is clearly a functionality-first kind of pack.

    It is comfortable to wear with padded straps, but its padding to protect the main pocket could be a little more robust. Again, considering the fantastic price, your gear will be well-protected behind the otherwise sturdy material used.

See Also

21 Best Backpacks for College: The Ultimate List (2018)

Top 10 Best Camera Backpacks & Bags 2018: Compare, Buy & Save

10 Cute Backpacks for College: The Ultimate List (2018)

 

Heavy, Inc. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to Amazon. Our product recommendations are guided solely by our editors. We have no relationship with manufacturers.

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