Update, 06/24/2023: We’ve reviewed our recommendations and we’re sure these are still the best laptop bags you can buy.
What to look for in a laptop bag in 2023
If you’re going to be taking your laptop out of the house, a laptop bag is essential to keep your fragile device in one piece. But there are many different styles of bags available for a variety of different uses.
There is no one laptop bag that works for everyone. The bag that will work best for you will depend on your circumstances.
Do you often cycle to work? In that case, a laptop backpack or messenger bag will be the easiest and most comfortable to wear, and water resistance will be crucial. On the other hand, if you mainly travel by train or by walking, a lighter bag will be more beneficial.
Space is also important. Often you need to put more than just your laptop in the bag, you need to put other essentials in it as well. So you need to make sure that both your laptop and anything else you might need will fit inside when you go out. If bulk is a concern and you have a 13-inch or smaller laptop, you can get away with a smaller bag and maybe save some money, too.
Finally, many bag manufacturers offer long-term warranties. Some last a lifetime, others last for years. These protect you against manufacturing defects and can provide excellent value for money if you are going to be using your bag every day.
If you already have a bag you want to use that isn’t designed to carry a laptop, consider a laptop sleeve instead. These offer added protection while remaining lightweight and come in a variety of weights, from slim, stretchy shells to durable plastic covers.
Now, let’s get into our recommendations.
- ✓ Waterproof design for any weather.
- ✓ Right-sized bag offers portability and enough space for a 15-inch laptop
- ✓ Reflective panels for safety.
- ✓ lifetime warranty
- ✗ A little small for long trips.
- ✗ Expensive for a bag of this size.
- ✗ Only two colors available
The Timbuk2 Lane Commuter is a great choice for anyone who needs something durable, weather resistant and stylish to carry their laptop for the long haul. Available in granite and jet black with reflective front panels and shoulder straps, this laptop bag is perfect whether you’re commuting, walking, or taking public transportation.
The Lan Commuter also features three protections against the elements: a durable outer shell, an “ultra-water resistant” inner liner, and a removable outer shell for added protection against particularly heavy rain showers.
In terms of space, there’s around 18 liters of internal space and a bag designed to fit up to 15-inch laptops. The mesh padding on the back of the bag should help promote airflow to keep your back cool even in hot weather.
There’s also a security strap on the front to keep the straps in place, and side pouches to accommodate modest-sized water bottles, a small tripod, or anything else you don’t feel like putting inside the bag.
Timbuk2 offers a lifetime warranty on the bag, so you can be sure your investment will last or be eligible for free repairs and replacements.
If you’d rather save some money and trade the waterproofing for a little extra space, the Thule 15″ Crossover 25L increases storage by 7 liters and includes a wider variety of compartments for storing cables, books and more.
The best laptop backpack
Timbuk2 Rail Traveler
The Timbuk2 Lane Commuter is comfortable, compact and weather resistant for transporting your laptop around town in any weather. It features 18 liters of space and reflective panels to ensure you stand out in the dark, plus it’s backed by a lifetime warranty.
- ✓ Cheerful cheap laptop protection under $50
- ✓ Additional features like vertical luggage straps and a USB charging port
- ✓ Available in a range of colors
- ✗ It’s probably not built to last
- ✗ Water resistance should not be relied on
- ✗ It can be a bit bulky for some tastes.
The Matein Travel Laptop Backpack is one of the most popular laptop bags on Amazon for under $50. It’s a no-nonsense laptop backpack at a price that’s hard to argue with, even on the tightest of budgets. Matein’s bag may not last as long as some of the other picks on this list, and it lacks a lifetime warranty and brand recognition, but it will get the job done.
This inexpensive laptop bag can accommodate a 15.6-inch laptop in a dedicated compartment at the back. It also features a large additional compartment in the middle that is perfect for tablets and books and a smaller front pocket for smartphones and pens.
There are some other nice features, like padded straps, a luggage strap to slip over a suitcase handle and stay put, and a USB charging port to keep your devices charged on the go.
We’d take water-resistance promises with a large grain of salt given the price, but that’s an issue you can mitigate with a removable rain cover and some waterproofing. But really, you can’t beat this laptop bag at this price.
Best budget laptop bag
Matein Laptop Travel Backpack
Matein’s Travel Laptop Backpack does exactly what it says on the tin at a price that’s hard to complain about.
- ✓ Your choice of crossbody or shoulder bag styles
- ✓ Exclusive seat belt buckle with integrated bottle opener
- ✓ Spacious laptop compartment for designs up to 17 inches
- ✓ Water resistant design and durable outer nylon.
- ✗ Might be a bit big for smaller laptop owners
- ✗ The Messenger style is not to everyone’s taste.
If you prefer a messenger bag, the Chrome Industries Citizen is a tried and tested tote bag. You can wear it two ways, with a crossbody design that holds the bag in a better position for cyclists, or the more traditional shoulder design for walking around town.
The bag also features Chrome’s seat belt buckle, a holdover from the original design from decades ago that used buckles salvaged from junkyards. This buckle even includes a bottle opener, because who knows when you might get thirsty on your ride? The strap itself has a reflective strip for better visibility, perfect for cyclists and those who need to ride in the dark.
The outer shell is made of durable nylon, with a waterproof lining on the inside to keep contents dry. The Citizen has space for a 17-inch laptop inside, plus additional pockets and compartments for smartphones, tablets, books and pens for a total capacity of 24 litres.
best crossbody/shoulder bag
Chrome Industries Citizen
The Chrome Industries Citizen Messenger Bag securely fits up to a 17-inch laptop in crossbody and crossbody configurations, with a reflective strip, waterproof lining, and plenty of room for chargers and other devices.
- ✓ 100% organic cotton canvas, hand washable
- ✓ Elegant unisex design in two colours.
- ✓ It can fit a 16 and 13 inch laptop depending on the size
- ✓ Plenty of compartments for organization.
- ✗ expensive for a bag
- ✗ No waterproofing to speak of
Not everyone needs a backpack or shoulder bag to go to work. Totes are surprisingly comfortable, stylish, and great for carrying more than just a laptop and its charger. The Dagne Dover Vida Cotton Tote is one of the best examples of its kind, constructed entirely of durable organic cotton canvas.
The bag is available in two sizes, with the large version able to accommodate a 16-inch laptop and the small one designed with a 13-inch model in mind. The bag has carry handles and a shoulder strap and is available in black (Onyx) and off-white (Core). The interior lining can be wiped clean and the entire bag can be hand washed in cold soapy water due to its cotton construction.
Inside there’s an open velcro pocket for your laptop, a zippered compartment to keep other valuables safe, and a variety of side pockets and compartments for everything else. The large bag has a capacity of 27.6 liters, while the smaller bag handles a respectable 14.1 liters.
If you’re looking for something a little easier on the wallet, check out the North/South Tote from Carhartt. The bag sports a unisex design, a large interior that should accommodate a 15-inch laptop, and is made of waterproof nylon to help keep the interior dry in the shower.
- ✓ The rugged casing withstands bumps and drops.
- ✓ Strong zipper and ample padding.
- ✓ limited lifetime warranty
- ✗ It may be a bit big for some tastes.
- ✗ Limited size options available (consider waiting for an update)
The Thule Briefcase is a padded laptop sleeve designed with laptop preservation in mind. It might be a bit heavy for some people, but it also gives you the peace of mind that your laptop fits in almost any bag. It’s sized to comfortably fit everything from a 16-inch MacBook Pro to a 14-inch Windows laptop.
The case has a rigid exterior with plenty of padding to protect the top and bottom of your computer while it’s in transit. Thule added extra corner padding to protect against bumps and drops, with a chunky zipper to keep everything together.
If you don’t need something as bombproof as Thule’s offering, consider a lighter sleeve like the tomtoc Recycled Laptop Sleeve. It’s made from recycled material and is available in a variety of fabrics and sizes, plus it’s much lighter than the briefcase.
A really tough laptop sleeve from Swedish manufacturer Thule should give you the confidence to carry your laptop in most bags.