Laptop Backpack Buying Guide

Most of us rely a great deal on our laptops and MacBook’s. Whether you’re a student, office worker or just use one for personal use you probably use it on a daily basis. A good laptop backpack is great for keeping it safe and protected.

A laptop bag differs from a laptop case in that they are usually carried on the back like a traditional rucksack. This makes it easier to carry when out and about and doubles up as a regular daysack for personal items like drinks, clothes and shopping. With brands such as North Face, Berghaus and Oakley selling dedicated laptop bags you aren’t short of choice. But how do you decide which one is right for you?


This is key as it is determined by the size of your computer. If you have a large laptop such as an Alienware or 17 inch MacBook pro you may find that it doesn’t fit in smaller bags. The most common screen size brackets are:

  • 13-14 inches
  • 15-16 inches
  • 17 inches

But there many variations on screens sizes.

You should also consider what you will be using it for. For example, if it just to get to work and back then you may get by with this Case Logic 14 inch Laptop Backpack. If you commute to work and plan on carrying your gym kit, lunch and spare clothes check out this Manhattan Portage Commuter Laptop Bag.

A good model will have compression straps to reduce down the size of the bag and stop things bouncing around inside.

Also look out for the number of accessory and side pockets. Ideally you want a mix of padded, internal compartments and outer pockets for easy access. Consider what you will be carrying in the bag before doing your research.


Cost will also affect your choices. A good, sturdy model starts at around $40 up to $300 (although I don’t recommend spending that much!). I find you get good value for money at around $150 which is what I paid for my North Face Surge around 2 years ago – with (I hope) has many years of usage left in it.

Shop around for deals, Amazon is a good place to start.


There is a whole myriad of styles to choose from. Try to go for something neutral so that it suits a range of outfits. Also go for something not too “out there” as that can draw attention to your expensive cargo.

Here are a few selections:


Laptop Protection

How much protection do you need? This will depend on how much your laptop is worth and how much you are likely to be throwing it about. Look for a dedicated, padded laptop compartment at the very least. Go for one that is at least, water resistant that will hold up if caught out in a shower. If you are doing a lot of trekking then you may want to consider something that is waterproof.


There is only so much you can do to keep it secure, other than keeping an eye on it. The biggest risk is from pickpockets. If this is a concern, look for a laptop backpack that has lockable zips. Alternatively you can buy a zip pad lock to prevent unauthorised opening. Always keep your valuables in internal, less accessible compartments.


Most reputable brands offer extensive warranty. Check the manufacturer info for details on the level of cover offered.

Comfort and Fit

An often underestimated consideration – make sure to choose a model that suits your size build and type of activity.

When measuring, it’s torso size not height that matters the most. Go for one that has adjustment straps adjustable to get the perfect fit.

A lot of your budget will go into the quality of the shoulder straps. Increasingly innovative and complex load carriage systems are being developed – often using research from the military. Look for something that has a well-designed yolk and adequate shoulder padding.

If you plan on carrying heavy loads, a waist strap is advisable. This transfers some of the load to your legs and hips – supported by bone, not muscle.

For an everyday bag, an airflow back system can prevent those dreaded sweat patches. For heavier loads though, this design isn’t advisable as it puts extra strain on your back.

Additional Features

There also laptop backpacks designed for specific purposes. Here are a few:

  1. Roller laptop bags. Carry on laptop bags.
  2. Camera laptop bags.
  3. Bags with solar panels on.

Always check the reviews

If you can’t try the backpack on for size, take advice from some who has. Look for expert reviews , videos on YouTube and customer reviews on Amazon and online stores. The frequently asked questions are on whether specific laptop models will fit a certain bag. Check the dimensions of both and if it doesn’t fit, a reputable online store will usually allow you to ship it back for exchange.