, which means that for anyone who doesn’t have kids or isn’t in college, it’s a great , too. Whether you’re after the best laptop backpack to carry around campus or a water repellent bag that’s a good fit for getting you through the work week and then through a weekend away, you’ll find it here. If you’re not traveling or a student, or a traveling student, and need to carry a backpack for work or a , there are options here for those, too.
I’ve spent countless hours walking city streets, commuting and traveling with these backpacks to see how they hold up and how useful their individual designs and features are. And if you don’t find the best laptop backpack for you in this list,at the end for more options. I will continue to test out new bags, so if you’ve got a favorite that belongs on this list, let me know in the comments. And note that CNET may get a share of revenue from the sale of some of the products in this guide.
The Icon backpack is a favorite for its understated style and huge carry capacity (and well-padded shoulder straps for carrying it all comfortably). Incase updated the bag with weather and abrasion-resistant fabric called Woolenex. It feels somewhat like cotton, but it’s lightweight and has the high-tensile strength of ballistic nylon.
The bag is otherwise the same as the original. Four separate sections give you space for up to a 15.6-inch laptop and a tablet, plus one for flat files and another loaded with pockets for all your accessories. While water bottle/umbrella storage is absent on the outside, there is certainly room inside.
One of my favorite features, besides the shoulder straps, is the zippered pocket compartments at the base of each strap. The right side has a charging cable pass-through so you can keep a power bank in there to charge your cell phone while you’re wearing the stylish bag.
See it on Incase.
As a commuter going between New York and New Jersey, my carry needs can change daily. There are also essentials that rarely change — keys, transit tickets, headphones, etc. — that I need fast access to as well as being able to get to my business laptop in the cramped confines of a train seat. The Scope is the best laptop backpack that nails these needs.
The water-resistant backpack is broken into three main storage compartments: A small organizational section in front, a side-loading waterproof 15-inch laptop compartment in the back and a spacious storage space in between. But that center section can be expanded by releasing magnetic side compression straps and opening a zippered gusset on top. The extra space gives you room for carrying a change of clothes and a pair of shoes or even a bike helmet. Don’t need the space? Zip up the gusset and fasten down the compression straps and you’re done.
Dual stretch side pockets provide room for carrying an umbrella and a water bottle, and Timbuk2 even put a bottle opener on the shoulder strap for when you’re extra thirsty. A front zippered compartment with an internal mesh pocket and the key leash rounds things out.
It doesn’t get much more simple than Ogio’s smallest Alpha Convoy bag. Lightweight, durable and made from water-resistant material, it has just a zipper pocket in front and one large compartment. There is a large laptop pocket inside as well as a single drop pocket and pen holder, but that’s it. However, if you do need more storage there are a couple of MOLLE straps on the front to attach things to or consider stepping up to the Convoy 320, which gives you a lot more organization inside and out.
Can’t decide between a shoulder bag and backpack? Hybrids like the Duane solve this with a design that works as both. Detachable backpack straps stash in a pocket on the back when you want to attach its removable shoulder strap. There’s enough room for books, your lunch and whatever else you need to get through the day including up to a 15.6-inch laptop. Plus, despite a price as low as $20, it carries Solo NY’s five-year warranty.
No matter how nice-looking a backpack is, it can still make you look like a 12-year-old at the office. With a clean design and a combination of 1050 denier ballistic nylon and leather accents, the Pro Executive is a stylish laptop case and office-friendly adult backpack.
Four external pockets keep your everyday essentials organized while two large main compartments give you room for everything from a change of clothes to a 15-inch laptop (though a newer slim 17-inch laptop will fit). The golden interior works as a light to help you find what you’re looking for fast. And like Waterfield’s Air Porter shoulder bag, the nylon, and leather Pro Exec stays upright when you put it down.
The stylish laptop backpack can be paired with Waterfield’s Executive Folio, which is like a slim briefcase to take you from meeting to meeting. Or consider the company’s Bolt backpack instead, which is a slimmer, streamlined pack that’s better for a daily commute.
Hate it when your phone runs low on power? The $165 Lifepack Solar 2.0 has a removable front panel that houses a 10,000mAh power bank good for up to five phone charges. A cable routed through the bag runs from the battery to a USB port in an external zippered side pocket, so your phone is still handy even while you charge.
You can choose between a 10,000mAh power bank that comes with or without a built-in Bluetooth speaker. Each has a small solar panel charging port that slowly tops off its charge when not in use or can charge your phone in about four hours. The solar charging is far from the only feature, though.
Though much of the bag’s design remains the same as the original one launched on Kickstarter in 2016, the solar batteries and bag components have all been improved. There are two main storage compartments: One for your tech, which includes a suspended padded sleeve to protect it from drops, and other bulky items and a slightly smaller organizational section at the front.
There are hidden pockets on the fronts of the shoulder straps as well as in the bottom of the back padding. The straps are comfortable, too, although there’s no sternum strap to help with weight. To keep your stuff safe — whether it’s on or off your back — this anti-theft backpack has an upgraded integrated retractable cable combination lock.
And one last detail about this bag and Solgaard: The interior lining is made from recycled plastic bottles, and with every bag purchased the company helps remove 5 pounds of plastic from oceans.
If you like clean, streamlined designs and bags that can shrink or grow depending on your needs on any given day, you’ll appreciate the Everyday Backpack. Peak Design got its start making camera accessories, which shows in the bags design and features like its origami-inspired removable dividers, but the stylish backpack is great even if you’re not a photographer.
Large zippered side panels give you easy access to everything inside regardless of where it is in the bag. Each side panel has separate zippered storage areas for accessories and a slim padded laptop compartment is accessible through a zipper at the top. It will snugly hold up to a 15-inch MacBook Pro.
All the zippers are weather-sealed and the fabric is water-repellent, and a magnetic latch system lets you expand or shrink the top of the bag, so you can fill it to the top and still secure everything inside. External side pockets and hidden straps give you more storage on the outside.
All of those features and the quality construction will cost you, though: The smaller 20L-size bag I tested costs $260, while a larger 30L version is $290.
See on Peak Design.
Part suitcase, part daypack, the Setout Laptop Backpack holds all the tech you travel with plus a day or two of clothes. This travel backpack fits under most airplane seats, so if you like to take advantage of cheap basic economy flights where you don’t get overhead space for your carry-on luggage, this is a solid pick.
It’s a lightweight, but durable bag, too. Once you get where you’re going, you can unpack your clothes and easily use it as a daypack. The shoulder straps are comfortable enough for all-day use and if you’d rather carry it like a suitcase, the straps unclip from the bottom of the bag and tuck behind the padding on back (the clips are a pain to use though, especially one-handed). Thick padded laptop backpack handles on top and the side make it comfortable to carry.
Plenty of pockets and dividers in the front and rear compartments help keep your cables and accessories organized and in reach. It’s a lot of bag for $125.
Deceivingly large when it comes to storage, the Weekender’s top front compartment has a bunch of organizational pockets while a bottom front compartment holds an included 3-1-1 pouch to make getting through security easier. The durable bag opens wide, splitting in half, with the front section made to hold your clothes and the back section for your laptop. Packed correctly, you can open it and leave your laptop in the bag when put through a scanner.
Hidden in the lower back, underneath the lumbar padding, is a crush-proof garage for accessories or an AC adapter. And although it’s designed as a backpack, the shoulder straps can be stashed in a pocket under the back panel padding so you can carry it like a suitcase.
Priced at $150, the Weekender can regularly be found for less direct from eBags or on Amazon.
See it on eBags.
Mobile Edge makes gaming backpacks for Alienware and Razer, but the $130 Core bag is all its own. It can hold up to 17.3-inch laptops (though superthick ones are snug) and it’s TSA checkpoint-friendly, so you don’t have to unload your system into a bin. Extra padding on the straps and back keep things as comfortable as possible.
There are places to fit all your cables, headphones and a keyboard. There’s a dedicated pocket for a large battery pack, too, with a quick-charge USB 3.0 cable that runs to the outside of the bag to charge a phone or tablet without cracking the bag open.
Pockets on the sides let you stash anything from a mouse and cables to a water bottle and umbrella. The bag is also available in two styles: One with a molded front and another with a Velcro panel to display your team badges or other patches. And, they’re both covered with a lifetime warranty.
See it on Mobile Edge.
Can’t decide what your storage and travel needs are? Here’s your bag. Made to order in Portland, Oregon from tear- and abrasion-resistant Cordura with weatherproof zippers, the bag can be everything from a slim laptop backpack to a 28-liter carry-on.
Velcro rails inside the bag let you customize the internal storage with removable organizer pockets. North St. also makes packing cubes to fit the bag and compression straps inside and out keep everything as slim and secure as possible.
Plus, while the backpack has a suspended 15-inch laptop sleeve built in, you can also get the company’s Meeting Bag — a simple briefcase that converts into a backpack — which can be attached to the front of the backpack.
Quality and customization isn’t cheap, though. The Backpack is $290 and it’s another $100 for the Meeting Bag.
Originally published late last month.