Traveling with a laptop can be stressful, and I know how important it is to get the right backpack to keep your machine safe, but still easily accessible while traveling.
I worked for several years as a product engineer, and I frequently had to travel for weeks at a time while hauling my big-ass engineering laptop along for the ride. I went through several backpacks trying to find one that worked well, and along the way, I learned a lot about what sets the best laptop backpacks apart from the mediocre alternatives.
My first priority in a laptop backpack is that it has ample protection to keep my computer safe from bumps and dings while traveling. It also needs to be super easy to access my device so I can catch up on emails on the go or pull it out for TSA.
Of course, my backpack is going to be carrying more than just my laptop. I want a pack that has enough space and organization for charging cords, headphones, books, water bottles, and anything else I need to bring with me.
Without further ado, here are my top 15 laptop backpacks for travel:
1. NOMATIC Backpack: Best Laptop Backpack Overall
Nomatic is based in my home state of Utah, a hub for adventurous folks of all sorts. They started on Kickstarter with an innovative wallet design, and now they sell a wide range of well-designed and well-built travel gear. Their sleek, functional designs make them one of our top backpack brands.
The NOMATIC Backpack is their classic urban pack that is perfectly optimized for traveling with a laptop. The padded laptop sleeve is very protective, easily accessible, and has room for most full-size devices.
This laptop bag opens with a YKK-brand zipper that wraps around the entire perimeter. This zipper is super smooth and durable, and the massive wide opening makes it super easy to access anything inside without having to dig.
You also get tons of small pockets for organization. There is a water bottle pocket on the side, a big external pocket with several separate compartments, and more zippered pockets inside the main compartment.
One I don’t love about this bag is that it only comes in black. Actually, I think all NOMATIC products are black, I’m not sure if they sponsor Batman, but that’s the only color you’ll see on their bags. It looks very sleek and professional, but I personally prefer to have some color choice and a bit of personality.
It also only fits up to a 15.6-inch laptop size. That’s standard size so most people will be covered, but if you have a big 17-inch laptop you’ll need a bigger bag.
This bag comes in either a 14 L or 20 L size. I’d recommend going with the larger 20 L just to make sure you have enough space. It still isn’t huge, but it has an expandable design that gives you 4 L of extra space when you need it. If you carry a lot of stuff on a regular basis, you’ll probably want something a tad bigger, but for a slim pack that can fit a bit more when needed, this is a great choice.
NOMATIC Backpack Specs:
|Dimensions||19″ x 13″ x 5.8″ (7.8″ expanded)|
2. Aer Tech Pack 2: Best Travel Laptop Backpack
Aer is a San Francisco-based travel brand that started with a crowdfunding campaign for a hybrid gym bag/work bag. They build a wide array of travel bags centered around durable materials, simple designs, and functional features for travel.
If you’re going to be flying with your laptop, it’s important to have a bag that is specifically designed with the requirements of travel in mind. The Aer Tech Pack 2 is a streamlined, thoughtfully-designed laptop pack that works really well for travel because it is protective and packed with travel-oriented features.
The center of this bag is the suspended laptop pocket that isolates your computer from the outside. This means it is protected from bumps or impacts while you’re traveling. It’s also very easy to access your laptop through a dedicated zipper.
This versatile backpack has a luggage handle pass-through strap on the back panel. This means it’s super easy to attach it to the top of your luggage for wheeling through the airport. You also have grab handles on the top and side that make it easy to carry in any orientation.
I’ve spent a lot of time wearing a backpack while traveling, and if it isn’t comfortable, my shoulders get pretty sore after a few hours. The Aer Tech Pack nails it with comfort. It has nice wide, thickly-padded shoulder straps and a chest strap to help distribute the load.
It is also made with super durable materials. You get burly 1680D Cordura on the sides and a waterproof 840D front panel. This pack has a lot of structure, so it keeps its shape even when it’s empty, and it feels very sturdy and substantial. I seriously doubt you’ll be able to
Of course, those thick, tough materials do make this pretty heavy for a relatively small backpack (it’s only 17L). If you’re concerned about weight, you may want something else. I haven’t found the weight to be much of a problem though, and I’d rather have a bag that can take some abuse.
Aer Tech Pack 2 Specs:
|Dimensions||18″ x 12″ x 7″|
I get it, sometimes you just need the cheapest product you can find that still gets the job done. I’m a bit of a cheapskate, and I try to save money wherever I can.
If you’re strapped for cash, the Matein Travel Laptop Backpack on Amazon gives you a totally functional everyday backpack at an insanely low price.
The most important thing here is the padded laptop sleeve. It’s not the most protective out there, but it does have some cushioning to protect your device from small bumps.
You also get tons of internal pockets. Almost to the point where there are more than you could ever possibly need. There are water bottle pockets, four different compartments you can access from the outside, and several slip pockets and zippered pockets in each compartment. I personally would prefer something a bit simpler, but if you like having a place for everything, you’ll love the abundant organization here.
One thing I like about this bag is that there is an array of size choices, and it’s very obvious what laptop size fits in each one. You can buy a 14-inch, 15.6-inch, or 17-inch bag, and the size exactly corresponds to the size of device that will fit in the laptop sleeve. This takes a lot of the guesswork out of getting a bag that will fit your laptop.
Now with such a cheap bag, you can expect some compromises. The materials and components aren’t great, the zippers aren’t very smooth, and it’s just plain ugly, to be blunt. Okay, it’s not that bad, but you definitely won’t be winning any style awards.
The shoulder straps do have some padding, but it isn’t much.
If you’re on a super tight budget, this Matein backpack does what you need at a fantastic price point. Still, if you can scrape together a little extra cash, there are some other packs on this list that are higher quality while still being quite affordable. And hey, you can always look for a used bag to save money.
MATEIN Travel Laptop Backpack Specs:
|Dimensions||18″ x 12″ x 7.8″|
4. Rains Backpack: Best Waterproof Laptop Backpack
When I was in college I used to carry a kitchen trash bag inside my backpack to wrap around my computer if I ever got caught in heavy rain or snow (which happened frequently). You know what? It worked great. I would roll into class with a totally waterlogged backpack, but my laptop would be nice and dry. That one trash bag lasted three years, too.
I probably would have saved a lot of hassle by getting myself a waterproof backpack, though.
Rains is a modern lifestyle brand built around selling stylish waterproof products, from jackets to packs. They’ve developed a signature PU-coated fabric that’s sleek, durable, and fully waterproof.
The Rains Backpack is a streamlined, minimalist bag that uses combines this fabric with a dialed-in design to give you an ultra-stylish backpack that will keep your laptop (and everything else) dry when the heavens dump on you.
It definitely isn’t a full-on dry pack. Don’t plan on taking your laptop on a whitewater rafting trip with this, but as long as the water is falling from the sky, this
This backpack is incredibly simple and stripped down. You get one top-opening main compartment with a magnetic flap closure, a laptop pocket that fits 15-inch devices, a phone-sized zip pocket in the back panel, and, well, that’s it.
While I do love simplicity, I wish there were just a bit more organization in this bag. Laptop backpacks have to carry things like a charging cord, mouse, adapters, and other computer accessories, so a few more pockets would be a welcome addition.
Another thing it lacks is padded straps. The Rains Backpack only has thin webbing shoulder straps to carry the load. While this works fine, I’d want something more padded and supportive for carrying it on longer days.
For true minimalists, though, this pack has everything you need and nothing you don’t. And it really shows in the styling. The Rains Backpack is just plain stunning.
Rains Backpack Specs:
|Dimensions||18.9″ x 11.8″ x 4.7″|
Maybe you’re the kind of person who likes to be prepared for anything. Maybe your EDC setup includes a knife, multitool, flashlight, tactical pen, altimeter watch, and miniature pry bar. Maybe, just maybe, you wear cargo pants on a regular basis (no judgment here).
If you like to be prepared, you’ll want to look for laptop backpacks that are packed with features and organization to keep all your kit neat and accessible. Swissgear is known for building feature-packed travel gear, and their 1900 ScanSmart Laptop Backpack is loaded with features.
The most innovative feature of this pack is the ScanSmart lay-flat laptop sleeve. It’s everything you’d expect from a protective, padded laptop pocket, with enough space for most big 1, but then a wraparound zipper lets the whole back panel and laptop sleeve fold out from the main bag and lay flat, with just a mesh panel covering your laptop. This means you can send the bag and laptop through airport security scanning without fully removing your device.
I really hate digging my laptop out of my bag to go through security, so I love this feature that eliminates that hassle. This makes it a great laptop bag for frequent flyers.
Beyond the neat laptop sleeve, this bag is packed with pockets and features. There are 6 different compartments you can access through external zippers, each of which has several internal pockets for extra organization. It has elastic suspension shoulder straps, a hidden sleeve for passports, a protective hard case pocket, side compression straps, a “floating” tablet pocket, and even a dedicated webbing loop for holding sunglasses. And with 31 L of storage, there’s plenty of space for all your essentials and then some.
If this bag has a problem, it’s that it is too loaded-down with features to the point of being overcomplicated. You’ll never run out of places to put things, but you might not know what to do with all the pockets!
It has two water bottle pockets, but I don’t love them. They are made of a thin mesh and are too small for larger bottles.
My biggest gripe? I think this bag is pretty ugly. It has a very utilitarian, bulky styling that just doesn’t look great to me. Is it a great, functional bag though? Absolutely.
Swissgear 1900 ScanSmart Specs:
|Dimensions||18.5″ x 11.5″ x 1.5″|
Even though I like to see myself as utilitarian and function first, I have to admit that style is important. When I have gear that looks good, I am more excited to use it, and I feel better when I’m traveling. A backpack with sleek, dialed-in styling has an almost magical effect; it makes me feel more confident and put together—like I could step off the ground and fly…
Okay, maybe I’m getting a bit carried away there, but you get the idea. We all like gear that looks good.
The Bellroy Melbourne is a slim city-oriented backpack that combines spot-on styling with smart functionality. It probably won’t stand out in a crowd, but it’s hard to deny the appeal of the minimal, understated styling.
The laptop sleeve is well-padded and has enough room for a 15-inch device. I just wish you could access it without opening the main compartment of the bag, but since it’s easy to get to, that’s not a big deal.
The closure system for this pack is very unique, and I’ve found it to be really intuitive to use. There is just a simple flap opening at the top, with magnets to hold it closed. There is also a zipper running down the full length of one side of the pack. You can choose to get in either way, or you can use both to fold it wide open, making it super easy to pack or get to all your items inside.
At 18 L, this is a pretty small backpack, so you won’t be fitting a ton inside. There’s also an even smaller 12 L version, but unless you are a true minimalist, I’d recommend sticking with the bigger size.
Bellroy Melbourne Specs:
|Dimensions||17.8″ x 11.8″ x 6.3″|
7. WANDRD PRVKE: Best Travel Backpack for Laptop and Camera
If you’re carrying camera gear in addition to your laptop, you have a very specific set of requirements from your bag. You need to look for camera backpacks that offer tons of padding and protection for all your sensitive equipment.
WANDRD was started by two brothers who couldn’t find a camera bag on the market that fit their requirements. Instead of settling for something mediocre, they decided to set out to build one themselves and make it the best camera backpack ever.
The WANDRD PRVKE is the original award-winning pack they built (though it’s seen some improvements over the years).
The first thing you’ll notice about the PRVKE is that it has tons of options for accessing your gear. There is a simple roll-top opening, full-length zippers that let you fold open the entire body of the bag, and side-access pockets so you can get to your gear on the go.
The laptop sleeve on the PRVKE is built into the fold-open front panel (instead of right next to your back like most packs). This means it’s super easy to access your laptop while you’re traveling. The downside is that if you don’t have the bag packed very full, your laptop can awkwardly shift around since it’s on the side farthest from your body.
If you’re carrying camera gear, you’ll want to opt for the photography bundle, which includes a removable padded camera cube, removable waist straps to carry more weight comfortably, and accessory straps for mounting tripods or other gear on the outside of the pack.
The padded shoulder straps are wide and comfortable, though I wish waist straps came standard with this pack. You do get them with the photography bundle, so maybe that’s not a problem for most people who will be buying this bag.
WANDRD PRVKE Specs:
|Dimensions||17″ x 11″ x 6.5″||19″ x 12″ x 7″||21″ x 12.5″ x 9″|
|Weight||2.8 lbs||3.4 lbs||3.7 lbs|
Okay, yes, this is an article on the best laptop backpacks, but I think it is worth having one shoulder bag in here. While backpacks are becoming more and more common in workplaces, there still are some times that you want to look a bit more professional, and a sleek messenger bag is a great option for that.
Timbuk2 was started in 1989 by a San Francisco bike courier who wanted to create a functional messenger bag for urban travelers. The first Timbuk2 product was the classic messenger bag, and they’ve been improving their designs ever since.
The Commute Messenger Bag 2.0 is a refined bag with a dedicated laptop compartment, dialed-in styling, and smart features. It’s simple, but well-built and easy to use.
The laptop sleeve on this bag is roomy and well-padded. You’ll be able to fit most full-sized devices (though giant 17-inch screens won’t fit), and there’s plenty of protection to keep your machine safe.
The versatile design can convert between a shoulder carry, cross-body carry, or briefcase depending on how you set up the straps. I love having options.
Before you jump on buying this, I personally would recommend you make sure to consider whether you really want a messenger bag over a backpack. I’ve had problems with messenger bags causing discomfort after carrying them for hours at a time, and there are plenty of professional-looking backpacks that still look at home in an office environment.
If you know you need a messenger bag, though, I highly recommend the Timbuk2 Commute.
Timbuk2 Commute Messenger Bag 2.0 Specs:
|Dimensions||15″ x 13.4″ x 4.3″|
In my mind, there’s nothing quite like high-quality leather backpacks. I love the buttery-smooth feel of the leather, the awesome durability, and the way leather looks better over time and tells the story of your travels.
Harber London is a family-owned brand based in (you guessed it) London that specializes in premium leather goods that merge old-world craftsmanship with modern design. Their wallets, bags, and accessories are stylish, well-made, and very functional.
The Harber London Slim Laptop Backpack is a stripped-back pack that’s designed to give you exactly what you need
It all starts with the materials. The Harber London Slim Laptop Backpack is built with premium full-grain leather. The leather they use is tough and durable but smooth and supple at the same time.
The design of this backpack is very simple. It is a low-profile rectangle with a top zippered opening, a padded laptop sleeve, a few internal pockets for organization, and one external zippered pocket.
This pack is very minimal and compact. I love the sleek, slim design, but it doesn’t have much room for carrying stuff. You can fit a laptop (up to 16-inches), a few accessories, and not much else. If that’s all you need, then this will work great, but it doesn’t have much versatility for using as a day pack when you need to bring more along.
The leather shoulder straps on this bag don’t have padding, but they are reasonably wide. Normally, I would want much more supportive and padded shoulder straps, but since you won’t be able to carry much weight anyway, it isn’t much of a problem.
The biggest downside with this bag? The cost. It’s a high-end backpack, and unfortunately, the price reflects that.
The quality and craftsmanship of the Slim Laptop Backpack are really what set it apart from anything else. It looks amazing, feels even better, and is really well thought out.
Harber London Slim Laptop Backpack Specs:
|Dimensions||15.7″ x 11″ x 1.7″|
If I’m traveling to a new place, odds are I’m going to be exploring its hiking trails (even if I’m technically on a work trip). It seems silly to bring a separate hiking pack in addition to my laptop/work bag, so I want something that can fit both purposes and kill two birds with one stone.
Gregory builds some of the best hiking backpacks out there, and the Gregory Juxt 34 is an adventure travel backpack that combines the trail comfort and support of their hiking bags with styling and features that make it ready for around-the-world travel.
If I were to travel back to Nepal to go trekking in the Himalayas again, this is the bag I would choose to bring, especially if I were bringing any tech with me.
This pack comes with a removable “electronics caddy” which is essentially a padded sleeve with space for a 15” laptop, tablet, headphones, cables, and other electronics. I love the fact that it’s easily removable, meaning you can pull out your laptop and electronics if you’re going for a hike. The pack is also designed to fit a hydration bladder in the same space. The versatility is awesome!
The Juxt is built around a trail-oriented suspension, which means it has a supportive wrap-around hip belt, padded straps that wrap around your shoulders, a sternum strap to dial in the fit, and a perimeter frame to distribute the load to your hips. This is a much more supportive design than most travel packs. You’ll be able to carry heavier loads with ease, both on trails and through the airport.
This bag has several other features you’d expect in a full-on hiking backpack. There are generous hip belt pockets, compression straps to cinch down your load, and even load lifters on the shoulder straps. Load lifters are adjustable straps connecting the backpack straps to the top of the frame. It’s rare to see them in travel bags, and they make a huge difference in distributing the weight.
I do wish the hip belt was removable or could stow away somehow. While I love having a hip belt for hiking, it really just gets in the way at the airport.
Overall, if you’re looking for a versatile pack that can carry your laptop and go for a hike, the Gregory Juxt is the best one I’ve found.
Gregory Juxt 34 Specs:
|Dimensions||20.7″ x 13″ x 11″|
11. KÜHL Eskape 25: Best Travel Backpack for 17-inch Laptop
KÜHL is another Utah-based brand that builds rugged gear inspired by the mountains. Many of their products remind me just a bit of old-school frontier explorers.
The KÜHL Eskape 25 is designed to be the “world’s best backpack.” While that claim is a bit audacious, I do think KÜHL did a great job making this a bomber, versatile pack that works great for traveling with a laptop.
If you’re one of those people who travels around with a massive 17-screen, you know how hard it can be to find a good backpack that fits your monstrous device. The highlight of the KÜHL is the massive laptop compartment that can swallow even the biggest laptops with ease.
The laptop sleeve is very protective, with ample padding around the sides and bottom. It also is totally separate from the main compartment, meaning it’s super easy to get your device out when you need it.
Beyond the laptop storage, you have a surprisingly spacious main compartment that zips fully open, making it really easy to pack and access your stuff. There are also several external zippered pockets to keep small essentials within easy access.
The padded straps are enough to spread the weight over your shoulders, but I personally wish they were a bit more substantial for those times when I have to carry heavier loads.
Like all of KÜHL’s products, the Eskape 25 has a pretty rugged, outdoorsy style. While I love that, it probably isn’t for everyone. There definitely are other packs that look more refined and stylish.
KÜHL Eskape 25 Specs:
|Dimensions||22″ x 13″ x 9″|
Osprey is known for building some of the most popular backpacking and hiking packs in the business. That expertise also carries over to a range of fantastic everyday and travel backpacks. Their travel packs are durable, supportive, and packed with features.
The Osprey Farpoint 40 is different from most of the other backpacks on this list because it is built as a full-size carry-on backpack. If you want to travel with one bag to carry all your clothes and your laptop, this is the way to go.
The Farpoint has a side-access laptop sleeve right against the back panel, where it is very padded and protected. I like that it’s totally separate from the main compartment, so you don’t have to dig through to get your laptop out.
Speaking of the main compartment—it’s big! Surprisingly so. It opens up wide and gives you plenty of space to pack clothes and gear for extended trips (as long as you’re a light packer).
For me, the comfortable carry system is a big win for this bag. I hate how so many big travel packs skimp on support, padding, and hip belts. The best backpacks for one-bag travel focus on comfort, and it’s pretty obvious that Osprey used a lot of their knowledge from hiking packs in designing this. It has a sturdy frame sheet with a wire perimeter frame, well-padded straps, a very supportive hip belt, load lifters, and a sternum strap.
The backpack straps can also all be tucked away behind a zippered panel, leaving you with a smooth surface that’s much easier to stuff into overhead bins. It also means you don’t have to worry about straps getting snagged when it runs through security machines.
One downside of using this as your laptop bag for one-bag travel is that it doesn’t fit under your seat on the airplane and has to go in the overhead bin. This means you won’t have access to your laptop if you leave it in the bag. There are multiple zippered mesh pockets inside to help with organization.
My biggest complaint is that there’s no side water bottle pocket! I hate keeping my bottle inside my bag (or worse, clipping it on with a carabiner), so It’s a bummer that there’s no dedicated water bottle holder here. It’s such a simple feature and is standard on most packs, so I’m not sure why Osprey got this one wrong.
Want to learn more about this pack? Check out our Osprey Farpoint full review.
Osprey Farpoint 40 Travel Laptop Backpack Specs:
|Dimensions||22″ x 13″ x 9″|
It can be a challenge to find a backpack for women, especially those with smaller frames. You need something that carries everything you need without being overly big and bulky. The Patagonia Atom Tote Pack is a compact bag that’s designed to provide a smaller fit while still providing a surprising amount of storage.
Patagonia is one of the most well-known brands in the outdoor industry, and they build some seriously capable gear. My favorite thing about Patagonia, though, is their commitment to sustainability. The Atom Tote Pack is made from recycled nylon and polyester, is Fair Trade Certified, and has a water-repellant finish that is free from harmful PFC chemicals.
The overall design of the pack is very simple and streamlined. There’s a zippered-opening main compartment with a removable laptop sleeve inside. I really like the removable sleeve because it adds a lot of versatility; you can use this pack for your laptop one day and a day hike the next day.
One major downside is that it won’t fit full-size laptops. While that’s to be expected from a small pack like this, it still is a bit of a disappointment. If you have a compact device though, that may be no problem.
There is a stretchy water bottle holder on each side of the pack, meaning it’s easy to stay on top of your hydration while you travel. Even though this is a small-ish bag, there’s room for big bottles like Nalgenes.
Bonus? While Patagonia generally is known for being somewhat expensive, this pack is actually the most affordable on this list!
Patagonia Atom Tote Pack Specs:
|Dimensions||16″ x 12″ x 5″|
I think that Peak Design builds some of the most innovative and well-thought-out backpacks out there. They are unique in that crowdfunding is built into their design and production process. It’s not just how they got started, it’s how they jumpstart all of their new and innovative products.
For men looking for the absolute best laptop backpack, the Peak Design Everyday Backpack is a super functional, versatile, and well-built pack that works well on all fronts. It’s designed to work really well as a camera pack, but it’s capable of way more than that.
First, the laptop storage. The Peak Design Everyday Backpack has a top-access dedicated laptop compartment that is super easy to get into without opening the main body of the bag.
For getting into the main compartment, you have lots of choices. There is a lock-shut flap opening on the top and big zippered openings on either side. The side openings mean it’s really easy to get something out of the bottom of your bag without digging through everything else.
The inside of the bag is padded and has removable dividers that you can use if you’re carrying camera gear (or anything else for that matter). Though this works really well as a camera bag, I’ve found the dividers are actually pretty useful for keeping my everyday electronics organized and accessible.
My biggest complaint with this bag is the price. It is way more expensive than most simple daypacks, and you may have a hard time justifying the spend. If you want a top-notch feature-packed backpack, though, this is a great choice.
It’s available in two sizes, 20 L and 30 L, so you can get the perfect size for your needs.
Peak Design Everyday Backpack Specs:
|Dimensions||18″ x 12″ x 6.8″||20″ x 13″ x 7.8″|
|Weight||4 lbs||4.5 lbs|
If you’re a serious PC gamer and need the ultimate backpack for carrying all your kit, Timbuk2 has an awesome range of seriously capable packs that are some of the best out there that are designed specifically for gaming.
The Timbuk2 x ASTRO Gaming BP35 Backpack is a purpose-built laptop bag for hardcore gamers. It has protective storage for two full-size laptops and all the accessories you can think of.
There are pockets galore both inside and outside, so you’ll have no problem finding places to keep all your charging cords, controllers, and more.
I love the fact that this bag has a specific hanger for over-ear headphones. It’s a small detail, but that’s just one example of how every feature is well-thought-out and purpose-built for gamers.
This is very much a niche backpack, so if you aren’t regularly carrying a big gaming laptop and all the associated tech, you may want something a little more simple and versatile.
Timbuk2 x Astro Gaming BP35 Backpack Specs:
|Dimensions||17.7″ x 10.6″ x 5.9″|
How to Choose the Best Laptop Backpack for Travel
Choosing the right laptop backpack is no easy task, and it depends a lot on how will you use it. Do you need a reliable everyday backpack or a spacious carry-on backpack? Will you use it for commuting? travel? hiking? all of the above?
Here are some of the top factors to keep in mind as you search for the perfect pack for your needs.
This one is easy to overlook, but not all laptop backpacks will fit every laptop. A few years ago I got a new, chunky 15.6-inch laptop for work, only to find it didn’t fit in my old laptop pack. I didn’t want to buy a new bag, so I ended up cutting slits in the side of the laptop compartment to make it fit (this is the same pack where I used a trash bag to keep my laptop dry in downpours).
Needless to say, getting a pack that fits your laptop correctly is a better solution. Most manufacturers will clearly label what size laptop their pack can fit.
When in doubt, I’d get a pack that can fit a 15-inch laptop. This covers most compact and full-size devices (including 15.6-inch screens).
Computers are expensive, delicate machines, and it’s important to keep your laptop safe while you travel. It’s worth looking for a pack that has lots of padding around the laptop compartment.
One feature you can look for is a “suspended” laptop sleeve. This means the sleeve is held up an inch or two from the bottom of the bag so there is more between your laptop and the ground if you ever drop it.
A bag can have the best laptop protection, sturdiest construction, and most comfortable design out there, but it won’t do its job if it’s impossible to get your laptop out when it’s fully packed. When you’re traveling, it is important to have easy access to your device, whether you need to pull it out for airport security scanning or catch up on work tasks.
I prefer packs with a laptop compartment that is totally separate from everything else. That way I don’t have to dig through the main compartment of my pack to pull it out.
You’re going to be carrying more than just a laptop in your backpack, so it’s important to consider the overall space that’s available. Backpack size is usually measured by how many liters of volume fit inside.
- If you just need to bring your laptop, accessories, and a few small essentials with you, a pack under 20 L should work just fine.
- 20-30 L packs work well if you need to carry more stuff, but aren’t packing everything for a trip in your backpack.
- If you are traveling and will be using your backpack as your only luggage, you’ll probably want 40 L or more of room.
Laptop Backpack Accessories
Here are some of the top accessories to get with your laptop backpack to make sure you’re fully outfitted for travel:
It can be hard to keep track of small electronic items like cables, headphones, and chargers. I usually end up losing them deep in my backpack and having to dig through to find them.
This little case gives you a dedicated place for those small, easy-to-lose items. With room for earbuds, chargers, cables, a usb battery bank, and a pen/stylus, you won’t have to worry about losing anything.
The transparent plastic case protects your electronics while making it easy to see what’s inside, while elastic holders keep everything secure and organized.
If you’re traveling with a laptop, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll be bringing headphones along too. I personally vastly prefer full-size over-ear headphones to earbuds.
Unfortunately, I recently broke my nice headphones on a trip when I had them stuffed in the bottom of my backpack. Now I always recommend having a hardshell headphone case for protection.
The ProCase Headphone Case isn’t anything super fancy. It’s a zippered hard-sided zippered case that will fit most over-ear headphones. It’s affordable and does a great job at keeping your headphones safe during travel.
While some of the packs on this list are fully waterproof, not all of them are. If you ever expect to be out in rainy weather, I highly recommend having a dedicated rain cover for your backpack to make sure your laptop and everything else stays dry. Trust me, it’s a much better solution than wrapping your computer in a trash bag.
The REI Duck’s Back Rain Cover is a simple cover that’s made out of highly waterproof silicone-coated polyester. Water beads right off, so your pack stays totally dry.
It has an elastic border that wraps easily around pretty much any backpack. The XS size fits 18 L – 30 L packs, so pretty much any backpack on this list.
Why Trust TravelFreak?
We are a team of digital nomads, working from our laptops as we travel the world. We’ve tested dozens of packs in real-world conditions, and you can bet we’ve learned a thing or two about what makes a good laptop backpack for travel.
Everything on this list is something we personally would use in our own travels. In fact, many of these backpacks have seen months of hard use on our shoulders.
We did our homework so you don’t have to. We really dug deep into the features, materials, and performance of each pack to see how they measure up to the competition. Not every bag on this list will be the best at everything, but we’re confident each product is the absolute best in its own specific niche.
Best Laptop Backpacks for Travel FAQs
Which laptop backpack brand is best?
Nomatic makes high-quality laptop bags with smart features to make travel easier.
Is it safe to travel with a laptop in a backpack?
Yes, as long as your backpack has a well-padded sleeve, it is safe to carry your laptop.
What is a TSA-compliant laptop bag?
TSA-friendly laptop bags have a zip-away separate laptop compartment that lays flat for scanning.
What size backpack is allowed on TSA?
To carry it under your seat, a backpack needs to be smaller than 18” x 14” x 8”
Can I carry a laptop backpack and a carry-on?
If your backpack is small enough to be a personal item, you can bring it plus a full-size carry-on.