Whether you’re preparing to head back to school or simply looking to carry your gadgets and personal belongings on your travels, you’ll want a reliable laptop bag to get the job done.
Bags for laptops come in all shapes, sizes and styles. It’s wise to pick something that doesn’t advertise the fact you’re carrying expensive gear around with you and we’ve picked a variety of designs at various budgets so there’s sure to be something that suits.
Choosing a bag isn’t just about budget though; it needs to offer space for everything else you need to carry around with you. And that will depend upon both the tech you want to carry and where you’re going.
Most of the options here are general purpose, which means they can be used to transport your stuff to and from school, university or work. But they can also be used when travelling, either on holiday or for business.
Need a laptop to put in your new bag? Take a look at the best laptops to buy as well as the best budget laptops.
Best laptop bags of 2022
WaterField Essential Laptop Backpack – Best Backpack
The ‘Essential’ laptop bag from WaterField is, well, focussed on the essentials – but it really nails them.
The aesthetic is simple, but sleek, with a choice of colourful accents below the black body. Built from water-resistant nylon, with waterproof seals around the zips, this is sturdy enough to survive the elements, with a structured body that holds its shape even when the bag is empty.
Outer pockets on each side will hold water bottles or small umbrellas, and there are zipped compartments on both the inside and outside for keeping track of your loose bits and pieces.
The single padded and fleece-lined laptop pouch is big enough for 14in and even some 16in devices, with a simple velcro strap to hold things in place.
STM Banks – Lots of Space
STM Banks is the latest laptop bag from Australia-based STM, offering a decent 18L capacity without compromising on the slimline design. There’s also breathable mesh fabric on the back, helping to avoid the awkward back sweat when carrying a rucksack.
It’s designed to be an everyday bag as well as a laptop bag, with plenty of space for your laptop (up to 15in), charger, phone, lunch and even a jacket – believe me, I’ve tried. There are plenty of pockets of all shapes and sizes that’ll hold everything from sunglasses to phones to battery packs and more.
That’s not to say that it has some impressive laptop-specific features including the company’s own Slingtech protection that suspends the laptop sleeve from the ground to protect it from drops, while also providing extra cushioning at the corners.
It also features the all-new CableReady routing system that allows you to store run cables through different sections of the bag, perfect for keeping your smartphone or laptop topped up while on the go.
Our only criticism? While there is plenty of storage, we found that the openings were a little tight for our liking, making peering into the contents of the bag a slightly awkward process. It’s a similar story with the front pockets, meaning you’ll be relying more on your sense of touch than sight when fishing for your iPhone cable or headphones.
Ogio Alpha Convoy 525r Backpack – Strong yet Lightweight
The Ogio Alpha Convoy 525r Backpack has a modern roll-top design (for adjustable storage), and a zipped back slip pocket to store a 15in or smaller laptop and tablet. It looks great, feels tough and strong yet lightweight, and is suitably padded for comfort and device protection.
It is made from recycled and discarded materials, which earns it extra points.
With the back pocket, it’s easy to remove your devices at airport security, and quick to slip them back into the backpack when you’re through. We managed to pack for a two-night business trip with changes of clothes, wash bag, books and other necessities. That was a push, however, so we’d recommend this more for the daily commute or an overnight stay.
The main adjustable rolltop compartment has an impressive 28-litre capacity, which is enough for most daily packs, and will even accommodate a shopping trip. It’s narrower than a standard rucksack, so may baulk at bulky items, but overall we fell in love with this bag on looks and utility.
It features adjustable shoulder straps with sternum strap, plus side and bottom compression straps. There’s a zippered pocket on the front, and a handy key clip, plus an open stash pocket that feels safe enough to store items you need quick access to.
On the sides are two handy water bottle pockets. The bag also has a reflective trim for night-time safety. It’s available in either Black or Camo.
It’s possible to add and attach an optional compatible Mod Hard Case or Soft Pouch, for storing more valuables.
Stubble & Co – Oh So Stylish
We’ve no doubt that Stubble & Co is making some of the most stylish and well-made bags around. And we’ve included two here because they’re both so nice.
First up is ‘The Backpack‘, which isn’t an overly complicated rucksack with more pockets than you can remember. Instead, it’s simple and effective with just a pocket on the front and a small one inside. You also get side pockets for items like a water bottle.
This updated model has a 21L main compartment and you can fit up to a 16in laptop in the protected section at the back. Furthermore, the material is now water-resistant premium Tekwax canvas (also found on the new The Weekender – a holdall with a laptop compartment). If you need a fully waterproof bag then look to The Roll Top.
Not only does The Backpack look great – available in All Black, Pirate and Olive – the craftsmanship is exceptional. Magnets on the lid have been replaced with a more secure G clip.
The Commuter (pictured on the left, $163/£115) is available in five colours. It’s a more traditional shape and has a slightly larger 22L capacity along with more sections – namely a dedicated laptop compartment with its own zip – and pockets if that’s more the kind of thing you need.
Moshi Muto – Compact, secure & stylish
The Moshi Muto is a wonderfully stylish and functional bag for 11in to 13in laptops. As a three-way convertible bag, you can use it as a backpack, a crossbody sling, or briefcase.
It’s well made and designed with both anti-theft and RFID protection. It’s also comfortable to wear with padded straps.
Clipping in the staps to use the Muto as a backpack was pretty obvious, slightly less obvious was understanding how to re-orienting the straps to use the bag as a sling. Hint: you’ll need to connect one of the straps diagonally and tuck the other one away under the flap on the back.
If you’re using the bag as a briefcase, you’ll need to tuck both straps away under the back flap. A brief instruction note would have been useful – but that’s about the only criticism I have towards the Muto.
I really liked the clean minimalist design. It’s a great choice for the office or a wander around the city. You can keep all your essentials in one place with peace of mind. There’s also a pocket for your water bottle.
Mission Workshop Khyte – Best Design
If it’s a premium all-weather messenger bag that fits a 15in laptop you’re after then look no further.
The Khyte messenger by Mission Workshop is a masterpiece of modern design that comes with a lifetime guarantee.
Built with cyclists in mind but suitable for anyone, we fell in love with the austere, practicality of the Khyte. Your laptop goes in a weatherproof zipped pocket against your body while the flap opens to reveal a compressible 24L main compartment. The bag’s clever magnetic buckles are fast-release and once you use them, you’ll never go back.
It’s the quality of build and attention to detail that win out here, from the design that suspends your laptop off the bottom of the bag to avoid drop damage to the soft lined outer zip pocket for your phone, the Khyte is an expensive laptop bag that does that rare thing of completely justifying its high price.
There’s even an optional
gear pouch cleverly slides on and off of the well-stitched rails on the bag for those days you need to lug round even more tech.
They’re expensive as they’re made in small batches in San Francisco so you’re likely not to see too many of these about. Welcome to the club. The Mission Workshop ships worldwide.
Targus Work + Play Cycling 15.6″ Laptop BackPack – Best for Cyclists
If you cycle to work and prefer a rucksack to the over-the-shoulder commuter-style bags, then Targus has the answer.
It developed the Cycling BackPack with a professional cyclist, which seems an odd choice since pros don’t tend to cycle around with gear on their back.
In any case, this is a well-designed rucksack that will accommodate everything most cyclists will need. That means a handy internal compartment which will keep a pair of shoes separate from everything else in the main compartment, lash points on the outside to which you can attach a helmet (when not cycling, obviously), rear lights and your bike lock.
There’s space in the padded rear compartment for a laptop up to 15.6in and lots of other handy pockets for your phone, keys and other bits and pieces.
There’s even a dedicated space at the bottom to keep a spare innertube, tyre levers and other tools.
Proving it thought about all weather conditions, the bag also has a bright orange rain cover stored in the base which you can quickly whip out in a downpour and it has a zip so you can still attach a light to the rucksack.
The straps aren’t as thick and padded as we’ve seen on other Targus bags, but it’s nice to see an elastic strap that clips between the shoulder straps to help keep it from moving around while cycling.
Moshi Tego Sling Messenger – Best Messenger Bag
If you’re carrying heavy gear a backpack is usually a safer bet, but for a lighter load you might prefer a messenger bag.
We’re fans of the Moshi Tego Sling, a satchel that’s part of Moshi’s anti-theft Tego range. Like the rest of the range, it features a durable fabric, an RFID-shielded pocket to prevent people lifting information from your cards, and inward-facing zips to make it harder for anyone to open the bag without you knowing.
That does bring with it a touch of inconvenience – you basically have to take the bag off entirely to open it – but it’s arguably worth it for the piece of mind it brings. Throw in the water-resistance, padded 13in laptop/tablet compartment, and eye-catching sci-fi design, and there are plenty of reasons to pick one up.
Mission Workshop Rhake – Large capacity for cyclists
This bag might be overkill for some, but it’s an incredibly well-made option particularly if you cycle a lot.
The roll top design makes the 22L pack completely watertight, and the hard wearing material is sure to last you years. There’s clever water bottle, laptop and tablet pockets, front pockets to tuck away small accessories and optional phone and DSLR inserts.
If you want a bag to keep your laptop safe and dry while also lugging round your gear and maybe a couple days clothes, then this is the one for you.
STM Myth – A Stylish All-Rounder
This slight but capable bag from STM is another great example of a daily bag for your laptop and tech. It can take a 15in laptop or smaller but has fibre lined pockets for your tablet and phone too.
There’s tons of storage pockets in the one main compartment with STM’s clever cable tidy system that lets you permanently have a power bank and cable inside the bag ready to charge your stuff while you walk about. It’s comfortable to wear for long periods too.
You can also get
the supremely useful Dapper Wrapper to stash all your cables and plugs. It’s so, so useful.
Add to that a luggage pass through strap on the back and a suspended sleeve so your laptop is never hitting the ground, it’s a good all-rounder. No water bottle pocket though!
Harber Commuter Backpack – Fashion-Focussed
Harber’s Commuter is a backpack for the style over substance crowd. Handmade in Spain from a combination of recycled fabric and full grain leather, this is undoubtedly a looker, and oozes quality from top to bottom.
Built for laptops from 13in up to 16in, you get a padded compartment for your PC – with a false bottom so that it won’t thud into the floor when you drop your bag down. An additional tablet section is ideal for those of us wielding dual devices, but be warned: that’s all you get.
There aren’t any other pouches or pockets, inside or out, which means this only suits minimalist tastes – if you tend to carry a load round with you, it’ll all have to go loose into the main compartment.
STM Saga Backpack – A Compact Choice
If you are looking for something a little smaller than some of the other options here, check out the Saga. It takes most of the best features of the STM range and squeezes them into a design that’s both cheaper and more compact.
There’s only a single main compartment, but it’s helpfully split down into a 15in padded laptop pouch and several other smaller pockets, along with an interior mesh pouch opposite – smartly weighted so that it will hang outwards when the bag is open. Beyond that there’s a small zip pocket on the outside, bottle pockets, and one un-zipped pouch in case you want to store anything for quick access.
Laptop bag buying advice
Every laptop bag has a dedicated compartment for your computer, and bags usually advertise the biggest laptop you can carry by giving a screen size in inches. You might find that a laptop with a 16in screen will fit due to its dimensions, even if the bag says ‘up to 15in’ – although it may be a tight fit.
Pockets and flaps for easy access
Frequent travellers should look for a bag with an easy-access laptop pocket, so you can quickly whip out your device at airport security. A luggage pass-through flap will also help you attach the bag to your suitcase’s telescopic drag handle.
The amount of protection varies from bag to bag, with some manufacturers providing all-around padding (with double at the bottom) and others just an internal pouch with no top cover. Read our reviews to find out what level of protection each bag offers.
As well as your laptop, you’ll need room for the power supply, other accessories and your own gear, whether that’s a gym kit, water bottle, documents, keys, phone and other gadgets. Most bags have a nominal capacity, but this is usually the total volume, rather than a single space for stuff besides a laptop.
Multiple pockets are useful as they help keep everything separate and organise, while a bag with a large extra compartment is good for bulky items such as shoes. Look for a capacity in litres, but bear in mind that the larger the capacity, the bigger (and usually heavier) the bag you’ll have to carry everywhere.
Some bags have a dedicated pocket for tablets and another for smartphones or media players. The latter sometimes have a hole through which you can route your headphones.
It’s useful to have several zipped pockets which can be accessed independently, rather than having to open the main zip to get at internal pockets. That gives would-be thieves a view of what you’re carrying and isn’t nearly as convenient.
Strap quality: comfort, comfort, comfort!
If you’re wearing your backpack for several hours at a time, you’ll want to stay comfortable. Look for one with well-padded straps and – if you’ll be walking long distances – a chest strap to help stabilise the load. Some bags even have a hiking-style waist strap, but that’s overkill on a laptop carrier.
Many will also be designed to help with airflow so you’re not a sweaty mess after a little exertion.
Protection: Water, RFID and antibacterial
Many laptop bags use water-resistant material either on the outside or in the lining. If this is a priority, bear in mind that only bags marked as waterproof will ensure your kit stays dry. Some bags come with a separate rain cover which you can pop over the rucksack in a downpour to keep your kit bone dry.
Water resistance doesn’t mean the same thing as waterproof. If you’re cycling in the rain, it’s wise to use additional protection such as a proper rain cover or keep some large freezer bags to seal in your gadgets.
Now that lockdowns are beginning to ease, you may also want to think about added antibacterial protection – especially if you’re one to keep your backpack on dirty tube floors or on the ground. Some brands like The Pure Bag even use silver-ion fabrics that prevent bacteria growth. Though an easier solution may be to opt for a backpack made with easy-to-wipe fabrics or plastics.
Additionally, if you keep your wallet, credit cards, or even Oyster card in your backpack, you might also want to consider a bag with RFID protection to keep the baddies from getting their hands in your funds. Or get yourself a smart wallet.
Prices vary widely, and you don’t always get what you pay for. Buying a laptop bag from a fashion brand, for example, might be more costly, but doesn’t guarantee better quality zips or fasteners than a cheaper bag. That’s where our reviews come in, of course.