Best Laptop Bags 2020: Rucksacks, Satchels, Messenger & More


Cases 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 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 work. But they can also come in handy 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.

 

Ogio Alpha Convoy 525r Backpack

The Ogio Alpha Convoy 525r Backpack has a modern rolltop 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 in 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 (£49.95 / $49.99) or Soft Pouch (£44.95 / $39.99), for storing more valuables.

STM Banks

STM Banks is the latest laptop bag from Australia-based STM, offering a decent 18L capacity without compromising on the slimline design. It comes in green, blue, brown or grey, while each features a pop of colour on the zips that help make it stand out from the crowd. 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. 

Stubble & Co

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.

Inside is an 18L main compartment with a drawstring closure. You can fit up to a 15in laptop in the protected section at the back, where a leather strap with two settings keeps things in place.

Not only does The Backpack look great – available in Black, Olive, Navy and Grey – the craftsmanship is exceptional. The bag is made from premium waterproofed canvas, natural full grain leather and Japanese engineered YKK zips.

The Commuter (on the left) is available in similar colours. It’s a more traditional shape and has a larger 22L capacity along with more sections – namely a dedicated laptop compartment – and pockets if that’s more the kind of thing you need. 

These might not be the most ‘techy’ laptop bag around with USB ports and the like but it’s certainly the one to opt for when it comes to style and quality. We love the little details including a mountain range in the stitching and three sets of magnets for the lid on The Backpack.

OMEN Transceptor 17 Duffel Bag

The OMEN Transceptor 17 Duffel bag is a laptop bag/duffel hybrid, offering removable duffel straps and rucksack straps depending on how you want to use the bag. The 32L capacity is certainly large enough to carry your gaming accessories and even a change of clothes, and you can store a 17.3in laptop (the only in our chart to accommodate large laptops) in a padded compartment. 

In fact, the Transceptor 17 Duffel takes compartments to a new level; there are dedicated compartments for your headphones, mouse, wallet and even your trainers. There’s also a USB port on the inside which you can hook up to a battery pack and charge your smartphone via the outside pocket, and for the security-conscious, there’s an RFID-blocking compartment for your wallet. 

If you’re looking for something to use on your daily commute and on trips, the Transceptor 17 Duffel is a great option. 

Targus CityGear

Available in 14in, 15.6in and 17.3in, Targus’ CityGear II backpack is cleverly designed to accommodate and protect all the gadgets a modern traveller needs to carry.

We tried out the smallest version, which is ideal for a 14in laptop or smaller. This has its own dedicated rear zipped section. In front is a larger section which has a soft lined pocket for a tablet, plus space for other stuff – you’ll just about fit in a pair of shoes. 

Organiser pockets are everywhere in the front section, so you’ll find a suitable one for whatever you need to store including headphones, keys, cables and more.

On the front is a handy sunglasses pocket (which is also a good size for a smartphone) and there’s a mesh pocket for a water bottle on the side.

There’s plenty of back padding, but the straps are fairly thinly padded. Overall construction quality, including the zips, is excellent, and it’s good value at this price.

Hex Alliance

A lot of laptop backpacks tend to be bulky affairs – the necessary result of adding extra compartments, pockets, padding, zips, and more. If you’re looking something a little slimmer, you might want to consider the Hex Alliance range.

There’s only one main compartment, though it contains a couple of smaller external pouches for pens and accessories, along with a space for laptops – up to 15in screens. This laptop pouch is both padded and fleece-lined, so your laptop can recline in luxury. The same treatment is given to the front pouch, which is big enough to fit a small tablet or eReader.

The whole thing is water-resistant, and construction quality is among the best we’ve seen. Our only hesitation is the slightly rigid strap padding, which means this is a bit less comfortable than some of the bags here – not a problem for the commute, but bear it in mind if you expect to be carrying a lot of heavy gear around all day.

We’ve tested out the ‘Grid’ version (pictured), but Hex offers it in a few different colours and finishes.

Mission Workshop Khyte

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.

Made in small batches in San Francisco and shipped worldwide, you’re likely not to see too many of these about. Welcome to the club.

Speck Ruck

Speck is best known for its range of phone and tablet cases, but The Ruck is for your laptop.

Available in grey or khaki it has a capacity of 28 litres and should hold most 15-inch laptops in its dedicated padded section, found within the main compartment.

A second, zipped compartment contains separate padding for a tablet, along with an assortment of other smaller pockets and pouches for organising your gear. This pouch is designed to only open halfway down, which might sound annoying but is actually very convenient, as it stops it falling completely open, spilling your stuff everywhere.

There are a couple of side pockets, ideal for water bottles or small umbrellas, and there are two separate smaller zipped sections at the front for other stuff – one on the flap, and one underneath it.

The straps are padded with an air mesh fabric to keep the bag comfortable to wear no matter how weighed down it is, and the top handle is lightly padded too.

Build quality is great too, which is especially impressive given the low price, which makes it one of the most affordable laptop bags around.

Targus Work + Play Cycling 15.6″ Laptop BackPack

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 which clips between the shoulder straps to help keep it from moving around while cycling. 

We found it was more expensive to buy it from Amazon, and was cheapest when bought direct from Targus.

Booq Cobra Squeeze

The Cobra Squeeze is designed to look small on the outside but have a decent internal capacity.

It features a unique turtle-shell-like dome shape so it should keep its shape and distribute weight even when packed with a 15- or 16-inch laptop (nice extra padding in the pocket) and all your other goodies – such as second-screen tablet, as there’s a separate compartment for multiple device storage.

There’s a smaller zipped quick-access top pocket for your phone, keys, headphones, etc. This is beautifully lined to protect your phone from scratches, and feels like a luxury glove. There is a side pocket on either side of the bag – one with built-in key holder.

The Cobra Squeeze looks like a proper design-conscious bag in a lovely monochrome grey, and is built using a water-repellent canvas-like fabric (a blend of recycled PET and natural cotton that has been dyed in a resource-friendly process using organic pigments). There’s air-mesh padding on the back.

Each bag includes a serial number tracking system to help recover your bag, so the reasonably hefty price-tag is covered in the case of emergency.

While on the pricey side, the elegant, low-profile and comfortable Booq Cobra Squeeze looks the business, and is a quality backpack that hasn’t skimped on the build or the details.

Moshi Tego Sling Messenger

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

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.

Buckle & Seam Cara satchel

This bag is designed for the businessperson who wants to add a bit of leather and class to their daily tech carry. The satchel carries a laptop or tablet up to 13in in the padded section and is handmade in Pakistan.

The leather is high quality and sturdy and will wear attractively over the years into a well-loved item.

Buckle & Seam belong to an initiative that helps Pakistani girls get the best education possible, so you can spend in the knowledge your purchase is helping someone.

STM Saga Backpack

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.

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.

If you’re after a rucksack, 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 laptop bags have 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, and 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.

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.

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