Notebook bags are available in all kind of sizes, designs and of course price ranges, which makes it difficult to tell which one is the best for your needs. There are however a few key indicators that can greatly help in finding the one that perfectly suits your budget and requirements. This post only focuses on functionality and features of different types of laptop bags as design and aesthetics is a subjective matter and depends on individual taste. Let’s start with some important things to consider before moving on to our top picks from different categories.
Are you looking for a laptop bag just for moving the notebook around occasionally? You can get away with an inexpensive bag if that’s the case, but you need to have a clear goal in mind if your usage scenario is different. Frequent travelers and people who like to keep their notebooks with them most of the time need something made using weather-resistant materials. If you also prefer keeping other items such as books, tablet and other accessories, than you’d want a bag that’s comes with dedicated compartments for other gadgets and accessories. Comfort is equally important if you carry the bag for more than ten minutes, multiple times a week.
The size of a notebook bag is obviously defined by the size of the laptop, but you should also consider other stuff that you’d like to carry along. Bag sizes are defined in different ranges e.g. 14-15 inches and 16-17 inches. A laptop bag marketed to accommodate a 14-15 inch notebook can also easily accommodate slightly larger notebooks (15.6 inch is considered a standard sized notebook), but don’t expect it to easily fit a 17-incher.
Buying a 17-inch bag for carrying a 14-inch laptop would also do no good and would probably result in the notebook floating inside the bag. That’s why a margin of around +/-0.5-inch is acceptable, which ensures that the laptop fits perfectly and stays in place in case of jarring movements or impact. A bag that offers around 20% usable space after fitting in the laptop, the adaptor and some other necessary items means you can take some extra load with you when needed.
Material and Build Quality
The base material and build quality is directly proportional to the amount of money you are willing to spend. You can expect decent enough quality even in the budget segment, but it makes more sense to invest in a quality bag if you have to carry your digital load a lot. Double stitching at the leading edges and its thickness is a good indicator of how the bag is going to survive the tests of time, while selection of base materials gives you a fair idea of longevity.
Most laptop bags are made using nylon, including affordable ones. You’d come across different qualities or types of nylon such as ballistic nylon, which is quite wear-resistant. But you should be considering 500 Denier nylon bags if you are looking for a weather-resistant bag that able to last for a long time (Denier means thickness of nylon threads). If you are not limited by the budget, leather especially full grain leather might be a good option, but the material is not as wear-resistant as quality nylon.
Build material is not the only thing that determines quality of a laptop bag as there are a few other things that can really help in the buying decision. These include protective internal lining, quality zippers (preferably metal), flippers, adjustable and non-slip shoulder straps with proper cushion, internal/external compartments and key rings.
Best Laptop Carrying Bags and Backpacks
Available in solid black, heathered graphite and brushed incognito varieties, eBags Professional is an elegant and slim laptop that comes with a limited lifetime material and workmanship defect warranty. It is designed for 15-inch notebooks (you can even store 17 inchers by removing the additional padding) and comes with a multitude of compartments, including adapter garage (crush proof), tablet compartment and a water bottle pocket. DuPont Teflon fabric makes it very durable, while isolated compartments ensure quicker access and better protection.
- Elegant and slim design
- Crush-proof adapter garage
- High-visibility nylon lining
- Secured zippers
- Isolated compartments for laptop and tablet
- Trolley handle (works both horizontally and vertically)
- Lifetime warranty
- DuPont Teflon fabric
- Zippered water bottle pocket
- Adjustable for up to 17-inch notebooks
- Airmesh back panel
- Padded straps
- Shock-load sternum strap (removable)
This one-size-fits-all backpack is designed for business-casual people who want a reliable and durable notebook bag that also allows them to carry a ton of other things. Dedicated compartments for notebook, tablet, smartphone and other accessories make organization easier, while you’ll also find a number of pockets to hold other accessories. The backpack is suitable for up to 15-inch laptops, but can also hold larger laptops. However, it looks packed even when empty due to the rigid outer structure, which is a good and bad thing at the same time. Its sleek and streamlined design makes it an excellent choice for people who are specifically looking for an office-friendly bag.
- Padded shoulder straps
- Sternum strap
- Interior zipper pocket
- Business-casual design
- Solid back padding for more comfort
- 21 pockets/sections
- Dedicated laptop and tablet compartment
Solo Duane is a messenger and backpack briefcase with a slim profile designed to carry 15.6 inch notebooks. Convertible hideaway strips make it super easy to convert the briefcase into a backpack, making it an excellent every-situation notebook bag. Multiple compartments, including a dedicated pocket for tablets and exterior pockets with organization section allows storing a lot of other stuff such as cables, cards etc. You also get to quick-access pockets located at the front for holding your smartphone, wallet and more. An affordable price tag coupled with a 5-year guarantee makes this multi-purpose bag an excellent option in this price bracket.
- Separate laptop and tablet compartments
- Shoulder strap + Dual backpack-style straps
- Slim profile
- Large front pocket
The affordable bag is a great option for people looking for a simple bag that gets the job done. It comes with a laptop compartment and accessory storage pockets for storing things like mouse, cellphone and pen. The package includes a padded shoulder strap which makes it easier to carry your laptop without any unnecessary bulk. It’s also water resistant to some extent and can even hold up to 15.6 inch laptops.
- Lightweight and slim
- Accessory storage pockets
- Padded shoulder strap
If you are looking for a small and highly portable backpack for your 13 inch notebook, STM Prime is a great option. It can easily manage a laptop and then some necessities, which adds up to 15 liters of space. Highly visible interior helps stay organized and quickly find accessories, while the roll-top compartment includes multiple access points and expandable volume. The dual-density sleeve with secure flap and SafeEdge construction provides excellent protection for the expensive gadgets placed inside and minimize wear and tear. Although it’s designed for 13.3 inch laptops, it can still manage to fit in larger (up to 15-inch) laptops.
- Works great for people of smaller stature
- Compact and lightweight
- Padded sleeve and bottom
- Water-resistant nylon
- Handle on top
- Padded pouch for tablets
- Four small pockets for small accessories
- Large zippered pocket with elastic mesh pouch
- Two water bottle pockets with elastic mesh strips