The 5 Best Laptop Backpacks of 2024 | Reviews by Wirecutter

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A previous pick in this guide, the Lululemon Everyday Backpack 2.0 23L, has been discontinued. According to a brand rep, their “backpack assortment is evolving”; we are considering other models to test for a future update. Laptop Bag With Trolley Strap

The 5 Best Laptop Backpacks of 2024 | Reviews by Wirecutter

A backpack is our favorite way to carry and protect a laptop and other necessities on a commute. It’s more ergonomic than a tote or messenger bag, it holds more than a briefcase, and it looks more stylish than a rolling bag.

Since 2015, we’ve tested more than 75 backpacks on buses, trains, cars, bikes, and planes. The following five are the best we’ve found: a tailored professional bag, a tough pack that fits a ton of tech, a sleek traveling companion, a stylish and budget-friendly option, and an ergonomic office-to-gym workhorse.

Handsome styling, ergonomic design, and thoughtful details make this pricey backpack worth the money.

If you prefer a more-polished-looking backpack—think modern-briefcase vibes—the Troubadour Apex 3.0 Backpack is a terrific choice. It’s smart enough for the boardroom, yet it still offers all the convenience and comfort of a backpack.

Note: This is a newer and slightly redesigned version of our previous pick, the Troubadour Apex Backpack, which is no longer available. The Apex 3.0 is now made from 90% recycled materials, and it has a comfier, bonded neoprene top handle. It also includes a hidden pocket on the left shoulder strap. After testing the Apex 3.0, we confirmed that, like its predecessor, it is worthy of being a pick.

It’s elegant and beautifully made. The Apex is our most expensive pick, but its style and quality justify its hefty price tag. The backpack’s substantial, recycled polyester body is both durable and refined, and vegan-leather trims add extra polish. It has a tailored, softly geometric shape that remains streamlined when full, and it doesn’t collapse when empty.

The sturdily-crafted Apex keeps your cargo safe in inclement weather. Its body is coated with a fluorocarbon-free waterproofing treatment, and the smoothly operating zippers are set in a waterproof tape for additional protection.

It’s surprisingly ergonomic. Plush, ventilated back panels and contoured memory-foam shoulder straps—unusual in such an elegant, non-technical-looking backpack—make the Apex a pleasure to carry. The padding feels soft and luxurious, even with heavier loads.

The flexible top handle is lined with neoprene on its underside, so the bag is comfortable to carry by hand—a particularly nice feature for commuters on crowded buses or trains. And a luggage pass-through sleeve does a great job of stabilizing the bag on the handle of a rolling suitcase.

When the Apex isn’t very full, however, its substantial structure and padding can make it feel, in the words of one tester, “like a lot of backpack.”

It’s thoughtfully organized, inside and out. The backpack’s main compartment is roomy enough to fit larger items, and it includes an organizer panel with several slip pockets, zip pouches, and pen holders. Sitting closest to your back, the 17-inch laptop compartment is comfortably padded and has an extra sleeve for stashing a tablet. On the bag’s exterior, a deep-but-flat front-zip pocket and two spacious water-bottle pockets offer accessible storage.

An expandable pocket, tucked into the left shoulder strap, is designed for items you’ll want to grab quickly, such as a wallet, phone, or ID badge. In practice, we didn’t find it all that functional; it’s uncomfortable to stash an iPhone right against your shoulder, and when the pocket is expanded, the bag looks less sleek. This pocket is one of the new features that Troubadour added to the Apex for the updated 3.0 model, and though we don’t think it provides much function, you don’t have to use it if you don’t like it, and it’s otherwise harmless.

Dimensions: 19 by 12.5 by 6 inches Weight: 2.2 pounds Capacity: 25 liters Maximum laptop size: 17 inches Warranty: Troubadour guarantees its products for five years against manufacturing faults.

This tough backpack can accommodate and organize lots of tech—we fit a laptop, keyboard, tablet, and handheld gaming device in it all at once, with room to spare. But its aesthetic may be too utilitarian for some.

When you’re toting a ton of tech, keeping it all organized and safe is probably high on your list of priorities. The Timbuk2 Authority Laptop Backpack Deluxe capably contains and protects valuable cargo, and it will last you a long time. Plus, it has plenty of ergonomic and comfort features to help lighten your load.

It fits an impressive amount of gear into a slim profile. Although this 20-liter Timbuk2 bag feels compact, it can pack in plenty of tech. In our testing, we used it to carry a 13-inch laptop and its charger, a keyboard, a tablet, two power banks, a Nintendo Switch Lite and its charger, various cables, a cable stable full of accessories, a planner, a notepad, keys, and a travel mug, with room to spare.

When you have less to haul, compression straps at the lower front of the bag allow you to cinch the pack down—a major plus on crowded buses and trains. But some of our testers disliked the look of the prominent metal buckles.

It’s loaded with compartments and pockets. The Authority Deluxe’s front section is a paradise of pockets, with a stretchy mesh zippered pouch, pen holders, and two plush-lined tech compartments. Sitting just behind that section is a roomy main compartment with a nicely padded sleeve. Closest to the back, the well-padded laptop compartment—the largest among all of our picks—can fit computers up to 17 inches. Finally, two exterior front zip pockets fit quick-grab items, and a flexible side pocket snugly accommodates a 24-ounce bottle.

It’s tough. This Timbuk2 backpack’s durable recycled-nylon exterior guards against bumps and bruises, while its ample padding and waterproof boot (the bottom portion of the bag) add extra peace of mind when you’re transporting precious tech. Plus, Timbuk2 backs the Authority Deluxe with a lifetime warranty.

It’s well padded for all-day comfort. Testers found the Authority Deluxe comfortable and easy to carry thanks to the plush, breathable padding on its back panel and shoulder straps. When you’re lugging heavier gear, the adjustable-height sternum strap helps to distribute the load evenly and keep the pack secure.

Dimensions: 18.9 by 11.8 by 5.1 inches Weight: 2.6 pounds Capacity: 20 liters Maximum laptop size: 17 inches Warranty: Timbuk2’s lifetime warranty covers defects in materials and workmanship. It does not cover damages resulting from normal wear and tear or strictly cosmetic issues.

This backpack is loaded with traveler-friendly features, including a sturdy luggage sleeve and passport pocket. Leather accents and gunmetal hardware elevate its simple silhouette, but the thick material can feel a little warm in hot climates.

Whether you’re racing to the office or to an airport gate, the July Carry All Backpack Series 2 is a trusty travel companion. It looks just as luxe and put-together as a structured tote, yet it offers the comfort and functionality of a backpack—with some especially thoughtful features thrown in to help make getting from A to B a little easier.

It’s a chic take on a classic shape. The Carry All has a simple, structured silhouette made from a sleek nylon-twill material. The bag’s leather-wrapped carry handle and zipper pulls, as well as its gleaming gunmetal hardware, add polish to the otherwise pared-down exterior.

It’s ideal for travel. The Carry All’s freestanding shape and sturdy luggage sleeve make it a great travel accessory—among our picks, this bag and the Troubadour Apex 3.0 fit the most securely on the handle of a rolling suitcase. Its hidden passport pocket, tucked beneath the top carry handle, is a nice extra.

And since globetrotting often comes with surprises, it’s reassuring to know that this bag’s exterior is sturdy, protective, and water resistant—something to which we can personally attest after getting caught in cats-and-dogs rain.

Its pockets are especially useful—delightful, even. The Carry All’s boxy main compartment has a tablet sleeve and a sleek zippered pouch. Against the back of the pack, you’ll find a top-zip laptop compartment for computers up to 16 inches, while a roomy quick-access front pocket provides a place to stash smaller items.

But the feature that tickled us the most is the Carry All’s fully enclosed, zippered water-bottle pocket, located on the left side of the pack (when worn). The clever design—which allows you to tuck your drink away in a secure chamber, out of sight—ensures that a garishly colored bottle will never clash with your tasteful backpack.

It’s perfect for carrying medium loads. With a 20-liter capacity, the Carry All is roomy enough for your essentials—it easily fits a long weekend’s worth of clothing, toiletries, and tech—but it won’t tempt you to overpack.

The adjustable straps are just right for midsize cargo, as they’re better cushioned than those on our pick from Everlane but not as substantial as the straps on our picks from Timbuk2 and Aer, so they hang more naturally over the shoulders when the bag isn’t full.

Our only knock: The Carry All lacks mesh padding at the back, so its substantial nylon material can feel warm against the body in hotter weather.

Dimensions: 16 by 11 by 6.5 inches Weight: 2.2 pounds Capacity: 20 liters Maximum laptop size: 16 inches Warranty: July covers the Carry All Backpack with a five-year warranty. The company will repair or replace bags that have defects due to manufacturing faults within five years of purchase; cosmetic damages and general wear and tear are not covered.

A streamlined design and welcome features—including a magnetic top closure and a plethora of pockets—make this budget-friendly, wear-anywhere bag look and feel pricier than it is. But unlike our other picks, it isn’t backed by a warranty.

Everlane’s The ReNew Transit Backpack is an effortlessly cool, feature-packed bag that excels in both form and function. It’s versatile enough to go from the workplace to a weekend getaway, and it comfortably carries midsize loads.

It has a contemporary, wear-anywhere vibe. The Transit balances its clean aesthetic with a slightly slouchy silhouette, so it looks equally at home in the office and on the go. The recycled-polyester exterior comes in an array of subtle colors.

It’s functional and feature-packed. The Transit’s main compartment is equipped with two slip pockets for notebooks or a tablet, as well as an interior water-bottle pocket. A zipper that runs along the side of the bag opens to a separate, padded laptop compartment that can accommodate computers up to 15 inches, though the side-access placement can take some getting used to.

The spacious zippered front compartment makes it easy for you to access your commuter essentials, and the external side water-bottle pocket smoothly accommodates a 24-ounce water bottle. The backpack’s fold-over top has another roomy zippered pocket and is secured with an invisible magnetic closure—a favorite feature for all of our testers, and a plus if you have reduced manual dexterity.

It’s best suited for medium-size loads. Weighing just 1.42 pounds when empty, the Transit is the lightest of our picks. Its straps are gently contoured, and while you’re on the go, you can easily make length adjustments to get the perfect fit.

Although the Transit has a spacious, 27-liter capacity, we don’t recommend filling it to the brim with your heaviest gear; its lightly padded straps make it best for more modest cargo. We were perfectly comfortable toting a laptop, water bottle, notebook, and sweater in it.

It’s a great value. The Transit is one of the most budget-friendly of our picks, but it has an upscale look—the reveal of its sub-$100 price tag prompted several “Wait, what?!” reactions from testers, friends, and colleagues.

Although the Transit is not as tough as our picks from Timbuk2 and Aer or as luxe as the Troubadour Apex 3.0 and July Carry All bags, its sturdy, water-resistant exterior and all-metal hardware hold up capably over time. One tester, who has been using the Transit regularly for a year and counting, reports that her bag isn’t showing a single sign of wear.

Dimensions: 17.5 by 12 by 7.25 inches Weight: 1.42 pounds Capacity: 27 liters Maximum laptop size: 15 inches Warranty: none

This futuristic-looking backpack seamlessly transitions from office to gym, with ultra-comfortable straps and plenty of organization for your gadgets and gear—plus a ventilated shoe compartment. It’s over 20 inches tall, so it fits best on people with a bigger back.

Fitness-minded folks who hit the gym before or after work—and who don’t mind carrying a longer bag—will appreciate the stylish, protective, and extremely ergonomic Aer Duffel Pack 3.

It’s the comfiest of our picks for carrying heavy loads. Among all the laptop backpacks we tested, the Duffel Pack 3 was the best at comfortably distributing weight. At 2.9 pounds, it’s also the heaviest bag we recommend—but thanks to its ergonomic design, those extra ounces aren’t noticeable.

The back panel and contoured shoulder straps are cushioned with plush, breathable mesh padding. A secure, easily adjustable sternum strap clicks across the chest to position the bag correctly—a feature that comes highly recommended by physical therapist Sarah Lloyd and is especially helpful when the bag is heavy.

It keeps gym gear separate. Cleverly designed compartments divide sweaty clothes and shoes from the rest of your stuff. True to its name, the Duffel Pack 3’s spacious, well-designed main area opens wide to allow top-to-bottom access to your duds; its interior lining is treated with an antimicrobial coating to control odors. A ventilated shoe compartment, which unzips at the base of the backpack, keeps stinky trainers away from your other gear.

It’s just as well suited for work as it is for the gym. The Duffel Pack 3 is no one-trick pony. You can stow your computer and other gadgets in its amply padded back compartment, which includes numerous slip pockets as well as a stretchy mesh zippered pouch, perfect for storing a laptop charger.

For convenient access to belongings while you’re on the go, this Aer pack has two zippered pockets on the front that blend into its pleated exterior. You’ll also find an easily reachable pocket at the top of the bag for your phone—lined with a plush material—as well as two elasticized side water-bottle pockets.

It’s the most protective of our picks. The 16-inch laptop compartment is substantially padded and has a plush lining that won’t scratch delicate surfaces. It also features a “false bottom” to keep your computer suspended safely above the base of the bag, protecting it from bumps and drops. And during our tests, the pack’s water-resistant Cordura material (a tightly woven nylon performance fabric) and sealed waterproof zippers kept gear dry in the rain.

Everything about the Duffel Pack 3 feels high quality, including its ballistic-nylon exterior, YKK-brand zippers, and Duraflex plastic hardware. Plus, Aer backs its products with a lifetime warranty.

Dimensions: 20.5 by 11.75 by 8 inches Weight: 2.9 pounds Capacity: 21.4 liters Maximum laptop size: 16 inches Warranty: Aer covers the Duffel Pack 3 with a lifetime warranty, which guarantees quality and performance for the practical lifetime of the product. Aer will repair or replace products that fail due to manufacturing defects at no additional charge. General wear and tear is not covered.

To find great backpacks for anyone who commutes with a laptop, we considered the following criteria:

We then put the laptop backpacks that satisfied our initial criteria to the test in the field. My Wirecutter colleagues and I have worn dozens of backpacks for commutes by train, bus, bike, and car. We’ve also schlepped through airports with them and taken them for long walks in all sorts of weather.

If you’re looking for a stylish, smaller-scale pack for organizing tech: The Aer Day Pack 2 has tons of pockets and organization for corralling your gadgets, including a padded, suspended 16-inch laptop sleeve. It has ultra-comfortable padded straps and a breathable mesh back panel—but with a capacity of 15 liters, it’s best for those who travel light. Its exterior has a sleeker look than the Timbuk2 Authority Laptop Backpack Deluxe, our other ultra-techie pick.

If you commute mostly by bike and need a bag that can withstand the elements: The Chrome Urban Ex 2.0—which comes in 20-liter and 30-liter versions—is tough, durable and comfortable. Its rugged, waterproof exterior has handy loops for hooking a helmet or U-lock, and the roll-top closure lets you shrink and expand the bag as needed. The back panel and shoulder straps are well padded, and an adjustable chest buckle keeps the pack securely in place as you whip around turns.

If you want a good-looking, affordable travel backpack (and can live without a water-bottle pocket): The Italic Rafa Backpack is a sleek, well-made nylon bag that looks and feels nearly as polished as our July Carry All Backpack Series 2 travel pick, at half the price. It has comfortably padded straps, a sturdy luggage pass-through, and chic leather accents. Unfortunately, there’s no water-bottle holder, and we’ve noticed that it frequently goes in and out of stock.

This is not a comprehensive list of everything we’ve tested for previous iterations of this guide, just what’s still available.

The inexpensive Amazon Basics Laptop Backpack has good reviews, but we think it’s alarmingly ugly. It was out of stock at the time of our testing, too.

We had difficulty accessing the contents of the very expensive Sandqvist Alva.

We found the straps on the travel-ready Away Front Pocket Backpack stiff and uncomfortable.

Testers liked the Bellroy Classic Backpack but not as much as they did any of our picks. The Bellroy Classic Backpack Plus was uncomfortable.

The Dagne Dover Dakota Neoprene Backpack has a fun, pop-art-meets-streetwear vibe, but it’s heavy and expensive, and in our tests it felt stiflingly hot against our backs.

We used to recommend the Fjällräven Räven 28 for travel, but unlike our current travel pick, the July Carry All, it lacks a luggage pass-through.

Testers enjoyed the cute Herschel Nova Backpack Mid-Volume but said it wasn’t grown-up enough for the office. The weather-resistant Herschel Survey II Backpack hung too low on our 5-foot-6 tester—even with the straps fully tightened—and its front pocket is frustratingly hidden beneath the top flap.

The large, office-to-gym Lo & Sons Hakuba was heavy and hot to wear.

The Lululemon City Adventurer Backpack 20L is too small to be a functional work-to-gym bag. And we couldn’t even fit a full workday’s worth of stuff into the 10-liter Osprey Arcane Small Day.

The Matein Travel Laptop Backpack felt cheaply made.

For a commuter bag, the Patagonia Black Hole Pack 25L was too bulky and disorganized.

The Public Rec Pro Pack Plus is a travel backpack that looks sophisticated, but we found it uncomfortable. We’ve seen availability issues with this pack, too, though it should be restocked.

The stylish, waterproof Rains Backpack Mini doesn’t fit much (9 liters), and it’s uncomfortable for carrying a laptop—the thin straps are poorly padded and hard to adjust.

Though the State Kane Double Pocket Large is spacious and well organized, the material wears hot, and the straps are a bit stiff and under-padded.

The Topo Rover Pack is well made and comfortable. But its tall, narrow shape restricts its capacity, and its campground aesthetic can feel a little juvenile for the workplace.

This article was edited by Ingela Ratledge Amundson and Jennifer Hunter.

Zoe Vanderweide is a staff writer reporting on style and accessories at Wirecutter. She has been wearing things for over three decades, and she has spent years covering streetwear, luxury, art, and design. Off the clock, you can find her painting the town rainbow with her (devastatingly stylish) daughter.

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The 5 Best Laptop Backpacks of 2024 | Reviews by Wirecutter

Ladies Laptop Bag Wirecutter is the product recommendation service from The New York Times. Our journalists combine independent research with (occasionally) over-the-top testing so you can make quick and confident buying decisions. Whether it’s finding great products or discovering helpful advice, we’ll help you get it right (the first time).