One of the joys of remote work is that you can work wherever there’s good wifi. Coffee shops? Check. Co-working spaces? Check. On top of Table Mountain in South Africa? Also check. But in order to work wherever you want, you need a good laptop backpack. Here are 4 factors you need to consider when you’re in the market for a backpack, as well as 10 specific laptop backpacks we recommend.
A good laptop backpack is comfortable. Adjustable straps, a hip belt, a mesh covering to avoid a sweaty back, and internal framing to distribute weight all help to make a backpack feel comfortable. Material plays a big role in comfort too, because canvas and leather backpacks are heavier than nylon and polyester backpacks.
Comfort is even more important when your laptop backpack will function as a travel backpack as well. In such cases, visit a shop and try out a few backpacks to see how comfortable they are instead of ordering one blindly online.
A laptop can cost thousands of dollars, so you want a backpack that properly protects it when you’re moving about. Ideally, this means a separate compartment and sleeve for your laptop, plus plenty of padding at the backpack's top, bottom, and sides.
It also means that your backpack should be water-resistant, including the zippers. You’ll inevitably come across a scenario where it starts pouring rain and you don’t have an umbrella. No water should be able to enter the backpack; your gear should always be fully protected.
Consider the size of your device before buying a laptop backpack. While most backpacks can fit a 16” MacBook Pro, finding a backpack that can fit anything larger is much more difficult (17” laptops, anyone?). In addition, think about what else you tend to take with you. Books? A camera? A notepad? Take those into account when making a purchasing decision.
Backpacks are measured in liters. Anything between 10-16 liters should just about fit a laptop and a few books, while anything that’s 20-25 liters should be okay for most purposes. Anything above 30 liters comes in handy for weekend trips or for those packing professional camera gear.
Here’s a good rule of thumb when it comes to warranty: the better the product, the better the warranty. Companies that make quality backpacks are often willing to back up their claim with generous warranties.
At some point, your backpack will malfunction (probably a zipper, it’s always a zipper). A company that repairs issues for free for the lifetime of the backpack comes in real handy when this happens.
The Db Scholar is a great-looking backpack with a capacity of 17 liters. It has an internal laptop pocket that fits anything up to a 16” MacBook Pro and weighs 0.7 kg. The Scholar backpack costs €139 (~ $170) and comes with a two-year warranty.
The Peak Design Everyday is a popular backpack with a capacity of either 20 or 30 liters. It has a protective laptop sleeve that can fit up to a 15” laptop and additional compartments for camera gear. The Everyday backpack costs $259.95 for the 20L and $289.95 for the 30L. All Peak Design backpacks come with lifetime warranty that covers manufacturing defects and breakages.
The North Face Kaban is a sleek backpack with a capacity of 26 liters. It comes with a protective 15” laptop sleeve and weighs 1.2 kg. The Kaban backpack is made of polyester, has a big front compartment, and costs $129. All North Face backpacks come with a limited lifetime warranty.
The Osprey Arcane Large Day is a recycled polyester backpack (made of 10.5 plastic bottles) with a capacity of 20 liters. It has a 15” laptop sleeve that’s easily accessible because of the large zip. The Arcane Large Day comes in at a light 0.64 kg and costs $100. Osprey repairs any damage or defect to your backpack free of charge.
The eBags Pro Slim is a polyester backpack that fits a laptop up to 17”. The backpack has a padded air-mesh back panel and pass-through sleeves that can secure your bag onto rolling luggage. It weighs 1.8 kg, costs $79.99, and has a limited lifetime warranty.
The Timbuk2 Authority Deluxe is a light, but sturdy backpack that has a capacity of 28 liters. It weighs 1 kg and fits most 15-17” laptops and tablets. It has several compartments, an airmesh back panel, and padded straps for extra comfort. The backpack costs $139 and comes with lifetime warranty.
The Bellroy Classic is a 20-liter backpack made for urban travelers. It is made of recycled water bottles, holds laptops up to 16”, and has a water-resistant top pocket for your phone and keys. It weighs 0.75 kg and costs either $89 or $139 depending on the color you choose. The Bellroy Classic has a 3-year warranty.
The Patagonia Arbor Daypack is a small, light backpack that weighs only 0.42 kg and has a capacity of 20 liters. It has a padded laptop sleeve that fits most 15” laptops and is made of recycled polyester fabric that’s water-resistant. The backpack costs $89 or $34.99 if you choose the geode purple cover.
The Aer Day Pack 2 is a nylon, weather-resistant backpack that weighs 1.32 kg. It has a capacity of 14.8 liters and can fit any laptop up to a 16” MacBook Pro. The backpack has a mesh back panel and quality YKK zippers. Aer products come with lifetime warranty.
The Ethnotek Raja is a beautiful, ethically sound backpack with a capacity of 30 liters. The Ethnotek Raja is made of traditional handmade textiles and can fit up to a 17” MacBook Pro. The backpack is waterproof, has YKK zippers, and weighs 0.9 kg. All Ethnotek products are eligible for a full refund if there’s a defect to the material or workmanship of the product.