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The 5 Best Laptop Backpacks of 2024

We put laptop backpacks from Incase, Peak Design, The North Face, JanSport, Timbuk2, and more through head-to-head testing to find the best
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Best Laptop Backpack Review
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch
Tuesday April 9, 2024

We've tested over 40 of the best laptop backpacks since 2011, and this article features side-by-side testing of 12 of today's most promising bags. Though many types of backpacks and bags exist, this review focuses on those with the intentionally designed capacity to carry at least one laptop computer. As remote workers, we've traveled across the United States and the globe, carrying these packs on our adventures. We tested them while commuting to work and school, stuffing them with everything from laptops and books to clothes and gear. We carried them on our bike commutes, on the bus, in the car, and on airplanes. After putting each to the test, we offer our recommendations to help you on your quest to find the best one for your needs and budget.

If you already have a favorite backpack and need some extra protection for your laptop, consider one of the best laptop sleeves. If you're looking for a general school pack, check out the best school backpacks from our testing. Please look at our complete packing list to organize your favorite gear for hitting the road.

Editor's Note: Our laptop backpack review has been updated on April 9, 2024, to include fresh buying recommendations and a deeper look into how we evaluate backpacks.

Top 12 Laptop Backpacks - Test Results

Displaying 1 - 5 of 12
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Awards Top Pick Award Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award  Best Buy Award 
Price $220 List
$197.88 at Amazon
$159 List
$139.13 at Amazon
$40 List
$25.19 at Amazon
$299.95 at REI$58.93 at REI
Compare at 4 sellers
Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Great organizational design, micro plush-lined laptop pocket, comfortablePockets for easy organization, dedicated laptop pocket, padded straps and backLarge capacity, many pockets, smooth zipper pullsStylish, many pockets, flexible/removable compartment dividersPlentiful storage, water-resistant fabric, hard shell laptop protection against back
Cons Expensive, no water bottle pockets, lacks cushioning on the bottom of the packNarrow, very small front pocket, not a great travel bagNot stylish, filling to capacity makes pack uncomfortableExpensive, heavy, stiffExterior elastic less practical for front country, zippers tough to pull, laptop pocket only partially unzips
Bottom Line Our favorite laptop backpack for keeping tech-heavy loads well organized and well-protectedThis all-star backpack has pockets that make staying organized a cinch as well as padded straps and back for all-day comfortA large-volume laptop backpack that's great for multi-day work trips, with or without the roller suitcaseA good-looking and highly practical backpack that can accommodate a range of different tech and accessoriesA super functional laptop backpack with excellent water resistance to keep your gear well protected
Rating Categories Incase Icon Timbuk2 Authority D... Yorepek Travel Extr... Peak Design Everyday The North Face Bore...
Laptop Protection (30%)
9.0
8.0
6.0
8.0
7.0
Comfort and Fit (20%)
8.0
7.5
7.0
6.0
6.5
Storage (20%)
8.0
7.0
9.0
8.0
7.0
Ease of Use (20%)
8.0
7.5
8.0
6.0
7.0
Versatility (10%)
6.0
6.5
6.0
7.0
7.5
Specs Incase Icon Timbuk2 Authority D... Yorepek Travel Extr... Peak Design Everyday The North Face Bore...
Compatible Laptop Size 16" 17" 17" 15" 15"
Number of Compartments 3 3 3 2 3
Volume 17 L 20 L 50 L 30 L 28 L
Number of Large Pockets 3 3 3 4 2
Number of Small Pockets 7 3 4 5 9
External Side Pockets Yes No Yes Yes Yes
External Water Bottle Holder No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Key Clip Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Hip Belt No No No No No, removable waist belt
Sternum Strap Yes Yes No Yes Yes
Reflective Material No No No No Yes
Weight 2.6 lb 2.3 lb 2.2 lb 4.3 lb 2.0 lb
Dimensions 19.0" x 13.0" x 9.0" 18.9" x 11.4" x 5.3" 18.0" x 13.5" x 6.5" 24.5" x 14.2" x 7.8" 19.5" x 12.0" x 6.5"


The Best Laptop Backpacks for 2024


Best Overall Laptop Backpack


Timbuk2 Authority Deluxe


75
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Laptop Protection 8.0
  • Comfort and Fit 7.5
  • Storage 7.0
  • Ease of Use 7.5
  • Versatility 6.5
REASONS TO BUY
Dedicated laptop pocket
Comfortable back and shoulder straps
Good pockets for staying organized
REASONS TO AVOID
Very small water bottle pocket
Narrow depth
SPECIFICATIONS
Number of Compartments 3
Compatible Laptop Size 17"
Volume 20 L
Number of Large Pockets 3
Number of Small Pockets 3
The Timbuk2 Authority Deluxe is the best laptop backpack for most people. It comes equipped with a well-padded dedicated laptop pocket at the back of the pack and a second sleeve embedded in the main compartment that can accommodate a second laptop or a tablet. It has a nice array of pockets for efficient organization. The well-cushioned back and ergonomic shoulder straps are comfortable and breathable. The main body fabric beads water well, and the bottom is waterproof. This pack also includes a few other small features that add to its allure, including a roller suitcase passthrough and an attached key hook.

There are a few drawbacks we identified that are worth mentioning. This pack has a narrower profile. There's plenty of space for flat items like computers, notebooks, and folders, but you may have trouble cramming those things and a bulky fleece inside the main compartment. It's not impossible; it's just sometimes a tight fit. In a similar vein, there is only one water bottle pocket, and it only accommodates skinnier bottles (read: your standard 1L Nalgene will not fit in this pocket). Those issues aside, for its laptop protection and organizational acumen, this laptop bag is hard to beat at the price point.

If you want the ultimate in tech organization and don't mind paying a premium for the best, we highly recommend the Incase Icon discussed below. For a budget-friendly pack with similar features, the Matein Travel is a nice option as well.

Read more: Timbuk2 Authority Deluxe review

Packing the Authority Deluxe with the standard load of a laptop, charger, folders, notebook, books, pens, water bottle, and other supplies.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Best Bang for the Buck


The North Face Borealis


70
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Laptop Protection 7.0
  • Comfort and Fit 6.5
  • Storage 7.0
  • Ease of Use 7.0
  • Versatility 7.5
REASONS TO BUY
Awesome organization
Versatile
Ample storage
Durable and fairly water-resistant
REASONS TO AVOID
Lacks urban style
SPECIFICATIONS
Number of Compartments 3
Compatible Laptop Size 15"
Volume 28 L
Number of Large Pockets 2
Number of Small Pockets 9
The North Face Borealis has significant storage to hold tons of books, clothing, chargers, snacks, and other items needed to go out for the day. We love its easy-to-access pockets, dedicated computer pocket, and voluminous interior. It has all the necessary organizational features and many add-ons, making it a stellar option for the city and the trails. This versatile pack is fantastic for work, school, travel, or running errands. It's durable and water-resistant, standing up to any typical rainy weather you might encounter throughout the day.

We don't mind this pack's outdoorsy style, but we also recognize that this aesthetic isn't for everyone. Some might find it more appropriate in a mountain town than in a professional, urban setting. And though the back panel is breathable, the material is somewhat scratchy against the skin if you're wearing this pack in the summertime. Still, it's a great value and one of our favorites.

For a very similar outdoorsy laptop backpack, check out the Osprey Nebula 32. If you like the organizational capacity of this pack but want one that is even more affordable, the Matein Travel will do the trick.

Read more: The North Face Borealis review

The Borealis has large, easily accessible water bottle pockets and other hidden features - like a hip belt, sternum strap, and hydration port - that make it a great crossover backpack from the office to the trails.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Best for a Tight Budget


Matein Travel


69
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Laptop Protection 6.0
  • Comfort and Fit 7.0
  • Storage 7.0
  • Ease of Use 8.0
  • Versatility 6.5
REASONS TO BUY
Affordable
Many pockets & organizational components
Stylish
REASONS TO AVOID
Jingly zippers
Lumpy back when full
SPECIFICATIONS
Number of Compartments 3
Compatible Laptop Size 15.6"
Volume 28 L
Number of Large Pockets 3
Number of Small Pockets 2
The budget-priced Matein Travel is a great backpack that had no trouble meeting the needs of our test team. We love the wide variety of pockets that, if necessary, can accommodate multiple devices. The interior padding protected our tech from plops, drops, and accidental kicks. The zippers are also exceptionally smooth — we were pleasantly surprised by how easy it is to open and close the pockets of this bag. It has additional features that differentiate it from many other packs, including a USB plug and port combo, a detachable keychain clip, and a complement of auxiliary pen, water bottle, and catchall pockets.

There are only a couple of features that we question with this pack. Although we love the action of the zippers, many of them are very jingly when walking. There is sufficient padding, but we found that the back panel can still feel somewhat lumpy when this pack is fully loaded with equipment. It stood up fine during testing, but we do wonder about the long-term durability of the stitching. However, at this price point, there is still no pack we'd rather have for toting our laptops, and we think it's the right choice for a lot of folks seeking a decent laptop pack on a budget.

For those who like the functionality of this bag but want higher quality, the Timbuk2 Authority Deluxe is your best bet. If high value and low cost are primary considerations, the versatile, outdoor-styled The North Face Borealis is worth a look as well.

Read more: Matein Travel review

The Matein Travel is a solid option for those on a budget who value storage and well-designed features.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Best for Packing Tech with Precision


Incase Icon


81
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Laptop Protection 9.0
  • Comfort and Fit 8.0
  • Storage 8.0
  • Ease of Use 8.0
  • Versatility 6.0
REASONS TO BUY
Multiple organizational compartments
Durable construction
Comfortable weight distribution
Protective access for laptops & tablets
Great style
REASONS TO AVOID
Pricey
No dedicated water bottle pocket
SPECIFICATIONS
Number of Compartments 3
Compatible Laptop Size 16"
Volume 17 L
Number of Large Pockets 3
Number of Small Pockets 7
The Incase Icon is a delight for anyone who carries around a lot of tech. With a 17-liter capacity, it has excellent organization and laptop protection. It fits multiple laptops, a tablet, chargers, lunch, books, folders, and other work supplies. With three main compartments and an array of smaller embedded pockets, it is super easy to stay organized and have access to all your items. Its office professional style is good for work, school, or even travel.

Though we love this pack, we know some folks are “toss it in the bag” types who won't use all the organizational features. If you prefer to throw your stuff into one compartment, this high-organization pack is not for you. It is also so tech-forward that it does not have any water bottle pockets (if water bottle pockets are an important feature to you, The North Face Borealis above has some of our favorites of the test group). Though pricey, the Icon is our top recommendation for those who use their laptop bag a lot and love to compartmentalize their things in a beautiful, stylish package.

If everything about this bag sounds right to you except for the price tag, our top pack for most people is the Timbuk2 Authority Deluxe. If you carry a lot of tech and happen to specialize in photography, the Peak Design Everyday is super adaptable (but even pricier).

Read more: Incase Icon review

We love how easy it is to get your laptop in and out of the Icon.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Best for High Capacity


Yorepek Travel Extra Large


72
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Laptop Protection 6.0
  • Comfort and Fit 7.0
  • Storage 9.0
  • Ease of Use 8.0
  • Versatility 6.0
REASONS TO BUY
Huge storage capacity
Velcro security strap for laptop
Easy glide zippers
REASONS TO AVOID
Uncomfortable when fully loaded
Looks bulky and not very stylish
SPECIFICATIONS
Number of Compartments 3
Compatible Laptop Size 17"
Volume 50 L
Number of Large Pockets 3
Number of Small Pockets 4
The Yorepek Travel Extra Large pack is our favorite for air travel and extended work trips. It can fit almost any laptop and charger in the laptop pocket, and its secondary compartment is large enough to accommodate at least three days worth of clothing. It has webbing on the back to secure it to a wheeled suitcase, so you don't have to wear it while navigating an airport. For most work trips, it could replace a traditional carry on suitcase. It comes with enough small pockets to hold pens, highlighters, earbuds, and any other accessories we need daily for work on the go.

We have just a few issues with this pack. First, its capacity is so large that even though the shoulder straps are extra wide, when we fully loaded it up, the weight rested uncomfortably on our shoulders. This pack is so oversized that it can overwhelm people with smaller frames. It's also not a very aesthetic design, although it's available in several different color options. However, it is extremely functional, and we particularly love this high-capacity, affordable laptop backpack for air travel. For a travel-friendly, office-ready aesthetic that isn't nearly as bulky, the Timbuk2 Authority Deluxe is one of our favorites.

Read more: Yorepek Travel Extra Large review

The laptop pocket of the Yorepek Travel Extra Large opens up all the way making access to equipment and efficient.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Compare Products

select up to 5 products to compare
Score Product Price
81
Incase Icon
Best for Packing Tech with Precision
$220
Top Pick Award
75
Timbuk2 Authority Deluxe
Best Overall Laptop Backpack
$159
Editors' Choice Award
72
Yorepek Travel Extra Large
Best for High Capacity
$40
Top Pick Award
71
Peak Design Everyday
$300
70
The North Face Borealis
Best Bang for the Buck
$99
Best Buy Award
69
Matein Travel
Best for a Tight Budget
$40
Best Buy Award
66
Osprey Nebula 32
$140
64
Patagonia Black Hole 25
$149
56
Mystery Ranch Catalyst 22
$149
52
Cotopaxi Tapa 22L Cada Dia
$100
51
JanSport Right Pack
$70
46
Tzowla Travel
$49

laptop backpack - the timbuk2 authority deluxe is a great professional laptop pack...
The Timbuk2 Authority Deluxe is a great professional laptop pack with a nice assortment of pockets.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

How We Test Laptop Backpacks


We wore these bags everywhere to test each backpack in real-life scenarios. We assessed which bags provided the best storage capacity and protection, stuffing each with electronics, gym clothes, travel necessities, lunches, and office supplies to see which were the most comfortable when fully weighed down. We wore them on bike rides to see which ones performed best for bike commuters, and we even sprayed them to simulate how they might fare in a downpour. Check out our full laptop backpack testing breakdown here.

Scores for each laptop backpack are weighted across five rating metrics:
  • Laptop Protection (30% of overall score weighting)
  • Comfort & Fit (20% weighting)
  • Storage (20% weighting)
  • Ease of Use (20% weighting)
  • Versatility (10% weighting)

Why Trust GearLab


Our review team comprises three veteran GearLab reviewers, with additional contributions from laptop-lugging friends and family. Amber King taught elementary science for several years before starting an educational non-profit. She works remotely, dropping into different co-working spaces while traveling and exploring the globe. Ben Applebaum-Bauch is a regular commuter and student, using a backpack every day for work, school, and travel. Katherine Elliot laid the foundation for this review. She bike commutes daily with a laptop in tow. In addition to our team of experts, we asked teachers, software engineers, globe trotters, and other commuting professionals to help us gather data on what makes a great laptop backpack.

On the Timbuk2 Authority Deluxe we like how accessible items are...
On the Timbuk2 Authority Deluxe we like how accessible items are with easy gliding zippers and pockets that open up nice and wide.
We like packs with large and stretchy water bottle pockets.
We like packs with large and stretchy water bottle pockets.
The Mystery Ranch Urban Assault 22L has a trio of waterproof zippers.
The Mystery Ranch Urban Assault 22L has a trio of waterproof zippers.
We assess the features of each pack through real-world wear as well as in controlled environments.

How to Pick the Best Laptop Backpack for You


We've provided four important buying considerations, including size, protection, and features, to help guide the decision-making process. For more detail, see our complete article on How to Choose a Laptop Backpack.

What Volume Should You Go With?


Deciding on an appropriate-sized backpack will depend on your intended use and the number of belongings you regularly carry. Someone using their backpack for weekend work trips might prefer a larger-sized travel bag in the 40-50 L range, while someone needing a bag to bring their laptop to the local coffee shop may only need something in the 15-25 L range.

Is Laptop Protection a Priority?


All though there are plenty of options on the market, not all laptop backpacks are made equal. When looking for a pack with ample protection, identify the padding thickness, the straps/enclosure system, and for suspension systems that rest above the bottom of the bag. Attributes such as a secure strap system can make the difference between a proper, secured fit and a potentially damaged laptop.

laptop backpack - looking at the material construction and thickness is one of the...
Looking at the material construction and thickness is one of the tell-tale ways to find a backpack with adequate protection.
Credit: Hale Milano

Do You Need to Consider Laptop Compatibility?


For those with larger laptops, it's a good idea to ensure your laptop will fit properly and securely in your backpack. While most laptop-specific backpacks will accommodate laptops up to 15 inches, for those with larger laptops up to 18 inches, it's important to look at the recommended size compatibility and ensure you buy a backpack with a large enough electronic storage compartment.

Are Features Important?


Deciding how feature-rich a bag you need depends on whether you travel light or tend to bring along all the necessary accessories on a given day. Folks needing a work-specific bag will appreciate a pack with organizational features providing easy access. Others might prioritize portability and weight for commuting. Consider your usual amount of belongings and whether your backpack will serve a specific purpose for work, school, or travel.

laptop backpack - a laptop backpack with the necessary features can make work or...
A laptop backpack with the necessary features can make work or school life a little bit easier.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Analysis and Test Results


We're always on the lookout for great bags and researched dozens of models while selecting the most promising to purchase and test side-by-side. Each one is scored across the metrics outlined above. We assign awards for best overall, best budget picks, and those that are best for specific applications.


Value


Though it's not an official part of a product's overall score, we recognize that price is a significant consideration when purchasing a laptop backpack. We directly compare each product's price and overall score to better understand how certain models perform at their price points.

Of our test group, a handful of packs stand out for their relative value. The Timbuk2 Authority Deluxe is pricier but has exceptional performance for its well-padded laptop compartment and an array of pockets. The North Face Borealis offers the best quality for the price. You can depend on it to last for many years, and it offers solid storage and protection. The Matein Travel pack is an inexpensive option that functions well enough for most folks, and the Yorepek Travel Extra Large offers incredible storage capacity at a very fair price. We wholeheartedly recommend any of these bags if you're looking for outstanding value.

laptop backpack - we head to school with the jansport right pack which boasts a huge...
We head to school with the JanSport Right Pack which boasts a huge volume that'll easily fit all your books and binders, at a price hungry students can stomach.
Credit: Amber King

Laptop Protection


The most important job of any laptop backpack is computer protection. For this metric, we look at the padding and other features of the laptop pocket itself, including compartment size, the system that keeps electronics in place, and any security features that mitigate theft. Looking at the bag as a whole, we are also interested in water resistance and durability.


The Incase Icon is the top scorer here. It provides ample protection in the main laptop pocket, placing a heavily padded and super soft, micro plush-lined foam compartment against the wearer's back. Though it does not include a suspension system, its auxiliary laptop sleeve and tablet pocket are also well-protected. Another pack with exceptional protection is the Timbuk2 Authority Deluxe. It has a dedicated laptop pocket with a suspension system — that is, the bottom of this pocket sits suspended above the bottom of the pack to avoid drop damage. Similar to the Icon, it has a secondary, moderately padded sleeve in the middle compartment for a tablet.

laptop backpack - the peak design everyday has rubber zipper pulls that loop around...
The Peak Design Everyday has rubber zipper pulls that loop around the body of the pack, preventing the side pockets from opening accidentally and acting as a (light) theft deterrent.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

The Peak Design Everyday offers great protection with its tight sleeve that keeps a laptop securely in place so it doesn't jostle around or slide down to the bottom. It also includes some very basic rubber zipper pulls that wrap around a loop and “lock” the pack. This certainly doesn't make it theft-proof, but it would deter someone who was trying to be opportunistic. It also has a stiff, protective shell that keeps water out of the main compartment.

laptop backpack - the incase uses a separate pocket that offers impeccable padding for...
The Incase uses a separate pocket that offers impeccable padding for both a tablet and laptop.
Credit: Amber King

Outdoorsy models like the The North Face Borealis and Osprey Nebula 32 have hardback sheaths sewn into the pack between the laptop pocket and the wearer's back. These provide a little rigidity and prevent the laptop itself from becoming the thing that provides structure and integrity to the pack. Both also predictably provide above-average water resistance.

The North Face Borealis got thoroughly soaked in our shower test but still kept items reasonably well protected.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

The Mystery Ranch Catalyst 22 and Patagonia Black Hole 25 are somewhat unique in that they include a suspension system but less padding around their laptop sleeves. The advantage of models like these with laptop sleeves that are embedded in the main compartment is that the computer would be almost impossible to remove without you noticing while the pack was on your back.

laptop backpack - the jansport right pack laptop compartment has a super large...
The JanSport Right Pack laptop compartment has a super large comparable size to the rest. It'll fit a 17-inch laptop and a tablet inside.
Credit: Amber King

Having said that, the former has thick fabric and waterproof zippers, while the latter has a rubberized main body for excellent water protection. All of these packs hold at least a 15-inch laptop with the Timbuk2 Authority Deluxe, Osprey Nebula 32, Yorepek Travel Extra Large, and JanSport Right Pack all claim to hold 17-inch models.

Water Resistant, Not Waterproof
It's important to note that none of the laptop backpacks tested are fully waterproof. Some offer more water resistance than others, but none completely protect against moisture and rain. If you want a little more security, consider buying a small rain pack cover if your backpack doesn't already come with one.

laptop backpack - the patagonia black hole 25 has a rubber exterior with superior...
The Patagonia Black Hole 25 has a rubber exterior with superior water resistance.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Though not especially high scorers in the metric overall, we appreciate the velcro tabs on the Matein Travel, Patagonia Black Hole 25, and Yorepek Travel Extra Large (which also comes with travel lock-friendly zippers), which provide some peace of mind and prevent laptops from jostling around in transit.

laptop backpack - the peak design everyday has excellent laptop protection, placing...
The Peak Design Everyday has excellent laptop protection, placing the glove-fit computer slot at the back of the pack.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Comfort and Fit


Another critical aspect of any backpack is how comfortable it is to carry. To test comfort, we filled these bags in various ways with both standard and heavy loads. We also assessed the thickness, width, and shape of the shoulder straps, as well as the design of the backplate, and enlisted friends to provide input on how the packs fit and feel for everyday wear.


A top comfort contender, the Incase Icon has well-padded straps and can easily shoulder heavy loads. It also has a unique strap shape that conforms around the neck to support heavier loads. Not only does it have a sternum strap, but it is also a rare pack with load stabilizers that enable the wearer to pull the weight of the pack closer to the body. The Timbuk2 Authority Deluxe stands out for the comfortable bubble padding on its ergonomic straps and back. Not only is it cushier than most other models, but the raised design of the padding facilitates airflow around the back to reduce sweating. It also comes with a sternum strap and smaller straps that seem to fit smaller torsos well. The exterior beads water well, and the bottom is a very water-resistant rubber.

laptop backpack - the square bubble padding of the timbuk2 authority deluxe not only...
The square bubble padding of the Timbuk2 Authority Deluxe not only provides cushion but also space for airflow.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

The straps on the Yorepek Travel Extra Large are super wide to help disburse the weight more evenly and prevent the pack from digging into your shoulders. This was pretty successful to a point, but once the pack is fully loaded, the straps can only do so much. Because of the wider dimensions of this model, we found that it works best for folks with broader shoulders. On the other side of the spectrum, the Tzowla Travel rests higher and doesn't press into the small of your back.

laptop backpack - sternum straps like the one on the mystery ranch catalyst 22l help...
Sternum straps like the one on the Mystery Ranch Catalyst 22L help keep loads closer to the body.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Though not especially high scorers in the metric, other packs with notable features include the Mystery Ranch Catalyst 22, Patagonia Black Hole 25, and Cotopaxi Tapa 22L Cada Día, which all come with sternum straps. The Black Hole and Tapa Cada Día are also among the lightest packs in this category. Still, others like the Osprey Nebula 32 and The North Face Borealis boast waist clips to distribute loads evenly across your hips. These two models also have well-articulated, ergonomic shoulder straps that help prevent pinching.

laptop backpack - the yorepek travel extra large is mostly an air travel all-star...
The Yorepek Travel Extra Large is mostly an air travel all-star. However, it's so large that it does stick out a little from underneath the seat in front of you on an airplane.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Storage


We consider storage in a couple of ways, including the total capacity of each pack, its internal organization, and overall stability. Though some packs are too small to fit everything we could imagine needing throughout the day, others allow you to bring the kitchen sink. The top scorers in this metric offered a perfect combination of high volume, organizational capabilities, and good balance.


The Yorepek Travel Extra Large is a 50-liter mammoth. With the largest capacity in our lineup by far, it can easily carry everything you need for work and then some. It also has a wide base and dimensions that are more square than most, giving it a solid foundation that won't easily tip over.

laptop backpack - the incase icon has several compartments and smaller pockets...
The Incase Icon has several compartments and smaller pockets, including a fleece-lined slot at the top that is perfect for a charger or small device like a phone.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

The Incase Icon and Peak Design Everyday are prime examples of packs that can store a lot and still keep things organized. Even though the former is actually the smallest volume in the lineup, it uses space very efficiently and has a set of pockets that are unmatched for carrying a lot of tech. The latter has fully adaptable velcro inserts that act as shelves for all of your gear.


The Timbuk2 Authority Deluxe is similar to the Icon. It has a smaller 20-liter capacity but again makes up for it with a wide array of useful pockets. On the downside, it has a relatively narrow base that can tip over if the bag is too front or top-heavy. The JanSport Right Pack has 31 liters of storage capacity and can fit more gear, books, and gadgets than most of the competition –- it thrives at school thanks to its voluminous design. And if you are looking specifically for a school bag, the JanSport Big Student and JanSport Cool Student in our best school backpack review are also worth checking out.

Third-Party Variations
It's worth noting that several models we tested are sold with slightly differing features but under the same names on third-party seller platforms. Occasionally, this means that a backpack may or may not have water bottle pockets, depending on what color of the pack you select. When choosing your bag, be sure to carefully examine the features to make sure you're getting the version you want with the features you need.

The Matein Travel and The North Face Borealis both have 28-liter storage. The former has greater structure to its internal organization and a wider, more stable base, while the latter has a large open compartment for flexibility to store things however you'd like as well as a couple of smaller pockets. The Volher Travel in our lineup of the best school backpacks is very similar to the Matein, and the Osprey Nebula 32 is very similar to the Borealis. We think they all have a nice balance between built-in organization and flexibility.

laptop backpack - the embedded laptop sleeve in the cotopaxi tapa 22l cada dia (at...
The embedded laptop sleeve in the Cotopaxi Tapa 22L Cada Dia (at bottom) would be really difficult to access for a thief to access even if your attention was elsewhere.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

The single-compartment concept is also a feature of multiple top-loading models, including the Patagonia Black Hole 25, Mystery Ranch Catalyst 22, and Cotopaxi Tapa 22L Cada Día. These are great options for those who like the flexibility of an open compartment. The drawback, however, is that they include relatively few internal pockets.

The Mystery Ranch Catalyst 22L has a unique zipper configuration that makes it possible to access the entire contents of the bag.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Ease of Use


Backpacks aren't especially complicated, but small features make some easier to use than others. For this metric, we look at the utility of the pockets, overall gear accessibility, and other features like water bottle pockets, zippers, clips, and luggage pass-throughs that improve the user experience.


Among the easiest packs to use are the Incase Icon, Yorepek Travel Extra Large, and Matein Travel. The multiple and separate electronics pockets of the Icon make items super accessible and easy to find. We also like the high, built-in organizational structure of the pockets and the small features like the keychain hook. Our only issue with this pack in this metric is that it doesn't have any water bottle pockets. The Yorepek and Matein both have zippers that glide super easily and never got caught for us. They also both have laptop pockets that open almost all the way down to the bottom of the pack, so it's easy to access and pack up items at the end of a meeting. Both bags also have multiple water bottle pockets with a little bit of stretch.

laptop backpack - the patagonia black hole 25 is a highly functional...
The Patagonia Black Hole 25 is a highly functional, single-compartment pack.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

The Timbuk2 Authority Deluxe is in the top-tier mix as well. With a large dedicated laptop pocket and a main compartment that unzips wide but also has elastic stays that prevent you from accidentally dumping your contents, this pack has great accessibility for its size. Though the single water bottle pocket is small, the luggage pass-through at the back makes this model a nice travel companion (and if you love the brand and are open to other options, you can't go wrong with the Timbuk2 Classic in our review of the best messenger bags).

laptop backpack - we like that the tzowla didn&#039;t try to reach outside its price zone...
We like that the Tzowla didn't try to reach outside its price zone. It keeps things simple, which makes it easy to use.
Credit: Amber King

The JanSport Right Pack is a classic bag with simplified storage and single-zipper access, while the Tzowla Travel pack is smaller but just as easy to use. The The North Face Borealis is an outdoor-oriented travel bag with useful auxiliary features like an elastic cord on the exterior for quickly securing a jacket or fleece and two good water bottle holders.

laptop backpack - the osprey nebula 32 has a laptop pocket that opens up completely...
The Osprey Nebula 32 has a laptop pocket that opens up completely for easy access to equipment.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch


Other outdoor and travel models like the Patagonia Black Hole 25, Cotopaxi Tapa 22L Cada Día, and Mystery Ranch Catalyst 22 have a spacious main compartment. The Catalyst has an interesting triple-zipper design with a large vertical opening. However, we found that the zippers were so difficult to open and close that we rarely used this feature. The Black Hole includes a lid that unzips on a diagonal plane, which was sometimes useful for accessibility but sometimes meant our stuff was falling out of the top. The Tapa Cada Día has a drawstring cinch (that sometimes got tangled) and a hook and loop closure (which was actually very easy to open, close, and tighten down). All three have two water bottle holders.

The Cotopaxi Cada Dia is easy to secure closed, even if it takes a few extra, unique steps.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Versatility


Versatility can be an important factor in finding the right bag if you want to go from the office or school to the trail, gym, or out-of-town. Here, we look at the bags' style, color options, and any additional features that make a pack useful for multiple activities.


The Patagonia Black Hole 25 is one of the most versatile packs in the lineup. Its laptop sleeve provides enough protection to make it a practical option for a day at a coffee shop or a casual workspace. It comes in seven colorways with both bold and more muted options for a more office-professional aesthetic. The open compartment design and its water resistance mean it retains the flexibility to operate as the right choice for a day hike or a weekend travel bag. If you need even more capacity for longer travel, we tested the Patagonia Black Hole Duffel in our review of the best travel bags, and it has a huge capacity with shoulder straps for a backpack-like experience.

laptop backpack - the osprey nebula 32 has a look that says it&#039;s ready for the...
The Osprey Nebula 32 has a look that says it's ready for the outdoors as much as a day in the office.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

The The North Face Borealis and Osprey Nebula 32 are similar in their outdoor styling. They both have solid laptop protection as well as waist straps and bonus storage space on the front — an elastic cord on the Borealis and exterior mesh on the Nebula — for high outdoor functionality. They also come in twelve and five colorways, respectively, featuring both bright and neutral tones. They both definitely have a more athletic-first aesthetic but are similarly versatile options for travel, outdoor adventures, and casual office use.

laptop backpack - packs with a luggage pass-through like the patagonia black hole 25...
Packs with a luggage pass-through like the Patagonia Black Hole 25 are well-suited for moving quickly through an airport.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

The Peak Design Everyday just looks professional. It has a sleek aesthetic that fits well in the office. The adjustable inserts are well-suited for photographers, but its large capacity makes it a nice school bag, too. The Matein Travel is the Peak Design's budget-friendly counterpart -– less sophisticated but still pretty solid as a work or school pack. And though the Mystery Ranch Catalyst 22 has zippers that are difficult to open, the versatility that the unique three-way configuration affords is useful for travel, outdoor adventures, and work.

laptop backpack - the cotopaxi tapa 22l cada dia is great for a day hike or travel.
The Cotopaxi Tapa 22L Cada Dia is great for a day hike or travel.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Conclusion


Laptop-specific bags can bring you peace of mind when toting around an expensive piece of equipment. We hope this review of the best backpacks for carrying these ubiquitous electronics will help you find what is most important to you, whether that's style, comfort, fit, or protection. And if you want to combine your work and travel bags, check out our favorite picks for the best travel backpacks.

Ben Applebaum-Bauch, Katherine Elliott, and Amber King