Finding the perfect laptop bag is no easy task. Some of us use whatever we got with the laptop, while others spend hundreds on the perfect bag. This week, we're looking at five of the best, based on your nominations.
Title photo by Cheong Fong Liew
When buying any laptop bag, it pays to shop around — there are lots of suppliers out there. Be sure to compare the total price including shipping.
The Command and Commute by Timbuk2 both could have had their own entries in the top five, but we put them together since they're from the same folks, and they're very similar in build and design. Both bags are designed to take whatever you throw at them, whether it's airline travel, bike rides to work, commutes in the car, or walking around town. They're both available in three sizes to accommodate any size laptop (or person), feature easy-clean TPU liners, and soft padded sleeves to protect your laptop.
Both can be worn as messengers or briefcases, and include a number of extras to give you easy access to water bottles, keys and other accessories without digging through your bag. The Commute is a classic, featuring a waterproof flap, heavy velcro closures, and hard-snap buckles that keep your bag closed tight, without sacrificing internal pockets and sleeves for pens, phones, power bricks, cables and other accessories. The Command is a little lighter and features Timbuk2's silent open and close system so you can get in and out quickly. You also have easy side access if you need something, a front organiser, metal fasteners on the front, and separate sleeves for laptops and tablets.
ThinkGeek has carried the Bag of Holding for ages, and it is indeed a bag that you might actually think is bigger on the inside. What started as an old D&D pun has turned into a well-regarded bag that has space for a laptop up to 17", is available in messenger or backpack configurations, and is built of solid weather-resistant canvas that's soft enough to not be a pain to open, but rugged enough to take a beating. All of the zippers are brass and close tightly without slipping open, and the riveted fixtures both look great and keep the flap shut. The laptop compartment itself is padded to keep your laptop safe, and in addition there are also two more adjacent storage compartments, a velcro pocket in front of that, and a zippered compartment right on the flap for essentials you need quick access to. You can grab measurements for each of the compartments over at ThinkGeek's site, but speaking as someone who's been hands-on with one of these before, you won't have trouble fitting all of your stuff into it.
The Sanction rucksack from Mission Workshop is a 20-litre carry-all that's waterproof, long across your back and comfortable to wear for long periods, stylish, and generous with space and internal organisational tricks. Some of the internal sleeves and pockets are also waterproof or weatherproof, and sport urethane-coated zippers so nothing gets in. It features a large internal frame sheet to help it keep its shape as you wear it on your back, and if you're worried that such a large backpack won't have a sleeve for your laptop, you'd be wrong. There's a large internal zippered pocket that supports just about any size of laptop nicely. The double clasp on the back makes sure your bag is secure whether you're on the train or on a bike, and the pocket on the back gives you quick access to essentials.
Swiss company Strellson's bags are definitely high fashion, but they're also built to last. The Hunter series of leather briefcase/messenger bags from Strellow are made entirely of high-quality, water-resistant vintage-styled leather. The bags come in multiple sizes to accommodate different body types (and laptops or tablets inside), and features double closures with one loop closure at the front and Velcro strips to keep the flap secured. Polished metal clasps keep everything closed, and each Hunter also packs lots of pockets inside for files, organisers, pens and notebooks, keys, phones and other accessories. There's a padded laptop sleeve as well that can accommodate between a 13" and 17" laptop, depending on the size you buy.
The Staad Laptop Backpack from Waterfield Designs (aka SFBags.com) comes in both "slim" and "stout" models depending on how much you need to carry; both feature plenty of space to carry a notebook up to 15" with room to spare for accessories and peripherals. You can choose tan waxed-canvas or black ballistic for the body of the bag, and black, chocolate or "grizzly" leather for the flap. If you're looking for a backpack that you can wear in an office environment that doesn't look like you just got out of the classroom, this is one worth a look. It's weather-resistant, and the central zipper pulls down a bit to give you access to both the laptop and discrete tablet sleeves, along with the main enclosure and twin diagonal pockets for smaller items like power bricks, phones, cameras and other items.
Want to sing the praises of your own favourite laptop bag? Tell us about why it's such a good choice in the comments.