Are you looking for the best laptop backpack for travel? In this post, we cover the best travel backpack on the market with laptop-friendly features and discuss what to look for in a backpack.
Heading off on a new adventure somewhere in the world? Such an exciting feeling, right? You’ve got your bags packed and you’re ready to perhaps see the famous mountains of Patagonia, or soak up the sun in the Caribbean, or any other of the world’s many destinations.
But you get to the airport and they politely tell you that your laptop backpack is too big for a carry-on, or half-way through your trip, your laptop gets damaged because the bag was not properly padded or weather resistant. What a letdown for your trip! Well, we’re here to make sure it doesn’t happen to you!
We’ve compiled a detailed list of the most important features to look for in your hunt for the perfect travel laptop backpack – including size, function, and protection. We’ll then wade into the list of potential packs with these tips in our back pocket and sift out the top 10 laptop travel backpacks on the market for you to choose from. From there, seamless travel experience with your laptop is yours for the taking!
Best Laptop Travel Backpacks
1.) Peak Design Everyday Backpack ($259)
- Weight: 3 lbs.
- Capacities: 20, 30L
- Features: Laptop Sleeve, Adjustable Top, Expandable Side Pockets, 400D Nylon Canvas Shell, Integrated Luggage Carry, Flexfold Dividers, Internal Padding, Side Loading Zips
- Pros: Amazing Feature Set, Comfortable Support System, Laptop Sleeve, Organization, High-End Product
- Cons: Very Expensive, A Little Heavy
This is an awesome daypack and backpack that works well for travel and everyday life. We love the gear we have from Peak Design and it’s all exceptionally high quality. Their Everyday Backpack provides a level of accessibility, organization, and quality we’ve seen in no other backpack so far.
It starts off with the top access which uses a patented MagLatch technology that pretty nifty in use and makes for quick access. Access is not limited to the top as both sides open for quick access to your bag that can be section via padded interior sleeves similar to a camera bag. The side pocket also comes with a plethora of pockets and storage that makes for easy organization. For travel, the tuckaway straps and integrated luggage carry system to make it easy to slip on top of a roller suitcase.
The addition of a dedicated laptop sleeve for a tablet and documents is just icing on the cake for a great daypack. One big negative of this pack is the price, as the large 30L version is just shy of $300.
2.) Jansport Hatchet Backpack ($60)
- Weight: 1 lb. 6 oz.
- Capacities: 28L
- Features: Laptop Sleeve, Two Water Bottle Holders, Sternum Strap, Two Exterior Pockets
- Pros: Affordable, Style, Laptop Sleeve, Dual Water Bottle Pockets, Comfortable, Side Compression Straps, Caribiner Key Clip
- Cons: Mixed Quality, No Ventilation in Back, Meh Zippers
I love the design of Jansport’s Hatchet Backpack. It draws from influences of outdoor gear and managed to make a stylish backpack that looks great in a modern environment.
The pack features one main compartment with a series of sleeves perfect for organizing things such as a travel laptop, notepad, and headphones. On the exterior are a number of pockets perfect to stash your accessories or a pen and notepad.
It’s by no means the best daypack for travel on this list, but it’s affordable and stylish so it gets high marks in that regard.
3.) Pacsafe Venturesafe x30 ($180)
- Weight: 2 lbs. 6.4 oz.
- Size: 12L, 15L, 18L 24L, 30L, 40L, 45L
- Features: Laptop Compartment or Water Reservoir, Lockable Zippers, Cut Resistant Cables, Slash Resistant Material, Rain Cover, eXomesh Slashguard, Wide Range of Sizes
- Pros: Feature-Packed, Carry-On Size, Comfortable, Versatile, High-Quality, Outdoor Versatility
- Cons: Not Suitable For Everyone
In terms of anti-theft daypacks, most brands cater to world travelers and business-savvy tech lovers. Unfortunately, that can leave a large part of the spectrum under-represented. What about those outdoor enthusiasts that want the same peace of mind while hiking, climbing, or biking?
Don’t worry, Pacsafe has you covered! Their VentureSafe x30 has combined all the comforts of a hiking pack – such as an aluminum supported back frame, padded shoulder, hip, and chest straps, and a built-in rain cover which will keep your contents bone-dry when out in the elements.
Now combine all this with slash-proof materials, lockable zippers, and even RFID protection, and you have a pack that gives you the best of both worlds! All of this in a daypack that is stylish makes for a winning combination. A major bonus is they make the Venturesafe in a wide range of sizes that should suit your needs all the way from lightweight minimalist to full-time traveler.
4.) Burton Annex Daypack ($99)
- Weight: 2 lbs.
- Capacities: 28L
- Features: Dedicated Laptop Sleeve,
- Pros: Front Straps Can Hold A Yoga Mat, Two Pockets For Water Bottle or Accessories, Good Size
- Cons: Lacks Structure In Top,
It’s pretty hard not to love the looks of this daypack. The design and amount of space it the packs means it could even be used by minimalist travelers or those looking for a weekend escape. The roomy design and 28L of space means it can pack just about all you ever need in a daypack or backpack for that matter.
It’s a great daypack with plenty of storage and pockets. We’ve used Burton backpacks for a couple of years now and have been impressed with their quality and durability. More than anything I enjoy the function, style, and price of this daypack.
5.) Patagonia Black Hole 25L ($129)
- Weight: 1 lb. 8 oz.
- Capacities: 25L
- Features: TPU-Film laminate For Waterproof Exterior, Laptop Sleeve, Bucket Style Opening, Small Stash Pocket, Vented Back Panel, Water Bottle Pockets
- Pros: Comfortable, Weather Resistant, Feels At Home in Mountains or City, Lightweight,
- Cons: No Hip Belt, Could Use More Interior Organization,
First things first, this pack is made by Patagonia which is one of my favorite brands! Patagonia makes great quality gear and garments. Two years on the road and I still have my Patagonia that shows little signs of wear. I continue to buy more of their products. Patagonia’s Black Hole is everything I have come to love about the company. It features a ripstop polyester that is a water-resistant TPU laminate which makes it waterproof and super tough.
The pack has a great look. An inner padded pocket is located on the inside to hold a laptop so it makes for a great bag in the city or out hiking in the woods. Another great feature is the daisy chain loops that allow for the attachment of things such as a skateboard, yoga mat, or climbing gear. This daypack is a slam dunk, but some might not like the laminate materials look. Also, it lacks compartments in the interior for the organization of your gear.
6.) Thule Subterra Backpack 30L ($139)
- Weight: 2lbs. 8 oz.
- Capacities: 23L, 25L 30L, 34L, 40L
- Features: Laptop Sleeve, Weatherproof Nylon Exterior, Vented Back Panels, Sternum Strap, Water Bottle Holders, Side Handle, Luggage Sleeve Attachment,
- Pros: Traditional Backpack Style, Vented Backpack Panel, Comfortable Straps, High Quality, Separate Padded Laptop Sleeve,
- Cons: Heavy
Another strong contender in the field of durability is the Thule Subterra backpack. Like Osprey, Thule focuses particularly on products for intense adventure and backcountry use. This daypack is designed to travel just as much as you do, and keep your laptop secure and safe for the entire trip.
The padded laptop sleeve includes Thule’s SafeEdge Corner Protection that beefs up the padding around the edges and corners of your device, where damage is most likely to occur. The treated heavy-duty nylon material contributes to its own level of protection by keeping the water at bay, and the additional valuables and tablet pockets also feature added padding.
We are also big fans of the quality of this bag as it stands out against most backpacks. It’s a daypack designed for travel and everyday use that provides easy access to your gear, a handy side zipper, direct access to your laptop when needed, and a nice luggage sleeve to secure on a roller bag. This bag has a lot of features of the Peak Designs Everyday Backpack at a fraction of the price. Also, if you want a more stylish version it comes in a rolltop style.
7.) Topo Designs Rover Pack ($139)
- Weight: 1 lb. 4 oz.
- Capacities: 20L
- Features: Flap Top, Drawstring Cinch Closure, Large Main Compartment, Padded Laptop Sleeve 15″, Large Exterior Pockets
- Pros: Style, High Quality, Great Zippers, Internal Laptop Sleeve, Roll Top, Weatherproof Nylon Exterior
- Cons: No Sternum Strap
Topo Designs makes some great backpacks including one of our favorite travel backpacks for European travel. The interior features double zipper U-entry, one large compartment, a medium-sized compartment, two small pockets, and two mesh pockets. The interior features a padded laptop sleeve. On the front, is a nice sized compartment with pockets and a roll-top entry for the main compartment.
The exterior is heavy-duty nylon and the bag uses robust zippers that are the best we’ve seen on a daypack, albeit a bit clunky. I really enjoy the style of this bag and the heavy-duty nylon feels great in person and will likely handle travel very well.
8.) Herschel Classics Little America Daypack ($99)
- Weight: 1 lb. 8 oz.
- Capacities: 25L
- Features: Padded Laptop Sleeve, Drawstring Opening,
- Pros: Value, Style, Padded Laptop Sleeve, Drawstring Top, Vented Back
- Cons: Quality,
You’ve seen this daypack before. When we lived in NYC, these bad boys were all over the streets, and Tasha carried a green one. Herschel makes a classic backpack with styles from mountaineering bags back in the day.
They have a classic look and it’s a simple backpack. No this isn’t a heavy-duty travel daypack meant to tackle mountains, but with a great look and affordable price, we’ll take it. I appreciate the features such as the drawstring top while the polyester exterior does a decent job at water repellency and durability.
9.) Nomatic Backpack ($239)
- Weight: 3 lbs. 10 oz.
- Capacities: 24L
- Features: Laptop Compartment, Lockable Zippers, Quick Access Laptop Compartment
- Pros: Feature-Packed, Carry-On Size, Comfortable, Versatile, Super High-Quality, Stowaway Straps
- Cons: Heavy
Nomatic is fairly new to the anti-theft backpack game, only getting started after raising over 5 million dollars on Kickstarter and Indiegogo. They claim to have created the “most functional travel bag ever!” Based on their design scheme, they just might have.
A roomy 40L bag, individual removable organization panels, headphone and charger cord pass-throughs, magnetic snap-back side pockets, and backpack to briefcase versatility, it really does seem like they have thought of everything.
However, it would be better stated that this is a business/travel backpack with anti-theft features, such as RFID protection and lockable zippers, rather than calling it primarily an anti-theft bag. This isn’t just great as an anti-theft backpack, but a general travel backpack.
10.) Timbuk2 Uptown ($100)
- Weight: 2 lbs. 6.4 oz
- Capacities: 30L
- Features: Laptop Compartment, Lockable Zippers, Quick Access Laptop Compartment, Good Size, Style,
- Pros: Feature-Packed, Carry-On Size, Comfortable, Versatile, Super High-Quality, Stowaway Straps, Affordable
- Cons: Suspension
Yet another contender for stylish yet functional travel laptop backpacks is the Timbuk2 Uptown. While Timbuk2 has made a name for themselves in allowing almost complete customization of their bags, the off-the-shelf Uptown features a very sleek appearance that is loaded with features that secure its place on our top backpacks list.
The laptop specific sleeve is heavily padded and easily unzips to lay flat and roll right through TSA screenings. The rest of the pack’s pockets have organization and compartmentalization in mind; you’re provided with spots for chargers, phones, glasses, passports, and any other gear you’d like to carry with you. All of this is encased in durable and weather-resistant nylon to keep the rain out.
Please note that this particular bag is on the smaller side and only fits 15” laptops and smaller. If you would prefer a larger bag, we firmly believe that the Incase EO may be for you.
What to look for in a laptop backpack?
Sizing and TSA Compliance
For those of you who fly almost as often as the pilots themselves, it can be such a drag to continually remove your laptop from its bag for screening. Thankfully, the TSA is continually producing a series of manufacturing guidelines that can allow backpacks to be TSA compliant and meet all the sizing criteria for carry-on luggage. Meaning you can potentially leave your laptop in the bag for the entire screen process! Pretty convenient, eh? The bags are furthermore guaranteed to meet the sizing requirements so you won’t have to deal with last-minute checked baggage and fees.
We recommend keeping an eye out for bags that meet these criteria during your search. But be forewarned; even though many types of bags are TSA compliant, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the TSA personnel are obligated to let your computer stay in the bag. Depending on the circumstances, you may still be asked to remove it for inspection.
Padded Laptop Sleeve
Scratched, dented, or scuffed laptops make for a sad memory on your trip! So hedge the odds in your favor and opt for a laptop travel backpack that features a dedicated, padded sleeve for your laptop. This will prevent the laptop from rubbing shoulders with all the other items in the pack and offer it an additional level of protection from rough handling or inadvertent drops.
All of the backpacks on this list have a laptop sleeve. However, it is a feature that is not hard to come to find in backpacks these days even many of the large travel backpacks we recommend have a dedicated sleeve. For this list, we’re sticking to carry-on size backpacks that contain a laptop compartment.
As many of us world travelers know, we often don’t have the luxury of rain delays or rescheduling. We’ve got things to do and places to see, and this show is getting on the road regardless of a little rain! But even though we may have to power through the elements, it doesn’t mean that your expensive laptop needs to as well. We, therefore, recommend paying special attention to laptop bags that feature at least some level of weather protection.
This may take the form of included rain covers for those damp days, or perhaps chemically treated materials that are inherently water resistant or proof. For our part, we prefer the convenience of pre-treated waterproof bags that avoid the hassle of fumbling with a rain cover in inclement weather!
Please remember to focus on comfort just as much as utility as you search for your perfect backpack! All the features and conveniences in the world will come to naught if you end up with a painful knot in your shoulder every time you tote your backpack around for more than an hour.
We recommend paying close attention to the shoulder and back padding material, adjustability, and air flow technologies to help prevent a sweaty back. Remember, when you’re working your way through a new city, you may be wearing your backpack for hours and hours as you check out the sights and find your hotel, so comfort is pivotal!
Now that we’ve covered the essential buying considerations for the ideal travel laptop backpack, let’s put the knowledge to use and dive into our list of the top 10 bags currently on the market!