The new school semester is just about to begin, and some of you might be on the hunt for a brand new laptop bag. If so, you should keep reading, because we put together a roundup of the best laptop bags we could find. Their price tags vary, ranging from $15, to roughly $230, so there’s something here for every budget. Our picks can handle laptops of any size, from tiny 11.6-inch devices, to 17-inch beasts.
We could go on and on, but we’d rather get right to it. Here are the top five laptop bags we could find for students.
We included the AmazonBasics 15.6-inch Laptop and Tablet Bag in this roundup not only because of its super low price of $15, but also because not everyone loves bulky laptop bags. The AmazonBasics 15.6-inch Laptop and Tablet Bag cuts the fat and keeps it simple.
“Basics” is definitely the best way to describe this bag with a single phrase. It’s a no-frills container that’s thin, measuring 12.6 x 9.6 x 1.9 inches, and weighing 12.32 ounces. It has three zippered compartments. The largest is for your notebook and the other two can be used to hold stuff like notebooks (the paper kind), pens, pencils, calculators, a mouse , and other doodads.
You can carry the AmazonBasics 15.6-inch Laptop and Tablet Bag one of two ways: the top of the bag has handles, or you can wear it as a messenger bag. The shoulder straps are padded, which should ease the strain on your body. However, the compartments themselves don’t appear very padded, so keep that in mind. Other, bulkier bags partly get their added weight from an abundance of padding, but this one opts for maximum portability instead.
If you want to downsize even further, there are 14.1-inch, and 11.6-inch versions of this bag available as well for $14, and $12.50, respectively.
Moshi Venturo ($150)
The AmazonBasics bag and the Venturo from Moshi are both slim and roughly the same size, but that’s where the similarities end. If the AmazonBasics bag is the Honda Civic of laptop bags, the Moshi is more along the lines of a hot rod.
For starters, the Venturo features cushioning out the wazoo. The insides are cushioned, the outsides are cushioned, and the bag is both weather and wear-resistant, so no need to freak out if you get caught in the rain. You gear should be safe, sound, and dry.
The main compartment can fit laptops up to 15 inches in size, and has multiple pockets you can use to stuff in pens, your phone, notepads, and other gear as well. There are also zippered pockets on the front and rear. On top of the padded shoulder strap, the Moshi Venturo has padded handles on two of its edges, giving you three ways to lug it around.
All these extra bells and whistles come with extra cost though. The Moshi Venturo starts at $120, and tops out at $150. It can be had in one of four color schemes.
Patagonia Jalama Pack 28L ($120)
Patagonia’s Jalama Pack may look like a traditional book-bag, but don’t let that fool you. This bag is very laptop-friendly, and though it’s larger than the other bags we’ve listed, its size comes with benefits. The Jalama Pack is made of recycled polyester, water-resistant, and has the room to fit most 17-inch laptops. The main compartment’s laptop pocket is not only padded, but keeps your notebook elevated off the ground. If you set the bag down, know that there’s still a buffer zone separating your computer and whatever surface it’s nesting on.
The shoulder strap and the back of the bag are made of mesh, making the Jalama Pack breathable. This could help minimize sweat buildup during the warmer months of the year.
On top of the water proof design, the main pocket has a waterproof barrier that separates wet stuff from dry stuff. So, if you prefer to keep liquids inside your bag, you could keep them in the part of the pocket that’s outside of the barrier. That way, if they ever spill or leak, your laptop will still be safe from the seepage. There’s also separate compartment specifically designed for carrying water bottles.
The 2-pound Patagonia Jalama Pack is a heavy duty bag. If you typically carry a lot of stuff with you, and prefer something that repels water, this is a safe bet. It comes in one of four color schemes, and costs $120.
If Indiana Jones wore a laptop bag, this would be it. Made of 100 percent leather, the Kenneth Cole Reaction Luggage Show Business can be best described as “classy.” While most bags have zippers, here, you get buckles. Instead of bright colors like orange or green, this bag is slathered in a shade of brown reminiscent of cigars. The Kenneth Cole Reaction Luggage Show Business carries itself with the dignity of a well-dressed gentleman.
The Show Business has room for most 15-inch laptops, and features a flap-over design. The main compartment is padded, which will guard your laptop against shocks and falls. There are multiple accessory pockets that are also padded, and can be used for storing stuff like phones, pens, and other gear. Keep in mind though that this bag is full leather, and likely won’t take kindly to moisture. The shoulder strap is padded, adjustable, and, in case you prefer to use the top-mounted handle, removable.
The Show Business can be had for about $142, making it one of the most expensive bags on this list. Customer reviews rave about the Show Business, and if style and substance are both high on your priority list, look no further. We just hope you get a lasso and a dark brown fedora to complete the look.
Is it a lightweight laptop bag for short trips to class, or a spacious weekend bag for spur-of-the-moment trips? If you can pack light, the versatile Cargo bag from Waterfield Designs in San Francisco can serve as either one. We’ve dragged it around to airports, hotels, and coffee shops around the world, and often it was the only bag we needed.
Since the Cargo doesn’t come with a laptop sleeve sewn in, you’ll need to choose one custom sized for your device of choice, which have an almost surgical fit. These sleeves add to the total price, but also allow you to yank your laptop out quickly at TSA checkpoints, and keep the same bag when you update your gadget arsenal. You’ll appreciate that flexibility even more when it’s still kicking around in 10 years – and with construction this sturdy, it will be. Ours still looks brand new after almost a year.
The distinctive aluminum buckle, originally used in paragliding harnesses, is complete overkill for a laptop bag but inarguably satisfying to use. It makes the kind of click that will have you idly buckling and unbuckling over and over to pass the time on your next unexpected six-hour layover. The rest of the clasps and zippers function just as smoothly, and the padded shoulder strap has enough cush to soothe your shoulder even when you’ve crammed in one too many water bottles. Or bottles of Jack. Or pairs of socks.
We like the checkered “Taxi Indium” pattern for a splash of color, but students could also order it in “Ballistic Black” or “Grizzly Leather” to make it classy enough to tote along on those internship interviews.
That’s it for our roundup of laptop bags. Let us know what you think and any recommendations you have for bags.