The best laptop backpack for traveling

Breeze through security with the best laptop backpacks for traveling

best laptop backpack for traveling

Since 2008, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) started allowing certain laptop bags to go through X-ray screening, without having to remove them from the bag. The idea is to help speed up the screening process, since regulation requires all laptops to be removed from bags and placed into a bin — a process that not only confuses many passengers, but also leads to lost laptops. (This doesn’t apply to those in the TSA Precheck program, which doesn’t require them to remove their laptops.)

To help combat these issues, the TSA implemented guidelines for “checkpoint friendly” bags, which are designed to allow screeners to easily and clearly see the laptop and what’s inside it. They can be in a butterfly style (a bag folds open into two parts) or trifold style (three parts), or a laptop sleeve; whatever the style, it must be able to lie completely flat.

As a result, we now have a lot of laptop bags designed to be speedy at bag checks no matter what devices you have! To help make your choice easier, we’re going to take a look at the best backpack for traveling and your top choices in style and utility!

Note: Despite the TSA approving these bags, it doesn’t endorse any brand nor is it obligated to acknowledge them during security checks. To be frank, it’s really up to the TSA agents who are working on your day of travel. From our experience, we’ve had agents tell us to keep our laptops in their sleeves, but on other occasions, the agents made everyone remove their laptops, regardless of the bag and the signs indicating the use of TSA-approved bags.

Incase EO Travel Backpack ($150)

eo-travel-backpack

Incase’s EO Travel Backpack offers plenty of storage space within a compact, multi-purpose design. There’s enough room to fit a 17-inch laptop as well as an iPad, and the portion devoted to computer storage opens flat to help bypass airport security. As an added bonus, the main compartment expands 35 percent, making this backpack ideal for overnight business trips. This allows you to maximize extra space when needed, or maintain a slimmer bag when minimal storage space will do. Padded shoulder straps, breathable mesh paneling, and an adjustable sternum strap are all ergonomic bonuses. A side-mounted handle also allows the backpack to be carried as a briefcase.

The only real complaint would be the aesthetic of the bag when used as a briefcase. If the straps could be concealed, or easily removed, it would look more like a briefcase rather than a backpack with a side-mounted handle. Nonetheless, the overall product is still practical and the clean, with an angular design that will definitely stand out in the crowd.

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Jet Amazon

Timbuk2 Uptown Laptop TSA-Friendly Backpack ($120+)

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The Uptown Laptop TSA-Friendly is — you guessed it — ideal for bypassing the TSA process. The overall design meets all TSA requirements for sending your backpack and laptop through without removing your device(s), and the main computer compartment can fit laptops up to 15 inches in size. There’s also a dedicated pocket for stowing your iPad or Android tablet, along with a series of tricot-lined pockets designed to protect delicate items such as sunglasses and smartphones. The elastic side pouch is perfect for storing an array of items, both large and small, and the body includes a vista loop for a bike light. A channeled, mesh panel on the back and an adjustable front strap also help ensure a comfortable fit.

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Amazon

Tumi Alpha 2 T-Pass expandable laptop Brief ($395+) or Tumi Alpha 2 T-Pass laptop Brief Pack ($495)

Understated elegance for the business traveler, the Tumi Alpha 2 opens and folds flat for passing through checkpoint scanners. A separate compartment has dividers to keep your files organized, with room for an iPad or other accessories. Inside, there’s a zip pocket with what Tumi calls Tumi ID Lock; it’s made with special material that blocks RFID signals, keeping things like credit cards and passports secure from wireless identity theft (although actual risk is debatable). A pass-through on the back lets you slip the briefcase onto a rolling luggage’s handle bar. The Alpha 2 is made with Tumi’s FXT ballistic nylon that’s tough yet soft. A backpack version is also available.

Mobile Edge Alienware Vindicator Briefcase 18″ ($55)

Mobile Edge Alienware Vindicator Briefcase

With the same design cues and iconic logo as the gaming laptops and desktops, this Alienware Vindicator can accommodate Alienware’s 18-inch laptop (thankfully, other sizes are also available). Made by Mobile Edge, the bag has a checkpoint-friendly compartment, while another has enough room for all your gaming accessories and other gear. Perfect for that traveler heading to E3, PAX, Comic-Con, or any gaming convention. Mobile Edge also makes a bunch of checkpoint-friendly bags (it calls them ScanFast) for different users, not just gamers.

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Mobile Edge Amazon eBags Dell

Tom Bihn Daylight Briefcase ($80) and Cache protective sleeve ($40)

To keep the Daylight Briefcase compact while checkpoint friendly, Tom Bihn created an attachment system that lets you easily pull out the laptop sleeve when needed (you can remove the sleeve completely for when you’re not flying). It not only meets TSA regulations, but it minimizes the risk of forgetting the laptop in a bin (trust us, we’ve been there). The stylish urban bag is made in the United States, using lightweight but strong materials, and inside there are plenty of what Tom Bihn calls O-rings, which lets you clip on a variety of pouches, straps, etc.

Booq expandable Taipan superslim for MacBook Pro ($80)

Booq expandable Taipan superslim for MacBook Pro

Since the TSA doesn’t require you to remove a laptop if it’s in a sleeve, you can use the Taipan Superslim 15, provided it’s just a laptop that’s inside. But the bag has a clever trick: For all other times, the bottom of the case can expand to accommodate additional items. We’re fans of Booq’s camera bags for their quality and design, and the Taipan Superslim 15 has a similar build, like water-resistant, lightweight 1680D triple-weaved polyester. Like Booq’s camera bags, the laptop case has the Terralinq ID, a unique serial number that could help you recover a bag.

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Amazon

Eagle Creek Straight Up Business Brief RFID ($112)

If you can’t decide between a messenger bag, backpack, or handheld briefcase, why not have all three? The Straight Up briefcase converts into any of those modes to suit your mood, while the laptop compartment folds open for airport screeners. The shoulder straps are well padded for the long haul, and, like Tumi’s Alpha 2, there’s an RFID-blocking pocket for IDs, cards, passports and other modern travel accessories.

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Eagle Creek

Everki Titan ($180)

best checkpoint friendly laptop bags for travel version 1494965451 everki titan backpack

The Titan is a colossal backpack, one capable of holding an 18.4-inch laptop. This makes it ideal for anyone with a large gaming laptop who travels frequently. Additionally, the bag features several large compartments, so you can store plenty of gear, including laptop accessories and other devices (i.e., tablets, handhelds). The tablet pocket is even lined with felt, making it safe for any screen.

Although it may seem like such a large backpack would be terrible for moving through security, the titan opens up 180 degrees, so it can move through a screening machine easily. The pack’s innovative design also makes it easy to rifle through compartments and grab the specific device you want at any given moment. It may not be the right choice for every consumer, but those with mammoth laptops and an assortment of gadgets will appreciate the Titan’s bountiful pockets and smart organization.

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Amazon

Samsonite Classic Business 3 Gusset Business Case ($52)

best checkpoint friendly laptop bags for travel version 1494965451 samsonite 3 gullet case

Few brand names in the luggage industry carry the gravitas of Samsonite — in fact, the company is so old and prestigious, it was even featured in an episode of Mad Men! If Don Draper were alive today, he’d probably appreciate Samsonite’s modern designs for the contemporary traveler. This particular business case features three sections: One for a 15-inch laptop, an organizer pocket for files and other such items, and one for whatever else you want to carry.

The case is made out of 1680D ballistic nylon, so it’s durable while still being lightweight. The strap is also padded for comfort, and the case can be attached to the handle of an upright suitcase for easy transport. It’s not the flashiest case around, but if you have a medium or smaller-sized laptop and an assortment of papers to carry, it gets the job done.

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Amazon

Solo Pro 17.3-inch Checkfast Briefcase ($55)

Solo Pro 17

Not only can the Solo Pro Checkfast hold large-scale laptops, but it also has an extra-easy fold up design that allows TSA agents to check everything fast. Otherwise, it’s a very solid business travel bag with padded compartments, plenty of organization options, an adjustable shoulder strap, and a “ride along” feature that’s basically a set of straps you can use to attach the bag to larger luggage when necessary. The material is polyester all the way through, but it’s clear this bag focuses on convenience, not looks.

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StaplesLuggage Pros

Brenthaven Collins Sleeve Plus ($35)

Collins Sleeve Plus

Brenthaven’s Collins Sleeve is the ideal solution to quick travel. It’s a durable, zippered sleeve with handles and high density foam padding for a lot more protection than you usually find in more casual sleeves—plus, of course, an easy way to pull out your computer. While the Collins is specifically designed for the Surface Pro 4 and even includes storage made for the Surface Pen and Surface Mouse, it’s quite compatible with other tablets and hybrids.

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AmazonBrenthaven

Osprey Nebula 34 ($100-$120)

Osprey Nebula 34

Maybe you are going on a more adventurous trip, and prefer to take an outdoors-oriented daypack that still has to carry your laptop on a flight. That’s exactly why the Nebula was made, and includes a TSA-approved laptop sleeve for easy retrieval. Everything else is what you’d expect from a hiking expert like Osprey, with plenty of durability, lots of mesh pockets, and a removable hip belt for easier traveling. There’s also an additional tablet sleeve you can use if you are carrying both devices.

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REIAmazon