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 while protecting your laptop. 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.
It should be noted that despite the TSA approval of 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.
Booq expandable Taipan superslim for MacBook Pro ($150+)
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.
Lodis Accessories Audrey Brera Briefcase with Laptop Pocket ($328)
For those who are also concerned with style, it doesn’t get much better than this elite leather shoulder bag with a padded laptop compartment, five easy-to-reach card slots, and many extra pockets for phones, notepads, cosmetics, and whatever else you may need. Note that the pockets for devices and cards come with RFID protection to stop unauthorized pairings. The shoulder strap is detachable, so you can wear this one as you please. Other available shades include red and toffee.
Mobile Edge Alienware Vindicator Briefcase 17″ ($85+)
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.
Brenthaven Collins Sleeve Plus ($50)
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.
Swiss Gear SA9998 ($50)
An ideal pack for backpacking across the world while still keeping your laptop safe, this Swiss Gear model includes a padded laptop sleeve for 15-inch or smaller laptops. It also includes room for pretty much everything else, including office supplies, water bottles, a change of clothes, toiletries, and so on. The padded shoulder straps keep the pack comfortable, and the denier ballistic nylon surface prepares the backpack for rougher conditions when necessary. If your definition of travel is ambitious and you need a backpack to keep up, this Swiss Gear is worth checking out!
Tumi Alpha 2 T-Pass expandable laptop Brief ($379+)
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 handlebar. The Alpha 2 is made with Tumi’s FXT ballistic nylon that’s tough yet soft. A backpack version is also available.
Incase EO Travel Backpack ($180)
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.
Everki Titan ($165)
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.
Mancro Water Resistant Laptop Bag ($29)
Simple, affordable, and ideal for rainy cities, this Mancro bag can fit laptops under 17 inches, and comes with a built-in USB charging port. There are also more than 10 compartments for tablets, phones, chargers, binders, clothing, water bottles, and anything else you may need. The design hits a sweet spot that makes this bag suitable for business meeting, trade fairs, school, and anything in between. If you’ve been trying to find a highly affordable laptop bag that still has all the features you need for a busy life/travel plan, you can probably stop looking!
Osprey Nebula 34 ($60-120)
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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