Laptop bags have come a very long way. These days having a sleeve for a laptop is more a function of any stylish, regular bag to the point where it’s now relevant to ask the question, “Are these just bags?”
And yet we still see people carrying around the thin, ugly, nylon monstrosities that came with their computer – bags that are uncomfortable, regularly offer minimal-to-no impact protection and tell every mugger in the vicinity that you’re carrying an expensive piece of equipment around.
These days we expect laptop bags to look stylish, be well-made, have thoughtful features, offer protection to devices and to not look like laptop bags. Here are the best we’ve seen.
The Top 5 Laptop bags in 2017
1. Everki ContemPRO Roll Top Laptop Backpack ($149 RRP, $93 actual)
The top of the Roll Top Laptop Backpack does indeed roll-down like the waterproof adventurer bags of yore and we love it. It feels very durable and yet looks stylish. Exterior pockets are accessible yet discreet and the bag looks as though it will suite both office and outdoor adventuring environments. The inside is a high-contrast orange which makes finding small and dark items much easier and thoughtful loops and hoops make securing waterbottles and other devices a breeze. There’s also a useful pocket made of netting which makes it very easy to see what’s in it. By allowing the top to roll down the bag can change size dramatically – roll it right down when there’s not much in it or leave it open at the top to carry something large.
The laptop sleeve feels secure and well padded and the bag is generally comfortable to wear. At $149 this is the best all-round bag we’ve seen.
2. Arc’teryx Blade 28 Backpack ($300 RRP, $210 actual)
The Blade took some getting used to but we quickly learned to appreciate its key feature. The main pockets open down the side meaning the internal configuration resembles an overnight bag. This means you can easily access and pack items like jackets, shoes and trousers without squeezing everything through the top.
And yet despite having room for clothes/shoes/gym kit there’s a dedicated, well-protected compartment for a laptop and solid protection at the front and back, it still comes off as thin and stylish in both casual and office environments. Inside, the lining is finely pinstriped which makes it just that bit easier to find things in the dark. It’s also very comfortable to wear. This is one of our favourites and a great choice for a corporate buyers.
3. Arc’teryx Granville ($340 RRP, $230 actual)
The Granville is another unusual and interesting bag. It’s made from an unusual, weatherproof material which makes it feel like it would do well to partner a fisherman on The Deadliest Catch as a great partner accessory to a Sou’wester – it’s the most waterproof here and all seams have been taped. And yet Arc’teryx has succeeded in making it look at home in the most corporate environments.
The top flap is kept in place with magnets although it can be secured more sturdily with a hook – an unusual system but it works. We found the ability to quickly rip open and close the bag (using the magnets) very handy. It should be noted that, while waterproof, this isn’t suited to hardcore outdor adventuring as the top flap is, ultimately, just a flap.
Inside is bright (so you can find small items when it’s dark) but there aren’t many pockets. The laptop sections are raised off the base which is good as there’s not much protection for things at the bottom of the bag if it gets dumped on to hard surfaces. The lack of padding does make it very lightweight though. There are pockets for gadgets and keys in the lid but these can make it a bit top heavy.
Nonetheless, if waterproofing is your prime requirement of a classy laptop bag, this should be top of your list.
4. Incase Sport Field 15" Laptop Bag ($300 RRP, $200 actual)
We used the Incase bag a great deal – it’s the largest bag we had on test with the largest areas and as such can fit in larger items. A large pocket at the base has vents in it and is designed to carry things like a wet ball. It attracted many comments from people around the office, mainly because it’s so big and makes you look like an outdoor adventurer more than corporate worker, which isn’t surprising considering that’s the target market. Everything on the inside and outside is black meaning it’s difficult to find small items in the dark. Despite the bags size the laptop compartment is quite snug and won’t accept anything bigger than 15-inches. A rain cover is built into the bottom.
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So while it’s not suited to office work environments, it may suit those who need to carry significant sports kit around. You’ll need deep pockets though, even at $200 this is one of the most expensive bags on show and yet it also feels and looks like it should be the cheapest. So that’s disappointing value but it may turn the heads of some.
5. Everki ContemPRO Laptop Bike Messenger ($150 RRP, $129 actual)
This Bike Messenger bag struck us as very well made. There are strong, high-quality straps and loops everywhere, we love the bright, high-contrast insides which makes small and dark objects much easier to locate and the stabilizing strap at the back is a sensible design touch which stops the bag sliding around (especially useful if you actually are a bike messenger). The laptop sleeves are padded and a single, velcro strap stops them from slipping out.
However, this bag didn’t last long with us. Our bags typically carry large and small items at the same time. The main compartment is only secured with a single clip and the main flap above this is secured by two more clips. It means that if the relatively-shallow bag is turned upside-down or even held sideways then contents can spill out onto the floor. Much will depend on what you plan on transporting, but if it’s mainly large items the bag will be too small for you and we never felt very secure transporting small items. A zip across the top of the main compartment would work wonders here.