Popping your laptop into one of the best laptop backpacks will protect it from harm and keep it stashed away for when you need it, whatever activity you've got planned. A backpack generally has enough space for other belongings, meaning you only have to carry around one bag, your hands will be free and there's much less chance of putting the bag down and losing it
There are a wealth of different backpack options out there, in a variety of designs for different purposes. So whether you're using your backpack for a tough commute, or taking your laptop up a mountain to edit photos of the view, there's sure to be something for you out there.
Our guide rounds up our favourite laptop backpacks, including laptop backpacks for students. We've made our selections through extensive research, looking at customer reviews, durability, the material used and size (for more on our process, see how we test). If you would rather carry your laptop another way, see our guide to the best laptop bags, and if you need an actual laptop, check out our pick of the best laptops for graphic design around.
The best laptop backpacks
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The JanSport Cortlandt backpack is easily one of the best laptop backpacks around. This is a polyester laptop back with faux leather / vegan leather trim. It has a classic design with one large compartment, a 15-inch laptop sleeve lined in fleece and a removable storage pouch.
It's a good all-round laptop backpack for study or commutes to the office or meetings. The drawback is that while this is showerproof, it's not waterproof, so you'll want to avoid a large downpour. While the one pictured comes in blue, the same laptop backpack is available in a Viking Red and Misty Rose.
Our Editor has been using this Harber London Commuter Backpack for a couple of weeks now, and is delighted with it. This is a great-looking and well-made backpack, which has an abundance of interior pockets to hold all your stuff, from a specific water bottle slot to a zip-up compartment to hold items you wouldn't want to lose. Its professional appearance means it's an ideal laptop backpack for work – it doesn't have the rugged vibe of others on the list.
The straps are padded, meaning it is comfortable to wear for long periods and it's structured enough that it feels comfy on the back, too. A 15-inch laptop fits in very nicely, and it comes in a choice of three colours (black, olive and mocha).
A small niggle is that the zip at the top doesn't close the bag fully, leaving a small gap at either side, which isn't ideal for waterproofing. Added to that, the fastener that closes the leather top is a snap closer – but it doesn't fit in super-securely and the flap is often coming open.
But besides those small issues, it's a brilliant backpack that looks stylish, feels robust and is made from quality materials.
Created for urban business commuting, this Timbuk2 The Authority Pack combines functionality and style to make one of the best laptop backpacks around. The design looks smart enough for this bag to be used in meetings in place of a briefcase, while it maintains the functionality and security of a backpack.
The slimline look doesn't compromise on padding, and with a lifetime guarantee, so you're assured durable protection for your device. Yes, the Timbuk2 laptop backpack is expensive, but if you're looking for a versatile laptop bag that covers multiple uses, we'd highly recommend it.
Perfect for students, this North Face Borealis 28L backpack is super-versatile, comes at a reasonable price point, and has a range of useful features. A well-padded laptop compartment will keep a 15-inch laptop safe and snug, while the front section is idea for a tablet or notebook. Inside, you'll fit folders and the stretchy side pockets will comfortably hold a water bottle.
It also comes in at least 30 colour combinations, which almost makes up for the fact it won't stand up on its own (almost). It's worth shopping around for this one, as it is sold at different prices around the web (the different colours are different prices, too.)
The Friendly Swede Laptop Bag stands out if you're looking for one of the best laptop bags that will protect your device during a downpour. While it still can't claim to be 100 per cent waterproof, its rubberised material offers some of the best protection to keep your laptop safe during a shower.
The Friendly Swede convertible backpack is also resistant to many stains. The backpack can be used to carry as a tote bag, in fact it may be more comfortable to carry it as a tote for longer distances. The backpack straps aren't designed for long treks.
Intended as a gaming backpack, the Lenovo Legion Armoured 17-inch Backpack is a toughened beast. A durable EVA moulded front shield offers maximum protection for bumpy rides or commutes, making this an ideal laptop backpack for cyclists (we've even take one skiing, great if you're a fan of painting digital art outdoors).
There's also inner padding to protect your laptop inside, and multiple pockets to carry any other hardware you need to carry with you. Some users note that it can be a right fit and is best for carrying slim items, but it offers good protection. There are some attractive prices around too.
How to choose the best laptop backpack for you
What size should my laptop backpack be?
First of all, you'll need to get a backpack in the right size. No, not for your body (though that's a consideration), but for your laptop. Whether your laptop is 13-inch, 15-inch or a whopping 17-inch, you'll need the laptop compartment to fit your laptop. Most laptop backpacks will have the dimensions listed, so check before you buy. Note: Don't be tempted to get one that's listed as too big as you don't want your laptop to have too much room to get thrown around inside the compartment.
Also (and this is common sense) consider how big you actually need your backpack to be. A too-big backpack is going to be uncomfortable and a pain to drag around if you don't actually need the extra space.
What type of material is right for me?
This comes down to where you'll be using the backpack, and whether you need it to be one of the best protective laptop backpacks, or one of the best choices for work. If you're going to be outside a lot, you'll need something weatherproof, possibly even with a raincover (think leather, neoprene and rubberised plastic). But if you're just going to be using it inside you might not need to be so specific about the material you choose.
However, even if you're not braving the elements, you'll still want to choose a tough material because you don't want your laptop to get damaged – and it happens easily. If you or your bag get knocked around on the train or you have to take it off and pop it on the floor, you want to know it can cope.
What should the laptop compartment be like?
Laptop compartments come in different forms. Some are flimsily divided, with no extra protection. This isn't a problem if you've got a laptop case or sleeve that provides protection, but if your laptop is naked (or in a non-protective sleeve), you'll want to source a compartment that provides protection through thick padding or a hard shell.
What else should I consider?
Though you'll primarily be wearing your backpack on your back, you might want the option of carrying it in your hand, so consider a backpack with carry handles. Other than that, consider how many extra compartments you'll need (what else will you need to carry?), and whether you want them to be internal or on the outside of the backpack.
Laptop backpacks come in different styles, too, so you'll want to get a bag that matches the occasion you're using it for. Go smart for the office, and rugged for outdoor pursuits.