The best backpacks and laptop bags for style and protection
Here at T3 we have scoured the vast reaches of tech-luggage-obscurity to find the best backpacks and laptop bags. Whether you're looking for svelte, business style messengers, high-end designer backpacks or rugged, water-resistant rucksacks, we've got you covered.
Both laptops and tablets are getting slimmer and lighter, so they're important investments that you need to protect. And while a sleeve or cover can be handy at times, nothing screams full-on protection quite like a backpack or laptop bag.
You also need a means of carting around all your chargers, batteries, cameras, e-readers, selfie sticks, and copies of T3 magazine etc. Hence you need a protective bag. Q.E.D. End of.
From stylish to monstrously rugged, these are the bags of gold.
Unlike most of our buyers' guides, they aren't listed in any particular order but rest assured, we love them all, like they were our children.
This bag from MRKT has a heavy Japanese influence and is made of dense felt and VEGN leather (ie: unlike £5 notes, it's not made from cows).
It'll take up to 13 big inches of laptop with ease, with room for your J-Pop CDs, original Neo-Geo cartridges, sushi knives, kimonos and suchlike. Domo arigato.
MRKT makes a wide range of bags. They all put striking twists on traditional backpack, briefcase and satchel forms, and are generally named after hip-hop and electronica acts, as far as we can tell. Splendid.
Sandqvist makes bags and packs of such aching Scandinavian sexiness that last time we went in its Berwick Street shop, we were asked to leave, as all our heavy breathing and gasps of pleasure was putting off the other customers.
The Roald, not to be confused with The Donald, is one of its larger bags and comes in Sandqvist's trademark heavy canvas, in a range of perfect colours, with leather detailing. There's a more daring yellow option, if you find the ninja black, special forces khaki and boyish blue a bit butch for your tastes.
Inside: a 15-inch laptop sleeve. Outside: ammo pouches for your battery packs, headphones, camera, etc. Around the back: "adjustable straps" with just enough padding. Oof!
The new Booq Daypack is a slim, futuristic looking backpack. Capable of holding a 17-inch laptop, the Daypack also features two large exterior side pockets for a water bottle and umbrella. The long front zip also creates a wide, accessible opening, and there are plenty of pockets and dividers inside.
LowePro Tahoe BP 150
LowePro was started by Greg Lowe, a photographer/mountaineer/filmmaker from a small Colorado town, when he developed an internal-frame backpack to protect his camera equipment. The Tahoe BP 150 will keep all of your photographic gear and a tablet protected in a lightweight, sporty shell.
Brooks England Pickwick
Perfect for those trendy, retro cycling-types - this sack made by Brooks England screams heritage. Made from water-resistant cotton and featuring a roll-top design it's as durable as it is stylish. The backpack features an internal laptop compartment and secret pocket hidden on the back for valuable items.
The Burton Tinder Backpack combines vintage styling everyday usability, and we think it looks great. The pack features a simple drawstring closure, padded laptop compartment, and quick access top accessory pocket.
Eastpak Out of Office
If there's one company that knows a thing or two about making backpacks, it's Eastpak, a company started in 1952 to make duffels and packs for the U.S. Army.
Now more commonly found in the school playground than war zones, Eastpak has continued to be a market leader.
The Out of Office pack is a simple, stylish design which comes in a number of different prints - we love the Parrot pattern in the company's AW16 collection.
The backpack features a separate laptop compartment, and shoulder pads with SGS.
Currently THE backpack this season, this Swedish outdoorsy firm was born from the idea of creating more a comfortable 'carrying systems'.
The Kanken, specifically, was created in 1978 to help prevent back problems among school children. This modern (yet still classic) backpack is stylish and practical, with space for a 13-inch Macbook (or smaller).
The water-repellent body is built to last, and a carry handle wins points for simplicity and versatility.
Finistere Waterproof Rucksack
We love this 100-percent waterproof pack from British brand Finisterre. With a 20L capacity and multiple inner pockets, it's a perfect day sack. Made from PU coated nylon using a high frequency welded construction, it'll also stand up to plenty of abuse.
Herschel Pop Quiz
This rucksack from American brand Herschel comes in a variety of swish colours and with a whole host of useful features to boot. With space for up to a 15 inch MacBook, along with an iPad, both of which have separate fleece-lined pockets, this is perfect for hauling around your delicate Apple gear. There's plenty of internal space for accessories and even a special pocket just for your Ray-Bans.
This backpack comes from the prolific iPhone case manufacturer Incase. It's a stylish, minimal shell design with a multitude of pockets and dividers to keep your tech protected. It's made from durable 840D nylon and can fit a 15-inch MacBook Pro. Our favourite feature has to be the cable port for on-the-go access to portable power or audio.
The JanSport Superbreak has been the number one selling backpack for students around the world for more than 30 years. It's affordable, made from durable Nylon, and kind of iconic.
Knomo's Dale is deceptively roomy, even though its footprint it pretty small. The bag is separated into multiple sections, a back space with a padded laptop and tablet pocket, while the front part can hold plenty of cables, plus books and such like. Both are protected by sturdy zips and the straps are notably comfy to wear for extended periods of time. It can be carried like a tote or worn like a backpack, so it's two bags in one really.
Nike Vapor Energy
Perfect if you constantly find yourself in the gym, this 'pack from Nike includes a 'wet' and 'dry' compartment to keep sweaty clothes away from your precious tech (and dry clothes). It opens wide for easy access, and has a shoe compartment capable of fitting up to size 15 sneaks. The shoulder pads are made from Max Air for lightweight shock absorption.
North Face Access
The North Face Access pack is perhaps the most advanced on this list - with a steel exoskeleton to keep your tech safe. The shell design pops open at the flick of a button, and your tech is 'ejected' to make it more accessible.
Patagonia Arbor 26L
Made from 100-percent recycled polyester and treated with a polyurethane coating and a DWR (durable water repellent) finish - we really rate this pack from outdoor brand Patagonia. It's equipped with a padded laptop sleeve which doubles as an insulated hydration reservoir when you hit the trails, and features Human Curve shoulder straps which ergonomically fit your body.
Paul Smith Cycling Jerseys
Paul Smith 'Cycling Jerseys' print backpack features a classic design and black leather trims with adjustable shoulder straps, gold Paul Smith signature embossed hardware and a mesh back. Internally the backpack features a zip fastening compartment and a padded slip pocket designed to fit the 13-inch MacBook. Finished with a Paul Smith signature tab, a black Paul Smith dust bag is included, because you know it's posh if your bag has it's own bag.
New for AW16, the Penfield Fox is an ingenious piece of kit. Made from a fully reflective fabric, the entire pack lights up making you more visible in the dark. Apart from that, it's business as usual, with a classic design and padded shoulder pads.
Offering plenty of protection for your kit, the Thule Stravan boasts room for a 15-inch laptop and tablet, both of which are housed from the elements under a storm flap. We're big fans of the main compartment, which fully zips open and makes packing/unpacking much quicker.
Tumi Alpha Bravo Knox
This backpack is named after one of the most secure places on the planet for a reason - because Tumi is known for its quality, durability, and all-around sturdiness. This pack is chunky and tough enough to keep your tech sleeping softly inside on a mountain climb while still ensuring you look dapper for a lunchtime meeting.
This is a classic school backpack made more desirable by the Vans patch and punchy colours.
Victorinox Altmont 3.0 Flapover
Victorinox is not only great at making little Swiss Army Knives, they're also adept at luggage. The backpack can fit 17-inch laptops, it's made from nylon, features seamless water resistant zips, and an attractive, Swiss design.
Arc’teryx Granville Pack
This sleek and sophisticated pack is perfect for urban areas with extreme weather, you know, like London and Edinburgh. Made using “Advanced Composite Construction (AC²)”, the bag is seam taped and highly water resistant. The Granville features a zippered back panel for quick access to your laptop, and a top pocket with key clip.
Berghaus Arrow 30
If you're looking for a compact backpack for a spot of weekend hiking, we'd go with the Berghaus Arrow 30. The pack will keep you sweat-free utilising Berghaus' Flow back system with vented foam, and also features a rain cover, hydration pack compatibility and walking pole attachment points.
Topo x Woolrich Rover Pack
Handmade in the States, this packs screams quality. The top flap is adorned with Woolrich wool, adding a premium and durable finish, while the main section is a sturdy Cordura fabric. There's a padded area inside for your 13-inch laptop and a bevy of other zipped pockets to keep trinkets safe. Comfort is impressive too - the straps are padded, adjustable and don't dig into your back. It's simple, very durable and packs a lot of space into a small size.
Manfrotto D1 backpack for DJI Phantom
If you like to carry all of your tech around on your back like a little futuristic turtle, this backpack is for you. There's space for a laptop, tablet, camera gear, and DJI drone. There's probably even space for a VR headset. It's modular, with interchangeable dividers, features a water repellant coating, and has a fold out rain protector.
If you don't carry a drone everywhere, maybe you don't even own a drone? We'd suggest you go for the new Off Road Stunt backpack, which is more lightweight and durable.
TBD | Manfrotto
This bag is ideal for security conscious commuters. It looks like a stylish bag for your laptop and other valuables, but any pick-pocketers would be deterred by the zip-system, which is located on the rear (against your back), rather than the front of the 'pack. The R10 has 10-litres of storage, and enough space for a 15-inch laptop.
£79 | Riut
STM Velocity Prime
The lightweight Velocity Prime backpack contains plenty of space for organisation. The contoured zip allows easy access to all your tech, and there's even a handy quick access pocket. The Prime comes complete with STM's SlingTech System, which cradles your laptop/tablet and protects it from drops.
£65 | Amazon
Overboard Pro-Light Waterproof
If you happen to commute on a boat, or stand up paddle board, this 'pack from Overboard is perfect for you. It's IP66 rated, meaning it is waterproof, snow proof, dirt proof and sand proof.
This 12-litre daypack is compact and lightweight, but still includes plenty of space for tech you'd rather not get wet.
It's a seamless electronically-welded design, with a simple sealing system making it fully submersible. It also has plenty of useful features, such as a whistle buckle, buoyant straps, and quick-release elastic webbing.
Manhattan Portage x Alpha Industries
Manhattan Portage and Alpha Industries have teamed up to launch their first ever collaboration which will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the original M-65 Field Coat. Made from the same material as the legendary coat, and taking design queues from famous military garments these retro inspired bags are perfect for protecting your tech.
The tropical Jungle Rucksack pays homage to the classic military issued backpack used during the Vietnam War and the tactical MOLLE design is the military's 21st century version of the Vietnam-era technology known as ALICE (All-purpose Lightweight Individual Carrying Equipment).
From around £114 | Manhattan Portage
Louis Vuitton V Line Pulse
Designed for "the active man" this lightweight and ultra-mobile backpack is perfect for the more discerning buyer. Made from water-repellant calfskin leather, it also boasts multiple pockets to organise your busy life. Finished with the traditional Gaston V and quick release metal buckle.
£1,870 | Louis Vuitton
If you're an 'Urban Commuter' these 'sacks from PKG are for you. They give protection and security, with everything waterproofed, lightweighter and versatile. PKG was sounded in Canada, with to goal to combine simplicity, versatiliity, and functionality into something that's inherently fashionable. We'd say they've done a good job.
There are two new ranges this season, Black and Tan, and Ascot. The designs are inspired by chinos and vintage neckwear (respectively), encapsulating the everyday gentleman.
From £98 | PKG
Cocoon 13-inch Brief Case
If the inside of your bag often ends up turning into a jumbled mess, then Cocoon's nifty organisation system GRID-IT could end up being a life saver. Nestled inside this slick look graphite grey briefcase, GRID-IT is a panel covered in straps, simply slot in anything from your phone, to your charger and everything in between and it'll be kept safely stowed. There's also a separate lined compartment for your 13-inch laptop, another for a 10-inch tablet and accessories pocket on the front. Ballistic water-resistant nylon protects the exterior, while wooden zippers add a classy finishing touch.
Constructed from a durable fabric made from 100% recycled plastic bottles, this backpack can fit in a 17-inch MacBook Pro, so you know there's going to be lots of space. We're big fans of the rolled top design and the industrial finish, which complete a very swish looking pack. A padded tablet pocket is included, as is a discrete vertical zippered section for documents you want to keep from prying eyes.
Transit Backpack 350AW
If you're a keen photographer then you'll know Lowepro are highly respected in the camera bag market. So this Transit bag will offer great protection for your DSLR and its many lenses, as well as providing a dedicated padded compartment to keep your laptop scratch free. It's true innovation, however, is the side opening pocket which allows quick access to your tech when time is short.
Karrimor Panther 65
The rucksack from Karrimor would be perfect if you're planning a high-tech backing trip across Europe. The Panther 65 Rucksack features the SA1 size adjust back system with, 'direct link' technology to customise the back length and ensure optimum load transfer to the hip belt so it won't ruin your posture. A large main compartment with a zip out divider to a base compartment will keep everything nicely segregated.
Lat_56 BC_01 Briefcase
It may not be the MOST attractive bag, but if you're after the ultimate protection for your laptop - look no further.
Made from military-spec EVA foam the BC_01 can hold a 13-inch laptop with enough expandable space for documents and overnight clothing.
There's plenty of interior pockets, helping you stay organised, and the company boasts it'll handle "anything from an acid rain downtown downpour to a tropical typhoon".
Lat_56 is based in Scotland, and the bag comes with a five-year lifetime guarantee, so you can expect top quality craftsmanship.