The Best Laptop Backpacks for Work

September 2, 2022

Best Budget Bag

Herschel Heritage backpack in black

The Tom Bihn is priced out of many budgets, but you don’t have to settle for a crappy bag if you want to save money. Despite being more affordable than most other bags on this list, this Herschel looks just as nice and is just as capable as its peers. I used the Heritage as my school bag and filled it with a day’s worth of textbooks and a laptop in its dedicated 15-inch sleeve. But I’ve also used it as an overnight bag stuffed with clothes and a pair of shoes, and as a carry-on with essentials should my luggage get lost. It has since followed me into my work life too. It’s made from 600-denier polyester with a faux leather bottom and handle.

After years of heavy use, it has only recently started to show signs of wear, especially on the top handle. The bag itself hasn’t ripped, and the straps are holding strong.

A Small, Customizable Bag

You’ve probably seen a Fjallraven bag in nearly any crowded area. The 13-inch Kanken pack is especially small and good for everyday use, and it manages to fit my Macbook Pro in its laptop pocket. Plus the large main compartment and smaller front pocket can fit my Kindle, a thick planner, and a notebook, with room for lunch or a change of clothes. A reviewer on Fjallraven’s site called it a Mary Poppins bag, which is apt. The fabric is rigid and repels water, and the company offers lifetime repairs (with a focus on sustainability). I love the colors the bag comes in, but arguably the best part is that you can customize the Kanken.

The side pockets are quite tight, so they won’t fit every type of bottle. (It held my 20-ounce Starbucks bottle, but anything thicker won’t do.) The Kanken comes with a foam pad that adds an extra layer of cushioning while you wear it, and you can take it out to use as a cushion when you need to sit on a hard surface. (It’s not super cushy, but it’s better than the cold, hard ground.)

The Cheapest (for Light Days)

Out of the Woods makes its bags from what it calls “supernatural paper”—responsibly sourced tree cellulose—and it says 93 percent of the water used for manufacturing is returned to the source. It looks a little like leather but does feel like a piece of paper. 

The main compartment has a snap-closure laptop sleeve, and the front pocket fits a 9.5-inch tablet (barely, but it zipped). I wouldn’t overpack this bag for risk of putting too much weight on the straps, but they’re comfier than I thought they’d be, considering that they aren’t padded. However the square of fabric where the straps are sewn to the actual bag needs to be worn in. It feels a little like an annoying shirt tag on my back.


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