If you have a laptop there’s a strong chance you’ll want a good bag to carry it around in.
Laptop computers are incredibly popular these days, and with portability comes actually wanting to carry it around with you. When you’re spending MacBook money you want to look after it. After all, you’re probably going to keep it for a fair amount of time, longer than you might a smartphone.
There are hundreds, thousands of laptop bags out there. There are also a number of folks working at Mobile Nations who spend a good deal of time with a laptop stashed inside a bag. So, we’ve rounded up the editorial team and come up with a decent selection of our top choices for hauling around our laptops and anything else that may need to go with them.
Let’s jump right in.
Tumi Alpha Bravo Knox Backpack
Kevin Michaluk recommended the Tumi Alpha Bravo Knox Backpack to me when we were at CES last year. I was slugging around a giant camera sling, and complaining about it, and he was zipping around with an impossible amount of stuff stuffed into an impossibly small pack. Which is very Kevin.
After a couple more trips to the West Coast, though, where the unilateral weight of my sling was starting to cause me neck pain and other postural problems, I decided I needed to make the change. And I’m glad I did.
The Knox really does feel like a bag of holding. It seems tiny, but when my colleagues Serenity Caldwell, Mark Guim, and I were in New York City for the iPhones 6s launch, I managed to stuff more boxes, cases, and gear inside than nature or physics should allow. I even snuck my Canon 5D Mark III in there on many occasions without a problem, and with tons of room to spare.
The inside pockets are a little floppy for my liking, so I do need to be careful to make sure I get my MacBook or iPad into the dedicated slot, and the charger into its pocket, but otherwise it’s brilliant. I use the two external side pockets for my iPhone/iPad charger and Apple Watch chargers. I have pens, straps, and a battery pack, and other gear in the front pockets. And I have room for what seems like tons of stuff inside.
Just don’t tell Kevin he was right.
Handbag of Holding
I fell in love with the Handbag of Holding the moment I laid eyes on it. Sure, it looks inconspicuously like a nice purse, but what really caught my attention was the pockets. Pockets, pockets, pockets. There is a compartment for just about every little thing you want to keep in its own, organized space.
There is a padded center pocket that is just the right size for my tablet, two larger outer compartments (one on either side of the padded pouch), of which I usually stuff my 13-inch MacBook Pro on one side and a couple of paper notepads on the other, two exterior pouches (one on each side) that can fit magazines and other reading materials, two outer pockets that are big enough to hold an iPhone 6s, plus some additional stuff, like business cards, and two side sleeves that fit water bottles pretty nicely.
That’s not all. There are also zipper pockets on the inside of each exterior pouch, one zipper pocket on the inside, and three slip pockets that are great for keeping pens and pencils organized. And, for the D&D player, the name isn’t the only clever reference. The magnetic clasp that closes the bag is a shiny chrome d20. Roll for perception.
Peak Design Everyday Messenger
I’ve long been a customer of Peak Design — the company makes some killer photography accessories that have been lifesavers on the road. So I was intrigued when they teamed up with famed photog Trey Ratcliff of Stuck in Customs to create a bag that’s half-messenger carryall, half photographer’s dream. I take pictures, but I wouldn’t call myself a photographer. But I’m a guy who has to be able to carry as much as possible in a single bag, wherever I end up.
The Everyday Messenger bag isn’t a bottomless pit. I could cram more stuff in my previous bag. But this one makes me more organized and even got me to shed some precious ounces of stuff that I probably was never going to use anyway. The front closure is ridiculously easy to use and has yet to accidentally come undone.
The removable internal sections keep my lenses away from things that might damage them, and my cables from going everywhere. And I’ve still got room for a tablet and 13-inch MacBook Pro. And there’s a zipper atop the bag that lets you sneak in and out without having to actually open the front flap.Let’s just put it this way: I’m not going anywhere without this thing.
I’ve been attending tech trade shows for five years, and in those five years I’ve gone through five different bags, each successively improving on the last. My current bag of choice is the Peak Design Everyday Messenger, and it’s as close to perfect of a bag as I’ve used. It’s lightweight, yet strong. Versatile but orderly. And capacious without being bulky.
As this bag comes from Peak Design, it’s a camera bag first, and that fits perfectly with my camera-heavy trade show load. The folding dividers in the main compartment make it easy to pack and stack all my gear (camera, two lenses, microphone packs, and laptop charger) in a manner that provides priority access to the most important things (the camera and charger). The front pocket easily stows the smaller things like extra batteries, cables, and SD cards, while the main laptop compartment provides a safe slot to store my computer.
The real marvel of the Everyday Messenger is the latch. After years of struggling with finicky puck magnet closures, zippers, clips, velcro, and hooks, the magnetic latch on this bag beats the snot out of them all. I can let it flap down and it’ll stick itself on the metal plate embedded in the front of the bag, or I can latch it on one of the ladder rungs running down that plate for a secure closure that requires deliberate force to open.
For once, with the Peak Design Everyday Messenger, I don’t find myself looking on the horizon for the next great blogger bag. I’m happy with practically every element of it — and this comes from a guy that’s explored commissioning a custom bag on more than one occasion.
Tylt Energi+ backpack
Backpacks with laptop compartments aren’t a new thing, but a backpack built entirely around someone who is using multiple gadgets and respecting the way those things work together is something special. Tylt’s Energi bag is built around the four-port 10,000mAh battery next to the laptop sleeve, with cables that weave their way through special slits in the backpack to put whatever port you need in every pocket of the back. If you need cables to leave the bag, there’s a headphone slot and a shoulder strap to help hold everything in place. There’s even a bottle holster in one of the side zipper slots, just in case you need to travel with some caffeine.
On top of feeling tailor-made for nerds, it’s also a well-made backpack. The top and front zipper compartments work well together to store way more than you’d think by looking at the bag, with individual slots for a tablet and a laptop with plenty of protection for each. The shoulder straps and top handle are nicely padded, and the luggage slot on the back makes docking this back on top of a roller completely effortless.
Over the years, I’ve gone through many laptop bags but after having picked up the TYLT Energi+ recently, I’m pretty positive I have found the right one for me. The TYLT Energi+ is tough, has lots of pockets and space (1,450 cubic inches of internal space and 13 total pockets) and is comfortable to carry in all situations.
The added 10,400mAh battery pack for charging tablets and phones on the go and pass through lines to keep all your cables nice and neat is just icing on the cake.
Targus Seoul Backpack
After using the TYLT Energi+ backpack for over a year, I recently moved to the new Targus Seoul backpack. I’ve always liked Targus backpacks, although never owned one before this one was sent for review. Incidentally, the trial coincided with a lot of travel – both work and leisure – so I took the Targus Seoul for a comprehensive spin for over a month.
It is a great backpack for travel as the back panel incorporates a pass-through sleeve that allows the bag to be securely placed on a trolley when moving luggage.It offers thoughtful design with organized compartments that work well for a modern day professional. It also stands out in a crowd, and I’ve often received compliments or enquiries about the bag.
Waterfield Field Muzetto
I use the Waterfield Field Muzetto bag for my Surface Book – or just about any laptop – I decide to carry around for the day. The Muzetto is made by hand in San Francisco and while not cheap ($169) it is the kind of bag that will last you years and years due to the quality leather and sewing used in making it.
The Muzetto bag is ideal for light trips and yet is ample enough to carry around a few items. I can easily stuff a new Dell XPS 15 in it and a Surface Pro 4. Alternatively, you could choose one or the other and add in the AC charger, an Amazon Kindle and more. Regarding spacing, the bag has three slots all lined with soft fabric to avoid scratching and add protection. In the smaller sleeve (outward facing) two smaller compartments can support a smartphone or phablet along with my Microsoft Surface Arc Mouse all for quick access.
Perhaps the one downside is the Muzetto does not latch close. Instead, it has a large leather flap, which offers protection from the elements and prying eyes. However, if you were to tip the bag over your laptop would slide out. That is just this style of bag, but it is something to consider if you are considering something more secure.
All in all, I like the rustic look and feel of the Field Muzetto. Wearing it gives you an Indiana Jones look for the 21st Century and the quality of the materials and utility are top notch from one of the best bag companies around.