When choosing the best laptop backpack for travel, there are a few important things to consider. This is not the college or work backpack we’re talking about. Those don’t need to carry all your computer paraphernalia regularly or for extended periods of time, and they certainly don’t need to carry other items necessary for travel.
To save your back and shoulders from the extra heavy load, look for thickly padded shoulder straps at a minimum. You could even consider wheeled laptop backpacks like the checkpoint friendly ECBC Pegasus or the High Sierra Rev Backpack if you anticipate carrying a heavy load for long periods of time. However, the extra weight from the wheels and handle system makes it more difficult to actually carry the pack on your shoulders.
A nice to have feature for air travel is a TSA-friendly design where you can open the laptop compartment completely to allow the bag to lie flat while going through the screener. This way you don’t need to remove your laptop from the bag at all. Two of our picks in this list have this feature but if checkpoint-friendly design is a must for you, take a look at these recommendations.
The best business travel backpack for women should not be too heavy on its own because once it is loaded with everything you’ll need to be able to carry it without causing you discomfort. If you already have a good laptop sleeve, you may want to reduce the weight on your shoulders by buying a good carry on sized backpack that doesn’t have a dedicated laptop compartment. These are better if you have more clothes and other accessories to carry than electronic gadgets. However, my favorite backpack for laptop AND clothes is the carry on-sized eBags Motherlode.
If you think you’ll be carrying a heavy load, consider buying a wheeled travel backpack. Some have daypacks attached and these have dedicated laptop compartments.
If you’re traveling on short trips for just 2-3 days, the backpack may be enough to also hold other travel essentials and a few clothing items. To accommodate all these, the pack should have lots of organizational pockets and compartments.
As with any laptop backpack, the protection offered all around should be good enough to prevent any damage due to high impacts. First make sure to measure your laptop before buying a backpack. The standard size can fit a 15 inch laptop (measured corner to corner diagonally), but there are good travel options for larger ones too. The pack should have a well padded laptop sleeve or compartment to hold the laptop securely. If the compartment is too big, the laptop won’t be safe enough, so resist the urge to buy a backpack whose laptop compartment is larger than your needs.
Most Affordable and Best Laptop Backpack for Air Travel for up to 16” Laptops
If you’re looking for a sleek looking laptop backpack that is suitable for a business trip or air travel, the Samsonite Xenon 2 Backpack provides maximum value for money.
The laptop compartment is adjustable to give any laptop between 13” and 16” a snug fit. A front pocket provides space for a tablet, phone and other small accessories, while two smaller zippered pockets above and below that is good for last minute access.
The zip around laptop compartment opens up fully to lie flat for TSA inspection without having to remove the laptop from the bag.
In addition to the laptop compartment, there is another main compartment for files or books, for laptop accessories that can be stashed in a mesh pocket, and for a change of clothes or other travel accessories. Two exterior side pockets with elastic openings can hold water bottles.
A horizontal strap at the back allows you to piggyback the pack over the handle of a rolling bag.
The back panel and shoulder straps are well padded for heat regulation and carrying comfort.
Some customer reviews mention that the piggyback strap is not wide enough to fit over very wide telescopic handles, but it does fit all Samsonite handles.
Although the specifications mention that it holds 17” laptops, several reviews say that it does not.
This backpack is one of the most inexpensive travel ones available and is well rated for its storage capacity and TSA-friendliness.
Best 17” Laptop Backpack for Air Travel
The SwissGear Travel Gear ScanSmart Backpack 1900 has been a long time winner in the travel laptop backpack category. A working traveler may be hard pressed to find a more functional and high quality pack for laptops up to 17” across, making it well worth the slightly higher price.
It is available in 5 color combinations and is designed to be really convenient for air travel, particularly at security check.
The laptop compartment is accessible via a side entry zipper, but can also be opened fully to lie flat while going through security screening. This way you don’t have to take the laptop out of the bag at all. A zippered flap on top with a window keeps it secure. This compartment has an adjustable Velcro strap to secure whatever height your laptop is.
The second main compartment also opens fully via dual zippers and contains dividers to store files and other accessories. The storage space is more than enough to carry more than just computer accessories. There is a small pouch for your audio device and a headphones port, so the device is secure while still being accessible.
There is a front zippered organizer pocket for your phone, pens, keys and other essentials. The sides hold two different pockets to store water bottles and last minute things – a longer zippered pocket on one side and a shorter open mesh pocket on the other.
The back panel is padded and designed to maximize air flow, while the shoulder straps are also well padded and adjustable.
The only small negative is that the padding below the laptop could be thicker, so don’t be careless when setting the pack down.
A very close runner up to the SwissGear for a 17″ laptops is the Kenneth Cole Reaction Pack Of All Trades. Available in black or charcoal grey, this backpack does not allow you to open up the laptop compartment fully for easy checkpoint screening, but it does provide you with an extra pocket for a second smaller laptop and another extra compartment for a tablet in addition to the 17″ laptop compartment. So if you are a complete gadget warrior and want to use this pack more often for non-flight travel or just your daily commute, you could consider this. It has compartments and pockets galore so even the most obsessively organized packer will be happy with it.
The overall dimensions are 20″ x 13.5″ x 9″ and it weighs 3 lbs, 6 oz. The laptop compartment is right at the back, is padded and can hold a 17″ laptop as well as another 13″ laptop in the slimmer padded pocket. The middle compartment is where you can pack personal items or a set of clothes. The middle front compartment has a padded section for a tablet, while the lower front pocket includes a full business accessory organizer. Two zipped pockets on both sides of the backpack are good for water bottles and odds and ends. To round things off, you get a padded zipped pocket right on top of the pack for storing a pair of sunglasses.
The ergonomic backpack straps are well padded and adjustable, and a sternum strap that buckles in the front helps keep the load stable. A top carry handle is also padded. The back panel of the bag has padded mesh so that natural air flow keeps you from sweating. A piggyback sleeve at the back lets you slide the pack over a larger bag’s dual pole extension handle.
What customers love about this laptop backpack is its organizational capabilities and the fact that it can stand on its own without tumbling no matter how it is packed. Air travelers say that it will fit under the seat in front of you even on small aircraft and women say that it is comfortable to carry.
Best Travel Laptop Backpack for 17.3” Screens
The OGIO Gambit 17 Day Pack isn’t just a laptop backpack, it’s a complete travel backpack that can hold a large laptop up to 17.3”, two tablets or e-readers, documents and clothes and accessories. It is only available in black but if you’re looking for something that holds a lot, is lightweight and does its job well, this is a good choice. It is very similar to the Ogio RSS Renegade below except that the weave on the Renegade is tighter and overall padding on that one is a bit more. However, the Gambit is also well padded and can hold larger laptops in the fleece-lined compartment in addition to a tablet in another. The Gambit’s main laptop compartment’s zippers open all the way down as well, so access is easier, especially when in a hurry. The number and style of zipped pockets and compartments is also the same as the Kenneth Cole Reaction above.
The adjustable backpack straps are shock absorbing and the back panel is designed for ultimate comfort. The chest strap is invaluable for a pack this size.
This pack measures 20 x 11 x 12.5 inches and weighs 2.2 pounds.
This bag is great value for money if you’re looking for a lightweight one bag solution for a large laptop as well as all your other travel needs on a short trip.
Best Protective Travel Laptop Backpack
If you’re the kind who travels with a lot of gadgets and forgets to handle your laptop bag gently, the Ogio Renegade RSS 17” Laptop/Tablet Backpack may be the answer for you. Complete protection for your laptop and other gadgets is what you’ll get with this backpack. Every compartment and pocket is padded so you know you’ll have everything intact after your trip.
Please be aware that though the manufacturer claims that 17” laptops will fit, you’ll only get a maximum of a 16” one in there, unless your 17” is very thin. It is available in black and black pindot with red zipper pulls.
The top loading laptop compartment is armor protected with an RSS system that keeps the laptop cushioned and far enough from the bottom so as to reduce the force of impact. The iPad compartment is also padded and the Tech vault compartment is crush proof. There are padded pockets for all your small digital gadgets, like a camera or smartphone, and an organizer pocket with zipper is right on the front.
It has two pockets on either side – both are zippered and are set one above the other. The zippered pocket right on top of the bag is just right for a pair of sunglasses.
The adjustable backpack straps are not very wide but do have good padding and the chest straps help take some weight off your shoulders. There’s a unique hybrid back panel for increased carrying comfort, but because of all the extra padding and suspension system, this pack is a bit on the heavier side. However, you can also use the padded neoprene handle on the top to carry it instead.
Cheapest Travel Laptop Backpack
If you’re on a tight budget, you should consider the High Sierra Access Backpack. While not designed particularly for travel and is without a TSA-friendly laptop sleeve or compartment, it does have a fully padded laptop sleeve that will fit a laptop up to 16”, and enough pockets and features to make it a good option for travel.
This backpack comes in 10 different color combinations and the material is rip and tear resistant.
The laptop compartment does not have to be fully opened for you to get access to it. Instead there’s an easy-access side opening zipper. Another large compartment in front of that also gets its own side access opening.
There’s an MP3 player zippered pocket right on top with a headphone port and a front organizer compartment with card slots, pen loops and other pockets, both open and zippered for small items. A hidden side pocket is perfect for a water bottle, and a daisy chain on the front lets you quickly attach small accessories to the pack.
The side compression straps keep the bag compact and secure even when the bag is not fully packed. A rain cover keeps your pack protected but tucks away when it’s not in use.
The shoulder straps are S-shaped and padded with mesh air flow panels for maximum carrying comfort. There’s even a suspension system with a sternum strap and a tuck away waist strap for added comfort. This goes into the ventilated back panel when not in use.
Are you looking for a laptop carrier that’s more professional looking for work or business trips? We have reviewed the best totes for laptops. For something in between, you could take a look at some messenger laptop bags.
Haven’t yet found the best laptop backpack for travel for your needs? Take a look at the ones rated 4 stars or more on Amazon.