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 one of these carry on wheeled backpacks 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.
Keeping all these points in mind, here are 7 top rated laptop backpacks for travel.
Most Affordable and Best Laptop Backpack for Air Travel for up to 16” Laptops
Samsonite Xenon 2 Laptop Checkpoint Friendly Laptop Backpack
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.
eBags Professional Slim Junior Laptop Backpack
There’s a compartment for everything in the eBags Professional Slim Junior Laptop Backpack! Available in black, grey and indigo, this backpack weighs 3 lbs, 8 oz and measures 16.5″ x 12.5 x 6.5″ with a laptop compartment that fits a laptop of around 15″. It is sleek and streamlined, which is great for business trips. This is a smaller version of an older but larger eBags laptop pack, so it’s much more comfortable for most women to carry.
The bag can be carried as a backpack or as a briefcase and there are low profile side and top grab handles for easy carrying. There are also two piggyback panels on the back, one horizontal and one vertical, that allow you to slide it over a telescopic handle of a wheeled bag in whichever way is best. These lie behind an Airmesh back panel that’s cushioned to allow for comfort and breath-ability while carry it on your shoulders. The pack’s straps are adjustable, padded and contoured for complete comfort and detachable from the bottom if you want to tuck them away. There is also a pair of detachable sternum straps.
There are three large compartments on this pack. The dedicated laptop compartment opens via an “L” shaped zippered opening and is padded in two layers. If you remove the extra layer, you can fit a 16″ laptop in there. There’s also a slash top pocket on the back for an ultra-thin laptop. In front of that is the top loading laptop compartment that’s lined in felt and zipped closed. In front of that is the main compartment that can hold clothes or books and binders. There is also a diagonal slash pocket to store papers. This compartment can be customized to be shallow or deep, as there’s a folding shelf at the bottom. All these 3 compartments can be locked to a D-ring on one side via their zippers by a single luggage lock.
The folding shelf separates the top section of the main compartment from a separate bottom hardshell compartment with its own zippered u-shaped front opening on the bottom. This compartment is sized perfectly to house an AC adapter for your laptop, but because it is crushproof, is also great for a large digital camera without additional lenses. There’s a small d-ring on the right so that you can secure its dual zippers to it with a lock if needed. If you don’t need to use this separate compartment, you can just push down the shelf from the top so that the entire main compartment can be used for large items or a big packing space. This rigid bottom compartment also keeps the bottom of the pack from developing an uncomfortable bump that you can feel after some time on many other backpacks.
The front of the pack features a zippered D-shaped door revealing an organizer compartment. In here you’ll find several zipped and slip top opaque and mesh pockets, elastic pen loops, a key leash and credit card slots. It features its own small d-ring on one side so that its door can be locked via its dual zippers.
There’s a zippered side pocket that reveals an elastic top mesh pocket for a water bottle and a vertical zippered front pocket for your boarding pass.
While this backpack is great for ultra organization and allowing you to access one item without revealing the rest of the contents in the pack, it can be a slight nuisance to remember which compartment has to be opened.
Best 17” Laptop Backpack for Air Travel
SwissGear Travel Gear 1900 Scansmart TSA Laptop Backpack
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.
Kenneth Cole Reaction Pack Of All Trades
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. This is another very inexpensive travel laptop backpack.
Best Travel Laptop Backpack for 17.3” Screens
OGIO Gambit 17 Laptop Backpack
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
Ogio Renegade RSS Laptop/Tablet 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.
Best Business Travel Backpack for Women
Tumi Voyageur Calais Backpack
If price is no object for a successful business woman, then the Tumi Voyageur Calais Backpack is the perfect travel laptop pack. Available in crimson red, mink grey, marine blue, pine green and a black with floral red print, this pack is the perfect size for petite women, measuring 16″ x 12.25″ x 5.5″. The laptop compartment is small at 11″ x 11″ x 1″, so you can only fit a 15″ laptop in here, but it is designed to also carry enough clothes and accessories for a 2 night trip. It feels like a featherweight at 1 lb, 12 oz, but is solid in construction and finish with a ballistic nylon shell, polester lining, gold-toned or gun metal grey accents, and leather top handle, ID tag and zipper pulls.
There are a total of 4 exterior pockets – one large in the front with a u-shaped dual zipper opening, two small on the sides with a single zipper opening, a one small but deep slip pocket in the front right above the zippered pocket. There is a piggyback sleeve at the back that you can use to slide the pack onto a larger bag’s telescopic handle. You also have two padded and adjustable shoulder straps that make it comfortable for even short people to wear.
When it comes to the main storage spaces, the dedicated laptop compartment with top zip opening is at the back and lightly padded. It has space for a 15″ laptop and a tablet. The main compartment also opens via a top zip and can hold enough clothes and accessories for a 1-2 day trip. There are lots of open and zipped pockets and pen loops here for business accessories.
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.