What is the Best Laptop Backpack for Travel?

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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.

 


 

Top Picks for Laptop Backpacks for Travel

 ProductFeatures

Best overall

SwissGear Travel Gear ScanSmart Backpack 1900

SwissGear Travel Gear ScanSmart Backpack 1900

  • Weighs 2.5 lbs and measures 18.5" x 13.25" x 9"

  • 31 liters

  • TSA-friendly laptop compartment for 17" laptop

  • Shoulder straps with suspension
  • Runner up

    OGIO Gambit 17 Pack

    OGIO Gambit 17 Pack

  • Weighs 3.5 lbs and measures 19.5" x 10.5" x 15"

  • 33 liters

  • Laptop compartment for 15" laptop

  • Shoulder straps and luggage pass-through
  • Best for business travel for women

    TUMI Voyageur Carson Laptop Backpack

    TUMI Voyageur Carson Laptop Backpack

  • Weighs 1.6 lbs and measures 17" x 12" x 6"

  • Laptop compartment for 15" laptop

  • Shoulder straps and luggage pass-through
  • Budget pick

    eBags Professional Slim Laptop Backpack

    eBags Professional Slim Laptop Backpack

    >
  • Weighs 3.6 lbs and measures 18" X 12.75" X 8.5"

  • 21.6 liters

  • Laptop compartment for 17" laptop

  • Shoulder straps and luggage pass-through

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    Things to Consider When Buying a Laptop Backpack 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 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. Sometimes a wheeled travel backpack will have a daypack attached and this has a dedicated laptop compartment. You can separate the two when flying and store the larger one in the overhead compartment and the laptop daypack under the seat in front of you.
     

    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.

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  • 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. One of our picks in this list has this feature but if checkpoint-friendly design is a must for you, take a look at these recommendations instead.
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  • 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.
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  • 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.
  • All of our laptop backpack picks can hold a decent amount of other tech gadgets but they’re not meant for bulky cameras along with a laptop. If you’re a traveling nomad that needs both, tehn check out our picks for best camera laptop backpacks.
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    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

    SwissGear Cecil

    SwissGear CecilIf you’re looking for a sleek looking laptop backpack that is suitable for a business trip or air travel, the SwissGear Cecil provides maximum value for money. It is made of tough 600D Ripstop Polyester, measures 18” x 13” x 6”, and its overall capacity is 27.3 liters.

    There are 3 double zippered compartments. The main one has a built-in padded laptop pocket with a security strap for a 15″ laptop. The rest of the space is large enough to store a change of clothes and some essential accessories. The middle compartment has a padded tablet sleeve with an integrated organizer compartment featuring a keyfob and slots for small accessories. The final zippered pocket in the front is good for snacks, etc., and the quick-access stash pocket right in front of that is good for last-minute access of travel documents, etc. Two exterior side pockets with elastic openings can hold water bottles.

    There’s a web vista loop on the front panel where you can attach a bike light or reflector if you use this pack while biking or walking in the dark.

    The back panel and contoured shoulder straps are well padded covered in mesh fabric for heat regulation and carrying comfort, which is perfect if you have to run with it from terminal to terminal.

    As this backpack was designed mostly for students, it doesn’t come with a piggyback strap but it does have a padded top handle if you want to carry it by hand.

    Pros:

  • Will fit easily under a plane seat.
  • A good pick for petite women.
  • Excellent weight distribution.
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    Cons:

  • The zippers are not metal and shouldn’t be treated roughly.
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    eBags Professional Slim Laptop Backpack

    eBags Professional Slim Laptop BackpackThere’s a compartment for everything in the eBags Professional Slim Laptop Backpack! Available in black, sage green, grey, navy, and indigo, this backpack weighs 3.6 lbs and measures 18″ X 12.75″ X 8.5″ with a laptop compartment that fits a laptop of around 17″. Its overall capacity is 21.6 liters. It is sleek and streamlined, which is great if you don’t want to accidentally hit someone when you turn around in crowded places. This is a larger version of a newer but smaller eBags laptop pack, which may be more comfortable for petite women to carry. Check out the smaller one too if you think that one is better for you.

    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 in their own side pouches. 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.

    Pros:

  • Full of innovative and organized compartments.
  • All external zippers can be locked.
  • Backpack straps can be easily stowed away.
  • Doesn’t slump even when empty.
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    Cons:

  • Might be difficult to remember where you packed what.
  • A bit heavy on its own.
  • The water bottle pocket is a bit small.
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    Best 17” Laptop Backpack for Air Travel

    SwissGear Travel Gear 1900 Scansmart Laptop Backpack

    SwissGear Travel Gear ScanSmart Backpack 1900The SwissGear ScanSmart Laptop Backpack 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. Its capacity is 31 L and its dimensions are 18.5″ x 13.25″ x 9″. It weighs 2.5 lbs

    It is available in 7 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 airflow, while the shoulder straps are also well-padded and adjustable. Side compression straps help keep the backpack compact.

    Pros:

  • Having several compartments makes organisation a breeze.
  • Thick metal zippers that are built to last.
  • Fits laptops up to 17 inches in size.
  • High-wear areas are strengthened using stronger materials.
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    Cons:

  • No trolley sleeve.
  • Shoulder straps not designed for broad shouldered people.
  • On the heavy side.
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    Kenneth Cole Reaction Pack Of All Trades

    Kenneth Cole Reaction Pack Of All TradesA 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 travel or just your daily commute, you should consider this. It has compartments and pockets galore so even the most obsessively organized packer will be happy with it. In fact, its organization features are very similar to the Ogio bags below, except that this backpack’s laptop compartment can hold a 17″ laptop. The padding on this bag is not as good as on the Ogio ones.

    The overall dimensions are 20″ x 13.5″ x 9″ and it weighs 3.3 lbs. The laptop compartment is right at the back and is padded. There’s also space for 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 16 oz water bottles and other 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. However, it is not crush-proof so you probbaly should store it with its case.

    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 great travel laptop backpack.

    Pros:

  • It stands up on its own even when empty as long as you don’t overstuff the front pocket.
  • Plenty of compartments.
  • Very comfortable to wear.
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    Cons:

  • The trolley sleeve on the back is a bit tight for some luggage handles.
  • The sunglasses pocket is not crush-proof.
  • The stitching is not strong on some pieces.
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    Best Travel Laptop Backpack for 16” Screens

    OGIO Gambit Laptop Backpack

    OGIO Gambit 17 PackThe OGIO Gambit 17 Day Pack isn’t just a laptop backpack, it’s a complete travel backpack that can hold a 16 inch MacBook Pro or a regular 15″ laptop, a tablet or e-reader, 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 polyester 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 a bit more of your other techie belongings than the Renegade. The Gambit’s main laptop compartment’s zippers open all the way down as well, so it is easy access, especially when in a hurry. This compartment is also fleece-lined, while there is a decent amount of padding all over the pack. The number and style of zipped pockets are also the same as the Kenneth Cole Reaction above but many of these are also padded, so you can use them for storing a camera, phone, and other gadgets that need a bit of protection.

    The number and placement of compartments and pockets on the Gambit are almost identical to the Renegade, which we’ll discuss in-depth below. One of the two lower side pockets on the Gambit has an elastic strap to keep a water bottle from falling out. However, both lower pockets are a bit on the short side and are made of mesh. There’s alo a little stash pocket one backpack strap for both the Gambit and Renegade packs.

    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. It has a luggage pass-through sleeve at the back, which is great if you’re also traveling with a wheeled suitcase.

    This pack measures 19.5 x 10.5 x 15 inches, weighs 3.5 pounds, and has a 33 liter capacity.

    This bag is great value for money if you’re looking for a lightweight one bag solution for a medium-sized laptop as well as all your other travel needs on a short trip.

    Pros:

  • Comfortable shoulder straps and back panel.
  • Lots of pockets and compartments for organization.
  • Good capacity.
  • Even most external pockets are padded.
  • Has a luggage pass-through sleeve.
  • Very durable.
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    Cons:

  • Only available in black.
  • All the padding makes you lose some carrying capacity.
  • Water bottle pockets are short and only one has an elastic holder to keep the bottle in.
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    Best Protective Travel Laptop Backpack

    Ogio Renegade RSS Backpack

    Ogio Renegade RSS BackpackIf you’re the kind who travels with a lot of gadgets and forgets to handle your laptop bag gently, the Ogio Renegade RSS 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 right on top of the bag is crush-proof and a good place to store your sunglasses. There are padded pockets for all your small digital gadgets, like a camera or smartphone, and an organizer pocket with a zipper is right on the front.

    It has two pockets on either side – both are zippered and are set one above the other. None are made of mesh but one lower pocket comes with an elastic holder to keep a water bottle from falling out.

    The adjustable backpack straps are not very wide but do have good padding and the chest straps help take some weight off your shoulders. It has a luggage pass-through strap to let you piggyback over a wheeled suitcase. 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 at 3.5 lbs considering that its packing capacity at 29.5 liters is less than the Gambit above. Its dimensions are 19.5″ x 14″ x 10″. However, you can also use the padded neoprene handle on the top to carry it instead.

    Pros:

  • Suspension provides extra protection for the laptop.
  • Well padded shoulder straps.
  • Has a luggage pass-through handle at the back.
  • Fits well for a range of torso lengths.
  • Very durable.
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    Cons:

  • Inefficient water bottle pockets.
  • All the padding makes you lose some carrying capacity.
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    Best Laptop Backpack for Business Travel

    Briggs & Riley @ Work-Cargo Backpack

    Briggs & Riley @ Work-Cargo BackpackIn an innovative, lightweight design, this extremely mobile Briggs & Riley @ Work-Cargo Backpack provides the best laptop and tablet protection as well as a place for all your physical files. It is designed for busy professionals and hits all the boxes as one of the best work travel backpacks owing to its attractive design. The outside fabric is made of ballistic nylon, which is resistant to wear, dirt, moisture, and abrasion.

    This pack comes in two sizes. The Medium (27.3 liter), where most 15.6″ laptops are compatible, and the Large (33 liter), which is good for 17″ laptops.

    The rear compartment has padded storage for your laptop and tablet. Since this is right against your back, you don’t have to worry about theft, although all exterior pockets with the exception of the frontmost quick-stash one are double zippered with lockable heads.

    This pack is great for a heavy packer because, in addition to the tough construction and the laptop and tablet storage, the main compartment is cavernous and can hold quite a few articles of clothing. There’s also a file sleeve in here and two elastic-top pockets for personal items.

    Then comes the organizer compartment with an assortment of pockets, elastic pen loops, slips for headphones, airpods, USB cables, and an anti-RFID compartment. Right above that is a convenient cargo compartment with two pen loops and space for anything you might need mid-flight when the bag is stored in the overhead compartment. You can access this compartment without removing the bag.

    All these compartments are U-shaped and side-gusseted so nothing can fall out when you open them fully. So are the two side water bottle pockets.

    The Cargo Backpack includes a rear luggage sleeve to place the bag on the handle of your checked luggage for added convenience. The Cargo also features a ventilated back panel and comfortable, curved neoprene shoulder straps. A strong leather carry handle and a reinforced base with corner protectors are included.

    As with all Briggs & Riley products, you get a lifetime warranty.

    Pros:

  • A rear baggage sleeve for easy travel handling.
  • The hard-wearing body and base protects against wear and tear.
  • Lots of space for travel belongings and tech gear.
  • Good structural rigidity.
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    Cons:

  • Full side pockets can make the pack feel bulky.
  • Side pockets can only fit a 16 oz plstic bottle.
  • No quick access pocket to slide a boarding pass in.
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    Best Business Travel Backpack for Women

    TUMI Voyageur Carson Laptop Backpack

    TUMI Voyageur Carson Laptop BackpackIf price is no object for a successful businesswoman, then the TUMI Voyageur Carson Laptop Backpack is the perfect travel laptop pack. Available in red, grey, and black, this pack is the perfect size for petite women, measuring 17″ x 12″ x 6″. It’s a classy option that allows you to go straight from the plane to the boardroom.

    The laptop compartment is small so you can only fit a 15″ laptop in here, but it is designed to also carry a tablet and everything you need for a work or personal trip. It feels like a featherweight at 1 lb, 6 oz, but is solid in construction and finish with a nylon shell that you can wipe clean, polyester lining, a choice of 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 on the sides – one with a single zipper opening and the other with dual zippers, and one small but deep slip pocket in the front right above the dual zippered pocket. The side pocket with two zippers is water resistant and meant to hold anything that can leak or is damp, like a water bottle or travel umbrella. The dual zippers help keep a larger water bottle from falling out. The other side pocket has a hidden phone sleeve and a key lanyard. The large front pocket is an organizer compartment but is designed with simplicity in mind so that you can also use it as a pocket for snacks or small accessories. The smaller pocket above that has a single zipper pull that can be locked by sliding it into a metal loop below it.

    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 a top zip opening is at the back and lightly padded. It has space for a 15″ laptop. The main compartment also opens via a top zip and can hold enough clothes and accessories for a 1-2 day trip. It also has a padded tablet pocket. There are other open and zipped pockets here for business accessories.

    This backpack comes with the TUMI Tracer feature. You can register your bag and contact information on the TUMI website so that in case you lose the pack, the company will try to trace it for you.

    Pros:

  • Water bottle pocket has a drainage hole.
  • Wide opening main compartment.
  • Well made.
  • Lightweight.
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    Cons:

  • The shoulder straps could be better padded.
  • Won’t hold a laptop larger than 15″.
  • The backpanel is not breathable.
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    Ogio Renegade Vs Gambit

    Ogio backpacks are incredibly popular because they’re fearure-rich and durable. That’s why we love the brand’s Gambit and Renegade laptop backpacks for travel. However, you may be confused as to how they differ at first glance, so we have a quick comparison to help you decide which one may be for you.

    1. In terms of the material, both packpacks have a polyester shell but the Renegade’s weave is a bit tighter so it feels slightly more durable.
    2. Both weigh the same but the capacity of the Gambit is 33 liters and that of the Renegade is 29.5 liters. The Gambit is also 1 inch wider.
    3. The Renegade has slightly better padding overall and the laptop compartment suspends your laptop so that it doesn’t tough the base. Great if you’re someone who treats your travel bags roughly.
    4. The zippers on the Gambit’s laptop compartment extend all the way down the sides, making access to it easier than on the Renegade.
    5. The 2 water bottle pockets on the Gambit are made of mesh.
    6. The top grab handle on the Renegade is better padded and more comfortable to use.
    7. The Renegade comes in more color combinations than the Gambit.

    So which do you choose – the Ogio Renegade RSS or the Gambit?

    If you’re concerned about the security of your technology, go for the Ogio Renegade. With its unique suspension laptop compartment, the Renegade RSS features multi-directional shock absorption. Other small items can also be stored in the cushioned pockets, such as cameras and hard drives. Add to that the structure of 600D polyester, and you have a tough backpack that can handle just about anything.

    Whether you need more carry capacity for school, work, or travel, the Ogio Gambit has you covered. While the Gambit 17 is basically the same as the Renegade in terms of pockets and organization, it offers a larger main compartment that is ideal for travel. When you don’t need extra laptop protection and just want a reliable bag, the Ogio Gambit is the right bag for you.

     
    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.

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