As the number of gadgets travelers carry get larger, security lines at airports get longer and more chaotic. Either you’re holding up the line behind you trying to get your laptop out of your bag for the X-ray machine, or someone ahead of you is doing the same to you! It doesn’t stop there – once your bag and laptop are cleared, you have to pack it back quickly and keep moving.
To solve this problem, especially if you’re a frequent flyer, all you need is a laptop bag that is checkpoint friendly. There are some very nice backpacks with laptop-only compartments that can be unzipped and laid flat butterfly style on the x-ray machine belt without having to remove the laptop from it at all. When you’re done, just close and zip up the bag and you’re ready to go!
We have some great laptop travel bags that we previously reviewed but only two of them are checkpoint friendly – the SwissGear Travel Gear ScanSmart and the Samsonite Xenon 2. Also check out the ECBC Pegasus that includes this feature and also converts between a backpack and a wheeled carry on.
To make sure that you pick a bag that fully complies with TSA’s guidelines and that you pack the backpack properly for easy screening, check out this page from the official TSA website that tells you what a checkpoint friendly laptop backpack is. The last couple of years have seen a few really good TSA-friendly designs come out, so we have picked out our top 5 for you to choose from.
- 1 Checkpoint Friendly Women’s Laptop Backpacks
- 2 Security Friendly Unisex Backpacks
Checkpoint Friendly Women’s Laptop Backpacks
North Face Women’s Surge Backpack
Available in 4 colors, the North Face Surge Backpack is the only one on our list that has a specially designed version for women so it is very comfortable to carry even if you’re petite. It is also great as a backpack for school and college as it is durable and has room for several large textbooks.
It is a ballistic nylon 3 lb, 31 liter pack with a Velcro secured 15″ laptop-only compartment that unzips to lie flat on the security belt ready for TSA inspection. A secondary compartment can be used for files and books or for clothes. There is also a fleece lined tablet sleeve, media pocket for a smartphone and sunglasses pocket in the front compartment with elastic loops for cords and zippered pockets for things like chargers, pens, cards, keys, etc. In addition, there are two side water bottle pockets on either side and two vertical zippered pockets, although the former are not good at keeping bottles in. The overall dimensions are 19″ x 13″ x 8.5″.
There is an impressive array of transport features on this pack. The shoulder straps are contoured for a woman’s shape and size. The padded hip belt is removable and there’s a sternum strap with whistle. The Flexvent back panel system is also woman specific. In fact, this backpack is endorsed by the American Chiropractic Association. If you need to carry the pack in your hand, you can do so by either the top or front padded haul handle.
There are external side compression straps to help keep the bag secure and compact and the reflective accents throughout give you safety at night.
Osprey Packs Nebula Daypack
The Osprey Packs Nebula Daypack is great for adventure travel where you need your laptop with you. We would pick this as the best checkpoint-friendly backpack for leisure travelers. Its computer sleeve will fit most 17″ laptops and it even has a separate tablet sleeve.
With exterior dimensions of 19″ x 12″ x 11″ and a weight of just over 2 lbs and a capacity of 34L, this nylon pack is versatile enough to use for travel, college or work. It will fit under the seat in most planes as well. It is designed in such a way that you can use it as your laptop and carry on bag while in transit and then remove the laptop and insert a hydration pack and other items you need for hiking or sightseeing at your destination.
It is very comfortable to carry, with an adjustable padded shoulder harness system and backpanel that feature spacermesh for airflow. A removable hip belt is also provided and the top handle is also padded.
The exterior features a mesh pocket on the front with top tightening clasp so that you can cinch a light jacket or other odds and ends to the pack. There are blinker light attachment points near the top. The two sides feature stretch water bottle pockets.
There are 4 zippered compartments on this pack – the laptop compartment, the main compartment, a small compartment and an organizer compartment. The laptop compartment opens to fold flat and has a suspended padded laptop sleeve with Velcro closure for up to 17″ devices on the back wall so that when you set the pack down hard, it won’t feel the shock. The opposite wall has a zippered mesh pocket or a tablet. There is also a hydration post here so that you can replace your gadgets with a hydration pack in here. You don’t have to remove your electronics from here, as you can just unzip and lie the both sides flat on the x-ray belt.
The main compartment is quite roomy and can hold clothes and accessories or books and folders. There is also a slip pocket for any loose documents. Right in front is the organizer compartment with several types of slip mesh and opaque pockets, a large zipped pocket, pen holders of different sizes, and a key leash. Right above the organizer compartment but in front of the main compartment is a small zippered pocket that’s ideal for a pair of sunglasses or small electronics, or even for a wallet, passport and boarding pass.
Security Friendly Unisex Backpacks
SwissGear Travel Gear ScanSmart Backpack 1900
For a good versatile pack for travel and college, consider this ScanSmart Backpack 1900 available in 5 different color combinations and made of a polyester blend. It has pockets galore for the organized traveler but make sure you know where you put everything or you’ll spend time hunting for them!
This travel backpack for the tech warrior holds a 17″ laptop and made our list of best laptop backpacks for travel overall, so take a look at our detailed review of it there. Neat features include a completely secure TSA-friendly laptop compartment with side entry and a separate tablet pocket, an audio port for earphones that connect with a smartphone held in its own pocket in the main compartment.
If you have a smaller laptop and therefore prefer to carry a smaller version of this SwissGear backpack, then there is a similar version that accommodates laptops up to 15.5″ across.
Travelpro Executive Choice Crew Checkpoint Friendly Computer Backpack
TravelPro is not known for making luggage specifically aimed at women, but the Travelpro Checkpoint Friendly Computer Backpack from the 2016 Crew Executive Choice collection is earning rave reviews from customers for its practical design and high quality.
It is best suited to those who travel with a laptop, tablet, files and a change of clothes and accessories, as there is plenty of room for all of it and everything remains organized. For more details on its features and a closer look at its TSA friendly design, take a look at our dedicated review here.
There is also a new version that includes an external USB port and a dedicated portable battery pocket.
Briggs & Riley @ Work Luggage Clamshell Backpack
Briggs and Riley has always been the top rated business travel luggage brand so it is surprising that they have only now come out with a laptop backpack that is TSA-friendly. Yes, some may think that a backpack does not look professional, but if any brand can change your mind, it’s B&R. In fact, this B&R @Work Clamshell Backpack is so classy looking, it is only available in black so far!
This backpack weighs weighs 3.8 lbs and measures 17.8″ x 13.5″ x 8″. It has space for a laptop of up to 17″ in the checkpoint-friendly compartment that opens like a clamshell, another bonus padded compartment in the rear for a second laptop or files, and a fleece lined tablet pocket in the roomy gusseted main compartment. The front features a gusseted organizational compartment with an RFID blocking pocket for your cards or passport, pen loops, mesh pocket for a wallet, a key fob and smartphone pocket. Above this is a small zippered pocket for a pair of glasses or a charger and a small zippered pocket right in front lets you quickly put away last minute items from your pockets while going through security. Two vertical zippered side pockets are ideal for a small umbrella and water bottle.
The backpack straps are padded and adjustable and the back panel features air mesh for carrying comfort. There is a top carry handle in leather and a back slip panel to slide the pack over the extension handle of any B&R wheeled bag.
This is probably the best TSA laptop backpack option if you want to pack quite a few items in for your trip even though it is not the prettiest one!
Everki Atlas Checkpoint Friendly 13-Inch to 17.3-Inch Laptop Backpack
It’s a given that business travelers will have a laptop while traveling, but what if you have more than one and you want to take one on specific trips? Or what if you share your laptop backpack with someone else who has a different sized laptop? The
Everki Atlas 13-Inch to 17.3-Inch Laptop Backpack lets you use just this pack for any of them! The checkpoint friendly compartment can be adjusted so that your laptop fits snugly no matter what its size. The other side of the compartment also has a felt-lined iPad compartment secured with a velcro strap.
In addition to the main compartment that can hold your clothes, there’s a zippered organizational compartment, a front zippered pocket that’s big enough for a toiletry kit or chargers, a quick access slip pocket above it for a magazine and a small zippered pocket right on top for your tickets and glasses. There are two vertical zippered pockets on the sides for a water bottle and umbrella, with the former having a securing loop to prevent the bottle from falling out.
The adjustable shoulder straps include sliders that keep the loose ends from dangling untidily. There are hidden pockets in each that reveal the sternum straps, so you can tuck them away if you don’t want to use them. Both these features ensure a professional and neat look. The strap system is ergonomically designed to reduce the load and give you the comfortable carrying experience.
While the outside of the bag is black, the inside is completely lined in orange so that you can easily see inside even the deepest parts. In addition to the top grab handle, this is a laptop backpack with luggage handle pass through.
Its external dimensions are 13.4 x 9.1 x 18.8 inches and it weighs 3.8 lbs. Its weight is probably the only negative of this bag as it is the heaviest of the bunch. However, the superb features are the trade off.
Timbuk2 Uptown Laptop TSA-Friendly Backpack
If you’re a woman looking for the lightest possible TSA friendly laptop backpack you must consider the Timbuk2 Uptown Backpack. The trade off that you have for its 2.4 lb weight is that the shoulder straps are not thickly cushioned. However, they are designed for a custom fit, so customers are happy with the comfort level they get.
It measures 11.5 by 19.5 by 6.5 inches with a capacity of 30 litres and can fit up to a 15″ MacBook Pro in a padded tricot lined laptop compartment, while the other side of this wall has a lined tablet compartment. This entire section is against your back while wearing it and unzips to lie flat on the security belt.
For all your other belongings the packing space is divided like this – a roomy main compartment, a well sectioned front organizer compartment, above that a zippered tricot padded compartment for your glasses or phone, and between the organizer and main compartments is a compartment with slash pockets and a zippered pocket and space for a file or magazine. A small vertical zippered pocket right on the front for quick access to keys or change, and a side pocket for a water bottle rounds it all off. There’s a handy grab handle on the opposite side of that so you can pick up the pack briefcase-style as well.
The placement of the TSA laptop compartment makes access a bit finicky, as you have to twish the shoulder straps to the side to open it, and without the laptop, the bag feels less comfortable.
This backpack is available in 7 different color combinations.