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If you’ve recently started commuting to the office again, you know how important it is to find the best laptop backpack to bring with you. While, yes, a regular cotton tote bag would probably cut it, there’s nothing worse than losing your keys, wallet, or your daily planner at the very bottom of your bag. Not to mention, having a secure, zipped-up spot for your laptop or work phone is a game-changer. So Marie Claire chatted with the experts—a.k.a. women who love having a laptop bag for work and know a thing or two about what to look for—about the very best work backpacks that hold your laptop.
Better than even the very best work bag, the laptop backpacks on this list make light work of carrying all of your essentials—be it a bevy of charging cables, a water bottle, or a change of gym clothes. And while yes, all of the backpacks on this list are designed with function in mind, many of them are just plain stylish, too. Some are made from leather for a sleek, on-trend look, while others are made from water-resistant nylon or canvas. Ahead, we asked Cuyana co-founder Shilpa Shah (opens in new tab) and Bellroy's Co-Founder and COO Lina Calabria (opens in new tab) for their picks picks, in addition to rounding up a few of the laptop backpacks that keep the team at Marie Claire going from brands like Calpak, Longchamp, Herschel, and more.
What to Look For
Say no to compartment-less backpacks in 2022! Laptop backpacks are there to ultimately make your life easier, so look for ones that come with lots of nifty design details. Your commute will at least feel seamless if you don’t need to reach into your bag’s largest compartment to pull out one of your essentials every time you want to change a song or put your book away.
"When shopping for a laptop backpack, organization is key!” says Shah. “I always look for thoughtful design details like interior pockets and built-in laptop sleeves to keep your essentials in place.”
Work Backpacks Vs. Laptop Bags
While some prefer to carry a laptop tote bag, having a laptop backpack means that your commute will be hands-free, not to mention the security of zippers, the usefulness of pockets, and, oftentimes, more space for your belongings. However, the best laptop backpack "is the one that helps you both at work but also at the activities you do on either side of your work day, including your commute," says Calabria. "Right now I’m using a work backpack because I want to have my hands free on my way in."
Still, the key to real versatility is having a few on hand that you can use as your needs evolve and change. "I like to have different work bag options and then I choose the bag that suits what I need to get done on the day," Calabria says. "By using a couple of pouches, switching bags on a day-to-day basis can become pretty quick and easy."
The Best Laptop Backpacks
The Best Laptop Backpack For All of Your Essential
"This is my go-to backpack for extended trips or long subway rides where I can't be bothered to carry a regular bag. The interior laptop pocket is large enough to fit my 14-inch computer while also having a padded cushion that keeps my very expensive piece of tech safe. Mary Poppins and I have one thing and common, and that is carrying a bag that seems endless with the most random things in it. I usually carry a lot with me and this bag from Hershel is large enough to carry what I need with a chic exterior that doesn't clash with what I'm wearing—yes that's important." — Alexis Gaskin, Freelance Beauty Writer
Best Nylon Laptop Backpack
"I'm a Le Pliage girl through and through, faithfully replacing mine every couple of years, but recently I've had my eye on the Le Pliage Club. The collector's version of Le Pliage—and I am nothing if not a Le Pliage collector—is the same size, but features a few updated details (colored buttons! Logo embroidery!). It'll fit a small 11-inch laptop." — Jenny Hollander, Director of Content Strategy
Best Supersized Laptop Backpack
Shah says that Cuyana’s Leather Backpack (opens in new tab) has been her “go-to for years.” Available in two sizes—13 and 16 inches, respectively—the backpack comes with a laptop sleeve built-in alongside a larger slip pocket on the inside. “This bag was truly designed with comfort in mind, with wider back straps and adjustable notches to help you carry your necessities with ease,” she says.
Best Laptop Backpack for Long Subway Rides
This plush, quilted nylon backpack from MZ Wallace is polished, sophisticated, and versatile for day or night use. The backpack comes with a removable pouch for smaller essentials and two interior cell phone pockets—one for your work phone and one for your personal.
Best Laptop Backpack for the Gym
"I own the medium Dagne Dover Dakota Neoprene backpack in Dune, as well as the small and large limited edition Dusky Blue. I also own a large Indi Diaper Backpack (opens in new tab) in Storm Blue. I've built a collection of these Dagne Dover bags since 2019 because the neoprene is so light and soft. The main compartment is roomy enough for gym shoes and clothes, planner books, a makeup bag, as well as an exterior side pocket that can accommodate a thin water bottle (it's Larq compatible!). Also, the interior features a laptop sleeve with an elastic enclosure to keep your laptop or tablet in place—safe and separate from your other belongings. The adjustable straps are also made of neoprene so it's easy on the shoulders during your commute. The bags are water resistant, but not stain resistant. However I throw mine in the wash under delicates and lay flat to dry and it looks brand new again." — Tanya Benedicto Klich, Senior Editor
The Best Everyday Laptop Backpack
If you're looking for an option that won't cost you a fortune, looks luxe, and works for everyday use, consider this pick from Madewell. The buttery soft leather will wear with time, giving it the perfect lived-in feel.
Best Laptop Backpack For Travel
This pick from AWAY was designed for hands-free travel. It's made from water-resistant nylon, contains three main compartments, and can hold up to a 15" computer. If you have a suitcase from AWAY, this backpack comes with a trolley sleeve that attaches to all of the brand's wheeled options.
Best Stylish Laptop Backpack
If you have a 13" computer, this option from Senreve is for you. It works as a tote or a backpack, and looks stylish either way. The stain-resistant texture also means that it will be super durable for years of constant use.
Best Laptop Backpack for the Minimalist
"The Tokyo Tote Compact is perfect for carrying a few things with really quick access in a tote format where you don’t have to compromise on organization," says Calabria.
Best Discreet Laptop Backpack
If you need a no-fuss backpack that won't look super out-of-place at your next happy hour sesh with your colleagues, this one from Calpak is a must-buy. The simple square silhouette and black detailing makes it look so timeless.
Best Affordable Laptop Backpack
Made from 15 recycled plastic water bottles, this backpack can be folded flat and zipped into a small pouch when it’s not in use. That said, when it’s go-time, the backpack easily expands, and it’ll hold your must-have items and up to a 15-inch laptop. Plus, you can personalize it with your monogram for a custom look.
Best Roomy Laptop Backpack
If you’re after a roomy bag with lots of compartments that isn't bulky, look no further. Not only does this style have a spacious interior, but the exterior of this well-reviewed bag offers two sizable front zip pockets that you can tuck several items in for easy access.
Best Roomy Laptop Backpack
"This is my go-to laptop bag, thanks to its roomy interior (it has space for my 13'' laptop, a charger, my notebook, a book, and then some). I get compliments almost constantly on this bag, with people gushing over the glossy finish, the mock-croc texture, and the cute front lock." — J.H
Meet The Experts
Shilpa was drawn to Cuyana for the opportunity to enhance women’s lives by creating high quality products that were produced responsibly, priced accessibly, and that carried a story and a soul that could be delivered through human connection.
Beginning her career in Interaction Design, Shilpa has over 20 years of designing customer experiences, designing web and mobile interfaces for Fortune 500 companies such as Disney and AT&T. Before starting Cuyana, Shilpa added business expertise to her design and technical background by completing her MBA at the UC Berkeley Haas School of Business. Today Shilpa leads the company as its CXO, the Chief Experience Officer, crafting a branded omni-channel journey across digital and physical touchpoints.
Lina Calabria, Co-Founder and COO of Bellroy, is an engineer and business leader with a focus on shared learning and development, considering alternative perspectives, and applying care and attention to all facets of the company. Throughout Bellroy’s growth, Lina has also served as CFO and Chief Sales and Marketing Officer. Prior to Bellroy, Lina worked as a management consultant with clients such as Australia Post, Royal Mail, and Pfizer