by James A. Martin

Top 12 Laptop Bags for Pros on the Go

Dec 02, 20147 mins
Consumer ElectronicsLaptops

We asked a group of road warriors for recommendations on the best laptop bags for business travelers and came up with these 12 options, all of which make great gifts.

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Credit: Thinkstock

Best Laptop Bags For Business Travelers

A laptop bag isn’t the sexiest holiday gift, but as a practical present for that special geek in your life (or for yourself), it can be hard to beat. While there are plenty of basic black laptop messenger bags, rolling cases and backpacks, you can also find bags with both style and substance.

To help sift through the laptop bags on the market, we asked frequent business travelers for their favorites. The following 12 bags range from $45 to $474 and include entries from noted designers, as well as brands you’ve probably never heard of. (For even more ideas, check out our last two laptop-bag showcases: “The 12 Best Laptop Bags for Mobile Professionals” and “Top 12 Laptop Bags for Mobile Pros.”)

Mountain Hardware Paladin Backpack

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“I’d been looking for a versatile bag for years and just hadn’t found anything … until the black version of the Mountain Hardware Paladin Backpack ($129). It’s light enough to take to local coffee shops, where I frequently work, rugged enough for the mountains, where I get away, and easy on my shoulders when walking or biking several miles. And because the material is a mix of nylon and material that looks like — but is tougher than — leather, I can also lug this bag into the boardroom and look professional doing so. Plus, I really like that it’s by far the easiest bag to lug through airport security, with side zipper access to my laptop.” — Ryan Laughlin, founder, ClassMind

Incase City Compact Backpack

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Martin Kessler, CMO, Ambi Labs, bought the Incase City Compact Backpack (navy; $100) because it’s “relatively light and comes with padded pockets for both my MacBook Pro as well as my iPad. It also has a great small compartment with faux-fur lining for smaller things like smartphones, but I mostly use it to carry an external battery for my iPhone, keys and my sunglasses. I really like the bag’s compact look and quality. A lot of backpacks look bulky and geeky. The City Compact Backpack is a nice blend between professional and casual.”

Everki Atlas Checkpoint Friendly Adjustable 17.3″ Laptop Backpack

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As the founder of eBags, Peter Cobb knows a little something about laptop bags. The Everki Atlas Checkpoint Friendly Adjustable 17.3″ Laptop Backpack ($135) is among his favorites. It’s recommended by 100 percent of eBags reviewers. Cobb cites the bag’s many “points of adjustment,” its versatility, trolley-handle pass-through, adjustable laptop compartment (it fits any notebook with a display between 13 inches and 17.3 inches), and checkpoint-friendly design. One recent eBags reviewer wrote, “Excellent travel laptop pack with a professional appearance and great functionality,” while another said “this is by far the best quality of backpack I have ever seen.”

Saddleback Leather Thin Briefcase

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“I’ve been through countless, less-expensive bags than the Saddleback Leather Thin Briefcase ($461 to $474), and they’re just not durable. This is the best bag in the business. It’s made of leather. The company offers a 100-year warranty and the tagline: ‘They’ll fight over it when you’re dead.’ The bag is made out of the thickest part of the hide and it’s bulletproof. It gets rave reviews everywhere I take it.” — John Wilder, marriage and relationship coach

Clava Professional Leather Laptop Briefcase

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“I absolutely love my Clava leather laptop briefcase ($250). It holds my laptop and pretty much anything else I need for business. It’s big and expandable. It looks good as a leather case and doesn’t embarrass me no matter who I’m meeting with. Most importantly, it fits standing up under just about all plane seats. Ninety-nine percent of the briefcases I considered before this one were too tall to fit standing up under an airline seat. That means you have to lay it down under the seat, thereby removing any room for your feet to stretch out. This is critical for comfort on the plane.” — J.R. Rodrigues, CEO, NetCablesPlus

Michael Kors Jet Set Travel Medium Saffiano Leather Tote

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This Michael Kors bag ($298) is “my favorite because it’s separated into three compartments. The center, padded pocket is perfect for my laptop. I know, whether I’m on the plane or being shuffled around in my car, that the laptop won’t be damaged. Another pocket is for iPads and tablets, and the other pocket houses all the cords that go with the devices. This bag has so many pockets that every item has a place, and I always feel organized while traveling.” — Kathryn Bisson, marketing specialist, Zco Corporation

Red Oxx Gear CPA Briefcase

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“I’ve logged over one million miles in the last 22 years and used to replace luggage twice a year because of breakage. Years ago, I moved to a Red Oxx Airboss as my bag since I travel only with carry-on bags when possible, and it’s light, durable and backed with a lifetime guarantee. When I needed a laptop bag, Red Oxx’s CPA Briefcase ($175) was a natural choice. It’s made from the same durable materials as my AirBoss and backed by their lifetime guarantee. It’s big enough to carry my equipment and a change of clothes for short overnight trips, which makes it very versatile.” — Edward Kiledjian, CISO, Bombardier

Incase Range Messenger

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The Incase Range Messenger ($90) is “modern and durable. I’ve had messenger bags in the past that were flimsy and never gave me the assurance of protecting my laptop if it accidentally hit something. Some bags out there may look great, but their functionality fails. This bag hits both marks, and it’s one of the greatest investments I’ve made for my laptop. My favorite part about the bag is that you can fit so much inside. There is a designated zip-up spot for your laptop, but there are so many other compartments for other stuff that it can double as a full-size bag.” — Vinncent Nguyen, a technical assistant at Brighthaus

Dakine Valet Laptop Carry-On

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“For travel, my go-to laptop bag is the plaid version of Dakine’s Valet Laptop Carry-On (around $40 on It has a variety of compartments for pens, chargers and papers; a padded laptop compartment; and a clip to attach your keys, so they don’t get lost in your mess of stuff. The bag is excellent for weekend trips because it’s easy to stuff some clothes in with all your laptop gear. The Dakine bag has survived many adventures and has always kept my stuff safe.” — Jessica Greenwalt, founder, Pixelkeet; co-founder, CrowdMed

Solo Classic 15.6″ Leather CheckFast Rolling Overnighter Case

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“As the owner of LaptopMD [a computer repair service in New York] and a frequent traveler, I look at bags differently than most people. It’s all about ensuring the safety of your laptop. Right now, the best laptop bag for a business professional is this classic roller case from Solo ($170). Because it’s a rolling case, I don’t have to lug it on my shoulder, which is cumbersome. There are smaller pockets in the front for my knick-knacks. That gives me extra assurance when I’m going through TSA and want to put my watch or something in my bag. This is a sturdy bag, without a huge abundance of pockets I’ll never use.” — Arthur Zilberman, CEO, LaptopMD

Hayward – Alliance Water Resistant Laptop Backpack

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“I love the fashion and functionality the Hayward – Alliance backpack ($80) offers. It’s big enough for my laptop [and has a dedicated compartment], magazines for the airplane ride, power cord and one pocket that allows me to store smaller essentials. The main selling point was not only its design, but that it was slim enough and didn’t have too many pockets. I’ve used laptop bags that were much more expensive and had so many pockets, it took me too long to find things. It’s a no-frills backpack that’s nice enough for me to carry on all my travels.” — Blake McCammon, COO and founding board member, ProtoHack Inc.

Timbuk2 Especial Raider Backpack

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Author’s recommendation: The Timbuk2 Especial Raider Backpack is designed for urban cyclists, with interior pockets for storing a pair of shoes and a folded shirt. There’s even a built-in hanger. It also makes a terrific, albeit casual, laptop bag. It weighs less than 1 lb., and is more lightweight than most backpacks. The inside, protective shirt pocket is a great place to stash your laptop, though anything bigger than a 13-inch MacBook Pro is too big. (For extra protection, I keep my MacBook Air in a $40 Acme Made sleeve.) The Raider backpack features a top exterior pocket and two water bottle pockets, and it comes in different colors. At just $79, it’s also very reasonably priced.