Bargain Guide to the Best Laptop Backpacks of 2018

This article will help you pick from the best laptop backpacks for travel depending on your travel needs and preferences.

Whether you are looking for the best travel backpack for Europe, your next weekend trip, or a commute bag that you can take on any journey, each of these backpacks prioritizes quality, versatility, organization, and comfort!

Every rucksack on this list is a TSA approved laptop backpack with a specific laptop compartment, and the correct dimensions to carry onto any flight. Read on to find the best backpack for your next digital adventure!

Make sure to protect that laptop with one of the best travel backpacks for laptops

Quick Answer: The Best Carry on Travel Backpacks


Key features to look for in the Best Laptop Backpacks for Travel

For this article, we are focusing on the best travel backpacks that accommodate laptops.

All of the bags listed below are travel backpacks with laptop compartments, and are well equipped to organize your technical gear while you're travelling.

  • Backpack with Laptop compartment: A separate padded compartment keeps your electronics secure. Of course, you can also use these zipped compartments for books, your travel journal, or many other things.
  • Front-loading: Many hiking backpacks are top-loading, which means having to dig around awkwardly to get something from the bottom. Look for a backpack that zips flat (like a suitcase) for ultimate ease!
  • Weather Resistant: If you are going to be carrying your laptop and other valuables, you want a backpack that will protect your valuables! Make sure it’s weather sealed or includes a rain cover.
  • Carry-on size: Carry-on travel backpacks save you from having to deal with lost bags and luggage fees. All of the backpacks on this list are carry-on sized and abide by TSA guidelines.
best weather resistant backpacks in snowy mountain

You never know when you'll need a weather resistant backpack!

Best Sized Backpacks for Travel

Top Pick!
Nomatic 40L
Adventure Laptop Backpack
The North Face Recon
Weekend Warrior Pick
Incase EO Backpack
Best Value Pick
TimBuk 2 Uptown
Best for Photographers
Lowepro ProTactic 450 AW
Water Resistant NOMATIC 40L Travel Bag TSA Checkpoint Compliant Duffel/Backpack
The North Face Recon - Bright Cobalt Blue & TNF Black - OS (Past Season)
Incase EO Backpack, Heather Gray, One Size
Timbuk2 Uptown Travel-Friendly Laptop Backpack, Midway, One Size
Lowepro ProTactic 450 AW Camera Backpack - Professional Protection For Your Camera Gear or DJI Mavic Pro/Mavic Pro Platinum
$$$
$
$$
$$
$$$
21 x 14 x 9
19.2 x 14 x 9
21 x 15 x 5
19.5 x 11.2 x 6.5
19.2 x 13.7 x 10.6
40L
31L
24L
30L
40L
15" Laptop
15" Laptop
17" Laptop
15" Laptop
15" Laptop
Top Pick!
Nomatic 40L
Water Resistant NOMATIC 40L Travel Bag TSA Checkpoint Compliant Duffel/Backpack
$$$
21 x 14 x 9
40L
15" Laptop
Adventure Laptop Backpack
The North Face Recon
The North Face Recon - Bright Cobalt Blue & TNF Black - OS (Past Season)
$
19.2 x 14 x 9
31L
15" Laptop
Weekend Warrior Pick
Incase EO Backpack
Incase EO Backpack, Heather Gray, One Size
$$
21 x 15 x 5
24L
17" Laptop
Best Value Pick
TimBuk 2 Uptown
Timbuk2 Uptown Travel-Friendly Laptop Backpack, Midway, One Size
$$
19.5 x 11.2 x 6.5
30L
15" Laptop
Best for Photographers
Lowepro ProTactic 450 AW
Lowepro ProTactic 450 AW Camera Backpack - Professional Protection For Your Camera Gear or DJI Mavic Pro/Mavic Pro Platinum
$$$
19.2 x 13.7 x 10.6
40L
15" Laptop

When looking at the best carry on backpacks, size is one of the most important factors. You want a backpack that complies with TSA rules and has small enough dimensions to get onto any budget airline flight.

Most travellers only need a backpack for clothes and some technical gear (if that at all). Unless you are traveling with a tent, camping gear, and sleeping bag, you don't need a hiking backpack.

Look for a Comfortable Travel Backpack

Comfort is extremely important to consider when choosing from the best travel backpacks for laptops. Are the straps comfortable and sturdy enough to carry your gear or a heavy pack? Is this a bag you're going to want to lug around the streets of Paris, or from hostel to hostel?

Be sure to look for a backpack with padded and adjustable straps!

Prioritize Accessibility and Organization

Choosing a backpack with organization compartments and a well-thought-out design is especially important if you plan to use this laptop backpack for travel. You want to be able to easily access your gear, and keep everything organized when you are on the go, or constantly unpacking.

A laptop sleeve will help you keep your laptop safe and protected, as well as remove your laptop in the TSA line efficiently. All of the backpacks on this list have a completely separate laptop sleeve, and they are built to go through TSA lines with ease.

travel backpacks that open like suitcase

Versatility

You want the best laptop backpack for air travel that will be useful after you land too. Can you use your backpack on day hikes? Is it fashionable enough to wear while sightseeing? Do you want a backpack for your camera and photography equipment?

There are obviously many uses for a laptop backpack, but first, you need to figure out what are your travel-specific needs.

Me? I prefer travel backpacks with a wide opening main compartment and the ability to lie flat like a suitcase. My favorite laptop backpacks have an efficient organization system to keep my clothes and gear organized. I also prefer to have a bag I can take on the trails since most of my travel trips revolve around the outdoors.

Durability

This may go without saying, but when looking for the best carry on travel backpack, you want to choose one that going to last years. A good quality backpack should also come with a great warranty. This is going to be one of your most important investments if you travel frequently!

Why Should you Choose a Travel Backpack over a Hiking Backpack

Simply put, traditional hiking backpacks usually do not make for the best laptop backpacks. 

Often times hiking bags are top-loaded (meaning you can only access your gear from the top opening). They are also covered in straps and designed to keep weight centered on your back. Great for hiking, but often times, not so great for organizing and packing/unpacking regularly.

This is why it's a better decision to go with one of the best carry on travel backpacks. 

Nowadays many backpack companies that specialize in hiking are making great hybrid travel backpacks. If you plan to travel and want the flexibility of being able to hike on your trip, then I recommend getting a backpack that is also comfortable for hiking.

If you are looking to hike, look for a laptop sleeve that doubles into a hydration bladder pouch, and bags with sturdy, comfortable straps.

Reviews of the Best Laptop Backpacks for Travel

As I mentioned earlier, this article is going to focus on the best laptop backpacks for travel. I have reviewed our favorite backpacks below, categorized by different types of travels to accommodate your travel needs.

#1 Best Overall Laptop Backpack for Travel
Nomatic Travel Bag 40L

Nomatic 40L
  • Water Repellent Tarpaulin; Dimensions: 21" x 14"x 9"(53cm x 36cm x 23cm): Weight: 4lbs (2KGS) Capacity: 40L;Designed to fit the maximum size allowed on standard airlines, fits in the overhead compartment as well as the under seat as storage in flight.
  • Designated water bottle pocket, valuables pocket, RFID protected pocket, shoe compartment, cord organizer, laptop pocket, tablet pocket, and notebook pocket
  • Laptop Pockets fit up to a 15" Macbook Pro and Tablet Pocket fits up to a 8.5" x 11" tablet.

Pros

  • One of the best crafted bags on the market
  • 40L = lots of room
  • Sleek and stylish
  • Water resistant
  • Tons of pockets and features

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Mixed reviews on straps/comfort

Arguably the ultimate bag for travelers, if you are nomadic, you'll love Nomatic. 

A raging Kickstarter success, Nomatic raised over two million dollars and is on a mission to create the ultimate travel bag - and we think they've accomplished just that. 

Rich with pockets and plenty of features, Nomatic leaves no stone unturned as they have created a bag that is both stylish and functional. 

Although Nomatic advertises this as a bag for 3-7 day trips, a minimalist traveler will easily be able to get a ton more time out of this bag.

Some of our favorite features are the detachable waist straps with water resistant pockets, the 15" laptop pocket, and the roller bag sleeve. The Nomatic 40L also comes with a laundry bag... which is awesome.


You'll be pleasantly surprised with all of the room the Nomatic 40L has, and in particular we love the fact that the bottom compartment is a perfect fit for shoes of all sizes. 

While not an ideal hiking bag, this is a great bag for basically anyone else. Travelers, students, backpackers, Digital Nomads and everything in between. 

You'd think with all of these awesome features that Nomatic would have to skimp on durability, but the reviews are through the roof claiming the bag is strong, and lasts years.

Check out our brutally honest review of the Nomatic Travel Bag, or see more awesome minimalist backpacks

The Best Laptop Backpack for Outdoor Adventures

The North Face Recon

The North Face Recon - Bright Cobalt Blue & TNF Black - OS (Past Season)
  • The updated FlexVent suspension system features a flexible yoke built from custom injection-molded shoulder straps, an unbelievably comfortable padded mesh back panel and a highly breathable lumbar panel for maximum breathability all day long
  • Dedicated, highly protective laptop compartment. Huge main compartment for books and binders, and front compartment with internal organization has an extra padded tablet sleeve, a pendolier and additional secure-zip pockets
  • Front, extendable stash pocket with daisy chains for added lash points. Reflective bike-light loop, water bottle tabs and shoulder-strap webbing create 360 degrees of reflectivity. External, fleece-lined pocket for sunglasses, phone or keys, and two extended mesh water bottle pockets can easily double as multi-use pockets with quick-draw cell-phone access on one side

Pros

  • Great for minimalists
  • Can double as a hiking bag
  • Durable and comfortable
  • Laptop sleeve can also be a hydration pack holder

Cons

  • Not as modernly stylish as others

One of the best organized backpacks, this is ideal for the minimalist traveller that wants to hit the trails too. Anyone who has been to the outdoor store REI knows how passionate those employees can get about their outdoor gear. I once had a guy talk to me about this backpack for 20 minutes, and why he travels with it literally everywhere.

The best part about The North Face Recon is how durable this backpack is. It can handle use and abuse for years before you have to replace it, and it's extremely comfortable, even if you're carrying heavy school books, electronics, etc. The material is sturdy, and all of the zippers are YKK.

This pack works great for hiking and outdoor adventures, as it should since that is what The North Face is known for. Really, you can use this backpack for more than travel. It's great for school, commute, and everyday use.

This backpack has padded sections for both 15-inch laptops and iPads, and 3 separate sections for organizing contents... The laptop section doubles as a hydration pack holder with a hole to put your tube through.

It is spacious but fits under an airplane seat or in the overhead bin, but can fit a good amount of stuff. In the video above, they demonstrate its space with the use of 6-packs. (Excellent choice, guys.)

There is a front mesh pocket that is useful for anything you need to access quickly, or storing a wet swimsuit or towel on the trails. There are two water bottle holders that stretch outwards. And for all you hikers, this backpack comes with a small waist strap.

Whether you need a backpack for the trails or the best backpack for travelling with your laptop, the Northface Recon is on of the best hiking laptop backpacks: it's durable, light, just the right size, and great quality.

Best Laptop Backpack for Weekend Travels
Incase EO Travel Backpack

Incase EO Backpack, Heather Gray, One Size
  • Padded back panels and shoulder straps with breathable mesh, sternum strap for comfortable carrying.
  • Fits up to 17" Laptop, iPad
  • Durable 300D heathered weave Ecoya eco-dyed poly

Pros

  • Great for on-the-go travel
  • Fits up to a 17 inch laptop
  • Padded back panels
  • Main compartment expands by 35%
  • Zippable laptop compartment makes security checks a breeze

Cons

  • Might be too small for longer term travelers

The EO travel backpack is known for making stylish business backpacks. This bag is made for people on-the-go and weekend travelers! The EO is on of the best backpacks for a 17 inch computer, and there is also a side handle to grab your backpack quickly.

The bag itself is made out of 300D polyester, and the black option has a triple coated weather-resistant front panel. The shoulder straps are made with breathable mesh, and the back panels are padded too.

The main compartment has plenty of storage space, and it expands 35% to fit all of the clothes you may need. You can also maintain a slimmer profile if you are just using it for layovers and day trips.

This is one of the best laptop bags for travel because of the way the laptop sleeve is set up. Like some of the other backpacks on this list, you can unzip the laptop compartment to lie the backpack flat and send it through the TSA conveyer belt without having to actually remove the laptop.

In the same compartment, there is also a small pocket on the other side for other flat electronics like your iPad or Kindle.

This backpack is smaller than others on this list, but the Incase EO makes use of its space. Plus, sometimes smaller is better, so you can travel around day to day without carrying a bulky bag.

Best Laptop Backpack for Travel and Work

Timbuk 2 Uptown

Timbuk2 Uptown
  • Laptop compartment fits 15" MacBook plus iPad in separate pocket
  • Front zip pocket for keeping small items in check
  • Large main compartment for books, jacket, and other carry-on essentials

Pros

  • Laptop compartment zips away for easy security checks
  • Dedicated tablet pocket
  • 5 year warrantee
  • Great for weekend trips or quick get aways (or super light travelers) 

Cons

  • Might be too small for longer term travelers

The Timbuk 2 is quite similar to the Incase EO above. It's a smaller laptop TSA-friendly backpack that works great for both travel and work, and is one of the best lightweight laptop backpacks.

The material is 400D Nylon Faille. The laptop sleeve fits a 15-inch laptop and allows you to send your bag through the security line without removing your device(s). There is also a dedicated pocket for a tablet.

There is a side-pocket for your water bottle and a front pocket that is useful for your passport and boarding pass. The main compartment has plenty of space, and the one in front of it has three smaller compartments for organization.

This backpack is comfortable too, thanks to its mesh panel on the back, and an adjustable front strap.

The drawback about this bag is that it's not big enough to take on most long backpacking trips; however, if you are just looking for a laptop backpack for everyday use, and quick weekend trips, this is a sleek, low-profile backpack that will keep all your stuff organized. Overall it's absolutely on of the best lightweight laptop backpacks

Best Laptop Backpack for Photographers and Videographers
LowePro ProTactic 450

Lowepro ProTactic 450 AW
  • Fits 1-2 Pro DSLRs, one with up to 70-200mm f/2.8 lens attached, 8 lenses/speed lights, 15" laptop, tripod and accessories. The ProTactic 450 AW also fits the DJI Mavic Pro drone
  • Never miss a critical mission thanks four access points: the molded, turret-loading top, quick-grab from both sides, and full, back entry for set-up and security
  • Create limitless set-ups with a robust, Slip Lock compatible strap system. Internal Dimensions: 31.8 x 19.8 x 44 cm (12.52 x 7.80 x 17.32 in) External Dimensions: 34.8 x 27 x 48.8 cm (13.70 x 10.63 x 19.21 in). Weight: 2.6 kg (5.72 lbs)

Pros

  • Fits 1 or 2 DSLRs
  • Four camera-access points
  • Ventilation and back support
  • Laptop pocket and additional accssories

Cons

  • Pricey
  • Only useful for photographers

If you are a serious photographer or have aspirations to be - this bag is next-level.

The Loweprp ProTactic 450 is far and away the most functional and stylish backpack for photographers and videographers. 

As you would hope from a high value camera bag, the ProTactic has tons of features. In particular, we like it's ventilated harness, removable waist-belt, tons of straps and a shlew of interior and exterior pockets. 

The most impressive thing of the ProTactic is how big it is and how well organized the compartments are. Fitting up to two DSLR's, a 15" laptop and some drones, this bag is versatile and able to handle all of you tech needs. 

This is one of the best camera daypacks for many reasons. High quality make and well-reviewed durability makes the Lowepro a must have for photographers willing to make an investment. 

Best Laptop Friendly Backpacking Bag
Tortuga Setout


best laptop backpacks

Pros

  • Lockable zippers
  • Molded foam
  • Removable hip belt
  • Weather resistant material

Cons

  • 44 Liters might be too big for some

The Tortuga Setout is easily one of the best carry-on travel backpacks on the market. It is quite similar to the Minaal 2.0, also reviewed below, but $50 cheaper, which is what gave the Tortuga an edge to win the ranks of best laptop backpack for travel.

The materials on this bag include 900d weathered polyester with a weather resistant finish and lockable YKK zippers. The straps are injected with molded foam for your ultimate comfort. Other awesome features include front-loading, a padded and removable hip belt, hideaway shoulder straps, and weather resistant material.

I dig the durable top and side grip for grabbing your backpack in the security line.

In terms of functionality, the Tortuga Setout has a quick access pocket at the front with a full front tech pocket with a carabiner attachment and dividers. I like how this pocket goes zips the way down to the bottom of the pack, so you have easy access to a jacket or bulky item that you want to quickly access or throw into your bag. I also prefer this front pocket to the Minaal 2.0's front compartment.

There is a separate laptop compartment at the back of the backpack with plenty of cushions. Your laptop will sit a few inches from the bottom for extra protection in case you drop your bag. The laptop sleeve can fit a 15-inch laptop as well as a 9.7-inch tablet.

This backpack is weather resistant; it's made of polyester that has a water-resistant coating in case it rains. The Tortuga Setout features a TSA-friendly laptop sleeve that allows you to leave the device in your backpack while going through security.

The main compartment opens up flat like a suitcase. There are two mesh pockets on the top lids; however, I think the Minaal 2.0 (reviewed below) has better mesh pockets that are more spacious and functional.

This is an amazing backpack built for efficient, on-the-go travellers. It's similar to the Minaal 2.0, but at 44L, the Tortuga can carry more gear, and if you do not end up using all of the space, this travel backpack has compression straps.

Honorable Mention;
Best Travel Backpack for Europe
Minaal Carry On 2.0 Backpack

best travel backpack for europe

Pros

  • Perfect carry on dimensions
  • Removable hip strap
  • Rain cover that packs into itself
  • Locking zippers
  • Suspended laptop sleeve helps protect laptop if you drop your bag

Cons

  • Pricey

The Minaal 2.0 Carry On has updated their original travel backpack to the 2.0, and it's loaded with new features that improve its functionality, and make it one of the best laptop backpack for travel! This backpack has the perfect dimensions carry-on any flight (22 x 14 x 9 inches), including those strict European budget airlines, which is one of the reasons why we chose it as one of the best backpacks for travel in Europe

The Minaal Carry-On is made out of heavy-duty nylon, and the fabric does a solid job repelling water, too. The shoulder straps and removable hip straps pack away easily for transit, and the strap system and cushioned back panel foam allow for ultimate comfort.

A few of my favorite details on the Minaal 2.0 are the included rain fly that packs into itself, the clip on the should strap to keep the chest strap out of the way when you're not using it, and the locking zippers for added security.

This backpack has one of the best laptop compartments on this list. It's located on the back side and zips all the way open to run through a TSA conveyer belt without having to remove the laptop. There are 5 smaller compartment/pockets in this section for all of your essentials (passport, small tech gear, chargers, etc.)

The padded laptop specific sleeve is suspended away from the sides so your laptop is protected if you drop your backpack. The new Minaal Cary On 2.0 makes the laptop sleeve accessible from both the top and the side.

The main compartment zips all the way open like a suitcase. The larger side is perfect for packing your clothes, shoes, and other items. The 2.0 has made another major change to the main compartment: the two zippered pockets on the right are now three-dimensional, making them much more spacious than before. Think of these like built-in packing cubes.

There are also 3 compartments on the outside of the backpack. The water bottle pocket is made out of the same material as the backpack and will last longer than the usual mesh pockets.

Ultimately, I think the Minaal Carry-On is a versatile travel backpack and one of the best backpacks for travel in Europe! 

Honorable Mention;
Most Durable Laptop Backpack
GoRuck GR1


GR1 durable backpack

Pros

  • Most durable laptop backpack
  • Waterproof and weatherproof
  • Strength tested
  • Can fit 17 inch laptop

Cons

  • Might be more than the average traveler needs
  • Pricey

Another one of the best organized backpacks, 26 litre GoRuck GR1 was designed and built for war zones and cities alike by a former Army Green Beret to be extremely durable and adaptable.

For one, this is the most durable backpack on this list, designed for any weather and climate. The YKK zippers perform in sandstorms, and the 1000 Cordura material is rainproof.

You can literally dunk this backpack into a river (as shown in the video below) and keep your gear dry!

Oh, and every bag is strength-tested at over 400 pounds (that's around 181 KG!). Despite all of these features, the bag was designed to keep a low-profile, and it's easy to take on any trip.

This bag is also extremely comfortable. The shoulder straps are padded to handle heavy loads (like 400 pounds), and this backpack is designed to sit high so the weight doesn't hang on your shoulders.

The laptop compartment is one of the biggest on the market, making this travel backpack one of the best backpack for a 17-inch laptop. It also has a false bottom to fully protect your laptop if you drop your bag.

The drawback is that this is one of the most expensive and heavy backpacks on this list. It's probably not the best backpack for someone trying to pack as little weight as possible; however, it's designed to withstand a lifetime of abuse and has a lifetime warranty to match. Despite the price tag, you get what you pay for.

Not only is this backpack built to withstand the toughest situations, it's also very functional for travelling and short trips. The main compartment opens flat for easy packing. The backpack also houses a 3L hydration bladder with a tube exit port. The main compartment also has carabiner holds and a smaller compartment to fit an iPad or Kindle.

Final Thoughts on the Best Laptop Backpacks for Travel

Top Pick!
Nomatic 40L
Adventure Laptop Backpack
The North Face Recon
Weekend Warrior Pick
Incase EO Backpack
Best Value Pick
TimBuk 2 Uptown
Best for Photographers
Lowepro ProTactic 450 AW
Water Resistant NOMATIC 40L Travel Bag TSA Checkpoint Compliant Duffel/Backpack
The North Face Recon - Bright Cobalt Blue & TNF Black - OS (Past Season)
Incase EO Backpack, Heather Gray, One Size
Timbuk2 Uptown Travel-Friendly Laptop Backpack, Midway, One Size
Lowepro ProTactic 450 AW Camera Backpack - Professional Protection For Your Camera Gear or DJI Mavic Pro/Mavic Pro Platinum
$$$
$
$$
$$
$$$
21 x 14 x 9
19.2 x 14 x 9
21 x 15 x 5
19.5 x 11.2 x 6.5
19.2 x 13.7 x 10.6
40L
31L
24L
30L
40L
15" Laptop
15" Laptop
17" Laptop
15" Laptop
15" Laptop
Top Pick!
Nomatic 40L
Water Resistant NOMATIC 40L Travel Bag TSA Checkpoint Compliant Duffel/Backpack
$$$
21 x 14 x 9
40L
15" Laptop
Adventure Laptop Backpack
The North Face Recon
The North Face Recon - Bright Cobalt Blue & TNF Black - OS (Past Season)
$
19.2 x 14 x 9
31L
15" Laptop
Weekend Warrior Pick
Incase EO Backpack
Incase EO Backpack, Heather Gray, One Size
$$
21 x 15 x 5
24L
17" Laptop
Best Value Pick
TimBuk 2 Uptown
Timbuk2 Uptown Travel-Friendly Laptop Backpack, Midway, One Size
$$
19.5 x 11.2 x 6.5
30L
15" Laptop
Best for Photographers
Lowepro ProTactic 450 AW
Lowepro ProTactic 450 AW Camera Backpack - Professional Protection For Your Camera Gear or DJI Mavic Pro/Mavic Pro Platinum
$$$
19.2 x 13.7 x 10.6
40L
15" Laptop

There are countless travel backpacks on the market for every type of travel use, but these are the best backpacks for travelers bringing along their laptop and technical gear.

If you want a versatile backpack for a long-term travel vacation, look no further than the Tortuga Setout. If you are heading to Europe, or on a multi-month adventure, the Minaal 2.0 is an awesome bag.

For traveling minimalists, who still carry some gear, the Incase EO travel backpack and Timbuk 2 Uptown are both great bags. Photographers should look at the Emblem V4, and outdoor enthusiasts should definitely get the NorthFace Recon.

No matter what your travel style is, there is a bag on this list to cover all of your needs!

Yay for transparency! The links in this post are affiliate links. This means that if you buy anything, I’ll earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. I only link to stuff I’ve actually used and never endorse crap. Your support helps me keep the site going.

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