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Choosing a Laptop Bag: Two Bags We Love

by Bonnie
Choosing a Laptop Bag

When it comes to finding the right laptop bag, there are many things to consider. Do you have a preference for a backpack, messenger bag, tote bag or a traditional briefcase? Are you looking for something for professional or personal use? What is more important to you: style or functionality? How much additional space do you need for charging cables, notebooks or other items? You may even be looking for something that can double as an overnight bag. The options are seemingly endless.

With all these things to consider, finding the right bag (at the right price) can be daunting. I hope to help you out by sharing the two bags that Grant and I carry, which are very different styles. In this article, I’ll break down why we chose these bags and what we love about them. I’ll even include a couple of other bags we use when we’re traveling light.

(Disclaimer: When we link to places you can buy our stuff or places we stayed, we are using special codes which earn us commissions on the sales at no additional cost to you. Please see our Review Policy  for more information.)

The laptop bags we love.
Grant and Bonnie’s laptop bags.

We found our main laptop bags on eBags, which carries a wide variety of bags, luggage and travel accessories. As an added bonus, discounts are often available! Grant carries the eBags Professional Slim Laptop Backpack. I use the Travelon Quilted Anti-Theft Tote. We’ll explore the specifics of both bags below.

What to Consider in a Laptop Bag

Before you even start looking for a laptop bag you’ll want to do your best to answer a few questions. This will help narrow your search from the start. Of course, your answers to these questions may change as you find options and features you didn’t know existed but at least you’ll have some idea of what you’re looking for. 

Basic Style

There are several different styles of laptop bags, with the biggest difference being how the bag is carried. If you prefer to have your hands free, then you’ll likely want a backpack or messenger bag. Many folks might also say these styles are a little more laid back and better for personal use than in a professional setting.

Bonnie with the Travelon Quilted Anit-Theft Tote.
Bonnie with her laptop bag.

For a more professional look, especially for men, consider a briefcase which often can be carried with a handle, an over-the-shoulder strap or a cross-body strap. For women, or anyone looking for something a bit more stylish, I’d suggest a tote bag, many of which look like a large purse.

If you expect to need to carry a lot of additional items, you can even consider a rolling laptop bag. 

Along with the basic style, think about whether you have a preference for leather or cloth. Grant and I both chose a cloth bag but leather can be a bit easier to keep clean.

Size and Functionality

Additionally, you’ll want to consider exactly what you want/need to carry in your bag. If you really just need something to protect the laptop, then consider a laptop cover and/or sleeve. Honestly, I’d recommend a laptop cover even with a bag as it provides an additional layer of protection and personalization.

Good organization is a must-have in any laptop bag.
Grant grabbing one of his hard drives out of his laptop bag.

My guess, though, is that you’ll want to at least be able to throw in a charging cable or perhaps an extra notebook. That’s where having even just a small backpack or tote bag is useful. 

If you tend to take quick 1-2 night trips, then you may be looking for something that will also hold a day or two’s worth of clothes. Or perhaps you just need extra space for a mouse, laptop stand or other accessories. Think carefully about how much you need to carry so that you can get something that is big enough but not too big.

Travelon Quilted Anti-Theft Tote

I opted for a tote bag for my laptop so that I could easily carry it with my main backpack. After much consideration, I chose the Travelon Quilted Anti-Theft Tote.

Bonnie went for stylish and functional when choosing a laptop bag.
Bonnie working on her laptop.

This bag is a fabulous balance of functionality, style and unique features. It’s small enough to carry along with another bag, but large enough to handle a few notebooks, charging cables and pens. 

I’ve carried this bag for more than a year and have been very happy with it. 

Check price on Amazon | Check price on eBags

Basic Features

In the main compartment, there is a dedicated sleeve for a 15.6″ laptop along with plenty of room for additional items. I usually have a couple of spiral or composition notebooks, an accessory case holding a mouse and charging cables and whatever flyers or pamphlets I’ve gathered. Additionally, there is a large zippered pocket along with a couple of “open” pockets for a phone. There’s even a removable key chain with a light.

Looking inside Bonnie's laptop bag.
Looking in the main compartment of Bonnie’s laptop bag.

On the front of the bag, you’ll find two zippered pockets. The small one is perfect for a phone or maybe a boarding pass. The larger one has additional pocket inside to help organize pens, credit cards, notepads or anything else you might want to store there.

The added bonus that I didn’t know I needed is a water bottle pouch on the side. 

One of my favorite features of Travelon products is the anti-theft zipper pulls. All of the zippered compartments and pockets “lock” to guard against pickpockets. Additionally, the cloth material is slash-resistant.

The water bottle pocket and locking zippers are two reasons why Bonnie loves the Travelon Quilted Anit-Theft Tote.
The water bottle pocket is essential for any good bag. The locking zippers are another nice anti-theft touch.

Finally, the bag can be carried as a traditional tote bag with double shoulder straps or a removable long strap. The longer strap allows the bag to be carried as a cross-body. While that’s a great feature, I’ll admit the long, thin strap isn’t comfortable if you have a lot of stuff in the bag.

Overall, this has been the perfect bag and I highly recommend the Travelon Quilted Anti-Theft Tote.

eBags Professional Slim Laptop Backpack

Grant is always a fan of keeping his hands free, so he chose a backpack for his laptop bag. He has carried the eBags Professional Slim Laptop Backpack for about two years now and loves it.

Grant loves the eBags Professional Slim Laptop Backpack.
Grant with his laptop bag.

The bag is a nice balance of professional, yet casual and has some very unique organizational features. It is big enough to hold a laptop and a few other basic accessories or even a change of clothes if you’re a light packer for an overnight trip.

Grant describes it as his portable office. 

Check price on Amazon | Check price on eBags

Basic Features

The main compartment has a sleeve for a 17” laptop along with enough space for a couple of notebooks, flyers, clothes or anything else you might want to carry. Grant typically carries maps, notes or anything else that is necessary for our current trip or project in that space.

One of the most useful parts of the bag is the zippered organizational panel on the front of the bag (see above for what it looks like). This panel is easy to access and has various sized pockets for all sorts of stuff Grant carries with him regularly, like a rechargeable mouse, portable hard drives for photos, a memory card reader, a travel router and an Amazon Fire Stick for streaming Netflix in a hotel room.

All the goodies Grant carries in his laptop bag.
Grant is able to get all of this into the front compartment of his laptop bag.

There is a medium-sized compartment that is large enough for a spiral notebook or additional papers that you may want to separate from the main compartment. Additionally, there is a large zippered pocket big enough for an iPad or any other kind of tablet.  

On the bottom, you’ll find a structured pocket for a charging cable, mouse or any other small accessories. Along the side is a zippered water bottle pouch.

The bottom compartment on the eBags Profession Slim Laptop Backpack is perfect for chargers and accessories.
Grant’s bag has a specific compartment for keeping his power cables organized.

The back of the backpack is padded, making it comfortable to carry even when packed full. Additionally, the backpack straps are removable and can be tucked away if you want to carry it more like a briefcase. This would also be great if you needed to check the bag for any reason.

Overall, the functionality and organization of the eBags Professional Slim Laptop Backpack is about the best I’ve seen in any type of backpack. Grant loves his.

Other Bags We Use for Laptops

We carry these laptop bags on every road trip and to local meetings around town when we’re not traveling. When flying, we often travel with only one bag each and leave these laptop bags behind. As bloggers, though, we generally can’t leave the laptop at home!

Bonnie carries the Mother Lode Weekender Convertible backpack.
The Mother Lode Weekender Convertible is a great backpack for weekend or extended travel.

For carryon luggage, I carry the eBags Mother Lode Travel Backpack and Grant uses the Lowepro HighLine BP 400. Both of these bags have a dedicated laptop sleeve. You can read a full review of these bags here:

The laptop sleeve easily handled our 13" MacBook Pro and the mesh pockets on the side are perfect for my Kleen Kanteen.
Grant’s Lowepro HighLine BP 400 is great for all your travel needs.

Additionally, we each have a daypack that will accommodate a laptop. I’ll admit, we rarely use them to carry a laptop but we can if we ever need to. 

For hiking, I currently use the Osprey Daylite Plus Pack. This bag is a great daypack and has room for a water bladder, a laptop, and other essentials you’d want on the trail or around town.

Read more about Choosing a Daypack for Travel and Hiking

Grant has an Under Armour Hustle 4.0 Backpack that he uses mostly for a workout bag. It has two main compartments with a laptop sleeve, a separate shoe compartment and is water-resistant. He can use it for an overnight bag with his laptop if he wants to.

Finally, if all you want to do is keep your laptop safe inside a suitcase, I’d suggest a laptop sleeve. I have an Arvok laptop sleeve that works well. I’ll admit, I don’t use it often but it’s nice to have just in case. 

Final Thoughts on Choosing a Laptop Bag

Choosing a laptop bag, or any luggage is a very personal decision. Even Grant and I have different preferences when it comes to style and functionality. Hopefully, we’ve given you some features and options to consider and helped to make your decision a little easier.

Inside the eBags Professional Slim Laptop Backpack.
Grant’s laptop bag easily handles his 13″ MacBook Pro with plenty of room for other materials.

Whether you are looking for a dedicated laptop bag or just something that will securely carry a laptop, having the right bag is important. Take your time and consider what you need, what you want and what you can afford. As you read reviews, remember that your needs and wants may or may not be the same as someone else’s. 

It may take a little time or even some trial and error. Ultimately, finding the right bag for you will be worth it.

Looking for the right laptop bag for travel or at home use? Find out what we use and what to consider when choosing a laptop bag for yourself.
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2 comments

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Christel May 27, 2020 - 2:33 am

There’s certainly a lot to learn about this issue.
I love all the points you made.

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Grant
Grant May 27, 2020 - 10:20 am

Thanks so much Christel!

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