It’s surprisingly how attached you can get to a bag — especially the bag that you use to carry your laptop, your sweater, your lunch, your notebook, your exercise shoes, and all the other stuff you need. Whether you’re heading to the office, visiting a friend, hanging in a coffee shop, going on a hike, or just sitting outdoors to read or work, having a bag that can accommodate everything on your “gotta have this” list can help you avoid a lot of aggravation.
We asked the staff of The Verge to tell us about their go-to laptop bags. We got a variety of answers, including messenger bags, camera bags, backpacks, well-worn bags that have lasted for years, and leather bags with lots of style.
So here are some stories about why we like our favorite laptop bags.
I got a large Timbuk2 messenger bag in 2015 — just in time to haul it around a CES show floor — after wearing out a few smaller options from fancier brands. (According to one company’s associate, in hitherto-undiscovered ways; I am very hard on my accessories.) It’s comfortable, low-profile, fairly affordable, and has a big main compartment with as many little sub-pockets as I could ever want. The only downsides are a) I feel sort of basic when a co-worker shows off some gorgeous Peak Design product and b) I like it so much that I feel like I must have struck an unwitting faustian bargain with a trickster god. Unfortunately, it looks like Timbuk2 doesn’t offer the customization options I got anymore, so maybe the catch is that I can never buy another one that feels just right. — Adi Robertson, senior reporter
In 2016, I was looking for a bag that could handle a 14-inch laptop and all the various other stuff I needed to carry. It needed to fit within a certain size range; one of the trade shows I was going to attend had decided that it would not allow backpacks that were too large. After shopping around online, I found the Case Logic Lodo backpack, which I am still using today. It’s got a lot of pockets, both outside and in, a handy key attachment, nice padding on the back, and it fits my rather narrow frame perfectly. But the thing that really makes it nifty is the way the main compartment opens: a lightweight metal frame lets it open really, really wide, so that I can see all the way into the backpack without ever having to fish around. The metal frame does add slightly to the weight of the backpack as a whole, but not enough to be a bother. And after five years of pretty constant use, it shows no wear at all, which is a pretty neat trick.
Unfortunately, this particular backpack is, for the most part, no longer available. So if disaster ever strikes, I’ll have to go shopping around again. But with any luck, my current Case Logic will last for at least several more years. — Barbara Krasnoff, Reviews Editor
Most of the time, I use a Timbuk2 Authority backpack, which I like because it distributes the weight of the laptop and whatever else I’m lugging around nicely. There are a bunch of compartments, which contain some accessories for my laptop, plus eye drops, a contact case and solution, and the various over-the-counter medications (ibuprofen, anti-histamines, guaifenesin) that I don’t leave home without. However, sometimes I wish to convey to the people around me that I’m a fancy fucking lady, and then I use Cuyana’s Classic Leather Tote, with the Tote Organization Insert, which has a laptop pocket. Both bags are good at accommodating a great deal of nonsense, but if I’m traveling, I can pull the insert out of the Cuyana bag and carry it to — for instance — a wedding. Also, people are (or were, pre-pandemic) nicer to me at airports when I lugged it instead of a backpack. — Liz Lopatto, deputy editor
I bought this very, very fancy Satchel & Page Diplomat leather bag to celebrate having a real, adult job (and so I could stop showing up to work and meetings with a fraying backpack that had survived college). It is very expensive — even more now than when I had first bought it (when it was still probably too much to spend on a bag) — but it is luxurious. The leather is smooth and solid, the color has deepened to a rich, dark, almost-chocolate-like hue in places, and it looks stylish for both a casual trip to the office or a fancy meeting (back when I still had those). The metal accents and zippers are all weathered brass, and it has a strap that’s nearly as soft and padded as a good baseball mitt.
The interior has plenty of space, too, with a general padded laptop pocket right in the middle, and a variety of storage compartments for holding pens, business cards, notebooks, assorted cables, folders, a Nintendo Switch, and more. Mine is the older model, with a soft, flannel lining that I vastly prefer to the leather interior that they’ve switched to. But really, if you’re buying this bag, you’re aiming for style, not how many liters of internal space it has.
Aside from the price, it is very heavy (3.5 pounds without anything in it) and the price is, as mentioned, a lot for a bag. But for the cost, you’re definitely getting a bag that looks the part. — Chaim Gartenberg, news editor
The Tom Binh Synapse 25 is quite expensive for a backpack (though I assume some of that cost comes from the fact that it’s made in Seattle), but I knew that it had been a good buy when I was stuck out in the rain with it all night and it kept my stuff dry. That same week, I had to jump on a plane and go across the country for a week, and I was able to fit all my clothes and electronics into it and use it as a single carry-on.
Really, the bag just oozes thoughtfulness and quality. The main compartment perfectly fits a laptop and a few packing cubes, and the water bottle pocket is right in the center of the bag, keeping it from weighing too heavily on one shoulder. The zippers feel great, and I absolutely love the orange color I got it in, as well as how tough the material feels. Overall, it feels like it strikes the perfect balance: it’s tough (and light) enough for prolonged outdoor use, while still being classy enough to tote your laptop and lunch to the office. — Mitchell Clark, news writer
I see I’m not the only person with a Timbuk2 bag, so I’ll just join the chorus to recommend my personal bag, the Custom Prospect Laptop backpack. It has a good-sized laptop flap (Timbuk2 advertises a 15-inch screen fit, and it’s always held my MacBook Airs comfortably), a spacious interior, and a handy flap up top that lets you add a little extra space to the interior of the bag. I’ve had mine for nearly six years, even using it for my weekly grocery store runs, and it’s held up like a champ throughout. Plus, with this bag, you can personalize it with your favorite colors or reflective material. —Jay Peters, news writer
A couple of years ago, I picked up the Black Diamond Creek Transit 32 for what once was my daily commute downtown. While I wish it looked a bit more professional at times — most Black Diamond equipment is built for the climbing crag, not the cubicle — I’ve always appreciated it for its relative simplicity and the sheer amount of gear it can carry. The 32-liter pack takes a cue from the company’s ultra-durable haul bags, and as such, it’s made with a waterproof shell and ballistic nylon that can take a bit of a beating (I’ve tested this). It also features a cushioned, 15-inch laptop compartment on the rear, a zippered top lid, and separate bottom compartment where I can stash my gym clothes, running attire, and — yes — a decrepit pair of climbing shoes for those times when I decide to take it bouldering outside the city limits. — Brandon Widder, senior editor, commerce
After months of searching and fretting over the width of straps, ease of entry, and general bulk of profile, I finally picked up the Mission Workshop’s The Monty Advanced messenger bag in brown canvas. The strap on it is big and padded enough that it won’t dig in if I’m carrying a couple of laptops, a bunch of camera gear, and the general odds and ends I cram in a bag, and the quick release makes it easy for me to adjust the bag so it fits closer to the body on longer walks. It’s also totally waterproof, a thing I accidentally tested on day two when I was caught in a deluge. But if there is a spill, the lining is easy to clean — it has handled chicken curry and rum punch with more aplomb than my stomach lining. I love that it can switch between being a flap-style bag or a roll top, depending on how much stuff I’ve tried to pack in. But its style definitely skews rugged.
When I need a little more professional bag I use a the Telfar Medium Tan Shopping Bag, which a friend sold me on by saying it could hold a 15-inch laptop, charger, wallet, and two bottles of wine. She was correct. — Alex Cranz, managing editor
“Laptop bag” to me is any bag that fits a laptop but also gets jam-packed with too much camera equipment. The slightly unwieldy but lovely Peak Design Everyday Backpack 30L has been my main work bag for well over two years (I have the first-gen version), and it has traveled with me all over the country and beyond while holding up to abuse and looking clean in its charcoal colorway. I have at times packed it with multiple full-size camera bodies, lenses, and accessories, along with either a 16-inch MacBook Pro (which is easily swallowed up in its laptop pocket) or a 13-inch MacBook Air that takes a cave-diving excursion into its inner depths. The structuring of this bag and the way gear is meant to slot into its three shelves and pocket walls with side-access may not be for everyone, but if you want to carry a lot of camera and tech-adjacent gear, it offers lots of versatility. Do yourself a favor and try to make the smaller 20L version work for your needs, so when you inevitably overpack it you can save your back more than I do with the 30L. — Antonio G. Di Benedetto, writer
I found the Mystery Ranch Urban Assault 18 at a warehouse sale over the winter and it has since become my go-to for every occasion. It is not geared toward tech but has two laptop sleeves and three mesh pockets that fit my dongles, books, laptop, small tripod, camera, and personal items with room to spare. It also makes heavy loads easy to carry for long periods with super comfortable shoulder straps and a chest strap. The best part about it, though, is the way it zippers down the middle. This has been great for taking out single items even if they are packed at the bottom. I thought I would never quit my Chrome backpacks but the Mystery Ranch is lighter, more comfortable for long trips, and the vertical zipper is now a must-have for me. — Becca Farsace, senior director