When I first started university, I wanted to look “cool” so decided to forgo a traditional backpack in favour of a cross-body messenger style bag. However, after one semester of lugging multiple textbooks, notebooks, and other essentials across campus every day, I started to develop shoulder and back problems. Needless to say, I bought myself a nice backpack with two shoulder straps before the spring semester started. My brother called it “going geek” anytime I wore both straps at the same time (it was the ‘90’s), but doing so saved my back and made carrying everything I needed a whole lot easier.
But a good backpack shouldn’t just protect your back–it should also keep you organized and your laptop safe. Here are some of the best laptop backpacks to consider for the upcoming school year.
For the on-campus student
When you are living on campus, it is easy to pop home throughout the day for lunch, to change, or even to drop off or exchange one textbook for another. Whether you’re living in a dorm or in a frat or sorority house, a smaller laptop backpack like this 24.5-litre one from Swiss Gear is ideal. Its 15.6” laptop compartment will keep your computer safe, while its dedicated tablet pocket means you don’t have to decide which device to bring with you on any given day. It also features multiple interior and exterior pockets and compartments so can keep everything neat and organized, and essentials like pens and your phone within easy reach.
Another great smaller option is this 18” Roots 73 laptop backpack with 20.1-litre capacity. It too features multiple compartments and plenty of storage options, including a pen pocket, organization pocket, side zip pocket, and a laptop compartment that fits devices up to 15.6” in size. Add to that the fact that it is made from dragon polyester that is both soft and durable, and this backpack will last you for years.
For the commuter student
When you live off campus and commute to school everyday, you don’t have the luxury of being able to “pop home” so you’ll likely need a little more space in your laptop backpack for things like a change of clothes, extra snacks, or your makeup bag. That’s why larger bags are ideal, like this 33-litre High Sierra Loop backpack. Its large main compartment allows you to bring everything you need with you for a full day–and perhaps night–on campus, including a large laptop, and its padded shoulder straps make carrying it easy and comfortable, so back issues won’t be a problem. On its exterior, there are added pockets for on-the-go items like a water bottle and keys, and it also has a leather lashing square for securing extra gear like a jacket or sweater.
I’m also a big fan of this 35-liter laptop backpack from ObusForme. Not only does it have a dedicated padded sleeve that can hold laptops up to 15” in size, but its large main compartment provides ample space for all your books, binders, snacks, and other essentials, and there are dedicated bottle pockets so you can stay hydrated while you study the day away. I’m also a fan of its adjustable padded shoulder straps and mesh back padding for their ergonomic support.
For the I-need-it-all student
If a 35-litre laptop backpack isn’t quite sufficient for your needs, look no further than this 38-litre pack from JanSport. It will help you carry all your essentials, and more. Plus, it has a removable sleeve that fits laptops up to 15” as well as an external pocket that perfectly accommodates 10” tablets. It also features a dynamic electronics organizer with stretch-fit pockets so you can keep your smartphone easily accessible, and a dedicated external cord storage pocket to keep your chargers and headphones nice and organized. To manage all the potential weight you might be carrying, it has you covered with its ergonomic S-curve shoulder straps and fully padded back panel.
When it comes to buying a laptop backpack, or any backpack for that matter, it is important to first understand your needs. What will you be carrying with you every day? If you’re not sure, err on the side of caution and go a little bit bigger than you think you might need. There is something to be said for having enough room to stash a sweater, umbrella or jacket. It’s also important that if you’re going to be bringing your laptop to school, that you choose a bag that has a dedicated space for it so it survives more than a semester. Last but not least, choose one with padded straps so you protect your back! It’s better to “go geek” than be in pain!