best laptop bags feature

With the college and university year beginning to ramp up, students will be looking at the their laptops and trying to figure out the best way to carry them around.

A laptop is a sizeable investment, so you want something that will protect it from banging around. At the same time, you want to avoid unnecessary bulk, but it wouldn’t be a bad idea to have some room for a textbook or two. Style would be nice too. Here’s a list of some key features to look for in your back-to-school laptop bag, along with a few suggestions for notable models you might want to check out.

Thule GauntletProtection From Physical Damage: Thule Gauntlet

If there’s a job one for a laptop bag—besides making it easier to carry the laptop—it’s protecting the laptop. That’s easier said than done when you have to ride a bus or bike to school, then navigate bustling hallways and pushing crowds. All the while it could be raining or even snowing (this is Canada). Laptops are fragile. One bang could crack a display and water leaking in from a downpour could short out the logic board. All very expensive repairs, so it’s in your best interest to make sure nothing like that happens.

When it comes to providing rock-solid protection, it’s tough to beat the Thule Gauntlet Attache Case, which is offered in models made for specific laptops including the 13-inch MacBook Pro. The exterior is compression-moulded EVA plastic, an extremely tough and durable material that also provides protection from the elements. Inside, your laptop is cradled in protective padding and held in place by elastic straps.

One unique feature with this case is its clamshell form factor that lets you use your laptop without having to remove it from the case.

Fossil laptop bagCarrying in Style: Fossil Graham Leather Messenger Bag

Protecting your laptop doesn’t mean you have to look like you’re equipped to go on an expedition. It also doesn’t have to mean slinging a generic-looking black nylon bag over your shoulder.

Some of the biggest names in fashion, design and luxury goods offer laptop bags. So you can protect your tech investment (and all the assignments you have stored on it) while making a statement.

The Fossil Graham Leather Messenger Bag is a great example of carrying a laptop in style. It’s made of beautifully soft leather that will only get better looking as it wears. Inside is a padded pocket for your laptop. The brown leather is complemented by metal hardware, including magnetic closures. I use a very similar leather messenger bag. I’ve had it for 20 years, it looks better than ever and presents a nice combination of style and professionalism for meetings.

One tip on bags like these. If you find the padding isn’t quite as much as you’d like to see for your laptop, I slip mine into a padded, waterproof sleeve before putting it in the messenger bag for added peace of mind.

Space for all the Extras: Golla Road Laptop City Bag

If you’re going to be carrying a bag for your laptop, why not pick one that will fit your other stuff as well? I mean, what’s the point of carrying multiple bags if you can avoid it?

One example of a laptop bag that’s also designed to offer multipurpose carrying capability is the Golla Road 15-inch Laptop City Bag.

Golla Road Messenger bag

Inside is a generous laptop compartment that can hold machines up to 15-inches. There is a second compartments designed to accommodate and protect a tablet up to 10.1-inches. In addition, there’s a front zip pocket, another zip pocket under the flap and two additional organizing pockets. You should have plenty of room for your laptop, tablet, a book or two, pens, a notepad, your smartphone and whatever else you want to carry around with you.

And if you travel and want to take your laptop with you, the Golla Road bag is even equipped with a luggage trolley loop, so you can easily attach it to your rolling suitcase.

Thule crossoverEasy Carrying: Thule Crossover

If you have to do a lot of walking between classes, or from your apartment to the bus stop, you’ll want a laptop bag that minimizes the strain of carrying everything. When it comes to comfort, nothing beats the backpack form factor—that’s why hikers wear backpacks and not messenger bags …

The Thule Crossover is a backpack with room for a 15-inch laptop in a padded compartment.It also features a crush-proof compartment where you can stash fragile gear like sunglasses. The bag itself is lightweight, water-resistant (another plus) and has comfortably, padded shoulder straps.

Jansport messenger bagAffordable: JanSport Digital Network Messenger Bag

The laptop bags spiked out so far have all been very nice and some have been on the expensive side.

However, there are also plenty of choice when it comes to affordable high quality protective laptop bags. The JanSport Digital 15-inch Network Messenger Bag proves that you can get a lot without paying a lot. It has all the basics covered including protection for a 15-inch laptop, a padded shoulder strap and handle for comfort, lots of compartments for organizing your gear and even a special access pocket for a power brick.

Future-Proof: Ashlin 15-inch Leather Messenger Bag

Earlier I mentioned a leather messenger bag I’ve had and used regularly for 20 years.

That’s a perfect example of future-proofing. The idea is to invest in a laptop bag that’s durable, with a classic look so you’ll be able to use if for years. Even if you have an ultracompact laptop like an 11-inch MacBook Air now, buy something that will accommodate a full-sized laptop—you don’t know what computer you’ll have next and you can always use a sleeve to keep a smaller laptop secure in the meantime.

 

Laptop bags like the Ashlin 15-inch Leather Messenger Bag are an excellent choice. This one is made from high quality leather that will age well, it’s a classic design that looks stylish and professional and it has plenty of room.

Ashlin leather messenger bag

Good luck with the new school year and remember, choosing the right laptop bag will make your trips to and from class a lot more pleasant.

 

Brad Moon
Editor Computing solutions
I’m a long-time electronics and gadget geek who’s been fortunate enough to enjoy a career that lets me indulge this interest. After 13 years as a product manager with a leading Canadian tech company, I transitioned into a full-time career of writing about technology. I’ve contributed to a range of publications and websites including Forbes, Wired, Gizmodo, Lifehacker, About.com, MSN Money, the Winnipeg Free Press, InvestorPlace Media, Shaw Media and—combining technology and my three kids—I’ve been a Core Contributor to the award winning GeekDad blog since its launch in 2007.