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14 Best Laptop Backpacks (2023): Weather-Proof, Sustainable, Stylish

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The Best, but ExpensiveTom Bihn Synik 22

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Best Budget BagHerschel Heritage Backpack

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A Pricey All-Leather OptionHarber London City Backpack

Read moreThe number of backpacks out there is endless, and they range in price from under $50 to several hundred dollars, but finding a life-changing bag isn’t easy. Whether you’re commuting to an office or school, working from coffee shops, or going on a weekend trip, a good backpack will carry your stuff and keep it organized. It’s also easier on your neck and shoulders than an overstuffed purse, duffle, or briefcase.

Whatever your needs, we have a fit and functional backpack for you. We inspect backpacks for a suspended, padded laptop sleeve; durable fabrics and water-resistant zippers; and versatile storage options. Don’t see anything you like here? Check out our other guides, including the Best Recycled Bags, Best Laptop Totes and Purses, Best Messenger Bags, Best Camera Bags, and the Best Travel Bags.

Updated May 2023: We added two all-leather options from Harber London and Cuyana. We’ve also added the Targus Zero Waste to the honorable mentions.

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Photograph: Tom Bihn

The Best, but ExpensiveTom Bihn Synik 22

When I (Adrienne) travel for work, I typically carry a Tom Bihn bag, and the clamshell Synik 22 is my favorite. It has a lot of pockets, and they’re all thoughtfully designed. For example, the zippered water bottle pocket is located in the middle of the backpack instead of on the side, so it won’t tip you off balance. The pen pockets are located in flaps on the side rather than in the middle top, for convenient access. The exterior is made from Bluesign-certified 400-denier ballistic nylon with top-of-the-line YKK water-repellent zippers. Each bag has a lifetime guarantee.

Because the bag is so small, the pass-through on the back is only 7 inches wide—too narrow to slip over the handle of a carry-on. And the dense fabric and plentiful hardware—the zippers, O-rings, and buckles—make it a little heavy. But in the 22-liter size, I didn’t notice the extra weight. It’s the perfect, organized conference companion, but it’s on the highest end of what we think is worth spending on a bag.

★ A roll-top Tom Bihn: The Tom Bihn Addax for $294 has become one of my go-tos. Roll-top bags are more versatile than zippered ones. Don’t have enough room? Unroll it and stick your bike helmet in. Too much? Roll it down to compress the space. And if you live in a rainy area, roll-tops keep water from seeping through the top zippers.

Like all Tom Bihn bags, the pockets are metaphysical perfection, with a huge laptop pocket with two-way access that also has a tablet pocket for my Kindle, and front pockets with O-rings to hook keys and other sundries. It has a huge luggage pass-through and hefty padded shoulder straps. It’s also hand-sewn in the US from PFC-free material and has a lifetime warranty that’s as bombproof as the ballistic nylon fabric. It’s a good thing, because at this price, you only want to buy it once.

Photograph: Rains

Most StylishRains Backpack Mini

I (Medea) am a working, grown adult, not a high schooler headed to algebra or a hiker traversing the Alps. When I leave my work-from-home bubble to venture outside, my bag should look like a perfectly curated accessory to my outfit, not a ragged relic or a rugged pack. The 8.5-liter Rains Backpack Mini helps me maintain my sense of style without stripping away function. It holds my 13-inch MacBook and the accessories I need for work. I’ve even packed this little bag with an extra outfit and toiletries (in addition to my laptop) for a night away. Plus, it looks so pretty.

You can upgrade to the 13-liter version for $110, but both sizes have the same-size laptop sleeve. They’re waterproof and come in fun colors (I bought it in lavender a few years back), and the Mini has held up well over the past few years. There’s a small phone zip pocket on the back panel, but when I’m commuting I like to keep my wallet there so I know no one can grab it. Look at Rains’ other backpacks if you like its understated, Scandinavian style.

Photograph: Herschel

Best Budget BagHerschel Heritage Backpack

The Tom Bihn is priced out of many budgets, but you don’t have to settle for a crappy bag if you want to save money. Despite being more affordable than most of the bags on this list, this Herschel looks just as nice and is just as capable. I (Medea) used the Heritage as my school bag and filled it with a day’s worth of textbooks and a laptop in its dedicated 15-inch sleeve. I’ve also used it as an overnight bag stuffed with clothes and a pair of shoes, and as a carry-on with essentials should my luggage get lost. It has since followed me into my work life too. It’s made from 600-denier polyester with a faux leather bottom and handle. 

After years of heavy use, it has only recently started to show signs of wear, especially on the top handle. The bag itself hasn’t ripped, and the straps are holding strong. The downside? There’s no water bottle pocket. If the Heritage isn’t what you’re looking for, take a look at the rest of Herschel’s backpacks.

Photograph: Harber London

A Pricey All-Leather OptionHarber London City Backpack

If you’re prepared to spend almost $600, this leather bag is sophisticated and doesn’t compromise on function. WIRED reviews editor Julian Chokkattu made it through CES 2023 with this on his back. He stowed a 13-inch MacBook Air (it can fit up to 16-inch laptops), an iPad in the second laptop sleeve, chargers, cables, his camera, and a separate flash. There’s decent organization in there with a spare zippered pouch and padding at the base to protect your goods.

The front pocket can store a few other slim items, and he likes the tiny pocket near the handles for keys or sunglasses. But the side pockets are too tight to fit a water bottle.

★ A casual alternative: We love Cuyana’s leather tote, and its backpack for $478 is just as beautiful. The laptop sleeve fit my 13-inch MacBook, and a second pocket fits a tablet or Kindle. Two front magnetic-close pockets held my Owala. You get less protection than with the Harber London bag, though, since it doesn’t zip close—instead there is a clip and magnet.