5 Best Carry On Backpacks & Laptop Bags For Travel
Those of us who work remotely while travelling tend to be away from “home” for long periods of time, which means that everything that we need to work and live is with us on a daily basis. While many digital nomads tend to travel very lightly, sometimes with only a carry on, others, like myself, tend to have one bigger backpack with clothes, etc., that is checked when travelling and one carry-on for a laptop, cables, chargers and everything else.
I just never feel comfortable checking my laptop and other more breakable things, not to mention that my laptop is the source of my livelihood, so it has to come with me at all times. If you’re looking for the best backpack for digital nomads, look no further.
I’ve done the research when looking for my own small backpack that can fit a laptop. These are perfect for fitting in the overhead compartment or under the seat on a plane and can fit all the essentials, while being small enough to just grab and go when you’re heading to that coworking space.
If you’re looking for an affordable laptop bag option that has a lot of versatility, this one has tonnes of positive reviews and a lot of great features. There are two size options, one that holds up a 15.6-inch laptop and another that can hold up to a 17 inch.
It has a cool external USB charging port so you can charge on the go (you gotta hook it up inside to a portable battery) and a nice key ring on the inside pocket so you can keep your keys secure.
I love all the storage pockets this bag has, especially that the laptop pocket is seperate from the rest of the bag, and there are also both mesh inner and outer pockets for storing all your accessories and cables. The luggage strap is super handy if you also have a small checked suitcase or another checked bag and the fact that it is water-resistant is a huge bonus too.
It has a hidden anti-theft pocket, which I don’t really make much use of in my bags because I tend to forget when I put stuff in there, but it’s a nice feature nonetheless. I also love that it comes in a lot of colour options, so there’s something to match everyone’s style, and it would also make a good gift for someone you know who is about to travel.
Fits on a suitcase
Two size options
Lots of pockets
Durable with metal zippers
External USB charging port
Not a lot of cushioning on the bottom
Small number of people complained of durability issues
If this bag looks interesting to you, you can find out more about it here.
Almost everyone knows Herschel as a brand and there’s a reason why they’re so popular. They are a reliable brand name and their stuff lasts forever. This is a good option for those who travel super-light or are only going away for a few days.
While not the largest laptop bag you can buy, with a 25 litre capacity, the bag is 19.25 inches high and 11.25 inches wide, so there’s enough space for your laptop and a few other things, like a couple of clean shirts, etc.
This option only fits Macbooks up to 15 inches though, so do note this if your laptop is bigger or not a Macbook/slim profile laptop.
The backpack is said to be quite comfortable and there the shoulder straps are padded and contoured, with a back padding that is mesh to aid breathability. The front pocket has a key clip and the design is fairly minimalist but the laptop sleeve inside is nicely padded with fleece and the overall lining is stylish and durable.
Overall, you’re paying for the quality and durability behind the brand name here, and the limited lifetime warranty ensures that if it has any issues down the road, that the company will help you out.
Reliable brand name
Fleece-lined, padded laptop pocket
External headphone jack
Multiple colour options
Limited lifetime warranty
Some complaints about durability
Top loading style not convenient for everyone
Pricier than other options
Is it time to finally get a Herschel bag? You can check out this one and their many other styles here.
For those that just need a small, no-nonsense, thin profile laptop bag, this might be a good choice. While it’s not big enough to store a bunch of stuff, it’s good enough for a laptop up to 15.6 inches, or a tablet or iPad, and a few other accessories.
There is also a larger option available that fits up to a 17.3-inch laptop, as well.
While you’re not going to fit a bunch of clothes in here or anything, the sleek, slim design will suit those who are looking for a more minimalist laptop bag that still has a few nice features.
It has the USB charging port for charging on the go and a nice luggage strap on the back, so you can fit it onto a small roller suitcase.
One nice feature of this bag is that it has a combination zipper lock to keep your items secure. While this won’t help you if your whole bag gets stolen, it’s a nice option for if you fall asleep on a bus or train (with your bag secured) and worry about people going through your stuff.
On the other hand, this means that you won’t be able to get into your bag in a flash if you need to grab something quickly, so this is sort of a “you either like it or you don’t” type of option.
The bag comes in quite a few nice colour choices and there’s even space for a small water bottle on the side. All in all, if you’re looking for something cheap and cheerful and not very big, this is a good option for those on a budget.
Slim, minimalist design
USB charging port
Combination zipper lock
Might be too small for some
Laptop sleeve padding a bit thin
Looking for a nice, minimalist laptop bag? See if this one is right for you, here.
Looking for a laptop bag that is more stylish than sporty/functional? This Kroser bag might be the one for you. If you’re looking for a bag that can convert easily from your co-working space to a night out with friends, this one ticks all the boxes.
While you’re not going to be putting clothes and a bunch of other stuff in it, it’s big enough for a laptop 15.6 inches in size or less and it does have some things that distinguish it as a laptop bag and not just a “purse.”
For example, it does have a few extra pockets, both on the side and the front for accessories or a water bottle and it also has the built-in USB port (battery not included, obvs). It has a wide top opening so it’s easy to get stuff in and out and two top handles so you can carry it that way, as well.
Another nice option is that it comes in some cute floral designs if you’re looking for something a bit more interesting than just “black,” and the gold zippers are a bit more stylish/flashy than your average laptop bag, making its overall look a bit more classy and dressed up.
Nice colour options
Functional but not ugly
Not big enough to store a lot of items
May not fit laptop if overstuffed
Looking for a stylish laptop bag that doesn't look like a laptop bag? Check out all the colour and style options of this brand, here.
Small backpacks just not cutting it for you when it comes to searching for the best carry-on and you need something more?
This backpack might not be the most stylish option on my list, but it’s the largest, and despite this, it’s still perfect for use as a carry-on.
What I love about this backpack, in particular, is that the laptop pocket is in the front of the bag, not at the rear by your back, and its pocket unzips at 180 degrees, so you can get your laptop in and out of your bag easily when you have to go through airport security without pulling everything out of your bag.
This is easily the most time-consuming thing for me when I’m going through security and once I get my laptop out it usually seems like nothing fits back in and I have to repack the whole thing. I LOVE this laptop pocket and I hope more bags follow suit in the future when it comes to its design.
Besides this, though, the bag has tonnes of other travel-friendly options when it comes to storage.
It has lots of pockets designed for other devices and small things, both external and internal, a headphone hole and USB port, waterproof zippers and is made with a water-resistant material.
It also has a durable rubber handle at the top, making it easier to pull out of the overhead compartment, a luggage strap so it can fit on your roller suitcase, it comes in a few different colour options, but really, I think it’s the front laptop pocket that sells this bag for me.
Laptop sleeve is at the front, not back, making for easily laptop removal
Lots of pockets
Some people complain of durability issues
May not be that waterproof in heavy rain
Looking for a larger laptop bag that will get you through airport security quickly? Check this option out here.
The Best Laptop Bags for Travel - Take Your Pick
The best laptop bag for you is going to depend on your needs. These are just five of the thousands of options out there, but they have tonnes of positive reviews and they are the ones that caught my eye for their features and style.
Whether you are a long-term location independent nomad or just going for a weekend away, one of these backpacks should do the trick for you. Make sure to read all the reviews, both positive and negative, before making your decision.
If you have any questions or comments, I'd love to hear from you and feel free to share this article with your friends. Thanks for reading!
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