It feels like the summer holidays have just begun, but we're now comfortably into the final few weeks, which means it's time to shop for a new bag for your everyday carry. Even if you're not in school or university, chances are, you'll need a bag for something. Whether you like to carry your iPad or laptop on a commute, or you're a digital nomad who needs to carry as much as possible in a single backpack, there's something on this list for you.
We've rounded up some of the best backpacks and messenger bags designed to carry your laptop, camera and/or tablet as well as any other devices, stationery, or even clothes, you might want to have with you on a journey.
Peak Design Everyday Backpack
- Measurements: 46 x 30 x 17cm or 51 x 33 x 20cm
- Capacity: 20 litre or 30 litre
- Weight: 1.35kg or 1.542kg
- Max Laptop size: 15-inch screen/40 x 27 x 4cm
- Price: From £229/$259
Peak Design's approach to bags is a little different to everyone else's. The company designs bags to be easy to get into, easy to expand and that make it easier to organise all your different devices. Whether you carry a camera, Mavic Pro drone or just a laptop, you can choose an Everyday bag to work for you.
There are several styles of Everyday bag, each fantastic. There's the small Sling which hold a 13-inch laptop and a compact systems camera, or the Messenger which can fit virtually anything in it.
Our choice is the Everyday Backpack, which comes in 20 or 30 litre capacities, and can fit more than you'd expect inside it. The so-called FlexFold dividers help to separate your camera or drone, keeping them organised and protected. What's more, there are built-in side panel pockets to protect batteries, cards, hard drives and battery packs as well as your usual laptop and tablet/document sleeves. The big pockets on the outside are big enough to fit tripods or water bottles into.
All this is protected from the outside by a 500D weatherproof Kodra shell and high-density padding, with the metal fixtures built from a strong anodised aluminium.
In short, whether you're a photographer, student or office worker, this backpack can work for your individual needs and it will last through the rainy season.
- Measurements: 49.5 x 31.5 x 17.5 cm
- Capacity: 18 litre
- Weight: 1.12kg
- Max Laptop size: 15.6-inch screen/29 x 37cm
- Price: £219/$269
Lifepack is one of the biggest successes of the Kickstarter era, at least when it comes to backpacks. It set tech fans drooling globally thanks to its array of features. As well as having tons of pockets and compartments for various pieces of tech, it has a built in solar-powered back-up battery to keep your phone or table charged on the go. This battery also doubles as a Bluetooth speaker and can charge your iPhone up to six times when it's full.
It has a layer of security not often found on bags too. The front has an anti-cut plastic layer that stops would-be thieves from cutting into the bag, as well as a 3-digit retractable lock to secure it to a table or other stationary object. It makes it almost impossible to get into or take. It also stores a rain cover in the base pocket, which you just whip out once it starts to drizzle.
On a practical note; it fits laptops up to 15.6-inches (maximum 29cm x 37cm), and weights just a fraction over 1kg on its own. Its base is built to be drop-proof, and there are a number of lockable compartments. It is, essentially, the Swiss Army knife of backpacks.
- Measurements: 62 x 33 x 15.5 cm
- Capacity: 27.5 litre
- Weight: 1kg
- Max Laptop size: 15-inch screen/27 x 29cm
- Price: £89/$99
The Cromwell is slightly different to most tech backpacks in that it has a roll-top rather than zip. That means it can be completely sealed against the weather and is less susceptible to pickpockets as they cannot easily slip their hands inside.
It's available in grey or blue and made from polyurethane-backed welded nylon in order to offer as much water resistance as possible. The rear is cushioned for comfort when worn and the straps are equally padded. At just 1kg, it's particularly light for the capacity. And at around £90, it shouldn't break the bank either.
You can fit up to a 15-inch laptop in its padded interior section, and there is an additional waterproof pocket on the front for additional, smaller items you need to grab more quickly.
Knomo offers a proprietary system, Knomo ID, that enables users to register their bags in case they go missing. If someone finds it, the owner can be easily traced through the registration system.
- Measurements: 48 x 23.5 x 15cm
- Capacity: not given
- Weight: 1.25kg
- Max Laptop size: 15-inch screen (measurements not given)
- Price: £199/$229
There's a lot to love about the Moshi Arcus. Mostly, though, you should love it because it's big and spacious. The front compartment is essentially a big empty bucket of a compartment. You could, potentially, use this to keep your clothes in if you're going on a short haul weekend trip. Or, you can make use of Moshi's optional £50 camera insert, to keep your DSLR and lens safely stowed away. Once inserted, this can then be accessed through a special zipper opening on the side of the bag.
One thing you can be sure of is that you won't need to use the front bucket for your laptop. This can be kept safely in the rear compartment, which also has enough sections, pockets and sleeves to keep your iPad, phone, notebook, pens and other bits and pieces too. Add this to the five other hidden pockets, and the crush-proof top contour you have one of the most versatile backpacks around. Did we mention it also has a side pocket that's big enough and strong enough to carry a tripod, water bottle or umbrella too?
It's weather resistant and can fit laptops up to 15-inches, has padded shoulder straps as well as a detachable sternum strap. It's a pretty big backpack though, measuring 50 x 17 x 30 cm, or 19.7 x 6.7 x 11.8 inches.
- Measurements: 45.5 x 31.5 x 16.5 cm
- Capacity: 18 litre
- Weight: 0.98kg
- Max Laptop size: 15-inch screen/25.5 x 37.5 x 3cm
- Price: £84/$129
If you're after something a little smaller, trendier and attractive, the STM Banks is another great option. It's big enough to fit a 15-inch laptop and has two main compartments, and a smaller front one. One feature we love is that there's a purpose-made, metal enforced hole in between each of the three sections, letting you feed cables in between them. Let's say your backup battery pack is in the front pouch, but your iPad is in the back section, you can just feed your Lightning cable from the front to the back, and charge your iPad.
As with any good tech bag, there are plenty of pockets and hidden compartments. The front contains two pockets, and a zipped up hidden section where you can attach your keys to a clip, and place your wallet, making them hard to get to. The rear section for your laptop also has two big pockets for your tablet and/or notebook, while the large middle section can be used for everything else you want to throw in. It even ships with a separate pouch for your cables, earphones and other peripherals. You get side pockets for water bottles too.
It's available in botanical green, china blue, desert brown and tornado grey, all of which are attractive in their own right.
Herschel Pop Quiz
- Measurements: 44.5 x 29.9 x 15.2cm
- Capacity: 22 litre
- Weight: 0.87kg
- Max Laptop size: 15-inch screen/37 x 27.5 x 3cm
- Price: From £75/$99
If the overly tech-focussed approach to bags is too much for you, and you just want something well made and trendy that will still carry your laptop and other devices, Pop Quiz is ideal. Herschel is a brand synonymous with fashionable, durable bags, and this one is a prime example. It's available in no less than 34 different colour/design options, from plain to patterned and everything in between.
The laptop sleeve inside is padded, felt-lined and will fit up to 15-inch laptops, while the front pocket has its own internal organizers and a key clip. There's even an internal media pocket with a headphone port, and a fleece-lined sunglasses compartment. The zipper is also waterproof. As a bonus, it also happens to be one of the lightest bags on our list, and has an impressive 22 litre capacity.
Booq Pack Pro
- Measurements: 45.7 x 35.6 x 22.9 cm
- Capacity: 20 litre
- Weight: 1.8kg
- Max laptop size: 16.4-inch screen/39.4 x 26.9 x 3.8cm
- Price: £260
When it comes to padding and build, few manufacturers match Booq's quality. The latest backpack, named the Pack Pro, can fit laptops up to 16.4-inches inside the generously padded laptop compartment. This itself is protected by a water-resistant zipper, and the whole bag made from a durable ballistic nylon, then covered in a waterproof coating.
While it's not the lightest bag on the list, the Pack Pro is supremely comfortable to carry around thanks to the very well padded shoulder straps and chunky, breathable back padding.
As well as the laptop compartment, there's a hidden soft-lined sleeve to keep your iPad hidden away, and a large compartment at the front protected by the semi-rigid outer cover. Inside this main compartment are three large, waterproof pockets for various accessories as well as sleeves and sections for other peripherals. Perhaps more important is that it opens wide, making it easy to get to everything inside.
In total there are eight different pockets and compartments as well as the two expanding side pockets for carrying water bottles. It's intelligently designed, durable, and - if it's anything like the Booq Boa we've used up to now - it'll last a very long time.
Booq Boa Nerve
- Measurements: 50 x 36.1 x 13cm
- Capacity: 25 litre
- Weight: 2.2kg
- Max Laptop size: 15.6-inch screen
- Price: £140
Messenger bags are a favourite among many, thanks to their naturally wide opening. The only issue, often, can be that they're hard to carry comfortably when walking or cycling. The Boa Nerve doesn't have that issue, and can be adjusted to snugly fit around your chest thanks to the clever magnetic strap adjusment and the addition of the secondary strap.
It's big, spacious and will fit your laptop (up to 15.6-inches) and has plenty of compartments, including the side pocket designed specifically to fit a U-lock bike lock. For frequent flyers, there's a trolley passthrough on the back, making it easy to cart around at airports. What's more, it's made from ballistic nylon and finished with a water repellent coating.
Waterfield Designs Bolt Crossbody
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- Measurements (Large): 36 x 30.5 x 5.7cm
- Capacity: 22 litre
- Weight: 0.839kg
- Max Laptop size: 15-inch screen/35.6 x 25.4cm
- Price (Large): $219
San Francisco-based Waterfield Designs prides itself on authentic, traditional materials. In other words, you can expected lots of waxed canvas or thick, tanned leather. Its latest creation, the Bolt Crossbody, has enough pockets and sleeves to keep your laptop and gadgets safe, without taking up a lot of space. It's a small shoulder bag, rather than a full-sized messenger bag.
The large model can fit 15-inch laptops, up to 14 x 10 inches in size, and comes in a few different colour and material options. There's the classic waxed canvas with leather trim, as well as a number of ballistic nylon finishes with leather trim. Its main compartment has a weather-proof zipper, and the front pocket has a hidden sleeve in its lining to protect your smartphone from scratching.
Like most of the company's products, it's made by hand in small batches in San Francisco.
- Measurements: 39 x 28 x 12cm
- Capacity: 21.5 litre
- Weight: 0.65kg
- Max Laptop size: 15-inch screen
- Price: From £70
EastPak has long been a maker of fine bags and suitcases, and its Tomec Opgrade is one of its most versatile shoulder bags. There are two generous size pockets in the front, and enough space in the main compartment to keep all of your daily carry items secure, with a padded sleeve big enough to store a large laptop, up to 28 x 39cm in size.
The Tomec is made from a combination of durable, but soft-touch fabric and leather, with a wide variety of styles, colours and materials available. It's incredibly light, compared to mose other bags, and is relatively affordable too. There's even an all-leather option for those who like that sort of thing (that one does cost £100 more though).
- Measurements: 30 x 41 x 9 cm
- Capacity: N/A
- Weight: 1.17kg
- Max Laptop size: 15-inch screen
- Price: £279/$299
If you're looking for a classy, large, leather messenger bag, the Knomo Kobe could meet your requirements. Made from soft leather in either black or brown, the bag is plenty big enough to fit a 15-inch laptop in a dedicated, padded section and a lot more besides.
There are pockets for just about everything, including one with RFID blocking to store your phone, passport or contactless payment cards. Criminals with contactless readers won't be able to scan them when inside. A second front pocket is a great size for headphones, for example.
A second compartment inside can look after a tablet or other electronic device, and a detachable key chain can be used to keep your house keys safe and secure. Like with the Cromwell above, you can also register your bag with a Knomo ID, which could help find it if lost. It also attaches to a suitcase handle, thanks to a rear, concealed strap.