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Gone are the days when bringing your laptop meant wrapping it up in a tee-shirt or sweater to keep it safe.
Many bags now come with a padded laptop compartment.
These are often equipped with an external zipper too, so you don’t have to disturb the other contents of your bag when you pull out the laptop for security checks – or that bit of streaming while waiting for boarding.
Browse our top picks, or read the full buying guide.
If you are able to travel light, then using only a carry-on sized bag will save you time and hassle in airports, and will make the transition from home to hotel, and back, much easier. This is the cheaper option too, as many tickets now charge extra for checked baggage.
Backpacks are great for more casual needs, or for situations in which you will need to do a lot of walking over rough terrain – like cobblestones or gravel paths. The packs you’ll see here have TSA-friendly laptop compartments and won’t slow you down during security checks.
When buying carry-on bags, make sure you know the dimensions of your laptop before you make a purchase. You don’t want to get it home just to find out that your laptop is a bit too long, or wide, or thick to fit into the compartment. Keep in mind you cables and accessories too, as these can take up significant space in a small bag.
Most bags featured here suit 15” laptops, and some work great for 17” too. It is fine to have a compartment that is larger than needed, as the laptop might shift slightly within it, but not enough to damage it in any way. So, if you have a 15.5” MacBook, go for a compartment suitable for a 17” – don’t try to stuff it into a 15” sleeve.
If you want great durability and lasting good looks for your luggage, it’s important to choose the right materials. The right materials, however, depends on the type of bag.
Polycarbonate is the best choice for suitcases, as it is lightweight, but durable. It bends a little on impact, while still protecting what’s inside. It will keep items dry and protect them from all but the most violent of impacts.
Nylon is usually the best for softshell bags, as it is strong and repels water well – but this waterproofing aspect all depends on having the right coating. If the bag is too cheap, this might be where they cut corners. If you’re not sure, and want to avoid worrying about it, put your laptop in a plastic bag or use a waterproof cover for backpacks, just as added protection.
Carry-on luggage is luggage that you are allowed to carry onto the plane yourself, and keep in the cabin with you. Checked baggage is that which you hand over to the airline to stow in the baggage compartments un the lower level of the plane.
When looking at measurements for carry-on bags, keep in mind that measurements may not include things like wheels and handles. This makes the measurements seem smaller than they actually are and, if you’re too close to the line, your bag might not pass the criteria for carry-on bags. In that case, they may check it for you, whether you want them to or not. It’s best to know the airline’s limit, and then measure the bag for yourself.
Here we go over our top picks for carry-on bags with a laptop compartment by style and size:
Winner: CITY Leather Laptop Bag
Winner: Essential Modern Briefcase
Winner: CITY Large Laptop Briefcase
The CITY large is available in black, brown, or tan leather.
Winner: Elegance Tote Bag
Winner: 10X Leather Laptop Backpack
Winner: Weekender Leather Travel Bag
Winner: Grand Leather Garment Bag
In most cases, an airline will allow a carry-on bag, plus one personal item. Personal items can include a laptop, briefcase, purse, or similar. If the plane is crowded, airlines will be stricter with what they will allow; if there is lots of room, they will let some items pass for personal items that they would otherwise deny.
You can usually carry an 18" x 14" x 8" personal item. These dimensions include all wheels and handles, etc. The idea is that it must fit under the seat. They list personal items as including handbags, purses, pocketbooks, backpacks, briefcases, laptops (with or without a bag).
It is always better to take your laptop into the cabin as a personal item, or in your carry-on bag. Checked baggage is often thrown around, knocked against other items, and is sometimes in danger of having items stolen from it. Stowing it in a laptop backpack is a great way to keep track of it and to keep it safe.
Don’t check your charger; keep it in a side pocket of your carry-on bag or backpack, so you can get to it quickly and easily if need be. Additional power, such as a backup laptop battery cell, might also be a good idea – especially on long flights. Even for layovers, you might not have access to an unused plug, so backup power might make the difference between streaming the latest program, or watching someone else read a magazine.
We hope you enjoyed our article on the best carry-on bags with laptop compartments.
If you have any questions, leave them in the comments, or email Von Baer at firstname.lastname@example.org.