1. What Kind of Bag Do You Want?
Laptop bags are simply bags that have a separate compartment for the laptop. These compartments are padded for shock resistance and the bags themselves are typically water-resistant or waterproof. That’s pretty much were the similarities end. Beyond that, there are a variety of bag types and features to choose from. This article is meant to serve as a quick guide to those looking for a laptop bag for their gear.
The first thing to consider is what kind of bag do you want. The common briefcase-type bag which usually comes both a grab handle and a shoulder strap still make the bestseller lists, but one of the most popular kind is the laptop backpack. There are also luggage-style roller bags with a separate section for laptops. If you want to keep both hands free, laptop bags are the obvious choice. The briefcase-type bags have an advantage because they’re not as bulky as the other types, while roller type overnighters with separate laptop storage are a boon for travellers who don’t want to bring a separate bag for their computers while on the go.
2. How Much Storage Do you Need?
Storage for these bags come down to three choices: overnighter, medium storage, and gear only. The most spacious laptop bags are good for short trips or overnight trips. These are luggage replacements; several changes of clothing plus your computer and accessories and that’s it. Medium storage amounts to a jacket or a couple of thick text books. Gear only is, well, just your laptop plus accessories (headphone, mouse, usb, external hard drive, supplies, and, sometimes, a document storage area).
Bags are made to different sizes of laptop. When looking at the size specification be sure to check if they are talking about PC laptops or Macs. Even if you choose a bag for your size laptop, if you use those laptop sleeves, there is a chance that your computer won’t fit in the bag, be careful of this situation. Also check the padding of the laptop compartment, you want the bottom to be particularly protected.
Beyond the laptop compartment and the storage space these bags typically have a separate accessories compartment for phones, laptop gear, office gear and the like. I find these the most creative part of the bag. There is a good chance that you will find something to match what accessories you have. For example some bags have a felt lines scratchproof storage for devices with small screens like PSPs or smartphones.
Top line bags are made of leather but a good alternative is ballistic nylon. Ballistic nylon comes in two weights: 1680 and 1050, with the lower number being the heavier material. To balance weight with toughness you’ll most likely come across the 1680 denier weight material. Ballistic Nylon was originally developed for World War II airmen. The material is tear resistant and was intended to protect against shrapnel during dog fights.
Perfectly acceptable is polyester nylon, nice and tough but it doesn’t look quite as good as ballistic nylon.
You would want to consider a bag with slightly tougher materials on the bottom. Some bags have leather bottoms or line it with waterproof material. Some manufacturers even use PVA, a plastic-based material that wraps the bottom part of the bag like a shield.
4. Fit and Finish
Check the stitching on your bag. You want straight stitching, cleanly executed. If you’re going to rough it, you want double stitching. Grab handles should be solid. For backpacks the straps must be secured strongly to the bag body.
For extra security, some manufactures offer a limited warranty for both fit and finish and materials.
Laptop backpacks are notorious for the giving wearers sweaty backs. Today’s offerings have aeriated mesh at the back area as well as aeriated shoulder straps. If you’re looking to haul a lot with your pack remember that wide straps distribute the weight more evenly on your shoulders.
For hand carried briefcase-style cases you should buy ones that come with shoulder straps.
Oh yes, pick the bag up empty and feel its weight. Bag weight varies a lot. Remember that you’re going to fill up these laptop bags so the weight when the bag is empty is something to consider.
Happy shopping! And may you find the perfect bag for your lifestyle!