Those summer holidays always have just one, big, aching problem — they come to an end before they've ever really begun, and it's back to school all over again. At least there's one saving grace: that new backpack excitement that never goes away, no matter how old you are. if you've got a laptop you need to cart around, you're going to need a bag with a large enough padded compartment to keep it safe, along with room for all your other school essentials. Any of the backpacks on this list will fit that requirement.
When looking for the best laptop bags for back to school, be sure to take into considering the size of your laptop, how many pockets or compartments you need, and how much space you need for books and other large items. This list showcases a variety of bags—find something for everyone here.
These are the best laptop bags for every student
The laptop compartment of this popular brand holds up to a 15-inch laptop. I've purchased several JanSport backpacks over the years; it's a great basic bag for school kids, teens, and adults. I love that they offer so many fun colors and patterns at reasonable prices.
The slim 17-liter canvas Bellroy Classic Backpack can hold any laptop up to 15 inches in its padded laptop compartment. As I said in my review, it's my daily driver for when I need to bring my 13-inch MacBook and not too much else. The padded straps make it very comfortable to wear. The main compartment holds plenty of personal items, plus it has a couple of small zippered compartments for smaller things.
Converts to tote
The fashionable Solo Parker Hybrid Tote is a hybrid between a backpack and a tote bag. It has a fully padded compartment that holds up to a 15-inch MacBook Pro, plus lots of interior compartments and feet on the bottom for extra protection. After I reviewed this bag, I gave it to my oldest for graduate school, since they wanted something more professional-looking for doing their clinical work.
This is the backpack I use most often. As I mentioned in my Incase Commuter Backpack with BIONIC® review, this bag is quite lightweight with comfortably padded straps. The laptop compartment holds up to a 16-inch MacBook Pro and there's a water bottle pocket on one side. The bag is made from recycled ocean-waste plastic, so you can feel good about your purchase.
This is a roomy backpack for people who need to carry a lot of stuff. With so many large pockets, including a laptop compartment that fits a 17-inch laptop, you'll be able to carry all of your necessities and then some. It's ergonomically designed to distribute the bag's weight for a more comfortable carry. This is important if your backpack tends to get heavy.
Carry any laptop up to 15 inches in this fully featured bargain bag. It has lots of pockets and an external USB port you can connect to your power bank (not included.) Choose from seven different colors and patterns.
High Sierra is another backpack brand I've bought for my own children on several occasions, and we've always been happy with them. This version has wheels, so you don't always have to carry your laptop and other essentials on your back.
Slim, functional bargain
With tons of features, this slim and highly functional backpack is sure to please. It comes with a combination lock, charging cable, and many compartments, including a padded laptop compartment that holds any laptop up to 17 inches. Choose from seven different colors and patterns.
For a professional, business, or graduate school student, this would be a fantastic laptop bag. It's crafted locally in San Fransisco from ballistic nylon or waxed canvas with full-grain leather accents. It's slim, and yet it will hold up to a 15-inch laptop in its padded compartment. This classy bag will take you from student to professional.
Quality and features
As noted in my review, the well-constructed Ogio Pace Backpack is comfortably padded for your comfort. The laptop and tablet compartments are both well-padded and situated away from the very bottom of the bag for extra protection. There are lots of pockets inside and out, including two water bottle holders. A luggage slide on the back means you can slip the back onto a carry-on suitcase handle when traveling.
Trendy and colorful
Don't ask me to pronounce it, but I see this brand sold in all the cool stores. It holds up to a 15-inch laptop in its dedicated compartment, plus it has a main compartment and three other pockets. A huge part of its appeal is the tons of gorgeous colors you can choose from.
This pretty bag is a cross between a backpack and a purse, and it comes in five colors. Smaller than a typical laptop bag, it can fit up to a 14-inch laptop and a few essentials.
This modern, functional back has a fun retro look. Its padded laptop compartment holds up to a 15-inch laptop. It has an external USB charging port and built-in charging cable, so you can charge your smartphone on the go.
For when you go hiking
This rucksack is waterproof, so your laptop will stay dry even in the wettest weather. There's leather straps to keep it closed to the elements, and a bunch of useful pockets inside. It also looks pleasingly outdoorsyk, with a kind of retro hiker aesthetic.
If you want a rucksack that looks like it's from the year 3040, then this is your go to. It's a hard shell design with built in anti-theft measures that will help keep your laptop safe, along with any other items you might pack into it.
What to look for in a good school bag
Size is the first thing you'll want to take into account. You've got the best MacBook for students, a padded compartment to protect it is a must. You'll need enough space for your books and other important items. Next, look at the compartments and how they match up to your specific needs. Does it have a padded laptop pocket large enough for your best Mac, like the new MacBook Air with M2? Does it have pockets to organize the accessories you carry with you? How about an exterior water bottle pocket?
You'll also want to take a look at the ergonomics. Save your back and choose a pack with well-padded straps designed to distribute the bag's weight evenly. Style is important too. You'll want to choose a backpack that appeals to your personal vibe and will go with your wardrobe, so it feels like a cool accessory and not just something you have to lug around. Finally, you'll want to take price and value into consideration. Are you looking for an investment piece to last you for the long haul, or do you prefer to get something a bit trendier and inexpensive just to get you through one or two school years?
Which one should you choose?
If you just need a simple laptop backpack for any student heading back to school, the JanSport Big Student Laptop Backpack is an easy pick. It covers all the basics with a padded laptop compartment large enough for a 15-inch laptop. There are plenty of color and pattern options, so even the choosiest student will find one to love. The quality is good, and the price is right.
However, if you're looking for something a bit more sophisticated and upscale, you can't beat the WaterField Sutter Slim Laptop Backpack. It will hold both your 15-inch Macbook Pro and your 12.9 iPad Pro with the Smart Keyboard Folio in two separate padded compartments, plus your other tech gear. This is an investment piece that will take you past your school years and into the professional world.