Search Wirecutter For: Search Reviews for the real world Browse Close. Browse Close. We hold our bags to the same high standards as everything else we review and buy, and while we’d like to pick a “best backpack,” it’s impossible to make one pick that fits most people’s style, budget, body type, and carrying needs. But we can highlight a few of our favorite bag models and brands, drawn from the hundreds that we’ve come across during our combined decades of bag reviewing and ownership. After testing hundreds of bags over the course of our careers, these are the ones we would personally recommend to our own friends and family. We’ve focused on bags that cost less than $250, because if you spend more than that you’re almost guaranteed to get something good. It’s more about what fits your personal style.
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- Good Value New Laptop Sleeve Case Bag Pouch Storage For Mac
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If we’re missing something, please let us know in the comments or via email, and we’ll check it out when we can. Although this article focuses on specific models, in many cases you should be able to apply the conclusions we make about one bag to other models from the same brand. Who it’s for: If you work in an office with a business-casual dress code, you need a bag that won’t make you look like you just came from a college class and that has room for everything you need for work as well as getting there (and back). The has a refined design that looks good no matter how much you put in it or what you wear it with, pockets to fit an entire home office, and ergonomic features to make it comfortable enough to wear for an extended period even when it’s totally full. Why it’s great: The manages to fit an almost absurd amount of organization and storage into a bag that maintains the clean lines of a more refined backpack. It will fit everything you need without looking bulbous or rumpled and still be comfortable to wear after a long day, and it won’t look like a holdover from your school days. It even looks and feels great when paired with a blazer, as we did for a day while lugging stuff to and from coffee shops.
It’s also stable, so when you put it on the ground, you know it won’t fall over. An example testing load we used for the Incase Icon. Photo: Tim Barribeau The Icon is as ergonomic as it is organized, too. A sternum strap, excellent back padding, and thoughtful adjustment points on the shoulder straps make the Icon comfortable to wear even when heavily loaded. The large number and array of pockets allow you to load a huge amount into it. I packed it with a 13-inch MacBook Air with power supply, an iPad, an iPhone 6, lightning cables, Apple’s larger USB wall wart, a camera, a notebook, pens, headphones, a wallet, sunglasses, moisturizer, keys, a, and a gadget organizer packed with an audio recorder, a portable USB battery, USB cables, memory sticks, and SD cards. Even with all of this there was room to spare.
The thoughtfully placed padding distributes the load well and means that even after a long day of lugging around a laptop, notebooks, books, and various accessories, the Icon will still be relatively comfortable to wear. A bag’s aesthetics are inherently a personal choice and depend a lot on your own style. But given how much it can hold, the Incase Icon looks clean, sharp, and well-formed. “Strangers stop me on the street and in the subway to ask about it because it looks sleek and isn’t bulky for what it can hold,” said Wirecutter staff writer Lesley Stockton, who has been using the Slim version for almost a year now. It doesn’t have an excess of dangling straps, and the limitation on external pockets means it won’t deform when you slide in one more thing. After more than two years of use, the Incase Icon has proven itself resilient to everyday wear and tear—it’s still in great shape, without any visual distressing. My only complaint is that it’s big enough that sometimes I’m hesitant to take it unless I really need all of the storage it provides.
InCase Icon pockets. Photo: InCase Pockets and organization: Organization is really the Icon’s strength. If you’re the sort of person who carries around a large number of individual items, the Icon is a dream bag. By our count it has 21 pockets and sections—enough for anyone who needs to take their office with them. Everything, from pens to keys to tablets to headphones to smartphones, has its place.
Stockton finds the hip-level triangular pouches particularly helpful for storing stuff she wants handy—such as a public-transit card or keys—when her outfit lacks pockets. The Icon has a dedicated laptop section that can hold a laptop as large as 15 inches. But the bag also has a second dedicated compartment, reached from the side of the bag, just for holding tablets. One of the hip pockets has a green interior for easily seeing what’s inside and has a headphone/cable pass-through. Add to that a faux-fur–lined pocket for your phone, in addition to pen holders, a key clip, and miscellaneous pockets of varying sizes and seal types, and you have individual locations for everything you own. You’ll know exactly where to go to grab your notebook, your headphones, or your power cable. Flaws but not dealbreakers: The Incase Icon’s strengths in design also lead to its biggest flaws—namely a fit that won’t work for everyone plus surprising bulk.
The Icon’s clean lines necessitate a fairly rigid outer structure. That means that the bag doesn’t get any smaller when it’s empty—and as you load it up with all your gear, you may be surprised at how heavy it is when you lift it. All that storage space means you’re lugging a lot of weight.
Since the Icon doesn’t have external side pockets, you have to stash your water bottle inside the bag. That keeps the bag’s lines nice and clean, but it puts its contents at risk. At least the Icon is stable enough that it probably won’t tip over. We also would’ve liked to see YKK zippers, but the ones they’ve used are very smooth. Even the best padding won’t make up for a bag that won’t sit on your body right.
The shoulder straps, while comfortable on my 6-foot-2 frame, are not for everyone. A 5-foot-2 tester found that they hit her neck uncomfortably high, hit her lower back awkwardly low, and were too wide. There’s not enough room for adjustment to substantially shift the fit.
Also consider: Timbuk2 The Division Pack. If you’re put off by the size and bulk of the Incase Icon, is slightly shorter and narrower, and significantly thinner—but has a great organizational system that lets you use the reduced space effectively for carting your gear to and fro. It has a dedicated section for a laptop (up to 15 inches), a large exterior pocket with key clip, and a main pocket with a tablet/laptop insert and smaller pockets (one of which zips shut) for pens, cables, a Clif bar, and the like. Unlike the Icon, the Division has a water bottle sheath, and side straps that you can tighten down if you need to squeeze your bag into a small space, as well as removable sternum straps where they’re fixed on the Icon. Both of these features also set it apart from the similarly slim, otherwise well-designed Incase City Compact. Both tall (6-foot-2) and short (5-foot-2) testers were able to use the Division for an entire day without it feeling awkward or uncomfortable.
So if the Icon seems a bit huge for you, either full or empty, the Division makes a sensible—and slightly more affordable—alternative. After more than a year of use, the small size of the Division is very useful for commuting, but a bit small for taking as a weekend bag or anything similar. Slightly frustratingly, the flap of fabric that covers and protects the zipper sometimes gets caught in the zip—though thankfully it’s generally fairly easy to unstick.
Unfortunately, the Division does lose the useful hip pockets that the Icon has, which are handy for stashing headphones or a bus pass. If that’s a must-have feature for you, the is still a nice bag that we like. It’s just not quite as fully featured as the Icon, and isn’t as sleek and slim as the Division. —Tim Barribeau, editor Also consider: Booq Cobra Squeeze. If you’re turned off by the Icon’s bulk and overall squareness, but still want something that’s refined enough for work and has pockets galore, consider the.
Unlike the Icon, the Cobra (and its more affordable sibling, the, which is made of different material) was designed as a curve as opposed to a rectangle. This shape trades off some capacity and the ability to stand upright for a reduction in visual bulk. It’s made of a water-resistant fabric and uses YKK zippers throughout. The overall package looks much sleeker compared with the Icon, but it’s neither the most economical design nor the best value.
Good Value New Laptop Sleeve Case Bag Pouch Storage For Macbook Pro
While not quite as pocket-heavy as the Icon, the Cobra still has more than enough for most people, and it includes nice touches such as an elastic strap in the corner of the laptop section to keep the laptop anchored, and a clip-in dongle for your key ring. The heavily padded and well-ventilated back is very comfortable, even when fully packed with the same load I put in the Icon. I wore the Cobra over the course of a warm and sunny day that included walking multiple 20-minute stretches. While the Cobra looked good paired with a casual blazer, its stiff straps partially pulled my blazer off my shoulders when I tried to take off the backpack. Whether this happens to you will depend on your jacket, but you can expect issues with more stiffly structured garments. A shorter tester also found that it sat much more comfortably on her back without digging into her neck the way the Incase Icon did.
She also said the Cobra ended in a more pleasant place on her mid-back. However, the lack of a sternum strap and waist belt means it doesn’t deal as well with heavier loads as other bags. —, pets editor One bag for the office and gym: The North Face Pivoter Backpack.
Who it’s for: is the ideal backpack for the urban commuter who wants to stop off at the gym on the way home from work. It is roomy enough to stash anything you’d normally carry in a shoulder bag or briefcase—laptop, notebook, phone, keys, books—plus a change of clothes, a pair of a shoes, and water.
And it all fits in a package that looks professional enough to blend in at most workplaces. Why it’s great: Many laptop/gym bags focus on just the laptop and gym parts of the name but forget about the little things that you need throughout the day, such as pens, cables, and earbuds. The solves this by putting a fully featured laptop bag with an integrated sleeve and organizer in the compartment closest to your back, and a cavernous, duffel-like compartment that swallows clothes and shoes on the front.
So while your work and workout stuff are kept separately, they still carry together harmoniously. An example testing load we used for the North Face Pivoter.
Photo: Erica Ogg Unlike many of the bags I looked at in this category, the Pivoter is available in both men’s and women’s models. I found the women’s version the most comfortable of the backpacks I considered, even when fully loaded, thanks to the adjustable chest strap and the thick, cushy shoulder straps that are contoured in the right places. The padded back has an air vent running down the center to help prevent back-sweat build-up too.
The otherwise comfortable noticeably lacks the chest strap and air vent. The Pivoter is also a great value: It’s $100 cheaper than many similar (but smaller) backpacks and comes backed by The North Face’s lifetime warranty. Pockets and organization: The most important characteristic of a single bag for gym and work is whether it keeps your stinky, wet gym clothes and shoes separate from your expensive electronics. The Pivoter handles this task expertly: The compartment worn closest to the back lets you slide a laptop as large as 15 inches into a padded sleeve, and a front compartment zips open in a D-shape—like a duffel—to hold clothes and shoes. At 27 liters, this bag’s front compartment fit my women’s size 7 running shoes, socks, yoga pants and top, and a full-size towel. The two exterior side pockets are handy for stowing a water bottle and an insulated coffee mug—most laptop/gym bags have only one such pocket. The North Face Pivoter pockets.
Photo: The North Face As for the organizational details, the laptop sleeve in the interior section is padded and stops short of the bag’s bottom (which keeps the computer from getting sharply jostled when the bag is set down). Facing the laptop sleeve are a pair of pen-sized pockets and two square pockets (one solid, one mesh) for keys, lip balm, wallet, phone, sunglasses, earbuds, and the like.
While you could get this type of organizer on the, you would have to pay extra. There’s also a wide, shallow zippered compartment and a Velcroed slip that could fit anything from a manila envelope to a notebook or tablet. If that’s not enough, there’s an additional zippered pocket on the outside of the clothes/shoes compartment for stuff you want to access quickly. Flaws but not dealbreakers: It’s not the sleekest-looking bag in this category. The color scheme of the one I tested would be a little casual for some professional settings, but The North Face offers plenty of color combinations, including basic black on black.
The bag’s polyester material is also not waterproof or even water-resistant. And while we would’ve liked to see a bungee for attaching a yoga mat like you’d find on the, a series of webbing loops on the front leave the possibility of adding your own if you want. —, editor Also consider: Aer Duffel Pack 2. The is the grown-up, minimalist version of the laptop backpack for work and gym. Its sleek exterior is made of tough, 1,680-denier Cordura ballistic nylon (in black or heather gray), and the 24.6-liter bag can be carried as a backpack or duffel. Its rear compartment fits a laptop as large as 15 inches, along with a few books and other slim items; the waterproof, cavernous main compartment—accessible via a convenient duffel-style zipper on the outside—swallows a full change of clothes; and a separate water-resistant and ventilated compartment at the bottom of the bag fits shoes up to men’s size 13 (though, as with most bags with a shoe compartment, carrying shoes takes away space from the main compartment).
Everything that we put in the Pivoter easily fit in the Duffel Pack, as well. The expandable water-bottle pocket on the side can fit even a large Nalgene bottle, and an elastic strap keeps the bottle from falling out. Compared with the original Duffel Pack we previously recommended, the Duffel Pack 2 offers some welcome organizational improvements. The laptop pocket now has several small accessory pockets, including a zippered mesh pocket for small items. A new quick-access pocket at the top of the bag can hold sunglasses, a smartphone, and gym and metro passes—even a boarding pass. And just above the water-bottle holder is a small, zippered pocket for keys and a wallet or other similarly small items. The newest Duffel pack also has improved shoulder straps that are more comfortable in the chest area.
Finally, Aer’s bags all now have a lifetime warranty. If you have a smaller frame, is essentially a smaller version of the Duffel Pack 2. It uses the same overall design, with a rear compartment for your laptop and other gear, a clothes area on the front, and a dedicated shoe compartment on the bottom. But the Fit Pack 2 is several inches shorter and holds about 25 percent less (18.8 liters), so it looks and feels quite a bit smaller on your back.
While the Fit Pack 2 also will hold a 15-inch laptop, and its shoe area also allows for a size 13, its main clothing area is smaller, and it loses the larger bag’s water-bottle pocket, exterior side pockets, and side handle (though it does still have the convenient quick-access pocket at the top of the bag). —, editor, and, senior editor Also consider: Incase Sport Field Bag. If team sports are more your (ahem) bag, the is the best laptop backpack I’ve found.
The main compartment—accessible using a wraparound zipper that lets you expose almost the entire compartment—holds shoes and a change of clothes; and a nicely padded 15-inch laptop sleeve positioned against your back is accessible without opening the main compartment. The entire bag is made of durable nylon with a thin layer of padding, and Incase includes a nifty rain cover you can pull over the bag when the weather gets bad. I’ve used the original version of the Sport Field Bag several times per week for about eight years, regularly tossing the bag across gym floors, dumping it into trunks, and stuffing it into lockers, and it’s still going strong. I’ve been testing the current version for a little over a year. The bag’s standout feature is a large zippered pocket at the bottom of the bag for a full-size (29.5-inch) basketball—or, of course, any smaller ball. And if you leave your ball at home, the main compartment can expand to fill that space, so you can carry even more clothes and gear.
A large zippered compartment on the front of the bag hosts two smaller zippered pockets, two elastic pouches, and an open storage area on the bottom. When the bag is hanging in a locker, the front of this compartment can hang down, making it a convenient place to store toiletries. Each side of the bag has a large mesh water-bottle pocket. The bag’s size (roughly 25 inches by 12 inches by 9 inches) is also its biggest drawback, though it’s one that’s essentially unavoidable: Because it can hold so much stuff (25 liters, including a basketball), the Sport Field Bag is a large bag. It can look huge on a smaller frame, and if you overfill it, it’s a tight fit—though still a fit—in gym lockers.
The company’s is a smaller and less-expensive version that fits a soccer ball or volleyball, but it’s not quite as nice: The nylon isn’t as rugged; the 15-inch laptop sleeve isn’t as thickly padded and is inside the main compartment rather than a separate area; the outside pocket is a traditional zippered slip pocket; and the straps and handles aren’t as thick. But the Sport Field Bag Lite is smaller and lighter, so it’s a better fit for smaller frames. —, senior editor Weatherproof commuter: Thule Paramount 24L Daypack. Who it’s for: The is a well-rounded package of durability, weatherproofing, looks, and features. We’ve used it for bike commutes, international travel, and long weekend road trips, and it put in good work for all of them. Why it’s great: While it doesn’t look like a bike-centered bag, the Paramount has hanging straps for lights and carabiners, a side pocket that easily fits a U-lock, and a roll-top enclosure that keeps moisture out of the main compartment when zipped and rolled, yet can open up for overloading when called upon. The back panel is sculpted and breathes, and the mesh shoulder straps have felt comfortable on our testers’ frames, whether 5-foot-5 or taller than 6 feet.
You can also buy the Paramount in and versions, though those are only available in black. It’s backed by a from an established company that can also provide repairs. The Thule Paramount’s laptop sleeve is padded with a semi-rigid frame and secured with a Velcro flap. Photo: Michael Hession. Side access to the Paramount’s laptop compartment lets you get to work without having to empty out a full bag. Photo: Michael Hession.
The Paramount’s side zipper also allows access to the bag’s full inner compartment, so you can rescue items from the bottom without unpacking. Photo: Michael Hession. The front pocket of the Paramount provides a variety of pocket types for your smaller gear and accessories: fully padded, mesh, and open pockets. Photo: Michael Hession. The side handle on the Thule makes it easy to hoist a heavy bag onto a security scanner, or just off the ground.
Photo: Michael Hession. Pockets and organization: The Paramount has one of the best laptop compartments we’ve seen in a backpack, with thick padding on both sides, a secure Velcroed top enclosure, access through an external side zipper, and a semi-rigid skeleton to protect laptops up to 15.6 inches from short falls. A separate sleeve just below the laptop compartment holds a tablet, or, if you like, a power brick. The front compartment is a smart array of open, mesh, and padded spaces for your gadgets, cables, and other daily essentials. Then there’s a small padded and waterproof pocket for items to which you need quick access.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: All of the Paramount’s enclosures are sealed with zippers, even the opening of the roll-down top. The roll-top and front-most zippers are shielded from water, but the front compartment could, if truly soaked, let some water in. We tested all the bags in this category by stuffing them with paper towels and spraying them with a sink hose.
The Paramount’s zippers let in some water when hit close range with the hose on full pressure, but a very small amount; your stuff should stay quite dry if it’s not exposed to a dousing of water or sideways rain. We think the Paramount looks good, with a good shape (both loaded and empty) and nothing too ostentatious on it. But the Thule logo is prominent on the front compartment, and it comes in only two colors, black and red. —Kevin Purdy, staff writer Also consider: Timbuk2 Custom Prospect Laptop Backpack. For more color options and more zipper-free weatherproofing, yet also for less money, consider. You mix and match four weather-resistant colors (black, white, blue, and gray) of laminated polyester to style every panel and the trim of the Prospect just how you like it. You could switch to a less waterproof nylon or chambray, but we recommend the weatherproof panels and plastic internal liner, which let nothing in during our sink-sprayer test; we can’t vouch for the other materials.
The Prospect has Velcro-latched slots for a 15-inch laptop and a tablet or phone inside, with external access through a zipper at the top of its back panel. It’s not as unyielding as the laptop section of the Thule Paramount, but your screens have a lot of padding around them.
The organizer inside the main compartment can hold a typical laptop worker’s accessories. While its stated volume is 26 liters, that’s with the top fold nearly open, and stuffing the organizer and front pocket can crowd the main compartment. Timbuk2 offers a and repairs for problems outside normal wear and tear. The Prospect is a bit less bike-friendly than we’d like; while it has a sturdy chest strap, reflective tassels, and a choice of reflective (but less weatherproof) material for the top and bottom panels, there’s no good place to hang lights or a U-lock (unless you awkwardly stuff it in a small, optional drink pouch). Still, it’s a versatile, commute-ready bag with a lot of design options, especially for the price. —Kevin Purdy, staff writer Also consider: Mission Workshop HT500 Sanction. The Mission Workshop is a sleek, tough bag that can fit a lot of gear and keep it all dry.
While it’s listed for 20 liters, it effectively holds more gear than either of our other weatherproof picks, because its design is essentially a large bucket with a fold-over-flap and some deep but narrow pockets. Both the “bucket” and the pockets have a heavy-duty waterproof lining, and all the pockets except one (with a laminated zipper) are covered by the fold-over flap. It’s also very comfortable to wear, with well-padded shoulder straps and a ventilated mesh back panel. The Sanction doesn’t have obvious bike-friendly features, but the series of wide, deep pockets on the front of the bag can hold a U-lock and a lot of other accessories.
When you don’t have it stuffed with big items, the Sanction has a slim, tapered profile. If anything breaks due to a defect in the bag, Mission Workshop will If you carry a lot of large stuff around plus need protection from serious rain, the Sanction can easily be worth it to you. For an extra $80 or so, you can upgrade to the larger if you need even more space. —Kevin Purdy, staff writer Jack-of-all-trades: Tom Bihn Synapse 19. Who it’s for: If you want one bag that can do it all and you don’t mind a more outdoorsy look, this jack-of-all-trades also happens to be a master of most. Despite its unassuming appearance, the has enough organizational features to keep your gadgets and gear in their places, but it won’t weigh you down with pounds of unnecessary material and superfluous style. It’s versatile enough to be used as a commuter backpack, a day pack, a casual-hiking pack, or an everyday bag.
Why it’s great: I spent a long time (and more money than I care to admit) looking for a backpack that’s light, comfortable, versatile, and well-designed—in other words, one that I could turn to every day, no matter what I had planned. I’ve used the for nearly six years as my primary laptop bag when commuting on the train or to the coffee shop, as my carry-on when flying, for hauling gear for myself and the kids, and as my everyday bag. Other than the expected visible wear, it’s still just as good as when it was new. (A few months ago I switched to a newer Synapse 19—which has a few minor design tweaks compared with my older Synapse—to test it for this review.). Though compact, the Tom Bihn Synapse 19 can hold all this with room to spare. Photo: Dan Frakes The bag has a rugged, abrasion-resistant Cordura exterior, with a lighter but still tough nylon interior and water-resistant YKK zippers. It also has comfortable, non-bulky shoulder straps that won’t snag your sweater, removable chest and waist straps, a thinly padded back panel, and O-rings inside every pocket for attaching keys or for keeping small items from getting lost.
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Pockets and organization: Though the Synapse 19 is comfortably compact, its large, divided main compartment can hold a surprising amount of gear and includes attachments for up to two of the company’s padded (up to 13 inches each). You can slide the sleeve out of the backpack—say, at a TSA checkpoint—without detaching the sleeve, or easily remove the sleeve completely. And I love that the traditional backpack design doesn’t scream “laptop inside!” Left and right exterior pockets can each hold an umbrella, sunglasses, or similar items, along with pens, business cards, and other small things, and the small top pocket is perfect for a phone or wallet. Tom Bihn Synapse 19 pockets. Photo: Tom Bihn One of my favorite features is a pocket for a water bottle or reservoir (up to 1 liter in size) positioned in the middle of the bag’s exterior: The bottle sits away from your body, doesn’t make one side of the bag heavier than the other, and remains easy to remove and replace. A wide pocket at the bottom of the bag can hold a rain jacket, a travel umbrella, a small food container, or (as is usually the case for me) a bunch of kid supplies, and the outside of that compartment sports a strap for a clip-on light, so motorists can see you when you’re biking or walking at night. For even more pockets, Tom Bihn’s fits snugly inside and provides a nifty two-sided organizational panel that you can slide out without removing its contents.
For more capacity, Tom Bihn offers the, which is the same design as the Synapse 19 in a size that offers 30 percent more volume and can hold larger laptops. Flaws but not dealbreakers: If you’re looking for trendy style, the plain Synapse isn’t it. The flip side of this design is that it’s lighter—by a pound or more—than many “stylish” packs. The back padding is also traditional-backpack flat, so your back can get sweaty in hot weather—although the mesh padding does help.
And, of course, the Synapse is more expensive than many nylon backpacks, especially if you add the price of a Cache sleeve for your laptop or tablet and a Freudian Slip organizer. However, Tom Bihn’s quality and design are top-notch, and you get a lifetime warranty. Even better, you may never need to use that warranty. —, senior editor Compact but capable: STM Prime. Despite its compact size, a 13-inch laptop fits easily in the Prime, and the large opening gives you easy access to the pack’s contents.
Video: Kyle Fitzgerald Why it’s great: At just 13.2 inches tall and 9.3 inches wide, and weighing just a pound and a half when empty, the Prime is the smallest laptop backpack here by a good margin. But that means it will fit better on smaller frames, and provide a lighter and more comfortable load for everyone: Unlike with most laptop bags, you won’t be tempted to fit every gadget, book, and article of clothing you own, just because there’s room. Instead, the Prime fits your 13-inch laptop and necessities—15 liters worth in all—including some other electronics gear, glasses or sunglasses, two water bottles, and a sweater or jacket. Despite its small size, the Prime provides great protection for your computer.
The side of the bag that rests against your back is rigid, giving the built-in laptop sleeve some structure (though two plush pads against your back help with comfort and ventilation). The laptop sleeve itself is both nicely padded and suspended away from the bottom of the bag like a sling, while the bottom of the bag is also padded to protect your other gear if you drop the bag. The exterior of the bag is made of tough, water-resistant, 300-denier nylon. The shoulder straps are comfortable, and you get a thin handle on top for those times you want to carry the bag at your side. The Prime also looks nice, thanks to an uncluttered design and a nice range of available colors: black, light gray, dark-grayish blue, and brownish gray.
The inside of the Prime’s main compartment offers a nice assortment of organizational features. Photo: Kyle Fitzgerald Pockets and organization: For a small bag, the Prime has a surprising number of organizational features. The laptop sleeve hosts a padded pouch for a tablet or ebook reader (up to a 10.5-inch iPad Pro fits), along with four smaller pouches for slim items.
Opposite the sleeve in the main compartment are a large zippered pocket with key strap and an elastic mesh pouch for your laptop’s charger or other accessories. On the exterior of the Prime are a fleece-lined, zippered pocket that’s large enough to hold glasses, sunglasses, or a large smartphone; and a deep outer pouch that gives you quick access to a light jacket, a book or magazine, or travel documents without having to open the whole bag. Finally, two water-bottle pockets, one on each side, are made mostly of the same rugged material as the bag, but have a strip of elastic mesh that lets each pocket securely hold an umbrella or expand to fit a 20-ounce water bottle. Flaws but not dealbreakers: The Prime won’t hold a carry-on’s worth of stuff, of course—it’s not meant to. But I would have liked a chest strap for those times when the bag gets heavy, and a couple of external loops or hooks for attaching stuff I want to access quickly. —, senior editor Also consider: Incase City Compact Backpack.
Most people shopping for a compact backpack likely have a small laptop, too. But if you’ve got a 15-incher and still want to travel light, is one of the smallest larger bags (or is it one of the largest smaller bags?) we’ve seen, at 18 inches by 13 inches by 5 inches. The main compartment has padding on all sides with a thin sleeve (supplemented by thick padding against your back) for your laptop, along with space for a couple of books and a sweater or jacket, and two small mesh pouches for other gear. That’s not a lot compared with many bags—Incase says it holds 17.5 liters, though it feels smaller—but it keeps the City Compact’s profile low while still giving you enough room for necessities. The front of the bag has a faux-fur–lined zipper pocket up top that’s large enough for a portable hard drive, a smartphone, and sunglasses; and a large zippered pocket below that’s big enough to hold a few magazines. That larger pocket also hosts a (thinly) padded sleeve that can hold a 10.5-inch iPad Pro, 9.7-inch iPad, or similar-size tablet. You also get a few pen/pencil sleeves and some pouches to keep track of small items.
The bag is available in gray or khaki 300-denier nylon. The City Compact’s shoulder straps are comfortable thanks to thick, mesh padding, though the bag as a whole feels a bit stiff if you tend to not stand up straight—even with good padding against your back, the City Compact’s thin profile combined with a 15-inch laptop means a more-rigid feel compared with some larger bags. And I wish it had a water-bottle pocket.
Good Value New Laptop Sleeve Case Bag Pouch Storage For Macbook Air
(For one of those and a bit more room, check out the.) But the City Compact is one of the few bags for a 15-inch laptop that doesn’t make you look like a hunchback. —, senior editor Throwback styling: Everlane Modern Snap. Who it’s for: The office worker who kicks around city parks on weekends. The freelancer who occasionally heads to a boardroom. Traditionalists who like natural materials. Packers who don’t need lots of pockets.
Why it’s great: follows the company’s design philosophy: Make a limited number of products that work for lots of people, rather than multiple products each aimed at a narrow niche, and make them in a style that will stay current through multiple fashion cycles. The bag also reflects Everlane’s commitment to good value. While it is not the most durable, nor the fanciest, nor the most impeccably constructed bag available, it is very, very good on all these points, which makes it great for the price. Simply put, it’s a functional, affordable, sophisticated, unisex backpack. Everlane Modern Snap Backpack pockets. Photo: Tim Heffernan Pockets and organization: Inside the Modern Snap Backpack there’s just a single pocket: an open-topped, padded laptop slot.
It’s big enough for a blocky first-generation 15-inch MacBook and will easily accommodate any modern 15-incher plus an iPad or other tablet. The bag’s main compartment is a simple squared-off cylinder closed with a cinch cord and sheltered by a flap lid. The lid snaps closed—a far faster and far less fussy closure than buckles.
The cylinder expands or contracts to accommodate varying loads, and the lid adjusts to accommodate them as well. While the top-loading approach isn’t as conveniently accessible as a full-perimeter zipper, it imparts a visual neatness no matter how flaccid or overstuffed the main compartment is. Everlane Modern Snap Backpack back panel. Photo: Tim Heffernan Outside, there’s a deep, zippered rear pocket big enough for most books and/or e-readers. Two open-top slot pockets (one on either side of the main compartment) complete the package. The pockets will accept a 16-ounce bottle of water or can of beer (I checked), but are also snug enough to keep a good-size smartphone (I have a Nexus 5x) or sunglasses case relatively safe from thieving fingers.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: If compartmentalization is your thing, this is not the bag for you. Same if you live in a rainy area: Cotton absorbs water readily, and though the Modern Snap also has a woven cotton-poly lining, it’s not built to repel a downpour. Cotton also stains easily, so the dark-colored versions will mask but not hide dirt. And while we see the aesthetic appeal of a clean back panel, we’d prefer a ventilated one to help alleviate back sweat in the summer. Finally, this isn’t really a flaw, but know that the Modern Snap is at best a small day pack or minimal overnight bag for light travelers. If you pack for every eventuality, you’ll need something larger. —, editor Also consider: Filson Journeyman Backpack.
The shares its basic, highly functional design with the Everlane, but is made out of one of the toughest, most renowned materials available. Filson’s waxed-cotton “Tin Cloth” exterior provides much better waterproofing than the Everlane’s plain cotton, and if my past experience with Filson gear is anything to go by, the Journeyman will survive anything you throw at it.
I once had a job bucking hay bales for a hundred head of cattle, work that ate through a pair of double-layer Carhartts within a few weeks. A friend loaned me a pair of Tin Cloth pants that not only lasted the eight remaining weeks of the gig, but also came out the other end looking as good as they did when I first put them on. That was in 1997, and while my hay-bucking days are over, the friend I borrowed the pants from continues to use his Filson gear on similarly tough jobs two decades later. The Journeyman has a main compartment with a padded slot big enough for a 15-inch laptop, a large rear exterior pocket, and not many other bells and whistles. That rear pocket has a cool bellows design, though: It snaps flat when empty or lightly loaded and expands to a generous 3-inch depth when you need it.
Good Value New Laptop Sleeve Case Bag Pouch Storage For Mac
Instead of external side pockets—meaning there’s no place to stash a water bottle outside—the bag has an internal zippered slot handy for a passport, a phone, and a notebook. And instead of a cinch-and-flap closure, a beefy brass zipper runs halfway around the bag’s perimeter, giving direct access to almost the bottom of the bag. Another nice feature: The Journeyman is lined with light-tan fabric, making it much easier to see the objects inside.
Most dark-colored bags, including the dark Everlanes, are lined with matching or plain black fabric. The Journeyman is comfortable, too, and comes with a lifetime guarantee against “failure or damage in its intended usage” as well as against defects in materials and workmanship.
The downside? You pay for this sort of quality: The list price recently jumped from $270 to $395. —, editor Tactical and versatile: GoRuck GR1. Who it’s for: Nostalgia-inducing aesthetic? Storied history? Affordable for young people? The is basically the ultimate hipster bag.
But hipsters tend to like nice things, so maybe that’s not such a bad thing. This bag is best for urbanites and students who pack lightly. Why it’s great: The original was designed for Swedish schoolchildren back in 1977, but its unique styling, excellent build quality, and handy tote straps earned it a cult following among adults, and it has been in production all these years since. The updated retains the youthful charm and versatility of its namesake while gaining adult features such as a separate padded laptop compartment and extra padding on the straps to accommodate heavier loads. Its charming looks pair well with both men’s and women’s clothing, and the bag comes in six colors so you can find the best match for your wardrobe.
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