Good Laptop Bags For Guys

Buying a decent bag for your laptop can turn into an epic quest if you’re at all picky—there are a hundred bulky or badly built bags our there, and some flat-out ugly ones that look like they were designed by camels. A member of Ask Metafilter posted the following request earlier today: “I need a bag for a man with a computer.” His qualifications included that it should be padded, stylish, affordable, and not too bulky.

Some of the suggestions offered so far include:

Ours is made by Australian company STM, and while it does have one big design flaw (a huge front flap that makes one-handed operation difficult), it was affordable, padded, and small, and we like it.

What’s your choice for a decent, affordable, padded laptop bag?

“I’m a boy. I need a bag. Does that make me a bag boy?” [Ask Metafilter]
(Photo: S Baker)

Comments

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  1. bilge says:

    Tom Bihn: [www.tombihn.com]

  2. LatherRinseRepeat says:

    Samsonite offers some laptop bags/cases that look all business-like and manly. But I really like my Timbuk2 messenger bag. I might get their Commute laptop bag for days when I only need to carry my laptop and no books/papers.

  3. MickeyMoo says:

    I love me my Everki Sling

  4. HeyThereKiller says:

    http://www.reloadbags.com

    215 represent!

  5. ipaidipod says:

    The timbuk2 laptop bag is pricey, but the regular “medium” messanger bag will hold a laptop+books and a bunch of other crap, and ebags.com has it on sale for 63 bucks. i bought it last month for school and the bag’s awesome. i hate to sound like an advertisement, but…seriously. amazing. it’s waterproof, has a ton of zippered compartments (including a heavyduty keylatch thing which is important because my college charges $350 for replacement keys, ha) and is just all around great. plus, i think it’s under warranty for life. only annoying thing about is you have to unbuckle and unvelcro (is that a word?) the bag to get anything out, but all in all, a good investment.

  6. Schmee says:

    I recently got a Mezzi brand aluminum hard case with shoulder strap, locking latch, and foam insert for less than $25 off of ebay (including shipping). Dunno what it retails for but it is a very nice case and I would expect to pay double that (and not feel ripped off) from a retail store. So if you want a hard case as opposed to all the soft bags out there, give the Mezzi cases a look.

  7. Scuba Steve says:

    So it’s common to spend 110-200 dollars on a laptop bag?

  8. subwayray says:

    I have the Timbuk2 Commute Medium. I LOVE it! The back panel is padded so it’s soft on your hip. And it has 26 pockets! 26! It’s great for pen fetishists cause it’s got 8 pen pockets. And it’s got 2 cell phone sized pockets. And it manages to stay pretty darned small. And it stand up on it’s own.

  9. morganlh85 says:

    I really hope you’re having an article tomorrow on good laptop bags for GIRLS. I have such a hard time finding something that doesn’t make me look like a techie dork AND something that doesn’t make me look like a chick from Clueless.

  10. TPIRman says:

    Anything from Spire. They take a beating — at least mine has for more than four years — yet never show it. I have the predecessor to the “Volt.”

  11. Me - now with more humidity says:

    I have a Transit messenger bag that has a padded laptop compartment with its own zipper. Rockin’ bag! Got it at ebags.com

  12. morganlh85 says:

    I currently have a Swissgear backpack which works pretty well for school, but doesn’t look professional enough for work. It’s comfortable and has plenty of pockets. I got it for $35 on Buy.com but it’s about $75 in the store.

    I also have a Target Michael Graves laptop bag which is pretty but not very functional. The inner sleeve is slightly too small for my laptop and it’s impossible to fit anything else in the main pocket like papers. The front smaller pocket barely fits my charger inside, much less anything else I need to take to work, meaning I have to carry another bag with me.

  13. dbeahn says:

    So you’re asking us to recommend a good man-purse?

  14. frowelishnu says:

    @dbeahn: You add nothing to the discussion.

    I have a few different laptop models at work that came with the manufacturer’s bags and I really like the Dell bag. My favorite part is that there is no flap – the flap is so annoying on all my other bags.

  15. rolla says:

    i highly recommend timbuk2…got one of their messenger bags in ’98 and its still going strong.

  16. loudguitars says:

    Another vote for Timbuk2. They ain’t cheap, but they’re practically indestructible.

  17. thepianobar says:

    Tom Bihn @ tombihn.com, just like the first commenter said.

    The only downside is they’re not cheap (and their Empire Builder bag has gone up $30 since I bought mine).

    I’ve had an Empire Builder since I was in college and took it all over Europe for a year while I was studying there. It takes a beating and still looks brand new.

    For the ladies who were lamenting their problems finding suitable laptop bags… Tom Bihn has a nice variety of styles and color combos. While not specifically for laptop use, my fiancee loves the Cafe Bag I got her.

  18. star_ says:

    I use a leather Targus CLN5. It’s very well constructed. It fits a 15.4 widescreen perfectly. It has ample padding for the notebook. There’s no flap to access the notebook.

    I’ve used it everyday for over a year and it still looks new.

  19. STM bags have always been great, both on design and warranty. I had a bag of there and some of the stitching came unstuck on a handle after two years. A quick email later, my bag was sent off to their office and was replaced by courier the very next day (and they even shipped it to a location in another state as I was about to travel across country).

    As for a design issue, let the STM team know. Their designers are very receptive and are all ex-fashion industry, and have happily taken feedback in the past on how they can improve their product.

  20. dbeahn says:

    @frowelishnu: I add nothing to the discussion? This from the person that posted about what “web 2.0″ was in a thread about Walmart trying to take a woman’s baby.

    So you get annoyed when someone else adds nothing, but you like to add nothing yourself. Interesting.

  21. mike1731 says:

    I have used a Swiss Gear Synergy backpack for about a year, and it’s been great. The backpack features two very comfortable straps and a cross strap you can hook the back straps together in front (it’s dorky, but when running plane to plane it keeps things in place). There’s also plenty of pockets, including one very handy on top that is perfect for a ipod and headphones. Best of all, it retails for around $79, so if something does happen to it, I don’t feel too guilty turning in another one on an expense report. But it’s held up so well so far, that time could be some time off.

  22. Kaj says:

    I really love the Manhattan Portage messenger-style bags. I’ve had my current bag since 2001 and it’s still going strong, no fraying at all. Good stuff.

  23. Critcol says:

    I gotta recommend the Timbuk2 Commute bag, perfect for my MacBook and other assorted computer-geekery.

    Also, if you buy it from LL Bean, it costs $100 but LL Bean’s 100% Satisfaction, Lifetime Warranty applies to the Timbuk2 bags they sell.

  24. drduran says:

    I carry my 15.4″ widescreen laptop in a Targus Laptop Backpack. It’s plenty big enough to carry around everything I need during a normal day or for a flight carry on.

  25. Kierst_thara says:

    @morganlh85: I totally second this request. I’ve been fruitlessly combing the internets for a laptop bag myself recently. I’ve come across quite a few of the brands mentioned here, and while some of them do come highly recommend as far as durability etc., the majority of them still look like the multi-zippered/pocketed canvas monstrosities that I had in high-school. And apparently the ‘fashionable alternatives’ for women are just purses, super-sized so you can fit a laptop in them. Simple, stylish AND practical are apparently mutually exclusive traits.

  26. PlayWithSlurry says:

    I purchased a canvas sleeve from InCase with my macbook. I was using this inside a no frills shoulder bag from ebags.com. This worked out OK. But yesterday I picked up a Chrome Citizen at my LBS.

    The difference is incredible. It may not matter much to you if you don’t plan on riding around with a bag on your back, but I feel like I could go 30 miles without even noticing the weight. I know Chrome makes “dedicated” laptop bags, but I’ve found the sleeve inside messenger bag thing works really great.

    The only downside is that your standard messenger bag is worn pretty high up on the back and may have all manner of shiny clips and straps, making it less suited for some work settings.

  27. twid says:

    Another big vote for STM. I have their 15 inch Medium Alley bag, and I love it because it holds the laptop sideways rather than longways, which makes it much easier to sling around. They have backpacks too if you don’t like the shoulder bag style.

  28. RTFMate says:

    I’m a big fan of the targus backpack style bags.

    [www.targus.com]

    They are stylish, but if your in a suit and tie environment it may not be the best.

    I’m a developer and I ride my motorcycle to work whenever the weather isn’t pouring rain so it works out great.

    I have also found it is incredible to use for a carry on bag. You can shove a change of clothes in there if your paranoid about traveling. I couldn’t do that with some of the “traditional” cases.

  29. bluevotersf says:

    I went through this exercise in June, trying numerous laptop backpacks to protect my 15″ MacBook Pro or my 13″ Vaio. I tried two of the Brenthaven models, one from STM, a couple from Targus and Belkin, the Wenger Maxxum and Synergy, and many more. The factors that went into my evaluation included the weight of the backpack, its general appearance (color, etc.), the fit, bottom and rear padding, and price. I didn’t want a backpack that screamed “computer”!

    I ended up buying the High Sierra Swerve ([www.hssc.com]) in charcoal and blue. It was among the least expensive, the lightest, and most comfortable to wear. It has lots of compartments and padding, so that I can separate my snacks, my electronic toys (digicam, iPod, adapters), my readings, and my laptop. I’ve been very happy with my decision — the bag has already logged 25000 air miles and will add another 13000 in the next two weeks.

  30. crazylady says:

    @morganlh85: all the laptop-bags-for-women articles are infuriating to me. They come in bizarre colors and designs (pink with shiny stuff..)… I’ll stick to my nondescript black messenger bags…which are apparently more manly..

    What defines a laptop bag as being for men or women anyway, other than the latter consisting of bags that look like inconvenient oversized purses..?

  31. durkzilla says:

    I’ve carried my Tom Binh “Empire Builder” bag for four years and hundreds of thousands of miles. It looks great, has no tears or broken zippers, and fits all my stuff neatly and securely. The shoulder strap is well padded and slightly elastic. You can get it in funky color combinations, but I chose the basic black on black for the “professional” look.

  32. bnet41 says:

    I am really hard on laptop bags. I carry a lot of stuff around for work, and my laptop is a bigger model Dell D620 as well.

    I bought the messenger bag one from Manhattan Portage and I have found it to be the most durable one I’ve bought so far. It has a ton of room for other stuff as well. They have smaller bags as well, but I think their overall quality is really good.

  33. GEli says:

    I love my Victorinox bag. They can be a bit pricey when not on sale, but if you can grab one on clearance they’re an excellent purchase.

  34. amoeba says:

    @drduran: @RTFMate: High 5 you guys! I also have a Targus backpack, I got it from Staples a couple years ago. I don’t used it often, but the design is amazing, it is padded and comfortable. And even my lipsticks don’t melt during hot days! @ crazylady, my backpack is black with some hot-pink detailing and inside lining is hot pink as well :-)

  35. xyberspam says:

    I’m now on my third Targus laptop bag, not because they of any defects but because they ROCK. My current load is a 17″ laptop, 2 EE school books, a minor PC toolkit, assorted extras and random junk. It has gone everywhere with me the last 2 years, as I commute to school, work, and recreation. Whenever I need a bag, I will always consider Targus first.

  36. davefattal says:

    http://www.pinderbags.com has good bags. one thick and one thin. I’ve never had to deal with customer service but they do have a lifetime guarantee.

  37. davefattal says:

    http://www.pinderbags.com has good bags. they have two different sizes to choose from. I’ve never had to deal with their customer service but they do have a lifetime guarantee.
    Not sure if this is a double post or not. Sorry if it is.

  38. navstar says:

    Check out Brenthaven.. amazing quality bags for Macs.

  39. rrodrick says:

    I STRONGLY support the suggestion of Tom Bihn bags (www.tombihn.com). I have a large messenger bag (super ego) that easily carries my laptop and much more and a small cafe bag that I use for my man-purse. The bags are designed by Tom Bihn himself, they are made in the United States, they are durable as heck (mine show NO wear), and they have great customer service. What’s not to like?

  40. dc_sleeper says:

    Try Wilson’s Leather. I got a messenger bag for $15 that works really well. Also, invest in a Mac Case sleeve if you have a Mac and any bag can become a laptop bag.

  41. ShadowFalls says:

    All you need in a laptop bag is padding, good enough to survive a drop, or some less than ideal travel conditions. Everything else is pure luxury.

  42. Chongo says:

    Jack Spade for your Hipster needs

    Jack Spade Laptop Page

  43. brucery says:

    I’ve been using the Tom Bihn Buzz, one of their smaller bags recently and really like it for traveling with my laptop. It’s spacious for its size, yet small enough that I don’t feel like I’m lugging too much. Also, since it’s a sling bag, you have both hands free while you’re carrying it. I also have their SuperEgo bag (very large, if that’s what you’re looking for), but the Buzz has become my “go to” bag. Also, it’s recently been redesigned to hold a 15.4″ MacBook Pro (though I use it with a smaller 12″ Vaio). It’s not super-padded, but with it sling design, I don’t worry about dropping it.

  44. Klitaka says:

    I’ve got a great, tough little red Acme bag from a few years ago. It’s a bag for a 15″ Mac, but it has a snug fit, meaning the laptop that currently inhabits its murky dark depths, a MacBook, doesn’t slosh around inside. This is the third laptop to live inside the bag (the first two being a used 75 MHz 486 Toshiba Satellite and a 500 MHz G3 PowerBook). The bag has room for the laptop’s power supply, a few cables, and little else. It’s small and light enough I don’t mind bringing a second bag when I study.

  45. MercuryPDX says:

    @Kaj: I agree with Manhattan Portage and I have you beat! Mine’s still going strong from 1996.

    If it’s tough enough for a NYC Bike Messenger, it’s good enough for me.

  46. viviennet says:

    @morganlh85:
    Agreed! Seriously, the only good options out there for girls tend to cost upwards of $250.


    I’ve taken to using a laptop sleeve and stuffing it into my laptop sized bag rather than an actual laptop bag

  47. Smitty Werbenjagermanjensen says:

    I use a plastic WalMart bag. It cuts the chance of theft way down.

  48. simmo says:

    I found [www.bagmangear.com] to be quite good, they are cheaper than crumpler and I enjoy my “voyager” messenger bag very much.

  49. satoru says:

    I have the Large Waterfield Cargo bag from SFbags and it’s great! Especially for the airport because it’s so large, you can carry on all your important stuff, instead of checking it in where the damn baggage people can steal it (it happens too often).

  50. Brad2723 says:

    laptop bag = man purse.

  51. STrRedWolf says:

    I also lend my voice to the Targus Laptop Backpack. I used to travel with a American Standard laptop bag which held a 15″ HP Omnibook 4150B as well as a 9×15″ clipboard (holds a 8.5″ x 14″ legal size piece of paper, good for doing comic strips on the go). I upgraded to a Dell Inspiron E1505, and upgraded the WinXP OS on it to Gentoo Linux. Unfortunately, the AS satchel barely fit! So I got the Targus, which is probably one of the rare times I’m in a Best Buy.

  52. olegna says:

    Laptops below 14″ will fit nicely into a Mandarin Duck ([www.mandarinaduck.com]) shoulder bag, which has a built in interior padded sleeve. This eliminates the need for a bag specifically for your laptop. 12.1″ laptops almost feel like your just carrying a textbook. People don’t even know I’m carrying a laptop with this bag.

  53. BankOnIt says:

    Although not quite on the “affordable” side, Tumi makes fantastic quality bags that are computer-ready, stylish, and very durable. They come with a three-year warranty so you’re guaranteed to get good use of them, as well. On the lower end, I’d go with Targus or Swiss Army.

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  55. lws1984 says:

    STM bags are awesome. End of story.

    They’ll last forever, and if they don’t, they’ll replace it. That, and they look cool without being flashy.

  56. Samsonite

  57. zenhead says:

    someone’s gotta design a bag that will acomodate a laptop and a good sized digital slr camera, and be waterproof. my son lives in glasgow, where it is usually damp, and has had the devil of a time finding something that acomodates his needs.

  58. MeOhMy says:

    @zenhead: Try Naneu Pro. They make a few water-resistant bags designed to accommodate cameras and laptops. They are also fairly nondescript – they don’t look like camera bags. Their Sierra and Tango messenger bags are water-resistant and the U220 backpack is not water resistant but does have a rain cover included. The messenger bags are under $200. I have the Bravo backpack (don’t need to tote a laptop) and have been very happy with it.

    @Scuba Steve:

    So it’s common to spend 110-200 dollars on a laptop bag?

    At first you want to balk but if you think about it, it’s not all that crazy to invest $100 or so to help protect your $1000 laptop/camera.

  59. JMH says:

    I like my Timbuk2 Commute. (Or maybe it’s the “Original Commute” – I bought it before the Commute was available in different sizes.)

  60. v12spd says:

    @zenhead: I agree entirely, I just bought a DSLR and wish I could tote it safely in the same back as my MBP. Not too bulky, but just large enough to store the camera and my other odds and ends.

    My shop of choice for bags is [www.walletshoppe.com] They have great prices on a ton of the bags listed in the comments and I used it to buy a Kenneth Cole New York bag that I’ve been using for 2 years now at a huge discount. I recommend the Kenneth Cole “Come On Over” bag, not just because it looks like a classy case and is functional, but because the shoulder pad is made out of some neoprene/rubber stretchy composite, that is really easy on the shoulder and acts like a shock absorber no matter how much I weigh the bag down. Comfy to carry and looks great to boot.

  61. entitynein says:

    I love my Roots Essential Messenger bag: [usa.roots.com] – It holds up to a 17″ laptop with room to spare for other bits, and didn’t cost an arm or a leg.

  62. Veeber says:

    I’d put in another vote for spire. I’ve had my huge Meta bag which ends up being my traveling office. I’ve been able to take that one bag on a couple of overnight conferences as well. [[www.spireusa.com]]

  63. Eric1285 says:

    I like my Jack Spade bag. Before that, I used a Crumpler one.

  64. sciencegeek says:

    I’ve been using a chrome sputnik for a while, and love its goofy look but have found that my back is killing me. My shoulder is fine but, oy! my back.

    This is a stupid question, but that’s never stopped me: do I have to switch to a backpack format bag to end the pain? Not that I mind, but since I rather like my bag in terms of size and aesthetics, if I don’t really need to change to a different format, I’ll just go find a better shoulder strap.

  65. orielbean says:

    My Targus bag is great. 20 bucks. It’s a backpack that will hold the 17″ laptop, so I can carry the work and the home one depending on the need. It’s also really tough nylon water resistant with the padded compartment. What a workhorse. Looks nice too.

  66. orielbean says:

    The backpack format is the way to go. Real camping bags have a waist strap for heavy bags to distribute the weight properly.

  67. orielbean says:

    And the backpack doesn’t look like a laptop bag, so it doesn’t call out to the casual public space / car thief

  68. MCWarEagle says:

    I have a mountainsmith network and it is awesome. It is the perfect size – it is compact but I can carry a TON of stuff. It is magic or something. It has a separate laptop sleave that is divided so if you have a meeting to go to you can take files and your laptop in a small bag. Totally recommend it.

  69. Chairman-Meow says:

    Nothing says “steal me” more than a computer bag.

    I use a Backpack myself. I’ve never had a laptop stolen since.

  70. kahri says:

    @Front_Towards_Enemy: since? How many laptops did you have stolen before? I would suggest a change of neighborhood not bag :)

    I’ve been carrying my laptop in a 11″x15″ padded envelope. I tried it once out of curiosity, and found that not only was it a perfect fit, it’s way more protective than my neoprene sleeve. I carry my now padded laptop in a canvas messenger bag I got at a army surplus for $20. It’s just plain black canvas. No shiny shinys, no bungee cords, no logos. Just plain clean black canvas. love it.

  71. magus_melchior says:

    @kahri: I’m just imagining some guy in an office trying the same thing, only to have a coworker mistakenly mail it off because it’s in an envelope…

    Great exercise in minimalism, though.

  72. wezelboy says:

    SFBags definitely. Their bags are fantastic and service is stellar.

    I used a Brenthaven for a while and was not impressed.

  73. ppiddyp says:

    I’ve got an Axio hard sleeve for my macbook pro and love how bombproof it is. No more dented screens from getting squished on an airplane or in the trunk. Mine lives inside my trusty 10 year old Bailey Works messenger bag. Bailey definitely makes one of the highest quality bags out there. It’s much better made than my crumpler camera bag or smaller manhattan portage bag or any timbuk2 bag I’ve used. Though not quite as good looking as the crumpler or manhattan portage ones, IMO.

    [www.axio-usa.com]
    [www.baileyworks.com]