If you carry a laptop to work, school or college, a backpack can be much more comfortable and practical than a traditional laptop case. There is a huge variety of laptop backpacks available in all shapes and sizes, from the very cheap to really expensive. Choosing the right bag for you means being clear about your needs.
Below are the seven key things to consider when buying a laptop backpack, to make sure you have a bag you are happy with for years to come.
1. Make sure it fits your laptop
While this sounds obvious, you’d be surprised how many people have to crowbar their laptop into their bag or have a netbook sliding around in an oversized bag. Check your laptop size and get a bag that fits. Laptop sizes are measured like televisions – it’s the diagonal screen size that’s used. It’s okay to have a little spare room around your laptop but too much increases the risk of damaging your laptop.
If you already have a bag that is too big for your laptop, or take a fancy to an oversized one, you can fix it by buying a separate laptop sleeve. This will cushion your laptop and keep it safe.
2. Does it have room for everything else you’ll want to carry?
If you only need to carry your laptop and minimum cables, you might opt for a slim, lower-priced backpack. However most people also have documents, iPods, disks, pens and other stuff essential to their daily working lives. You may want to consider backpacks with additional compartments plus specifically designed pockets. If you do a lot of overnight or international travelling look for space for overnight clothes to save taking a second bag.
3. Check it will be comfortable to carry
Carrying a bag a hundred yards from your car to your desk is very different to commuting by public transport across a city or walking long distances, so you need to make sure the bag is appropriate to how you will use it.
For short distances you’ll probably just sling it over your shoulder. Any further and you want a proper harness system with padded shoulder straps and ventilation – there’s nothing worse than a getting a sweaty back on the way to work. You might also want a waist strap and even chest strap to spread the weight from your shoulders.
A wheeled laptop backpack with telescopic handle is ideal to take the strain when rushing through the airport, running for a taxi or even just when you are fully loaded.
4. Keep your laptop safe from knocks
Avoid a bag that has no specific laptop protection. Foam padding tends to be cheaper and is fine. Some manufacturers, such as Tech Air, use compressed air as it won’t lose it’s shape and offers superior protection.
Many backpacks come with laptop compartments and some with a strap to hold the laptop tightly within the compartment. More expensive bags may incorporate a removable padded sleeve (or as mentioned previously, you can buy a separate laptop sleeve).
5. Protect your laptop from water
Naturally if you’re carrying your laptop around there is a chance you’ll get caught in bad weather, spill a drink or drop it in a puddle. Very few laptop backpacks are completely waterproof but most offer shower-proof protection. This will keep most moisture at bay in normal use.
6. Get the right look
Once you’ve sorted the practical considerations it’s time to think about looks. This isn’t just a matter of personal taste, it’s also about the impression are you trying to give to others. For example, I recently spoke to someone who had a great casual backpack which he used for work most days. He then bought a more formal laptop bag for when he wore a suit and met customers.
7. Don’t buy cheap or too expensive
Your laptop is probably the most valuable thing you are carrying around, so don’t put it at risk just to save a few pennies. Equally, you don’t need to spend a small fortune to get the right bag. Once you’ve decided what you need in the areas above, you’ll be able to compare prices for suitable products.
Following these guidelines will help you decide between all the choice available and make sure you end up with a bag that works for you.