Save your back without sacrificing style – the funky, chic and cool laptop backpacks!
Sometimes you want to carry your laptop and other gear in a backpack, but you don’t want to look like you “just stepped off the trail”. This is a common complaint from women – laptop totes and cool laptop backpacks that don’t fit your personal sense of style as well as their functional requirements.
Fortunately, there are some laptop backpacks out there that do both. Some focus a little more on function, but there are definitely be a selection of stylish and fashionable school backpacks for your consideration.
Fashionable Laptop Backpacks from Gnana
I just saw these new laptop backpacks from Gnana over on Internet. I’ve reviewed Gnana 13 inch laptop bags before – they have some really great fabrics and make a good quality case for a reasonable price. I’m pleased to see that they are branching out to laptop backpacks now.
The Piggy Back Laptop Backpack
Functional, roomy and body conscious
When I was little, the big sisters were always on the cutting edge of cool. They got the strange, alien haircuts when I got bangs (again). They painted their faces while I contented myself with candy-flavoured lipgloss. And they shopped in neat little boutiques while my wardrobe was plucked consistently from the kids’ department at J.C. Penny’s and accessorized with a dependably fluorescent nylon backpack from K-Mart. I would trot off to school, staring enviously after the big sisters who hopped in their friends’ cars in what I saw as an aura of mystery and style.
If then were now, I’m positive the big sisters would’ve multiplied my envy and carried the the Piggy Back Backpack, the sleek and ever-so-cool grown up incarnation of my neon nylon carry-alls. With the body-conscious structure and style to spare, the Piggy Back is hardly limited to adorning the backs of students (but oh, how well it would do there too).
This Melissa Beth backback is a rare entity – designed to compliment not only a fashion-conscious woman’s style, but also her body. It’s not just hype, either: the first thing I noticed when I slipped the pack on was the cushy padding on the back panel. The Piggy Back cushions the weight in the bag admirably, all without me looking like I was wearing a pillow strapped between myself and the bag.
The bag doesn’t just count on its structure to make the cut, though. Lightweight, with an un-fussy, modern silhouette, the Piggy Back comes in Purple Royalty (which I got to tote around, fittingly), Greenscape and Nocturnal Black. The main compartment houses a padded laptop sleeve that should have no trouble accommodating laptops up to 15″, and there were plenty of little pockets in the front compartment for all the odds and ends I always end up bringing with me. There’s even a little pocket in there that perfectly fits a gadget the size of, say, a Blackberry or iPhone – very handy.
Express Laptop Backpack for Women from Mobile Edge
Sassy, sporty and pink!
Look, I’m not going to lie to you. I wanted to open this review with the statement, “The pink polka-dot Express Laptop Backpack from Mobile Edge is the bag that Strawberry Shortcake would carry if she were a grown-up freelance blogger/web designer.”
But I was worried that some of you might take that the wrong way. I had a bit of a *thing* for Miss Shortcake when I was younger so, to me, that is a totally positive statement. See the Express is pink, but not ALL pink. And it has pink racing stripe piping down the side. Shows that you’re ready for action. It’s a little sporty, a little designer-y. But not so uber-sophisticated that your friends Angel Cake and Ginger Snap will accuse you of going all corporate, “You used to be one of US, Straw! What HAPPENED?!”
The pink polka-dot Express Laptop Backpack from Mobile Edge is a fun and functional bag to comfortably carry your laptop and other gear. The pink and chocolate colour scheme is vivid, but not overwhelming. And its silhouette is curved and feminine. But don’t think that means this bag isn’t all business on the inside! I really like the layout of the Express. The main compartment is quite roomy. Your laptop goes in a dedicated sleeve at the back of the bag that is well padded. The front of that sleeve has three pockets for smaller accessories or detritus. The interior front flap of the Express Backpack has two pockets as well as the usual pen holders and open slots for small gear, notebooks, etc. Small gussets at the base of the flap help keep your contents contained.
On the exterior there is a zippered media pouch with a headphone escape route. Handy for on-the-go-tuneage. And on each side of the Express there is a long pocket – good for magazines or easy boarding pass access. There is also a tuck-away drink bottle pocket.
The Express is really quite comfortable. Wearing it on the long (LONG) trek to any gate in Vancouver’s airport, I hardly noticed it – the back of the bag is well padded with three strategically-placed ventilation panels – keeps the air flowing! The straps were a good fit, plenty of length and one of them even has a handy mobile phone pouch for easy access. Like all Mobile Edge products, the Express is well made and sturdy. The zippers and pulls are strong and stand up to daily wear and tear.
The Smart Alec Backpack from Tom Bihn
Comfortable and well-designed backpack is perfect for laptops!
It’s been a busy travel season for me this fall. It seems that every other week I’ve been on a plane to somewhere. And, of course, my trusty MacBook Pro goes with me. My recent road warrior bag-of-choice these days is the Smart Alec Backpack from Tom Bihn.
It seems that airports are getting bigger and bigger, and I’ve been quite thankful to save my shoulders some strain by using a backpack. The Smart Alec is super comfortable – the straps are wide and well padded. For you folks who are super-ergonomic there are sternum AND waist straps for additional support and security. I like to play it loose, though, so I removed the waist strap (it has a cool design so that when it was removed, there was no extra hardware left; and it lies quietly waiting for me to hike Everest … shh, don’t wake it).
Now, it did take me a while to get used to the Smart Alec. The placement of the opening is different than most backpacks I’m used to. I’m used to a straight top-down opening. But the Smart Alex kind of opens like a can – where you access the interior with the back of the bag facing towards you. I like this very much now because it doesn’t expose the contents of your bag as much to prying eyes (don’t want anyone to start coveting my chocolate chip cookies and Vanity Fair that I take on the plane with me).
The Smart Alec has a large interior as you would expect in a backpack. There are three pockets in the front interior: two at the top which close with a zipper (I keep my wallet and cellphone here) and one large pocket where you can tuck a small notebook or paperback. The Smart Alec is equipped with clips for the Brain Cell – Tom Bihn’s hard-sided laptop sleeve. It’s the Brain Cell that really makes the Smart Alec come to life. My MacBook is cosseted in the Brain Cell while everything else gets stuffed around it – super convenient for going through airport security and unpacking at my temporary office.
There are two side pockets on the exterior of the Smart Alec. One has all the mini-pockets and cubbies for pens, etc.; the other is designed for a water bottle (with a built in drain hole!) but I stuff my power brick and Monster Power mini-strip in there. I’ve said it before about Tom Bihn – he is one of the smartest bag designers around. He really thinks about how people use his bags: what works and what doesn’t. For example, most of his bags come with o-ring straps inside that you can use for a key fob or to attach an organizer pouch. I use a couple of Tom’s pouches – for computer miscellany and for business cards.
He also creates accessories like the Freudian Slip, a two sided, pocket-rich insert for backpacks that organizes the chaos that often erupts in a backpack. The great thing is – you pull it out and, Shazam!, portable office.
So, yes, I’m a bit of a fan girl for Tom Bihn. His bags aren’t the chic-est on the planet (and truth be told, if I’m visiting a client I actually pack a Knomo Slim for meetings because it’s a little dressier), but they ARE smart, brilliantly designed and extremely well made. My Smart Alec has been back and forth across the country with me three times in the last six weeks and I love it more each time.
The King Single Laptop Backpack from Crumpler
Perfect for the Eco-Challenge – Urban Jungle Edition
I work from home. My commute – she is short. And while I do travel for work a great deal, it’s rare that I find myself actually *commuting* to an office. So when I was faced with a nine-day business trip that would have me walking 20 minutes to the train station every morning and taking a half hour train ride out to my clients, I knew this was the perfect time to try out the two-tone blue King Single Laptop Backpack
The King Single was definitely up for my urban Eco-Challenge. The backpack is tough, durable, water-resistant and weather proof – the black zips are heavy-duty and have weather covers to protect the bag’s contents from the elements. It’s great from a security point of view too – with its sleek design and covered zips, no one is sneaking into the King Single.
It’s also a very well balanced bag – when I had to stand on the train, the King Single sat on upright on the floor, solid as can be, leaving me free to sip my coffee and judge my fellow passengers’ inferior backpacks.
The King Single was extremely comfortable to carry and very easy to get on and off. The spine slot back pad and the padded straps made me feel as though I wasn’t carrying anything. I toted my 15″ laptop and power cord, mouse, a hardcover book, a notebook and a pair of shoes to and from work every day, no problem. The backpack has an adjustable chest strap for extra support – good for those longer urban hikes.
The King Single’s main compartment opens rear-to-front and includes a fully padded removable laptop sleeve with a handy 6 pocket organizer. The backpack is slightly domed, so it can fit books, binders or office shoes. The bag also has four deep zip pockets – two internal and two external , perfect for your power cords, glasses case, etc. It also has a handy mesh zip pocket near the top, great for a small wallet or iPod.
The King Single is great for getting your stuff securely and comfortably from home to work and back but I did find that its secure, weather-proof design made random rummaging difficult. To get things in and out easily, you need to fully unzip the bag. If you’re a commuter, you’ll definitely want to plan your packing so that you can reach your book without too much hassle.
The Pixie Laptop Backpack from Vera Bradley
Form, function and style that is “just right”!
A modern fairytale. Scene: the closet at the three bears’ cottage. Goldilocks rummages. “Ugh, that backpack is too big.” More rummaging. “Eeew, that backpack is too ugly.” Squeals of delight. “Yay, this backpack is JUST RIGHT!” And she skips out of the cottage wearing the Pixie laptop backpack from Vera Bradley.
Now, I don’t want to encourage thievery, either fairy-tale or real, but once you look at the Pixie, I think you’ll understand Goldilocks’ rash behaviour.
First, the Pixie is quite a compact backpack which is very nice. You don’t look like you’re carrying a UHaul trailer on your back. But don’t let that compact silhouette fool you – the Pixie is very roomy. The interior sleeve for my MacBook Pro was nice and snug; those of you with PC laptops must make sure you measure carefully! Your laptop is help in place with a snap closure. The main pocket of the Pixie will hold a couple of other books and your power cord. There are two interior pockets sewn into the top flap of the backpack that would be good for a wallet or small gadgets.
The front pouch of the backpack has three pockets in its interior and would hold your lunch or some other small amount of paraphernalia.
On the front of the backpack are two exterior pockets, each with a grommet. I used one for my mp3 player and ran the cord through the grommet. There are also two gathered side pockets for a drink bottle or other item.
The straps on the Pixie are adjustable and very generous. They are also quite slim; definitely designed for a woman’s body. In addition to the straps, there is a grab handle on the top of the backpack and a small hidden pocket just below for keys or other “quick access” item.
I’m quite delighted by the Pixie! The form of it is well-designed and it comes in three new eye-catching fabrics. I would have been thrilled to carry this bag as as young woman in high school or college – and find is also works well as a carry all for urban commuters.
Carry Your Gear in a Timbuk2
One of my oldest and favourite bags is a Timbuk2 backpack even after I got a laptop that was too big for the built in sleeve. I’ve carried it everywhere and it travels really well! If you’re looking for a great backpack for carrying your laptop, check out the Timbuk2 line.
Velocity MATRIX Laptop Backpack from Slappa
Protect Your Digital Gear
I watch a lot of spy movies. And I’d like to picture myself as the suave, cool, martini-drinking James Bond type (girl version, of course). But in reality, I’m the geeky sidekick … making sure the spy camera works and sherpa-ing the gear. And boy, when you have to support the James Bonds or Tom Cruises of the world (think Mission Impossible), there is a LOT of gear!
So, when the folks over at Slappa sent me a Velocity MATRIX Laptop Backpack to try, I knew that I’d be able to step up my geek sidekick game! The MATRIX is a backpack for the serious road warrior, gearhead or, interestingly enough, DJ.
First, I was surprised at how light the MATRIX is. I expected a bag that can hold TWO 17″ laptops and is covered in puncture-proof PVC would be heavy – not so. Feels really good to wear – very comfortable, so no backaches while helping out my super-spy buddies. And the mesh-covered padding on the back makes the MATRIX quite comfy even when it’s fully-loaded.
The MATRIX has a built-in laptop sleeve in the main backpack area. The sleeve is well padded and lined with a very soft material that will protect even the fussiest of laptops from scratches (the case of my MacBook Pro has seen some better days; it appreciates this pampering). It has an adjustable flap which will nestle your laptop securely and safely. The MATRIX has three other pockets for the rest of your spy (or DJ) gear. Another full length, lined pocket in front of the laptop pocket and then two progressively smaller pockets on the outside: one with all the pouches and slots you’d expect for your techno stash.
The BuckBlast Suede (Slappa’s special PVC) that the exterior of the bag is made from is waterproof and easy to clean. Great for cyclists in Vancouver and other rainy locales. And the intricate stitching and detail around the rubber exo-skeleton not only provides extra structure and protection, but also looks really cool. You’ll definitely be the envy of other sidekicks!
Finally (and don’t let your spy-boss in on this one), there is a sneaky back pocket, lined with “STAY COOL” lining for your drinks and other spy snacks. Keep ’em cool and close at hand!
Share your backpack tales!
We’d love to hear about your cool laptop backpacks experiences. What’s your favourite? Any tips to share?