How to Choose a Laptop Bag

May 13, 2009

in computer hardware,mobile computing

by David Hakala

After buying a laptop computer, you need something to carry it in. Laptop bags come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and configurations. If you answer a few questions, you can quickly narrow down the choices to the right laptop bag for you.

What size bag do you need? Standard bags will hold laptops with screens up to about 16 inches. Measure your laptop screen diagonally from one corner of the viewing area to the opposite one, and shop for a bag accordingly.

What hardware devices do you need to carry? Power supply, USB hub, PC cards, external drives, etc., should fit into pouches and zippered pockets sewn into the laptop bag. Enumerate what you have to carry and look carefully at each bag’s configuration.

Will you carry business papers? A briefcase-style laptop bag, divided inside for papers on one side and laptop on the other, is a smart bet for business users.

Are you a student? Backpacks with laptop compartments let you carry books, too.

Do you fly a lot? A rolling overnight suitcase with a detachable laptop bag is just what you need.

Are you a no-frills kind of person or a fashion plate? The standard black nylon laptop bag may suit you just fine. I have one of moss-green canvas with brown leather trim that doesn’t get lost in the crowd but only cost about $40. All-leather showcases can run into the hundreds of dollars. It’s your money and your call.

Look for rugged, heavy stitching on all seams. The more foam padding a laptop bag has, the better; some have air-filled bubble wrap linings which are cool until bubbles pop. Zippers should work smoothly and easily. An extra-wide shoulder strap with a non-slip sliding pad is essential.

Beyond these practical basics you will find laptop bags in every conceivable style, from Gucci to Hello Kitty. Your laptop bag can be a projection of your self-image. Have fun with it!

David Hakala has perpetrated technology tutorials since 1988 in addition to committing tech journalism, documentation, Web sites, marketing collateral, and profitable prose in general. His complete rap sheet can be seen at