The MacBook Pro is a laptop built to be versatile, so it's no wonder you want to take it with you wherever you go.
Whether that's in your carry-on luggage for a flight out of town or in your back while you bike to work, a backpack is the easiest way to transport your MacBook safely and securely.
It's an everyday necessity, and in this buying guide, we'll show you how to determine which laptop backpack is best for you depending on your preferences and whether you are currently using a 13-inch or 15-inch MacBook.
We'll also highlight a few of our favorite models and share a few additional tips for making the best of your backpack.
Read on for more!
Timbuk2 The Authority Pack: Best when you're are on the go and using a medium or smaller MacBook Pro but still want something sleek and sturdy.
Kopack Lightweight Laptop Backpack: Best for those looking for all-day durability without sacrificing security and strength of the pack.
Swiss Gear SA1923 Black TSA Friendly Scan Smart Laptop Backpack: Best if you're looking for a pack that is sure to stand up to anything you throw at it for years to come.
Solo Duane 15.6 Inch Laptop Hybrid Briefcase: Best option if you can't or don't want to carry your laptop on your back every day but still require space and high quality.
Who Should (& Should Not) Get This?
Backpacks are by definition a commuter's friend. They offer convenience, portability, and a safe way to carry your laptop in addition to other daily necessities you may need for your classes, job, or daily life. Most offer some combination of sleek design and safety features to protect your Mac while you're on the go and tend to be fairly durable.
However, you probably don't need a backpack for your MacBook if you don't frequently travel with your computer. If you mainly use your laptop at home or at work but don't travel between the two places except for very rarely, you would be better served by a simpler solution such as a MacBook sleeve that will provide protection on or off the go.
Buying a Backpack for MacBook Pro: What to Consider?
When I say size, I don't just mean that of your MacBook. Of course, you should look for a model with the correct size pocket for carrying your Mac since incorrect sizing reduces the safety of your Mac, but you should also consider what size the backpack is overall. Especially if you're trying to update your current method of carrying necessities to and from work, you need to consider if the backpack you like has enough space for your other items. Make sure any cords, files, accessories, or other items will comfortably fit inside your backpack of choice.
While you could pick up any old backpack at Target and carry your Mac in it, it isn't going to come with special padded pockets, work to protect from scratches and dents, or features specially designed to keep your laptop safe. Before purchasing a backpack, make sure it offers the level of impact-reduction and safety features you feel would be necessary during your commute.
It might not be the first thing you think of when purchasing a backpack since the items inside usually are the main contributors to the weight of a backpack. However, if you commute long distances or have any medical conditions affecting your spine, every ounce can begin to add up. Always check for the weight of a pack before deciding if it's right for you.
Did you know some backpacks come with built-in chargers? What about those that have anti-theft features? Always look for a backpack that will give you a little extra support. Whether it comes in the form of waterproof lining or extra pockets, you won't be left in the cold.
Best Backpacks for MacBook Pro: Our Picks
Sleek and modern, this pack from Timbuk2 isn't going to fail you anytime soon. The pocket comfortably fits a 13" MacBook Pro while still providing space for tablets, accessories, and peripherals without losing its shape. Complete with a water bottle holder on the side, you'll never fear for space.
- Pros: Stylish design features designated pockets that will fit your 13" or smaller Mac while protecting it from other items in the pack. It opens by zipper or clip, with plenty of organizational pouches. And it's made of nylon.
- Cons: Some users report that the backpack doesn't have a solid base that allows it to stand upright on its own and rather than leaned against a wall or another object.
Designed to get you through the day without sacrificing your style, this bag from Kopack is water resistant and anti-theft designed. The large straps help distribute weight for an easier carry while inner pockets offer organization to help you know exactly what you have and where.
- Pros: Sleek design comes with a small combination lock for the main pouch and tear-resistant nylon will keep thieves away from your Mac. The main pouch fits up to a 15.6" laptop with hidden compartments for your most valuable documents and necessities. And it's clearly designed for efficiency.
- Cons: Bottom of the backpack is not reinforced for impact protection.
If you need something rough and ready, look no further than SwissGear. Well known for providing sturdy and long lasting designs that have so much space it's mind-boggling. This pack is no exception, with compartments for everything from your water bottle to your glasses to your iPod. This pack will be your friend if you're always on the go.
- Pros: TSA friendly design makes it great for air travel while still having space to carry items beyond the essentials. The sturdy design will last you years, with wide straps for comfort and a pocket that easily fits even your 17" MacBook.
- Cons: At just over three pounds, it's definitely on the heavy side of things.
Prefer to keep things off your back and across your body instead? This convertible style bag gives your spine a break while carrying smaller model Macs. It's a sturdy pack with a simple design that will make it a joy to use in both briefcase and backpack form.
- Pros: Convertible briefcase-backpack reduces strain on your shoulders without sacrificing on the design front. Protects up to a 15.6" laptop and can stand on its own as needed with a well-padded base, with a fair amount of space for additional objects.
- Cons: Some concerns about zipper durability if using this bag heavily and frequently.
Additional Tips and Tricks
Sometimes we have a tendency to blame our own mistakes on a product. Don't let this be you- a backpack is most effective when used correctly! Here are a few things you can do to make sure you're never at fault for damage that occurs when using a backpack:
- Always make sure your Mac fits snuggly in the designated pouch. If it's too loose and can move around, it won't be nearly as well protected as when it fits well.
- Turn off your MacBook before putting in your backpack to avoid any issues with overheating from programs that run if your Mac is just sleeping.
- Don't take your backpack for granted or expect it to do everything. That means you should still take care when placing it on the floor and keep it away from unsafe conditions such as next to a space heater or placed on high ledges.
Are you an infrequent commuter or not sure you need an entire backpack? Check out our aforementioned guide to MacBook Pro sleeves, which are slim cases that can be used for light travel and storage of your Mac.
If you're a commuter, you know how important it is to keep your MacBook secure as you move from place to place. Whether it's your work machine or for personal use, no one wants to deal with a damaged laptop, and a backpack is the perfect way to make sure you're never in that situation.
So, are you already doing things to keep your MacBook safe on the go? Tell us how.
Published Jan 21, 2018.