While briefcases and shoulder bags are popular ways to carry your belongings into the office on a day to day basis, they can get tiresome to lug around on business trips. In those cases, backpacks (such as my favorite eBags Professional Slim Laptop Backpack) might be a much better option.
Not only are business backpacks more comfortable to carry around, but oftentimes they also offer more storage and better ways to organize all the things you might need on an airplane or at a client’s site.
In this article, I’ll take a look at what some of the best backpacks for business travel are, as well as at what the things you should consider when choosing the right one for you are.
7 Best Backpacks for Business Travel
While the list below is in no particular order, number one is certainly one of the business backpacks in the list that I like the most.
1. SwissGear 1900 Scansmart TSA Laptop Backpack
If you are tired of having to take your laptop out of your bag every single time you pass through the security checkpoint, then the SwissGear 1900 Scansmart TSA Laptop Backpack is a good one to start your search with.
This backpack fits a laptop with a screen size of up to 17 inches, and is designed in a “checkpoint friendly” way meaning you’ll just have to unzip a couple of zippers rather than having to take your laptop out when going through security. Keep in mind that outside of the United States, and from time to time even in the United States, you might need to take it out, though.
Other than the laptop compartment (which also has a dedicated sleeve for a tablet), the backpack also has a main compartment with several organizational features such as mesh pockets, and two open pockets on its sides that can be used for holding umbrellas, water bottles, etc.
Perhaps the biggest drawback of the SwissGear 1900 backpack is its fairly limited storage space. The backpack is great if you need something for a quick day trip or if you are checking your clothes, etc. However, you might want to look for a bigger one if you would like your backpack to also hold a change of clothes, for example.
2. eBags Professional Slim Laptop Backpack
eBags is an online bag retailer founded in 1998 by a group of mostly former Samsonite employees. Later on, the company went on to create its own line of products including the eBags Professional Slim Laptop Backpack and ended up being acquired by Samsonite.
Just like the Swiss Gear backpack, this one doesn’t offer too much storage. As such, it is ideal as a carry-on for trips during which you won’t need (or will check in) a change of clothes and for day to day use.
The backpack measures 18 x 12.75 x 8.5 inches, and besides the pictured graphite color, it also comes in black and indigo. For easier portability, it’s equipped with a handle that will allow you to use it as a briefcase and a sleeve that will let you attach it (both vertically and horizontally) to a suitcase handle.
As far as organization is concerned, the backpack features several compartments including a padded laptop compartment (up to 17-inch), a tablet pocket, and an easily accessible pocket (or “garage” as the manufacturer calls it) for your chargers.
Besides that, the backpack also has a front compartment with a variety of (both zippered and open) pockets, as well as a main compartment for some of the larger items you might need to carry. You can protect your belongings inside the bag with a standard travel lock.
3. Samsonite Novex Laptop Backpack
If I had to pick the bag with the most “business-like” design on this list, then it would have to be this one – the Samsonite Novex Laptop Backpack. It measures 17.5 x 12.25 x 7.25 inches and weights about 2.9 pounds.
The backpack can fit a laptop with a screen size of 13 to 15.6 inches, and unlike some other laptop backpacks in which smaller laptops “float” within a padded pocket, this one has a pocket designed in a way that adjusts to the size of the laptop and thus keeps it secure in one place.
Furthermore, it’s “checkpoint friendly” as well, and so, in many cases you will be able to avoid having to take your laptop out of your bag while going through security.
As for its other compartments, it has a decently sized main compartment, as well as a pair of front pockets that you can use to organize some of your smaller belongings like travel documents, pens, cards, etc. And, it also has a padded table pocket and a pair of open pockets for holding things like bottles and umbrellas.
Overall, if you are looking for a backpack with a simple and professional design to take with you on your next business trip or even to use during your regular commute, you can’t go wrong with this one. The one thing to keep in mind before buying this one, though, is the fact that it doesn’t fit 17-inch laptops.
4. Timbuk2 Command Laptop Backpack
The Timbuk2 Command Laptop Backpack is made by Timbuk2, a San francisco-based company founded more than 25 years ago. The backpack’s dimensions are 11.2 x 19.5 x 6.5 inches, offering 30 liters of storage capacity. It weighs 2.4 pounds.
While perhaps the main advantages of this business backpack are its quality build and comfortable back padding and straps, it also offers enough pockets to keep you organized.
Besides the padded laptop compartment holding devices with up to 15.6-inch screen size, the backpack also features a smaller padded pocket on its front side which works well for storing a Kindle or a small tablet.
The backpack also has another, small, front pocket where you can store your cellphone, sunglasses, or some other small item that you need to be able to easily access, as well as a side bottle pocket.
Finally, it has two main compartments – one narrow one for storing larger books, folders, etc., and another large one where you can keep a change of clothes or other random bulky items.
Overall, this is a solid backpack to consider with one of its only disadvantages being its relative lack of smaller pockets and storage compartments within the larger pockets. And, as such, you might want to avoid this one if you prefer to have your smaller items “perfectly sorted.”
5. Osprey Packs Nebula Daypack
Osprey is a luggage manufacturer well-known for its high quality backpacks, especially the kind one would use for backpacking. However, their Osprey Packs Nebula Daypack is suited for use in a business environment as well.
Like some of the other backpacks in this list, the Nebula Daypack is equipped with a TSA-friendly laptop compartment which will save you the hassle of having to take your laptop out at the security checkpoint.
While the bag offers several different internal and external organization pockets, the main reason to choose this bag would be its mesh back which makes carrying it comfortable. After all, many of the bags Osprey designs are often carried for hours at a time.
6. SwissGear Wenger Ibex Laptop Backpack
The SwissGear Wenger Ibex Laptop Backpack, the second backpack in the list from this manufacturer, measures 19 x 15 x 9 inches, and so offers slightly more storage capacity than the first one.
Its well-padded laptop compartment can accommodate for screen sizes of up to 17 inches. Unfortunately, though, it is not designed to be “checkpoint friendly” and so you will have to take your laptop out of it when going through security.
Other than that, the backpack has three main compartments for storing documents, books, clothes, etc. And, it also has a separate pocket that can accommodate a 10″ tablet or a Kindle.
The backpack is equipped with CaseBase Stabilizing Platform, Swiss Gear’s name for a design which helps the bag stand upright and prevents it from tipping. It also has enough back padding to allow for air circulation and thus prevent sweating.
Overall, this is a nice backpack with plenty of space for your belongings. The one thing that I find unfortunate about it, though, is its color – but then again, that’s just a matter of personal preference.
7. High Sierra AT3 Carry-On Wheeled Backpack
The thing that sets the High Sierra AT3 Carry-On Wheeled Backpack apart from all of the other backpacks in this list is, as its name suggests, the fact that it’s equipped with wheels and so can be easily carried around.
Not only that, but the front part of the bag can be completely unzippered and used as a daypack.
The bag is made out of Duralite Tech-Weave and the main part of it measures 22 x 13.5 x 9 inches while the removable daypack measures 16.5 x 12 x 5.75 inches for a total capacity of 52 liters. Since the bag lacks a laptop pocket, you will want to use a standalone laptop sleeve.
While this is a great backpack for business travel – especially for two-three day trips as the main part of this backpack provides plenty of storage – you might run into airlines that won’t allow it onboard due to its size. In that case, you can remove the daypack, carry it on, and check the main bag in.
The other downside of the bag, which is understandable due to its construction, is that at 9.5 pounds, it’s quite heavy.
Things to Consider When Choosing the Best Backpack for Business Travel
Now that you know what some of the best backpacks for business travel are, let’s take a look at what the factors that you should consider when choosing one to suit you the best should be.
Brand: While you don’t necessarily have to go for a backpack by one of the major brands like Samsonite, Osprey, or Swiss Gear, if you go with one, you will oftentimes receive better customer service and quality than with generic products.
Size: Many of the business backpacks are fairly similar in size, commonly around 18 x 13 x 9 inches. However, some are considerably larger than that and others can be considerably smaller. While the first case might cause you trouble if you are planning to travel with the backpack as a carry on, the other case might cause you to not have enough space to pack all the items you need. As such, always check the backpack’s size before ordering one.
Weight: You don’t have to be concerned about the weight of the backpack you buy too much since they are all generally about the same weight. If you are planning to carry the backpack on, you might want to avoid heavier backpacks with wheels, though.
Material: Generally, business backpacks are made out of nylon or similar materials. While I wouldn’t worry about the material itself too much, it might be worth checking whether the material your preferred backpack is made of is waterproof, or at least water-resistant.
Color: Personally, I prefer simple designs and colors, and so I would always go for a black backpack if I was looking for one to use for business (or even in personal life). If you are more fun than me, you might want to go with a more vibrant color, though.
Organizational features: One of the most important things to consider when choosing a backpack for business travel is what items you are planning to carry around and what pockets the bag is equipped with. Many backpacks come with a padded laptop compartment, as well as a variety of internal and external pockets that let you organize your things in a way where you always know where you can find a specific item.
Other features: Some backpacks offer unique features that might make or break the deal. Such features include removable daypacks, wheels that make it easier to lug the backpack around (although at that point they stop becoming backpacks…), and sleeves that let you attach the backpack to the handle of your suitcase.
While suitcases are great for longer travel, if you tend to take shorter business trips, getting a backpack can make your life easier. Some of the things to consider when choosing a backpack for business travel include brand, size, and organizational features.
In case you are undecided about which business backpack to get, I recommend you to consider the following three which are my favorites from the list above:
- eBags Professional Slim Laptop Backpack
- Samsonite Novex Laptop Backpack
- High Sierra AT3 Carry-On Wheeled Backpack