Funky, Chic and Cool Laptop Backpacks
Save your back without sacrificing style - the funky, chic and cool laptop backpack!
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 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, fashionable backpacks for your consideration.
Designers: if you would like your bag reviewed, please check this out first.
Photo Credit: Joyheel Backpack from Ibnia Facebook Page
The AVA urban laptop backpack
FYI - Missing Photos
Below you may see images that are "missing". They are actually there but not showing for some reason - if you click through, you'll see the image that is hosted on Flickr. My apologies! I hope Squidoo fixes this soon :(
I admit it. I judge. For example, I'm on the morning train into downtown, and I see women in their twenties clinging to the railings, teetering in ridiculously high heels. Why on Earth do they commute in those shoes? Teetering is not sexy. But then I think, why do a lot of us wear the same shoes all day? Whatever happened to bringing a change of footwear?
The designers at Ibnia have answered this question. The Joyheel Laptop Backpack from Ibnia is specially designed to stow a change of shoes and securely carry your laptop. Huzzah! I was delighted when they sent me a Joyheel to review.
Designed in the Netherlands and produced in Korea, the Joyheel's international fusion can be seen in the modular and minimalist design aesthetic. The soft-shell backpack maintains its cool, curvy shape, and I love the candy apple red. I feel compelled to get a matching Dutch cruiser! Riding around town, I'll stow my espadrilles in the Joyheel backpack's unique shoe compartment.
The detachable shoe compartment secures to the top of the backpack with a zipper at the back and a sturdy and sweet gold snap and loop at the front. The compartment roughly measures 12" x 7" x 3". My bulky size 10 running shoes snugly hide away. (Since you were wondering: A US size 10 is a size 260 in Korea and 42 in Europe.)
When I don't need my shoes, I give the compartment a wipe-down and use it to pack my lunch. My food containers fit nicely, and there's even a handle to tote my meal to the lunchroom.
Along with stashing shoes or a lunch, the Joyheel backpack is perfect for any commuter or student. The main section of the backpack features two outer side-pockets for tucking away a water bottle or iPhone so they remain within reach.
The inside of backpack keeps it simple. A padded sleeve cushions my MacBook Pro (and a thicker laptop would fit, too.) There are no organizational pockets, but there's plenty of space for my wallet, keys, cords and the latest volume of Nylon. I love that I can still easily access the inside of the backpack when the shoe compartment is attached.
The Joyheel backpack is very comfortable to wear (and really pops against my monochromatic wardrobe). The back panel has extra cushioning and breathable mesh lining. Gold buckles adjust the straps and complement the minimalistic design. The Joyheel backpack's straps are smartly on a loop, keeping its clean lines with no dangling straps. You can see more photos of the Joyheel Bag on my Flickr account.
The Cool Laptop Backpack from Hadaki (Paradise Aqua Collection) - Fresh and cheerful - perfect for breezy summer days
If you're looking for a laptop backpack, this colourful bag from Hadaki is perfect for summer. Check out my review of the Hadaki over on my laptop bag lens.
The Sumo Combo Laptop/Tablet Backpack
Perfect for the lady technophile
A desktop, a MacBook Pro, an iPad, an iPhone, and an iPod. I have them all, and I admit that I have a problem. Obviously, I require a solution: a stylish bag that's made for toting around a laptop and a tablet, with room to spare for other gadgets. Here comes the Sumo Combo Laptop/Tablet Backpack from Mobile Edge, the solution for the fashionable lady technophile. The Combo Backpack is made to fit and protect both a tablet and a 14.1" laptop or 15" MacBook Pro. Woot!
Sumo products are known for their durability and functionality. I've tested others before
the Sumo Laptop Briefcase, and I really like their products.
With the Sumo Combo Backpack, the designers have combined the ease I love about backpacks with the styling I love in shoulder bags.
The Sumo Combo has comfort in mind. There are adjustable padded shoulder straps, a padded back, and a quilted back panel. (Note: my slim friend tried on the pack and found it super comfy. I tried it on (I'm a little more meaty) and the pack's straps rubbed a little into the back of my neck.) Sumo says this backpack is for the active woman's lifestyle, and I think they're spot on. The best part of this laptop/tablet backpack is its convenience safely carrying electronics while cycling to work, having your hands free for your kids, or, in my case, dealing with a very needy dog.
Remember the cartoon Inspector Gadget? Thanks to his genius niece Penny and her dog Brain, Inspector Gadget inadvertently foiled the plans of evil Dr. Claw and his M.A.D. agents every week. I was a little in love with Penny, of course - but I was always jealous of Gadget's spring-loaded shoes, helicopter hat and hand-phone. So when I opened the ScanFast Checkpoint Friendly Backpack 2.0 from Mobile Edge, I was immediately taken with its clever design and easy access to all of my geek gadgetry. It's like an Inspector Gadget backpack - for grown-ups.
The ScanFast Backpack is nice and slim but it still packs a punch. The front of the pack features two rectangular zippered pockets, perfect if you have a PC's rectangular adapter. Another zippered compartment stores accessories and keys. The key clip is particularly nice - no more digging around in the depths of my bag for my keys. There's also a unique, labeled storage section tailored for memory cards and sticks. Go-go Gadget thumb drive!
The front of the bag also features a pass-through for my earbuds. My iPod slides into a zipped, netted pocket on the inside of the bag and I can thread my earbuds to the outside, when I want to get my groove on during my commute.
The interior of the bag butterflies open, abiding by TSA regulations. (I've written before about the TSA guidelines and laptop bags). The laptop is secured in a pocket, clearly labeled "Checkpoint Friendly" for TSA agents. My 17" MacBook Pro fit well, and a PC would fit just as well. I do wonder if a smaller laptop might slide around too much - although once the bag is zippered up, any laptop would be secured. On the opposite side, there is a netted pocket. Since the bag's interior is all black, the netting makes it easier to see what I've packed.
In the front storage section of the bag, there is plenty of room for extras: reading material, snacks, and notebooks. The bag makes a perfect carry-on for a day trip or to complement my checked luggage. I like the slim line of the ScanFast - I can navigate through a crowd without whacking people with my backpack.
The pack also has a hidden pocket that unzips on the side to reveal a netted pocket for storing my water bottle, so I can easily hydrate while wearing the pack - and fighting crime.
The adjustable, ergonomic straps are extremely comfortable, and I found that the length of the backpack was comfy, too. The shoulder straps also have pockets, which did fit my iPhone. On the Cool-Mesh back of the pack, there are cushions to fit my back, which are well-placed and cushy. It's a very comfortable backpack, even when it's packed to the gills with gear.
The backpack features a lifetime warranty, is made with eco-friendly Dupont fabric, and can help you get through security faster than Go-Go Gadget legs. I'm giving it a "Wowsers!".
The ScanFast Checkpoint Friendly Backpack 2.0 retails at $99.99 - but you can get 15% off any Mobile Edge bag when you enter the coupon code FUNCHICO at the checkout.
The eighties are back. How could I not love the eighties? I was in high school in Texas. Hair couldn't get bigger. Jeans couldn't get tighter. NokHoo has captured that retro eighties vibe and given it a modern twist with the Klimt-inspired Raining Paradise Laptop Backpack. As soon as I opened it (Nicole at NokHoo kindly sent one over for me to check out), I longed to be in high school or university again. I would have DIED to have this backpack when I was a student.
This Raining Paradise laptop backpack is periwinkle with a hand-embroidered design in pinks and purples. Shiny beads and sequins give the bag a little extra sparkle. The exterior fabric is a soft, subtly textured heavy-weight cotton which has a great feel to it - plus, since the fabric is cotton, you can even hand-wash the backpack if you spill your Crush at lunchtime. There are two netted pockets, one on each side, perfect for a water bottle and an umbrella. The Raining Paradise also has really nice metal hardware, which really finishes the look of the bag.
Flipping open the pack, you find a zippered storage-compartment. I like to think of it as a "super-pocket." Opening the super-pocket reveals a zippered mesh pocket on one side and plenty of organization on the other. The mesh pocket easily tucks away a power adapter and cords. The organizational pockets on the other side include spots for pens, student I.D., Post-It notes or flash cards, and a clip for keys. Importantly, the depth of the pocket allows for all these items to be stowed without overstuffing or causing any strain zipping it up. There is also a nicely sized zippered pocket just above the super-pocket.
Inside the main compartment of the bag there are three sections: a medium-sized zippered pocket, a large storage space, and a padded lap-top space. All of these spaces are lined with a pink cotton fabric with a periwinkle print. The zippered pocket seems provides the most secure location for a wallet. The storage space provides room for notebooks and reading material. This backpack isn't for carrying a ton of books. We may have done that in the eighties, but we know better now - e-Readers all the way! The bag vertically stores a laptop up to 10.5"x16"x1.5" (W x H x D), protected with water-resistant padding. A Velcro strap secures your laptop in place.
I found the backpack very comfortable to wear. The adjustable straps are padded, and the straps are curved and tapered for a body hugging fit. So comfy! One of the straps features a snap-on pocket. The pocket won't fit a Walkman, but it's perfect for a cell phone or an iPod.
As for weather-issues...the bag description calls the exterior material "water-resistant" but I didn't have a chance to really test it out (summer in Vancouver surprisingly sunny this year!) On the one hand, while the fabric may be a little water resistant, I don't think the bag is really made for rainy weather. You know - it's cotton. On the other hand, I think this backpack is fantastic for warmer weather and sunny days. The cotton breathes and feels delightful.
If butterflies aren't your thing, NokHoo has other gorgeous styles, each with a unique graphic design on the front and fun interior fabric to match - including some guy-friendly designs and colours. All with the same awesome interior. Plus, each style is made in limited quantities so there's the added attraction of being unique in a mass-produced world. The NokHoo laptop backpacks retails for $150 and you can get your own Raining Paradise Laptop Backpack at CareerBags.com.
M.A.S.K. Custom Laptop Backpack from Slappa - Get your bag, the way you want it
The good folks at Slappa sent me one of their new, cool customizable M.A.S.K. Laptop Backpacks. There are three parts that are customizable - the lining colour, the insert design and the outer shell functionality. In the video below, Bonnie and I take a tour of the M.A.S.K., highlighting it's great features, plentiful pockets and the one thing that bugs us a little bit. If you like what you see, the M.A.S.K. retails for $129 USD; you can find out more at Slappa's website.
Fashionable Laptop Backpacks from Ghana
I just saw these new laptop backpacks from Gnana over on CareerBags.com. I've reviewed Gnana 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.
Check out this pretty pink cotton fabric backpack. It retails for $90 over at CareerBags.com
The Piggy Back Laptop Backpack from Melissa Beth Designs
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 from Melissa Beth Designs, 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.
Many thanks to Melissa for sending one over for review! If you, like me, would like to swipe some big sister style, the Melissa Beth Piggy Back Laptop Backpack is available from melissabeth.com. It retails for $89 USD. You can also check out Melissa Beth Designs on Facebook.
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 Women's Express Backpack (in both polka-dot and pink ribbon) is available for $59 USD on the Mobile Edge website. For the price of this bag, you get some really exceptional functionality; it's a great value. Thanks to Matthew at Mobile Edge for sending a review copy.
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.
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 that Crumpler sent over for review.
The King Single was definitely up for my urban Eco-Challenge. The backpack is tough, durable, water-resistant and weatherproof - 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 King Single Laptop Backpack fits most 15" laptops and is available in five different colourways . It retails for $145 USD on the Crumpler site.
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 Lexie Barnes.
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. Lexie from Lexie Barnes sent one over for review and I'm pretty sure I made some squeals of delight when I opened it up.
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.
The Pixie retails for $85.00. You can order the Pixie on lexiebarnes.com.
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.
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!
NB ... Usually I take my images directly from the designer/manufacturer, but this time, the images courtesy of Laptop Logic, a mobile gear site that has its own review of the MATRIX.
Put a Crumpler on Your Back - Lighten Your Load with these Laptop Backpacks
We'd love to hear about your laptop backpack experiences. What's your favourite? Any tips to share?