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Finding a New Laptop Bag

For the past couple years I've been using a Targus (I think the model 300 right now) and they've been functional if uninspiring. As I'm sure many of you do, the laptop bag serves as more than just something to carry a laptop, being a combination tool bag and briefcase as needed. I typically carry a power cord, usb cable to charge phone/headset, extra pen, business cards, small audio earphones for plane trips, plus my notepad and pen, plus at least a book and a magazine for any time I'm waiting on someone or something.

The Targus bags I've had have worked, but seem to show wear quickly and the shoulder straps seem to be poorly designed, wanting to constantly twist and no stay shouldered. As for the wear, I don't baby the bags, they get pushed into overhead bins, stuffed under airline seats, thrown (gently) behind the seat in the car/truck, etc. My current one is due for replacement for two reasons; one is it's starting to look kinda ratty, not the impression you want to make on clients, and two, I enjoy good tools and this just doesn't quite fit the definition (though maybe it's just a style thing!).

For years before that I used a Dell bag that was leather and it held up well, only downside was that it was a little extra bulky. This time, looking for solid and something a bit different. I've perused Amazon and ebags.com, looked at the Compusa selection, and even stopped in at Travel Country Outdoors. Interesting candidates so far:

Have to say I'm partial to the Maxpedition bag, industrial strength construction though I wish for less velcro, with the Eagle Creek bag a close second. I think only the Skooba bag meets the TSA requirements for getting through security without taking the laptop out of the bag. A definite plus, but not a deal breaker. Shoes that I didn't have to take off, that would be nice! Prices on these range from $75 to $200, compared to an average of $30-$50 for the run of the mill bags at Compusa that are functional. Current bags are good for about 2 years or so, so on pure price I don't see that I can justify it, I doubt even the best bag lasts 8 years! Still, I need to replace the current bag, so I'll spend a few minutes thinking about it just because I hate throwaways.

While I'm shopping thought I'd ask - what's been a good bag for you and why? Is there one feature you have to have? Wish it was smaller and lighter, or bigger so that it could double as a 1-2 day carry on bag? Found other good sites for browsing the options?


I'm Andy Warren, currently a SQL Server trainer with End to End Training. Over the past few years I've been a developer, DBA, and IT Director. I was one of the original founders of SQLServerCentral.com and helped grow that community from zero to about 300k members before deciding to move on to other ventures.


Posted by Grant Fritchey on 19 May 2009

For what it's worth, I've purchased several Maxpedition products over the years. They're fantastic! They hold up well and are designed very well. I've been carrying a Maxpedition Jumbo Versipack for about three years. My wife has been using a Fatboy for about two. If you get that one, you'll get tired of it before it wears out.

Posted by Andy Warren on 19 May 2009

That's a pretty good endorsement Grant! Wish I could try them all first. Maybe I can get Steve to subsidize buying all four and writing reviews of them?

Posted by Steve Jones on 19 May 2009

I just got a new Ogio, courtesy of Microsoft. It's a backpack bag, which I've never had. Haven't had occasion to  pack up and check it out, but the reviews from Amazon were good.


Posted by Grant Fritchey on 20 May 2009

Yeah, If Steve wants to buy me some Maxpedition stuff, I'll write up nice long reviews of it. Multi-part, take 'em on the road & out into the woods reviews.

Posted by Andy Warren on 20 May 2009

Here is another option I picked up via LinkedIn: www.saddlebackleather.com

Posted by Peter Shire on 20 May 2009

ohhh. Those Saddleback Leather cases look nice! Problem is you may end up buying other matching pieces.

Posted by Andy Warren on 20 May 2009

Steve can get some leather saddlebags for the ranch!

Posted by Andy Warren on 20 May 2009

Here's another one, leather and canvas: www.bobtimberlake.com/vertical_shop.cfm

Posted by Peter Lake on 21 May 2009

Anyone use a wheeled bag? I had shoulder surgery last year due to torn stuff. I am sure carrying a 15-20 pound bag had something to do with that, so I replaced my bag with a wheeled one. I had trouble finding anything that could carry a 17" laptop and still was considered a bag (that fit in the overhead) and not checked luggage. The one I finally got wasn't cheap (about $120 I think) and is not working. The support system in the base has collapsed so when I set it down it tips over, and it is wearing out fast at any stress point. Would any of you go for a wheeled flavor, or does it seem too irritating wheeling around everywhere? It can be hellaciously loud on some floors.

Posted by Andy Warren on 22 May 2009

I've never been much interested in wheeled bags (for no good reason), but I can see where they make sense. For a shoulder bag I watch the weight, trying not to tote some of those 3 pound books that come around once in a while. Can I ask which one you're using now?

Posted by mike Mollenhour on 22 May 2009


I had the same issue had to do rehab on my shoulder with a 17 inch monitor. I have been using a samsonite roller bag since shop.samsonite.com/.../prod397XXX122.html. I really like the side load (real easy to pull laptop out at security) and it fits my 17 inch laptop. The other nice thing is it has a 3 year warranty on the rollers, zippers, and handle. My first one had an issue were the handle broke took it back to my local outlet store and they replaced it as well as starting the 3 year waranty over. Starting to have some issues with the zipper now so we will see if they cover it as well as the handle.

Posted by Lars Rasmussen on 22 May 2009

I use the eBags Macroloader Laptop Backpack and am pleased with it.  It's a large bag with several compartments, including one with a removable side load sleeve with handle for the laptop.  The bag fits in an airplane's overhead bin, even when quite full.  In the airport I carry the laptop in the sleeve along with a printed copy of my boarding pass and maps, and reclaim the space freed by removing the sleeve from the backpack for clothing until arriving at a hotel.

Video Review


Looks like ebags isn't carrying the all black exterior that I have at present, but they do have 2 other colors.


Posted by Andy Warren on 26 May 2009

I'll have a follow up post soon, some good ideas above, makes me yearn for a local store so I could see these in person. Read a review on one bag where the guy had purchaed 8 different bags before getting one he liked! I'll try not to be that demanding, but it's a challenge to really tell if the construction works or not.

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