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Advice On Notebook Backpacks? 642

UnknowingFool writes "I'm about to go on a whirlwind trip with my laptop. Currently I'm using a generic laptop bag, but it's not really made for trips like this. I want to see if I can get a good notebook backpack and wanted to know what experiences traveling geeks here have had with notebook backpacks. My criteria: 1) Around $50 2) Functional enough to be used after my trip as a generic backpack 3) Tough enough to survive hauling through airport, yet comfortable enough to endure wearing for hours 4) Enough pockets for my chargers, cables , etc." I've been impressed with some bags from Targus; any good suggestions out there?
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Advice On Notebook Backpacks?

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  • EBags (Score:5, Informative)

    by NitsujTPU ( 19263 ) on Sunday October 10, 2004 @09:01PM (#10489136)
    I've been browsing around, which seems to be a good source of data on bags (though I'm interested in messenger style bags).
    • Re:EBags (Score:5, Informative)

      by iocat ( 572367 ) on Sunday October 10, 2004 @09:17PM (#10489253) Homepage Journal
      eBags is really nice site to deal with. I bought my JanSport [] bag there and I like it, although it's kind of big (great for trips, because it can hold an extra change of clothes, kind of overkill for day to day because I keep losing things in all the pockets).

      If you're looking for something that doesn't look, feel, and act like every other bag on the market, you should definitely check out groundwear []. That link goes to a good laptop bag, but they have some backpacks that would also fit the bill. My friend at work has one of their bags and I am jealous enough of it that I may shelve the JanSport except for over night trips.

      • Like the Jansport. (Score:3, Informative)

        by twitter ( 104583 )
        I've had this bag's ancestor [] for about nine years. The organizer pockets are awesome, with three palm top sized pockets, each with smaller pocket in front for holding five pens, several pc cards CF and other things. The main compartment has room for a good sized laptop, such as a thinkpad, a binder, an engineering pad and book or two or a large camera. A smaller zippered pocket fits wires, chords and a cell phone. It's not a slick as a real brief case or a Hartman leather bag, it's cheaper and more comf
    • Re:EBags (Score:5, Informative)

      by erwin ( 8773 ) on Sunday October 10, 2004 @09:22PM (#10489285)
      I had a Timbuk2 []bike messenger bag that I use to carry a Vaio and a change of clothes to and from work. It's a great bag, and I see that they now have a laptop model. The cool thing, they're bags have a rubberized skin thatm makes them largly water proof (though not water-tight). I crashed my bike once and landed flat on my back on top of the Vaio and the bag/clothes combo saved the laptop from even a dent. I think if you want a messenger bag, get it from the folks who make professional messenager bags.
      • Re:EBags (Score:5, Informative)

        by fafaforza ( 248976 ) on Sunday October 10, 2004 @09:28PM (#10489321)
        I had a Timbuk2 too. Very, very well made, great stitching and materials, so he'll have a hard time finding one for $50, even on eBay.

        Their bags are sturdy and water tight, though. I had no qualms throwing it around with my delicate Titanium PowerBook inside, or walking with it in heavy rain.
        • Re:EBags (Score:3, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward
          This is sort of a "you get what you pay for" situation, though. Shell out a little more for the Timbuk2 bag, it will last forever.

          And those cute messenger girls will be all like "Hey, nice bag".
          • "cute" ? (Score:3, Funny)

            by Gothmolly ( 148874 )
            By "cute messenger girls", do you mean that crowd of dreadlock-wearing, cigarette smoking, locker-room smelling, hairy legged girls who loiter around the entrances to the buildings downtown? Some might call that cute, I suppose, this is Slashdot.
      • Re:EBags (Score:5, Informative)

        by Stinking Pig ( 45860 ) on Sunday October 10, 2004 @10:46PM (#10489764) Homepage
        I have a Timbuk2 bag as well -- the largest courier bag. At first I was going to return it, largest is really large. Get the smaller size if you're under six feet tall. They have a great configger on their website, which is worth checking out.

        It holds a ton of gear and a week's worth of clothes. It can be jammed into the space under an airplane seat, would be practically impossible to remove from my person in a quick mugging scenario, and doesn't scream "geek with electronics!" Though I suppose the BlackBerry and iRiver sticking out of my pockets do that... My bag has also had plenty of beverages spilled on it without harm to anything inside.
        • Re:EBags (Score:3, Interesting)

          by ottothecow ( 600101 )
          I also have a Timbuk2. They make great bags.

          The El Ocho is the best all around size (about the size of a school backpack) but they make 2 larger ones and 1 smaller. I ordered mine in the ballistic nylon and it really is quite bombproof. At the time they offered an additional inside coating (it already comes with a waterproof rubberized coating) and a rubber bottom but I am glad that I didnt order them as they wouldnt help (its already waterproof enough and durable enough). Get the Strap Pad you will

      • Re:EBags (Score:5, Informative)

        by cjsnell ( 5825 ) on Sunday October 10, 2004 @11:56PM (#10490081) Journal
        If you want a truly hardcorde messenger bag, you should check out Ortleib []. Timbuk2 is good (we [] used to sell them) but I think the Ortleib's contruction is more "bomber".

        However, if you want a computer bag, you really don't want a bike messenger bag. These bags are usually designed for papers and small packages--not heavy laptops. You're better off with a real laptop backpack. I love my JanSport pack--I think it's the "Firewire" model. I bought mine at the mall and probably paid about $100 than I would have paid at eBags. I carried a heavy Apple TiBook, along with books and cables, on a business trip to New Zealand. My laptop survived six flights, five hotels, and countless bus rides without a scratch.

        • Re:EBags (Score:3, Interesting)

          by hankwang ( 413283 ) *
          check out Ortleib.

          It's called Ortlieb, but apparently it's misspelled so often that they made a website mirror under the name

    • by quinxy ( 788909 ) * on Sunday October 10, 2004 @09:29PM (#10489323) Homepage
      My gf bought from ebags, and she accidentally accepted one of their "free" offers which meant she was subscribed to some $$$/month fee for some discount "club" or something. Took her 3 months to notice. She's a bright girl, and certainly didn't want the damn club membership. I'm not saying it's illegal or anything, it's just always tough to read all the fine print, and always be on your guard against those things.
    • Re:EBags (Score:3, Informative)

      I like this backpack by Mobile Edge on roduct_detail/index.cfm?ModelID=18154 []
      If you look closely at the pictures you'll see that it even has a special pocket for a CD/MP3 player with a hole for the headphone cord. That way you can listen to music without even taking the MP3 player out of the backpack. There's a detachable pocket for your cell phone. It also doesn't look obviously like a laptop bag. Some of the reviewers thought it was a little
    • Re:EBags (Score:3, Funny)

      by swordboy ( 472941 )
      Get a Zero Halliburton [] case and a set of matching hand cuffs to tie it into your wrist. You'll be surprised as to how many women will sleep with you (and your laptop) based on the "mystery factor" alone.


      Tell them that you are transporting ice skates [].
    • Re:EBags (Score:4, Informative)

      by mesach ( 191869 ) on Sunday October 10, 2004 @10:59PM (#10489847)
      1) Around $50 2) Functional enough to be used after my trip as a generic backpack 3) Tough enough to survive hauling through airport, yet comfortable enough to endure wearing for hours 4) Enough pockets for my chargers, cables , etc.

      Pick 3, You can never have it all, especially when price is one of the options. Its always to low

      I don't think I would trust any bag that cost $50 to protect my laptop, its one area that i spent a bunch of money and got a nice setup.
    • by davidsyes ( 765062 ) on Monday October 11, 2004 @12:28AM (#10490188) Homepage Journal
      Sept 5, 2001, I bought a RakGear backpack for $70. The line was subsequently bought up by Targus and then KILLED OFF. It looks like the one in the picture at this URL: 747

      Closer, or actually it is (except mine is black with olive or deep green, not blue, trim): BA CKPACK_BLACK_NAVY/4014-6459_9-5979339.html?q=

      Model RBND05. The only thing I could recommend to Targus if they care to resurrect the bag is to flatten the internal rack's feet and widen them, and reinforce the bottom. I loaded my rack's shelves with color magazines, papers and even my BJC-85 bubblejet alternately. Over time, the weight ruined the leather on the outside, although on the inside the damage is invisible because the nylon/whatever material is resilient. But, dragging the bag or repeatedly pushing it along by foot on a bus or on another floor WILL damage it after about 2 years.

      I don't like that Targus bought up my bag's style and then seems to have killed it off. It's a nice bag.

      This bag: gr /rakdeluxe.htm

      seems less "backpack-bomberish" in that they removed the lower side and back pouches that I stuck batteries and toiletries and even a surge strip into, but I don't think it will carry the weight of stuff I can carry in mine. It is WELL worth the US $70.00

      Also, check epinions:

      This bag clearly shows the removable star-shaped/4-point accessory strap which could tie down a number of things...

      Also, read: kg ear.htm

      The rest of this is from my attachment to "Do yourself a favor", at: 04 72989

      It seems they and SONY both benefit, as the best features of the Rack Gear bag are now labelled with those two names, but they dispensed with the book/notes rack inside. I use my rack, since it lets me organize things. Fully loaded, I've marched, ahem, walked 14 miles (from 1245 AM to 0515 AM) from Mountain View (El Camino & Castro) to San Jose (Winchester & Stevens Creek) once with some 28 to 32 pounds of laptop, accessories, paper, a 5-or 6-plug surge strip and thick 6-foot cable by Fellowes on once side, and my toiletries (toothpaste, brush, mouthwash, toilet seat covers, and other things) on the other side, and such inside it. The worst part of the walk was my shoes, but that RACK GEAR bag was not too uncomfortable. A military friend of mine said that much weight on my 150-lb body frame, in the context of that walk on concrete would more than be sufficient to meet some beyond-normal fitness tests...

      Depending on my needs, I can remove some papers or a book and insert my pair of 2-inch thick add-on speakers, the audio converter wire, a small 5-port switch, two 5-foot lengths of Cat-5, 2 or 3 thinwire RJ-45-wired pieces, it's OWN power supply, in addition to the screw drivers and tools. I basically have a 35-lb computer office on my back. Why the hell? I felt I needed a laptop to show the SBA/SCORE my business plan spreadsheets in action rather than on paper. I also stuck inside the bag my Canon BJC-85, 2 or 4 spare or redundant laptop disks, the PCMCIA adaptor for them, and some floppies as well, plus several CDs/DVDs of Mandrake. Yep, talk about ROAD WARRIOR. AND, on the strap side, where the laptop is padded and against my back, there is a section to stick yet MORE paper, between the LT and the racked area of the backpack. I've only seen maybe 3 in use, one in Oregon and maybe 2 in Calif.

      The DOWNside of this pack is if you use yours like I do mine, the shelf feet will, after a year of lifting/dragging on bus floors and running to chase buses, wear out the leather bot
    • Re:EBags (Score:3, Informative)

      I saw this one a few weeks ago at a Best Buy. It is rather nice.

      Swiss Gear Maxxum []
      • Re:EBags (Score:5, Informative)

        by Collin ( 41088 ) on Monday October 11, 2004 @02:31AM (#10490708) Homepage
        i second the recommendation on the swissgear maxxum. i got mine for $45 after rebate at staples during the back to school sales. they were clearancing them but you may still be able to find them at the office stores or as the original poster mentioned, at bestbuy for a bit more money.

        the bag has pockets all over the place and would be ideal for travel. it has two large compartments. the one closest to you back is the laptop sleeve with padding and a few pockets for CDs and other stuff. You can fit more flat stuff in this compartment as well. The second large compartment is a deep bathtub that can take a bunch of books, clothes, etc. if this compartment had some velcro strips so you could add dividers for camera and other gear it would be ideal.

        there is also a zippered back section with organizer pockets inside for business cards, key clip, and other stuff. Between the two large compartments is a small pouch for CD/MP3 player with earphone cord port. along the sides are two tall narrow zippered pockets that can fit cords, mice, chargers, small tripodds, etc.

        on the sides are two generously sized mesh pockets that can hold water bottles or umbrellas or a rolled up newspaper or magazine. Finally, there is a open compartment held by straps on the very back that you can shove shoes or other weird shape stuff and pull the straps tight to hold it on. The bottom of the pack is flat and helps keep the bag standing up when you set it on the ground.

        There are two convenient handles on the top: a nice big rubber grip one, and another one that is just a strap. The shoulder straps are very padded and use a elastic mount, which is comfortable, but i'd rather have solid straps rather than the bouncy feel of these suspension systems. The flat black is very thickly padded with airflow channels. I find this very comfortable, but the padding tends to rub against your back in a way that rides the back of your shirt upwards as you walk. There is also a waist strap which helps keep things stable. when you are running or walking. I wish it had a sternum strap though.

        Overall, a great bag, although a bit large for everyday use. I got another smaller swiss gear bag for daily use going to class.
  • I got one a couple years ago.. It's fairly well padded and comfortable. I used it for a year for everyday school use with no problems at all. I only stopped using it to give to a friend. I'd recommend it as it seems to fit your needs as described.
    • Agreed! The one I've had for about 1.5 years now looks just like the model called Citygear at the link provided. It's been quite handy, comfortable and durable. It even has som weather resistance to it. I'd not intentionaly take it out uncovered and into a downpour with the precious in it but I have been caught in a few rains while on my bike and my lappy and often accompanying O'Reilly bible d'jour were still snug and dry when I arived at point B.

      I've toted a 14" Dell and currently a 12" iBook for some t

    • I'd recommend it as it seems to fit your needs as described.
      One problem with Targus bags is the fact that it's a well known brand for laptop cases... you might as well carry a sign "I carry an expensive laptop, please rob me".

      Robbers increasingly look for high-potential targets, like people with the tell-tale white Ipod earphones. If you get a Targus bag, remove the brand labels.
  • I thought the most important feature is to prevent theft? Well, a notebook bag isn't going to prevent theft, but a normal-looking back will prevent thieves from realising you're carrying a notebook.
  • Spire (Score:3, Informative)

    by cartzworth ( 709639 ) on Sunday October 10, 2004 @09:02PM (#10489146) Journal
    SpireUSA makes great bags []
  • by scapermoya ( 769847 ) * on Sunday October 10, 2004 @09:04PM (#10489149) Homepage
    I use the Jinx backpack: Jinx Laptop backpack [] its $80 but i feel like it was well worth it. it has all the room for the extra stuff, its really comfy, and I feel like it is keeping my dell lappy nice and secure. It sounds like we do similar things, airports, etc. If you are willing to spend it, go for this one. Scapermoya.
  • Crumpler (Score:5, Informative)

    by awful ( 227543 ) on Sunday October 10, 2004 @09:05PM (#10489153) Homepage
    These guys make great sturdy bags, with nice designs and pockets.
    Crumpler computer bags []
    • Re:Crumpler (Score:2, Informative)

      by scattol ( 577179 )
      I've got the shrinkle []. It's a camera bag and a laptop bag at the same time. When you travel you need room for the digital camera and the laptop. That bag is ideal. Since you can take the camera part completely out, you can also convert it into a regular back pack.
      • Re:Crumpler (Score:5, Informative)

        by ShogZilla ( 136264 ) on Sunday October 10, 2004 @09:49PM (#10489449)
        I'll second recommending crumpler bags - I actually have two, a "formal lounge" and a "brian's hottub" - got the hottub when I moved on to a laptop larger than the formal lounge could handle.

        They're both of the "camera bag" variety, and deceptively roomy inside. I have, on occasion, carried three laptops plus associated cables, bricks, & sundry drives at once in the hottub - though admittedly only one laptop got the full padded-pocket protection. The entire interior is fuzzy velcro, so velcro straps can be used to secure items on the inside; has a wealth of pockets & straps; is amazingly comfortable to wear and sturdily built.

        The downside is cost - these bags aren't even close to the 50$ price point. More like $150+.

        Oh, and if you move to a 17" widescreen or 16" 4:3 laptop, you'll have to get the hottub model.

    • Re:Crumpler (Score:4, Informative)

      by StArSkY ( 128453 ) on Sunday October 10, 2004 @09:39PM (#10489384) Homepage
      yeah, I bought a crumpler:

      Team Player []

      These bags are incredibly sturdy, I travelled around asia with my laptop and clothes in this baby.

      mine was silver and blue.

  • by Rick and Roll ( 672077 ) on Sunday October 10, 2004 @09:05PM (#10489160)
    The targus bags look nice, but they have "EXPENSIVE LAPTOP" written all over them.

    My suggestion: get a regular JanSport (or whatever) backup, so theives can't tell you have a laptop.

    Not too long ago, a /.'er told the story of leaving his empty laptop bag in the back seat of his car, only to return to a car with smashed windows.

    Besides, I think a regular backpack is perfectly functional, unless you have a 17" laptop. Used one all the time for my old 12 incher (which was about the same time as today's 15 incher, because of widescreen and having the screen stretched very close to the edge).

    • by fpga_guy ( 753888 ) on Sunday October 10, 2004 @09:12PM (#10489216)
      Even better, get something like a Lowe Alpine bag (I have a Contour Mountain) that has an inner sleeve for those CamelBack water bladders - any sensible-sized laptop fits perfectly in there.

      When I travel with my laptop I buy a bubble-wrap envelope from the post office , put the laptop in there and put the whole thing in the water bladder sleeve - takes 10 seconds to pull it out through airport security checks, and provides enough padding to keep it happy and healthy.

      • neoprene (Score:3, Interesting)

        by wooby ( 786765 )
        That's a good idea. I have a Jansport backpack with a "bladder pouch," but instead of a bubble-wrap I have a zippered neoprene sleeve for the laptop. The sleeve itself doesn't have room for the power supply or mouse, but combined with the various small pockets the backpack affords the whole setup has done me well on a number of trips. The neoprene sleeve is made by Tucano [], but I bought it at a local computer store so it or something like it shouldn't be too hard to find.
    • I use a regular backpack with a laptop sleeve. It protects my laptop and doesn't screem "TAKE ME."

      I would recommend a laptop sleeve along with the rebular backpack becuase regular backpack don't offer much in terms of protection.
    • My wife bought a cheap briefcase with a zipper, to carry some of her paperwork from work. It looked very similar to one of the expensive laptop bags. She left it in our vehicle overnight, and the next day our vehical was broken into, and only that bad was missing.
    • I've got a 12" iBook (which is pretty durable, as far as laptops go) and I just went to the fabric store and got 1/3 yard of 1/4" foam, folded it in half twice, pinned it together with safety pins, and slipped the laptop into the open end. It just sits in my old Jansport (great quality, by the way -- and you can get it repaired free [+ shipping] for life), and I haven't had so much as a scratch even while carrying it around campus, the subway, and downtown and treating it as a college student would typical
    • by aristotle-dude ( 626586 ) on Sunday October 10, 2004 @10:15PM (#10489610)
      Here is a better idea. Put your valuables in the trunk.

      Leaving a regular backpack in the back seat can still be a tempting target.

      Common sense is a better defense.

      • by King_TJ ( 85913 ) on Sunday October 10, 2004 @10:28PM (#10489683) Journal
        Well, yes... It's always better to keep things completely out of sight. But I recall working at a job where one of the salesmen was just issued a new laptop, and someone saw him carrying it out to his car and putting it in his trunk. They waited until nobody was looking and pried his trunk open with a crowbar to get the laptop.

        So you're still better off if people don't even think you're carrying a laptop when you're walking around. You never know if they're watching you put it away!
        • Happened to a friend once outside a club. She had kept her stuff in the trunk before entering the club, and just took her id and her wallet. Someone had seen her do this, and when she came back everything was lost.

          It's probably a better idea to put things in your trunk beforehand and then go wherever the hell you're going. You can try making sure that there's nobody around, but I'm sure that the guys who do this sort of thing are probably very organized and will keep subtle watch.

          Better yet, don't carry t
  • I got one, an "Icon" brand one from CC awhile ago. Since sold the laptop, kept the bag and use it daily for school.

    The backpadding supports work well when carrying textbooks for 4 classes.....

    As someone else mentioned...carrying a backpack is a good way to prevent theft, as its less liable just to be "set down" for a second and less visible as a bag containing a laptop.
  • Trivial Warning (Score:2, Informative)

    I bought a Targus bag and I am absoloutely in love with it. However, I do use a slightly larger laptop (around 6 lbs, 16" screen, Vaio) and my laptop fits almost too snugly into my the laptop protection slide that is in most Targus bags. If you have a larger laptop, make sure you try it before you buy it. That aside, I've been using my Targus bag for over a year now, bought it for $35 and I love it. Carries all the books I ever need, place for my mouse and all my cables... great bag.
  • Targus Laptop bag (Score:2, Informative)

    by DeDmeTe ( 678464 ) asp I have an older model back pack which is no longer available.. but I'd live and die by it. I've had it for 2 years, and there still isn't a single tear in it. I can't belive how much crap I can fit in it. It gets used every day.. been dropped many times and has travelled with me on every flight for the past couple of years. I love it!
  • I recently purchased one of the Targus bags (the TXL617), and I have been really happy with it. After years of owning a laptop, I tend to Targus because I have always been extremely satisfied with their bags, and recently started taking the train to work. The old laptop case I had became somewhat unwieldy, as I often needed to carry other things so I had a laptop bag AND a regular backpack. Then I found the Targus backpack, and its like a godsend. Plenty of pockets to store all my stuff without getting
  • Here []'s the bag that I use. I've had no problems with it. It's really really comfortable, fits a bigger than average laptop and seems to keep it safe. It's got a good number of extra pockets. My only complaint is that it doesn't hold much else besides the laptop. It's not as big as my old Land's End backpack.

  • Brenthaven (Score:2, Informative)

    by atlauren ( 213357 )
    Brenthaven sells the best backpacks I've ever seen. Definitely well above the $50 threshhold - more like $150-$200. But the contstruction is impeccable, lots of pockets, very comfortable, sternum straps, and expandable enough to be used as an overnight/weekend bag.

    Apple-cobranded versions are available at Apple retail stores; standard product line is available at fine luggage stores near you.

    This space for rent.
    • Re:Brenthaven (Score:3, Informative)

      by oneishy ( 669590 )

      Just to say.. I agree, the Brenthaven backpack I have is just awesome. It does well as a normal backpack, and I love that it isn't plastered with logos and is just a plain backpack (we joke that it looks like a parachute bag.. but anyway). The apple cobranded versions really are not apple branded, they just fit the powerbooks perfectly.

      It is more than your range, but if protecting your laptop is worth it, then it's worth it.

  • Samsonite (Score:3, Informative)

    by the_quark ( 101253 ) on Sunday October 10, 2004 @09:09PM (#10489189) Homepage
    I have a Samsonite Rafter [] backpack and I love it. It has a ton of pockets, it's very sturdy, and doesn't scream "laptop bag" the way many of them do. It also has a lot of handy features like a special pocket for a music player with a headphone pass through. Froogle says $40-$60.
  • back in the 70's and 80's, I used nothing but Jan Sport equipment. Then they got cheap. I found that a bag that was useable for 5 years suddenly went to 1 year lif time. I moved on and looked around. I replaced the briefcase with an Eagle creek [] backpack 5 years ago. Still holding up. Looking through there stuff, I see a few that should do you.
  • I'm going with the crowd here, but there's a lot of reasons behind it. Getting a generic bookbag college student style backpack is good for a few reasons.

    1. People won't guess you're carrying a notebook.
    2. More research goes into these backpacks, and they're cheap because of high supply.
    3. Generic backpacks have a lot of space. Most have good padding, and these packs condense when not full.
    • The one thing I don't like about backpacks is that almost always if you set it down on it's back (as is common), then all the weight of all your books is on top of the laptop. If you have to carry a lot of books around all the time, it's not very useful.
  • Eastpak makes normal backpacks with padded laptop sleeves. I bought one my freshman year and highschool and have used it almost every day for the past 7 years and it is still just as good as the day I bought it. The only potential problem is not being able to fit one of those huge 8 pound notebooks inside the laptop sleeve, but it should work for everything else.
  • My Eastpak backpack has a laptop sleeve in it and it has worked fine for the last four years.
  • I don't think they have a backpack version, but I hear Pelican cases [] are the best thing for carrying equipment around. A friend of mine told me she dropped a laptop down a flight of stairs in one of these things and it was fine. She also told me that during some news report video shoot, they had to throw all their recording equipment off of a boat and swim to shore because the boat was sinking, and all the equipment came out just fine because these cases are watertight and float.
  • by konfoo ( 677366 )
    I've been through a lot of backpacks, and the Booq line finally fits the bill. When they say the interior measures x.y.z, it measures it spot on. Fits my S150 like a glove, and doesn't let it slide around inside the pack. The mp3 pouch is a neat trick too. If you can afford the extra $ and you need to be mobile, this is the one to get.
  • Tom Bihn (Score:2, Informative)

    by brjndr ( 313083 )
    These bags [] are more expensive than you specified in your criteria, but they are great bags. I have the Brain bag [], and it the best backpack I've had. It is really comfortable on your back, and the shoulder straps are padded so you can wear the backpack for a long time.
  • Does anyone know of a backpack that can hold a 17" Powerbook? I don't want to spend $179 on the "Professional" backpack Apple sells... how can a backpack be professional?

    Anyway, any suggestions?
  • One of the best ways is to get a pizza box enclosure. This allows you to protect the notebook as closely as possible, but also allows you to place the pizzabox bag into a proper back pack.

    This means that the bag you use won't be as easily recognisable as a laptop backpack(ie anything that says targus), and it allows you to use a bag that is both properly ergonomic for travel. If you want to use it later on as just a normal backpack then just remove the pizza box enclosure.

    This is what i do with my 12 in
  • ...would be a regular backpack--cheap as possible without being too shoddy--with a good amount of stains/scuffing, in conjunction with a solid, padded, but small laptop case. If you wish, use a pack with multiple compartments, or attach straps (backpack modding! Ha!) to the inside of the pack so you can stabilize the laptop.

    Whatever you do, do _not_ travel with a laptop bag/backpack. The less it looks like you have a laptop, the better. (I know from experience. I've accidentally left my beaten-up backpac
  • The padded notebook messenger bags from Timbuk 2 I've found to be great. Mine has outlasted *ANY* backpack or messenger bag I've owned in past, including ones not intended for laptops. Drawback: they're $100, tho you can specify the colors.

    Timbuk 2 page []

    Plus, they hold about nine 16oz beer bottles just as comfortably. ;)

    • I second the Timbuk2 bags. I've got one, and it fits anything from my 12" PB to my Thinkpad quite nicely. They've got a seperate padded section in the bag for the laptop, which keeps it secure. They are roomy, and high quality. Plus they're stylish.

      Without a doubt the best laptop bag I've ever owned.
  • Look at the zippers. I've been through a number of laptop bags over the years and hands down the ones that last the longest have the heaviest zippers. Also look at the clasps, the last thing you want is to be out and about and have the clasp break on if your weighted down. I had that happen once with a work supply laptop bag, and had to get the LCD replaced on the laptop.

    I would also up your price point at least a $100 additional and spend the money for a really good bag. You can spend a lot of money of c

  • by EmbeddedJanitor ( 597831 ) on Sunday October 10, 2004 @09:16PM (#10489248)
  • Hard-shell? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by AEton ( 654737 ) on Sunday October 10, 2004 @09:17PM (#10489254)
    At Defcon last year they had these really neat laptop backpacks with hard outer shells. It looked like they'd protect well against a nasty fall. I can't find the product now; anyone know what I'm talking about, and where to get one cheap?

    • Re:Hard-shell? (Score:3, Informative)

      by the pickle ( 261584 )
      Axio [] and Boblbee [] are the two that come to mind. I have a Boblbee Metropolis and I *love* it, although it does get a lot of "what the hell is that thing?" comments. The Axio packs are rather less weird-looking, but still obviously aren't normal backpacks.

      I got my Metropolis on closeout at an outdoor outfitter store (think local mom-n-pop version of REI) for about $120. Retail on that pack is somewhere around $200, I think, but IMO it's still worth it. My biggest complaint is that the pack is fairly small, s
  • Obusforme (Score:2, Interesting)

    About a year ago I purchased an ObusForme backpack for my computer (the Axis Model). It is excellent. If you are not familiar with them, ObusForme is a company that got its start designing those back-pads for putting in your chair to get better support. The bags are designed using something they call the Comfort Support system. It really works. I had a Lowepro bag for about a year. It was excellent - really rugged, but I've got a bad back so switched to the ObusForme and I'll never go back. It was ar
  • Tom Bihn (Score:2, Informative)

    by energylad ( 53932 )
    The best laptop I've ever owned was by Tom Bihn. Get the Brain Bag with the padded laptop sleeve -- no one's ever suspected I've had a laptop in there, it looks just like a big travelling pack with a belt to distribute the weight, lots of pockets, tightening straps on the sides, and you can beat the hell out of it. en=PROD&Product_Code=TB0104&Category_Code=TBP&Prod uct_Count=5 []

    Additionally, the Snake Charmer is great for keeping your cables
  • Try Samsonite. (Score:2, Informative)

    by jtdennis ( 77869 )
    Samsonite has a lot of nice backpacks for laptops. I have had one for around a year that's cushoned, has an internal frame, and holds my laptop and all my other crap comfortably.
  • Make your own... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Render_Man ( 181666 )
    $20 of PVC pipe, an old hiking pack frame and you can build a pack [] to do whatever you want.
  • Since we're on the topic... what about water-resistant? I'd like to be more at ease walking around London in fickle weather conditions. Any suggestions?
  • Try this back pack []. I know my daughter would love it...

  • Your local Goodwill or Salvation Army.

    I often find VERY high quality bags at the local thrift store. Sometimes, I even find new ones.

    I found a brenthaven not too long ago and snagged it for $3.00

  • I've got a big heavy "laptop".
    [Alienware Backpack] []
    is what I use to haul around my 9 pound laptop. Plus, cellphone, mp3 player, and pda. Plus related cables/charges and a spare battery.
    It's not exactly a normal backpack, and it's not laid out to carry around books, but it's extremly confortable to wear, and hold (the top strap).
    $90 dollars might be out of your price range, but I enjoy mine.
  • I have a swiss gear laptop backback. I really like it as it has plenty of pockets for my accessories, and it does have plenty of padding in the laptop compartment. The straps also have shock absorbers and are well padded, which takes away some of the jarring that comes with lugging around a heavy backpack. I believe it set me back about 60 bucks, but it was well worth it.
  • FWIW, I have been using the Targus Matrix bag for the last several semesters and it's great. It's pretty much all black and doesn't scream "Laptop" like some of them do, and has tons of room and compartments sized perfectly for wireless cards, cables, and other stuff. Another option if you want to be sly is to buy a laptop sleave from Spire or someone else to protect the laptop and use a standard bag that blends in even better. The only problem with a standard bag is that you wont have as much room for othe
  • I have a Trager laptop backpack with which I have been quite happy. It looks like a normal daypack but comes with a semi-rigid padded laptop case ("Vertical Transporter" TM) that fits into a cloth pocket at the bottom rear of the interior of the pack. In addition to the main section, there are two large pockets, one on top of the other, and two small pockets with vertical zippers. The pockets easily hold a mouse and power adapter. Indeed, the main section is just large enough to hold both a good-sized lap

  • I've been using what I think is the the Targus Groove backpack for about a month or so now, and it's been great. There's lots of extra space, and it's much more comfortable to carry around than a regular laptop bag.
    One thing you might want to consider, though, is that the name Targus on your bag probably means to thieves that there may be a laptop inside, while a bag from another lesser-known manufacturer may be more inconspicuous.
  • by fafaforza ( 248976 ) on Sunday October 10, 2004 @09:33PM (#10489352)
    Backpacks specialized for laptops will automatically demand a premium for the fact that they cater to a specific use. Plus they'll scream out that they are carrying a laptop.

    You could just get a decent backpack and stick your laptop in a sleeve inside it. When not using the bag to carry your computer, you won't have the added weight from protective padding, and no nonfunctional laptop compartment.
  • For those who want to use a regular backpack, the protective sleeve that comes with Trager laptop backpacks can be purchased separately, e.g. here [].

  • by puetzc ( 131221 ) on Sunday October 10, 2004 @09:48PM (#10489444)
    I have two Waterfield SleeveCases (purchased from []). They come in sizes to actually fit your laptop, and with side loading for regular soft bags, or top loading for backpacks. Your laptop is secure, and the bag doesn't scream "Take Me." The shipment was prompt, and the quality good.
    • yep.. I have a vertical slip case for my Thinkpad X31, I carry it every day to work and back.. the sfbags are very worth the price.. the construction quality is excelent.

      The thing I liked the most about the sfbags stuff was the fact that they size the bags to fit laptops, Ever other company makes a laptop bag for 15" boats, but a good well-fit case for smaller laptops is hard to find. the case for the X31 is perfect, it was snug at first, but after a month of use, it streched to perfect fit.

      I keep my s
  • by nekoes ( 613370 ) on Sunday October 10, 2004 @09:49PM (#10489446) Journal
    I've got a Targus bag which I've been using for a year. The thing is rather comfortable, but can get a little rough after a few hours with it. I'd give you a link off the targus site, but it doesn't appear to be on there. The back and shoulder straps are completely padded, and the back most compartment is huge and holds a slip for my laptop. The slip has a netted pouch for nick-nacks (PCMCIA cards, etc) and there's space enough for my power adaptor. The next Compartment up has enough room for whatever books I might be carrying, notebooks, compartments for pencils, and another netted one that holds my minidisk player, LAN cables, etc. Then there's another front one that could fit smaller books, and two others on the sides of the bag (each about the size of a can of soda). From the looks of their site all the bags are nearly as spacious. With these bags full they can be quite bulky, but when I've got just my laptop in there, it doesn't seem so cumbersome.

    There's a few problems with using Targus bags though.

    If you're paranoid... since Targus is a name brand laptop bag it's pretty much a guarentee to thugs that you're carrying a laptop with you.

    Second, I don't think any of their bags are particularly attractive. I think I got the lesser of the devils with the black/silver I have, but I still think it's kind of ugly.

    The other route you could go, is get a truely comfortable bag and convert it to a laptop bag. Using cardboard, or some other type of padding to make a slip, then sew a cover on that and attach it to the inside of the bag. It's a little more covert and you might like it better. But I'm lazy, and I was willing to drop 75 on my bag.
  • dana design (Score:3, Informative)

    by bmwm3nut ( 556681 ) on Sunday October 10, 2004 @09:52PM (#10489463)
    i've always been a huge fan of dana design ( i have a day pack that i have used every day (similar to: for the past 6 years, and two huge packs for week-long backpacking trips ( sp). everything is warrentied for life. the only thing they don't cover is animal damage. i've tested the warrenty a couple of times, and they'll send me the replacement parts in two days or so, and they don't require me to send the broken stuff back, they're great to deal with. i got my girlfriend the dana design messenger bag ( and she's been using it everyday for about a year and it still looks as good as new. you'll probably pay more than $50, but it's worth it if you never ever need to buy another bag. i'd suggest the "suit" model. (
  • Brenthaven bags (Score:3, Informative)

    by Shant3030 ( 414048 ) * on Sunday October 10, 2004 @10:09PM (#10489571)
    Brenthaven bags are pretty good. Alot of pockets, solid construction, comfortable straps. Try ebay when buying, it will save you $$$$$
  • by jenkin sear ( 28765 ) * on Sunday October 10, 2004 @10:11PM (#10489580) Homepage Journal
    I have (and like) the Targus Sport backpack. The best feature is the one-piece waterproof flap that covers the top and zippers.

    If you're stuck walking around in the rain with your laptop on your back, this will protect your laptop from water getting in. Too many bag designs don't take inclement weather into account.

    The only problem is that the pack is ugly as hell; black and white checked fabric, mesh waterbottle sacks for no apparent reason, and a pointless chest belt.

    The good thing is that if you're wearing it, you won't have to look at it.
  • by SimHacker ( 180785 ) on Sunday October 10, 2004 @10:20PM (#10489644) Homepage Journal
    On the enthusiastic recommendation of Hugh Daniel, I bought a huge padded "Black Bag" big enough for two laptops from Tom Bihn's shop in Santa Cruz, CA [], back around 1996.

    It's huge and tough and build like a tank: It's got an enormous padded main compartment, a secondary full sized compartment big enough for another computer, a third full sized compartment with pockets for accessories, and a big zippered pocket on the outside.

    After 8 years of constant abuse: All the seams are still well sewn and sealed on the inside and outside, so there are no loose threads or freys, like most backpacks develop. The fabric hasn't torn, the zippers have never broken or jammed. All top quality material and workmanship!

    It's so well made, that it's still in excellent condition after 8 years. I would definitely get another one, but my old one still has years of use left in it.

    Here's an article reviewing Tom Bihn's "Smart Alec" and "Monolith" bags []. He has many models specifically designed for laptops, that you can order on his web site, and the prices are quite reasonable!

    His web site [] says: "Tom Bihn has been designing and making bags for well over 20 years. The daypacks he made when he was 13 years old are still in use. And in Santa Cruz, California, where Tom grew up, his laptop cases and book bags are almost legendary."


    • Sales Skyrocket After Media Expose' on Bag Labels.

      Tom Bihn [] designs T-shirts based on labels; all proceeds to go to homeless veterans's charity.

      PORT ANGELES, WA: Tom Bihn, a Port Angeles-based company that designs, manufactures and sells laptop bags, messenger bags, backpacks and briefcases, has garnered worldwide media attention this week after a Web blog posted the contents of the label sewn into most bags.

      The inside label carries instructions on washing and caring for the bags. Because the bags are so
  • Spire Backpacks (Score:3, Informative)

    by dsouth ( 241949 ) on Sunday October 10, 2004 @10:26PM (#10489669) Homepage
    My wife and I both use backpacks from Spire. Great backpacks, comfortable and well-built. [I'm an FAA parachute rigger, and have a soft spot for well-constructed packs -- the materials and construction in Spire's stuff is much higher quality than the competeing products I've seen. The Targus cases in particular are junk.]

    The downside is that you'll be spending more than $50. The upside is that the backpack will outlast your laptop. [Mine has been doing 50 mi of motorcycle commuting a day for the last 4 years, my wife's has been hauling schoolbooks for three years. Both have all seams, zippers, and fabric intact, if a little dirty.]

  • by Yoweigh116 ( 185130 ) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .hgiewoy.> on Monday October 11, 2004 @03:27AM (#10490915) Homepage Journal
    I have a Kensington SaddleBag Sport [] backpack that came (optional) with my Inspiron 8600. Padded laptop pocket-inside-a-pocket, with room in the outer pocket for a spare battery & AC charger, and the entire front of the pocket is lined with various sized netting-type things. In that pocket alone I can fit every single accessory and cable I could need except for a keyboard. I even have vertical room to spare. In front of that is a second really deep pocket (that can hold a keyboard if you don't zip it) for books, with a smaller pocket on the front that holds my memory key, cd wallet, some mini-CDRs, and misc. other stuff. It also has a (large, as in can pretty easily fit a first-gen Wireless Intellimouse Explorer) mouse sized pocket on each side, and a little pocket at the top that I assume is meant for a flash based MP3 player with a little gasket type thing for the headphones to pass through.

    The only complaint that I have about the backpack is that the zippers are sort of crummy. Those problems, however, didn't show up until I'd given it at least 8 or so months of wear. They're still functional, just irritating. Besides that it's awesome. It even fits my 15.4" widescreen!

  • Army Issue Rucksack (Score:3, Informative)

    by Lodragandraoidh ( 639696 ) on Monday October 11, 2004 @10:30AM (#10492956) Journal
    I have two U.S. Army issue rucksacks - one small and one large with a metal frame that fits both - both of which have a pouch at the top for mounting one of the old PRC box-style radios. This pouch is sufficient size to hold a laptop, and you have the added storage to cover your other travel gear as required. Open the cover flap, and release a strap - and the computer is in your hands. The computer is closest to your back - and with a full pack, would be surrounded on the outside by other things.

    These systems are tough - and having them for over 10 years now, they appear to be brand new.

God doesn't play dice. -- Albert Einstein