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What are the Different Types of Laptop Bags?

By Carol Francois
Updated May 16, 2024
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There are three different types of laptop bags: backpacks, briefcases, and slim portfolios. All these types of laptop bags offer the same basic functions; they are designed to hold at least one laptop and power cable. Different types of bags are designed for different functions and it is best to review all the options before making your selection.

Backpack-style laptop bags are designed with the frequent laptop user in mind. Very popular with students, information technology professionals and travelers, this type of bag is ergonomically designed to reduce strain on the back and neck. The trend in laptops is toward smaller and lighter units to increase usage and to meet user’s needs.

A laptop backpack has the capacity for one laptop in a specially designed pocket within the body of the backpack. There are often built-in security ties to hold the laptop in place, so that even if the bag is dropped, the laptop remains secured. Space and pockets for a power cable and battery, traveling mouse and other laptop accessories is available in these types of bags. There is also room for other materials, such as textbooks, notepads, lunch, and other necessities. This type of bag comes with several front and side pockets to increase the capacity and access to frequently used items.

A laptop briefcase has the benefit of presenting a more professional look than a backpack. This type of bag has space for one laptop, a power cable, and a limited amount of other materials. They are usually made of leather or vinyl and offer a shoulder strap as well as small handles. Specially designed airport laptop briefcases allow the x-ray machine to look through the bag. This feature removes the need to take the laptop out of the bag for screening when traveling by airplane.

Slim portfolio laptop bags provide a snug fit that reduces the bulk of other laptop bags. Each model is designed for a specific laptop size. They come in a wide range of colors and styles. Portfolio laptop bags provide minimal protective padding, limited space for carrying accessories and often use a zippered closure which can damage the finish of the laptop. These bags are designed for short-term use and are inexpensive, allowing users to change them frequently or purchase multiple laptop bags.

When selecting a laptop bag, it is important to consider how you use your laptop, the climate, and locations that you will be working in. A poorly designed laptop bag can cause back, neck, arms and shoulder strain. Investing in a quality laptop bag is well worth the cost.

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Discussion Comments
By EdRick — On Apr 24, 2012

@jholcomb - The important thing is that you're happy with the solution you've chosen and it works for you. But I find that specially designed bags can add enough convenience to be worth the extra money. I use a leather laptop bag for a more professional and more grown-up appearance. It's hard to find a briefcase-style bag that will comfortable hold a laptop computer unless you get one that is specially designed for the purpose. The pockets are just right for what I need.

My wife and I also have a special backpack diaper bag. Worlds more convenient than what we had when my son was born ten years ago! Having the right pockets just makes everything so much easier to get to. I think the extra money for the right bag is worthwhile whatever the function, but it's a personal choice.

By jholcomb — On Apr 23, 2012

Really, any bag can be a laptop computer bag, if it is large enough and has convenient pockets, with the simple addition of a neoprene sleeve. The sleeve protects your laptop from banging around and from the other items in your bag.

I have a pretty nice backpack that I got during back-to-school specials for all of $10! Proper laptop backpacks are much more expensive and I don't think that they really protect that much better.

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