The Best Laptop Messenger Bag


We tested the highest-rated laptop messenger bags to find out which one is the most durable, has the roomiest interior and is the most comfortable to haul on your shoulders for extended periods of time. We’ve chosen the Timbuk2 – Classic Messenger Bag as the best laptop messenger bag, because of its smart, utilitarian design and spacious interior with pockets for just about anything you need with you throughout the day. Our runner-up, the CoolBELL – Convertible Messenger Bag, may not be as fashion-forward as more expensive bags, but it makes up for it with a cushioned laptop pocket and hidden straps that convert it into a backpack.

Our Top Choices

Best Overall


Timbuk2

Classic Messenger Bag

See Price at Amazon

Runner-up


CoolBELL

Convertible Messenger Bag

See Price at Amazon

We tested the highest-rated laptop messenger bags to find out which one is the most durable, has the roomiest interior and is the most comfortable to haul on your shoulders for extended periods of time. We’ve chosen the Timbuk2 – Classic Messenger Bag as the best laptop messenger bag, because of its smart, utilitarian design and spacious interior with pockets for just about anything you need with you throughout the day. Our runner-up, the CoolBELL – Convertible Messenger Bag, may not be as fashion-forward as more expensive bags, but it makes up for it with a cushioned laptop pocket and hidden straps that convert it into a backpack.

Important features to consider

Laptop messenger bags come in a variety of sizes and styles, and as we discussed in our review of the best laptop backpacks, you want a bag that is comfortable to wear and also protects your laptop from the elements. As we researched and tested messenger bags, we pinpointed certain features you should look for.

Size: Generally, laptop messenger bags are available in three sizes: 13-inch, 15-inch and 17-inch. Laptop messenger bags are designed to keep your laptop snug and secure, so it’s best to choose a size that matches your laptop. (All of the bags we tested were for 15-inch laptops.)

Dedicated, padded laptop compartment: The interior of most laptop messenger bags is divided into two sections. Protecting your laptop is a priority, and the best bags have a dedicated compartment that’s padded at least on one side. They should also have a Velcro tab that folds over the edge of your laptop and keeps it in place.

Material: Messenger bags are usually made of canvas, nylon or leather. The leather bags are certainly fashion-forward for the business-person, but unless they’re pre-treated with a protectant, they’ll get discolored and stained. We prefer a waxed-canvas bag, which is water-resistant but also expands and accommodates more items than a leather bag.

Well-padded shoulder strap: If you’re going to be lugging a heavy messenger bag on bike or by foot, then you need a shoulder strap that’s well-padded. Some bags we tested had a shoulder pad that was only 6 or 7 inches in length with almost no padding, and these cause neck and shoulder-muscle strain. The best bags have a longer pad that’s cushioned with foam and breathable mesh.

Secure closure: Messenger bags have a large cover flap that secures to the bottom of the bag with magnetic snaps, quick-clip buckles, Velcro or zippers. For the best protection from rain, we recommend a messenger bag that has a zippered interior and a cover flap that secures with quick-clip buckles. This double system will ensure that your laptop and other important contents will stay dry.

1

Timbuk2 - Classic Messenger Bag

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Made of tough Cordura nylon, the Timbuk2 – Classic Messenger Bag is probably the one you’ve seen on many a delivery-cyclist’s back. It has only two zippered exterior pockets, one of which has a nylon cord with a clip for holding keys. Inside the vinyl-lined bag is one large zippered pocket and four smaller pockets — for a cell phone and pens — sewn on top of the large pocket. The large outer flap attaches to the bag with plastic quick-click buckles and a wide Velcro band.

The Timbuk2’s primary feature is its capacity. Although the bag’s interior isn’t padded, it can expand more than any other bag we tested. We filled the Timbuk2 with the same items — 15-inch laptop, books and documents — and there was still room to spare. The bag’s strap has a massive 13-inch-long shoulder pad that’s cushioned with foam and breathable mesh.

Our only complaint with the Timbuk2 is its stabilizer cross-strap for cyclists: a flimsy strip of nylon with Velcro that gives way if the bag is full. Timbuk2 continually adds new colors and patterns to the Classic Messenger Bag line, and all are priced higher than other similar messenger bags.

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2

CoolBELL - Convertible Messenger Bag

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The CoolBELL – Convertible Messenger Bag may not be as fashion-forward as other messenger bags, but it makes up for it with its sheer functionality. Made of a nylon exterior and vinyl interior, the CoolBELL is water resistant. It has six exterior zippered pockets of varying sizes, each with a leather pull. The pulls aren’t especially stylish, but they make unzipping each pocket a breeze. The interior, separately zippered pocket for a 15-inch laptop is very well cushioned — in fact, it had the plushest padding of all the bags we tested — and an elastic and Velcro tab keeps the laptop secure.

The shoulder strap has a decently padded shoulder pad, but the real stand-out feature of the CoolBELL is its hidden straps that convert the bag into a backpack. The straps tuck into the bag’s exterior pocket, and when you want to convert the bag, you pull out the straps and snap them onto clips at the bottom of the bag. We jammed the CoolBELL full, and when using the backpack straps, we found it was the most comfortable messenger bag to carry. The CoolBELL is also budget-priced and is available in a larger size for a 17.3-inch laptop.


3

Manificent - Men's Messenger Bag

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The Manificent – Men’s Messenger Bag has an expansive capacity, won’t give you shoulder pain to tote around all day and is handsome to look at too. It’s made of waxed water-resistant canvas that’s more flexible than leather when you load up the interior. Another feature to help waterproof the bag is its zippered interior, also made of waxed canvas.The Manificent’s dedicated laptop pocket is well-padded on both sides, and an elastic and Velcro band prevents your laptop from moving.

The bag has a large, zippered exterior pocket and three internal pockets, one of which is designed to hold a cell phone. We stuffed the bag full with a 15-inch laptop, documents and thick paperback books, and there was still room to spare inside. The Manificent has a wide shoulder strap with a well-cushioned shoulder pad. It’s a well-crafted laptop messenger bag, and for only $43, it’s also a tremendous value as well.


4

Kenneth Cole Reaction - Come Bag Soon

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Despite its odd name, the Kenneth Cole Reaction – Come Bag Soon is a beautiful leather messenger bag that could be used as a lightweight briefcase. Be aware though that rain and daily use will stain and scratch the bag unless you pre-treat it with a leather protectant. The bag has three generously sized pockets: The rear pocket is the length and depth of the bag, and the two front pockets are 6.5-inches wide and 7-inches deep. Each easily secures with magnetic snaps, but they tend to pop open when the bag is full.

The pockets are lined with a proprietary material that shields RFID (radio frequency identification) devices from snoopers, and an inner pocket is designated for a cell phone with its own protective flap. The bag’s interior has a well-padded pocket for a laptop and a nylon and Velcro band for keeping it in place. The bag isn’t as spacious as other messenger bags, and the leather prevents it from expanding. The nylon shoulder strap has a thin shoulder pad, so you can’t pack the bag too heavily without straining shoulder and neck muscles.

The Kenneth Cole bag isn’t overly expensive — just a few dollars more than the Timbuk2 bag — and its neutral design suits men and women.

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5

Newhey - Waterproof Messenger Bag

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The Newhey – Waterproof Messenger Bag has many of the same features as the less-expensive Manificent bag. It’s also made of water-resistant waxed canvas and has a zippered interior pocket that protects your laptop from inclement weather. The Newhey resembles a bookbag; its leather straps conceal strong magnetic clips that don’t pop open when the bag is full.

The interior pocket for a laptop is well-padded, but there are only two small pockets sewn inside the main compartment. The Newhey bag has the same spacious capacity as the Manificent, and its only real flaw is the strap’s non-cushioned shoulder pad. However, it does have a very sturdy leather briefcase handle for carrying the bag when it’s too heavy for your shoulders.


6

KROSER - Laptop Bag

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KROSER is known for manufacturing budget-priced laptop bags and backpacks. The KROSER – Laptop Bag has high consumer ratings on Amazon, but we found it to be inferior to all the other bags we tested. It’s more of a lightweight briefcase than it is a messenger bag, although it does have the requisite shoulder strap with a surprisingly well-cushioned shoulder pad. It’s made of a canvas-like polyester that KROSER claims is waterproof. We tested it, and water did indeed bead up and roll off.

The interior pocket designated for a laptop isn’t padded and is divided from a second pocket by a thin piece of vinyl. Unlike the other canvas bags, the KROSER bag doesn’t expand, so we were hard pressed to fit more than the laptop and a couple of books. Kroser’s clips and zippers are cheaply constructed. For $20, we can understand why it’s popular, but this is not a durable bag for heavy-duty use.


Gene Gerrard, Writer

Gene has written about a wide variety of topics for too many years to count. He's been a professional chef, cooking-appliance demonstrator, playwright, director, editor of accountancy and bank-rating books, Houdini expert and dog lover (still is). When he's not writing for Your Best Digs, he's performing as a magician at the Magic Castle in Hollywood.

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