Best laptop bags for back-to-school, from the first day of class to finals week – Macworld

Next to a laptop itself, a laptop bag is one of the most important purchases you can make come back-to-school time. A good laptop bag will help you take on the load of the new school year, while a not-so-good laptop bag could end up spilling out all your gear when you’re already running late to a final exam. Isn’t that ironic?

With so many laptop bags and backpacks to choose from, it would be an idle exercise to try to find the best laptop bag out there. Instead, we’d rather help you find the right laptop bag for any situation, from making an impression on the first day of class to surviving finals weeks unscathed.

The right laptop bag will not only protects your most-precious cargo (your laptop) and help you carry the rest of your back-to-school arsenal, but also offer unique features that put the plus in A+. Here are the best laptop bags for the ever-changing nature of a hectic school-year.

Best for everyday: Booq Cobra Squeeze

Leave it up to Booq to make a laptop backpack that’s both compact and spacious at the same time. The company’s Cobra Squeeze (MSRP $195, available on Amazon) is the VW Beetle of laptop backpacks, using a dome shape so you can stuff as much as possible without creating weird bumps or needing an oversized backpack. During our review testing period, this was the most impressive aspect of all—how the Cobra Squeeze could squeeze in even tight, crowded spaces like the subway or school hallways.

img 3033Monica Lee

The Cobra Squeeze has a dedicated laptop sleeve that can fit up to a 15-inch MacBook Pro or a 16-inch Lenovo Ultrabook. Then there’s a second sleeve for tablets. On either side of the backpack, you’ll find easy-to-reach zippers for storing your smartphone. These side-pockets have extra padding to avoid scratches, and they’re super helpful when you need to grab your iPhone to check text messages.

img 3030Monica Lee

This backpack’s unique turtle-shell design also helps redistribute the weight so that your shoulders don’t feel worn out throughout the day. The shoulder straps are padded and curve inwards, which is very helpful, too. Even though we used the Cobra Squeeze to lug around a laptop, a tablet, two college textbooks, a full water bottle, and three pretty thick novels (The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, anyone?), the bag still felt light.

Furthermore, the Cobra Squeeze uses a water-repellant fabric in case of a rainy day (although it never rained on us during our review testing period), and the company has instituted a serial number tracking system to help recuperate lost Booq bags, making them a worthwhile investment. So you can feel confident bringing a Cobra Squeeze to school with you every day.

For just the essentials: Hex Infinity Cross Body

We’ve all been there: You snooze through your alarm and wake up at 8:55am, right before a 9 o’clock final. You don’t have time to change out of your pajamas, let alone pack all your stuff or be weighed down by a heavy laptop bag on your way to class. For horrifying moments like this, there is Hex’s Infinity Cross Body bag (MSRP $70, available on Amazon). 

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