My old laptop bag was beginning to fall apart, so I got The North Face Off-Site Laptop Bag the other day. I absolutely love it. You see, I have this "thing" about laptop bags - I'm very picky and usually dissatisfied. I get a lot of flak from my wife for the number of bags I discard (give away, sell, etc.) because they frustrate me.
But this bag? Awesome. The North Face ranks as my #1 favorite bag (I'll share my #2, etc. at the end of this post, along with my favorite laptop backpacks).
Here is why I love this bag:
- This bag is extremely light, but has a ton of space (over 1800 cubic inches)
- There are "cinch straps" on the sides so you can compress it to a smaller size when it is fairly empty, or expand it when you are carrying a bunch of stuff
- Waterproof zippers keep your stuff dry in the rain
- The North Face makes extremely durable products, so this should last a long time (and it has a lifetime warranty against defects)
- There are a lot of pockets with a good range of sizes, which makes it easy to tuck away cables, power supplies, etc. for easy organization and access
- The laptop compartment is roomy for up to 17" laptops (my MacBook Pro 15" fits beautifully) - and the padding along the bottom of the bag is excellent
- There is an expandable front pocket that can expand enough to hold a bike helmet if you are into that sort of thing
- It comes in brown or black (I chose the brown) and looks casual, yet business-like
- The strap and carry handle are very comfortable
So, if you tend to carry a lot of stuff with you when you travel, I think you'll love The North Face Off-Site Laptop Bag.
The rest of the story - other strong choices:
I mentioned I had a few other favorites - here are my top choices:
Shoulder-carry laptop bags:
- The North Face Off-Site Laptop Bag - see above.
- Timbuk2 Commute 2.0 - This one isn't quite large enough for me, but it's a terrific bag. If you like messenger-style bags, check this one out. Good use of space, very tough, very water-resistant, and checkpoint friendly.
- Briggs & Riley @Work Computer Case - Spacious, versatile with lots of pockets. A bit on the heavy side, and pricey though.
- Tumi Alpha Large Expandable Organizer Computer Briefcase - big, lots of pockets and tough. Very expensive and the computer compartment has a very rigid reinforcement panel that can make it tough to get under some airline seats.
Laptop backpacks - note, I don't use backpacks much in business, since they look too casual for some of the meetings I attend. On vacation, backpacks are my favorite.
- Brenthaven Trek Expandable Backpack - This is a very durable, fantastic laptop bag with great use of space. Comfortable, with nice straps.
- Briggs & Riley @Work Computer Backpack - Great bag, lots of padding, but a bit short on pockets for me and it's pretty tight (not expandable) so it doesn't always cooperate when I overstuff it. Comfortable and durable.
- SwissGear Carbon Backpack - Spacious, lots of pockets. Shoulder straps are too short for someone tall like me, and it doesn't have compression straps so it feel big even when it's empty.
I've used more than my fair share of laptop bags in the last 20 years - I feel like you can't go wrong with any of the bags on this list. Let me know what you think, if you get one of them.