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Laptop bags are made from different materials. The most common options include real or faux leather, polyester, canvas, polypropylene, and nylon. You can look at the denier rating of the bag’s material to see how durable it is and how much protection it provides.
A laptop is a significant investment. A new model can cost between $300 and $3,000, and it will last three to five years, on average.
I like to take advantage of the combination of portability and computing power, but it can be tedious carrying around an expensive device all day. Sure, today’s laptops are durable, but the right bag can enhance this durability. A good one will offer an extra layer of protection while making carrying your computer comfortable and convenient.
Here is what you need to consider when choosing your laptop bag.
What material are laptop bags made from?
Laptop bags are available in different materials and styles. Some are sleeve-like cases with protective padding, while others are larger carriers with straps or handles.
The bag style that works best for me might not be the ideal choice for you. However, we probably both agree that the bag has to be strong and durable. It needs to secure and protect the laptop and stand up to daily use.
Here is what you need to know to find such a bag.
What is a Denier rating?
Luckily, there is a way to measure how strong your bag’s material is. The denier rating measures the strength of thread or fiber in a fabric. Technically, the numerical rating is the mass (in grams) of 9,000 meters of a single strand of thread in the fabric.
Though other factors can play a role in the overall strength of a type of fabric, the denier rating is a good indicator of density and durability. The rating is written with a numeral followed by the letter D. So if you see 600D, you know that the material has a denier rating of 600. This means that 9,000 meters of thread in the fabric weighs 600 grams.
With the denier rating in mind, here is a look at the most common types of laptop bag material and how they compare.
Here is a look at the most durable laptop materials.
Nylon is a common material for all sorts of backpacks and bags, including those meant to carry laptops. It boasts some significant advantages.
First of all, nylon is incredibly lightweight, so it is easy to carry a backpack all day, even if it has an added foam cushion to protect your laptop.
Secondly, nylon is quite durable. It can stand up to daily use better than many other fabrics.
There are different strengths of nylon. If you want extra durability, the best option is ballistic nylon. Developed for the military, this fabric can have a rating of 1000D or more. Regular nylon packs with ratings of 450D to 600D are also common.
If you care about style, however, nylon may not be the best option. It is difficult to dye, so color choices are usually limited. Another drawback is that more durable materials like ballistic nylon can be more expensive than polyester or other options.
Polyester is made from synthetic fibers. It is not as lightweight as nylon, but it is not as heavy as options like leather or canvas.
Polyester bags are typically cheaper than nylon. The material also acts more like natural fabric, so it can be dyed and designed. Strong polyester bags can be between 300D and 1000D.
There are some drawbacks to polyester. The main issue is that it is not as breathable as nylon or other natural fibers. This could be an issue if you have a bag with a shoulder strap or a backpack-style carrier. You might get hot in those parts of your body that contact the bag.
Leather laptop bags do not have a denier rating because they are made from animal hide, not fabric. But you can consider this: even today, with high-quality synthetic materials, many motorcycle riders prefer the durability and protection of leather over any alternatives. If it is good enough to protect them from road rash, it can probably keep a laptop secure.
Leather bags are durable. They are not going to rip, and they provide a natural cushion that thinner materials cannot match. Faux leather, usually made from treated plastic, can offer similar advantages, but it is a bit thinner and not quite as durable as the real thing.
Leather can be tanned or dyed, and it comes in attractive, sophisticated-looking styles.
The main drawback to leather products is their high cost. The material is more expensive, and you need bags with quality stitching and hardware to ensure the seams are as strong as the hide itself.
Canvas is a time-tested material. Before ballistic nylon and other synthetic materials, canvas, a type of strong cotton-based fabric, was the popular choice for bags. Members of the military and outdoors enthusiasts used it for their packs.
Because it is a natural fabric, canvas is easy to dye and print on. It can be durable, and it is often reasonably priced. If you are looking for a tote-style bag, you will likely find many canvas options.
Canvas is thick, but it can break down over time. Also, the material is heavy and not very breathable, so it is not ideal for backpacks.
Polypropylene is a type of plastic that doesn’t absorb water and offers a high level of insulation. You can find some packs, totes, and shoulder bags made from polypropylene. These products can be very inexpensive.
The main drawback is that polypropylene deteriorates when exposed to certain elements. For example, it fades when exposed to direct sunlight.
How do I choose a good laptop bag?
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As I mentioned before, the definition of a “good” laptop bag depends on your needs and preferences. Here are some factors to consider:
- Where will I carry my laptop? If you simply carry your laptop to and from the office each day, a simple tote, shoulder bag, or briefcase may work just fine. However, if you are commuting via public transport, walking, or biking with your laptop, you will want something sturdier, more durable, and easier to fasten. If you’re going further afield, we wrote a whole article on the best messenger bags for air travel.
- Does it have good hardware? The denier rating is important for a backpack. However, you also need to ensure that the zippers or other fasteners close securely and that the seams are as durable as the fabric.
- Can it protect my computer from the elements and drops? You will want enough padding to ensure the laptop survives an accidental drop. You should also get something water-resistant. If you get caught in a rain shower or if someone spills a drink on your bag, you want the bag to provide enough protection to keep your computer from getting waterlogged.
- Do I need a laptop sleeve? If you opt for a basic carrier, such as a tote or drawstring bag, you may want to opt for a neoprene laptop sleeve. Neoprene is a type of synthetic rubber that offers enough padding to protect your laptop from an accidental drop. It is also easy on the computer’s casing, so it won’t cause scratches.
You should also consider what other items you need to carry. If you need to bring headphones, an electrical cord, additional drives, and other equipment, you need a bag that is big enough to accommodate these things.
How do I know what size laptop bag to buy?
You should make four measurements to get the size of your laptop bag: diagonal, width, length, and depth. The bag’s laptop compartment should exceed all four dimensions.
Many bags are for specific laptop sizes: 8-inch, 12-inch, 14-inch, 15.6-inch, and so on. Even if the case is for your laptop size, you should double-check the dimensions of the compartment before purchasing.
How much do laptop bags cost?
The price of a laptop bag depends on the brand, material, and quality. You do not want to base your decision only on price because a cheaper bag may not offer the necessary qualities and protection that you need.
What are the types of laptop bags?
There are different styles of laptop bags. You can get a backpack with a specialized laptop compartment or a messenger bag with a single shoulder strap. Tote bags have two handles and a laptop compartment. Finally, you can also find traditional briefcase-style laptop carriers.