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What is the perfect travelling laptop bag?

What does your ideal travelling laptop bag look like?

What does your ideal travelling laptop bag look like? Photo: iStock

After almost a decade of sterling service, and clocking up perhaps a half-million miles of travel, my laptop bag is ready for retirement with full honours.

And, in keeping with modern times, I'm hoping High Flyer readers can help me crowd-source its replacement.

It's not going to be an easy task, because like many frequent flyers I'm a bit fussy – no, let's call it 'particular' – about laptop bags.

After all, it's likely to be a travelling companion for many years to come. It'll go from airport lounges to overhead luggage bins to business meetings, and always look the part.

But in the 10 years since I first picked up my laptop bag – a Booq Viper model from Sydney-based online bag specialists Rushfaster - plenty has changed.

My Booq bag was a clear evolution from ye olde laptop bags created for the clunky inch-thick ThinkPads of the corporate world.

In the 1990s laptop bags were typically square, black and oh-so-boring lookalikes, much like the notebooks inside them.

As laptops went mainstream and overtook desktops, the bags we used to carry them changed to suit.

Booq's Viper was still charcoal-black, because that colour works for what I need the bag for – but it had a hip, modern style with softer lines and tougher materials.

Most importantly, it had pockets everywhere.

Pockets on the side for sunglasses, mobiles phones, keys or a universal AC adaptor.

A pocket at the front for travel documents and other need-it-right-now material.

And a dozen other pockets, nooks and crannies inside for – well, you name it … from my laptop, documents and folders down to an iPad or Kindle, reading glasses, USB memory sticks and loose change.

But after 10 years those pockets are fraying and falling apart, the zippers are jamming and the bag is generally showing its age – and not in a graceful, George Clooney-esque way.

Yet as I started shopping for a replacement, it's become clear that everything in laptop bag land seems to have changed yet again.

'Messenger' bags as popularised by Crumpler and co. have been popular for years and remain in vogue.

With their tapered shape and cross-over shoulder straps based on the satchel bags of bike couriers, they're perhaps the perfect fit for the young dot-com crowd and the hipster digerati, but not quite so for a forty-something business traveller.

Backpacks have also been transformed from the bulky must-have of bushwalkers and gap-year students to a piece of practical kit for tech-toting travellers.

However, I find them a bit too casual for many meetings – once you're booted and suited, a backpack simply doesn't look the part.

Life is actually easier if your travel tech of choice is an iPad.

The success of Apple's tablet – and a wave of competitors backed by Google and Microsoft – has seen a welcome renaissance of the 'man bag'.

As long as there's also room for your travel wallet and a pair of noise-cancelling headphones, these slim and stylish bags can be all you need for the plane and meetings too.

So there's a riot of choice for the business traveller and frequent flyer, and that's without even touching on the high-end luxe bags that are designed to impress but often priced to scare.

With decision-time on my own laptop bag looming, I'm curious to hear what type of bags High Flyer readers favour for their laptops and tablets, both in-flight and to take into meetings at the other end of the journey.

David Flynn is a business travel expert and editor of Australian Business Traveller.

Follow AusBT on Twitter.


  • Check out Piquardo for the high-end bags. STM are doing a nice messenger bag. you can't go wrong with Tumi but they are uninteresting design wise.

    Mosman, Sydney
    Date and time
    April 23, 2014, 1:51PM
    • Saddleback Leather ( make a variety of bags and satchels that will not wear out, and get better with age.

      Not a lot of pockets though - if you can get past that, I think they are hard to beat. I have had one for about 7 years - I have never before been complimented on a briefcase or bag, but it happens regularly with this bag - I think you could do worse.

      Date and time
      April 23, 2014, 1:56PM
      • I was going to suggest the same. Saddleback Leather products are quite an expensive option but one of few bags that are made to potentially hand down to your grandchildren. Utilitarian in the the extreme but built to last.

        The day satchel in chestnut has two external pockets on the front and a documents pocket at the rear. The larger one should hold a notebook and a tablet amongst other accessories.

        Date and time
        April 23, 2014, 2:10PM
      • Agree they are very good and stylish but god they're heavy leather. Even before you put anything in them. That's the trade-off.

        Date and time
        April 23, 2014, 7:12PM
    • Try

      Crowd of chic designers in Berlin who make heavy duty synthetic "messenger" type bags in a wide variety of sizes. They are bulletproof, cheap, practical and available on the web. Y0u can get them in all sizes - iPhone to MacBook Pro 17" ( for we Macintossers :) )

      The twist/hook is that one buys the basic bag and one can choose 2-3 covers/flaps to close them and to provide the outside layer. They have a wide variety of patterns and sizes - from boring suit type to quirky , multicoloured and wacky, so with a bit of care in choosing one can get something that will play in a meeting full of suits and can then be switched to something interesting and wacky for later.

      ( "Ta(u)schen" is a German word play - Tasche = bag , tauschen = to change )

      Not sure whether this is what you want/need for business, but the range of choices is so great that you might find something. They are interesting and fun

      Date and time
      April 23, 2014, 2:32PM
      • How about this one I recently saw on Kickstarter:

        Date and time
        April 23, 2014, 2:55PM
        • Seeing you mentioned Rushfaster I would take it that you have already got your free bag from them

          Date and time
          April 23, 2014, 5:23PM
          • Then you would take that 100% wrong, Freebie.

            David Flynn
            Date and time
            April 23, 2014, 11:12PM
        • The Crumpler 'Lighthorseman' has served me well for over 6 years. Works as laptop bag - mobile office in fact - and even can handle overnighters if you travel 'light'... haha. I love it.

          Date and time
          April 23, 2014, 6:41PM
          • Got this A4 plastic stationery case for $5 at OfficeWorks.

            Fits my notebook perfectly.

            I use mX or some other paper to pad it.

            It's water-proofed!

            Windiest window sill in Sydney
            Date and time
            April 23, 2014, 8:40PM

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