man holding a laptop bag and a binder

How Big Are Laptop Bags? What Size Do I Need?

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Last updated on September 22nd, 2023 at 05:55 pm

Laptops can be expensive, and, if you use your laptop every day for school or work, it can also have great personal value. For this reason, it’s essential that you protect your laptop during your commute.

A laptop bag is specifically designed to keep your laptop safe from bumps and jostling. However, you will need a bag that’s the right size for your laptop and meets any additional storage needs.

man walking with a laptop bag

How big is a laptop bag?

There is no standard size for a laptop bag. Instead, these bags come in a wide range of sizes to fit a variety of laptops, which can also be found in many sizes.

The smallest laptops available are usually about 14 inches across, so the smallest laptop bags are usually about 15 inches wide. However, some laptop bags are designed to hold tablets, so they might be even smaller, although this isn’t that common.

Most laptop bags are about 16″-17″ wide and 12″-13″ tall, although this also varies, as larger bags are needed to fit bigger laptops. The depth of a laptop bag can also vary but are close to 3″ deep.

Some are designed to only hold the laptop, so they may be only a couple of inches thick. Others are meant to hold many items, or they might be heavily padded. Both of these factors mean that the bag can be 5 or more inches deep.

average size laptop bag with dimensions

What size laptop bag do I need?

When deciding which laptop bag to purchase, the most important thing to consider is how big your laptop is. You’ll want to measure your laptop along the longest side.

Any laptop bag you purchase should be at least an inch longer so that your laptop fits easily and it’s not hard to get the laptop in or out of the bag.

As long as the bag fits your laptop, the bag is acceptable. However, there are a few other things to consider when selecting the right laptop bag.

If you have a 15″ laptop, which measures 14.4″ wide, consider using the Targus Classic Slim laptop bag which will hold up to a 15.6″ laptop. This bag has dimensions of 16.75″ wide x 12.8″ tall. Notice how this laptop bag is just over 1″ larger than the laptop itself.

If you have a larger 17″ laptop, which measures 16.4″ wide, consider using the BAGSMART Expandible laptop bag which will hold up to a 17.3″ laptop. This bag has dimensions of 17.1″ wide x 13″ tall. It is also 6.5″ deep which gives plenty of space for larger laptops.

business man holding a small laptop bag

Padding

How much padding you want for your laptop bag is another thing to think about. Some laptop bags are simply sleeves that gently protect the laptop during travel.

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Other bags feature more padding and are a good option if you travel frequently or if your laptop might get bumped while you commute to work or school. More padding offers more protection, but it also adds bulk to the laptop bag.

Bag for laptop isolated on a white background

Extra Space

Some people prefer a laptop bag that only holds the laptop. This cuts down on the bag’s size and makes it more convenient to carry.

However, if you plan to carry a charging cord, a mouse, a keyboard, or other personal items such as a phone, wallet, glasses, or pens and pencils, you might want to carry everything in one bag.

Many laptop bags have a compartment for the laptop and then extra space or additional pockets to carry other items. Again, a bag that can hold more items will be bigger than bags that only hold a laptop, but it can also be much more convenient.

Carrying Style

There are many types of laptop bags available. Some look like a backpack and hold the laptop upright. Others look more like a messenger bag and can be slung over your shoulder or have a long strap that goes across your chest.

Other laptop bags don’t have a long strap but have handles instead. Some bags have both handles and a strap.

Which carrying style is right for you depends on what your typical day looks like. For example, if you walk to work, you might want to use a messenger or backpack-style laptop bag.

If you bike to work, a backpack-style bag will keep your hands free and will ensure the bag stays out of your way. If you want to look professional, a bag with handles might look sleeker and more like a briefcase.

Image of caucasian businessman in office clothes holding laptop computer isolated over gray background

Other Considerations

Before you pick a laptop bag, it’s a good idea to consider your mode of transportation and where you’ll store the bag during the day. For example, if you usually travel on a crowded train or subway, you might want to select a more compact bag.

If you have your own office with plenty of storage, a larger bag works well, but if you’ll need to store your bag under a school desk, something small or flat might be a better option.

Similarly, if you commute by walking or bike riding and there’s a chance that you’ll commute to work or school in the rain, you may want to consider a bag that’s waterproof or features a waterproof pocket for your electronics.

Laptop bags can also be used to carry other fragile electronic items, such as a tablet, a camera, or a handheld gaming system. If you think you might sometimes want to use your laptop bag for carrying other items, make sure you select a bag that will be the right size to properly cushion those items.

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