Rolling Laptop Bags: What’s Great, and What’s Junk

by  Mose Hayward
LAST UPDATED ON  2023-06-15
PUBLISHED ON  2018-03-12

Your Guide

Mose Hayward

Travel Nerd

We spent a few weeks evaluating the best rolling laptop bags from the most reliable manufacturers of luggage and tech gear. The wheeled cases that we’ve chosen are excellent for short trips as well as for daily use. People who carry heavier laptops and electronics will love them, as will those who just want to give their bodies a break and glide quickly to their destinations.

We have several different recommendations, depending on a user’s style and purpose. This is a long article but we’ve summarized our top recommendations just below. And separately, we have a review covering rolling laptop-purse combos for women.

The Best Rolling Laptop Bags

Our favorite rolling laptop bags overall are from Kensington. They are well-made from durable materials, are properly designed and padded to protect electronics, and have ample features and organizational pockets to provide a rolling office-on-the-go.  Kensington backs these bags up with long warranties, which shows significant confidence in their build quality.

Our favorite overall: The Kensington Contour Roller (pictured right). It’s a smart-looking piece with a comfortable shoulder strap that can be removed when not in use, and a five-level telescoping handle that makes it quite comfortable to pull, whatever your height. There are two main compartments, a side water-bottle pocket, and other cleverly built organizer pockets for your gear.

The best locking option: The Kensington SecureTrek Laptop Roller has a tougher, hardened 840D Poly Twill exterior along with anti-puncture zippers and a mechanism to lock the two main zippered compartments shut with whatever lock you choose. It’s within carry-on sizes, but you could use a TSA-compliant lock if you were to check it. But since you’re not likely to check your laptop bag, we’d instead recommend the SecureTrek Laptop Roller with included combination lock and cable, which allows you to lock your Kensington to any nearby object while you’re away from it. More on our Kensington picks below.

The best rolling laptop backpack: The Jansport Driver 8 Backpack is our favorite to pop up on both shoulders for rough terrain and bad weather. Jansport is well-known bags that are built to last for many years and come with a lifetime warranty. This bag’s handle locks in at two levels. It is simpler than the Kensington options, but features a water-bottle pocket and two front organizer pockets. The straps can be tucked away when not in use, and there are thoughtful flaps over the zippers to better protect your valuables from rain or snow. See below for more on the Jansport Driver 8. Note that the Driver 8 only fits laptops of up to 15″, however. If you have a 17″ laptop, opt instead for the similarly durable and well-designed Samsonite Wheeled Computer Backpack, also described below. The Samsonite is also our top pick for a cheaper bag that is still of high quality.

This article focuses on all-in-one rolling laptop backpacks. If that’s not what you’re looking for, we also have articles focused on:

Large wheeled backpacks (checked luggage)

Rolling carry-on backpacks for travel

Rolling purses

Rolling backpacks for high school

Rolling backpacks with girly designs

Intro: Why Roll Your Laptop? And What Should You Look for in a Wheeled Bag?

Heavy laptop cases, briefcases and backpacks can stress the nerves in your shoulders and back, cause pain, and increase the likelihood of injury, particularly if the weight is always carried on one side. And as we mentioned in our review of rolling backpacks for children, studies find that young people’s use of heavy backpacks leads to low back pain, compressed lumbar discs, and asymmetry. And adults should take note too; in fact, the American Occupational Therapy Association recommends using rolling bags / briefcases.

As heavy travellers, we’ve been advocating the convenience of combo rolling travel backpacks as well as backpack carry-ons for years, and this has led us to some pretty strong opinions about luggage brands. But to better get an idea of laptop-specific bags, we reviewed the top advice from all of the major reviewers of laptop cases — which unfortunately doesn’t cover rolling options, but at least informs about the reliable brands. We then set out to see what are the best options for the laptop bags that roll.

Generally people who use rolling laptop bags are carrying around more than just a thin laptop; often they are used for carrying the larger and heavier gaming PCs, portable second screens, backup batteries, and other accessories. Our first priority was therefore to select rolling bags was that would lovingly coddle and protect these valued electronics for years, and the second was to ensure that they provide a smart way of organizing one’s mobile office. Finally, we wanted them to be comfortable to both roll and carry for a variety of people.

Our top picks: Kensington Rolling Laptop Bags

We reviewed many dozens of laptop case reviews written over the last decade in Europe and the Americas, and the one name that seemed to most consistently generate sincere praise was Kensington. Bloggers and tech press commenting on their Kensington laptop cases found them to built to last due to their tough materials, quality zippers and wheels, and careful workmanship. One Italian YouTuber even reviewed his Kensington after using it for nearly two years; the bag was still indistinguishable from those that were brand new.1

Wheels Plus Strap: The Kensington Contour Roller

We think that the best wheeled laptop choice for most is the Kensington Contour Roller, which has a detachable shoulder strap that is great for when you hit a flight of stairs, uneven terrain, or otherwise need to carry the bag for a moment.

Other features of note:

  • A five-stage handle allows a fine degree of adjustment to exactly the user’s height — so it’s much more finely tuned than any other rolling bag we’ve found.
  • There is a main padded compartment that can securely hold up to 17″ laptops and screens; a secondary main compartment with a divider; a front on-the-go organizer panel with pockets for a phone, pens, and other quick-access items; and a back accessory compartment that is especially useful for protecting cables. There is an external pocket for a water bottle or umbrella.
  • A velcro strap can attach the bag to the top of a suitcase.
  • The “contour”, or just slightly rounded shape, allows the bag to adjust to your body and better center the weight when carried.
  • The bag is made of tough ballistic nylon — before kevlar came along, this was what protected soldiers from shrapnel.

The one downside we find with the bag is that the rolling handle pops out of the back-most accessory compartment through a flap, which then leaves any items in that back compartment partially exposed (though they are in their own pouches). While this won’t be a problem for most, if you’re going to be rolling the bag while in a lot of rough weather you should go for one of the other Kensington options just below, or else the Jansport Driver 8 backpack farther down, which is particularly weather-resistant.

The Kensington Contour Roller comes with a lifetime warranty. It measures 13 x 17.5 x 9.5 inches (33 x 44.5 x 24.1 cm) and is available from Amazon, WalMart, and Staples.

There is also a slightly taller version, the Kensington Contour Overnight Roller, that measures 15.5 x 20.7 x 6.4 inches (39.4 x 52.6 x 16.3 cm) — still small enough to serve as a carry-on on most airlines. It’s a bit like a standard carry-on suitcase but techier, with more organizational pockets that can be used to work of like a mobile office. It is available from Amazon and Staples.

The Most Secure Rolling Laptop Case: The Kensington SecureTrek Laptop Roller

While it may come in a sleek, unassuming package, the Kensington SecureTrek Laptop Roller is a mini moveable fortress for your laptop and gear. The zippers for the two main compartments are puncture-resistant and the heads lock into a base that can be secured with any small padlock. While no such system is impenetrable, it does deter casual thieves by making sure that a fair amount of fuss, noise, and tools are necessary to get into the bag.

We recommend the version that comes with a combination lock and cable so that you can lock the unit itself to any nearby object.

Other features of note:

  • The exterior is a hardened 840D poly twill and tough enough to protect against drops and bumps.
  • The front panel opens up to serve as a mini-workstation, with organizer pockets for a phone, business card, pens, etc.
  • The main compartment has padded storage for a 17″ laptop and 10″ tablet, as well as additional slots and storage for a change or two of clothing (with a compression strap), cables, papers, books and more.
  • Both compartments can be locked closed with the lock base.

The Kensington SecureTrek Laptop Roller comes with a ten-year warranty. It measures 19 x 12.5 x 9.8 inches (48.3 x 31.7 x 24.9 cm) and is available from Walmart, and Amazon.

Need Both Backpack Straps and Wheels for Your Laptop?

Most people, once they have wheels, tend to use them much more than dual shoulder straps — at most they use a single shoulder strap as with our top pick above. But if you anticipate a lot of rough terrain, rain, and/or biking, or if you just prefer a backpacky look and feel, there are two excellent options.

The Best Rolling Backpack for 15″ Laptops: The Jansport Driver 8

We think that the best and most durable wheeled laptop backpack you can buy is the Jansport Driver 8.

Why Jansport? It’s the top-selling American backpack brand and well-known for standing by its lifetime warranty. Reviewers and consumer organizations have analyzed and stress-tested the company’s bags and given them top marks for durability. This includes tests of ripping, rough handling, and water resistance in which Jansport bags made of the same materials have performed fabulously. The Driver 8 is similarly built and its good real ranking from Amazon reviewers suggests that it tends to hold up well over time and impress. It is made of 600 Denier polyester with a 420 Denier nylon base, which are excellent, rugged materials.

The Driver 8’s features:

  • Two-stage handle for comfort whatever your height
  • Two large main compartments; total 36L capacity
  • Front organizer pocket
  • A side water-bottle pocket
  • Straps tuck away into the padded back panel when not in use
  • Protected, water-resistant flaps over the zippers

The potential downside of this bag is that it’s a bit simpler than our main Kensington recommendations above; there aren’t as many organizational pockets and its look is a bit more schooly (it’s a backpack after all) and less techy.

The bag is available in traditional solid black, blue or dark red, and some wilder brightly colored prints if purchased directly from Jansport. It can sometimes be slightly cheaper on Amazon but with fewer color options. It’s also available from Zappos.

The Best Rolling Backpack for 17″ Laptops (and a Great Overall Cheap Option): The Samsonite Tectonic Wheeled Computer Backpack

The Samsonite Tectonic Wheeled Computer Backpack is a great option if you want to spend less, and it’s also the most durable rolling backpack (two straps) out there that fits 17″ laptops.

As with the brands recommended above, Samsonite tends to do quite well when consumer organizations run durability tests and surveys on its products. The bag is also made of 400D ripstop nylon but yet is much cheaper than our main picks. The warranty is shorter than that of our other picks, but still generous at three years.

The features:

  • Main compartment with removable padded laptop sleeve for 17″ laptop
  • Tuck-away padded straps
  • Padded back panel
  • Front and side organizational pockets
  • Headphone cable port
  • Side water bottle pocket

The downside: We don’t expect this bag to be quite as durable as our main picks above, in spite of the brand’s generally excellent ratings from consumer organizations and this bag’s overall good feedback from customers.

The Samsonite Wheeled Computer Backpack measures 21 x 14 x 8 inches (53.3 x 35.6 x 20.3 cm), has a 38.5L capacity, and is available directly from Samsonite, which often offers good popup discounts when you click through that link. You can also see other smaller versions from Samsonite here. And currently, there are many color options from Amazon but be careful to check the listed size as some of those different colors are also different sizes.

Direct Links for Samsonite Wheeled Backpacks

The Other Rolling Laptop Bags

There were 50-some laptop bags that we considered weren’t our top choices in terms of the combination of durability, quality, price, features, and guarantee; in some cases we simply could not try them out nor get good information on them. We’re open to suggestions, however; if you find a particularly good option that we’ve missed let us know in the comments or contact us.

The Kensington Contour Roller

Wrap-Up: The Best Rolling Laptop Bag

  1. Yes, Italian is one of the many languages we use and enjoy. ↩︎

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