Kensington Saddlebag Carrying Case Review

From $30 Best

With a high density padded compartment specifically for a laptop, a file and notebook organizer, a separate accessory compartment, and various other pockets, this inexpensive laptop bag works for travelers, professionals, and students. Three carrying options include a padded handle, padded shoulder strap, and padded backpack straps. Made from durable, water-resistant material, this bag fits laptops up to 15 inches.

A hit with users on all accounts -- rugged, outstanding, tough as nails, great, and awesome are just some of the things reviewers say about this laptop bag in Kensington Saddlebag reviews on Amazon.com where it scored a high 4.5 stars overall. Over on Newegg.com, reviewers also gave this cheap laptop bag high marks, with one user even proclaiming it the most comfortable laptop case you can buy without depleting your bank account. Another satisfied owner, posting a review on the Walmart site, says all of the convenient organizational compartments make this cheap laptop perfect for professionals or students.

The Kensington Saddlebag(starting at $40, Amazon) boasts an innovative design: padded adjustable straps allowing for maximum comfort in three different carrying options -- backpack style, messenger style, or hand- held. This best cheap laptop bag is made of durable dobby-weave nylon fabric and has several large organizational compartments, including a separate high-density padded compartment for the laptop itself. The Kensington Saddlebag comfortably fits a 15-inch laptop and features a handy "junk" drawer in the bottom that's perfect for power cords.

With nary a complaint from consumers and the option of carrying this bag in any of three ways, the Kensington Saddlebag offers a lot of bang for your buck. Nice enough to carry to the office but also laid-back enough to tote around on the weekends, the Kensington Saddlebag Carrying Case is a well-constructed laptop bag that provides ample organization and comfort for you, protective qualities for your laptop, and all for a very affordable price.

Wenger SwissGear Synergy Review

From $65 Good

A backpack style laptop bag best suited for students and travelers, the Wenger Swiss Gear features shock absorber shoulder straps and air flow back padding for maximum carrying comfort. A padded computer pocket holds a 15.4 inch laptop and there's a separate compartment for accessories and a music pocket complete with a headset port.

Durable, comfortable, and convenient, what else can be expected from Wenger? On NotebookReview.com, a Wenger Swiss Gear Synergy Computer Backpack review says it's built like a tank, durable, and is quite comfortable to carry. Consumers posting Wenger Swiss Gear Synergy backpack reviews at Buy.com also give this computer bag high marks, with one user gratefully pointing out the separate compartments for his water bottle, lunch, laptop, power cords, music player, glasses, books, and more - all of which keep him highly organized.

The Wenger Swiss Gear Synergy Computer Backpack (starting at $65, Amazon) is designed to provide the ultimate in carrying comfort for cheap laptop bags. It features shock-absorbing shoulder straps and a comfortable padded back. Made from high quality durable nylon ballistic fabric, the Wenger Swiss Gear Synergy backpack protects against the everyday bumps and jostles that afflict all laptop bags, and it's waterproof, to boot. This cheap laptop bag boasts a well-padded compartment that fits laptops up to 15.4 inches as well as a strap to secure the laptop in place. There are also several compartments for organizing all your small gear and a large compartment that can hold books and files.

Although the Wenger Swiss Gear backpack isn't the most professional-looking laptop bag, it's a best cheap laptop bag for students and world travelers. It can stand up to the natural elements of and the travails of traveling while still remaining extremely comfortable to carry.

Case Logic Canvas Messenger Bag Review

From $30 Think Twice

Stylish and available in several color options, this messenger style bag offers little in the way of comfortable carrying options. As far quality and durability, this bag is a cut below the rest; its stylish look may be too stylish for someone looking to present a professional appearance.

Even with a very cheap price tag on the Case Logic Canvas Messenger Bag, it seems most consumer reviewers would rather pay a bit more for a more durable laptop bag. Case Logic Canvas Messenger Bag reviews at eBags complain that this bag is too big and bulky, doesn't provide enough structure for laptop protection, is not professional in appearance, and quickly begins falling apart. Over on the Case Logic website, laptop bag reviews are more positive, although issues of durability crop up (one consumer reports that the single shoulder strap began to rip on its first workout) along with gripes about the lack of organizational pockets.

The Case Logic Canvas Messenger Bag (starting at $30) is made of thin cotton canvas and features a padded, partial laptop compartment big enough for a 15-inch laptop. The compartment secures the laptop with a strap over the top, but provides no other top protection for the laptop. There is one main organizational compartment aside from the separate laptop space, and one organizational panel for pencils, pens, and keys. This cheap laptop bag is not waterproof and the single shoulder offers no padding, although it is adjustable.

The Case Logic Canvas Messenger bag is certainly very affordable, but problems with the strap and overall durability suggest it may be wise to keep looking for a better laptop bag. The appearance is not professional and while students may love the look, the Case Logic Canvas Messenger laptop bag isn't the safest or most comfortable option for lugging books and a laptop to class.

Buying Guide

Laptop bags range in price from $25 to $250 and up. Many designers, such as Prada and Louis Vuitton, make laptop bags that stand at the very high end of the price range, some even costing thousands of dollars. There are plenty of attractive laptop bags with relatively low price tags -- you just need to know what to look for. For $65 or less, frugal shoppers can find high-quality bags made of durable fabric that help protect a laptop and maintain their integrity for a good long time.

Cheap Laptop Bags Buying Guide

The most important things to look for in a laptop bag are padding for the straps/handle and protection for the laptop. Overall durability also matters, as does ease of access and a design that helps you stay organized. Your particular needs and stylistic preferences will affect your buying decision. For example, people who travel a lot might want a laptop bag that provides quick access at airport security or stows easily as a carry-on. Business people might want a bag that looks professional, while a student may want something less formal and easy to carry to class. There aren't many expert reviews on laptop bags, but there are user reviews aplenty.

Laptop Bag Padding and Protection.

Most people carry around lots of stuff when they're out and about with their laptops -- notebooks, files, books, cell phones, power cords, what have you. Laptop bags are specifically designed for laptops, so rule number one is, it should amply protect the target cargo. That translates as protection against everything else you throw in the bag, as well as natural elements like rain, heat, and cold, and the normal jostle and bustle of your life. The better cheap laptop bags have a separate compartment with built-in padding designed to keep your laptop safe. The Kensington Saddlebag Carrying Case (starting at $40), for example, sports a separate high-density padded compartment, which one satisfied user commenting on Amazon.com says does an excellent job of protecting the computer. The Wenger Swiss Gear Synergy Computer Backpack (starting at $65) also has a separate padded laptop compartment and a strap to secure the laptop in place, a nice extra that's usually found in higher-end laptop bags; a review in NotebookReview.com notes that the strap keeps the laptop centered in the bag and not on your back, which affords more protection. The Case Logic Messenger Bag (starting at $30), on the other hand, features a padded compartment that doesn't completely cover the laptop, leaving the top slightly unprotected, but it does have a strap in the laptop compartment.

Laptop Bag Straps.

The carrying straps on laptop bags vary depending on the style of the bag. As hikers and students know, a backpack is the safest bag design because there are two shoulder straps that balance the weight evenly and prevent injury to your neck, shoulders, and back; the Wenger Swiss Gear is one example of an inexpensive backpack laptop bag. This type of strapping is also a welcome convenience because it leaves both hands free. With a messenger-style laptop bag, like the Kensington Saddlebag, the strap goes over one shoulder and comes across your body; your hands are left free, but the lopsided weight can strain your neck, shoulders, and back. Finally, there's the handle-style laptop bag, like the Brenthaven Metrolite 2 (starting at $6), that you carry in your hand with one or two short handles. The disadvantage with this design is that it ties up one hand and may throw off your balance -- but it does look professional.

Regardless of the style of the straps on a cheap laptop bag, always be sure to check for comfort and fit. The best option is a strap that has some padding and can be adjusted (one size strap does not fit all). The Kensington Saddlebag Carrying Case is unique because it offers several strap configurations in one: it can be carried as a low-riding backpack with hide-away padded straps, converted to a messenger-style bag with a padded shoulder strap, or carried by a foam-padded handle. Other cheap laptop bags are limited to one carrying style. The Wenger Swiss Gear Synergy Computer Backpack has adjustable padded straps and the Case Logic Messenger Bag lacks padding on the strap, although it can be adjusted.

Laptop Bag Fabric.

Often times the quality of a laptop bag can be assessed by the fabric it's made of. Fabric and durability distinguish expensive laptop bags from cheaper laptop bags. The high-priced variety are made of extremely durable fabric that provides waterproofing and some padded protection for the laptop. Cheap laptop bags are often made from lesser quality fabric, which sometimes results in broken straps or snags in the fabric. But this is not a uniform problem.

High-end laptop bags invariably incorporate some sort of protective, waterproof fabric, unlike cheaper laptop bags that don't necessarily use the most protective fabric. A good example of this is the pricier BBP Hamptons Hybrid Laptop Bag (starting at $90), which is constructed with waterproof, 1680-denier ballistic nylon. Incidentally, this is the same fabric used in bullet-proof vests and, as you can imagine, is incredibly protective and durable. The Case Logic Messenger bag, on the other hand, doesn't quite measure up: it's made from cotton canvas that offers little in the way of protective covering. In the middle of these two is the affordable Kensington Saddlebag Carrying Case, which About.com says is made of a dobby-weave nylon that affords some protection and is water resistant. The moderately priced Wenger Swiss Gear Computer Backpack is made out of nylon ballistic fabric, which is a thick, waterproof fabric that adds protective layer and is resistant to snags.

Organizational Compartments.

Organizational compartments rank high in importance in user reviews of cheap laptop bags. Although this is one of those personal preference features, most user reviewers say they want many organizational options. Who wants to go diving for a business card or a cell phone, or worry about crumpled documents that need to look pristine? And you certainly don't want the plug on your power cord to scratch the surface of the laptop, never mind having the laptop crush those tiny little earbuds for your iPod.

Ideally, a cheap laptop bag will have at least a couple of separate compartments for all the extraneous, but oh-so-necessary items you need to carry with you. The Kensington Saddlebag Carrying Case isolates the laptop in its own zippered compartment and has several additional compartments for files and notes, cell phone, keys, and writing utensils. People who travel light might appreciate the Brenthaven Metrolite 2, which is targeted to the MacBook crowd and features only a front pocket for writing utensils, cell phone, and keys. The Case Logic Messenger Bag has some storage space, but it's limited to a slim file compartment and a few pockets that aren't completely separate from the laptop compartment; the laptop is strapped into a section that's separated from the other compartments by a piece of fabric. The laptop gets its own space in the Wenger Swiss Gear backpack, which also contains a large compartment for books and files and several smaller compartments in the front for keys, cell phone, and the like.

Laptop Bag Size.

The size of the bag matters as well, because (duh) laptops come in different sizes. This is another way in which cheap laptop bags are distinguished from higher-end models. Most are designed to fit the standard 15-inch laptop, with room to spare for smaller varieties, whereas pricier laptop bags, like the BBP Hamptons Hybrid, come in different sizes to accommodate different-size laptops. The Wenger Swiss Gear backpack can hold a laptop up to 15 inches, while the Kensington Saddlebag Carrying Case provides a bit more room and can take a 15.4-inch laptop. Ditto with the Case Logic Messenger bag, although several users posting comments on eBags.com wonder if the bag might be too roomy; they report the laptop doesn't seem secure and the bag itself feels too big and bulky.

Features Comparison Buying Guide continues below table

Laptop Bag Reviews

Laptop Bag Durability.

Aside from providing exceptional protection to the laptop itself, cheap laptop bags should be durable and withstand the abuse that comes with everyday use. One bag that consumers praise for its durability is the Kensington Saddlebag. Aside from one reviewer who says the inner computer compartment began tearing after just a month of use, users who have posted laptop bag reviews on Amazon.com report that the Kensington Saddlebag has fared well over the long haul, and been carried, literally, around the world several times without any untoward effects. The Wenger Swiss Gear backpack also garners excellent consumer reviews for durability. Several users posting laptop bag reviews at Staples.com praise its heavy-duty zippers, reinforced straps, and waterproof fabric. On the flip side, some consumer reviews on eBags.com express disappointment with the Case Logic Messenger Bag (starting at $30), with one review describing a broken strap and another pointing to a broken clasp. Laptop bag reviews on the Case Logic company site assign the bag low scores for durability, and one consumer notes that the strap began tearing after the first day of use.

Ease of Access.

The ability to get at your laptop without fuss or bother is a no brainer. This means that it should be easy to pull the computer out of the bag without everything else spilling all over. Laptop bag reviews by consumers on MySimon give the Kensington Saddlebag Carrying Case (starting at $40) top marks, singling out the convenience of the separate compartments, which make it easy to access whatever is inside. One review on the Walmart site also praises the many useful compartments. The majority of reviews posted on Buy.com rave about the Wenger Swiss Gear Synergy Backpack (starting at $65), saying the multiple compartments facilitate access, and one reviewer calls this bag the best backpack ever. Assessments of the Case Logic laptop bag are, well, a mixed bag. Consumers writing laptop bag reviews on Amazon.com lodge minor protests about the pockets being too small and too few to help them stay organized, although others appreciate its styling, size, and price. The Brenthaven Metrolite 2 (starting at $6) generally receives positive appraisals in laptop bag reviews on Apple.com for ease of access, but on Mac Forums a reviewer notes that it isn't ideal for someone who carries a lot of stuff; it can't hold a binder or textbooks, for example.

Laptop Bag Comfort.

Comfort is a critical performance issue that can make or break users' opinion of any given laptop bag. The Kensington Saddlebag has comfort going for it given the multiple carrying options. Most reviewers writing on Newegg.com heartily applaud this bag, noting that the shoulder straps and backpack straps are long on comfort. One user comments this laptop bag is tops in comfort without breaking the bank. The Wenger Swiss Gear backpack is designed for comfort, something users clearly recognize. One reviewer posting on Staples.com calls this bag "verrry" comfortable even when fully loaded. Over at Amazon.com another consumer happily reports that the bag can be weighed down with stuff but still feel light on your back, enabling you to walk miles and miles. Discomfort from the single strap of the messenger-style Case Logic laptop bag is a common user complaint. One consumer post on Amazon.com expresses a desire for a bit of padding in the shoulder strap and notes the DIY appeal of sewing padding onto the strap. Users posting Case Logic Messenger Bag reviews on Dell likewise grumble that the strap needs padding, with one user conceding the bag is otherwise a decent product.

Additional Products We Considered

Brenthaven Metrolite 2 Review

From $65

Designed specifically for MacBooks, the Brenthaven Metrolite2 is well-liked by users. On Apple.com, Brenthaven Metrolite2 reviews by users praise the quality and durability of this cheap laptop bag while stressing how well it protects MacBooks. A few consumers note, however, that the Brenthaven Metrolite2 laptop bag is not ideal for someone who needs to carry a lot of stuff with their laptop. On Mac Forums, one review agrees that this is a high-quality laptop bag but points out that it can't hold anything of consequence, like a binder or books, along with the laptop.

With its sleek, professional design, the Brenthaven Metrolite 2 (starting at $6, Amazon) is perfect for professionals who commute with their laptop and value the two carrying options (handles or a padded shoulder strap). The protection afforded by this cheap laptop bag is extreme: padding surrounds every inch of the laptop, including the top and bottom, while the outer shell is made of ballistic, waterproof nylon. A 15-inch MacBook fits snuggly into the laptop compartment so it doesn't get jostled around when in transit. Organization-wise, there is only the main compartment, a zippered compartment for power cords, and a small organizational panel on the front. When carrying a laptop with the Brenthaven Metrolite2, there's not much else you can pack alongside.

The Brenthaven Metrolite2 laptop bag receives excellent reviews, looks professional, and is built to withstand the tests of time and travel. More ideal for busy professionals than for students or travelers, who may decide to pass on this cheap laptop bag for the simple reason that it has little to offer in the way of storage. Other than that, the Brenthaven Metrolite2 is a good buy among affordable laptop bags.

BBP Hamptons Hybrid Laptop Bag Review

From $90

The BBP Hamptons Hybrid laptop bag is a pricey product that wins high praise from consumers. BBP Hamptons Hybrid reviews on Amazon.com have nothing but good things to say about this upmarket bag, and particularly note that the different ways to carry this bag (on your back or messenger style) provide optimal comfort. At Luggage.com, one BBP Hamptons Hybrid reviewer comments that this laptop bag beats out all the rest for comfort and carrying ease. Consumers also praise the BBP Hamptons Hybrid laptop bag for its durability. According to one user review on Apple.com, this laptop bag provides superior protection for the laptop and seems to last longer than others. This reviewer ought to know: he claims to have owned almost 30 laptop bags over the years.

The BBP Hamptons Hybrid Laptop Bag (starting at $90, Amazon) has a separate compartment behind the handle on the back that is heavily padded to protect the laptop. A main compartment and sub compartments in the front are perfect for files, notebooks, cords, and more. Unlike the cheaper laptop bag models, the BBP Hamptons Hybrid is available in four different sizes to accommodate any size laptop you need to stow.

Fashionable for men, women, students, and professionals, the BBP Hamptons Hybrid Laptop Bag is a good upscale choice. Indeed, the only thing we don't like about this bag is the price. If you're able to spend beyond the Cheapism niche, then this is the bag for you.