Best bag for carrying a Mac laptop while riding a bike?


by Jason Swihart on May 06, 2008 at 12:26 PM

Update (5/7/08): Flickr Group

Based on the popularity of this post, Byron created a bike bags Flickr group. Pop in and upload photos of your setup–if you’re inclined, write a few words describing it and why it works for you (if you don’t have a Flickr account, you can sign up for free to share your photos). Byron loaded the Hugga Bag and has photos of the Raygun coming….

Our friend Jim Coudal needs some advice:

coudal_twitter.gif What do Bike Huggers think? Post your advice here.

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i use a be. ez sleeve icm with samsonite backpack. Works greet and Mac fully secure without a way formal/flashy look or a typical” there’s a pc inside bah obv”

I personally use the Timbuk2 Laptop Messenger bag (medium size) to carry my Macbook Pro. With laptop in bag I still have room for changing clothes, shoes, and lunch. The cross strap keeps the bag secure on my back while riding.

Why “Mac laptop”? Does it make a difference that it’s a Mac vs. something not made by Apple? And, if he’s looking for something very specific and tailored, then why not disclose the exact model or size/dimensions?

Isn’t this question something more like “Which shoulder bag or backpack — out of the thousands that are available — do you like most?”

If that’s the question, then I currently use a North Face backpack that’s supposed to be for snowboarding, but the hydration bladder compartment takes my ASUS W5F perfectly. Otherwise, my Timbuk2 bag has been an alternative for years.

But there are thousands of options. If he’s looking for something more specific, he should be more specific about his uses and hardware.

here’s what works for my MBP 15” - it rides in a gyms pac neoprene sleeve inside a small Osprey Stratos 18 backpack, which also carries blinky lights (two yellow on front shoulder straps, four red on rear attach points and top of stretchy pocket) and a reflective triangle (safety pinned on stretchy pocket) - when it’s raining, a hefty 2.5 gallon ziploc goes over the sleeve so the pack not being waterproof is still ok - have taken a couple spills that bent the aluminum a bit, and don’t reco doing that (ABS on previous Pismo was more durable) - nice things about Osprey are that it’s small, has plenty of “fast packing” pockets, including two on waist belt, carbon strut “frame” that keeps it off back, cool in summer, warm in winter - very adjustable, comes in two torso lengths, durable at two years of daily use - rest of stuff in waterproof Ortlieb Bike Packer Plus on right side of rack (left carried inside when might be needed, bungees for extras at the ready

Chester: Or, perhaps he wants to hear a range of responses without imposing too many criteria. Sometimes when you approach a new problem, you might only know a few of the critical boundaries such as “I want to ride a bike and I want to carry my Mac laptop.” By asking only the questions you know you have, you’ll get answers (and more questions) that help develop a better picture of the problem.

Or maybe he ran into the 140 character word limit on Twitter.

Either way—great responses so far, keep ‘em coming! Share links if you have any.

I have an L.L.Bean backpack with laptop compartment (no longer produced) from about six years ago. For me, just about any padded bag is suitable, though, as it will stow safely in my Xtracycle FreeLoader.

I think this is an issue that is often times over-simplified.  While I think my Crumpler or Timbuk2 would do the job 99% of the time - I’d like a backpack like the Speed Pac or the
Boblebee where there’s a hard-shell exoskeloton to cushion any real impact or fall.  While I think the Speed Pac is heinous and probably too small for most applications, something similar that encloses the laptop securely and has a little room for extras is something that the bike market is missing.

Sumo Laptop Case + Chrome bag.

Or, if the laptop is the only thing to carry, a Chrome laptop bag

I second the Timbuktu response. I have the laptop messenger bag (medium size). With my 12” iBook in a fitted Timbktu sleeve (x-small size), it fits perfectly and has two layers of padding.

I’ve never had a problem with rain.

If you do panniers, the Arkel Commuter is pretty darn nice.  The laptop sleeve will hold your notebook securely, but can be removed if you want to use it as a regular bag.  Neither configuration is an afterthought, they both work well.

I WANT the new Knog Dry Dog laptop pannier/bags sooooo badly.  They look like the perfect design specs for my needs.  It will work as a pannier or a messenger bag, it’s waterproof, it’s designed specifically for your MB/MBP with a different design for each size and it looks decent.  Only problem is, it’s not available yet!!!!  AURGH!!!!  Can somebody please get ahold of one of these units and do a hands-on review so I can see if it lives up to my expectations before I hop a plane to Australia and rampage my way through Knog HQ demanding one of these?

No, I do not work for Knog.  This is not an advertisement.  I’ve just been through a ton of bags for my unweildly 17” lappy and I’ve concluded that a pannier would be the most comfortable/sensible option at some times while a messenger bag would be appropriate at others.  Help me Obiwan Knoggy.  You’re my only hope!

I have a Tom Bihn vertical sleeve and an Ortlieb backpack. With that sleeve, I can take the computer out and leave the sleeve in the bag. The bag is waterproof enough that I never have to worry about the computer getting damaged. Between the sleeve and the bag I could probably go swimming and not have to worry. This works for my 15” MacBook Pro or a PowerBook as well

Any suggestions for a bar bag to serve in this role?

Personally, I like the idea of panniers because of the comfort issue (my back gets sweaty), but I recently stole my wife’s Basil Blossom Basket for a quick jaunt and really liked it. I’d never stick my laptop in it, but for easy on, easy off on a commuter, it’s extremely capable and would be a nice alternative to panniers if all you have is a single bag.

I haven’t even seen one in the flesh yet but it has to be this…

I second the earlier recommendation of Arkel’s Commuter.;=

The [Bike Hugger Crumpler Bag]( with a School Hymn insert gets my vote!

With an honorable mention going to the [Backpack Messenger Bag from Timbuk2](

I don’t know that either of those are “the best” as I use them for travel and not commuting. I don’t commute, as Hugga HQ happens to also serve as my studio and house, but I’ve traveled all over the world with Crumpler and Timbuk2. My current fave is the Limited Edition The Raygun (Famous Winebar) and we’re giving one of those away in [Portland at the Mobile Social](

Chrome messenger bag + Chrome laptop sleeve. Their laptop sleeves seem to be perfectly fitted to macbooks. my dell doesn’t fit in it. The bags have a lot of pockets and are pretty much waterproof. Plus it just looks badass.

I’m using a fitted incase sleeve on my MacBook that goes inside a Vaude daypack that I just started using. I love the bag because I’m trying to simplify and downsize, and it’s functional as a bike pack, daypack for hiking, and for snowshoeing…

And my Mac makes it back and forth wrapped up in neoprene goodness, with the packs frame for more protection.

I’ve been thinking the same thing (about a laptop in general).  I’ve done the messenger bag and the backpack and both are okay with their own caveats for when I have the 7 mile each way commute.  When I do the office commute (20 miles each way), though, I’m less pleased with my current options.  So I’ve been looking at panniers and am amazed at how few laptop + pannier options there really are out there. 

The Knog bag mentioned above looks kind of cool, although I’d want to see a few more pictures of it. 

I’m currently leaning towards either the Jannd Commuter, the Arkel Commuter or the Arkel Bug.  Just a matter of picking one at this point.

I’ve got a 15 inch powerbook and an IBM t60, and I’ve used my timbuc2 a bit for bike commuting.  It’s the right size for the laptops, and the perviously mentioned waist strap keeps it in place. It’s a little small for regular use, if you need to carry clothes, shoes, shower stuff, what not, but if you can leave the bulk of that at work, I love the compact size.

Ortlieb Shuttle Organizer inside a SealLine Urban backpack. Waterproof goodness in a backpack with an external pocket and molle attachment loops.

The Mac/PC distinction is semi-legit, to my mind, since Macs are all wide-screen at this point, and most Win/Lin laptops are still the old squarer style, so they have different fit requirements.

That said, I work with computers in a way most people don’t. I carry three laptops with me most days (a Lenovo T61 and a Macbook Pro for my day job, and a MBP for my contracting gigs as well), plus I usually have a bunch of tools and cable testers and stuff with me. I stuff the whole shebang in an Baileyworks Super Pro XL. The Baileyworks bags are unpadded, so I improvised many years ago and added an inflatable stadium seat pad next to my back, and this has served me well for several years now.

Not unsurprisingly, I would kill for a couple of MacBook Airs to lighten the burden a bit. I’ve been doing this for so long that I’m at least 3” shorter now than when I started it.

I really like the Osprey Transit messenger bag.  The bag has been through some wet and snowy weather and keeps everything pretty dry.  The only part that receive a little moisture was close to where the two independent zippers come together. It maybe a little big for some people.  I can carry my laptop(there is secure seperate area for the computer, my lunch and workout clothes.  It also has nice small touches.  Likte stowaway areas and a place for pens and pencils.  I commute in Green Bay about 8 miles one way. Best bag I have ever had.

Based on the popularity of this post, I created [a Flickr group]( so you can show us your bags and post them. I uploaded the Hugga Bag with photos of the Raygun coming . . .


I had a Nashbar attache that I used with a PowerBook Duo in the mid-‘90s. It had clips behind a velcro flap that hooked onto a standard rear rack, then an elastic strap and hook that attached at the rack’s point. I gave it up largely because of the constant heel strikes driving me crazy.

I tried a messenger-style bag, but never got used to that much fabric in contact with my skin during Georgia summers, so I bought a trailer. It’s got plenty of room for a change of clothes (though I usually cargo-net my shoes on top) along with my laptop snuggled in a protective briefcase. The trailer is also pretty close to waterproof.

I’ve mounted a couple of reflectors on the back, and it may be my imagination, but it seems like cars (usually) give it a little extra room on the road.

I carry my laptop in a Timbuk2 Laptop Messenger.  Since my last two jobs have insisted on getting me large 15.4” laptops (even though I generally just hook it up to a docking station with dual monitors), I had to go with the medium.  On the plus side, it’s big enough to carry my laptop, clothes, lunch, and even a pair of shoes if I don’t have any at the office.

I also considered the Timbuk2 commute, but I found that the extra back padding ate up too much of the internal space.

It doesn’t rain much in Colorado, but I did get stuck in a major downpour once and everything inside stayed completely dry.

I’m considering getting some panniers for my cross bike this summer for commuting.  Sometimes I think it would be nice to have some more carrying capacity and not have something slung over my shoulder.

I know many people who own laptops of varying kinds, and I know several people who commute on a bicycle. The only people I know who bike commute with a laptop, are the ones who own Mac laptops and I strongly doubt it’s a coincidence.

I commute with my 15” Macbook Pro in a Timbuk2 Laptop Messenger (in large).  It’s comfortable if I am riding my trail bike, my road bike, or my fixed gear.  I can carry my laptop and accessories, along with a few school books and change of clothes and toiletries so I can shower at a friends.  I can carry plenty of groceries, and I have even carried my laptop with gear and 2 6-packs of beers (bottles, not cans). 

I have carried as much as a 54lb load and it is still comfortable with this bag.  The stablilizer straps may come in handy, but I have yet to see a need because this bag is just perfect for me (5’10” 170lb male)