No matter how long your laptop, phone and tablet last on a single charge, you can always use some extra juice when you hit the road. Carrying a portable power bank makes a lot of sense, but it's even easier if that external battery is built right into your bag with dedicated spaces for ports and wires. A good laptop-charging bag can be pricey investment, so we've tested the major models and ranked them from best to worst.
How we tested
We took the Lenovo Yoga 920 at full charge (12 hours and 22 minutes) and connected each of the fully charged battery packs to calculate the additional power the Yoga received. While each battery was plugged in, we ran our Laptop Mag Battery Test, which involves continuous web surfing over Wi-Fi at 100 nits of brightness until the power is drained. We benchmarked the new battery lifetimes and subtracted 12:22 from the results to determine how much benefit you get from the backpack power banks.
We used the same methods to find the additional runtime added to the iPhone 8 (9 hours and 54 minutes). However our smartphone test involves continuous web surfing at 150 nits instead.
With 12 padded pockets available to store your items, whether it be a 17-inch laptop, sunglasses, a water bottle or a week's worth of clothing for vacation, Tylt's Energi Pro Power Backpack is a stylish and functional accessory. Made from ultra-strong 210D polyester, the 19.5 x 13.5 x 9-inch Energi Pro can carry heavy loads, while also remaining water resistant. The bag itself weighs 4.5 pounds, but its plush shoulder padding combats strain. We like the Energi Pro because it's a powerful backpack that can charge smartphones, tablets and USB Type-C laptops simultaneously with its 20,100 milliampere-hour Quick Charge battery. In our laptop charging test, the Energi Pro Power Backpack added a strong 11 hours and 22 minutes to our Yoga 920. Other neat features include an integrated cable-routing system for charging devices in different pockets, a trolley sleeve that can connect to a luggage handle, and RFID fraud protection so passports, IDs and credit cards can't be skimmed for identity theft. Another perk is that Tylt's Energi Pro is TSA-approved, so going through airport security with your electronic devices is a little less stressful. Credit: Shaun Lucas/Laptop Mag Ports: 3
The Array Solar Backpack by Voltaic Systems takes laptop charging to an eco-friendly level with its recycled plastic soda bottle build and 10-watt monocrystalline solar panels, which output a maximum of 18 volts. And with its built-in 19,800-mAH battery, the Array Solar has more than enough juice to power your laptop, phone, tablet or DSLR camera while you're outside walking around. When you're not getting much sun, you can charge the Array Solar with its included AC and DC adapters from a wall outlet or car. According to Voltaic Systems, the Array Solar requires 1 hour of sunlight to power an "efficient" laptop for up to 40 minutes and a 10-inch tablet for 2 hours and 30 minutes. In our notebook-charging test, we charged the Array Solar for a full work day via sun and were impressed to see the Array Solar added 13 hours to the Yoga 920. Although, this runtime is the longest we've seen on a charging bag, we had to dock it a point because the Array Solar is so expensive. However, we appreciated that the Array Solar's battery provides voltage control settings (12V, 16V, 19V), and that the backpack comes with a mix of 10 standard laptop plugs so you can charge all kinds of devices. Other notable features include 25 liters of storage that can fit in a laptop up to 17 inches, a padded 15-inch laptop sleeve, water-resistant fabric and plenty of pockets. With so much packed into the 19 x 7 x 11-inch Array Solar, it's a little on the heavier side, weighing 5.1 pounds. Considering this fact, we wouldn't recommend overpacking the Array Solar. Credit: Shaun Lucas/Laptop Mag Ports: 5
Winner of the 2017 Red Dot Award, the HP Powerup Backpack keeps power failure at bay with a built-in 22,400-mAH battery that's capable of charging phones, tablets and laptops. With two USB 2.0 connectors and one 19V DC power adaptor, the HP Powerup can charge three devices at a time. The HP Powerup also comes with two additional laptop-charging adapters in case the original one doesn't fit. We tested one of the adapters on our work laptop, the Dell Latitude 6430U Ultrabook,and were pleased to see the 0.3mm x 0.2mm Powerup adapter is compatible. You may need to invest in a universal laptop-charger kit to use the HP Powerup if the provided adapters don't fit your laptop, which is a potential drawback. On a brighter note, the HP Powerup has sequential charging, where users can set power priority and control which order their devices charge. There's also a built-in heat sensor that monitors the backpack's temperature and adjusts accordingly so you don’t have to worry about overheating, which makes the HP Powerup TSA-friendly. Standing at 19.7 x 13 x 6.3 inches and weighing 4.2 pounds, the HP Powerup can fit a 17-inch laptop, as well as countless other items you’ll need while traveling. The HP Powerup is made out of coated heavy-duty canvas that resists wet weather, and also features interior padding, durable straps, and cable routing that allows you to charge your devices in three of the five pockets. During our laptop charging test, the HP Powerup extended the life of our Yoga 920 by 11 hours and 24 minutes. Although the HP Powerup completed our test using a USB Type-C wire, we wouldn't recommend relying on this method since the Powerup's ports are optimized from USB 2.0. Credit: Shaun Lucas/Laptop Mag Ports: 3
The NRGbag2 is Ghostek’s new and improved laptop-charging bag that has more than doubled its battery to 16,000-mAH (from 7,000-mAH). The NRGbag2 measures 20 x 5.5 x 13 inches and weighs 4 pounds. It features an external USB port on its front and an external AC adapter on its side, as well as two internal USB ports and an internal DC output. Unlike other bags on this list, the NRGbag2 has an integrated LED Power Bar that is located on the right-hand backpack strap, which conveniently turns the battery on or off and reports battery levels. The NRGbag2 is made out of durable eco-friendly and water-resistant polyester, and has a padded interior that helps to protect your devices. Multi-compartment pockets make space for a variety of items, including pens, tablets, water bottles and other personal possessions. And with 40 liters of storage space available, the NRGbag2 is a great travel bag for short trips. However, in our testing, we found the NRGbag2 difficult to open since the zippers kept snagging on excess fabric. Reaching the power pack was also an arduous task because it's mounted inside a pocket. Despite these issues, the NRGbag2 added 10 hours and 45 minutes to our test laptop's endurance. Credit: Shaun Lucas/Laptop Mag Ports: 5
Tylt's Enegi+ Power Backpack is another travel-friendly backpack that can provide a full charge for your phones and tablets. With a built-in 10,400-mAH battery, the Engeri+ Power Backpack can charge up to three devices simultaneously via USB. Though not advertised as a laptop- charging bag, we were curious to see if the Energi+ was capable of charging a laptop over USB Type-C, and we were glad to see it lasted 5 hours and 24 minutes in our notebook-charging test. The Energi+ also charged an iPhone 8 for 9 hours and 25 minutes. Aside from its charging capabilities, the Energi+ is made out of 1680D polyester, which provides water resistance, but also feels thinner than the fabric found on Tylt’s Energi Pro Power Backpack. We also noticed the Energi+ has flimsier shoulder padding; however, the padded computer and tablet compartments are sufficient enough to protect it from minor bumps. Other than those few differences, the Energi+ features the same dimensions (19.5 x 13.5 x 9 inches, 4.5 pounds), cord-routing anchors, trolley sleeve and TSA-approved RFID blocking technology that you'll find on Tylt's pro version. Add in the fact you’ll always have a place for your belongings with 13 roomy storage pockets, along with an included accessory bag, and the Energi+ is worth considering. Credit: Shaun Lucas/Laptop Mag Ports: 3
The MOS Pack is different from other laptop-charging bags in that it doesn't provide a power bank. In fact, the MOS Pack relies completely on AC power and provides a MOS Reach+ power strip with the bag, which has two USB Type-C ports and a three-prong outlet. The MOS Pack is capable of charging laptops, phones and tablets, but it's not ideal if you want to walk around with the bag at the same time. If connecting your bag to a wall isn't for you, the MOS Pack has cable pass-throughs and space for a power bank of your choice, so you can charge your devices in any pocket. Our only concern stems from the MOS Pack's heat warning for the Reach+, which advises leaving the zipper open to allow venting. The MOS Pack measures 18 x 12 x 5 inches and weighs 3.2 pounds, with 20 liters of storage capacity. Its numerous organizational pockets make traveling a breeze with designated passport, smartphone and water bottle locations, as well as a pen pouch and airline ticket compartment. However, laptops larger than 15 inches will have a difficult time fitting in the MOS Pack. Credit: Shaun Lucas/Laptop Mag Ports: 2
Image Credit: Shaun Lucas/Laptop Mag