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How Do You Pack Your Computer?


My travel profile often requires me to carry my 13" MacBook Pro along. If you carry one, please tell me what bag you're using and how you make it TSA check-point friendly. I prefer not to carry two bags (Daypack + Small Roller). I'd love to find a Rick Steves style backpack with some check-point friendliness.

Thanks in advance,


Posted by
715 posts

I just pack my MacBook Air in my Patagomia mini mass bag. Works great.

Tom Bihn makes TSA friendly pouches for your laptop and iPad. I also use those to pad these items.

Posted by
1840 posts

I would be interested in knowing what check point friendliness is.

Posted by
8234 posts

I've been traveling with a heavy 17" laptop for years. Last year, we took a 10.6" notebook to Europe, and found the size and weight to be refreshing. I just carried it in my backpack with all our "snacks." Slipping it out to put in a tray was no big deal.

Posted by
15673 posts

Before I leave for the airport, I take my computer out of its case and put it in a convenient place in my hand luggage so I can just slip it out, along with the 3-1-1 bag when I get to security. After the security check, I repack it. I always have lots of time after security.

Posted by
733 posts

Sorry, I use two bags.

I carry my 13" Macbook Air in a simple neoprene sleeve, which then goes into a Chicobag Nomad Tote, along with my camera equipment. It's pretty easy to get it out of the bag for TSA, and the bag fits nicely under the seat in front of me.

Batteries, chargers and cables, along with clothing and toiletries, go in my Osprey Porter 46 backpack, which goes in the overhead bin.

Posted by
4586 posts

yes, put a laptop you care about in a sleeve. then you can slip it into most any bag.

AT security, put every electronic gadget out in the open and let the TSA on duty that day tell you what to do.

Posted by
5 posts

Thanks All,

I'll be testing out an Eagle Creek Universal Traveler Backpack RFID on a ten day trip IAD-YYC-DEN-IAD. It has a dedicated fold-out laptop pocket so I can just unzip it and lay it on the TSA conveyor. I travel with a Scott-E-Vest and stash all my bell ringers in it. So, fold out the pack, put it on the conveyor, she'd the vest into a bin and reverse the process after thanking TSA for their care.

I have a GOES pass, so I get TSA Pre Check at U.S. terminals and returning customs is a walk through. GOES is worth it, if you travel often.

Warm regards,


Posted by
24 posts

When traveling I keep my Macbook Pro 13" in a padded Eagle Creek "Pack-It" Laptop Sleeve and carry it in my Patagonia Minimass.

Posted by
15665 posts

I suggest you look at the Standard Luggage Carry-On Backpack. It has a dedicated electronics compartment for laptop, tablet and accessories.

I did a review of it about a week ago but I'm not allowed to link to it. This is a well made, well though out bag designed for the business traveler who wants to go without wheels.

It is not completely checkpoint friendly as the computer does have to be taken out of the bag for security but with its easy access laptop compartment, this isn't very difficult. (And if you have TSA Precheck this isn't a problem.)

Off the top of my head, I don't know of any carry-on size bags that are completely checkpoint friendly. Mostly just laptop size bags.

Posted by
15673 posts

I simply keep the laptop and my 3-1-1 separate, maybe even in a tote bag, until I'm through security. Then I find a convenient place and repack my things for the flight.

Posted by
19169 posts

Get a smaller computer.

I use an ACER netbook. It fits nicely in a Rhino Skin case I got with an NEC Mobile Pro 15 years ago. I also put in it any paper documents I want to carry. It's much smaller than a backpack and has a handle and an over-the-shoulder strap. I still have to take it out for security, but that is not a problem. Because I carry a mouse and extra battery in the case too, I don't think I can make it "check-point friendly".

Posted by
980 posts

I'll be field testing Gate8 trifold bag with a removable laptop bag. So far all reviews are very positive so I have high hopes. They have three different styles of carry on (

My other trick is to invest performance travel clothing that can be washed and dry over night. The last three EU trips I took (for business) I only brought 1-2 pairs of pants and 2-3 shirts include the pair I wore on the plane. Allowed me to fit everything in one carry on including my computer.