We've been independently researching and testing products for over 120 years. If you buy through our links, we may earn a commission. Learn more about our review process.
A frantic search for a work badge or loose office keys can feel like rummaging into the abyss, leaving a scratch-ridden laptop as a casualty. Instead, a solid work bag can leave that chaotic energy at the door and put forth a more polished and professional feeling before setting off on your morning commute.
A stylish tote bag for work can inconspicuously fit everything from your flat shoes for the subway or your lunch pail, all while complementing your outfit. Laptop bags feature ingenious organization that keeps your tech secure. Or, go easy on yourself with a laptop backpack that shoulders your computer, books and other miscellaneous items.
The Good Housekeeping Institute Textiles Lab conducted thorough research and testing to identify the best work bags for various occasions, styles and preferences. After personally testing 20 different bags and consulting with GH analysts and editors for their recommendations, we curated a list of the top work bags for your money and lifestyle — no matter if you travel by car, train or foot.
Our top picks:
With an array of styles and materials available, work bags now offer more variety than ever before, including options made from chic leather to easy-to-clean nylon and others that let you stash a spare umbrella and a water bottle without the added heft. Scroll past these picks to learn more about the most important features to look for when shopping as well as more expert guidance from GH analysts. While you're at it, peruse our guide to the best laptop sleeves to fold in.
How we tested the best work bags
The Good Housekeeping Institute's Lab analysts have extensively tested a wide range of bags, including backpacks for college students to kids’ lunch bags. We scrutinized important construction features like weight and storage capacity to durability, a key aspect evaluated through abrasion and water-resistance tests that ensures the bags can withstand rigorous use. GH Lab analysts personally tested these styles, paying close attention to laptop fit and protection. These recommendations are based on recent tests of 20 work tote bag styles, as well as expertise gained from past backpack and laptop bag testing. To round it out, we also included helpful picks that our own GH staffers rely on.
What to consider when shopping for the best work bag
✔️ Materials: With so many different styles of work bags, there are a variety of materials that work well: Leather is very popular for its professional look and long-term durability, while synthetic options like faux leather are more affordable, according to Seymour. For those who go from work to the gym, opt for fabrics that you can wipe clean like nylon.
✔️ Laptop size: It's crucial your work bag fits its most important item. Most laptops run about 13 inches wide, but double-check the size and make sure the bag you're shopping for fits accordingly. Also, some bags have a built-in laptop sleeve while others don’t, so you might need to purchase one separately.
✔️ Organizational features: Avoid digging around for your work badge or wallet by opting for a bag with easily accessible zippered pockets. GH testers also appreciated bags with open compartments inside to prevent clutter.
✔️ Straps and handles: If you are going to be carrying a heavy load longer distances, a backpack will be more comfortable. Look for padded straps for ultimate comfort, recommends Seymour.
✔️ Security: When commuting on public transit, look for zippered closures to keep all your items safe when going to and from the office.
Why trust Good Housekeeping?
Emma Seymour is the senior textiles analyst at the Good Housekeeping Institute Textiles Lab and a leading fashion expert, writing stories for GH about the hottest trends, including faux leather pants, puffer vests and jumpsuits. She tested more than 20 different tote bags for this story. With a fiber science degree from Cornell University, Seymour has product quality expertise to evaluate each bag's construction and materials, thus ensuring each style is a good buy. A frequent writer of fashion roundups, Commerce Editor Jacqueline Saguin collaborated with Seymour and wrote this guide to the best work bags.
Jacqueline (she/her) covers all things e-commerce in beauty, lifestyle and beyond for the Good Housekeeping Institute. Before joining GH in 2021, she was a style and beauty reviews fellow at Insider, testing viral trends, reviewing sustainable brands and more. She's a graduate of the University of Florida's School of Journalism, with a specialty in magazines and mass communication.
7 Best Food Dehydrators of 2023
6 Best Dehumidifiers for Basements of 2023
9 Best Adjustable Beds of 2023
14 Best Curling Irons for Every Budget