The 10 Best Gaming Backpacks
This wiki has been updated 29 times since it was first published in February of 2017. A regular rucksack won't do when you're a gamer, as you're carrying around commodities that are far more precious than some old notebooks and gym socks. These backpacks offer special protective compartments for all your gear, from large consoles to small controllers, so you never have to travel without your entertainment. Whatever your budget, there is an option here for you. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
December 13, 2020:
Gaming backpacks come in many sizes and designs, and while one might automatically gravitate towards choosing one based on style, this shouldn't be your top priority. Instead, you should consider how well one will protect its precious cargo, rather than simply how cool it looks. Luckily for you though, we have found one we think checks both those boxes nicely, namely the Acer Predator. It has a sleek, stylish design with its grey fabric and roll-top closure. At the same time, it has plenty of padding, segregated compartments so you don't have stuff your headphones and other more delicate equipment in with your heavy laptop, and a water-repellent exterior. Plus, at first glance, it looks like any other backpack, so it doesn't scream to onlookers that you are carrying expensive equipment inside.
The Lenovo Legion II and Dell Alienware Vindicator, with their heavily-armored shells, rank very highly in the protection department, though perhaps less so in the looks category. Both feature channeled backs for airflow and divided main compartments. The Legion can accommodate up to 17 inch laptops, and the Vindicator comes in three sizes to suit gaming laptops ranging from 13 to 17 inches.
We like the Razer Rogue v2 for its addition of a mesh water bottle pocket on one side and MOLLE-style webbing that allows you to attach some items to the exterior if needed. It also features a waterproof shell, and a vibrant neon green interior that makes it easy to spot small, darkly-colored items stored inside that may be difficult to see if they were inside a model with a black lining. Additionally, buckled flaps that go across the zipper make it harder for someone to open it without you noticing, so it would be a good choice for anyone who is often in crowds of people.
Despite being the one of the top-selling consoles, we didn't previously have a backpack here designed for the Nintendo Switch. We have remedied that with the addition of the PDP 500 Elite Edition. It can hold a 15-inch laptop along with the Switch, and it has an attractive aesthetic, so you won't mind using it as an everyday carry backpack when not transporting your console.
April 25, 2019:
With the availability of dedicated gaming backpacks there is no excuse for not keeping your gear well-protected when traveling, whether that be riding a bike to a friend's house or heading to the other side of the country via an airplane. While protection was obviously first and foremost in our mind when selecting these items, we also realize that style can play a big role for some users too, which is why we included options like the Acer Predator, Razer Rogue, and Everki Beacon, which most would be happy to use as a regular school pack or weekend travel bag. When it comes to maximum protection however, you might be wise to forgo traditional looks and instead choose a model that features a rigid shield, such as the Alienware Orion M17x, Dell Alienware Vindicator, Lenovo Legion, and Dell 50KD6. If organization is a top priority for you, we recommend you take a look at the Mobile Edge Razer, Lenovo Legion, and Everki Beacon, all of which feature a large number of pockets, ensuring every accessory has a dedicated home.
Why You Need A Gaming Backpack
Besides padding, many gaming backpacks have hard shells that can shield your stuff from accidental impacts.
Most regular bags simply don't have the level of padding you need to shield sensitive computers, controllers, and other gear from the jostling it takes during transportation, much less any accidental drops. Yes, you'll likely pay a little more for a dedicated gear bag, but those costs are nothing compared to what it would take to replace any of your high-tech components.
Besides padding, many gaming backpacks have hard shells that can shield your stuff from accidental impacts. It's critically important for anyone who travels to get their gaming on, as the amount of wear and tear your equipment can experience simply from being lugged around is considerable — especially if you take public transportation, fly regularly, or even just walk through busy areas.
Since gaming packs have (obviously) been designed with your needs in mind, they're more likely to have spaces dedicated to specific gear, so you won't have to mash all your cords and controllers into a large pouch. That lessens the likelihood that you'll pull a Gordian knot out of your bag (and you really don't want to have to cut through your cables with a sword).
There's also the elements to consider. Most regular backpacks will do little to protect electronics if you get caught in the rain, or if you accidentally spill Mountain Dew all over your bag. Gaming packs, on the other hand, are often at least water-resistant, giving you a little extra time to get out of the rain before your valuables get ruined. Some high-end backpacks offer security against sticky fingers, as well.
Of course, it's all your decision. If you feel comfortable risking your electronics by carrying them around in the cheapest backpack you can find, we can't legally stop you. Just know that you'll be much happier (and safer) with a dedicated gaming bag.
What To Look For In A Gaming Backpack
Buying a gaming bag can be a considerable investment, at least when compared to traditional models. That's why it's important to make sure you're getting one that will suit your needs before you take the plunge.
What kind of gear you're lugging around should be the first consideration. Many bags are designed specifically for either consoles or laptops, but often not both, so decide which platform you'll be playing on the most. Figure out how many accessories you'll typically need to transport, as well, and make sure your bag has enough space to accommodate all that paraphernalia.
That's why it's important to make sure you're getting one that will suit your needs before you take the plunge.
Of course, if you have a ton of gear, your back and shoulders will pay the price, so look for something that minimizes strain on your spine. That could mean lots of padding in the shoulder straps, as well as in the back (a lot of those consoles have extremely sharp corners, after all), or it could even mean finding an option with wheels.
Another often-ignored consideration is how often you'll be traveling. If you're constantly needing to unpack your laptop at checkpoints and metal detectors, you'll want a bag that lets you get to it in a hurry. Nothing makes the people behind you angrier (or possibly violent — we're talking about people at an airport here, after all) than having to wait while you slowly unpack all your gear.
Finally, a big advantage that gaming backpacks have over their pedestrian brethren is they just look a whole lot cooler. You can really let people know that you're serious about your gaming with this purchase, as many of the top options are incredibly sleek-looking.
Remember: nobody's intimidated by the person who shows up with their sister's hand-me-down Jordache bag strapped to their back.
Other Gear And Accessories To Consider
Getting your rig to your buddy's house is only half the battle. Once you're there, you still have to wow your friends with all the super-advanced gear that you'll be using to destroy them repeatedly while you play.
Virtual reality is the next frontier in gaming, so a VR headset should be on your shopping list at some point. Plus, it's incredibly fun to watch your friends stumble around the real world as they try to navigate a virtual one.
If you're planning to be truly serious about your gaming, and even maybe play professionally, much of this stuff is necessary for getting your career off the ground.
Ultimately, though, you'll be doing most of your playing in this realm, so make sure that your TV or projector is up to snuff. Most gaming systems now support 4k TV, so that should represent the minimum definition you should tolerate while you snipe each other endlessly. This is especially true if you occasionally stop playing video games to watch Netflix for a bit.
Of course, you won't always be going over to a friend's house to get your game on. When you're at home, you should invest in a respectable gaming chair, because nothing will ruin fun faster than crippling back pain. A good headset is important, as well, so that you can remind your buddies that you're the best even when you're not there to do it in person.
None of this is absolutely essential, of course, but once you experience how great gaming can be with the proper tech, it's certainly hard to go back to a Stone Age setup using just a couple controllers and a cathode-ray TV. If you're planning to be truly serious about your gaming, and even maybe play professionally, much of this stuff is necessary for getting your career off the ground.