A lot of people suffer from persistent pain shooting up their shoulders, neck, or back from carrying laptop bags. This is sad because we live in a connected world that benefits from carrying personal computers, smartphones, and other electronic devices in our personal bag. Many times this pain or discomfort results from carrying our bags incorrectly.
How do I wear a laptop bag correctly?
Wear backpacks with both straps on, have your messenger bag elevated to the waistline, and have all straps feel snug on your upper torso.
It is really important to wear laptop bags correctly. It’s easy to fill these day packs with portable power supplies, gaming systems, books we want to read, with a big water tin on the side. Filling our bags with all this stuff is heavy. Adding to the extra weight problem with a bad habit of wearing these packs in a painful way is not the way to keep your computer with you at all times. First, let’s breakdown the different types of laptop packs available to us.
5 Different Types of Laptop Bags
Backpacks are my personal favorite. These are the easiest bags on our shoulders, neck, and backs for long periods of use. These are often thought of for use with hikers, cyclists, and students mainly. When the laptop was engineered to be under 4 pounds, the backpack seems like the best option to carry our computers to me. I also think they are the most stylish. That’s my opinion though.
Backpacks spread the weight inside the bag evenly. The two straps that distribute the pressure from the backpack on your shoulders and back. Backpacks generally have more room than these other bags. Backpacks typically have water bottle holders, organized storage, multiple main compartments, and rated as some of the best travel gear to own.
Professional briefcases can be the heaviest items in this list. If you are a lawyer carrying around a full-sized laptop and case documents, you can be carrying around 10-20 pounds most days easily. The briefcases themselves can weigh up to 8 pounds as well. These typically don’t have straps so you won’t have to worry about neck or back pain. If you have to carry this for hours on end, then your forearms and fingers will feel most of the fatigue.
Messenger bags were all the rage back in the late 2,000s. The year 2008 had so many dell ads running on the tv with a hipster running around with a messenger bag. Television shows and movies were soaking in the messenger back fashion. These are more of a fashion statement than a functional bag. Sure, some of these bags like from Timbuk2’s Classic series is cool and functional. However, I see more one pocket messenger backs on Amazon than I see useful organized storage messenger bags.
Laptop Handbags & Totes
These are typically manufactured for women. I can get jealous of some of their designs and pastel color choices. They are typically lighter, smaller, and easier to walk around with. I noticed that they aren’t all necessarily slim though. If you are looking for a slim laptop bag check out my previous post the three best options out there. Make sure you have the strap pulled up and adjusted close to your waist to prevent it from swinging into you repeatedly as you walk.
These are typically cheap covers that people buy before they get a good laptop bag. I know a friend that bought a laptop sleeve to protect his computer when he puts it in a gym bag. Did I grill my friend over this terrible decision? Yes. Are we not going to be friends until he gets a real laptop bag? Maybe.
These laptop sleeves don’t have straps to aggravate any upper body areas. It would be frustrating carrying a laptop only with a sleeve because they are typically made from softer materials that are easy to slip out of hand. Oh, and that soft material doesn’t make the ground soft if it were to strike the ground.
How to Wear a Laptop Bag
There are two ways to carry your laptop bag on your back. You can carry it with one strap on your shoulder while the other strap dangles helplessly in the air. Or, you can use both shoulder straps for maximum support and benefit from a more anti-theft placement of the bag. I hope you save your back and neck from chronic pain and use both straps. Using one strap can open you up for a criminal who is feeling froggy about running home with a new laptop.
Use Both Straps
Use both straps and have them snugly wrapped around your shoulders and back. If you let the backpack sag too low, you’ll be increasing the pressure made on your shoulders. Our back muscles can’t help support the weight when our shoulders are taking all the pressure from a sagging pack. Using both straps is known to help correct poor posture as well. The health benefits outweigh and any style factor that can be added for not wearing both straps bring.
What you risk going one strap
When you wear a laptop backpack with one strap you open yourself up for a few problems. First, you’ll be an easy target for a thief to steal your bag out of your hand when you aren’t paying attention. Second, you’ll carry the full load of the bag on one shoulder, increasing the risk of pain or discomfort. Lastly, this habit can cause a flexed or crooked posture by leaning to one side from a bag all day. One strap may look cool, but you’ll notice over time it’s not worth it.
How to Wear a Messenger Bag
The Messenger bag is a different animal. It was made to be worn with one strap. This one strap is designed to wrap across the entire torso. The design results a much more secure and spine friendly adaptation of the laptop bag one-strap method. Bring the laptop messenger bag up to your waist. You should be able to hold the bottom of the bag at the correct height with one hand. This height adjustment will prevent the messenger bag from swinging back and hitting you repeatedly while walking.
Were you ever taught to wear a backpack before? My mother taught me to strap uptight and have an upright posture while walking with it on my back. I usually ignored that advice growing up because a lot of my friends in elementary school had them really low and loose. I’m sure my old friends now drive low-riders in the streets of Tampa, Florida now. Do you have any laptop bags to recommend that have been ergonomically friendly? If you found a bag that feels like a cloud is hanging on your back, please don’t hesitate to share it.