Commuting 101: Carrying Your Laptop

I’ve often noticed that many of the people I see commuting by bike are technical or business folks, working in IT or other white-collar positions. I, like many of them, have to carry a laptop to and from work. This usually brings up questions. On my personal blog, the question was asked again: “[Do you] just shove it in your panniers and pray?

On days I can get away with not toting it around, I will. If you just need to move data between home and work, you can usually get by with storing your data on removable media such as a USB Flash Drive. While that’s a good idea, many companies have policies against it, so you should check first.

Assuming that you have no choice but to lug an expensive, fragile piece of equipment with you on a daily basis, there are plenty of things you can do to make sure your hardware makes the journey as safely as possible.

Most of the time, I use panniers and I ride about 29 miles round trip. In the winter, I switch to a backpack and I ride to a nearby bus stop. This reduces the bicycle part of my commute to less than 10 miles per day.

The key to keeping your laptop safe is padding. I use a form-fitting laptop sleeve since it’s barely larger than the laptop itself and fits well in my pannier. You may also opt to pack your clothes around the laptop.

Similarly, I use a laptop-specific backpack when I’m not using the panniers.

My MacBook has made the journey to and from work almost every day this way for about two years. Who else is a laptop-carrying member of the bike-commuting work force? What are you doing to keep yours safe and sound on your daily journey?

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