Offering a portable surface for your laptop and other essentials, a lap desk can make remote work (both at home and away from home) easier and more comfortable. We interviewed a telecommuting expert for buying tips and researched dozens of options with various designs and features.
Our top choice is the Rossie Home Premium Lap Desk, which boasts a real wood surface over a plush cushion with a machine-washable cover.
Ahead, the best lap desks for professionals and students.
Rossie Home Premium Lap Desk
Real wood surface
Mouse pad and phone slot
Machine-washable cushion cover
Surface prone to water damage
There's much to admire about the Rossie Home Premium Lap Desk. It's crafted from natural materials and boasts a functional yet sophisticated aesthetic. This workstation measures 21 by 14 by 3 inches, offering a sizable work surface and enough room for a laptop as big as 15.6 inches. Your computer won't slide off, thanks to a padded wrist rest. There's even an integrated mouse pad and a designated phone slot.
The Premium Lap Desk comes in three wood species and finishes—acacia with a medium stain, gray-wash ash, or bamboo with a deep espresso finish. Each model has a detachable cushion with fabric upholstery in a complementing hue. The cover is removable, machine washable, and dryer-friendly for your convenience. However, like any real wood surface, you'll need to be careful about cleaning the top to avoid water damage, and make sure to dry it promptly after wiping it down.
LapGear Compact Lap Desk
Compact and portable
Easy to clean
Too small for large laptops
If you're on a budget, LapGear is an excellent choice. Measuring 13.7 by 10 by 2 inches, this lap desk is compact enough to fit in most backpacks, and there's a reinforced handle for added portability. Available in five colors, it's made out of easy-to-clean thermoplastic and has a cushioned base for comfort and ventilation.
While it's great for on-the-go use, one thing to note is that it only fits laptops up to 13.3 inches, and it doesn't have a mouse pad or tablet slot. There is, however, a pen slot on top. And if you use it for a tablet or paper notebook, you'll have plenty of space.
Huanuo Adjustable Lap Desk
Eight tilt positions
Only one color
Looking for an adjustable model? Check out the Huanuo Lap Desk. Measuring 14.8 by 11 by 5 inches, the surface can accommodate laptops up to 15.6 inches (extending about a half-inch out on each side). You can tilt the stand into eight different positions while working from your lap, back, or on a table.
We appreciate that the bottom lip prevents your computer from sliding off. Weighing just under 2 pounds, this lap desk is also super lightweight, not to mention affordable. Our only complaint is that it comes in just one color, though black is undoubtedly versatile.
Best With Storage
Pottery Barn Teen Sherpa Super Storage Lapdesk
We also like the Super Storage Lapdesk from Pottery Barn Teen. As its name suggests, this versatile workstation has lots of room to stash your work or school essentials. Underneath the sliding surface is a handy compartment complete with dividers.
This portable desk has a real walnut wood top and a soft sherpa-covered cushioned base. There are a few other options, too, including one with a buffalo plaid cushion and one with a painted surface and a faux fur base. While it's on the pricier side and is somewhat heavy (just over 6 pounds), this is a great option for students or at-home use when a traditional desk or table isn't available.
Best With Legs
West Elm Collapsible Folding Lap Desk
Large work surface
Cup holder and tablet slot
West Elm's take on the lap desk is this convenient foldable model. Measuring 24 by 16 by 10 inches in the upright position, it offers plenty of work space. But when you want to put it away or pack it in a car, the legs easily collapse, making it flat and stackable.
The surface is made of engineered wood in your choice of medium walnut or white marble finish, and the legs are powder-coated metal. There's a built-in cup holder and a slot for your tablet or phone. While we appreciate the versatility of this lap desk—it's also perfect for breakfast in bed—just bear in mind it's not adjustable.
Arlo Skye The Lap Desk 19"
We're big fans of this lap desk from Arlo Skye. The feature-rich design flaunts a melamine work surface with a tablet slot and an angled laptop stand for hands-free reading. There's also a built-in storage tray underneath the surface, complete with an integrated cable management system.
At 19 by 13.5 by 3 inches, this portable workstation is big enough for most laptops, though you can only fit devices up to 15 inches inside the storage compartment. Below the melamine is a microbead-filled cushion that keeps your lap comfy and cool while you work from anywhere. The price is somewhat steep, but you can definitely count on quality.
Yogibo Traybo 2.0 Lap Desk
Large work surface
Not very packable
Sometimes, the cushion underneath is just as important as the hard surface. Though it's not the most packable option we found, the Yogibo Traybo 2.0 stands out in both departments. It's got a sizable bamboo tray on top, complete with a tablet slot and a wooden bumper to prevent your laptop from sliding off.
The plush cushion is filled with the brand's signature EPS (expanded polystyrene) foam beads. This provides a lightweight, lap-conforming feel no matter where you are or what position you're in. The stretchy fabric also adds to the overall comfort of this lap desk.
Best for Tablets
Pillow Pad Multi-Angle Lap Desk
Three angles with ledges
Not collapsible or adjustable
If you work primarily on a tablet, you should definitely consider the Pillow Pad. This cleverly compact lap desk measures 11.5 by 10 by 9 inches. While it's not adjustable or collapsible, the multi-angled design offers three different positions, each with its own ledge to prop up your device.
The lightweight foam construction makes it easy to pack in large suitcases. There's also a handy carrying handle and even a side pocket for your phone, charger, glasses, or anything else you want within reach. Not only that, but the removable microsuede cover is conveniently machine-washable.
The Rossie Home Premium Lap Desk is our number-one pick. This portable workstation boasts a natural wood surface with a tablet stand, a mouse pad, and a phone slot, plus a cushioned base with a machine-washable fabric cover. However, if you're looking for something more affordable or compact, the LapGear Lap Desk is another excellent choice.
What to Look for When Buying a Lap Desk
Take note of the dimensions before ordering a lap desk. "Some have oversized surfaces, which allows space for a notepad, your phone, or other things," says Jeff Zbar of ChiefHomeOfficer.com, a telecommuting expert specializing in home offices and alternative workstations.
However, unless they fold up, larger units typically aren't as portable as compact lap desks. In any case, make sure yours is big enough to accommodate your computer or tablet.
Zbar recommends thinking about your overall comfort when using a portable workstation. "If work is a thing and not a place, make sure you're comfortable wherever work finds you," he says. "The right lap desk or similar concept may help achieve the perfect setting."
For some, the most comfortable option is a lightweight design, while for others, it's more about getting the proper angle. Additionally, many lap desks have attached cushions below the hard work surface, which can feel better on your legs and minimize heat transfer.
Consider what features you may need or want as well. "Some have pen, phone, and/or drink holders," Zbar tells The Spruce. Other lap desks have foldable designs, tiltable laptop stands, adjustable surfaces, tablet slots, lips to prevent sliding, mouse pads, and wrist wrests. You'll also find options with built-in storage.
What are the benefits of using a lap desk?
More than anything, lap desks offer convenience. They allow you to work not only from anywhere in your home but also virtually anywhere in the world. Whether you're on a couch, in bed, or riding in a car, train, or airplane, the idea is to be more comfortable when you're not at a proper desk.
Zbar adds that they can help alleviate the discomfort of a warm laptop on your legs. "Lap desks aid in cooling, whether through elevating the device and improving airflow or removing it from the smothering effects of a comforter or other fabrics," he explains. "Another benefit includes added stability of the firm surface of the stand."
Where should you store a lap desk?
It really depends on the dimensions, whether it folds up or not, and how often you use it. That said, you can typically store a lap desk in a closet, underneath your bed, or in a cupboard or cabinet. If you use it on the go often, you might even opt to keep it in your car—just make sure you remove all valuables, like your laptop or tablet.
Can you use a lap desk on a regular desk?
Some lap desks are designed to work on top of traditional desks or tables. For instance, an angled laptop stand might reduce neck strain by encouraging better posture. However, lap desks with cushioned bottoms are generally meant to be used on sofas, beds, or even the floor. The plush base would create a stability issue if placed on a desk.
Why Trust The Spruce?
Theresa Holland is a copywriter specializing in home design and travel within the commerce space. For this roundup, she spoke with telecommuting expert Jeff Zbar for buying tips and insight into alternative workstations. Next, she researched dozens of designs, narrowing them down to models that stood out in terms of portability, capacity, and comfort.
Theresa has been contributing to The Spruce since 2019. You can find more of her bylines on Travel + Leisure, MyDomaine, Byrdie, and People.