Backpacks are no longer restricted to those who hack through the jungles of the Amazon or scale Half-Dome every other weekend. Students, light travelers, commuters and even shoppers make use of this versatile, hassle-free item in their day-to-day life. The backpack comes in an infinite range of styles, weights and accessories to fit almost any task.
Be aware however: not all backpacks are created equal, so you may have to look a little deeper in order to get the right one. We’ve compiled a list of ten of the best backpacks, each suited to specific budgets and activities, in order to help you choose one that is right for you.
Osprey’s weekend bag is one of the largest carryon compatible bags available. It’s a durable nylon material and features a straitjacket compression design with a padded top and side handles.
It has a dedicated laptop and tablet compartment plus a convenient top panel for accessing small items you may need on the go. The compression design allows you to reduce the overall size of the bag when it isn’t packed full, and a harness and hip belt deploy when you need better support.
It has multiple access points and excellent interior organization. It doesn’t have an exterior compartment for any kind of drink or water bottle, but overall, the durability of the nylon exterior is weather resistant, and it comes with Osprey’s All-Mighty Guarantee that will repair or replace any defects in the bag.
Who it’s for: Students and public transit commuters
Our next backpack is a classic, square style with synthetic fiber. It’s weather resistant and has a rain guard over the main zipper to help insulate the interior. It has a padded laptop sleeve in the main compartment for laptops and tablets 13 inches and smaller, two side pockets, and a front pocket for organizing smaller, essential items.
It has a handle on the top and narrow shoulder straps sewn into an X-shape for durability and support. The logo doubles as a reflector. It doesn’t have as much expansion potential as some other bags on the list, but it’s great for every day carry to places such as work and school. It also has a sitting pad for times when you need an impromptu cushion.
Who it’s for: Students who live on campus, work professionals
Eagle Creek’s backpack is made of durable ripstop nylon with a nylon lining. The design unzips entirely much like a classic suitcase with separated zipper compartments for organizing all your things.
It has padded, moisture-wicking straps and a hip belt for better support. It has a padded laptop sleeve for laptops up to 17 inches. There’s one external pocket for easy access to smaller items plus a zipper compartment on the bottom for quick access. You can access pockets from the side or from the top depending on your need.
The exterior organization can sometimes interfere with the interior storage, but it fits storage cubes and compression bags well. It’s great for travel and as a carryon.
Who it’s for: People with large laptops
Zomake’s multipurpose bag is an ultralight bag that fits into a compact pouch when it’s not in use. It’s great for when you aren’t sure if your things will expand over time or if you’ll need an extra bag on your way home. It’s made of waterproofed nylon and an abrasion resistant zipper.
It unfolds from a sandwich sized compartment to give you an extra 20 or so liters of storage. It has a main compartment and a smaller, front zippered pocket for storing smaller items. Mesh side pockets can hold maps, a phone, or a small water bottle. Mesh shoulder straps are breathable and offer good support. There’s no hip belt, and it’s not as durable as some when packed to the brim with things.
Who it’s for: Travelers
Timbuk2’s bag is canvas with a waterproof roll-top. You can easily access your things through the back zipper, and it was designed exclusively for Apple products and accessories. It has multiple pockets for tech devices including a 15 inch or smaller MacBook and an iPad.
A ventilated back panel helps keep your back more comfortable and protect you from unnecessary sweating. The external size pocket is elastic and fits a variety of smaller items or a water bottle. Zip pockets help organize all accessories like cables, a stylus, or earbuds. It has daisy chain webbing on the front for extra carabiners and snap-on storage.
It’s not suitable for those who wish to carry a lot of books, such as students or lecturers. It’s better suited to those who carry tech gear to and from work or other events.
Who it’s for: People with lots of tech gear
Bellroy’s traditional format is excellent for backpack traditionalists. It uses a primary compartment to organize most of your thing while separate laptop and tablet compartments offer plenty of storage for delicate equipment. There’s internal storage to keep smaller items in check, and a top pocket so essential items are within reach.
The padded shoulder straps support the weight of the pack well. Plus, they’re reinforced to prevent snagging. It won’t support a lot of weight, but it’s a suitable, smaller sized pack for everyday use. It doesn’t fit smaller bodies well because of the placement of the straps, but for average-sized people, it should do fine.
Who it’s for: Backpack traditionalists
Ebags’ convertible bag can be used as a briefcase, crossbody bag, or a backpack. It opens quickly, and the lay-flat design helps to protect your laptop during TSA screenings. TSA can screen your laptop without taking it out of the bag, but if you’re selected, it opens quickly and completely.
There are padded compartments for electronics and separate compartments for packing clothing and other essentials. It has D-rings, pockets, water bottle side pockets, and zip around front organizer for smaller essentials.
The padded mesh back helps keep you comfortable and reduce moisture. The sternum strap holds the straps in place when moving, but the straps can be easily tucked away when you don’t need them. There’s plenty of internal storage to keep things organized, and it holds a good amount without going over most carry-on requirements.
Who it’s for: Weekend travelers
The North Face Recon features ultra padded compartments to protect a laptop or tablet even in harsh conditions plus a sizeable inner storage compartment for carrying vital items. It has excellent internal organization and secure zip pockets.
The front has an extendable pocket with a daisy chain feature for extra carabiners and other snap-on storage. It has a reflective bike light loop plus compartments for water bottles and shoulder strap webbing with more reflective material. You have 360 degrees of reflective material for better safety.
There’s a fleece lined pocket for sunglasses or a phone and the straps are durable, breathable mesh. The top handle is padded. It has a sternum strap to help position straps and a hip belt for more support with a fully packed bag, but there’s no padding on the hip belt. They also have a women-specific version for a better fit. It might be a little bulky for smaller frames.
Who it’s for: People whose backpacks take a beating
SwissGear’s backpack has a large main compartment that opens wide for security and puts your laptop in a visible place while scanning. It has plenty of pockets to organize all your gear, and when you’re ready, it unzips completely flat for easier screening.
It’s a synthetic blend that’s water resistant and very durable. Padded shoulder straps help position the bag correctly. It has plenty of space for a laptop plus a change of close or textbooks, plus a few other things. It’s padded on the bottom to help resist impact.
There’s space on the side for a water bottle, but the top handle could be configured better to attach to a rolling suitcase or other travel gear.
Who it’s for: Budget shoppers
Our final bag is both a laptop bag and an overnight bag that uses four hammerhead zipper pulls to lock into place. It features thick, durable Poly-twill material with a puncture-proof zipper. It has a padded back for extra comfort and well-positioned straps. It also has a pass-through strap to attach it to a larger suitcase when you’re traveling.
It has a lot of space on the interior to separate and organize your things. The padding helps support your back even when the bag is completely full. It has multiple padded compartments for different kinds of electronics including laptop and tablet storage.
It’s a little bit heavy when it’s empty, so it’s best for travelers who don’t need to pass light carry-on limits.
Who it’s for: Frequent business class-style travelers