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- Backpacks are perfect for anyone who commutes or carries a lot of gear when out and about.
- Whether you’re looking for style or utility, there’s a backpack out there to meet your needs.
- We asked our team for their favorites and incorporated picks from our other guides, too.
Backpacks became my go-to item when I started working in an office. Simply put, I found it to be the best way to carry all my daily essentials – laptop, book for the commute, and lunch when I remembered to pack it – without destroying my already tension-prone shoulders.
Although the word “backpack” still reminds me of middle school, modern-day styles are anything but childish. It’s possible to find a backpack that’s equal parts cool and functional, too.
A good everyday backpack should fit what you need, come with built-in organization, and shouldn’t strain your shoulders and back.
Here are the 13 best backpacks we love:
A favorite backpack among members of the Insider Reviews team is the Dagne Dover Dakota Neoprene Backpack. It’s a wonderful carrier because of its eight color and three-size options. The backpack’s quick-dry neoprene material is water-resistant, hand-washable, and perfect for gym trips, work commutes, and day hikes alike.
There’s an interior pocket to store your laptop and even a pouch to hold an extra pair of shoes. This work-life balance bag, as Dagne Dover describes it, is also insulated and evenly distributes weight to add comfort to its sophisticated design.
The weather-resistant Tortuga Outbreaker was tested by Jen Gushue, guides editor, along with eight other top travel backpacks on the market, and it was a top-performer for its convenient storage options — enough to house four-to-five days of travel necessities. Aside from the zipper-bordered main compartment, there are two large mesh compartments on the opposite side, as well as impressive organization pouches throughout.
The adjustable harness system features a wide hip belt that makes traveling customizable and comfortable. It’s a splurge for sure, but worth the price tag.
Timbuk2 Impulse Travel Backpack Duffel Bag
If you’re looking for a shoulder bag that can store as much as an airport carry-on, but want to spend a little less than the Tortuga pack, the Timbuk2 Impulse Travel Backpack Duffel Bag is a comparable all-in-one option. It will store anything you need in its sack-like structure and comes with small side pockets and a water-resistant pocket for shoes or laundry.
The North Face Jester Backpack
For a backpack apt for carrying books, your laptop, and other study essentials, look no further than The North Face Jester Backpack. Buying Guides Fellow Victoria Giardina selected this as the top carrier for college in our best backpacks for students guide, notably for its large laptop compartment — the tried and true school staple.
Whether you’re commuting to class or en route to the library, the backpack’s durably-padded design features a large main compartment, two mesh water bottle pockets, and even a reflective bike light loop for evening campus walking.
JanSport Big Student Backpack
Similar to The North Face, the JanSport Big Student Backpack is clad with organized storage compartments to carry textbooks, a pencil pouch, and study materials. It also comes in different fun colors and patterns.
Style and Beauty Reviews Fellow Katie Decker-Jacoby swears by this backpack for its durability, size, and storage — the trio that made her repurchase it when she was a student. She loves the flexibility of the polyester material and its ability to endure all weight and wear. It’s also the top overall pick in our best backpacks for students guide.
Dakine Split Adventure 38L Backpack
For an easy-to-carry backpack for weekend trips, the Dakine Split Adventure 38L Backpack is especially fit for those who don’t want to roll luggage with them on a flight. Home and Kitchen Reporter Owen Burke said he hasn’t found another bag broken down so simply and thoughtfully, from its convenient laptop sleeve and two outer compartments to its suitcase-like inner straps and interior storage pockets.
Out of these features, Burke is most impressed by the laptop sleeve. It doesn’t run all the way to the bottom of the bag but instead sits an inch or so up, so that when you place (or drop) your backpack, you’re not running the risk of damaging your laptop — a flaw he has found in some other designs.
Yeti Panga 28 Backpack
The Yeti Panga 28 Backpack is also one of Owen Burke‘s favorites, particularly for its ability to withstand any weather conditions. As a part-time captain, he noticed other “waterproof” backpacks not living up to their claim.
This carrier comes with a heavy-duty airtight zipper and is crafted with high-intensity tear-proof nylon and TPU. Burke’s Yeti even managed to find its way into the smoldering cinders of a bonfire and still came out shining. For easy access, he finds the addition of the velcro-attachable, waterproof Sidekick convenient.
Fjallraven Raven 28L Pack
Deals Reporter Sarah Saril was initially drawn to the Fjallraven Raven 28L Pack because it comes in nine colors and was pleasantly surprised when it turned out to be an excellent carrier for travel and daily use. It compactly collapses yet has enough capacity to store her 13-inch MacBook, Nintendo Switch, chargers, a change of clothes, and travel necessities.
Aside from its versatility, the Fjällräven has a ton of internal sorting pockets. It’s made from durable G-1000 HeavyDuty Eco in recycled polyester and organic cotton, making the back panel and shoulder straps especially comfortable.
Haerfest Large Nylon Travel Backpack
The Haerfest Large Travel Backpack‘s durable nylon materials, adjustable shoulder straps, and excess pockets aren’t the only features Style and Beauty Editor Ashley Phillips adores. The ability to store two laptops is a sleek and rare feature that makes it a standout.
Though Phillips says the large size is slightly overpowering for her five-foot-two frame, she finds it perfect for travel because of the front hidden slip pocket that easily stores boarding passes and other documents. Its generous size and reliable functionality make it a great option that also conveniently fits on top of checked luggage.
Mountaintop 40L Hiking Backpack
The long-form, buckled Mountaintop 40L Hiking Backpack is a multi-use carrier that’s exclusive to hiking. Though Personal Finance Reporter Liz Knueven has taken it on trails before, she finds it best for traveling and said she was never questioned by airline companies if it will fit in a bin or under the seat.
The polyester pack has many built-in compartments that are easy to store small items. Kneuven said it has held up, it’s affordable at less than $50, and comes in a variety of colors.
The Daily Edited Pebbled Leather Backpack
Nylon backpacks may be durable, but they’re not always the most aesthetically pleasing option to pair with formal workwear. When style and beauty editor Ashley Phillips needed something more spacious than a tote bag but that wouldn’t look out of place with a nice dress or silk blouse, she turned to this leather option from The Daily Edited.
The pebbled leather hides scratches more easily and the simple silhouette works as an alternative to a briefcase. The one drawback is that there’s no dedicated computer sleeve, but she found that there’s enough room to store a 13-inch laptop. You can also adjust the padded shoulder straps and add a monogram to make the bag feel more customized to you.
Dagne Dover Indi Diaper Backpack
Dagne Dover’s Dakota backpack may be more well known, but the brand’s Indi diaper backpack is also worth checking out. Former style and beauty fellow Jacqueline Saguin swears by this bag for travel, even though she doesn’t have any kids.
The bag is overflowing with organizational pockets that keep everything in its place, so you don’t have to go digging for toiletries or your ID as you pass through airport security. You’d never know the Indi is a diaper bag because of its clean design, and as another travel hack, Saguin uses the fold-up changing mat as a portable work-from-home station. Currently, only the small size is available, but it’s typically offered in medium and large sizes too.
Fjallraven Kanken Backpack
The Kanken backpack is another Fjallraven favorite, and it’s also the brand’s signature style. It’s offered in more than 50 colors and multiple sizes to best fit your storage and laptop needs. Along with its cool Scandinavian design, what makes this backpack special is a built-in sitting pad you can pull out at a moment’s notice. Senior story producer Emily Hein counts this bag as her go-to and says that “The included sitting pad is especially useful in the summer — a saving grace at parks and beaches.”
Hein also says there’s a good reason you’ll spot these so often on the streets of New York City. “It’s spacious enough to fit all my necessities for the day (including my 13″ laptop, albeit tightly), but not bulky or noticeably heavy.”
Check out our other portable carrier guides