If you want the best backpack for men in 2020, you have plenty of options to choose from, but our guide can help you shop smarter. Think backpacks are just for school kids? That couldn’t be further from the truth. Whether you’re looking for something to carry your gym gear, a light and easy carry-on bag for your flight, or the perfect accompaniment for your hiking trip, the right backpack can fulfill your needs. In many offices, backpacks are now even being considered an accepted alternative to traditional briefcases.
But while there are more good backpacks than ever before, there are still a lot of duds on the market, and it’s important to find a model that’s catered to your needs. That’s why we’ve identified the best backpacks for men in 2020. We cover 12 models that cater to a diverse variety of unique needs.
- 12 Best Backpacks For Men
- 1. SwissGear 1900 Laptop Backpack
- 2. 5.11Tactical RUSH24 Military Backpack
- 3. JanSport Superbreak Backpack
- 4. Under Armour Hustle 4.0 Backpack
- 5. GEARONIC TM Vintage Canvas Backpack
- 6. NIKE Brasilia Backpack
- 7. The North Face Borealis Outdoor Backpack
- 8. adidas Prime Backpack
- 9. Osprey Packs Daylite Plus Daypack
- 10. Herschel Supply Co. Little America Backpack
- 11. Oakley Men’s Kitchen Sink Lx
- 12. Carhartt Legacy Standard Work Backpack
- Backpacks for Men Buyer’s Guide
12 Best Backpacks For Men
1. SwissGear 1900 Laptop Backpack
SwissGear is one of the best brands to buy if you're looking for travel backpacks because they come specifically designed to accommodate the demands of navigating the airport. And the 1900 model may be the best carry on backpack that SwissGear offers. The laptop pocket is sizable enough to store a bulky 17" laptop and is fully padded to keep it safe in the hustle and bustle of airport lines. It even comes with an additional padded pocket for your tablet.
And not only are these waterproof backpacks for men, but they're also constructed from incredibly durable polyester that allows them to take a pretty serious beating without damage. But the big selling point of the 1900 is the ScanSmart technology that gives you easy access to your laptop at TSA checkpoints without even having to remove it from your bag. It's also comfortable and well cushioned.
2. 5.11Tactical RUSH24 Military Backpack
5.11 has a pretty distinct identity: producing military backpacks that put efficiency and toughness above all else. Whether you're a marine or a weekend warrior, their tactical backpacks can sustain just about anything, and their designs are produced with practicality above all else. The durable nylon can survive quite a bit, and the Rush 24 manages to make the most of its space despite sporting a relatively svelte figure (at least compared to more heavy duty camping backpacks). But it includes a MOLLE netting design that allows you to expand it smartly with the attachment of new packs.
You'd be hard pressed to find a stronger bag. In addition to the high-quality nylon, the stitching on this bag is immaculate, and it makes use of self repairing zippers. This is a waterproof backpack that also includes dual drainage grommets to siphon off water in the case of a downpour.
3. JanSport Superbreak Backpack
JanSport is probably a name you're familiar. The brand has been ubiquitous in primary school halls for years, and the SuperBreak is functionally identical to the model being used by school kids for years. But it's remained the same, and remained so popular, because it works. These cheap backpacks are sturdy enough to hold a whole day's worth of heavy books, and while they may be simple in design, they're also adequately sized for getting the job done.
You'd have to look hard to find a more basically designed bag. The interior consists of a simple front pocket and main pocket without padding, sleeves, or organizers. The simple, albeit comfortable, straps are adjustable and comfortably padded, and a handle allows you to carry the SuperBreak without having to toss it over your shoulders. But that simplicity is its strength, allowing it to serve as a great all purpose carrying bag.
4. Under Armour Hustle 4.0 Backpack
Next is the Hustle 4.0, a bag that matches Under Armour's reputation as one of the hardest working sporting good brands in the business. The inclusion of dedicated pockets for shoes and clothing make these a great choice for tennis backpacks or basketball backpacks, but the inclusion of a competently padded and lined laptop sleeve lets them function just as capably as college backpacks for men or computer backpacks for men. It's a very versatile bag that's a bit less specialized than many of the options on our list.
The ergonomic build is smartly designed to make sure this lightweight backpack is as comfortable as possible. The slimmer profile fits incredibly comfortable, especially in comparison to a lot of the more traditionally designed frames, but it's a tough customer too. The Hustle 4.0 is one of the most thoroughly waterproof backpacks available on the market today.
5. GEARONIC TM Vintage Canvas Backpack
If you're looking for canvas and leather backpacks for men, but you aren't ready to drop a hundred bucks, the Gearonic TM has your back. Available for well under $50, this duffel style field backpack can suit a wide range of different needs. There's a lot of space to work with here, and you have full flexibility to do with it as you will. The massive main compartment is complemented by two side pockets, and front pocket, and two interior pockets. All of them are readily accessible.
It's a pretty stylish option as well. The classically rugged design means that these bags can serve functionally as backpacks for women or men, but there's a distinctly romantic and vintage style to them that sets them apart from the competition. While they're suitable for an exhaustive number of uses, they're a particularly good match if you're seeking out camera backpacks.
6. NIKE Brasilia Backpack
Nike's Brasilia line is built to meet the demanding needs of athletes of all stripes. And while these durable backpacks may be designed first and foremost with the needs of the gym and field in mind, they're equally well suited for use as casual business backpacks or travel backpacks for men. That is, as long as you don't need a lot of organization. This may be a comfortable and stylish backpack, but it's pretty light on features.
But if all you need to carry is your gym gear or a few notebooks, there's no better suited bag. In lieu of the highly segmented pockets that many manufacturers opt for, most of the storage capacity in the Brasilia is devoted to a loose main compartment. If you need to carry bulkier items without having to worry about meticulously rearranging them, it's well suited to that.
7. The North Face Borealis Outdoor Backpack
There are few outdoor adventure companies with the level of brand integrity offered by the North Face, so it should come as no surprise that their Borealis hiking backpacks are one of the best choices around for those who feel the call of the wild. In terms of the sheer amount of space available in the Borealis, there are few backpacks for men that offer such an incredible amount of value. These aren't just laptop backpacks. Students will love that they can fit a 15" laptop and a whole lot of books to boot.
The big struggle with manufacturers is finding the balance between capacity and comfort, but the Borealis manages with aplomb. The separate laptop sleeve is well padded and separately accessible, and the dispensation of weight ensures a good fit even when fully loaded down. It's easily one of the most heavy duty bags on the market.
8. adidas Prime Backpack
Adidas is a name as big as Nike, but they've taken a slightly different tack with their Prime model than where Nike decided to go with their Brasilia model. Instead of limiting the amount of pockets available, the Adidas Prime goes all in on compartmentalizing their space. An interior pocket for your laptop is padded and includes its own interior zipping sleeve, and it's accompanied by another inner zipping pocket and five outer pockets.
It's a move that ensures that while the Prime isn't as equipped for holding larger items, it does give you better access to everything you'd want. If you're a student or a professional with a wide range of gear you need to reach quickly, the Prime can suit your needs. And despite Adidas' reputation as a shoe company, their bags are highly regarded for being some of the most durable backpacks on the market.
9. Osprey Packs Daylite Plus Daypack
Osprey takes quality seriously across the board. Their ability to commitment to smart design sensibilities and durable products has earned them a reputation among outdoorsmen for producing some of the best backpacks on the market. The Daylite Plus is predicated on the notion that smartly designed bags are more important than oversized bags. The small but smart design makes it a great day pack, while the inclusion of a slash pocket gives you easy access to what you need. The layout and design of the pockets are incredibly intuitive.
But what really sets the Daylite Plus apart from the competition is its modular design. These may be small backpacks, but Osprey has designed them to be attachable to other models in their catalog, and that makes it a great starter backpack that can prove its utility both for everyday wear and on longer hiking and camping expeditions.
10. Herschel Supply Co. Little America Backpack
Herschel Supply Co. is a smaller manufacturer, but they've quickly become recognized by those in the know for their ability to create stylish backpacks for men that also bring a lot of utility to the table. The Little America is available in a number of different colors and patterns, but all of the models evoke a vintage look that can suit you well whether you're looking for casual or professional backpacks for men.
This is a decently sized bag with almost all of the space devoted to a single major compartment, but that doesn't mean that everything will just be shoved in your backpack unprotected. The dedicated laptop sleeve is both padded and lined with fleeced, and it's nicely elevated from the rest of the bag to further reduce damage from whatever you're carrying. The straps are nicely cushioned and contoured and provide a comfortable fit even during longer trips.
11. Oakley Men’s Kitchen Sink Lx
The Kitchen Sink LX is the largest of Oakley's designer backpacks. The LX stands for luxury, as the bag has been constructed from a highly stylish combination of materials designed by people from Ferrari. But just because it comes from a stylish designer name doesn't mean that they've skimped in terms of quality or functionality. This is a tough bag that's great for the trail.
It's an almost intimidatingly large bag with one of the largest storage capacities on our list and a staggering number of straps and clips accompanying its body. They aren't just for show either. They bring a lot of versatility to the bag by allowing you to modularly attach other packs and gear. Combine this with the astonishing amount of pockets built in and you're left with a backpack that's surprisingly one of the better military and tactical options on the market today.
12. Carhartt Legacy Standard Work Backpack
Do you need a rugged backpack that's capable of withstanding just about anything? The Carhartt legacy is durable enough to meet the needs of blue collar workers but stylish enough to look good on the campus quad as well. A reinforced base provides an extra layer of durability while allowing it to stand upright regardless of how much or how little you have packed inside, and the heavy duty polyester structure is both water repellant and resistant to abrasions.
The large main compartment is accompanied by a variety of smaller pockets that make organizing all your important items easy. The smaller zippered pocket is great for your keys, wallet, and other essentials, while the mesh pockets on the side are appropriate for water bottles or various odds and ends. An air mesh back panel is accompanied by straps that are nicely cushioned and contoured for easy wearing.
Backpacks for Men Buyer’s Guide
We’ve worked hard to create the most thorough guide to backpacks for 2020, but you may have some questions about how to pick out the right model for you. Read on for some more advice on making the most out of our guide.
How We Picked Our Bags
There are a lot of backpacks on the market, and narrowing down the options to just 12 was hard. As such, we had to make some hard decisions and remove some top models from our list. Here are the criteria we kept in mind when choosing backpacks for inclusion.
One of out biggest goals when choosing backpacks for men is how well they work. As a result, functionality edged out style. As a result, you won’t find a lot of vintage leather backpacks for men or designer names. Even in cases where we did decide to opt for a designer brand, as was the case with Fossil, it was chosen because of its hardy design and size.
While we have some relatively smaller bags on our list, making sure that we picked backpacks that made the most of their space was important. That means that we opted solely for traditional backpacks worn over both shoulders. While there are plenty of great sling backpacks on the market, their relative lack of storage capacity means that they weren’t able to meet the standards we’d set out.
Durability, size, and comfort were the three main metrics we triangulated when looking at bags. The unique features that we prioritized in our bags were mostly focused on expanding the utility of those metrics: whether it come in the form of luxurious padding for your laptop or smart pocket layouts that gave you easy access to your belongings. Anti theft backpacks with features like RFID protection or cut-resistant materials weren’t included because of this.
Our purview was a bit narrow for this list, but if you’re looking for bags with a little more variety, be sure to check out our general guide to the best backpacks of 2020.
Polyester vs. Nylon vs. Canvas
Polyester and nylon are the two most popular options for backpacks, and most models will either incorporate one or a combination of the two. These two synthetics are strong and versatile while also being cheap to produce, and that allows you to get incredibly sturdy bags art a much lower price point.
Generally the two are comparable in terms of quality, but nylon tends to be a bit more resilient than polyester. Both are highly resistant to water and abrasions. If you’re worried about the toughness of your bag, you should look for backpacks with higher denier levels which determine the mass density of the backpack.
Canvas is a bit more anachronistic. Before the rise in prominence of synthetics, it was one of the recognized standards for backpacks, and that means that it’s a great choice if you’re seeking out an attractive vintage look. Just keep in mind that canvas tends to be heavier than synthetics, weak to water damage unless treated, and more likely to be damaged by cuts or abrasions.
Using a Backpack as a Carry-On
Not all backpacks are appropriate for use in international travel. If you plan on carrying your bag with you, some of the larger models on our list won’t be able to go on the plane with you. That’s one of the main reasons we’ve included dimensions for all of our models. If you’re looking for a bag that you can stow in an overhead compartment without having to worry about it fitting, you’ll want one that’s no larger than 9 x 14 x 22 inches.
If you’re using your bag for a combination of hiking and traveling, you may want to consider investing in a modular option. There are a few of these available, and they’re designed to strap together with larger bags in the same line to create more effective traveling packs.
While briefcases offer a sense of professional decorum and messenger bags are great option if you want a stylish and lightweight means for carrying your day to day essentials, nothing is going to match a backpack in terms of the sheer amount of weight they can carry.
Today’s backpacks can be used in a wide variety of situations, and that’s why it’s important to consider your particular situation. A backpack too small won’t do you much good on the trail, but a backpack too large will be uncomfortable on your daily commute. Take the time to consider what you need, and let our reviews and specs be the guiding light for your purchase.