Looking for the best backpacks available today? Our comprehensive list and dedicated guide can help you find the right option for you. If your point of reference for backpacks are the JanSports you wore in grade school, you may be floored to realize how many options there are today. Whether you’re looking for a battle tested pack you can take with you on a months long hike, an easy access bag for your photography gear, or just a run of the mill school bag, you’ll find no lack of options catered to your needs.
Our list of the 18 best backpacks may be larger than the guides you’re accustomed to on our site, but it’s a necessity given the diversity available. You can rest easy knowing that we only picked the best, and you can check out our guide at the end for more detailed shopping information.
- The Best Backpacks
- 1. Osprey Packs Daylite Plus Daypack
- 2. NIKE Brasilia Backpack
- 3. AmazonBasics Ultralight Packable Day Pack
- 4. JanSport Superbreak Backpack
- 5. Herschel Pop Quiz Backpack
- 6. Michael Kors Rhea Zip Backpack
- 7. SwissGear Wenger Ibex Laptop Backpack
- 8. The North Face Unisex Jester
- 9. High Sierra Freewheel Wheeled Laptop Backpack
- 10. Under Armour Hustle Backpack
- 11. Travelon Anti Theft Classic Backpack
- 12. REEBOW GEAR Military Tactical Backpack
- 13. adidas Stadium II Backpack
- 14. fjallraven kanken backpack
- 15. Venture Pal Lightweight Water Resistant
- 16. Waterfly Chest Sling Shoulder Backpack
- 17. UTO Women Backpack Leather Backpack
- 18. TETON Sports Scout 3400 Hiking Backpack
- Best Backpacks Buyer’s Guide
The Best Backpacks
1. Osprey Packs Daylite Plus Daypack
If you're looking for an all-in-one backpack that will work just as well on your daily commute as on the trail, Osprey's Daylite Plus has you covered. It doesn't offer the most storage around, but it sports a sensible design that gives you easy access to everything you could need and a lightweight design that will feel comfortable even hours in to a hike. A huge variety of different pockets make this a versatile choice that can scale in size to suit the demands of any given day, and a hydration pocket is included for when you want to get some exercise.
2. NIKE Brasilia Backpack
Nike's Brasilia series is intended primarily for use in the gym, and while the backpack model doesn't exactly reinvent the wheel, it is a lightweight backpack that's both highly durable and capable of holding a decent amount of gear. Comfortable padded shoulder straps are accompanied by a haul loop, and a dedicated compartment allows you to easily slot in a laptop or tablet. Add in a great design and a waterproof shell, and you're left with a versatile model that can suit basically every aspect of your life. That makes it one of the better backpacks for school and basketball backpacks you'll find.
3. AmazonBasics Ultralight Packable Day Pack
AmazonBasics finds its way onto almost all of our lists because of the brand's ability to deliver great value for their budget products, and that's as true of this ultralight bag as of any product in their line. Two front pockets and two mesh side pockets give you plenty of segregated space. These are great travel backpacks or backpacks for kids because of the roominess and the accessibility. Regardless of your age or size, the breathable and adjustable straps will allow you to attain a fit that works for you, and this bag can even fold back into itself for increased portability.
4. JanSport Superbreak Backpack
If you're looking for a stylish backpack that's great for students, the JanSport Superbreak backpack evokes a snazzy design evoking the late 80s and early 90s with its combination of black and white symbols and its evocative paint splashes of bright color. If you wore a backpack in middle school or high school, you probably know what to expect from these cheap backpacks. It's a durable and affordable bag that utilizes the same design JanSport has used for years: neither too big nor too small and well-equipped for notebooks and textbooks. Both the interior and exterior are well sealed against the elements.
5. Herschel Pop Quiz Backpack
While Herschel isn't as well known as JanSport, they've gained a reputation as the more durable, stylish, and expensive alternative to the popular student backpack brand. The Pop Quiz may cost about double the price of the Superbreak, but it's a cute backpack with a lot of personality, and its more mature design sensibilities and compact size allow it to work incredibly well as a carry on backpack for adults. The build is classical in design: sporting a front pocket and a main compartment, but the durable materials and the slick two tone design ensure that it stands out from the competition.
6. Michael Kors Rhea Zip Backpack
We move into designer backpacks with the Rhea. If you're looking for stylish backpacks for women, this is one of the better options around. Just recognize that you'll be paying a premium for that high street aesthetic. That said, you'll have a staggering number of variants to choose from. There are dozens of styles available here, and all of them are leather backpacks with gold-tone hardware and thoughtful design sensibilities. Multiple zipper pockets allow you to carefully organize your things, and the slim should straps mean that it won't put unnecessary strain on your shoulder while you're out and about.
7. SwissGear Wenger Ibex Laptop Backpack
Backpacks are one of the best ways to carry a laptop, but there's a big difference between traditional backpacks and quality laptop backpacks. The Wenger Ibex falls squarely in the latter category because of its impressive and thoughtful design. The CaseBase stabilizing platform ensures that it will remain upright when set down, and the foam padded layers of pockets provide you with extra protection for your computer or tablet without sacrificing space. It ensures that your computer is protected not just from the front but from every angle. This is a large back capable of holding laptops up to 17" in size.
8. The North Face Unisex Jester
The North Face is renowned for their tough and smartly designed gear designed for the most extreme environments. In that regard, the Jester doesn't disappoint, but it may be better suited for the rigors of your commute than your hike up Mount Everest. Accessibility is one of the strengths in this backpack. In addition to the traditional front load pockets is a series of sturdy bungee cords that can hold the things you need easy access to. The interior is well designed with various organizational pockets to make sure you always have access to what you want without having to root around.
9. High Sierra Freewheel Wheeled Laptop Backpack
Whether you're looking for backpack luggage or a way to tote around your gaming gear, High Sierra's Freewheel can suit your needs. It's one of the best rolling backpacks available today, and it's available for well under $100. The telescoping handle makes it easy to navigate the bag even through crowded streets or airport terminals, and the complex organizational sleeves mean that you won't have to go hunting to find what you need. The laptop compartment is very well cushioned to prevent any damage even if the bag gets banged around, and the wheels roll smooth and corner well on practically any surface.
10. Under Armour Hustle Backpack
Under Armour's intent with the Hustle is simple: focusing on durability, comfort, and versatility in lieu of creating a stylish backpack. The water repellent design makes these a great choice if you're looking for camping backpacks, while its lightweight and portable frame means that they can double incredibly well as tennis backpacks. The bottom is tough and resistant to abrasions, so you won't have to treat it delicately even when you're in the great outdoors. The shoulder straps are adjustable enough to proudly wear the any size fits all designation, and they do a great job of resisting heat.
11. Travelon Anti Theft Classic Backpack
Anti theft backpacks aren't going to be necessary for everyone, but if you're traveling in a strange country or looking for camera backpacks that you can carry on the subway, they're a necessity. Travelon is known for their anti theft bags, and this model may be simple in aesthetics, but it employs some savvy design tech to ensure that all of your belongings are safe. These include locking compartments and lock down straps, RFID blocking technology sewn right into the fabric, and straps and a body that are made from slash resistant materials. It's everything short of a bulletproof backpack.
12. REEBOW GEAR Military Tactical Backpack
You'd be hard pressed to find a more serious backpack than the Reebow Gear. These military backpacks are bulky enough to carry all the essentials you could need in the wild and durable enough to survive even in a war zone. Reebow may specialize in making tactical backpacks, but they can work equally as well for serious hikers and war journalists looking for tough photography backpacks. Mesh padding helps mitigate the strain and sweat of carrying a bag positively loaded down with gear, and it's also built to accommodate a hydration pack for long sojourns out into the wild.
13. adidas Stadium II Backpack
If you know anything about Adidas, you shouldn't be surprised to find out that the Stadium II is a backpack best suited for the gym. These waterproof backpacks are great for pro athletes or just for toting around gym clothes. A separate and zippered media pocket is available to hold all of your smaller things, but you don't need to worry if you're looking to use this bag as more than just a way to tote your things back and forth from your daily workout. There's a lot of room built into this bag, and it can keep your electronics safe even in a storm.
14. fjallraven kanken backpack
The Fjallraven Kraken serves double duty as a backpack. In addition to being one of the more cute backpacks on the market, it can easily transition from a tote to a traditional backpack. That versatility along with its more compact size makes it a great choice for travel, especially if you're planning on hopping from hostel to hostel somewhere overseas. A front zippered pocket and two side pockets mean you can set aside the things you need most readily for easy access and more adequately protect your more precious belongings. The Kanken is also resistant to both water and dust.
15. Venture Pal Lightweight Water Resistant
For serious hikers, a basic backpack simply isn't going to cut it. Fortunately, there are hiking backpacks like the Venture Pal. With its large size, comfortable straps, and materials that are resistant to practically any weather condition, this is a bag that's built to meet all your demands out on the trail. Rain and abrasions are no problem for this backpack, but Venture has worked hard to make sure this is a lightweight model. That's going to be a big deal when you're a week out in the wild. And the multiple styles available means you don't have to sacrifice style for the sake of versatility.
16. Waterfly Chest Sling Shoulder Backpack
Sling backpacks offer a nice alternative to the traditional front load design, and there are few sling packs as good as the Waterfly. The bright and peppy design ensures that these are some of the cutest bags around, and they're secure, accessible, and comfortable to wear. They're also highly resistant to water, so you can count on them to suit you well if you're looking to use them as dedicated camera bags. There's also a pouch built into the strap that can comfortably hold most cellphones, and the front pouch comes with organizational tools for carrying all of your essentials.
17. UTO Women Backpack Leather Backpack
The leather body of this stylish women's bag may not make it a sensible option for long hiking and camping trips, but it offers stylish sensibilities while still providing a whole lot of space for carrying your belongings. The multiple compartments mean that you can organize your things more easily, and it can serve admirably as an alternative to a traditional purse. The double zipper design adds an extra dimension of accessibility. The main pocket is padded enough to protect a laptop up to 14" in size, while multiple exterior pockets allow you to take everything you need without having to root around.
18. TETON Sports Scout 3400 Hiking Backpack
Our last listed model is also arguably the most serious hiking backpack we've reviewed. It may not sport the military-grade design of the Reebow Gear, but it's an enormous bag with all the features you need to hit the trail for days at a time. This fully adjustable bag is great for beginners and customizable enough to suit the needs of petite hikers and adolescents, and it includes a designated pockets for a sleeping bag. Versatility is key here. An impressive amount of compartments can be configured in a variety of different ways to suit your specific demands.
Best Backpacks Buyer’s Guide
There are a lot of options to choose from here, but you don’t need to get anxious. We’re here to help you with some of the most commonly asked questions.
What Are the Most Popular Styles?
All of the bags reviewed on our list are good backpacks, but that doesn’t mean they’re all going to be the right choice for you. There are a number of different styles to choose from, and picking the one that suits your need is one of the most critical decisions you can make.
- Front load bags are the most common, and they can cover everything from sports to school to tactical to hiking. A wraparound zipper allows you to reach all your contents easily, and they often include multiple compartments, but they aren’t always the lightest or most security conscious options.
- Small bags like the Michael Kors Rhea are fashion bags first and foremost. That means that they tend to be expensive and feature light, but they’re easy to carry and are real conversation pieces. They often utilize a top loading design like a traditional purse.
- A sling backpack sits over your chest and is secured with a single shoulder strap. While being typically one of the smaller models in size, they’re also very comfortable. They also offer easy access to gear while keeping it protected from thieves, and that makes them an ideal choice for world travelers and photographers.
- Rolling backpacks transition easily between an over-the-shoulder style and traditional rolling luggage. As you might expect, they’re almost always going to be built to work comfortably as a flight carry-on.
Is a Dedicated Laptop Pocket a Necessity?
With the exception of small backpacks like the Michael Kors Rhea, most of the backpacks you’ll find here should have a compartment large enough to hold a laptop. But that doesn’t mean that they’re built for that. When we list a bag as having a laptop pocket, we’re talking about specific compartments with the appropriate padding and stability to keep your computer safe. Be sure that the dimensions of the bag are large enough to hold your laptop, and exercise all due caution if a bag in question doesn’t have a laptop pocket listed.
What Materials Should You Look For?
While we’ve listed a diverse variety of bags, most of them are made of similar materials. Knowing the advantages of each can help you pick out the right backpack for your needs.
- Nylon bags are very secure against water, and that makes them ideal for backpackers, hikers, and other people who intend to take their bags out into the wild. It’s also a very lightweight fabric.
- Polyester is the most common option for backpacks. While it’s not as strong as nylon, it is cheaper to produce, and it’s less resistant to wear from continued exposure to light. A polyester backpack will last you a long time as long as you can avoid it getting ripped, and that’s why it’s such a popular all around choice.
- PVC is usually an accompaniment to nylon or polyester bags rather than the material the whole body is made of. PVC comes in a number of different varieties, but if you see it listed on a bag, it’s probably there to add an extra layer or durability and/or waterproofing.
What Are the Dimensions For Carry-On Luggage?
One question reigns supreme when you’re on the market for business backpacks. Will you need to check it before boarding a plane? Fortunately, the standards for what qualifies as carry-on luggage is pretty uniform across most airlines. The typical standard is “45 linear inches”. That translates into 22 x 14 x 9 inches. Be sure that each dimension of your bag meets the criteria, otherwise you may be left in the lurch. We’ve helpfully identified the listed dimensions for all of our bags after each review.
Our list is pretty comprehensive, but that’s a necessity of the sheer variety of bags available. If you’re looking to get a new backpack, check out the guide closely, evaluate what you need, and narrow down your results from there. These are all high-quality backpacks, but knowing what you need is integral to finding the right bag for you.