Backpacks have come a long way from the JanSports we dragged around in high school and dumped into our lockers. But today, we’re parents and as such, we need a backpack that’s a tad more complex to survive the beating it’ll take in daily life as you load it up with wipes, snacks, water bottles, phones, sunscreen, and the various other supplies all of us drag around.
A backpack should have a few basic features. Simple access to your tech is a must, because there’s nothing is worse than fumbling through your bag in search of a cord or phone. It should fit comfortably, and be easy to take off and put on. Durable fabric and construction are mandatory, since the last thing you need is a zipper breaking or a hole popping up. Lastly, it should have enough room to store everything you need either for a day in the city, or a quick getaway vacation. Here are nine that should cover you in any situation you might find yourself in.
You'll be shocked by the sheer amount of stuff you can squeeze into this bag, including your laptop.
Pros: This backpack converts into a suitcase, should a need arise. It features a water bottle pocket, two main compartments with numerous organizational compartments and a fold-down shelf for splitting the main compartment in half. There’s a zippered mesh panel inside main compartment that’s perfect for holding your gadgets and phone. And there’s a removable, adjustable sternum strap.
Cons: It’s pretty bulky, you won’t be shocked to learn.
As the name indicates, this is a stellar yet stylish workhorse backpack to tote along every day.
Pros: You can wipe this backpack clean, and it’s resistant to dirt. It’s got one main zippered compartment, a front zippered pocket, and two open side pockets. But wait, you also get a seating pad if you need to pop a squat, and a two-way zipper with a rain flap for weather protection.
Cons: Can be a little too flimsy for truly hardcore use.
The two big selling points here are the price, and the crossbody style.
Pros: It’s a lightweight, stylish bag you can grab for a quick outing. It has room for a camera, tablet or a small laptop computer, and has a hidden anti-theft pocket and an external bottle holder.
Cons: The zipper can break, so be don’t overstuff it.
One of the coolest-looking packs out there, it’s sure to turn heads, plus it’s also an incredibly versatile offering you immediate access to individual parts of the bag, or everything at once.
Pros: When you open the three-way zippers of this backpack, you have access to interior side pouches that will hold your electronics, a padded laptop sleeve, and other organizational spots inside. The suspension system offers superb stabilization and the packs overall low profile means ease moving through crowds.
Cons: It’s not the largest of packs at 21L so it’s only good for day use, unless you are a minimalist packer for an overnight.
Made in Colorado, this pack is made from mostly upcycled items (bike tires, street signs, and tent materials) so it is environmentally friendly and highly functional. Perfect for the bike commuter or subway rider, with its hip and sternum belts.
Pros: Due to its construction, the backpack will shed moisture easily. The large roll top closure further seals off the main compartments to make sure everything arrives safe and sound. It has a large exterior pocket to toss items into and there are several reflective elements incorporated into the design to make sure motorists see you at night. At 24L it’s large enough for an overnight trip if necessary.
Cons: Since they are made from upcycled materials, no two bags are ever the same, so there might be some style differences when you get it.
This American-made backpack is large enough to hold everything you need for a day at the office, or even an overnight. It looks great and is a crowd pleaser.
Pros: It has a roomy top compartment to toss all of your necessary items in, and a strong zipper to keep them safe. The bottom is made with a ballistic nylon that’s paired with a nylon upper to withstand a beating. It has a large main compartment that is accessed from a flip top opening with a draw cord to keep it shut. There are side straps and a front pocket for extra storage.
Cons: There is no hip belt to keep it snug to your body.
A perfect bag for a frequent business traveler with numerous features not found in other bags, and the ability to customize it with a plethora of optional features (laundry bag, shirt organizer, vacuum compression bags) you can order after you have it.
Pros: This is the dream bag for an organized person. There are numerous compartments and zippered pouches offering you the ability to give everything a spot. At 40L it’s large enough to pack for a long weekend trip, yet small enough that carrying it will not be burdensome. The exterior is waterproof, the straps pack away simply to check, and it will fit in a plane overhead compartment.
Cons: Some people complain that it is almost too tricked out, that it could simplify a bit.
A fantastic travel pack that’s just the right size. It has a detachable day pack with hip belt that’s can easily hold your laptop when in transit, yet is large enough to hold whatever items you will need once you arrive and start exploring.
Pros: Durable ripstop nylon and heavy-duty zippers of this backpack can handle any abuse tossed its way in transit. The hip belt stows away simply and the wraparound side panels ensure that there are no dangling items when you check the bag for a flight. The main compartment is easily accessed by a wraparound zipper that opens the entire main compartment. It comes in three sizes.
Cons: The 55L size pushes the limit for several airlines carry on size limits.
This is an affordable lightweight travel pack that offers great suspension with a plethora of storage spots to allow you to separate items when in transit for better organization.
Pros: Its ventilation system is excellent, which means no sweaty backs after working your way though a city to your location. The hip belt and shoulder straps of this backpack are nicely padded for a comfortable ride. It has enough space that you can use it for longer trips. The front stash pocket is perfect for tossing a jacket when the temps rise. It even has a spot to stash hiking poles if you did want to use it for a camping trip. The waistbelt comes off for when you want to check it on flights.
Cons: It looks more like a traditional trail backpack, not like a travel pack.
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