The Best Backpacks for Work and School, From Designer Bags to Eco-Conscious Carryalls
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Whether you’re a commuter, a business class jet-setter or a coffee shop-frequenting freelancer, a good backpack can make it easier to schlep your stuff to the office or classroom. If you’re not into briefcases or prefer to stay hands-free, the best backpacks can help keep your work or school essentials safe and sound — and you feeling comfortable and stylish.
What do we look for in the best laptop backpacks for work or school? Our criteria includes a designated laptop sleeve (since you’re likely shuttling your computer back and forth), convenient pockets for organizing your tech (such as your tablet and phone) and supplies and durable fabric to withstand everyday travels — all features that on-the-go professionals and students will appreciate.
Ahead, we’ve rounded up the best work backpacks that also double as carryalls for traveling, school and even day trips. From luxury options by Coach and Monos, to budget-minded bags and sustainable designs by Amazon and United by Blue, check out our top picks below.
1. Cariuma JJ Backpack
MOST VERSATILE ECO-FRIENDLY BACKPACK
From the eco-conscious brand known for its comfy (and starry) sneakers comes a work- and school-friendly carryall that gets an A+ in sustainability. Cariuma’s new 25-liter JJ backpack is made in ethical factories and features a roomy, rounded design that can fit 13- to 17-inch laptops. It features Global Recycled Standard-certified and waterproof materials including post-consumer plastics and production waste. A side water bottle pouch, supportive chest strap and interior and exterior pockets round out the convenient and comfort-minded touches.
2. Amazon Basics Laptop Backpack
BEST BUDGET BACKPACK
Amazon Basics’ laptop backpack can fit devices up to 17 inches, so it’s great if you want to carry a larger notebook comfortably. It keeps all of your belongings organized in the side mesh water bottle pockets, internal and exterior zippered compartments and storage spots for pens, keys, your wallet, phone and more.
3. Citylink Laptop Backpack
BEST COMMUTER BACKPACK UNDER $150
For public transit travelers and those on the go, the Citylink laptop backpack holds devices up to 15.6 inches in a durable ripstop design with water-resistant coating. It has a top handle and side compression straps so you can adjust the bag’s size. Inside, the front organizational section has plenty of zippered compartments and accessory storage pockets that offer designated spots for snacks, cables and more. An exterior reflective strip keeps you visible at night or low-light environments, and the lockable zipper pulls let you secure your stuff.
For travelers, the handy luggage pass-through sleeve on the back lets you attach it to your wheeled suitcase, and the RFID-equipped bonus pouch offers extra peace of mind (some security experts say that it may not be necessary).
4. Calpak Kayla Laptop Backpack
MOST STYLISH BACKPACK
Recognized for its functional and fashionable boxy silhouette, Calpak’s chic Kayla laptop backpack can hold devices up to 15 inches and has a convenient trolley sleeve that travelers will love. It has a separate laptop sleeve that unzips completely flat, while the main compartment has zippered pockets for easy organization.
5. Day Owl The Slim Backpack
BEST SLIM BACKPACK UNDER $100
Sustainable bag brand Day Owl’s mission is to reduce waste with its eco-conscious goods, which it does by turning landfill-bound materials from waste collection network First Mile into waxed canvas fabric, lining and trim for its stylish backpacks. The stain- and water-repellent Slim backpack has a space-saving profile that lives up to its name, thanks to the 3.5-inch depth and flat-front and floating top storage pockets.
It fits laptops up to 14 inches and a spill-resistant bottle pocket is the perfect size for holding water (or a bottle of wine), while the bag is finished with conflict-free metal zippers. What’s great is that you’ll get 25 percent off a new backpack when you trade in your used Day Owl bag, ensuring that their process is fully circular and good for the earth.
7. Bellroy Classic Backpack Plus
Bellroy’s sleek Classic Backpack Plus has a dual compartment design that lets you safely carry a 16-inch laptop and the rest of your gear in the main area, with plenty of quick-access pockets and organizers throughout for your smartphone, sunglasses, wallet and more. The contoured shoulder and sternum straps offer all-day comfort, and the back panels give lumbar support.
8. Out of the Woods Washable Paper Backpack
MOST LIGHTWEIGHT STUDENT BACKPACK
This one-of-a-kind paper backpack from Out of the Woods is lightweight, washable and kind on the earth. The shell is made of the brand’s durable Supernatural Paper, which is crafted from tree cellulose from responsibly managed forests. It boasts a large front pocket and inner laptop pouch (which fits devices up to 15 inches).
9. Cuyana Leather Backpack
MOST STYLISH LEATHER BACKPACK
Available in three stylish colors, Cuyana’s sleek pebbled leather backpack comes in 13- or 16-inch laptop sizes. It’s great for anyone who prefers a minimalist-luxe look, and the bag is made of sustainably-sourced Italian leather. The back straps can be adjusted and it has a magnetic closure, large front patch pockets and luxe gold hardware.
10. Brevité The Runner Backpack
BEST FOR PHOTOGRAPHERS
If your work involves swapping out lenses or editing photos on the spot, the best backpack for photographers includes Brevité’s The Runner, which is made with durable 600D polyester. This compact and lightweight carryall has customizable interior dividers so you can configure your own setup, a pocket for a 16-inch laptop and enough space to fit a full-sized DSLR camera, three lenses, your tripod and more. Well placed pockets (including a hidden one) let you organize your SD cards, passport and other small items, and the luggage pass-through sleeve makes the bag a handy one for frequent travelers. It’s available in a wide variety of colors, too.
11. Mission Workshop The Fitzroy Advanced Rucksack Backpack
BEST BACKPACK FOR BICYCLISTS
Mission Workshop’s 40-liter Fitzroy rucksack is made of military-spec 1000d nylon and features an an internal frame sheet and the brand’s signature Arkiv closure to ensure your stuff stays safe and out of the elements. This structured backpack has an internal zippered compartment that can fit devices up to 17 inches, four internal weatherproof pockets and an external compartment.
12. United by Blue 25-Liter Transit Pack
BEST SUSTAINABLE BACKPACK FOR LARGE LAPTOPS
When you want a low-waste replacement for your worn-out carryall, United by Blue’s 25-liter Transit pack is one of the best sustainable backpacks out there. Made from the eco-conscious brand’s (R)evolution fabric spun from old plastic, the bag can hold a 17-inch laptop and has an organizer pockets notebooks, pens, keys and other small items. It’s water- and stain-resistant and constructed from all recycled materials, including the polyester lining, nylon webbing straps, air mesh padding and nylon paracord pulls.
13. Herschel Survey II Backpack
BEST WATERPROOF WORK BACKPACK
Although Herschel’s best-selling Little America backpacks are also great for the office, the brand’s new waterproof Survey II backpack is also a versatile option. Designed for daily commuting, the bag features a matte weather-resistant coating and is made of recycled fabric. It has a 15-inch laptop sleeve, slim padded shoulder straps, two water bottle pockets, an internal coated mesh organizer pocket, a hidden storage sleeve and a reinforced base.
14. State Kane Double Pocket Backpack
BEST CHARITY-DRIVEN BACKPACK
Made of 45 percent recycled materials, State’s Kane Double Pocket backpack can fit laptops up to 13 inches, plus a water bottle on the side and all of the accessories and gear you need for the day (including a pair of shoes and gym clothes). The Certified B Corp also supports American children and families in need with every bag purchased.
15. Briggs & Riley @Work Cargo Backpack
Frequent jet-setters won’t mind stowing Briggs & Riley’s large @Work Cargo backpack under their business class seat, with its innovative design and a durable exterior made of 1600D ballistic nylon. Made with tech-savvy professionals in mind, the bag can hold laptops up to 17 inches, tablets, and the rest of your tech accessories with features like pockets and compartments for headphones, USB cables and chargers, plus an RFID pocket. Lockable zipper pulls keep your belongings secure, and you can customize your bag with the leather ID tag and monogramming. Best of all, the Marisa Tomei-approved brand is known for its excellent no-questions-asked lifetime guarantee on its products.
16. Roam Luggage The Continental Backpack
BEST CUSTOMIZABLE LAPTOP BACKPACK
For those who want to customize their bag’s style, nearly every element of Roam’s collection of backpacks can be customized by color. They’re made of water-repellent recycled nylon fabric, and the antimicrobial lining is made from recycled water bottles. With a capacity of 26 liters, the Continental backpack has two exterior side pockets that unzip to hold water bottles, an exterior 15-inch laptop compartment, an exterior zipper organizer pocket with four compartments, internal zippered mesh pockets and an 11-inch key fob that lets you use your keys without unhooking them from your bag. A trolley sleeve on the back makes it easy to attach to your luggage, too.
17. Béis The Backpack
BEST BACKPACK FOR DAY TRIPS
One of our favorite travel-ready brands, Béis’ backpack (available in black or beige) has sleeve that can hold a 13-inch laptop, two side pockets (great for water bottles), a large front zippered compartment with pockets and other smart organizers, and three zip pockets (including a mesh one and a clear compartment for toiletries). We love that the main compartment opens wide open, and the trolley pass-through makes this carryall perfect for plopping atop a suitcase.
18. Supreme x The North Face Bleach-Effect Pocono Backpack
COOLEST COLLABORATION BACKPACK
It doesn’t get any more hypebeast than the Supreme x The North Face collaboration, which includes this Pocono backpack. Made of denim with a a bleached effect, this cool carryall has logo patches from both cult-favorite brands on the front, plenty of storage compartments and zippered pockets and a laptop sleeve.
19. Samsonite x Sarah Jessica Parker Carried Away Convertible Backpack
BEST CONVERTIBLE BACKPACK
You don’t have to be a Sex in the City fan to love this convertible backpack (aptly named Carried Away) from Samsonite and Sarah Jessica Parker’s collaboration. Available in black and blue, the travel-minded bag can be worn four ways and comes with a removable shoulder strap that can turn the included pouch into a cross-body carryall. The backpack has all of the sleeves and compartments you need to stay organized (including a 14.1-inch laptop compartment), and frequent travelers will appreciate the luggage handle sleeve and discrete security pocket, the comfortable shoulder straps and the designated water bottle holder.
20. Lovevook Laptop Backpack
BEST BUDGET WORK BACKPACK
Available in different sizes to accommodate 14-, 15-, and 17-inch laptops, this backpack is a great option for students and includes a hidden anti-theft pocket on the back and a built-in USB port for easy tech charging. The large top zipper closure makes it easy to find everything inside, and the bag has plenty of interior and side pockets and zippered compartments for keeping everything from pens and loose cables to water bottles in place.
21. Caraa Large Studio Bag
BEST CONVERTIBLE GYM BACKPACK
Whether you wear it as a backpack, a satchel or a cross-body bag, Caraa’s multi-tasking Studio Bag (available in small, medium and large options and other colors) will carry your belongings in style. It’s made of waterproof Italian nylon and leather, polished Italian hardware and high-performance polyester mesh, so it works just as well as as a work backpack or an office-to-the-gym bag. You can throw in a 15-inch laptop, jewelry, shoes, wet clothes and a water bottle (thanks to dedicated compartments for each) as well as the rest of your belongings in the many pockets throughout. And if you decide to use it as a backpack, the padded mesh and shoulder straps will keep you comfy and dry.
22. Timbuk2 Authority Laptop Backpack DLX
BEST LARGE BACKPACK FOR CYCLISTS
You don’t have to be a bike commuter to appreciate cyclist-beloved brand Timbuk2’s Authority deluxe laptop backpack, which has a ventilated mesh back panel, padded backpack straps and reflective tape so you can ride comfortably and safely in the evening or in foggy settings. It can hold laptops up to 17 inches (you can access your device from inside or outside of the bag), and the interior organizer keeps all of your essentials in one safe and convenient place.
23. Burton Tinder 2.0 Backpack
If you’re looking for something that doubles as a work backpack and a day bag, look to Burton’s 30-liter Tinder backpack (you may have seen a similar one on Coach Beard in Ted Lasso). The outdoorsy brand’s classic rucksack backpack is made of 300D ripstop polyester (so it can withstand some knocks) features ergonomic shoulder straps, an adjustable sternum strap and side compression straps for all-day comfort. Inside, there’s a laptop sleeve that can be accessed from the outside, a compartment for tablets and other small tech devices and interior mesh zip pockets.
24. Topo Designs Rover Pack Backpack
BEST OUTDOORS-FRIENDLY WORK BACKPACK
Plan on hitting the trails or climbing crags before or after work? Topo Designs’ Rover Pack backpack (other colors available) suits outdoorsy people who want the option to carry a 15-inch laptop and their adventure gear in one sleek and durable carryall. Made of 1000D nylon on the outside and 210D nylon on the inside, this versatile backpack has a capacity fo 20 liters and includes adjustable side water bottle pockets, large zippered top flap and bottom pockets, dual side compression straps and spacer mesh shoulder straps. It also has attachment loops for the brand’s PackFast travel bags.
25. Tumi Voyageur Hilden Backpack
BEST LIGHTWEIGHT WORK BACKPACK
At just 1.5 pounds, Tumi’s nylon Voyageur Hilden laptop bag (previously the Hartford) is one of the best lightweight work backpacks for women, but it works for anyone who wants to keep their cargo light while staying organized. Available in other colors and hardware options, the carryall has a padded sleeve for 13-inch laptops, zippered pockets on the front and side, a water-resistant collapsible interior water bottle holder, a quick-access phone pocket with a magnetic closure and a back luggage handle sleeve. The front zipper pocket has a locking pull and the bag is finished with a monogrammable leather key ring and leather top handle.
26. Monos Metro Backpack
BEST VEGAN LEATHER BACKPACK
For those who like the sleek look of leather but prefer an animal-free material, luxe travel accessories brand Monos’ vegan leather backpack is a versatile choice. The minimalist bag is made of water-resistant material and features the company’s modular design, so you can swap extra storage accessories depending on your needs.
It comes with a removable Classic Kit to organize everything from toiletries to travel essentials, and the main compartment opens clamshell-style so you can fully open the backpack. The interior boasts a 15-inch laptop compartment and the exterior is finished with a trolley sleeve for attaching your backpack to one of Monos’ equally stylish rolling suitcases. (All luggage is currently on sale for up to 30% off through Aug. 14, by the way.)
27. Troubadour Explorer Pioneer Backpack
BEST MINIMALIST DESIGN
If clean lines, comfort and durability are your style, you’ll want to stow your stuff in Troubadour’s luxe Explorer Pioneer backpack, which has ergonomic memory foam shoulder straps and a breathable electro-molded back panel that keeps you dry and cool. The minimalist bag uses a waterproof fabric and lining made from recycled materials, and the smooth zippers are set in waterproof tape to ensure your belongings are safe and dry. A padded laptop sleeve holds devices up to 16 inches, and the front of the bag fully opens for easy access to whatever’s inside.
Other features we like: the separate shoe bag with antimicrobial lining, the chic vegan leather trim, and the minimalist, seam-light design that keeps the bag from feeling too bulky.
28. Kenneth Cole Reaction 17-Inch Four-Wheel Laptop Backpack
BEST ROLLING BACKPACK
One of the best work backpacks with wheels, Kenneth Cole Reaction’s rolling laptop bag features a retractable top handle, 360-degree spinning wheels and tuck-away shoulder straps so you can quickly go from carrying to pulling. It holds 17-inch laptops or smaller in a separate padded compartment as well as tablets and other devices in another pocket. Ideal for traveling, the backpack has a front pocket with organizer pockets, a back compartment with a garment strap and handy side pockets for water bottles and more.
29. Coach Track Backpack
BEST LUXURY LEATHER BACKPACK
Coach is already known for its luxury leather goods and premium craftsmanship, which is why its Track backpack is an excellent designer option that’s as fashionable as it is functional. (And it’s on sale for 60 percent off at the brand’s online outlet.) Made of buttery-soft leather, this structured carryall has a laptop sleeve, zippered pockets that give you convenient access from outside of the bag and compartments for organizing items like your cell phone, keys, notebooks, pens, a water bottle and more.
30. Adidas x Gucci Backpack
BEST DESIGNER BACKPACK
If the resurgence of logo mania isn’t any indication, emblem-covered accessories will always be in style. This Adidas x Gucci backpack doubles up on the nostalgia of both brands, and it’s not only a conversation starter — it also enough room for your laptop or tablet and your daily essentials.
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