It wouldn’t make sense to use a laptop backpack when you’re going for hiking or traveling, right?
Every situation requires a different backpack, like for college or school, you need a cool and good looking backpack.
But for travel or hiking, you need a backpack with lots of organized space and which can easily handle all your cargo efficiently. And you shouldn’t just be focused on the content of the cargo because the carrier itself can be just as important in some cases.
With comfort and functionality as priorities, lots of people now use backpacks for their everyday commute.
So, in this buying guide of best backpacks, you’ll get a solution to all your backpack-related problems from best college backpacks, best backpacks, best backpack for work and travel and best backpack for travel and best laptop backpack.
Best Backpacks of 2018 (Student, Travel, College, Work & Business Backpacks)
There are many considerations to think about before purchasing any backpack and we’ve mentioned almost everything which you need to know before buying a perfect pack.
Let’s start with a comparison table.
This durable, water-resistant, lightweight backpack by Outlander is the best-rated backpack for traveling purposes.
With a stylish look, this packable go-anywhere pack is for super-minimalists who make every gram count. Ultra-light. Ultra-durable. Ultra-awesome. The backpack is perfect for day-to-day use or occasional travel.
Folds into a zippered inner pocket to fit anywhere. Unfolds from pocket to backpack. This backpack is a must-have on every trip and a great gift for everyone too.
Features of Lightweight Travel Hiking Backpack by Outlander:
- Water-resistant and DURABLE: The backpack is made from highly rip and water-resistant nylon fabric, which provides strength and long-lasting performance, with minimal weight. Stress points are reinforced with bar tacking for increased longevity. Durable 2-way Abrasion Resistant SBS Metal Zippers across the backpack is used.
- COMPACT: Folds into a zippered inner pocket to fit anywhere. Unfolds from pocket to backpack. A must-have on any trip.
- LIGHTWEIGHT: Stuff the bag into its own pocket for storage and unzip it when you reach your destination. Avoid overweight baggage charges by simply unfolding it from your luggage and using it as a carry on for your excess baggage.
- NEW VERSION Includes a carabiner clip so you attach things or clip it to things.
- Very Light-weight
- Multi compartments for storage
- Folds into a zippered inner pocket to fit anywhere
The ripstop material used in this backpack is obviously not the most durable material out there (or how could the pack be so light?), so some common sense will tell you to take care when packing anything with sharp edges that might penetrate the material.
You can pack all of your gear in this extra-roomy, full-featured laptop backpack. This bag gives excellent protection for a laptop and tablet.
This backpack comes with a checkpoint-friendly design to get you through airport security quickly. Just open up the case fully to let the case get scanned without removing your laptop.
The SwissGear ScanSmart Backpack features interior and exterior organizer pockets, an airflow back system, and water bottle pocket.
Features of SwissGear Travel Gear 1900 Scansmart TSA Laptop Backpack:
- Can withstand harsh conditions
- Fits up to 17″ laptops
- Durable and weather-resistant 1200D ballistic polyester construction
- Contoured shoulder straps with mesh fabric and adjustable side compression straps for comfort
- Padded back panel with Airflow ventilation technology for ease of use
- ScanSmart lay-flat technology for hassle-free laptop-in-bag TSA scanning
- Opens quickly at airport security and laptop is visible while scanning
- Airflow Back System
- Accordion file holder for books, binders, files, and folders
Travel to your training session with The North Face Borealis laptop backpack. This travel backpack sports compression straps on the sides and the FlexVent suspension system to ensure stability while trekking. Featuring shoulder and sternum straps, this laptop backpack ensures maximum comfort. Its stretch mesh pockets also allow you to carry bottles of water.
This cute mini leather backpack by Coofit is beyond perfect.
It is a simple design which you’ll love. It has a couple of secret pockets and a pouch (shown in the picture) inside of the bag for cosmetics and cards and stuff.
This bag carries more than you can even expect. It’s so spacious and the leather is magnificently well, and it’s super stylish also.
You can easily fit 11″ MacBook Air, wallet, kindle and other miscellaneous items with room to spare in this cute little backpack.
Features of Coofit Black Best Mini Leather Backpack :
- Coofit original design laptop backpack: This is an upgrade original design PU leather backpack. Difference: zipper top closure instead of a drawstring, add front pocket and two side pocket, help you faster to reach your last minute stuff. Logo printed on the surface of the backpack instead of sewing. Looks more elegant.
- Large capacity: Roomy enough to hold your daily essentials. Such as A4 size magazine, 11” laptop, cell phone, school supplies etc.
- Fashionable Design: No matter if you are a university student or an office Lady, It is a good choice for you to reveal your noble temperament. Never go out of style.
The backpack in the best work backpack category is the Incase ICON Backpack.
This is simply the best backpack ever made by Incase. This backpack comes with dedicated compartments for your MacBook, iPad, and iPhone, along with intelligent organization for extra accessories and other essentials, this tech-optimized pack is designed to handle any situation.
Special Airflow channels are engineered into the compression molded back panel and padded shoulder straps with multiple adjustment points provide a customizable fit and stable support while on the move with your gear.
Features of this backpack by Incase:
- Adjustable straps and padded shoulder straps for optimal comfort and ergonomic support. Sternum strap for secure and comfortable carrying.
- Storage: Main compartment provides space for larger items and organization for flat documents and small accessories. Secondary compartment offers a series of organizer pockets to hold tech accessories and other small items. Dedicated side-access iPad pocket. Hip-side Power Pocket with integrated cable port to allow access to portable power or audio.
The rough-and-tumble world of bike commuting is liable to take a toll on your gear, so Timbuk2 designed the Especial Tres Backpack with a rugged fabric and extra-tough stitching to stand up to life on the road. A roll-top closure, TPU front flap, and fully seam-taped internal liner keep all your gear dry if you get caught in a shower, and an expandable front compartment easily holds a helmet when you’re out of the saddle.
This simple backpack by Macro is best for college or school use and this can even fit 17″ Laptop & Notebook.
Made from durable nylon fabric and features a reinforced bottom, which is Light-weight Carrying and perfect for business travel, weekend getaways, school, shopping and other outdoor activities in daily life.
Comes with External USB with built-in charging cable which offers a convenient charging of your electronic device anywhere.
Some Features of this Backpack are:
- Comes with dedicated Laptop compartment and can hold Laptops less than 17 Inch
- MULTI-COMPARTMENT & CLASSIFIED: 3 MAIN pockets & 9 INNER small pockets & 2 SEALED SIDE pockets, provides a separated space for your Laptop, iPhone, iPad, pen, keys, wallet, books, clothes, bottle and more. Easily find what you want.
- SAFETY: Included a Theft proof combination lock and durable metal zippers, which protects wallet and other items inside from thief and offers a private space.
- WATER REPELLENT & MULTIPURPOSE: Made from DURABLE ECO-FRIENDLY nylon fabric with Two “S” curve PADDED shoulder straps, offers LIGHT-WEIGHT Carrying and of force reinforcement.
The Osprey Farpoint is a great travel backpack, So it’s no surprise that it’s one of the most popular packs. The Farpoint is available in four different sizes — 40L, 55L, 70L, and 80L.
This backpack is full of features and you’ll not find many of these features in a traditional hiking pack. This pack is basically designed to handle loads up to 50 pounds.
The 40L and the 55L are essentially the same backpacks, but the 55L has a detachable day pack. Both backpacks are 40L, but the 55L model is 40L + 15L day pack.
Features of Osprey Farpoint 55 Travel Backpack:
- Comfortable Padded Hip Belt: The hip belt on the Farpoint is a legitimate hip belt that is fully padded and adjustable.
- Different Sizes: Each model (40L, 55L, and 70L) comes in a Small/Medium or a Medium/Large size. This is great because someone who is 5’3″ will want a different backpack than someone who is 6’1″. Most travel backpacks don’t offer this feature.
- Carry-on Size: Both the 40L and the 55L models are carry-on size (although, with the 55L, you might have to pack the detachable daypack into the bag because it could put you over the limit. It depends on the airline). The 70L might be too big to carry-on but you may be able to sneak it by.
- Carry Handles: The Farpoint has two carry handles — one on the side and one on the top. It probably doesn’t seem like a huge deal now, but these come in super handy when you’re moving your bag around.
- Zip Away Shoulder Straps and Hip Belt: All the shoulder straps and hip belts fold and can be zipped away for safe transportation.
- Pockets: 1 interior zip, 1 exterior
- Includes additional bag
- Front Compression Straps
- Padded Handles
- Light Wire frame suspension
- Lockable Main Compartment
- Removable Sleeping Pad Straps
This is a pretty good backpack for hiking except that the bag is built in a way that all of the weight is at the end and not close to the back.
This backpack by JanSport is a stylish and very popular backpack.
This Big Student style is a backpack with lots of pockets. These are particularly useful for high school or college students where carrying large books and many different items ranging from digital tools (kindles, tablets, mobile phones) to snacks become the norm.
Large backpacks for college are a must today, plain and simple. Some may think that big backpacks are just too large, but these backpacks by JanSport will make you forget the size because JanSport makes oversized backpacks look cool.
Some features of JanSport big student Backpack:
- Ergonomic S-curve shoulder straps
- Front utility pocket with organizer
- Fully padded back panel
- Pleated front stash pocket
- Side water bottle pocket
- Two large main compartments
- Web haul handle
This cool backpack is from AmazonBasics, So it is cheap and still of very good quality as compared to other backpacks in this category.
The AmazonBasics Laptop Backpack is designed to protect and hold your laptop while you’re on the move. The backpack features multiple storage compartments and features for additional supplies and accessories as well.
This backpack can easily hold up to 17 inches laptops.
Some features of AmazonBasics Backpack:
- Large multi-compartment backpack with a padded sleeve for laptops
- Holds up to 17″ notebook computer
- Mesh water bottle pockets at side
- Organizational compartments for pens, keys, and cell phones
This backpack can be considered as BAD ASS PACK.
The RUSH72™ is engineered to be a full featured 72-hour bag that provides ample space for gear and accessories while remaining rugged and reliable enough for extended excursions or tactical deployments.
This backpack is best for hiking, hunting, and recreation.
Some features of RUSH72™ BACKPACK:
- Dual-zippered front and main compartments with molded grip pulls
- capacity: Sized for a 3-day excursion
- Material: Water-resistant 1050-denier nylon
- Special Compartment: Flexible main storage compartments
- Closure System: YKK zippers.Fleece-lined sunglass pocket
- Multiple integrated organization pockets
This Hustle II Backpack by UA STORM is a very good waterproof pack.
The storm technology used in this pack delivers an element-battling, highly water-resistant finish. The bottom panel is also very tough, and abrasion-resistant. Softly lined laptop sleeve can hold up to 15” laptop. Front pockets are Water-repellent to keep your valuables stuff safe.
The Under Armour Storm Hustle II Backpack is surely worth your attention and it might just be the best backpack you will ever own if you decide to get one.
Some features of this backpack are:
- Adjustable, padded HeatGear shoulder straps for comfort that lasts all day
- UA Storm technology delivers an element-battling, highly water-resistant finish
- Tough, abrasion-resistant bottom panel
- Soft-lined laptop sleeve—holds up to 15” MacBook Pro® or similarly sized laptop
- Water-repellent front valuables pocket to keep your stuff safe
- Adjustable HeatGear® shoulder straps for extra comfort
- 2 side water bottle pockets
- Top grab handle
- Large, gusseted front laundry pocket
- Volume: 1,875 Cubic In. / 30.7 L
- 100% Polyester
Backpacks Buyer’s Guide
Well, our top 10 list of best backpacks is based on what we think will be the best for you. But still this might not suit you, so we prefer you to have a look at all of the details below. That will definitely help you in choosing your perfect backpack.
How to choose a laptop bag:
Your laptop is likely to be an expensive piece of equipment, so it pays to put the device in a carrying bag which will protect it sufficiently. But whether you’re packing a tiny MacBook Air, a super-slim Ultrabook or a huge 17-inch laptop, there are lots of other considerations to take into account when buying a laptop bag aside from mere protection.
For example, you have to bear in mind issues like comfort, and things like adjustable straps for certain types of bag, particularly if you’ll be carrying your hardware a long way. You also need to consider the appearance of your laptop bag – not just how smart it looks, but also how tempting it might seem to would-be thieves.
We’ll discuss these and other issues such as build quality in the course of this buying guide, so dive on in, and by the end of this article, you’ll have gained a much better idea of what type of laptop bag you should purchase.
You can put a laptop in any bag, or backpack. So why buy a bag designed specifically for the purpose? Laptops come in sizes from 11-inches to 17-inches, and there are bags specifically designed to take each and every size. Though most offer a compartment that’s designed to hold a laptop that, for example, is ‘up to’ 17-inches in size, go for as close to the size you need as possible. An 11-inch model will rattle around a compartment sized for a larger laptop.
The style is up to you, but to make a decision about what kind of bag suits your lifestyle. Are you a backpack wearer or an over-the-shoulder messenger bag person? Most people prefer one or the other, not both. Think about where you’re going to be using it – backpacks are great for getting through airports quickly and for trips where you might be doing a lot of walking, while messenger bags can look more formal and professional during conferences or at meetings.
The whole point of a laptop bag is to protect your device, and that means having as snug a fit as possible. As well as looking for laptop compartments designed specifically for the size of your laptop, choose a laptop bag that uses soft but firm fabrics for the lining, much as you would expect to find inside a laptop sleeve, such as neoprene (the stuff used to make wetsuits) or faux-felt.
A good laptop bag will house not just your laptop, but your entire gadget arsenal. Look for an easily accessible pocket on the front containing at least two smartphone-sized pouches – one is really useful for storing a portable battery – as well as a pen-holder or two. There should also be space for a coiled pair of earphones, and a clip somewhere to attach house keys. An additional pouch or pocket, or at the very least some room in the main compartment, should be able to store power cables and adaptors.
It’s also becoming increasingly common to find a hard-shell compartment for storing sunglasses, which can easily become a casualty of a crush if you stash a lot of electronics in your laptop bag
If the style of laptop bag you choose needs carrying, the quality of the shoulder straps is all-important. You need something that’s easy to carry, not painful and awkward.
If it’s a backpack, look at the two shoulders straps, which should be padded and adjustable, but also shaped so they curve from a join at the top of the bag to the sides at the bottom. Avoid models that have a tab at the top that lengthens the straps and pushes the entire strap system – and the bag itself – lower down your back; such models are surprisingly common but will make you tired much more quickly.
For messenger bags, choose products with a shoulder strap that’s both adjustable and features a shaped, padded section that sits on your shoulder, which doesn’t shift about as you walk. A grab handle is also useful if you’d like to make it look like a briefcase now and again, perhaps for business meetings. It’s also useful for getting through airport security, and anywhere else where you need to grab and go. If there’s a handle, the shoulder strap should be easy to attach and remove, with D-rings at each end that clip on and off easily.
Build quality is crucial if you want your bag to last. Make sure zips are good quality – metallic if possible for both the zipper and the teeth. Avoid small, plastic zips. Their inevitable destruction will leave the whole bag useless.
Make sure the bag uses fabric that’s hard-wearing and water-resistant, such as ripstop nylon, ballistic nylon or neoprene. However, bear in mind that the better made, and more padded a laptop bag, the heavier it is likely to be before you even insert a 1kg laptop. Conversely, leather or suede look great, but they’re heavy without being particularly waterproof or protective. Still, the best laptop bags have padding only where it counts, with no wastage of weight.
The more hiking-orientated bags, though often aimed at ‘urban adventuring’, often include a rain cover squeezed into a stuff-sack somewhere on the bag’s undercarriage, which adds peace of mind in a downpour wherever you are.
You love your laptop, and you want to show it off to the world to let them know which tech tribe you’re part of. If that’s you, it’s time to grow up and get your priorities right – if your laptop is your major productivity tool, you need to keep it safe. That means making it look as if you’re not packing any gadgetry, let alone the latest and very obviously expensive Ultrabook.
As well as choosing a bag that has padding in case of bumps and drops, it’s a great idea to disguise your laptop. There was a time when all laptop bags looked the same, making them easy targets for thieves and scoundrels. That’s not the case anymore, with dozens of new designs that are more generic. From the distressed leather satchel and canvas bags with buckles to the classic ladies handbag or totes that look like you’re going shopping, it’s possible to arm yourself with a laptop and much more without anyone noticing.
If you’re packing an Apple MacBook, camouflage is all-important since all models are recognizably expensive. Effecting a disguise will also avoid the inevitable “is that the latest MacBook Air?” questions from fan-boys and passers-by in cafes and coffee shops, which could alert others to exactly how much your laptop is worth.
Though there are hundreds of laptop bags to choose from, most concentrate solely on the job at hand. However, if you’re traveling with multiple gadgets, it’s wise to choose something that can take everything.
Camera backpacks aimed at D-SLR owners have recently swapped from catering to those with multiple lenses to photographers traveling with laptops and tablets. You’d now be hard-pushed to find a camera backpack without a padded section for at least one of those devices.
For frequent travelers, airline cabin-sized roll-on luggage is worth considering; you’ll almost always find a laptop compartment on the front for easy access. If you are after roll-on luggage, always test the strength of the retractable handle and, most importantly, that the wheels are strong and larger than you would like – go for small wheels and you’ll be constantly preventing it from falling sideways as you pull it along.
How to choose a backpack for traveling or hiking:
Picking the right backpack is a very important part of any trip. Too big, and you’ll have too much extra weight. Too small, and you’ll never fit anything in. Pick the wrong material, and your stuff will be soaked in the rain. There are so many options out there that it can be very confusing.
There are many backpacks in the world and even more places where you can purchase one. I’ve tried, seen, and experienced many backpacks over the years. I know what works. So in order to save you hours upon hours of research, I’m going to lay out all the good qualities a backpack should have, so when you find one that matches these criteria, you can simply purchase it knowing it’s amazing and going to last forever.
Types of Backpacks:
Backpacks fall into two primary categories: framed and unframed. Backpacks with a frame usually offer greater carrying capacity. A frame also transfers pack weight to the hip belt more efficiently, which (when used correctly) takes pressure off the shoulders and upper back, making it easier to carry heavier loads for longer distances. Of course, packs without a frame also have advantages.
Weight is the primary advantage of having a backpack with no frame. Most backpacks without a frame are simply going to be lighter than comparably-sized packs with a built-in frame. Daypacks designed for hiking are a great example. These lightweight packs are available in a variety of sizes, from compact to moderately large. However, if you need to carry heavy, bulky gear, a framed pack is definitely the way to go.
An internal frame backpack typically has two individual, semi-flexible “frame stays” built into the back panel. These frame stays are often flat, narrow, pre-shaped aluminum bars, which give structure and support to the pack. Some packs may also include a “frame sheet,” which is a semi-stiff piece of material found inside the back panel. Some packs have frame stays and a frame sheet. Internal-frame backpacks hug the body more than external-frame packs. This design provides better balance and easier movement, two benefits that really come in handy on the trail.
External frame backpacks have been around longer than internal frame packs. This pack style features a robust, tubular metal frame that supports the pack from the outside. Although they’ve become less popular over the past few decades, external frame backpacks can potentially offer more ventilation between a person’s body and the backpack, which is a nice benefit in hot, humid conditions. An external frame also makes it easy to strap on bulky gear that may be too large or oddly shaped to fit inside the pack, which is why some hunters and military personnel still prefer using an external frame backpack.
There are three main areas where you’ll need to make choices before buying your best backpack:
- Backpack capacity: The size pack you’ll need is tied to the length of your trip and how much weight and bulk you want to carry.
- Backpack features: These are the refinements that affect how the pack works for you.
- Backpack fit: Torso length, not your height, matters most.
Let’s start with backpack size (capacity) and functionality.
Backpack Size and Capacity:
- <10 Liters: An extremely small backpack intended for jogging, cycling, or other athletics. It typically has a hydration system included when it is a sports backpack. It might also be quite a minimal around town pack.
- 10-20 Liters: A little hiking backpack which can fit basics for a day hike or day-long experience. Also a good-sized exercise pack for prolonged trails or roads.
- 20-30 Liters: A standard hiking backpack size for day hikes, urban transport, or college. This size can typically fit lunch, a jacket, emergency/survival items and a water bottle or two if you’re hiking. If in a city or college, this size pack can typically fit laptops, binders or work papers, a change of clothes, and electronics.
- 30-40 Liters: A larger pack that has a lot of uses. It can be an oversized day hiking backpack if you want to bring a lot of food, cold weather clothing, blankets, or are carrying for multiple people. It can also be an oversized commuter bag if you have to make deliveries, haul video or other electronic equipment, or the second set of clothes for a long day. Finally, this size can serve as a small, lightweight backpack for ultralight backpackers.
- 40-50 Liters: This pack size is typically for wilderness backpacking or international travel. In the wild, you can expect an overnight or two-day trip to fit in a pack this size. This is also a standard size for ultralight backpackers who thru-hike long distances. This size pack can sometimes fit on airplanes and works well for traveling to multiple countries and different transportation systems. It often holds everything you need for these activities, but not much extra.
- 50-70 Liters: This is a 20-liter range because it’s the classic range for backpacking backpacks. Typically you can fit gear for an overnight, a week, a month, or months, depending on how long you want to go and how you pack. Most backpacks you’ll see in the wilderness are this size, with 65-70 Liters being the sweet spot. This size also works for international travel, but you’ll have to check a bag this big.
- 70-80 Liters: These are extremely large packs for hauling lots of weight for weeks on end. Works just as well for wilderness overnights or a few days, but is overkill in most cases. Also, a good size for months-long travel in foreign countries when you need a single pack to hold everything.
Remember these are guidelines. Check the capacity of a pack before purchase, eyeball your gear, and see what fits.
Now let’s see some of the very important features every backpack must have.
You can’t talk about backpacks (or any piece of gear) without highlighting features. Gear features are like drugs — they’re time-tested, they make you feel good, and you talk about them incessantly.
Many times there’s a long list of features for modern backpacks listed in a spec sheet — some are obvious, others never really explained. Here’s a glossary of popular features used today, mostly in regards to wilderness backpacking backpacks:
- A size appropriate for your torso length (not your overall height).
- A comfortably snug grip on your hips.
Some packs are available in multiple sizes, from extra small to large, which fit a range of torso lengths. These ranges vary by manufacturer and by gender. Check the product specs tab for size details of a specific pack.
Other packs may feature an adjustable suspension, which can be modified to fit your torso, especially if you’re in-between sizes. The drawback: An adjustable harness adds a little weight to a pack.
The majority of a backpack’s weight, 80 percent or more, should be supported by your hips. Backpack hipbelts usually accommodate a wide range of hip sizes, from the mid-20 inches to the mid-40 inches. People with narrow waists sometimes find they cannot make a standard hipbelt tight enough and need a smaller size. Some packs offer interchangeable hipbelts, making it possible to swap out one size for another
Because they have smaller frame sizes, women’s backpacks often work well for young backpackers of either gender. Torso dimensions are generally shorter and narrower than men’s packs. And hipbelts and shoulder straps are contoured with the female form in mind.
Additional Backpack Fit Adjustments:
- Load Lifter Straps: These are stitched into the top of the shoulder straps, and they connect to the top of the pack frame. Ideally, they will form a 45° angle between your shoulder straps and the pack. Kept snug (but not too tight), they prevent the upper portion of a pack from pulling away from your body, which would cause the pack to sag in your lumbar region.
- Sternum Strap: This mid-chest strap allows you to connect your shoulder straps, which can boost your stability. It can be useful to do so when traveling on uneven cross-country terrain where an awkward move could cause your pack to shift abruptly and throw you off-balance.
Some additional Backpacking tips:
- Try to place heavier gear in the middle or bottom of the pack. Avoid putting heavy items at the top, which can throw off your stability.
- Always prepare for the worst possible weather, even if it’s not in the forecast.
- Plan your route ahead of time, and always tell a few people where you’re going and when you plan to return.
- Have a map of the area and compass, and know how to use them.
- Bring ample water and a water filtration system or purification tablets as a backup. Research the area you’ll be traveling to determine where you’ll be able to access water.
- Research any potential hazards you might encounter in the area, including wild animals and insects. Be prepared for potential injuries with a first aid kit.
Considerably finding the perfect backpack is not easy. That’s when lists like these come into play. This top 10 list of best backpacks kept in mind things such as the needs of a customer and how much they are willing to spend on a backpack.
Hopefully, this list should solve your backpack buying woes, and you will be able to buy the perfect backpack that will be useful for you in every situation.