The best backpack of 2023: return to the office or campus in style (2023)

By John Loeffler

last updated

Find the best backpack to carry your laptop, textbooks, and more

PRICE

VERDICT

REASONS TO BUY

REASONS TO AVOID

VERDICT

REASONS TO BUY

REASONS TO AVOID

The best backpack of 2023: return to the office or campus in style (1)

Editor's Note: January 2023

As we head into 2023, many major backpack makers are getting ready to refresh product lines and roll out new models as kids return to school and everyone from travelers to office workers are looking to start the new year with a fresh look. And for many of us who either bought or were gifted new tech this holiday season, we definitely can't forget to protect our new gear while we're on the go, and the best backpacks on this list will definitely help keep your stuff safe and secure. We're already in the process of review new bags from brands like Timbuk2 and North St. for the new year, so stay tuned for what 2023 has in store.

- John Loeffler, Computing editor

If you're looking for the best backpack for your needs and budget, you have no shortage of options out there. From low-capacity day bags to travel backpacks that pack in the most stuff in an easy to organize way, there are countless options out there, so it can be daunting to sort through them all.

And given that so many of us are shopping online without the backpack in our hands where we can feel the construction and see how well it might hold your essential tech like laptops and tablets, there's plenty of reason to be shy about commiting to a purchase – especially when the prices on the best backpacks can be substantially higher than you might be accustomed to.

Fortunately, we've given a number of backpacks a look recently as we've carried around all sorts of tech we've been reviewing to and from the office, including a number of items on our best laptop or best tablet lists. Chances are good that we've not only put a bunch of backpacks through their paces, but we've done it with a lot of the same tech you're likely to stuff in there yourself.

So if you're in the market for a new backpack as you get ready to head back to the office or return to campus, you can rest assured that the backpacks on this list will get you and your essential tech around in comfort and style.

(Video) 5 Best Backpack In 2023 - Laptop, Travel, Smart, anti-theft

The best backpack of 2023

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The best backpack of 2023: return to the office or campus in style (2)

1. Hex Technical Backpack

Durable and comfortable, if a bit on the small side

Specifications

Size: 17.5L

Color options: Black

Laptop size: Up to 16-inch laptop

Materials: Antimicrobial Cordura® ballistic nylon, EVA padded back panel

Features: Hideaway rain fly for extra water protection, Wireless charging pocket

Reasons to buy

+

Very durable construction

+

Lots of built in compartments

+

Top pocket for wireless charging device

Reasons to avoid

-

Limited main compartment capacity

-

No color options

The Hex Technical Backpack lives up to its name with an extensive number of compartments to store everything from hard drives to battery packs, including a top pocket for a wireless charging pack (Hex wireless power bank sold separately), though other wireless charging packs will fit as well, making it an excellent companion for traveling or long commutes when you might need some extra juice for a phone of tablet.

The number of compartments and organizing pockets is also impressive, though the actual interior compartment capacity is less so, coming in at just 17.5L. This can still hold the essentials, including a 16-inch laptop, but you'll need to use the space efficiently if you're going on a longer trip.

Fortunately, the material construction is very durable and features an antimicrobial exterior shell, so you don't need to worry too much about what it's picking up from sitting on the floor of a bus terminal or subway car.

If you're looking for something with more capacity though, check out the Solo NY Grand Travel TSA, which has nearly twice the space and a decent number of pockets and compartments.

Read the full Hex Technical Backpack review

The best backpack of 2023: return to the office or campus in style (3)

2. Solo Grand Travel TSA

The best budget backpack for travel

Specifications

Size: 30L

Color options: Grey

Laptop size: Fits 17.3-inch laptops

Material: Polyester

Features: TSA checkpoint-friendly design, multiple carry handles, main compartment compression straps for tighter packing

Reasons to buy

+

Perfect for long-distance travel

+

Roomy with lots of pockets

+

Fits a 17.3-inch laptop

(Video) Best Office Backpack 2023? Bryn Mill Backpack First Impressions

Reasons to avoid

-

Not exactly the most eye-catching

-

No additional color options

The Solo NY Grand Travel TSA backpack isn't going to appear on a fashion runway anytime soon, but that's fine, since this backpack is meant for another kind of runway.

This has been our go-to backpack for traveling back and forth between major events in recent months thanks to its high capacity and it's durable and TSA checkpoint-friendly design for faster opening and access to clear an airport checkpoint faster.

This made out travels easier than ever, while the interior compression straps let us pack our tech and change of clothes nice and tight to cut down on bulk and save us the hassle of trying to squeeze it under the seat in front of us on a plane.

The 17.3-inch laptop sleeve is also one of the largest we've come across, so if you've got a beast of a mobile workstation, this bag can more than accommodate it. If you're looking for something less bulky (and more stylish), then definitely give the Hex Technical Backpack a look, as it does a lot of what the Solo Grand Travel TSA does in a tighter space.

The best backpack of 2023: return to the office or campus in style (4)

3. North St. Belmont

Great style and even better protection

Specifications

Size: 22L

Color options: EPX Black, EPX Ocean Blue, EPX Kelp Green, EPX Coyote, EPX Bright Blue, EPX Purple, 1000d Black, 1000d Midnight, 1000d Olive Green, 1000d Copper, 1000d Steel & Teal, 1000d Midnight & Copper

Laptop size: Most 15-inch laptops

Material: Recycled EcoPak, 1000 denier CORDURA® nylon shell fabric

Features: Handmade, 1L front pocket, Internal soft velcro strips for adding organizer pockets as needed

Reasons to buy

+

Wide variety of colors

+

Fantastic water protection

+

Comfortable straps

Reasons to avoid

-

Limited number of pockets

-

Dirt might show easily

The North St. Belmont is one of our favorite backpacks for the diversity of color and material options, but it has a lot more going for it than just its style. The interior compartment features a water-resistant material that will hold up against even the hardest downpours, and which also features a pair of velcro strips for optional compartment attachments that add some versatility and customization options.

The compartment can also fit up to a 15-inch laptop comfortably, though we managed to squeeze in a 17-inch laptop as well, but the fit isn't as great.

The backpacks are made by hand in Portland, Oregon, so these run a bit on the expensive side, especially considering that beyond the main compartment there is only a front pocket and two side pockets by default, none of which have the same water-resistant lining as the main compartment. Still, if you're looking for a light-duty commuting option with some great style and protection from the elements, then the North St. Belmont is one of the best backpacks you're going to find.

Read the full North St. Belmont review

The best backpack of 2023: return to the office or campus in style (5)

(Video) 7 Best Backpacks for School and Work

Simplicity and style refined

Specifications

Size: 25.8L

Color options: Black, Deep Navy

Laptop size: Most 15-inch laptops

Material: 600D water-resistant recycled polyester, mesh interior pockets

Features: Lightweight, deep capacity main compartment, front pocket organizer

Reasons to buy

+

Very comfortable straps

+

Good number of compartments

+

Lightweight and spacious capacity

Reasons to avoid

-

Limited color choice

-

Expensive

Lo & Sons is known for making high quality, classic-looking bags of all kinds, and the Hanover Deluxe 2 definitely keeps this tradition alive. The back laptop compartment is roomy and well protected, and can fit up to a 15-inch laptop.

If you've got a bigger laptop though, we were able to fit a couple of 17.3-inch laptops in the main compartment fairly easily, and the removeable foam insert even helped us keep things nice and organized as well.

Fortunately, the padded straps are very comfortable on a long commute and the construction is solid enough to throw around a bit without worrying about sullying the pristine look of the backpack.

We didn't throw it around too much though, since this is not a cheap backpack by any means, so you'll want to take better care of it than your throwaway backpack from high school.

And while it does have some water-resistant construction, it isn't waterproof, so definitely make sure one of those convenient side pockets is holding an umbrella if the weather looks particularly iffy.

Read the full

The best backpack of 2023: return to the office or campus in style (6)

5. Lo & Sons Hakuba

From the subway to the trails

Specifications

Size: 35.5L

Color options: Black, Navy Camo

Laptop size: Most 15-inch laptops

Materials: 600D water-resistant recycled polyester, padded inserts, mesh interior pocket

Features: High capacity; secondary water-resistant compartment for shoes/gym wear

Reasons to buy

+

Excellent capacity

+

Plenty of compartments to work with including secondary bottom shoe pocket

+

Very comfortable straps

Reasons to avoid

-

Limited colors (including Camo?)

-

Rather large

(Video) 5 Best Laptop Backpacks for 2023

If you ever need to go from work to the nearest hiking trail, the Lo & Sons Hakuba backpack might be just what you're looking for.

Easily the best backpack for a versatile transition from work to play (or more work in the gym), the Hakuba features a huge interior compartment with organizing insert, expandable water bottle pocket on the side, and a separate shoe compartment on the bottom to keep sweaty gym shoes and clothes apart from important work materials.

Like most other Lo & Sons products though, your color options are somewhat limited, though if you've ever wanted a navy blue camo backpack, Lo & Sons has you covered. While not the cheapest backpack going, you can still get a good deal with the occasional sale on the Lo & Sons website.

Read the full

Tips for shopping for the best backpack in 2023

Which brand makes the best backpack?

While there is no one brand that is best for backpacks generally speaking, there are some brands that are known to make backpacks for more specific segments of the market.

Solo NY is well known for making more utilitarian, highly functional backpacks that aim for function over couture with a more reasonable price point.

Lo & Sons makes backpacks that are more classic in style but offer quality construction with excellent compartment options and spacious capacities that make them great commuter or travel bags.

Everlane definitely has a more couture appeal while also keeping things more reasonably priced, though their bags don't slouch when it comes to functionality.

North St. has a lot of style options while also being handmade with quality water-resistant materials, making them great commuter bags that you won't be embarrassed to bring to class or the office.

Able Carry and The North Face make backpacks that feature high capacities and highly durable materials that can handle the rigors of a long hike up a mountain as well as a long commute through an urban center.

There are as many different brands as there are needs, but with a little bit of research, you're sure to find the best backpacks for your needs.

What is the best backpack to get for school?

Depending on what you need to bring with you to class, the best backpacks are going to feature roomy compartments for books and a decent-sized laptop, while also having thick and comfortable straps for carrying to, from, and around campus.

We would be lying if we said that style didn't matter, so if you want to go for a more classic look, the Lo & Sons Hanover Deluxe 2 and the Everlane ReNew Transit backpacks might be more your speed. If you want a more eye-catching design, the North St. Belmont and Able Carry Thirteen Daybag backpacks have some bold colors to help your backpack stand out in a crowd.

What is the best backpack for commuting?

If you're commuting to the office, you're going to want a backpack that is comfortable, stylish, and able to carry everything you need for work and possibly more.

The Lo & Sons Hakuba has amble capacity for your work material and laptop, while also featuring a waterproof compartment on the bottom for gym shoes and other gear to help you get a workout in before or after work.

The North St. Belmont features high quality materials with some solid water-resistant construction, making it a fantastic option if you're worried about the weather damaging your work materials and laptop inside.

If you're looking for compartments galore to help keep everything organized, then the Hex Technical backpack is right up your alley, featuring high-quality materials, ample pockets (including an insulated water bottle sleeve on the side), and a pocket up top for a wireless battery pack to charge your phone while you hang out in an airport terminal or on the light rail into the city.

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The best backpack of 2023: return to the office or campus in style (7)

John Loeffler

Computing Editor

John (He/Him) is the US Computing Editor here at TechRadar and he is also a programmer, gamer, activist, and Brooklyn College alum currently living in Brooklyn, NY.

Named by the CTA as a CES 2020 Media Trailblazer for his science and technology reporting, John specializes in all areas of computer science, including industry news, hardware reviews, PC gaming, as well as general science writing and the social impact of the tech industry.

You can find him online on Twitter at @thisdotjohn

(Video) 5 Best Laptop Backpacks 2023

Currently playing: The Last Stand: Aftermath, Cartel Tycoon

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FAQs

Which brand backpack is best for college? ›

1-48 of over 30,000 results for "College Backpack"
  • +15. Lunar's. ...
  • COSMUS. Cosmus Darwin 29 litres Office Backpack - Sleek Everyday use Backpack - Black. ...
  • Gear. Aspire 30L Water Restant Office Laptop Bag/Backpack for Men/Women/(Black) ...
  • Gear. ...
  • POLESTAR. ...
  • FUR JADEN. ...
  • Martucci. ...
  • Gear.

What is the most popular brand of backpacks today? ›

JanSport. Probably the most popular backpack brand on any school or university campus across the country, JanSport has been supplying students with their go-to backpack since the 1960s, when the brand launched the original SuperBreak pack.

What is a good size backpack for college? ›

But what separates a merely good option from the really, truly great? Storage capacity, for one. If you're headed back to campus this fall, you'll want a backpack with around 22L of volume. That's enough space for a day of classes, and in the post-grad world, plenty of room for a change of clothes and a hefty lunch.

Which is the No 1 school bag brand? ›

Best Brands Of School Bags in India 2022
Top 9 School Bag Brands in India (2022) – Best Backpacks Online for SchoolPriceBuy
SkyBagsStarting From Rs. 1,200Amazon
PumaStarting From Rs. 799Amazon
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5 more rows

What is the best color for a school backpack? ›

Choose a colour that goes well with 90% of the clothes you own. Black and navy blue backpacks are safe colours if your wardrobe's colour scheme is white, grey, blue, and black. For those with a more adventurous palatte, you can go for backpack colours like maroon, red, or teal.

What is the most popular type of backpack? ›

A traditional college daypack is probably the most popular backpack type. That's because they're affordable, spacious, and incredibly versatile. You can use them for school, college, the office, hiking, and even traveling. Usually, they're quite simple but spacious.

What are the 2 types of backpacks? ›

15 Types of Backpacks: A Guide to Different Backpack Styles
  • Standard Backpack. The standard backpack is as simple as it gets, and probably the one backpack we're most familiar with. ...
  • Sling Bag. ...
  • Skate Backpack. ...
  • Functional Backpack. ...
  • Rucksack. ...
  • Hydration Backpack. ...
  • Laptop Backpack. ...
  • Knapsack.

What should I look for in a quality backpack? ›

Look for Pockets and Compartments

Go for backpacks with pockets, slots, and dividers to evenly distribute the weight. In addition to utilizing both shoulder straps and ensuring the pack sits at the right height, consider backpacks that offer pockets, slots, and dividers to help evenly distribute extra weight.

Is wearing a heavy backpack good? ›

By putting a heavy weight on your shoulders in the wrong way, the weight's force can pull you backward. So people who carry heavy backpacks sometimes lean forward. Because of the heavy weight and this unnatural position, they can develop shoulder, neck, and back pain.

How do I choose a school backpack? ›

Think of organization and functionality; look for features that will make your gear easy to find. Some bags will have a side pocket or mesh side pouch to accommodate a bottle. Easily accessible water can be handy when you're on the move. If you've got a longer school commute, a comfortable backpack is necessary.

How much should I spend on a college backpack? ›

What Will a Good Bag Cost? You can spend as much or as little as you'd like on a bag for college. The most basic of basic backpacks can cost as little as $20, while high-end packs can run $200. For a good bag that will last you several years, expect to spend around $50.

What size backpack is too big? ›

Backpacks over 40L

This is because backpacks over 40 liters are usually too large to comfortably use as a daily backpack for school, work or commuting. Backpacks over 40 liters are best reserved for travel, hiking or backpacking where loading multiple days worth of gear is necessary.

Is a 15 pound backpack too heavy? ›

Doctors recommend that backpack weight should be between 10-15 percent of a person's total body weight. If a 90-pound sixth grader carried 15 percent of their weight, the backpack should be no more than 13 pounds. An average for a 135-pound adult would be about 20 pounds.

What backpack color goes with everything? ›

Black is back. But it seems it has never left since it matches easily with any outfit. You can go risky in your look or not that the backpack will not interfere. It is ideal for more formal environments or occasions when you do not want to be in the center of attention.

What color is best for education? ›

Warm colors such as red, orange, and yellow have been recognized as the preferred colors to maintain learners' attention and stimulate their active participation.

How do I look professional in a backpack? ›

Avoid slouchy looking backpacks, or bags that look tatty, and opt for a leather backpack instead. A leather briefcase backpack is a great choice when you want to remain professional, and they can often carry a laptop too.

Are backpacks male or female? ›

Looks. Backpack is mostly purple. She has white eyes with black pupils and yellow eyebrows.

What are old backpacks called? ›

1878: Merriam Knapsack

Before there were backpacking packs there were knapsacks, which were packs with shoulder straps that lacked any structure. Henry Merriam submitted a patent in 1877 (patented the following year) for a pack for the United States Army that used sheet metal to rig the bag away from the wearer's body.

What purses backpacks are in 2022? ›

  • Top Pick. CLUCI Women's PU Leather Backpack Purse. ...
  • Runner Up. Gazigo Women's Quilted Nylon Travel Backpack. ...
  • We Also Like. CHERUTY Women's Anti-Theft PU Leather Backpack Purse. ...
  • Strong Contender. LOVEVOOK Women's USB Wide Open Charging Backpack Purse. ...
  • Also Great. PINCNEL Women's Waterproof Nylon Anti-Theft Backpack Purse.
Sep 20, 2022

What backpacks did Kanye wear? ›

But for Ye, owning a piece of Goyard — which is rare in itself — wasn't enough, so he commissioned the house's very first Goyard backpack, dubbed “Robot Face.” Since, it has exchanged hands and sold for $55,000 USD in 2021 courtesy of the luxury consigner Justin Reed, and now Reed has it back in his possession, listing ...

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