With the new school year fast approaching many students are going to be needing good solid backpacks to carry all their stuff, and we’ve rounded up some of the best options out there to make finding one easier.
Everyone needs or wants a little something different out of a backpack. That being said, there are some fundamentals you definitely want to consider when choosing one. You want one that’s comfortable, and one that maybe even looks stylish enough to carry around with you all day. And you definitely want one that’s functional.
On the functional side of things, this generally boils down to having a pocket for your laptop of varying sizes. But it’s also nice to have a pouch for water bottles, and all sorts of organization compartments. Most of the bags on this list fit that, and offer a lot of other useful features too.
|Backpack||Cost||Where To Buy|
|Fjallraven Raven 28||From $100||Amazon, Nordstrom, Moosejaw, EMS, Zappos (low stock)|
|Herschel Pop Quiz||From $79.10||Amazon, Zappos, Walmart|
|Fjallraven Kanken Laptop 15||$119.95||Amazon, Nordstrom, Moosejaw, EMS, Zappos, Bloomingdales|
|Incase ICON||From $127.87||Amazon, B&H, Office Depot, Adorama|
|JanSport Big Student Backpack||From $50||Amazon, Kohl’s, Staples, Target, Macy’s|
|The North Face Jester||From $68.95||Amazon, Zappos, Nordstrom, Bass Pro Shop, Cabela’s, Moosejaw|
|Timbuk2 Authority Laptop Backpack||From $159||Timbuk2|
|Herschel Little America Laptop Backpack||$104.21||Amazon, Zappos, Nordstrom|
|The North Face Recon||$98.95||Amazon, Zappos, Moosejaw|
|Peak Design Everyday Backpack||$279.95||Peak Design|
Best backpacks for back to school
All of the backpacks we’ve chosen are listed above in the summary table. Which is complete with the name, cost, and links for where to buy them. If you want a little more detail on each one you can find that below.
Fjallraven Raven 28
- Price: From $100
- Where To Buy: Amazon, Nordstrom, Moosejaw, EMS, Zappos (low stock)
Fjallraven makes some excellent gear besides just backpacks, but their packs area also some of their best gear for school because you can use them for damn near everything. The Raven 28 is a 28L backpack so it has plenty of space for all your back to school essentials. From lunch (if you pack it), to water bottles, to books, and laptops.
In fact, this bag, like many of the ones on this list, has a dedicated laptop sleeve for your laptop. It’s also padded to keep it protected.
Other notable features of the Raven 28 include a leather grab handle at the top for when you’re tired of wearing it on your back. And the leather both acts as a stylish touch to the design but it also makes the handle more durable. The large main compartment on this bag has a dual-zip enclosure, and you’ll find water bottle pockets on the side as well as various organizational pockets on the front and inside.
This isn’t exactly the least expensive bag, but it’s far from the priciest option. It also comes in a range of different colors too.
Herschel Pop Quiz
- Price: From $79.10
- Where To Buy: Amazon, Zappos, Walmart
The Herschel Pop Quiz is almost as simple as backpacks come. But even in its simplicity it’s a great (and wildly popular) backpack for students. This bag features 22L of space in the main compartment which is a little less than the Raven 28, but this bag is also smaller overall so it doesn’t take up as much space. If you’re specifically looking for something on the smaller end, this fits the bill.
The Pop Quiz comes in a ton of different color options. So you can easily find one that fits your own personal style. It’s also got a front pocket that has mesh organizers on the inside for keeping anything from your pens and pencils to other small gear neat and tidy.
There’s a padded laptop sleeve in this bag as well. So there’s no worries about not having a proper place to put it. Lastly, it also has waterproof zipper detail. Which means water shouldn’t be slipping through the cracks and getting your stuff wet.
Fjallraven Kanken Laptop 15
- Price: $119.95
- Where To Buy: Amazon, Nordstrom, Moosejaw, EMS, Zappos, Bloomingdales
Fjallraven is on this list once more, this time with the Kanken 15 laptop backpack. As the name implies this comes with a specialized compartment for your laptop so it has a safe place to be stored.
It also has a more boxy shape than the Raven 28, which may be more your style. This is a smaller pack though, as it sits at 18L so you may want to consider that if you want something with as much as space as possible. But, even with what is probably some of the least amount of space of every bag on this list, it’s still one of the best backpacks for back to school.
Like the Raven 28, and many other Fjallraven bags, this one comes in a lot of different colors. And just in case you get caught out in the rain it has a two-way zipper with a rain flap. Not to mention it’s designed to be ergonomic so it has more support for your back and shoulders.
It’s got the carry handle up top too, and it’s dirt resistant, water resistant, and easy to wipe clean if it ever gets a little dirty.
- Price: From $127.87
- Where To Buy: Amazon, B&H, Office Depot, Adorama
Incase makes a lot of different bags for more than just back to school, and the Icon is one of the best ones the company offers. It’s fairly inexpensive for what you get, retailing at $80. But it still uses high-quality materials and streamlined, functional storage pockets for your laptops and more.
It has a dedicated laptop pocket that’s padded and fits up to a 16-inch MacBook Pro. So it should easily fit most 15-inch laptops of any platform.
The Incase ICON is definitely designed to last a long time thanks to its durable materials and build. But, it uses 840D nylon and isn’t stated to be waterproof or even water resistant. So this might not be the best choice if you want something that is more likely to hold up in the rain.
That being said, it should be great for just about any normal weather conditions. And, it of course comes in a handful of different color options.
JanSport Big Student Backpack
- Price: From $50
- Where To Buy: Amazon, Kohl’s, Staples, Target, Macy’s
If you don’t need anything fancy and you’d rather just get something that you know will get the job done, look no further than the Big Student backpack from JanSport, which is still one of the best backpacks for back to school even if it isn’t the most stylish.
It has pockets for every single thing you could possibly need for class. From a large main compartment for all your books, a 15-inch laptop compartment, a water bottle pouch on the side and more.
Keep in mind this is about as basic as backpacks get. So while it is fairly inexpensive, you’re giving up a few things. The backpack is made of 100% polyester, and it’s not exactly waterproof. So you’ll probably have to take some extra steps to ensure nothing on the inside gets wet.
If water is the least of your worries though, this thing has pockets. So many pockets. There’s the two large compartments plus the laptop compartment, and three front pockets alongside the water bottle pouch on the side. Not to mention of the other small pockets and organizational compartments on the inside of the larger ones.
Chances are you won’t run into issues storing anything in this bad boy. And again, lots of colors (and even some fun designs) to choose from.
The North Face Jester
- Price: From $68.95
- Where To Buy: Amazon, Zappos, Nordstrom, Bass Pro Shop, Cabela’s, Moosejaw
The Jester pack from The North Face is another great option and one of the best backpacks for back to school. While not breaking the bank seeing as you can pick one up for around $56, it has quite of a bit room for all your things.
That includes a 15-inch laptop sleeve that’s padded and prepared to protect it. In addition there’s the simple, yet extremely useful draw strings on the front that you can use to store just about anything. Your jacket, a yoga mat, a lunch bag, you name it. If it can fit behind those draw strings and be cinched down, you can store it there.
The benefit of this is you won’t have to take up precious space in any of the pockets. Which you could then use for other stuff that isn’t as easy to pack down and squish so it fits on the outside. There’s two water bottle pouches, one on each side of the pack, and plenty of fun colors.
In total there’s 28L of space, so a lot of room for most students.
Timbuk2 Authority Laptop Backpack
- Price: $159
- Where To Buy: Timbuk2
Timbuk2 specializes in mostly cycling bags and gear, but it makes some everyday backpacks that are great for work or school. Case in point, the Authority Laptop Backpack which is perfect for back to school and one of the best options on this list.
To start, this is a laptop backpack so it does have a dedicated pocket to carry your laptop. The laptop sleeve will fit up to 17-inch laptops too. And, like all Timbuk2 bags, this has a lifetime warranty. So if anything ever does go wrong with it at no fault of your own, it should be pretty easy to get a replacement.
It has a removable sternum strap which is a great feature that many bags don’t carry. They either have sternum straps or they don’t. But not as often do you get a bag that lets you have it both ways. There’s also reflective tape under the compression straps. Making you easier to see at night should be you walking or cycling home from class.
And one theme you can probably guess is recurring with our picks, is that the Authority bag is available in numerous colors.
Herschel Little America Laptop Backpack
- Price: $104.21
- Where To Buy: Amazon, Zappos, Nordstrom
Another brand on this list for a second time is Herschel, not just because the company’s bags are stylish and popular, but because they’re really great bags. This laptop backpack from Herschel has 25L of space and a bunch of room in the main compartment for your books, your water bottle, and a lot more.
There’s an internal media pocket too, which even has a headphone port if you want to plug in wired headphones. Leather straps on the outside help the bag look nice while also keeping the flaps secured. And the outside material of the bag is a mix of nylon and polyester.
The North Face Recon
- Price: 98.95
- Where To Buy: Amazon, Zappos, Moosejaw
We picked the Recon classic pack from The North Face because it’s a tested pack that will provide everything you need for storing your back to school essentials. And look good while doing it. Plus, this pack comes in so many color options you might find it a challenge to decide on which one you like best.
In terms of features there’s a large main compartment with 30L of space. There’s also a dedicated and padded laptop sleeve to protect your laptop, as well as two side water bottle pouches.
You have compression straps to compress the pockets if needed, and a plethora of other pockets with durable zippers. You also get plenty of padding on the straps as well as on the back, with waist and sternum straps for securing the pack to fit more comfortably and take some weight off your shoulders and back.
Whether it’s for just school or more than that, this is one of the best backpacks you’ll find.
Peak Design Everyday Backpack
- Price: $260
- Where To Buy: Peak Design
Rounding out this list is the Peak Design Everyday Backpack. This one is a little on the pricey side, but 100% worth it because this is probably the best everyday backpack on the planet.
Where do we start. It comes with a lifetime warranty. So if anything on it ever breaks, you guessed it… replacement. It’s weatherproof, so you can wear it out and if it rains down on you, rest assured the stuff inside is safe. The design is such that you can access the main inner compartment either from the top using the flap, or from the sides using the quick-access zipper flaps.
In fact the best part about those flaps is that you can adjust the looseness of one shoulder strap so you can just swing the bag to the side and open the flap pocket without having to take the whole bag off your back. Which is more useful than you’ll realize at first.
Zippers are also designed to be tamper-proof. As is the main flap pocket, which is not only magnetic but it locks in place unless you pull down and out to unlatch the flap. This MagLatch as Peak Design calls it, can even expand the amount of space on the bag from 20L to 23L. Or to 38L if you go for the 30L model.
The bag also has a hidden pocket for things like your wallet, passport, ID and other small but valuable items, as well as FlexFold dividers that are both removable and customizable so you can personalize your organization and storage. And it has a dedicated laptop sleeve as well as a few color options.
While all the bags on this list are great, if you can and want to spend the money, go for the Everyday Backpack. It’s one of the best backpacks out there and probably the best option for back to school.