Finding the perfect work backpack is a whole other ball game. Not only does your backpack have to fit in everything from your laptop to your lunch bag, but it has to do so while keeping you looking professional and workplace ready the entire time! After all, you can’t afford to get to the office with half your belongings spilling out and patches of sweat all over your body, can you?
Therefore, finding a backpack that ticks all the boxes of comfort, versatility, ease of carrying, good ventilation and efficiency can be quite the Herculean task. While many lucky folks have managed to somehow keep it together with their backpacks or have found “The One” for them in the backpack world, most of us are still en route to completing the aforementioned task!
So how does one find a backpack that strikes the right functional-practical-yet-stylish balance while making you look equally good at the workplace as well the after-hours parties and dinners?
Fear not, because we’ve got your back, with our bad puns, a guide to buying the best backpack for work, and our top 10 best work backpack picks. If you pay attention, by the end of this read, you’ll be evaluating backpacks like a pro and be more than equipped to pick out the best backpack (for you) to be your work buddy. Let’s get to it!
Table of Contents
Timbuk2 The Authority Pack
Chrome Industries Echo Bravo Laptop Backpack
Tumi Voyageur Carson Laptop Backpack
Knomo Luggage Beauchamp Business Backpack
JanSport Interface Laptop Backpack
Fjallraven - Raven 28 Backpack
Thule Accent Backpack
The North Face Pivoter Backpack
Herschel Supply Co. Dawson
Carhartt Legacy Standard Work Backpack
This San Francisco-based company’s funky yet functional nature reflects in its backpacks which, as Timbuk2 claims, let you “dork out on the inside and stay cool and collected on the outside”. Perfect for the professional who’s the very image of efficiency and professionalism at the workplace but loves to let their hair down after hours, the Timbuk2 Authority Pack is high quality, urbane, durable, stylish, professional-looking and functional, while also somehow managing to look super fun (there’s just no other word to describe it!).
One of the main benefits of the Timbuk2 Authority Pack is the many organizational features it’s equipped with, making it the perfect school and work backpack. Sturdy and durable, it combines the convenience of a laptop bag and messenger bag but is more convenient than the former and easier to carry than the latter.
High-quality and efficient, the backpack is ideal for everyday activities and is also perfectly-sized in a way that fits all your belongings comfortably but doesn’t become too big, bulky or heavy to carry even at full capacity; it retains its lightweight nature even at full capacity.
Like all the other featured work backpacks so far, the Timbuk2 the Authority Pack comes with its own set of flaws, which by comparison, seem more significant than the minor flaws on other backpacks. For this reason (and considering the slightly high price), we would highly recommend that you carefully consider the backpack’s pros and cons and go through customer reviews, if you intend to buy this backpack.
However, if you’re someone who doesn’t mind the relative smallness of the bag, the fact that it cannot stand on its own and aren’t too picky about organizing your belongings, this backpack is a great buy!
Chrome Industries had its humble beginnings where the company started off with nothing more than salvaged spare parts and a Juki sewing machine to make its first bag; two decades later, the company is a titan in the baggage industry! Finding freedom through limitations, the company focuses on providing quality bags that are more functional than fashionable, believing that it isn’t more stuff that’s needed, but better stuff that uses lesser resources; a belief that’s reflected in the Echo Bravo Laptop Backpack Commuter Pack, minimal in design but high on performance.
The Echo Bravo comes with a roll-top closure that lets you increase storage space any time that you should require it. This, along with the already-present storage space that the bag offers, means that you could easily pack for a week-long trip if required! Additionally, the many pockets and sub-compartments help to easily organize belongings, without having you rummage in your bag endlessly when you have to take out an item.
The bag is also extremely comfortable, with strap adjusters and chest clips that can be customized for the fit you want. The foam-padded back ensures that any heat is dissipated, minimizing sweat to a great extent. Therefore, the backpack is a great option for work but is as good an option for daily commute as well, especially given the durability of the Cordura!
Chrome Industries is a company that has a high standing and reputation in the luggage industry, something it can’t have gained by offering substandard products to its customers. Therefore, it’s only natural to assume that the Echo Bravo Laptop Backpack Commuter Pack is high on quality, performance, durability, and comfort - and it proves that it is!
With tons of positive customer reviews and recommendations, the Echo Bravo Laptop Backpack emerges as an extremely worthy contender for the title of the “best work backpack”. Even if it doesn’t win the title (it is slightly pricey, among its other flaws), it’s still among the best backpacks for work available in the market, considering its many great features.
Spacious and roomy enough to carry all your daily essentials and then some, the Tumi Voyageur Carson Laptop Backpack is one of the best work backpacks out there, putting practicality and style together in a hard-to-beat combination. Lightweight, comfortable and durable, the backpack’s functionality doesn’t come at the cost of its stylishness and its many features make it a nearly-perfect work backpack.
If you’re someone who frequently travels, this backpack is sure to be a great addition to your travel luggage. With the option to add a bag, there’s plenty of space(and then some!) to pack all your belongings and multiple pockets to store them efficiently and in designated spaces, so you’re not at a loss when you have to reach for an item. Additionally, it’s lightweight, which makes it easy to carry around and handle.
One of the other great benefits of buying this backpack is complimentary access to the Tumi Tracer program, a program where the company traces any Tumi luggage that you lose or is stolen from you. This not only shows the brand’s efficiency but their focus on their customers’ happiness and satisfaction. Chic, functional and durable, the Voyageur is a great pick for those constantly on the go!
In our opinion, the Tumi Voyageur is a classic work backpack; it ticks all the right boxes and provides great comfort, durability and value for money. It does have its flaws; however, these don’t take away from the backpack’s quality, functionality and stylishness and can be forgiven and worked around. Overall, one of the best backpacks for work that you can buy!
Since 2004, Knomo has been making the lives of women (and men) easier with their beautiful backpack offerings that are super chic in appearance and super smart in terms of functionality - a perfect workplace fit.
The Knomo Luggage Beauchamp, the company’s “classic” (as claimed by the manufacturers), is all kinds of sleek, sexy and modern, with a durability that’s hard to beat and the ability to look just as perfect in the workplace as it does in classy dinners, the gym, or fun parties. Quite the champ when it comes to security, with RFID-protected pockets, hidden pockets, and high-quality zip closures, your belongings are as secure as possible against thieves as they are against splashes, thanks to splash-resistant fabric construction. This not only makes the backpack a great pick for travel and work but also a great pick for commute, especially crowded commute such as trains and the subway/ metro.
As with the Tumi Voyageur, customers get a unique ID with each backpack that lets them trace the backpack in case it goes missing (whether lost or stolen).
With a classy exterior and smart interior, the Knomo Luggage Beauchamp Business Backpack fulfills its purpose very satisfyingly, which explains the songs of praise that have been sung for it by the buyers of the backpack. Lightweight yet spacious, stylish yet functional and extremely secure, the backpack has an unbelievable price and more than provides great value for your money. With this work backpack, we predict with full conviction that you’re going to have luggage issues “Knomo”.
A highly trusted and reputed brand that’s been conquering the world of luggage since 1967, JanSport enjoys a loyal customer base across the world. Unsurprising, considering the high quality and advanced nature of their products that reflect the company’s superior experience. The JanSport JS0A3EN33D6 Interface Laptop Backpack is no exception; its cryptic name is the only hard thing to deal with in this great backpack for work.
Sleek and modern, this JanSport backpack is extremely digital-friendly and comes with a range of appealing features that convince us of its investment worthiness! Durable fabric, straps and zippers, fun colors to reflect a range of style preferences, lifetime warranty, and great performance — what more could we want? Whether it’s your first day of school or your first interview, making a great impression without compromising on functionality is assured with the JanSport Interface Laptop Backpack!
Its 2 compartments ensure more specialized storage space, as do the multiple storage pockets. The padded back and shoulder straps ensure comfort, whereas durability is assured thanks to features like the coated-abrasion bottom and water-resistant fabric. Additionally, if a lifetime warranty is anything to go by, the backpack is designed to last you a lifetime; the warranty indicates the brand’s expectation of its product’s life as well as their faith in its durability.
It isn’t just this backpack’s price tag that’s hard to beat; the comfort, versatility, and quality that it provides are also quite a challenge for competitors to overcome! The backpack provides more than is expected of its price tag, for which we’d easily forgive its few minor cons in a heartbeat!
Minimal, durable and designed specifically for hardcore daily use, the Fjallraven Raven 28 Backpack boasts a G-1ooo HeavyDuty Eco material composition that enables it to be the durable monster that it is. Even better, the material is made of recycled polyester and organic cotton; eco-friendly for the win! With multiple pockets for storage and organization and plenty of room to fit in all your essentials and then some, the Raven 28 is comfort and functionality embodied.
A good backpack that can comfortably carry all your belongings is a must, especially if you’re someone who always carries around a lot of tech or work remotely and need to carry your office with you. But that doesn’t mean you want a bag that just fits this; it should have sufficient room for other non-work essentials too. Well, the Fjallraven Raven 28 is exactly that!
With 28 liters of storage space, the bag is spacious, comfortable and durable, with a construction that’s wind, water, and sun resistant. This quality, along with the material’s high durability, makes it a highly versatile backpack that’s equally suited for work, commute, travel and outdoor activities. It’s also extremely comfortable and can be carried around for long periods without so much as breaking a sweat, thanks to its padded straps and back panel.
An awesome offering from an awesome company, the Fjallraven Raven 28 backpack is all kinds of comfy, durable and attractive. Few things can boast of the durability that this backpack’s G-1000-material construction boasts of. Add to that the eco-friendliness and we can safely say our hearts have been stolen (eco-friendliness is the need of the hour, folks). Exaggeration aside, this work backpack promises to be stylish yet functional, extremely comfortable and last you for a long time to come.
The Thule Accent Backpack is one helluva looker; with sleek, clean lines, minimal design and a very compact and professional look, getting your boss’ attention should be no problem. Available in a range of sizes, this classy backpack can be just as great for traveling and daily commuting as it is at the workplace.
To say that the Thule Accent Backpack can hold a lot is a gross understatement — the backpack can fit in everything from your tablet to your headphones to your camera to your laptop to your books and still have space for that pair of shoes and that scarf you can’t bear to leave behind. This spaciousness means that you could just as easily use this backpack as a travel backpack, as you would as a work backpack. Additionally, it can slide nicely under most seats in airplanes, meaning that you use it as carry-on baggage and skip long lines at the airport.
The backpack, though not particularly lightweight, still doesn’t feel heavy or awkward when you carry it and is equipped with shoulder straps that curve to fit your shoulders; this makes the bag a great option for those with narrow frames as well, as opposed to most other bags that sit awkwardly and can’t be adjusted to suit narrow frames.
At first glance, the Thule Accent Backpack may seem to have a lot of cons, but it has some pretty substantial pros too. Many users have found that the perfect solution is to replace parts or make modifications (such as replacing the zippers and removing the chest strap); this lets them enjoy the backpack’s amazing features and benefits without the annoyance of as many cons as before.
Even in its current state, the backpack has many takers, cons and all; customers have particularly praised the number of pockets the backpack comes with it and the comfort with which you can carry it around. Therefore, the Thule Accent Backpack may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but that doesn’t make it a bad backpack; it’s still a pretty great work backpack to own.
Perfect for the multi-tasking millennials of today, the North Face Pivoter Backpack makes it as easy as “A, B, C” to juggle a hectic daily schedule, with its multiple compartments, outstanding features, and a great price tag! An offering from one of the best companies in the luggage and clothing space, it’s no wonder that many deem the North Face Pivoter Backpack to be one of the best backpacks for work.
A no-frills, practical backpack that’s supremely simplistic but doesn’t compromise on its comfort or durability, the North Face Pivoter, though minimal and maybe even basic by comparison, gets the job done efficiently and can easily stand any test of time that more expensive backpacks can.
One of the best parts about the backpack is its great fit, which also ensures that the weight of the pack is evenly distributed and any discomfort minimized. It’s also extremely spacious yet lightweight; due to this, the backpack is as great an option for bikers as it is for work or those looking for an efficient laptop backpack.
Despite its cons, the North Face Pivoter Backpack shows signs of promise when it comes to being a great work backpack. However, that doesn’t go to say that the cons should be ignored; some of the cons, such as the bag’s structure and space issues, should be paid attention to.
While these cons don’t necessarily make the backpack a bad option, they do take away from the backpack’s general suitability; its cons may make it only suited to those who don’t mind space constraints and the lack of many organization pouches/ pockets. That being said, the backpack is reasonably priced, extremely high quality and durable, and if its cons aren’t a deal-breaker for you, one of the best work backpacks out there.
Though it is more suited to being a travel backpack than a work backpack, the Herschel Supply Co. Dawson backpack pulls off both roles quite efficiently. Built for adventurous souls for whom exploration is the bread and butter of life, this design-driven backpack comes with plenty of storage and minute details that enhance its overall performance to new levels.
The Herschel Dawson Backpack is a versatile backpack designed for everyday use, featuring easy drawstring closure and a magnetic clip to keep your belongings secure. The padded laptop sleep makes it a great option if you’re looking for a laptop backpack, while its spaciousness makes it a great option for travel and work.
The backpack’s signature striped finish makes it identifiable anywhere, so you’ll immediately know which bag’s yours! It’s also engineered for comfort; the padded and contoured straps let you carry heavy loads without breaking a sweat. The extremely durable construction means that this backpack will see you through thick and thin; it also comes with a lifetime warranty, an indication of how long the backpack is supposed to last.
The Dawson backpack is minimal yet stylish and packs a world of comfort, convenience, and functionality into its small frame. Other than the durability issue with the drawstring and the quality issue with the straps, the backpack doesn’t seem to present too much of a problem to users; sizing issues are generally relative.
Once you get past the fabric’s stiffness, the many benefits of the backpack come to the fore, such as the extremely convenient side pocket, durability, spaciousness, stylish design, and its comfort-oriented goodness. A backpack that we would recommend, whether for work, travel, or other daily activities.
The last but in no way the least on our list of the best backpacks for work, the Carhartt Legacy Standard Work Backpack is versatile, durable and functional, allowing you to go anywhere and do anything (as the manufacturers claim!). With an extremely tough 1200D polyester composition, water-repellant features and a base of Duravax, it can hardly get tougher or more durable than this backpack.
This 100% polyester backpack is durable like few other things are, boasting a 1200D polyester, Rain Defender and Duravax construction. This makes it a great option for daily use, able to withstand a barrage of tough conditions; you can stuff it under your car’s seat or throw it into the back of a crowded bus and the backpack will make it through just fine! The multiple pockets in the backpack keep you at your efficient best, with specific pouches and compartments for various belongings.
Additionally, the backpack is lightweight and extremely comfortable to carry, letting you go long hours without feeling the strain on your back and shoulders, whether you’re carrying it to work or school, on your cycle or in a crowded commute.
Many users claim that the Carhartt Legacy Backpack’s quality, organizational efficiency, and comfort are hard to beat; while that may not be the case, it definitely is an indication of the trust and popularity this backpack enjoys among customers. Rated high on durability, sturdiness, and comfort, the versatile backpack shows every sign of lasting you for a long time to come, minor durability-issue exceptions aside. Great for work or school, the Carharrt Legacy Backpack seems a worthy investment, effectively rounding off our list of the best backpacks for work!
A very logical question, we must admit. Why backpacks? Why not messengers bags or duffel bags or briefcases? Well, apart from chiropractors the world over swearing by them, backpacks are more comfortable, versatile and functional than other baggage options, leading to them reclaiming the spotlight once again.
The main reason that backpacks are back is due to how healthy they are for your back, compared to other commuter bags. Backpacks ensure that the weight you carry is evenly distributed over your back and shoulder, two areas that also happen to have the strongest muscles in your body. Bags that force only one side of your body to bear the whole load result in you being forced to strain and twist against the weight to counterbalance, leading to high stress and impact on specific parts of your body.
With a relatively light load, you may just escape the backache yet, but with a heavy load, backaches are as certain as Joaquin Phoenix winning the Oscar for “Joker” (that’s 100%, in our heads at least!). References aside, the risk of a backache is very real with single-strap bags and heavy loads, as is neck pain, shoulder pain and pinched nerves and numbness in your arm due to the interference the stress causes in your blood circulation. Give these symptoms a few years of regular appearances in the same spot and you could be looking at long-term nerve damage.
Long story short, messenger bags and other single-strap commuter bags are only great for carrying off the whole “I’m Jim Halpert from The Office” look and not so much for your body or health!
Backpacks, on the other hand, are more balanced, and as mentioned, distribute the weight more evenly. In addition to this, they also have the following benefits:
In addition to this, they’re also stylish, can be stored easily, keep your hands free, compatible with a range of occasions and clothes, easy to clean and versatile. However, this doesn’t mean that you can get any backpack and expect life to get better. Backpacks are still the reason behind several emergency rooms visits a year in the United States and can also cause postural issues, backaches, shoulder and neck pain (made easier by the long hours of sitting at our desks and the fact that adults are more prone to degenerative neck issues and arthritis than children).
Ideally, you should carry only 15% of your body weight (or less than 20 pounds) and finding a backpack that evenly distributes this weight is important; uneven weight distribution can also result in curved upper backs, lower and upper backaches, rounded shoulders, injuries from improper balance and an unnatural compression in the spine. Tight and narrow straps can also lead to pinched nerves. Impacts on your health apart, backpacks can also make you extremely sweaty (especially the back), wrinkle your OOTD, and cut through your savings as a hot knife cuts through butter.
It is, therefore, important to pick one out a work backpack that meets all these requirements as well as suits your individual needs.
Your search for a work backpack that has the design and professional appeal of a briefcase but the functionality of your old school bag can be easier if you look for the following features in backpacks.
Unlike other commuter bags, the material that your work backpack is made of matters, as some materials tend to have a more professional look to them compared to others (cotton canvas doesn’t really scream “professional” now, does it?). If you’re going to dress for the job, pick materials that have a sophisticated finish, such as leather, a nylon-polyester combination, and variegated and heathered materials such as denim and wool for the experimenters. Keep the color tones neutral and the design minimal, while avoiding materials such as cotton canvas, plastic, and noisy or thin lining.
The backpack you choose must be functional; therefore, look for features such as a padded laptop sleeve and roomy and spacious multiple compartments (preferably a separate main compartment and laptop compartment as well as front and side quick-access pockets). Check if the padding extends all the way to the backpack’s bottom or if there are a few inches between the two; the former is more secure.
You may also want to look for structured backpacks that you can set down without having them crumple up or fall into themselves; not only do these look better and exude a more professional feel, but they are also convenient and let you reach your belongings more easily by holding their shape when you set them down.
Also, stay away from roll-top closures and drawstrings; not only do these exude a slight unprofessional vibe, but they are also less convenient than a U-shaped zip closure. Water-resistance/ waterproofing is a necessity if you don’t want to spend your hard-earned dollars on fixing your ruined-by-rain gadgets.
A backpack that is lightweight yet spacious may sound like a contradiction, but we assure you that it’s very real. Your work backpack should have enough space to carry all that you want without adversely impacting your back and shoulder; therefore, look for features such as padded and adjustable shoulder straps, light yet durable inner frames and material, and a carry handle for easy portability.
Work backpacks don’t generally come with sternum straps and hip belts (probably for aesthetic reasons), which makes it more essential for the shoulder straps to be adjustable, wide, padded, strongly stitched and sufficiently apart for better and more comfortable weight distribution.
Also, look for a padded back panel (preferably contoured as well) that has a memory foam filling (either EVE/EVA) of mesh padding for additional comfort. Look for breathable materials on the back panel and straps so as to keep the sweating down to its minimum level, even when the backpack is directly against your back (which is the most comfortable way to carry it).
In addition to the aforementioned features, the best backpacks for work are those that are minimally designed (in terms of color, brand logos, and overall design). We understand that style is unique, personal and subjective, but just trust on this one; though prints are cute, they go out of style quickly and make you look younger and less mature in an office environment (if you really want something that isn’t a supposedly boring all black, go for color blocking).
Ensure that the backpack doesn’t have an excessive number of zippers, buckles, and pockets, can double up as a travel bag if required, and is a mix of two or more materials to give it some contrast and uniqueness (in the right proportion, of course).
Though we’ve given you our list of the top 10 best backpacks for work, do remember that this isn’t an exhaustive list. Your backpack needs may be met by one of the products we’ve reviewed or by one that we haven’t; the key is to put in the research and find a backpack that is most suited to you.
The products we’ve reviewed enjoy general popularity and are some of the best quality products available in the market, but one size doesn’t fit all and you may find another backpack to be a better pick, and given the variety of options available in the market, we’re sure you’ll find what you’re looking for, so don’t settle! Additionally, as mentioned earlier, backpacks are generally one-off investments, so don’t be afraid to shell out for a quality backpack (within your budget, of course!); better that than having to continuously shell out for low-quality products that you need to keep repairing or replacing.
Other than that, just remember our pointers on what to look for in a good backpack and open your arms out to welcome the amazing convenience and goodness that backpacks bring with them!