Best Backpacks for Work (2020): Reviews & Comparison

  • April 6, 2020
  • / By Keith Terrell
Woman Using a Laptop

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?

Woman Using a Laptop

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!

Timbuk2 The Authority Pack

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!).

Timbuk2 the Authority Pack

Source: timbuk2.com

Features

  • Tuck-away sternum straps
  • Back panel with air mesh
  • Super-cushioned grab handle
  • Fabric base
  • A padded laptop sleeve that can fit a 17-inch laptop
  • YKK zippers
  • Volume capacity of 28 liters
  • Padded and adjustable shoulder straps
  • Removable sternum straps for comfort
  • Equipped with compression straps
  • 100% Other-Fibers construction
  • Equipped with a neoprene stretch pocket for water bottles on the side
  • Organizer in the main compartment’s interior for phones, pens, and small items
  • Equipped with a key fob
  • Overall dimensions: 18.1 x 5.9 x 10.2 inches
  • Weight of 2.4 pounds
  • Available in 8 colors (fog, twilight, jet black, jet black static, moss, storm, oxide heather and nautical)

Benefits

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.

Pros

  • 1-inch suspension gap between the laptop sleeve and the backpack’s bottom for additional protection
  • Compression straps are dual-purpose; you can strap belongings to the outside or compress the bag to make it more compact when it isn’t at full capacity
  • Holds its shape and contours well to the back, even when running
  • Cushioned grab handle for easy lifting
  • Air mesh back panel to keep your back and clothes dry
  • Spacious, especially the laptop compartment which can hold 17-inch laptops instead of the standard 15 inches
  • Extremely durable; some users have used it for years without it showing any signs of wear and also praised the durable zippers
  • Great details, such as stronger buckles on the backpack’s bottom, a hidden compartment in front, little straps to keep bigger straps in place, a separate laptop compartment, and the like

Cons

  • The backpack cannot stand on its own.
  • Not waterproof
  • Some users found the bag to be too small (especially the water bottle compartments), finding it difficult to store bulky items in it especially after putting in a laptop and tablet; this also made it hard to reach the bottom of the compartment.
  • Some users reported a lack of sufficient zippered pockets.
  • Some users with a bigger build found the straps too short and uncomfortable.

Our Verdict

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 Echo Bravo Laptop Backpack Commuter Pack

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.

Chrome Industries Echo Bravo Laptop Backpack

Source: chromeindustries.com

Features

  • Padded and adjustable shoulder straps that are also reflective
  • Nylon shell
  • Tarp liner that’s weatherproof
  • Mounting loops with daisy chains to attach gear
  • Hook-and-loop accessory-equipped mounting shoulder strap (industrial strength hook and loop)
  • Roll-top closure
  • Foam back panel
  • Polyurethane-coated zippers that are waterproof
  • 17-inch padded laptop sleeve
  • Overall dimensions: 19.6 x 14.9 x 3.1 inches
  • Weight of 2.2 pounds
  • Volume capacity of 20 liters
  • Available in black, grey and olive

Benefits

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!

Pros

  • Compact and light, yet highly durable
  • Attractive
  • Reflective straps for night visibility, ensuring better safety
  • The ability to attach gear such as bike lights and carabiners thanks to the mounting loop
  • Comfortable to carry
  • Can be used as a travel backpack as well as a work backpack
  • High-quality construction
  • Spacious, especially the laptop compartment that can accommodate a 17-inch laptop over the standard 15 inches
  • Retains its shape

Cons

  • Insufficient storage pockets
  • Some users found the bag too small.
  • Some users also found the straps too short.
  • The roll-top closure isn’t ideal for workplace usage; it can be inconvenient, time-consuming to open and close, and doesn’t allow for quick access to belongings.

Our Verdict

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.


Tumi Voyageur Carson Laptop Backpack 

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.

TUMI Voyageur Carson Laptop Backpack

Source: tumi.com

Features

  • Zip closure
  • Textile construction with textile lining (nylon)
  • Features a top handle of leather
  • Padded and adjustable shoulder straps
  • Multiple compartments for organizing belongings, including a padded laptop sleeve (ideal for 15-inch laptops), a padded pocket for a tablet, a water-resistant side pocket with zip closure and a quick-access phone pocket with magnetic snap closure
  • An add-a-bag sleeve (a back sleeve that you can slip over extended luggage handles so as to stack more bags on your wheeled luggage, letting you carry more bags with one hand)
  • Access to the Tumi Tracer program
  • Weight of 1.5 pounds
  • Overall dimensions: 17 x 22 x 5.5 inches (shoulder strap is 31 inches)
  • Available in 7 shades (black/gold, black/silver, mink, midnight, port, mink/silver, and sunset)

Benefits

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!

Pros

  • Lightweight yet durable
  • Extremely stylish and chic
  • Water-resistant construction that can withstand heavy rain
  • Access to the Tumi Tracer program, a complimentary program for Tumi customers that helps them recover lost or stolen items
  • Spacious; can fit two laptops if required, along with other daily essentials
  • Easy to clean
  • Can also be used as a travel bag
  • High-quality construction
  • Sturdy and well made

Cons

  • There are no designated water-bottle compartments; you can store water bottles in the outer pockets, but there is no stretchy pocket that is specifically designed to carry water bottles.
  • The front-facing side pocket zippers can be opened easily but cannot be closed without taking the backpack off.
  • Some users have stated that the zippers come off easily, with some zippers already broken when they received the product.
  • An insufficient strap-adjustment facility, according to some users
  • Expensive

Our Verdict

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!


Knomo Luggage Beauchamp Business Backpack

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.

Knomo Luggage Beauchamp Business Backpack

Source: uk.knomo.com

Features

  • A separate designated padded laptop sleeve that can fit a 14-inch laptop
  • RFID-protected pocket for valuable items such as phones, wallets, and passports
  • Touchpoints of full-grain leather
  • A unique Knomo ID with each backpack
  • A front easy-access pocket with 2 zips
  • Padded, adjustable shoulder straps and top handle
  • A hidden pocket in front
  • Padded main compartment with zip closure and pen loops, a detachable D-Ring keychain strap and card-holder slots that are attached to two extra compartments, as well as a smaller pocket with zip closure
  • Nylon-and-leather construction with fabric lining
  • Splash resistant
  • Weight of 1.5 pounds
  • Overall dimensions: 16.5 x 11.5 x 3.7 inches
  • Available only in black

Benefits

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).

Pros

  • Extremely reasonably priced
  • Leather-grain touchpoints provide additional comfort
  • Great value for money
  • Additional protection in the form of RFID-protected pockets
  • Spacious yet lightweight
  • Durable construction
  • Multiple features and pockets for easy organization of belongings
  • Splash resistant and easy to clean, if required
  • Unique Knomo ID to help customers track any lost or stolen items
  • Retains its sleek and slim look even at full capacity

Cons

  • The bag and zippers are not waterproof; they are only “splash-resistant”.
  • No pockets on the side for water bottles
  • Some users found the front pockets too tight, making it difficult to get things in and out of them.
  • Not versatile; can only be used as a work backpack
  • Some users also found the backpack’s construction to be unsatisfying and not worth the price.

Our Verdict

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”.


JanSport JS0A3EN33D6 Interface Laptop Backpack

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.

JANSPORT JS0A3EN33D6 Interface Laptop Backpack

Source: jansport.com

Features

  • 15-inch padded laptop compartment, as well as compartments, pockets, and sleeves for tablets, cords, and chargers
  • Water-resistant and coated-abrasion bottom
  • Padded and adjustable 
  • S-Curve shoulder straps
  • Equipped with a dedicated phone pocket
  • A fully-padded back panel
  • Front easy-access pocket equipped with an organizer panel and a key fob
  • Dual side net pouches for water bottles
  • A V-Loft pocket that is lined with tricot
  • Web-haul handle
  • Lifetime warranty
  • 2 large compartments (one main and one for laptops)
  • Overall dimensions: 19.5 x 12 x 8 inches
  • Weight of 1.2 pounds
  • Available in 8 color and design options (black, black triangle dobby, cherry blossom floral print, geo-block print, navy blue, coated corsair blue, grey, and a white-and-black combination)

Benefits

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.

Pros

  • Extremely lightweight
  • Versatile; can be used by office goers as well as students
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Inexpensive
  • Great value for money
  • Retains its compact shape even at full capacity
  • Weatherproof and highly durable construction
  • Multiple storage pockets and lots of room to carry belongings
  • Very comfortable to carry
  • Excellent customer service

Cons

  • Some users faced issues with the bag’s durability, stating that the shoulder straps came off within a year of usage.
  • Some users were of the opinion that there were insufficient mesh pockets internally to store belongings such as stationery and cards.

Our Verdict

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!


Fjallraven - Raven 28 Backpack

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.

Fjallraven Raven 28 Backpack

Source: fjallraven.com

Features

  • G-1000 HeavyDuty Eco composition (65% recycled polyester and 35% cotton)
  • A padded laptop compartment (can fit a 15-inch laptop), fleece-lined pocket with zip closure for small items, and two large compartments (zip closure) with pockets in the interior to keep belongings organized
  • A pocket in the front with zip closure and two side pockets to store water bottles and other quick-access items
  • Padded and adjustable shoulder straps and padded back panel
  • Top handle with leather grips
  • A frame sheet of foam
  • Water-resistant
  • Volume capacity of 28 liters
  • Overall dimensions: 18.1 x 12.2 x 11 inches
  • Weight of 2.1 pounds
  • Available in 9 colors (black, blue ridge, dark olive, dark sand, deep blue, navy, redwood, storm and super grey)

Benefits

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.

Pros

  • Made of eco-friendly materials
  • Extremely durable; the G-1000 material is an improvement on the original and comes with extra toughness and durability
  • Simple, minimal design with clean lines; aesthetically appealing
  • Spacious and roomy with plenty of easy-to-access pockets for storing and organizing belongings
  • Comfortable to carry
  • Designed for daily use
  • Fleece-lined pockets for additional protection
  • Maintains its sleek and slim look even at full capacity
  • Water-resistant

Cons

  • The laptop compartment isn’t floating and is attached to the bottom of the backpack; this means a direct impact on your laptop if you should accidentally drop it.
  • Prone to getting dirty (easily picks up lint, hair and other dust).
  • Some users found the straps too rough and the backpack too big for their frame (5-foot build).

Our Verdict

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.


Thule Accent Backpack

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.

Thule Accent Backpack

Source: thule.com

Features

  • Has a padded laptop sleeve that can fit a 15-inch MacBook
  • A dedicated padded 10-inch tablet sleeve
  • 1680D polyester construction
  • Safe zone compartment (crush-proof) to protect valuables; a hidden pocket located behind a hard-shell cup that is removable
  • Easy access to the laptop and tablet sleeves via the top-loading compartment as well as the side zipper
  • Side zippered pocket to store small items and a mesh pocket on the other side to store water bottles
  • Quick-access pocket with zip closure
  • Chest strap
  • Volume capacity of 28 liters
  • U-shaped opening
  • Pass-through panel to attach the backpack to rolling luggage
  • Overall Dimensions:2 x 10.2 x 20.1 inches
  • Weight of 2.3 pounds
  • Available in 4 different sizes (20, 23 and 28 liters) and only in black

Benefits

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.

Pros

  • The 1680D polyester composition provides rigidity and stability to the bag.
  • A crush-proof safe zone to protect valuables
  • Convenient packing and unloading thanks to the wide opening (U-shaped)
  • Easy access to laptop and tablet via 2 openings
  • Spacious and roomy
  • Durable
  • Travel made easier by the facility to attach the bag to rolling luggage
  • Meets cabin luggage size guidelines
  • Water-resistant

Cons

  • The zipper handles seem flimsy and prone to breakage.
  • Some users found the bag’s design problematic; the compartment at the top makes the flap of the main compartment heavy, the 3 side zippers are obstructed by a water bottle placed in the side pocket, and access to the main compartment seems complicated.
  • Some users found the quality less satisfying than previous Thule offerings.
  • Some users found that there were insufficient small pockets to store smaller items.

Our Verdict

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.


The North Face Pivoter Backpack

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.

The North Face Pivoter Backpack

Source: thenorthface.com

Features

  • A padded laptop sleeve that can fit a 15-inch laptop
  • Main compartment with a D-Door zip closure
  • An organization panel inside with zip closure and hook-loop pockets
  • A zippered pocket in front for quick-access small items
  • Side mesh pockets for water bottles
  • Extra gear can be attached using daisy chains at the sides
  • A light loop of LED
  • Padded top handle
  • Air-mesh lined padded back panel
  • Equipped with the FlexVent suspension system
  • Shoulder straps that are adjustable and compression-molded
  • Spine channel for extra support
  • Made of a combination of 600D polyester, 300D heather polyester, 600D geo-emboss polyester, and 1200D polyester
  • Overall Dimensions: 8 x 9.5 x 19.5 inches
  • Weight of 1.83 pounds
  • Available in 12 different colors

Benefits

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. 

Pros

  • Spacious and roomy
  • Multiple compartments for storing and organizing belongings.
  • Engineered for comfort with compression-molded shoulder straps, padded back panel, spinal channel, and FlexVent suspension system.
  • Padded top handle for easy lifting.
  • Extremely durable; made of a combination of highly durable polyester.
  • Water and weather resistant.
  • It can stand on its own.
  • A suspension between the backpack’s bottom and laptop sleeve for additional protection.

Cons

  • Some users found the main compartment too small, stating that they faced problems fitting binders and books into it.
  • Some users found the number of internal pockets insufficient.
  • The middle pocket is prone to unzipping on its own and leads to belongings falling out.
  • Some customers found the structure of the backpack to be poor; the laptop compartment is too thin and can barely fit a 15-inch laptop and maybe a cord or a thin notebook.
  • Some users also stated that carrying a laptop in the backpack majorly minimized the other available space; as one user put it, she had to either carry her laptop or her lunch.

Our Verdict

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.


Herschel Supply Co. Dawson

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.

Herschel Dawson Backpack

Source: herschel.com

Features

  • 100% polyester composition
  • Lined with 100% polyester in a signature striped pattern
  • Padded and contoured shoulder straps
  • Hidden draw-cord for closing the backpack; also has magnetic snap closures with metal pin clips
  • Top-loading main compartment
  • Dual pockets in front with leather buckles
  • A padded laptop compartment (can accommodate a laptop of 15 inches)
  • 3 pockets (2 on the exterior and one slip pocket)
  • Overall Dimensions: 8 x 11.2 x 17.5 inches
  • Weight of 1.13 pounds
  • Available in 13 different colors
  • Limited lifetime warranty against manufacturing defects

Benefits

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.

Pros

  • Spacious and roomy
  • Comfortable to carry
  • Limited lifetime warranty
  • Stylish and minimalist design
  • Reasonably priced and provides good value for money
  • Fleece-lined laptop sleeve for extra protection
  • Extremely durable
  • Lightweight
  • Though designed for daily use and activities, is highly versatile

Cons

  • The fabric is stiff.
  • According to some users, there are durability issues with the drawstring; it got frayed and difficult to close within a year of usage.
  • Some users found the bag too small and the straps too uncomfortable and weak.

Our Verdict

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.


Carhartt Legacy Standard Work Backpack

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.

Carhartt Legacy Standard Backpack

Source: carhartt.com

Features

  • A large main compartment
  • Dedicated laptop (15-inch laptop) and tablet sleeves
  • Water repellent (Rain Defender)
  • Made of 1200D polyester
  • Air-mesh back panel that’s padded
  • An organization compartment with zip closure for extra storage space
  • Duravax abrasion-resistant backpack base
  • Two pockets in front with zip closure (includes an organization panel with pen loops, slash pockets, and a key fob) and two side pockets of mesh for water bottles
  • YKK zippers
  • Reinforced with triple-needle stitching
  • Padded shoulder straps (contour fit) equipping with daisy chains
  • Limited warranty against manufacturing defects
  • Weight of 1.4 pounds
  • Overall Dimensions: 12 x 18 x 11 inches
  • Available in black, brown and grey

Benefits

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.

Pros

  • Extremely durable build (1200D polyester and abrasion-resistant base)
  • Water repellent (Rain Defendant exterior)
  • Duravax base ensures that the bag can be set down anywhere and remain upright
  • Well-ventilated back
  • Extremely comfortable to carry
  • Can easily carry extra gear thanks to daisy chains
  • Strongly stitched; well made overall
  • Sturdy construction
  • Versatile; can be used for work and school
  • Excellent customer support

Cons

  • The laptop pouch started to unravel within 2 months of purchase, for some users.
  • The backpack’s base is not durable, according to some users, and there are tears and rips starting to show in the backpack’s corners within a few months of usage (around 5).

Our Verdict

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!


Why Choose a Work Backpack?

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.

Black Backpack on Wooden Table

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:

  • Easy Organization: You can easily organize your belongings better and more efficiently thanks to multiple compartments and pouches that backpacks come with, that serve specific purposes, such as quick-access pockets, laptop sleeves, and tablet sleeves, to name a few. This saves you a lot of time by letting you easily reach your belongings as opposed to hours of digging around for your keys in a single compartment that also holds your lunch, your laptop, those smelly socks you forgot to take out and wash after last week’s gym session, your folders, molten chocolate bars, a change of clothes, the remnants of last afternoon’s lunch and those million other things you don’t need to carry but carry anyway. We repeat, all this in a single compartment. You get the point.
  • Comfortable: Though we’ve already mentioned this, backpacks are designed to be comfortable, with double straps that evenly distribute the bag’s weight across your shoulders and back. In addition to this, backpacks today come equipped with features that are comfort-enhancing, such as sternum straps, padded straps, and hip belts, and adjustable strap lengths, letting you carry them for longer and further.
  • Spacious: Larger than most other daily-use commuter bags, backpacks can fit in more belongings more easily without your back taking a beating!
  • Safe: With features such as zipper locks, anti-slash fabric, built-in locks, hidden compartments, GPS tracking and a ton of other anti-theft features, backpacks are one of the most, if not the most, secure baggage options out there, perfect for transporting and carrying valuable items such as your laptop, iPad, phone and the like.
  • Durable: A good backpack will last you for ages, not just because it’s backed by a great warranty and guarantee but also for its durability, which is why most backpacks are generally a one-time investment.

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.

Picking the Right Backpack for Work

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.

Man Leaving the Building

Material

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.

Functionality

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.

Lightweight and Comfortable

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).

Conclusion

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.

Backpack Contents

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!