Best Mini Backpack For School, Hiking, Sports, Work & More 

 May 24, 2023

By  Diane Wuthrich

Mini backpacks are a compact yet stylish way to carry your belongings around. But with so many options out there, how do you choose the right one for you?

There are a few features you should look out for in a mini backpack. It should be of the right size, and well-organized with enough pockets for its purpose. Adjustable straps help make them more comfortable to carry. A good mini backpack is also durable yet stylish.  

Read on below to learn about what to look for when shopping for the best mini backpacks.

What To Look For in the Best Mini Backpack

Mini backpacks are almost half the size of a regular backpack.

Even though they’re smaller and more compact, mini backpack purses are a fashionable way to carry around just the essentials while leaving your hands free. They’re also more lightweight with many designs to choose from to suit any occasion. When you choose the right size for your needs, you might be surprised to find out just how much it can fit.

What exactly should you be looking for in the best mini backpack? Read on below.


Mini backpacks can be used for many occasions: everyday use, school, work, sports, and travel. Having a good idea of when and where you intend to use your mini backpack is an important factor that will influence the size and style you choose.

Work and school mini backpacks may be larger in size compared to those for daily and travel use. It all depends on what you need to carry for the purpose you’re buying it.


A backpack’s capacity can range from 3L up to 10L for it be considered a mini backpack purse. It can range from 9 to 15 inches in length. There’s no right or wrong capacity for a mini backpack, as long as it has room for the belongings you need.

For example, a 5L mini backpack purse can hold enough belongings for an errand day. These may include your wallet, keys, mobile phone, and tissue.

On the other hand, you may be looking for a slightly larger mini backpack for work which can also hold snacks and a sweater.  In this case, you may be better off with a pack that can hold 12-15L.


Mini backpacks vary in terms of organizational features and compartments. Some don’t have any other pocket aside from the main compartment, while others will have one exterior pocket and one interior pocket for storing your smaller belongings.

Front or exterior pockets come in handy for items you need quick access to. Secret pockets are also helpful for travel or commuting, as they provide an added layer of protection against pickpockets.

If you need a mini backpack that’s on the larger end of the spectrum, having at least two pockets either inside or outside will help you stay organized. It would be ideal to segregate smaller and larger items by keeping them separated. This helps especially if you intend to carry a tablet and other electronics.

A mini backpack that will also be used for travel can help you organize your travel documents. Smaller interior or exterior pockets are a convenient place to keep your passports, boarding pass, and other documents. Side pockets also come in handy for small water bottles and other items.

Adjustable Straps

The ability to adjust shoulder straps is an important feature. It will ensure comfort by distributing weight evenly and enabling you to adjust how snug or loose you’d like to carry your mini backpack, depending on how heavy or light it is.

Generally speaking, wide and padded shoulder straps are always recommended for comfort. However, if you are going to use a small backpack under 8L, you won’t be carrying very much in your pack and it’s alright to go with narrow backpack straps.


There are a few ways you can determine the durability of a mini backpack. Knowing how durable it is will help you manage your expectations on its longevity, and the best way you should use it.


Different kinds of fabrics used in backpacks have varying degrees of durability. Below are some of the most durable and long-lasting backpack materials:

  • Nylon
  • Ripstop nylon
  • Ballistic nylon
  • Cordura
  • Polyester
  • Canvas
  • Cotton
  • Oxford
  • Leather
  • Vegan leather
  • Neoprene

Stitch Quality

How well a backpack is stitched together can determine how long it will last. Quality stitching is especially important in the shoulder straps because this part of the pack is subject to the most wear and weight.

Look for straps that have dense, clean stitches without overlapping. 

Zipper Quality

If you are investing in a bag with zippers, go with a trusted and reliable brand. A faulty zipper is a nuisance and can compromise the safety of your belongings. Look for bags made with YKK zippers, a world-famous zipper brand that is renowned for durability and longevity.

Hardware Quality

Metal hardware will always outlast plastic hardware, so this is an important consideration when choosing your backpack.


Mini backpacks are seen as a fun way to carry your things around.

Having said that, they are designed to be stylish and fashionable. There are endless colors, prints, and materials to choose from. Depending on how often you intend to use it, you can opt for any design and color that complements your style and personality.

You may also want to think about where you plan to use your mini backpack. For travel, you may want to consider a more rugged and durable design while for daily errands, you can go with leather and other elegant fabrics. For evening use, you can go with formal and elegant fabrics, even fun colors with glitter, rhinestones, gold and silver trim, and polka dot prints!

On the other hand, a mini backpack for work should look professional and come in neutral colors such as black, white, grey, brown, navy, or beige. Meanwhile, one for school could be in any color provided that it complies with the dress code.

Other Features to Consider

Here are other considerations to think about when looking around for the best mini backpack purse for your needs:


Most mini backpacks are lightweight, though some can be heavier because of its features or the materials used. To ensure comfort while in use especially if you intend to pack tablets and other gadgets, opt for a mini backpack with a solid frame that weighs under 2 pounds if possible.

Top Handle

The versatility of being able to carry your backpack by hand thanks to the presence of a top handle is an added benefit for many people.

Waterproof Material

For travel and sports use, waterproof or water resistant fabrics are beneficial. This will give you peace of mind that your belongings will stay dry even when exposed to water or the rain.


Reputable backpack brands usually provide a warranty for mini backpacks. It’s an assurance of quality as well as a guarantee from the manufacturer that the bag will be replaced or at least fixed in the event that it breaks down or arrives with a defect. Generally speaking, the longer the warranty is, the better.

Padded Interior Pockets

If you plan on packing a laptop or tablet in your mini backpack, the presence of a padded sleeve will keep your gadgets protected. These give extra protection from falls and shocks, as well as from sharp objects within your pack.

Our Recommendations for the Best Mini Backpacks

Shopping around for the best mini backpack can be daunting with all the choices out there. Below are some popular models on the market that you may want to consider, and the reasons why: 

Best Mini Backpack for Everyday

Fjallraven Kanken Mini Backpack: Swedish brand Fjallraven has managed to design a backpack that is as cute as it is practical. The Fjallraven Kanken backpacks have been around since 1978, and their cult following only continues to grow globally. The mini is no different – only a smaller version of the well-loved backpack.

Kanken Mini

The Fjallraven Kanken Mini Backpack is a classic piece that comes in dozens of colors. Though originally designed for preschool kids, the timeless style is widely used by adults around the world. The 7L capacity makes this backpack purse perfect for errands, travel, and a day out.

It comes with adjustable shoulder straps that can be comfortably worn by adults. The Fjallraven Kanken Mini Backpack is made with a lightweight Vinylon F fabric, known for its durability even when exposed to wear and tear. Vinylon F fabric is also water-resistant and quick drying.

The large zipper opening makes it easy to pack and unpack. Reach for your belongings without having to rummage through everything thanks to the presence of two pockets plus a zippered exterior compartment.

Best Mini Backpack for Travel

Herschel Nova Mini Backpack: The Herschel Nova Mini Backpack is a unisex accessory that comes in 9L (mini) and 14L (small), smaller versions of the original 18L. Its classic silhouette makes this one of the most versatile mini backpacks which you can take everywhere.

herschel mini nova backpack

This backpack was designed to last many years thanks to its durable polyester construction. The internal storage sleeve can fit a small tablet, your journal, or some books. Meanwhile, the front

zippered pocket is just right for storing your wallet, mobile phone, keys, pens, and other smaller items.

In addition, the Herschel Nova Mini Backpack weighs just 12 ounces so even if you’ve packed it up for a day of sightseeing in another country, you might hardly feel it’s even on. The webbing adjusters also add to the comfort level of this pack. Pick it up and carry however you want to: the dual top handles make this bag even more multipurpose than it already is.

Inside, it comes with the signature striped lining that Herschel is known for. Herschel also provides a warranty for all their bags.

Best Mini Backpack for Cycling and Sports

CamelBak Lobo 100oz Hydration Pack: Active lifestyles demand a backpack that won’t weigh you down. The CamelBak Lobo 100oz Hydration Pack is a wonderful mini backpack that supports your sporty endeavors. Its 9L storage capacity plus 3 liter reservoir is ideal for day-long excursions that require you to stay hydrated such as mountain bike and motorbike riding.

camelbak lobo

You can expect quality from CamelBak, an American outdoor product company that specializes in hydration packs. Just like with other backpacks in their line, this mini backpack may be small but is big when it comes to functionality.

This backpack can hold significantly more gear than it looks. Even if you pack it to full capacity, you won’t feel it thanks to the ventilated harness and Air Director back panel, which ensures you feel cool. The adjustable sternum strap comes in handy for a customized fit while contributing to your stability.

The CamelBak Lobo 100oz Hydration Pack has nifty organizational features, helping you locate small items such as patch kits, CO2 cartridges, food, and your mobile phone in order. Bike riders will appreciate the helmet carry feature as well as the reflectivity, for added safety in low light situations.

Best Mini Backpack for the Eco-Conscious

Core Hemp Mini Backpack: For men and women looking for a unique bohemian mini backpack purse, the Core Hemp Mini Backpack is highly recommended. Using this backpack enables you to give back by helping Nepalese women who make it by hand using hemp and cotton materials. It’s also eco-friendly, vegan, and fair-traded.

core hemp mini

This is a great substitute for a tote or handheld purse especially for festivals and other fun events, but it can hold a significant amount of belongings inside the beautiful handmade hemp bag. It’s proof that sustainable accessories are also durable and long lasting. This backpack is easy to maintain; it’s machine-washable too.

Inside, the backpack can fit a 10” laptop or a 10” iPad within the spacious main compartment. On top of that, the bag’s front pocket can also fit other essentials including your keys, wallet, and mobile phone. You can fit all that you need for a fun day of adventure within this pack.

Weighing just 11.04 ounces, and with dimensions of 11.3 x 10 x 6.5, the Core Hemp Mini Backpack is the ideal mini backpack size for all your exciting activities.

Best Mini Backpack for the City

Kipling Delia Mini Backpack: Kipling is one of the most innovative bag brands in the world, having been around since the early 1990’s. The Delia Mini Backpack is no different: it changes how you carry your things stylishly around town in this gorgeous small backpack purse.

kipling delia mini

Featuring the signature Kipling logo on the front, this lightweight bag has a volume capacity of 8 liters. It weighs just 0.36kg but it can fit all your needs for meeting friends in the city. Two elastic side pockets come in handy for a water bottle or other items, while the water repellent fabric keeps your goods dry in the event of an unforeseen downpour.

The Kipling Delia Backpack has two front pockets for easy organization of your belongings. They have thoughtfully used wide, padded shoulder straps which are always a big bonus when it comes to comfort; even if you have to walk around for hours, your shoulders and back will thank you. The backpack comes in fun colors that make it suitable for teens and adults.

Best Mini Back for School or Work

Samsonite Modern Utility Mini Laptop Backpack: Students and professionals can rely on this mini backpack brought to you by one of the best luggage brands in the world. Samsonite’s dedication to quality is evident in the workmanship and features of the Modern Utility Mini Laptop Backpack.

samsonite modern utility

Constructed with tough rip stop polyester, this is a mini backpack that can withstand serious wear and tear. It’s also resistant to scratches and tears due to the use of extra strength ripstop fibers. Store your laptop safely inside in its padded compartment which protects it from any accidental shocks that might happen during travels or your commute.

The Samsonite Modern Utility Mini Laptop Backpack is equipped with several smaller pockets inside and outside the bag. No one has time to rummage through a backpack when you have a busy day ahead of you, so let this backpack help you stay on top of organization. With dimensions of 15.5 x 10.75 x 6.0 inches, this is clearly on the larger end of the mini backpack spectrum but still more compact compared to other laptop backpacks.


There are so many excellent mini backpack models out there. This guide can help you choose the best mini backpack for your needs, though remember – understanding the purpose of its use will help you narrow down your options efficiently. 

And, if you haven't already found the perfect mini backpack you can use our comparision tool to find a mini backpack that's right for you.

About the author

Diane is our head writer and researcher for our backpack informational content. Her everyday carry is a Herschel.

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