Why use a backpack for commuting? If you’ve pondered this question, we don’t blame you at all. After all, weren’t backpacks reserved for the students (and the studious, at that!) and the backpackers? Yep, they were, but the humble backpack has come a long way from being reserved for use by specific groups to becoming a functional part of life. Backpacks today are stylish, functional, durable and engineered for specific purposes, making them the go-to choice over other forms of baggage such as purses, sling bags, messenger bags, duffel bags, and suitcases.

Additionally, your body will thank you for it; backpacks evenly distribute all the weight carried, and they do so over the strongest muscles of your body – the back and shoulder muscles. Single-shoulder bags, such as sling bags, duffels, and messenger bags, resulting in the weight being borne only on one side of your body, forcing you to counterbalance by twisting and straining against the weight.

As you can guess, this is highly unhealthy, leading to pain and stress on certain parts of your body, and of course, a killer backache, especially with heavy loads. Add to that shoulder pain, neck pain, injuries from improperly balanced bags (such as tipping over or falling), the risk of pinched nerves (leading to numb arms because of the interference in your blood circulation) and long-term nerve damage due to repeated stress on the same part of your body, and you’ll be switching over to backpacks in an instant.

In addition to being healthy and more stable, having a backpack will also give you the following advantages.

  • Comfort: The double-strap design of backpacks is engineered for comfort; these straps evenly distribute the weight of the backpack across your shoulders and back. Add to that features such as foam-padded straps and hip belts with adjustable lengths, ventilated air mesh and contoured back panels and sternum straps, and it can hardly get more comfortable than this! This is especially important when having to carry heavy loads for long distances or long periods, as commuters do, whether by riding, running or walking. A comfortable backpack makes doing so easier while also protecting your back.
  • Safety: The threat of pickpockets and thieves is very real, especially if your daily commute involves traveling on a crowded train or bus or even waiting at crowded places such as the subway and bus stations. Backpacks today come equipped with tons of safety features such as built-in locks, anti-slash fabric construction, locks for zippers, hidden compartments and even GPS tracking, making them one of the most secure options out there for carrying your belongings, especially while commuting.
  • Durability: A good quality backpack will easily last you 3-5 years, with the right usage and treatment (by which we mean “don’t buy a 20-liter backpack and use it like it’s capable of 28 liters!”). Because of their durability, backpacks tend to be one-time investments; they’re also generally backed by great warranties and guarantees from the manufacturers.
  • Organization: Commuter backpacks come equipped with multiple storage compartments and pouches, each designed for a specific purpose/belonging, which makes it so much easier to efficiently organize your belongings and store them within the bag, instead of having to put your hand into a vast black hole and finding that pencil you were looking for, amid last week’s lunch that you forgot to throw, your gym socks, your books, your gadgets, the molten M&Ms and the spare change, nearly 20 minutes and 13 tries later.
  • Space: Remember how space is always a good thing? Well, that applies to bags too and backpacks are some of the most spacious baggage options out there, letting you store more yet stress your body less.

Along with the aforementioned features, backpacks are also extremely stylish, belong just as well in a party as they do at work or commute and are low maintenance. They’re also versatile; your commute backpack can also double up as a travel backpack if you need it to or as an extra pillow, as well as make it through a variety of weather conditions and terrains. They’re also easy to store and you can easily find a space for them either in the overhead cabin on a flight or the back of a crowded bus.

In addition to this, they come with specific compartments for your technology, unlike most other bag options. Lastly (and perhaps the most underrated benefit!), they keep your hands free, letting you either ride, hold on in the subway or use your arms to run or walk; they keep you independent.

That being said, not all backpacks are made perfect – that’s just the Beckhams. A bad backpack (one that requires you to bend forward while lifting or carrying it or digs into your shoulders and back) can have you visiting the emergency room, along with issues in your posture and shoulder, neck and backaches. It could also aggravate already-existing adult issues like arthritis and degenerative neck issues. Not only does the “carry no more than 15% of your body weight (or 20 pounds)” factor matter in this, but the backpack itself, as well.

A backpack that unevenly distributes weight can result in not just backaches (upper and lower), but rounded shoulders, pinched nerves (due to tight and narrow straps), unnatural spinal compression, curved upper backs and injuries from improper balance.

Additionally, though a sweaty back may be inevitable in some cases while carrying a backpack, a well-ventilated backpack can lower the sweat levels; however, there isn’t such an easy solution to wrinkled clothes and decimated bank balances (with regard to some models and brands!).

How to Pick the Right Commuter Backpack

While choosing the ideal backpack for your commute, it will help to keep the following points in mind.

  • Mode of Transportation: Though commuter backpacks are meant for commute, one size doesn’t fit all. Different modes of transportation may require different characteristics in commuter backpacks. For example, bikers and walkers should look for durable, lightweight backpacks that are easy to carry and can withstand any type of weather, as well as features such as straps and belts to keep the bag secure. Subway commute may call for anti-theft backpacks.
  • Features: As mentioned, a good backpack should have sufficient pockets and compartments to store your belongings so that they don’t become a mess inside. They should also be protected from any damage, which is made possible by compartments such as laptop sleeves and phone pockets.
  • Comfort: Look for a backpack you’re comfortable carrying every day; also, ensure you pay attention to the fabric as some fabrics are heavier and lend unnecessary weight to the commuter backpack. Features such as ventilated back panels (for breathability) and thick padding (for protection against weather conditions like heavy rains and thunderstorms and preventing items in your backpack from poking or rubbing against your back) are also great in a commuter backpack.
  • Activities: By this, we mean that you should determine what activity or purpose you’re using your backpack for, as this determines the kind of backpack that you have to buy. A big backpack is great for cross country or international travel, while lightweight, small and well-padded backpacks are great for small commutes and bike riders.

Therefore, a good commuter backpack, whether it’s a bike commuter backpack or a run commute backpack or just a normal commuter backpack, is highly essential to not just make your commute a whole lot easier, but also fulfill any individual expectations that you may have of it. Our best commuter backpack picks are just as equipped to handle the hustle and bustle of city life as they are to handle adventurous treks in the wild!


A good backpack is underrated only till you experience its efficiency; you’ll never settle for anything lesser once you’ve experienced it, and we believe that our picks are some of the best commuter backpacks. Though they may be differently styled and come with some unique and some general features, they’re all designed to withstand the bustle of city life and commute, whatever mode you choose.

Some of these backpacks are also extremely versatile and can double up as work or travel backpacks; it all depends on how, where and when you wish to use your backpack.

Given the variety of backpacks out there, you’re sure to find one that suits you perfectly; so don’t settle and look well, unless you urgently require a backpack for whatever reason. There’s a backpack out there for every budget, preference, and purpose, so put in the required research to ensure that the vast selection doesn’t overwhelm you. Be clear with your purpose and expectations to find results faster.

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