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:

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.


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.

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).


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!

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