What Is the Best Backpack With Lots of Pockets? 

 June 17, 2023

By  Diane Wuthrich

Backpacks with lots of pockets and compartments help you stay organized while saving you time as you look for belongings. Having said that, many wonder what are the best backpacks with many pockets.

A good backpack should have pockets for belongings that you need it for. Whether it’s a laptop, water bottle, keys, mobile phone, or cables, pockets should make your gear simple to locate. The backpack should also be comfortable, lightweight, and user-friendly.

There are other things to consider when shopping around for the best backpacks with compartments. Read on below to learn more.

Features Of The Best Backpacks With Lots of Pockets

Backpacks that are equipped with the right pockets are essential for organizing everything. They help make sure that you know where things are when you need them. 

Before you choose a backpack based on its pockets, it’s important to consider the reason you are buying it. Do you need a hiking backpack that has ample compartments for camping and trekking, or do you need a work backpack that keeps your daily essentials safe while you’re on the go?

Understanding the purpose of your backpack can help you determine the style best suited for your needs. 

Here are some examples of when you may need backpacks with pockets:

Hiking Backpacks

Hiking and travel backpacks come in an array of designs and sizes, all with various pockets located in and out of the bag. Travelers often prefer using backpacks as opposed to luggage because it’s more convenient to carry around while keeping your hands free.

These pockets ensure that hikers can easily access equipment and belongings even while out on an adventure. Examples of pockets that are used on hiking backpacks include:

  • Side pockets, usually elasticized, are ideal for storing water bottles that you can easily access for hydrating. Side pockets can also be used to store sandals that you can change to from your hiking boots upon reaching camp, if you are hiking in warm weather.
  • Hip belt pockets are close to the body; these are designed for storing small essentials that you can reach for without having to stop. These may include lip balm, snacks, GPS, or your mobile phone.
  • Front pockets are great for keeping a spare jacket, maps, or your sunglasses. Some backpacks come with front pockets that have even smaller pockets inside them so you can quickly spot things you need.
  • Lid pockets are typically small and designed for keeping flat items like gloves for cold temperatures, a toque, or other travel and hiking essentials.
  • Sleeping bag compartments are usually placed at the bottom of the pack, and designed just to keep a sleeping bag.
  • Rain cover pockets in the bottom panel are typically concealed and made for storing a backpack rain cover.

Laptop Backpacks

Laptop backpacks are a practical way to carry your computer and tech gear as you travel to and from work. They are designed with specialized padded or lined compartments for your laptop, and in some cases have other pockets to sort your electronics and cables. 

Additionally, a good laptop backpack also has a spacious main compartment for carrying anything else you may need for the day. It’s good to consider extra room for a change of clothing, notebooks, snacks, and other personal effects. Smaller pockets will be helpful for pens, keys, your wallet, and mobile phone. 

A USB port comes in handy for many people too. This feature enables you to charge your power bank no matter where you are, discreetly, right from your backpack. 

Some laptop bags are equipped with hidden compartments where you can keep your most valuable items. These are designed to be invisible from the outside, deterring thieves. Other anti-theft features to look for in a laptop backpack include scratch-proof fabric, locks, and hidden zippers that deter thieves. 

If you travel by plane frequently, a backpack that is TSA compliant saves you a lot of time and hassle. These are backpacks with a dedicated laptop compartment which can lay flat on the belt for quick and easy inspection by a TSA officer.

These features greatly add security for any laptop or work backpack.

School Backpacks

School backpacks should have adequate compartments to help students stay organized. 

Backpacks for toddlers and preschoolers should have these pockets:

  • Spacious main compartment that can fit A4 folders
  • Padded laptop or tablet divider
  • Mesh side pockets for water bottles
  • Front pockets for smaller notebooks
  • Small or slit pockets for storing pens, pencils, and other school supplies

Meanwhile, backpacks for older students such as high school and college kids, should contain some or all of these:

  • Padded laptop or tablet compartment
  • Tech pocket for headphones, cables, cords
  • Water bottle pockets
  • Hidden zippered pocket for valuables and keys
  • Front loading pocket for belongings you need easy access to
  • At least one interior pocket, either in the main compartment or front pocket, to neatly organize pens and other school supplies

Backpacks for preschool usually have fewer pockets compared to backpacks for high school and college students, who usually have considerably more to bring to campus. The main compartment of school backpacks should have enough room for books and extra clothing too.

Gym Backpacks

Active individuals have specific needs when it comes to pockets in gym backpacks. For one, it’s always important to separate wet (or used) and dry gym clothes; you may also find it important to have a shoe compartment. At least one Velcro or mesh pocket also comes in handy for helping you see the items inside. 

When shopping around for a gym backpack, consider these pockets:

  • Bottom compartment for bulky gear
  • Shoes compartment
  • At least one water bottle pocket
  • Front pocket for wallet, keys, and mobile phone
  • Front-loading pocket for essentials you need easy access to
  • Padded laptop compartment, if you have to go to and from work or school

Additional Features To Look For

Here is a list of other features to consider as you search around for the best backpack with pockets. Be sure to review these factors in detail too, to ensure you purchase the best possible backpack for your needs:


backpack with lots of pockets should always be comfortable to wear. Comfort should always be something of a priority for any backpack user. Otherwise, it may cause discomfort or injury.

Check for wide, padded shoulder straps because they make it more comfortable even when the bag is full. The padding protects your shoulders and neck, while preventing the straps from digging in. 

Adjustable buckles on shoulder straps are also important. They let you wear the backpack loose and further from the body when the pack isn’t loaded to full capacity, resulting in better airflow for your back. On the other hand, when your backpack is full, adjustable shoulder straps can be used to wear it closer to your body for comfort and stability. 

If you're using your backpack to carry heavy loads, such as for backpacking or hiking, there are additional features to look for. A sternum strap, also known as a chest strap, is effective in stabilizing your load. It also prevents the shoulder straps from falling off your shoulder.

Compression straps are usually found in most large hiking backpacks. They come in a variety of sizes and shapes, but the primary purpose is to make your bag more compact and bring it closer to the frame. Using compression straps results in improved weight distribution, comfort, and overall balance.


The best backpack with lots of pockets should be constructed from durable materials. There are many options to choose from, though you’ll find that most of them are constructed out of either nylon or polyester. 

Nylon is renowned for its durability and water repellence. It has a higher strength-to-weight ratio, which means that it’s stronger but is also light, whereas polyester tends to be heavier. 

Nylon also lasts much longer, so if you’ll be subjecting your pack to serious wear and tear, such as hiking, going on trips, or to the gym, nylon is a much better choice. In addition, the water-resistant properties of this fabric provide protection from the rain and the elements. 

Polyester also has its own advantages. It’s extremely stain-resistant and is easier to clean. Polyester may be a better choice for the gym and for school. 

Canvas is a popular material widely used in many work, school, and everyday backpacks. It’s a strong, eco-friendly option. Many also appreciate the stylish appearance of canvas compared to other fabrics.

If price isn’t an issue, you may want to consider investing in a leather backpack. Authentic leather bags are well-made, sturdy, and designed to last a lifetime. They are elegant and can be used for work, school, and traveling.

User-Friendly Design

Backpacks with lots of pockets are a good choice for organization. However, these pockets must also be user-friendly. This means that accessing your belongings should be easy and hassle-free. 

The truth is that not all backpacks have user-friendly pockets. Some simply make it cumbersome to retrieve your belongings, which beats the purpose of having them in the first place. The good news is that there are a few ways you can tell if compartments are user-friendly.

For one, zippered pockets should glide smoothly without getting caught in fabric. The zippers should also be of a substantial size: not too large, and not too small. Backpacks that use YKK zippers are always recommended because YKK is synonymous with quality zippers.

Two, pockets should be strategically placed. For example, a travel backpack should have smaller pockets either on the exterior or interior where you can store your passport, wallet, and other travel documents. You should be able to reach for these documents with little time and effort, instead of digging through them in your bag.

The location of pockets in a backpack also plays a role in weight distribution. This is important, especially when you are going on long trips such as hiking, traveling, or backpacking. Several pockets strategically placed all around the backpack assist in even distribution of weight. 

Last but not least, there should be the right number of pockets. Too many may only confuse you, while too little doesn’t contribute to proper organization. 


Keep in mind that pockets add weight. Always opt for the lightest possible backpack that also meets your other needs. It also helps to consider your own weight when selecting a backpack based on its weight.

Experts recommend that adults shouldn’t carry a backpack more than 15 to 20% of their total body weight. Kids, on the other hand, shouldn’t carry a backpack that’s more than 10% of their bodyweight. 


The size of a backpack is another thing that should be carefully considered. It might have all the pockets you need to organize your belongings, but if it doesn’t have enough room to comfortably fit the rest of your bigger things, then you aren’t getting your money’s worth.

Generally speaking, the backpack should fit everything you need for without being cumbersome or uncomfortable to carry around. Using a backpack with too much excess space will make it difficult to locate what you need. One that’s too small will not be useful at all.

You can use the guide below as a starting point for determining the right size of backpack to get:

Daypacks or everyday backpacks: 10 to 20 liters, which should be ample space to hold everything you need for the day. If your day bag doubles as a laptop or gym bag, you may need a bigger backpack of up to 30 liters

Laptop backpack: 15 to 30 liters

Hiking backpack: 21 to 30 liters for day hikes, and 36 to 55 liters for multi-day hikes or backpacking trips

Preschool backpack: 10 to 15 liters

High school or college backpacks: 20 to 30 liters


For many, price is the most important factor when purchasing a backpack. Most of the time, you get what you pay for in terms of backpack quality. But the good news is that there are a lot of affordable and durable backpacks these days.

However, if you do have a bigger budget for a bag, you’ll be able to afford a pricier model from a brand that is well-known for its durability, longevity, and wear. If you are expecting to use a backpack every day, such as for school or work, or in rugged conditions, such as for hiking, it’s better to invest in a pricier but well-made bag. Nobody wants to experience the hassle of a backpack tearing at its seams while still in use. 

It’s also advisable to purchase from a brand that offers a warranty, especially if you are shopping for a backpack online. Many recognized backpack brands provide a warranty in case you receive a product with defective features. Just be sure to read the warranty in detail. 

Our Recommendations For The Best Backpacks With Lots Of Pockets

To make your shopping easier, here are some recommendations for backpacks with lots of pockets. These products are popular with our team and also have solid reviews online, though it always helps to read the pros and cons online: 


Gregory Mountain Miwok 32 Hiking BackpackGregory is a brand specializing in outdoor and hiking backpacks that stand the test of time. From mountain biking to alpine and backpacking, Gregory has a functional and stylish bag for your needs.

The Gregory Mountain Miwok 32 is an excellent day hiking backpack. This bag is equipped with just the right amount of storage capacity and several attachments and pockets for everything you’ll need during a day on the trails. It features a soft-touch accessory pocket that protects your valuables from scratches – this is the perfect place to keep your mobile phone and camera.

The Quickstow system on the bag’s harness lets you easily attach your sunglasses for easy reach. A dedicated hydration pocket is also provided; it’s compatible with Gregory’s 3D Hydro reservoir though that has to be purchased separately. Inside, the padded liner protects your valuables while the front stretch mesh pocket is a great place to stow smaller accessories. 

Additionally, it also comes with an attachment option for trekking poles and other tools. This is one of the most comfortable hiking backpacks too: the BioSync dynamic suspension system is designed to move with you instead of obstructing it, so you can be sure this is a bag that gives you the support you need when it comes to organization and comfort. 

For all your adventures in the outdoors, you can trust the Gregory Mountain Miwok 32 Hiking Backpack. 


eBags Pro Slim Jr Laptop BackpackeBags is a maker of versatile laptop backpacks that offer tremendous value for money. They are known for the excellent craftsmanship that goes into each and every backpack. 

The eBags Pro Slim Jr Laptop Backpack is a compact bag that is huge on organization. Inside, the padded computer sleeve can accommodate up to 15” computers. The pass-through sleeve allows you to attach the backpack to any rolling luggage or suitcase with ease.

One of its many excellent features includes the front organizer panel which is filled with a variety of internal pockets where you can organize your toiletries, business cards, wallet, passport, pens, travel documents, mobile phone, and much more. Simply zip it open and you can access your things with ease. It also has a diagonal stash pocket, front vertical exterior zip compartment, and a zippered side pocket for water bottles.

In addition, the eBags Pro Slim Jr Laptop Backpack has a fleece-lined tablet sleeve for your ipad. Anyone who travels or commutes frequently will appreciate the comfort provided by the breathable and padded air-mesh back panel. It also has removable and adjustable sternum straps to ensure the shoulder straps remain in place at all times. 

It’s made from durable polyester and comes in elegant colors. Given its price point, this is an all-around fantastic choice for travel backpacks. 


Vaschy Preschool BackpackVaschy makes stylish yet casual bags and accessories for kids of all ages. This Vaschy Preschool Backpack is the ideal lightweight preschool bag, and it comes in a wide array of designs and vibrant colors for boys and girls.

Your toddlers will always find what they need quickly with the many organizational pockets in this bag. These include easy open and close zipper tags, side pockets for drinks, and a front loading pocket for their smaller essentials. The divider located in the bag’s main compartment can be used to neatly arrange notebooks and folders. 

The Vaschy Preschool Backpack is comfortable for kids to wear. It only weighs 0.77 lbs., yet it has a roomy main compartment that can fit everything they need for a day in school. The shoulder straps are padded and adjustable, though they also come with a chest strap to help stabilize the load and increase comfort. 

High School

The North Face Recon School Laptop BackpackThe North Face, a world-renowned expert in outdoor backpacks and gear, definitely knows about what goes into a top-quality bag. This backpack is ideal for active students: the 30 liter capacity is just right for college days.

The North Face Recon has a dedicated fleece-lined laptop compartment that can fit up to 15” laptops, while two expandable mesh pockets on each side can be used to store water bottles or other items. The front pocket also has a lining, making it the perfect place to stash your sunglasses or small electronics. Meanwhile, the front compartment also has a padded sleeve for your tablets plus a few zippered pockets.

This backpack is big in comfort, too. It features The North Face’s FlexVent suspension system, equipped with a flexible yoke made from injection-molded shoulder straps plus a waist belt for optimum comfort. The bag’s compact shape allows it to double as a great weekend or travel bag too. 


Thule Accent Laptop BackpackThule are luggage and suitcase experts. They have a wide array of high-performance bags, but the Thule Accent Laptop Backpack is a fantastic choice for college students.

This bag has a dedicated pocket for your computer, plus a SafeZone pocket to prevent scratches on your sunglasses and mobile phone. Keep smaller items secure in the roomy side storage. There's just enough mesh pockets inside the backpack to organize smaller belongings, such as your calculator, tablet, and pens.

The Thule Accent Laptop Backpack's shoulder straps are constructed with generous amounts of soft EVA padding, wrapped in mesh. With 23 liters of storage, college students will find this bag indispensable in and out of campus. 


Amazon Basics Laptop BackpackKeeping your laptop protected in between work, school, and play is easy and affordable with the Amazon Basics Laptop Backpack. This is one of the best-priced laptop bags on the market, and it’s loaded with multi-use pockets and features.

While most backpacks accommodate 15-inch laptops, this bag can store laptops as big as 17 inches inside this 32-liter backpack. You can also use this extra padded storage to keep your important documents safe as you travel or commute. There are several handy organizational pockets for small stuff, including your pens, mobile phone, keys, cables, and other tech accessories. 

The Amazon Basics Laptop Backpack has mesh water bottle pockets on each side. These can also be used for keeping other belongings, such as a map, umbrella, or a pair of flip-flops. The generous main compartment has plenty of space for spare clothes, textbooks, and notebooks as well.

Despite everything it can hold, this bag is impressively lightweight. The polyester construction is water-resistant for that extra protection. 

For anyone who constantly travels with their laptop, the Amazon Basics Laptop Backpack is highly recommended. With four primary compartments for organization and smaller compartments for your other items, this has everything you need to stay organized while you’re on the go. Its compact yet practical size enables it to be used by teenagers as well as adults. 


Under Armour Big Logo 5.0 BackpackLeave it to Under Armour, an all-American sports company, to understand how important well-designed pockets are for any fitness routine.

The Under Armour Big Logo 5.0 Backpack has a 29L capacity, just right for hitting the gym plus extra space for a few other necessities. Keep your water bottles organized in the side pockets, while the top grab handle makes it easy to pick up from the floor. The interior features a soft-lined laptop sleeve for those days when you have to hit the gym before or after work.

The front valuables pocket is constructed with water-repellent fabric, so you have peace of mind that your essentials are protected. It’s also extremely comfortable to wear: the back panel is equipped with breathable mesh, while Under Armour’s Heat Gear shoulder straps contribute to even better ventilation and comfort. The durable abrasion-resistant bottom protects the bag’s contents from rough handling and dirty gym floors at all times.

The Under Armour Big Logo 5.0 Backpack is the ultimate gym backpack. It comes in a few unisex colorways to suit both men and women


When you’re shopping around for the best backpack with lots of pockets, it helps to understand first the reason why you need it. Given all the options for high-quality and functional backpacks with compartments out there, you’re sure to find one that can fit your needs.

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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