The 12 Best Backpack Brands of 2021

Carry your essentials in a backpack from one of these companies

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Backpack Brands The North Face Patagonia

Tripsavvy / Chloe Jeong

The Rundown

Best Overall: The North Face

"Sporty, practical, and utilitarian backpacks for all occasions."

Best Value: BAGGU

"Unfussy, adorable, functional bags that are built to last."

Best for Hiking: Deuter

"The company is known for making some of the highest-quality mountaineering and hiking backpacks."

Best Design: Herschel Supply Co.

"The designs are simple, but detail-focused and the material is durable."

Best Waterproof: Patagonia

"Its packs are designed to repel water with the utmost efficiency."

Best for Laptops: Timbuk2

"The go-to brand for functional bags to house and protect your computer."

Best for Work: Dagne Dover

"The designs are elegant, but high on organization."

Best for Travel: Tumi

"Not only is the material durable, but the bag can even be tracked if it gets lost."

Best for Running: Osprey

"This brand produces some of the industry’s most expertly-crafted packs."

Best Style: Fjallraven

"Fashionable and functional sum up this brand's entire style ."

A good backpack shouldn’t just look good (although that’s certainly one requirement). Your ideal backpack should fit comfortably on your body, have ample storage, and be solidly constructed to last for several years, if not a lifetime. "When purchasing a backpack, always look for external mesh pockets on the sides," says hiking and backpacking guide, Alison Watta. "Regardless of where you're going, you'll want certain things handy like water and snacks." Price is another factor. "Travelers often make the mistake of choosing a backpack based on low cost or style. Choosing a backpack on either or both these criteria will most often leave you with a pack that is unreliable, uncomfortable, or both," says travel writer, Stewart Gold.

Whether you’re looking for a sturdy backpack for outdoor trekking, a functional-yet-stylish work bag, or a travel backpack to bring with you on your next cross-country jaunt, one thing is for certain: choose from one of the brands on this list and you’ll undoubtedly find your backpack soulmate, at long last.

Here are the best backpack brands.

Best Overall: The North Face

The North Face Men's Jester Backpack

Courtesy of Dick's Sporting Goods
https://www.dickssportinggoods.com/p/the-north-face-mens-jester-backpack-18tnommjstr18xxxxtrv/18tnommjstr18xxxxtrv

What We Like
  • Great shoulder support

  • Range of interior compartments

  • Amazing warranty

What We Don't Like
  • Can feel top heavy

Sporty, practical, and utilitarian, The North Face delivers excellent backpacks for both everyday use and adventure travel. This massively popular outdoor brand got its start in 1966, and they’ve since been specializing in top-notch equipment like backpacks, tents, and sleeping gear, as well as outerwear, fleece, and footwear. And, if you’re just looking for a reliable, everyday bag to tote with everywhere you go, the brand’s backpack selection is stellar. Their bags have a staggering number of user-friendly features, like their FlexVent suspension system (with custom injection-molded shoulder straps and a padded mesh back panel), spacious storage compartments, and a bevy of innovative, lightweight designs. Basically, you’re all but guaranteed to find a design that perfectly suits your daily adventures.

Best Value: BAGGU

BAGGU Drawstring Backpack

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Sustainably made

  • Fun designs

What We Don't Like
  • Minimal interior pockets

When it comes to getting the most bang for your buck, BAGGU shines. This budget-friendly brand makes unfussy, adorable, functional bags that are built to withstand years of use. Mother-daughter duo Joan and Emily Sugihara co-founded BAGGU in 2007 with the initial idea to create a cute, reusable shopping bag that could also double as a tote. Now, the brand makes many different bags all with the same goal in mind: to minimize waste and use sustainable materials to create sophisticated, well-designed bags that everyone can afford. The Standard BAGGU and canvas and basic totes are the most popular options, but there are dozens of other cool backpack designs to choose from.

Best for Laptops: Timbuk2

Timbuk2 Authority Laptop Pack Deluxe

Courtesy of REI
https://www.rei.com/product/156613/timbuk2-authority-laptop-pack-deluxe

 

4.3
What We Like
  • Waterproof laptop panel

  • Repair and recycling program

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

Well-known for crafting high-quality laptop bags, Timbuk2 is the go-to brand if you’re looking for a sturdy, functional bag to house your computer. Its backpacks, briefcases, laptop sleeves, and other work-friendly bags boast all kinds of special features: a clean exterior, padded laptop sleeve, accessible storage compartments, and beautiful, durable base fabric. Not to mention the comfy straps. And, like many brands, Timbuk2 is committed to forward-thinking manufacturing and progressive, sustainability-minded initiatives, like their Timbuk2 recycling program, which encourages customers to repair or even repurpose old bags. 

Tested by TripSavvy

I tested the Timbuk2 Uptown Travel Backpack, and one of the bag’s most compelling features is the laptop storage. Rather than a traditional padded laptop pocket, the back panel zips out to reveal a padded sleeve with a Velcro closure. The panel zips out completely flat, providing easy access to both the laptop and any other small electronics that may be stored in the pocket. The bag’s product description states that it can accommodate laptops up to 15 inches; we tested 13- and 15-inch laptops—with and without cases—and found that the compartment safely held both. The zip-down panel is also a time saver when going through TSA and airport security lines as it doesn’t require you to remove the laptop from the bag—just send your bag through with the compartment unzipped and open. It's definitely too small to serve as your only luggage (unless you're a very light packer), but if you're traveling for work or like to travel with your laptop, this is a stylish and functional option. Suzie Dundas, Product Tester

Timbuk2 Uptown Travel Backpack

  Tripsavvy / Suzie Dundas

Best for Hiking: Deuter

AC Lite 18 - Deuter USA

 Courtesy of Deuter
https://www.deuterusa.com/collections/hiking/products/ac-lite-18?variant=22036942979190

What We Like
  • Can filter by activity

  • Select bags offer women's sizing

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

Every hiker knows the importance of carrying a good pack. Whether you’re plotting a multi-day adventure in the mountains or a mini-excursion on a trail near your house. Enter Deuter, a beloved pack brand that truly delivers the goods: lightweight design, true ergonomic comfort, plenty of streamlined storage space, and optimal body-hugging weight distribution. 

The company was founded in 1898 by Hans Deuter from Germany, who was supplying the Bavarian Mail with mailbags. Today, Deuter is known for making some of the highest-quality mountaineering and hiking backpacks, and with a range of options, trekkers can pick which pack type best suits their needs for a fully customizable experience.

Best Design: Herschel Supply Co.

Herschel Supply Co. Classic Backpack

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Wide range of sizes

  • Affordable

  • Stylish

What We Don't Like
  • Laptop compartments can be small

When small, impractically-designed backpacks just won't cut it, take a look at Herschel Supply Co. Founded in 2009, Herschel is a lifestyle bag company that’s focused on crafting elegant, functional fashion that’s less technical-looking and more detail-focused. When it comes to oversized bags and luggage, Herschel offers the best spacious designs with ample storage, without looking or feeling bulky. Think dual external water bottle pockets, an internal suspended pocket, front storage, and a clean, simple silhouette.

Best Waterproof: Patagonia

Patagonia Stormfront® Pack 30L

 Courtesy of Patagonia

https://www.patagonia.com/product/stormfront-waterproof-pack-30-liters/49154.html

What We Like
  • Eco-conscious

  • Packs for all activities

  • Durable

What We Don't Like
  • Fit can run small

A trusted and respected outdoor brand, Patagonia churns out only the highest-quality gear, and their waterproof backpacks are no exception. In addition to making bags that are highly durable, utilitarian, and have plenty of expandable storage, Patagonia's waterproof packs are designed to repel water with the utmost efficiency. Their waterproof line ranges from Waterproof Submersible (the highest level of waterproof protection) to Waterproof Non-Submersible to Water Resistant, with an array of backpacks, hip packs, and duffels available. 

The brand is also hyper-conscious about making eco-friendly apparel, and all of its products and business initiatives are designed with this approach in mind. Patagonia is part of 1% for the Planet, a collective of companies that’s pledged to donate 1 percent of their sales to environmental groups.

Best for Work: Dagne Dover

Dagne Dover Dakota Neoprene Backpack

Courtesy of Dagne Dover

What We Like
  • Interior organization

  • Durable

  • Exterior can be hand washed

What We Don't Like
  • Limited number of styles

If you’re on the hunt for an elegant (but still functional) bag for the workplace, look no further than Dagne Dover. Their gorgeous, eye-catching backpacks combine minimalistic aesthetics with efficient design while providing enough storage space for your everyday work essentials. Even more, the brand’s entire niche is career-friendly fashions—Dagne Dover is all about supporting the working woman via professional, thoughtfully-designed bags. This female-fronted brand just started in 2012, but they’re already globally known for their bags’ innovative organizational features and super-streamlined designs.

Best for Travel: Tumi

Nathan Expandable Backpack

Tumi

What We Like
  • Expandable

  • Deep pockets

  • Quality material

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

  • Limited colors

Tumi is a well known name in the travel industry and for good reason. Their suitcases are durable, stylish, and sleek without a ton of bells and whistles. So it's no surprise the brand's backpacks are also amazing. You'll find a laptop compartment as well as tons of other internal organization so smaller items don't get lost. And a material like ballistic nylon stands the test of time whether you're on the road or commuting to work. Also, the Tumi Tracer makes it easy to locate your bag should it ever get lost.

Best for Running: Osprey

Osprey Packs Dyna 6 Women's Running Hydration Vest

 Courtesy of Amazon

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07JDRTLLY/?tag=tripsavvy02-20

4.7
What We Like
  • Made with recycled materials

  • Suspension system

  • Fit quiz

What We Don't Like
  • Limited style options

Considering that Osprey has been exclusively making packs for almost 50 years, it’s no wonder that they’re the best of the best when it comes to running backpacks. The company was founded in 1974 in Santa Cruz, Calif., by Mike Pfotenhauer—and it remains a small, independently-owned venture, despite producing some of the industry’s most expertly-crafted packs. Whether you’re packing up for a long-distance run or a quick jaunt around the block, an Osprey pack is bound to become your best new jogging buddy.

"This backpack also has a nylon hipbelt that incorporates the brand’s special ErgoPull closure for extra stability; all you need to do is clasp the center buckle, grab the ends of the webbing on either side, and pull evenly with both hands."Rebekah Joan, Product Tester

Best Style: Fjallraven

Fjallraven Kanken Water-Resistant Backpack

Courtesy of Dillard's

https://www.dillards.com/p/fjallraven-the-classic-kanken-backpack/506380101

 

What We Like
  • Bold colors

  • Convertible straps

What We Don't Like
  • Little internal organization

A favorite among trendy jet setters, Fjallraven makes other upscale outdoor clothing and equipment, but it's better known for its iconic Kanken backpack. There's no denying how stylish the backpacks are, with their sleek, compact design, durable fabric, well-padded straps, and boxy shape that doesn’t droop like traditional backpacks sometimes do. In other words, they aren't just fashionable, but they're also functional, which pretty much sums up the brand’s entire style. Fjallraven is a Swedish company that was founded in 1960 and today, it’s easily one of the biggest apparel companies in Scandinavia, thanks to its timeless, ultra-durable products and steadfast commitment to sustainability efforts.

Best Lightweight: Caraa

CIRRUS MEDIUM backpack

Caraa

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

Backpacks can get weighed down if you're a heavy packer, so having one that's lightweight to begin with is important. Caraa offers a range of colors in their backpacks, from mauve to green to neutral black, and they're super light. A lot of their water-resistant nylon bags weight a little over a pound but don't skimp on internal compartments like a space for a power bank, water bottle pocket, and more. Some of their backpacks even have more than a dozen pockets.

Best Compartments: eBags

Citylink Travel Backpack

eBags

What We Like
  • Padded shoulder straps

  • Top and side handles

  • Expandable

What We Don't Like
  • Some styles can be expensive

Some backpacks just have a single large compartment, which isn't exactly convenient if you're looking for smaller items or want to organize things to your liking. You won't run into that problem with eBags. Some of their options can fit up to a week's worth of clothes and with a lay flat design, it’s easy to see pretty much everything in your bag at a single glance. The front organization has elastic and zippered compartments and you’ll even find buckles to securely hold a jacket. 

Final Verdict

When it comes to sheer function and utilitarian style, The North Face (view at The North Face) wins our hearts. This beloved outdoor brand consistently churns out reliable backpacks that are equipped with all the must-have features like easy-access pockets, comfortable, breathable back panels, removable waist belts, and more.

What to Look for in a Backpack Brand

Price

Everyone’s budget is different, of course. Luckily, the brands on this list run the gamut in terms of price. BAGGU makes wonderfully affordable bags that are generally half the cost of other, similar-quality backpacks. Dagne Dover lies at the other end of the spectrum, with bags that are costly but oh-so-worth-it. On that note: just like with anything else, you get what you pay for when it comes to a good backpack.    

Materials

When it comes to materials, durability is the name of the game. You want a backpack that’s designed to last forever, not one that’s going to easily stain or fall apart after just a handful of outdoor excursions. Some of the best backpack materials include leather (or vegan leather), nylon, and canvas. Many brands (like Fjallraven and Patagonia) use recycled materials to make their backpacks in a nod to sustainability—which should be an important consideration for any consumer these days.  

Warranty

A solid warranty is key when you’re searching for the right backpack. Even the most well-regarded brands can sometimes have products that malfunction or fail in some way. Look for a backpack that comes with at least a three-year guaranteed warranty (though most truly reputable brands will offer a lifetime).

FAQs

How should you clean a backpack? 

How you clean your backpack depends on the bag’s material, of course—you should always consult the instructions for care first. For instance, leather backpacks should be professionally cleaned, while most fabric backpacks can be hand-washed or machine-washed on a gentle cycle.

In general, the first step to cleaning your backpack is to empty everything out, and then you can run a vacuum nozzle along the seams to remove hardcore debris if needed. Then, you can either fill your bathtub or sink with warm water and use a mild soap to gently wash both the interior and exterior. Some backpacks can be placed in the washing machine, but again, it’s crucial to check your bag’s care instructions before doing so.     

How should backpacks fit?

Your backpack should fit the curve of your back and feel comfortable, not too poky or bulky. But in terms of specific size, that depends entirely on how you’ll be using your backpack. For instance, if you’re looking for a bag for hiking or backpacking, you’ll want to make sure that the hip belt fits directly on your hip bones, or just underneath your hip bones if you have particularly slim hips. Also, your shoulder straps should start at the back curve of your shoulders (not too low down your back). It’s a good idea to measure your torso length before trying on packs, to ensure that you get the perfect fit.   

What are some must-have design features to be on the lookout for?

You’ll want to make sure that your backpack has the appropriate storage for what you need it for. Investing in a good work backpack? Your bag should have a cushioned laptop sleeve that comfortably fits your computer, plus smaller compartments for your keys, phone, and any other essentials. For hiking backpacks, your bag should have hip belt pockets, front pockets, and, if you’re using it for overnights, a sleeping bag compartment. Ventilation (in the form of a mesh back panel) is key, too. Other design features to look out for are quality zipper construction and waterproof properties.

Why Trust TripSavvy

Justine Harrington is an admitted backpack-aholic. She’s tried several bags from the brands on this list (all in the name of research, of course), scoured countless reviews, and crowdsourced recommendations from her fellow gearheads to narrow down the best brands. In terms of her own bag collection, she’s partial to her BAGGU backpack for everyday use, adores her Deuter and Osprey packs for day hiking and backpacking, respectively, and is currently saving up for a coveted Fjallraven Kanken bag for no discernible reason other than she’s totally obsessed with it.

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