The 10 Best Backpack Brands of 2021

Carry your essentials in a backpack from one of these brands

Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products and services; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.

The Rundown

Best Overall: The North Face

"Sporty, practical, and utilitarian."

Best Value: BAGGU

"Makes unfussy, adorable, functional bags that are built to last."

Best for Hiking: Deuter

"Known for making some of the highest-quality mountaineering and hiking backpacks."

Best Design: Herschel Supply Co.

"Focused on crafting elegant, functional fashion that's more detail-focused."

Best Waterproof: Patagonia

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

Best for Laptops: Timbuk2

"The go-to brand for sturdy, functional bags to house your computer."

Best for Work: Dagne Dover

"Combines minimalistic aesthetics with efficient design."

Best for Travel: Tortuga

"Makes backpacks that are perfect for frequent travelers."

Best for Running: Osprey

"Produces some of the industry’s most expertly-crafted packs."

Best Style: Fjallraven Kanken

"Fashionable and functional backpacks 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 enough to last for several years, if not a lifetime. 

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.

Our Top Picks

01 of 10

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

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.

02 of 10

Best Value: BAGGU

BAGGU Drawstring Backpack

Courtesy of Amazon

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.

03 of 10

Best for Hiking: Deuter

AC Lite 18 - Deuter USA

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

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, a good backpack is key. 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. In 1910, they expanded their line to include military backpacks. Today, Deuter is known for making some of the highest-quality mountaineering and hiking backpacks, and with their four-part hiking series—Speed Lite, Futura, Classic, and Trail—trekkers can pick which pack type best suits their needs for a fully customizable experience.

04 of 10

Best Design: Herschel Supply Co.

Herschel Supply Co. Classic Backpack

Courtesy of Amazon

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. They also invest heavily in innovation and sustainable practices—for example, their trademarked fabric, ApexKnit, is a woven fabric that significantly reduces the waste and energy it takes to create a bag. And when it comes to oversized bags and luggage, Herschel offers the best spacious designs with ample storage, yet don’t look or feel bulky. Think dual external water bottle pockets, an internal suspended pocket, a front storage pocket, and a clean, simple silhouette.

Continue to 5 of 10 below.
05 of 10

Best Waterproof: Patagonia

Patagonia Stormfront® Pack 30L

 Courtesy of Patagonia

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

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. Founder Yvon Chouinard has been committed to climate change activism since the company’s inception in the 70s, and today, 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.

06 of 10

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

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, along with comfy straps. The brand started in a San Francisco garage in 1989, and since then, it has expanded into a global community of people who really love functional, tough-as-nails, classic gear. And, like most other backpack brands, Timbuk2 is committed to forward-thinking manufacturing and progressive, sustainability-minded initiatives, like their Timbuk2 Recycle Program, which encourages customers to repair and repurpose old bags. 

07 of 10

Best for Work: Dagne Dover

Dagne Dover Dakota Neoprene Backpack

Courtesy of Dagne Dover

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.

08 of 10

Best for Travel: Tortuga

TORTUGA Setout Travel Backpack - 45L Maximum-Sized Carry On Travel Backpack

 Courtesy of Amazon

https://www.amazon.com//dp/B077SBL6NV

5

When you’re on the go, Tortuga's got your back. The brand makes backpacks that are perfect for travelers, combining the efficient portability of a backpack with the storage capabilities of a large suitcase. The company, which started in 2009 after the founders went backpacking, specializes in travel backpacks that are high-quality and ethically produced. As a brand, Tortuga is passionate about travel and about streamlining the travel process, and this passion is evident in all of their gear.

Continue to 9 of 10 below.
09 of 10

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

Considering that Osprey has been exclusively making packs for the last 40 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 gearing 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.

10 of 10

Best Style: Fjallraven Kanken

Fjallraven Kanken Water-Resistant Backpack

Courtesy of Dillard's

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

 

A favorite among trendy jet setters, Fjallraven Kanken makes other upscale outdoor clothing and equipment, but it's better known for its iconic, Classic 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 Kanken is a Swedish company that was founded in 1960 and today, it’s easily the biggest apparel company in Scandinavia, thanks to its timeless, ultra-durable products and steadfast commitment to sustainability efforts.

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 I clean my 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 any 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.     

What size backpack is best?

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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