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Best Overall: Dagne Dover Medium Dakota Backpack at Nordstrom
"Its neoprene outer is waterproof and durable."
Best Expandable: Timbuk2 Especial Scope Expandable Backpack at Nordstrom
"Expands from 24 to 36 liters."
Best for Hiking: L.L. Bean All-Conditions Waterproof Day Pack at L.L. Bean
"Well-loved for keeping gear safe and protected."
Best Carry-On: Tortuga Outbreaker Backpack at Tortuga
"Great when you want the space of a carry-on but don’t want to roll a bag."
Most Comfortable: Caraa Cirrus Backpack at Nordstrom
"Made from stylishly puffy, waterproof nylon."
Best Eco-Friendly: Fjällräven Ulvo Rolltop 23 at Backcountry
"Made with 31 percent recycled nylon and the brand's Bergshell fabric."
Best Convertible: Patagonia Tres 25-Liter Convertible Backpack at Nordstrom
"Switches between a backpack, shoulder bag, or a briefcase-style carry."
Best for Bicycling: Timbuk2 Especial Medio Cycling Laptop Backpack at Amazon
"Includes biking-specific features, like a tapered design for over-the-shoulder visibility."
Best for Extreme Weather: YETI Panga Backpack 28 at Amazon
"Even the heaviest of downpours won't seep through the bag."
Best Roll-Top: Filson Dry Waterproof Backpack at Nordstrom
"Won’t scratch with an accidental scrape and keeps water totally out."
Our Top Picks
Best Overall: Dagne Dover Medium Dakota Backpack
Dagne Dover is best known for its neoprene backpacks, totes, and fanny packs that are both incredibly practical and sleekly designed. This bag’s neoprene outer is waterproof and durable, and the large pocket in front keeps essentials at hand. Minimalist shapes and stylings, plus a cool monochrome palette, will give your red-eye airport outfit some bonus points — still, you won’t have to worry about your things getting soiled when traveling.
Best Expandable: Timbuk2 Especial Scope Expandable Backpack
Timbuk2 might be known for its line of messenger bags, but the brand's expandable waterproof backpack is another favorite. It expands from 24 to 36 liters, and it uses magnetic compression to inflate or shrink. There are pockets for everything, too, including a front panel for phones, sunglasses, and keys, as well as a larger compartment with a waterproof sleeve for 15-inch laptops and room for a cycling helmet. There’s also a water-bottle pocket on the outside, so you can stay hydrated on the go.
Best for Hiking: L.L. Bean All-Conditions Waterproof Day Pack
L.L. Bean’s packs have been trusted for decades by weekend hikers and avid adventurers alike, and their All-Conditions Waterproof Day Pack is well-loved for keeping gear safe and protected when you’re in the great outdoors. The ripstop nylon is rated at IPX6 for waterproof effectiveness (repelling rain, mud, and snow but not intended for full immersion), while EVA foam in the straps, back panel, and hip belt (all designed specifically for a woman’s frame) keep the waterproof daypack comfy on longer walks.
Best Carry-On: Tortuga Outbreaker Backpack
Tortuga’s travel backpack is great when you want the space of a carry-on but don’t want to roll a bag throughout the terminal or over cobblestone streets. This isn’t just a normal backpack, though — instead, everything has a dedicated place. The waterproof backpack is made from sailcloth, an unusual choice for a travel pack, but it does the job with four layers of protection, including an ultra-thin film that both locks moisture out and keeps seams from splitting.
Most Comfortable: Caraa Cirrus Backpack
There are few backpacks built with such thought as Caraa’s Cirrus Backpack, which is made from stylishly puffy, waterproof nylon with a cool matte finish and is built to be comfortable all day long. Somehow, no matter how much you've packed in it, this waterproof backpack feels light as a feather once you carry it. This is because of the straps that stay put (thanks to their gripped back that doesn’t slip on slick clothing), a slightly elevated bottom so you’re never putting it in muck, and details like a waterproof laundry bag for that post-morning-swim. The portable backpack is a little pricey, but the quality is there: the main compartment’s buckle, for example, is made from lightweight metal instead of plastic.
Best Eco-Friendly: Fjällräven Ulvo Rolltop 23
Fjällräven’s colorful packs aren’t just good looks: the Swedish company has been making packs for adventurers since 1960, and it’s put a lot of time into designing durable gear for outdoor activities. In keeping with its dedication to sustainable production (using organic, renewable, and recycled materials whenever possible), this rugged roll-top pack is made with 31 percent recycled nylon and the brand's Bergshell fabric. However, it’s still streamlined enough for busy days exploring a city, and it can tote your gear at the airport too, with a padded computer sleeve holding laptops up to 15 inches.
Best Convertible: Patagonia Tres 25-Liter Convertible Backpack
When you can’t decide between a duffel or backpack, get both — and more. Patagonia’s convertible carrier switches between a backpack, shoulder bag, or a briefcase-style carry so you have all the options. It has a padded compartment for up to a 15-inch laptop, and variously sized pockets on the front for easy access to keys, phones, USB drives, and more. Great for commuting or for travel, take this bag with you wherever you go, thanks to its water-resistant nylon construction (using 50 percent recycled material) and DWR coating.
Best for Bicycling: Timbuk2 Especial Medio Cycling Laptop Backpack
Timbuk2's line of bags is a favorite among cyclists, with streamlined shapes that are intelligently designed to transport the day’s essentials with you. Their Especial Medio Cycling Laptop Backpack follows in that tradition with a water-resistant pack that includes an internal waterproof drop liner to fully keep moisture out, while hydration and earbud routers, as well as reflective paneling, will help you get through the day. Biking-specific features, like a tapered design for over-the-shoulder visibility, are also a sure hit.
Best for Extreme Weather: YETI Panga Backpack 28
Anyone who has a Yeti travel mug or cooler knows that this brand’s products can take a few hits, and their Panga Backpack is no different. The brand’s description of the pack as an “airtight citadel” is spot-on: it’s 100 percent waterproof, so even the heaviest of downpours won't seep through the bag. It’s also a comfortable carry, thanks to ergonomic shoulder straps and removable straps at the chest and waist.
Best Roll-Top: Filson Dry Waterproof Backpack
Filson has been making backpacks since 1897, so it's safe to say that the company is pretty much an expert on rugged, durable backpacks. Their Dry Waterproof Backpack lives up to its name, with 840-denier PU-coated nylon that won’t scratch with an accidental scrape and keeps water totally out of the pack. Whether you’re out in the field or just out in the city, this pack will be comfy all day long, too, thanks to breathable high-density EVA foam padding on the contoured shoulder straps and back panel.
Best Style: Rains Holographic Drawstring Backpack
Rains' holographic drawstring backpack is about as trendy as you can get, with a small shape that’s great for a daily carry when you don’t want (or need) to bring your laptop or a change of clothes with you. Sure, it’s pretty, but the 10-liter waterproof backpack is also made of half-polyester, half-polyurethane material that can withstand the heaviest of storms. Your things are kept extra secure thanks to two closures (a drawstring and a water-resistant buckle), and the subtle holographic shine works just as well at a festival as they do at the office.
Best for Photographers: Peak Design Everyday Backpack
Peak Design was started by a photographer who was frustrated that there wasn't a perfect pack for him and his gear while shooting in the field. The result has been the Everday Backpack, which is popular for photographers and non-photographers alike. The waterproof backpack boasts super-durable construction and brilliant compartmentalization that keeps every cord, cable, lens, and USB in their proper places — and right at hand the moment you need it. Pockets abound, including a sleeve for a laptop up to 15 inches, and an interior shelf system lets you carry a few different cameras with plenty of protection. Peak Design’s bags also come with a lifetime guarantee.
Best for the Beach: The North Face Homestead Roadsoda Pack
The North Face might be built for the rugged outdoors, but we love this sunny yellow pack just as much for the beach. With a roll-top that keeps out moisture, this 43-liter waterproof backpack also transforms into a cooler, so you can haul drinks to your spot at the beach or out to your campsite. Just add ice and a six-pack and you’ll be set. Even more, there’s a bottle opener built into the hook closure.