The 9 Best Backpacks of 2021

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Our Top Picks
"This do-it-all pack is ideal for travel, hiking, and general everyday use."
"This highly-affordable bag folds down into its own pocket for quick, easy storage."
"Lay-flat compartments allow you to navigate through airport security without removing electronics."
Best for College Students:
Fjallraven Kanken Backpack at Amazon
"This classic Swedish pack has become a style staple thanks to its lightweight, trendy design."
"It fits laptops up to 17 inches and has a separate pocket to accommodate a tablet, too."
"With a 29-liter storage capacity and room for a hydration pack, this bag is ideal for one- to two-day hiking excursions."
"This popular carry-on choice has a zip expansion that affords you an extra 1.5 inches of packing space."
"It can fit a DSLR with an attached lens, as well as two or three extra lenses or flashes and a 15-inch laptop."
"A top-carry handle and padded shoulder straps allow for added comfort and versatility."

Best Overall: Osprey Daylite Plus Daypack

Osprey Daylite Plus Pack

Whether you're looking for a bag that'll tag along on your daily commute or act as your companion on long distance hikes, the Osprey Daylite Plus Daypack is up to the task. This backpack comes in a variety of colors that will appeal to both men and women and it has a number of features that make it a great option for everyday use. The roomy 20-liter bag has a large panel-loading main compartment, a front pocket with a mesh organizer and key clip, a front “shove-it” pocket, dual stretch side pockets, and a zippered front pocket, as well. 

The Osprey Daylite has a multi-functional interior sleeve where you can stow your laptop or a hydration pack, and its mesh-covered foam back panel provides both comfort and ventilation. Plus, the bag can be attached to a number of other larger Osprey packs when traveling. Reviewers call this backpack sturdy, long-lasting, and comfortable, noting that it’s ideal for travel, hiking, and general everyday use.

Best Budget: ZOMAKE 30L Lightweight Packable Backpack

Believe it or not, backpacks can get quite pricey, especially when you start getting into specialty products for traveling or transporting tech. However, the ZOMAKE Lightweight Packable Backpack is a versatile and spacious bag that just happens to be extremely affordable, too. The 30-liter bag is made from thick, water-resistant nylon material, yet it folds down into its own pocket for quick, easy storage. 

The ZOMAKE Backpack has invisible two-way zippers as well as breathable mesh straps with plenty of padding. As far as storage goes, it has one main compartment, two zippered front pockets, and two side pockets. The bag is available in a range of bright, vibrant colors from a canary yellow to a coral pink. Reviewers say the bag is quite spacious and lightweight, and many note that they’ve used it for traveling, hiking, or even a day trip to an amusement park.

Best for Travel: SWISSGEAR 1900 ScanSmart Laptop Backpack

SWISSGEAR 1900 ScanSmart TSA Laptop Backpack

Whether you’re traveling across the state or across the world, you’ll be happy to have the SWISSGEAR 1900 ScanSmart Laptop Backpack by your side. This rugged backpack comes in a range of neutral colors and it’s decked out with features that make it comfortable and convenient to use. The TSA-friendly ScanSmart design will appeal to travelers in particular as it lets you navigate through airport security without removing electronics thanks to its lay-flat tablet and laptop compartments.

Additionally, this SWISSGEAR backpack has a zippered front organizer compartment, side accessory pockets, a quick-access zip pocket, and a front carabiner. Inside the main compartment, you’ll find an accordion file holder, built-in phone pocket with a headphone port, and a zip mesh pocket for small items. On top of all that, the backpack has contoured shoulder straps, a molded grab handle, and a heavily padded back panel, ensuring it’s comfortable to wear for long treks around the globe.

Best for College Students: Fjallraven Kanken Backpack

Fjallraven Kanken Backpack

Looking for a trendy yet functional backpack to carry all your college gear? You can’t go wrong with the Fjallraven Kanken Backpack. While initially designed in 1978, these ultra-lightweight packs have become a staple among students thanks to their effortlessly cool design. The bags are made from polyvinyl and feature the telltale boxy design that’s available in a wide array of trendy colors like mint, blush, and ochre.

The Fjallraven Kanken Backpack has a single main zip compartment as well as easily accessible front and side pockets. You can choose to wear it over your shoulders with the adjustable woven straps or carry it by your side using the dual top handles. Reviewers say this backpack is ideal for carrying everyday items, and many note that it’s the perfect size for toting around a laptop, notebooks, and other college essentials.

Best for Laptops: Matein Mlassic Travel Laptop Backpack

Matein Laptop Backpack

If you’re always lugging around a laptop, you’ll love the Matein Mlassic Travel Laptop Backpack—it’s truly a tech-lover’s dream! Not only does this affordable backpack fit laptops up to 17 inches, but your computer will have its own separate compartment that can accommodate a tablet, as well. (If your laptop is 17 inches or larger, you’ll want to choose the larger backpack size.)

In addition to its zippered laptop compartment, this bag features a large main compartment and front organizer pocket, as well as a rear padded pocket and elasticized side pockets for your water bottle. Plus, it even has an external USB port where you can charge your phone. All you have to do is hook up your power bank to the built-in interior cable. According to reviewers, this backpack exceeds expectations in terms of durability, quality, and performance—especially given its affordable price point.

Best for Hiking: Outdoor Products Quest Daypack

Outdoor Products Quest Daypack

Don’t head out on your next hiking excursion without the Outdoor Products Quest Daypack. The 29-liter bag comes in black or olive green colorways, and its spacious interior gives you room for all your essential gear, including a hydration pack. 

This sub-$50 pack has a roomy main compartment, a large front pocket with a built-in organizer, as well as a front zippered pocket and side pouch. There are two trekking pole lashings, padded shoulder straps, and an adjustable sternum strap—plus you can load up additional gear using the MOLLE strap system. Reviewers say this bag is the perfect size for a one- or two-day hiking trip, and you can’t beat the brand’s lifetime guarantee.

Best Carry-On: eBags TLS Mother Lode Travel Backpack

Mother Lode

Backpacks are a popular carry-on choice and the eBags TLS Mother Lode is ideal for this purpose thanks to its spacious interior and travel-friendly features. The high-end bag comes in a variety of colors to suit any taste and it has several interior pockets to help keep all your travel essentials organized. 

This backpack features a large main compartment with compression straps, a fold-down shelf and interior zip-around mesh panel pocket, two exterior quick-grab pockets, a side water bottle pocket, and an easy-access front zip area with interior pockets and a key leash. If that isn't enough, the bag also has a zip expansion that affords you an extra 1.5 inches (while remaining carry-on compliant). Reviewers absolutely rave about this backpack, saying they’ve packed for week-long vacations in it. Many recommend getting packing cubes, as well, to maximize your packing efficiency.

Best for Cameras: Lowepro Fastpack BP 250 AW II

Lowepro Fastpack BP 250 AW II

Photographers need a sturdy, spacious bag to store all their equipment, and the Lowepro Fastpack BP 250 AW II gets consistently high marks from working professionals. It can fit a DSLR with an attached lens, as well as two or three extra lenses or flashes and a 15-inch laptop. Plus, there’s an extra compartment at the top of the bag with multiple pockets for organizing pens, cables, keys, and other small items. 

What’s unique about this backpack is it has a quick-access opening that lets you remove your camera with the lens attached and ready to go. The interior is padded and the exterior has an all-weather finish to protect your expensive gear, and you can even stash a tripod base in the mesh side pocket and secure it with side compression straps. Buyers love that this bag can hold all their camera gear as well as other essentials like a jacket and laptop. For many, the real selling point is the side-load compartment which allows for a camera with an attached lens.

Best Diaper Bag: Mancro Diaper Bag Backpack

If you prefer to have two hands free when out and about with your kids, the Mancro Diaper Bag Backpack is a great alternative to tote-style bags. This spacious backpack gets rave reviews from parents who love its spacious main compartment and insulated side pockets which can accommodate enough supplies for multiple children.

This bag has a 21-liter capacity which includes a large main compartment with organization pockets all around, two insulated side pockets, a dedicated pocket for wipes, and two zippered front pockets. It comes with a changing pad and two stroller straps, and there’s also a top-carry handle and padded shoulder straps for versatility. The bag is available in five neutral and colorful options including black, grey, purple, blue, and red.

Why Trust The Spruce?

This article was written by Camryn Rabideau, a freelance contributor for The Spruce who is an expert on all things home. She has studied textile science, including classes on product design. 

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