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Backpacks became my go-to item when I started working in an office. Simply put, I found it to be the best way to carry all my daily essentials — laptop, book for the commute, and lunch when I remembered to pack it — without destroying my already tension-prone shoulders.
Although the word "backpack" still reminds me of middle school, modern-day styles are anything but childish. It's possible to find a backpack that's equal parts cool and functional, too.
A good everyday backpack should fit what you need, come with built-in organization, and shouldn't strain your shoulders and back.
Here are the 14 best backpacks of 2022:
Stuart & Lau Capstone Backpack
Designed with the modern professional in mind, the Stuart & Lau Capstone Backpack has everything you could need to make your daily commutes more convenient.
The exterior is made from a waterproof DuraLite fabric and features full grain leather accents, making it durable for all weather conditions and stylish for professional settings.
The main storage compartment is easy to access through the top flap, but there's also a side zipper that lets you get inside without taking the bag off your back completely. The other side of the bag features a closed-off storage compartment ideal for storing a wet umbrella or a water bottle. It also features a separate laptop sleeve on the back of the backpack, eliminating the hassle of going past the contents of your bag to reach an interior laptop sleeve.
Carhartt Medium Pack + 3 Can Insulated Cooler
The Carhartt Medium Pack comes bundled with a three-can insulated cooler, making it an excellent choice for taking on hikes, trips to the beach, fishing, or anywhere you might want to enjoy a cold drink while on the go. It's made from Cordura, a super durable and water-repellent material, and has plush padded mesh panels on the back and shoulder straps for comfort.
Features like a fleece-lined eyewear compartment, 15-inch laptop sleeve, and an elastic pocket for a tablet also make the Carhartt Medium Pack great for school or work.
Patagonia Arbor Lid Pack 28L
The Patagonia Arbor Lid Pack is equally equipped for international travel, outdoor adventures, and basic daily commuting thanks to its super light weight. That means the bag itself won't weigh you down when it's fully packed.
The bag is made from recycled nylon and polyester that's designed to be durable and water-resistant. The interior has a padded 15-inch laptop sleeve, practically a must-have for any worthwhile backpack, and a large interior space.
With 28 liters of space, there's plenty of room for all of your belongings, but if you need to really pack things in tightly, the top-loading lid and pliable nylon material make it easy.
Dagne Dover Dakota Neoprene Backpack
The Dagne Dover Dakota Neoprene Backpack is a favorite backpack among members of the Insider Reviews team. It's a wonderful carrier because of its eight color and three-size options. The backpack's quick-dry neoprene material is water-resistant, hand-washable, and perfect for gym trips, work commutes, and day hikes alike.
There's an interior pocket to store your laptop and even a pouch to hold an extra pair of shoes. This work-life balance bag, as Dagne Dover describes it, is also insulated and evenly distributes weight to add comfort to its sophisticated design.
The weather-resistant Tortuga Outbreaker was tested by editor Jen Gushue, along with eight other top travel backpacks on the market, and it was a top-performer for its convenient storage options — enough to house four-to-five days of travel necessities. Aside from the zipper-bordered main compartment, there are two large mesh compartments on the opposite side, as well as impressive organization pouches throughout.
The adjustable harness system features a wide hip belt that makes traveling customizable and comfortable. It's a splurge for sure, but worth the price tag.
Timbuk2 Impulse Travel Backpack Duffel Bag
If you're looking for a shoulder bag that can store as much as an airport carry-on, but want to spend a little less than the Tortuga pack, the Timbuk2 Impulse Travel Backpack Duffel Bag is a comparable all-in-one option. It will store anything you need in its sack-like structure and comes with small side pockets and a water-resistant pocket for shoes or laundry.
Even when fully packed, Jen Gushue noticed it felt lighter than some of the smaller-capacity bags they tested, and it also landed a spot as one of the top picks in the best travel backpacks guide.
The North Face Jester Backpack
For a backpack apt for carrying books, your laptop, and other study essentials, look no further than The North Face Jester Backpack. Former buying guides fellow Victoria Giardina selected this as the top carrier for college in our best backpacks for students guide, notably for its large laptop compartment — the tried and true school staple.
Whether you're commuting to class or en route to the library, the backpack's durably-padded design features a large main compartment, two mesh water bottle pockets, and even a reflective bike light loop for evening campus walking.
JanSport Big Student Backpack
Similar to The North Face, the JanSport Big Student Backpack is clad with organized storage compartments to carry textbooks, a pencil pouch, and study materials. It also comes in different fun colors and patterns.
Former style and beauty reviews fellow Katie Decker-Jacoby swears by this backpack for its durability, size, and storage — the trio that made her repurchase it when she was a student. She loves the flexibility of the polyester material and its ability to endure all weight and wear.
Dakine Split Adventure 38L Backpack
For an easy-to-carry backpack for weekend trips, the Dakine Split Adventure 38L Backpack is especially fit for those who don't want to roll luggage with them on a flight. Home and kitchen reporter Owen Burke said he hasn't found another bag broken down so simply and thoughtfully, from its convenient laptop sleeve and two outer compartments to its suitcase-like inner straps and interior storage pockets.
Out of these features, Burke is most impressed by the laptop sleeve. It doesn't run all the way to the bottom of the bag but instead sits an inch or so up, so that when you place (or drop) your backpack, you're not running the risk of damaging your laptop — a flaw he has found in some other designs.
Yeti Panga 28 Backpack
The Yeti Panga 28 Backpack is also one of Owen Burke's favorites, particularly for its ability to withstand any weather conditions. As a part-time captain, he noticed other "waterproof" backpacks were not living up to their claim.
This carrier comes with a heavy-duty airtight zipper and is crafted with high-intensity tear-proof nylon and TPU. Burke's Yeti even managed to find its way into the smoldering cinders of a bonfire and still came out shining. For easy access, he finds the addition of the Velcro-attachable, waterproof Sidekick convenient.
Fjallraven Raven 28L Pack
Deals reporter Sarah Saril was initially drawn to the Fjallraven Raven 28L Pack because it comes in nine colors and was pleasantly surprised when it turned out to be an excellent carrier for travel and daily use. It compactly collapses yet has enough capacity to store her 13-inch MacBook, Nintendo Switch, chargers, a change of clothes, and travel necessities.
Aside from its versatility, the Fjällräven has a ton of internal sorting pockets. It's made from durable G-1000 HeavyDuty Eco in recycled polyester and organic cotton, making the back panel and shoulder straps especially comfortable.
Mountaintop 40L Hiking Backpack
The long-form, buckled Mountaintop 40L Hiking Backpack is a multi-use carrier that's exclusive to hiking. Though Personal Finance reporter Liz Knueven has taken it on trails before, she finds it best for traveling and said she was never questioned by airline companies if it will fit in a bin or under the seat.
The polyester pack has many built-in compartments that are easy to store small items. Kneuven said it has held up, it's affordable at less than $50, and comes in a variety of colors.
Dagne Dover Indi Diaper Backpack
Dagne Dover's Dakota backpack may be more well known, but the brand's Indi diaper backpack is also worth checking out. Former style and beauty fellow Jacqueline Saguin swears by this bag for travel, even though she doesn't have any kids.
The bag is overflowing with organizational pockets that keep everything in its place, so you don't have to go digging for toiletries or your ID as you pass through airport security. You'd never know the Indi is a diaper bag because of its clean design, and as another travel hack, Saguin uses the fold-up changing mat as a portable work-from-home station. Currently, only the small size is available, but it's typically offered in medium and large sizes too.
Fjallraven Kanken Backpack
The Kanken backpack is another Fjallraven favorite, and it's also the brand's signature style. It's offered in more than 50 colors and multiple sizes to best fit your storage and laptop needs. Along with its cool Scandinavian design, what makes this backpack special is a built-in sitting pad you can pull out at a moment's notice. Senior story producer Emily Hein counts this bag as her go-to and says that "The included sitting pad is especially useful in the summer — a saving grace at parks and beaches."
Hein also says there's a good reason you'll spot these so often on the streets of New York City. "It's spacious enough to fit all my necessities for the day (including my 13" laptop, albeit tightly), but not bulky or noticeably heavy."
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