The 10 Best Backpacks For College

Updated May 18, 2018 by Daniel Imperiale

10 Best Backpacks For College
Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive
We spent 45 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. College students are faced with a constant dilemma: return home between classes or take everything you need for the day with you? For flexibility without damaging your back, you need a good bag. Whether you're transporting a laptop, smartphone, tablet, or just beer, these backpacks will haul it all. And if you really have to, you could even use them to carry books. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best backpack for college on Amazon.

10. Sosoon Laptop Bag

The Sosoon Laptop Bag offers an external USB interface, so you can easily charge your phone or tablet while on the go. Though on the smaller side, it's a great option for those who need to transport a lot of accessories and want to keep them separate and organized.
  • hidden rear pockets
  • front clip to attach keys
  • does not include a charger
Brand Sosoon
Weight 1.8 pounds
Rating 3.6 / 5.0

9. MaxPoint Business Pack

The water- and scratch-resistant MaxPoint Business Pack is designed to keep your items safe and separate with an organizer compartment featuring multiple dividers as well as a laptop sleeve and a hidden zippered pocket for storing important papers.
  • shockproof padding
  • three-digit padlock included
  • too small to carry several textbooks
Brand Maxpoint
Model TN-521
Weight 2.6 pounds
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

8. Case Logic Deluxe Evolution

The Case Logic Deluxe Evolution has a side pouch big enough for a water bottle and a key fob loop for easy access to your keys or swipe card. There's also a headphones slot for cords connected to a phone or music player tucked inside.
  • secure hidden compartment
  • large exterior pockets
  • can't accommodate large laptops
Brand Case Logic
Model BPED-115
Weight 2.3 pounds
Rating 3.6 / 5.0

7. Outjoy Airbag Shockproof

For those forced to tramp through rainy campuses, this Outjoy Airbag Shockproof comes with a special waterproof cover hidden at the bottom of the pack in case of unexpected thunderstorms. It also has a detachable chest strap for extra support when hauling heavy books.
  • two roomy main compartments
  • sturdy top handle
  • attachment points are weak
Model 4328529732
Weight 2.6 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

6. SwissGear 18 Lighweight

The SwissGear 18 Lighweight has a media port for phone cables, as well as an airflow system with padding and ventilation that will add spine support and keep you cool as you hoof it across campus. A Velcro strap fully encloses your laptop for added protection.
  • holder for glasses
  • cellphone compartment on shoulder
  • padded tablet sleeve
Brand Swiss Gear
Model 3183201410
Weight 2.1 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

5. Victoriatourist Laptop V6002

This Victoriatourist Laptop V6002 is constructed out of durable ballistic nylon and has divider pockets to keep all your belongings separate. The check fast sleeve folds down for quick, easy passage through airport security when carrying a laptop.
  • attaches easily to upright luggage
  • excellent padding and back support
  • no water bottle holder
Brand Victoriatourist
Model V6002
Weight 3 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

4. Under Armour Storm Hustle

The Under Armour Storm Hustle is water-resistant to make sure your electronic devices won't get wet, while it is also designed not to retain excessive body heat. This is a sleek, compact choice for anyone who needs to move around town efficiently.
  • five exterior pockets
  • two side water bottle holders
  • abrasion-resistant bottom
Brand Under Armour
Model 1263964
Weight 1.3 pounds
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

3. Brinch Unisex

The Brinch Unisex was designed with busy students in mind. It's capable of accommodating multiple books in its roomy main compartment and also sports three outer pockets for items of various sizes, as well as extra back padding for maximum comfort.
  • cushioned computer sleeve
  • made of a scratch-resistant material
  • cooling airflow system
Model plastic
Weight 2.5 pounds
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

2. JanSport Big Student Series

The classic JanSport Big Student Series features ergonomic S-curve shoulder straps and a front utility pocket with an audio electronics organizer. This top-rated bag is available in a variety of colors and comes from a trusted brand.
  • zippered stash pockets
  • fully-padded back panel
  • accommodates laptops up to 17 inches
Brand JanSport
Model TDN7008
Weight 1.2 pounds
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

1. WestBronco Cowhide Daypack

Higher education is all about reinventing yourself, and graduating from the simple, unimpressive bags of your high school days to something like the WestBronco Cowhide Daypack would be a strong first step toward your adult life.
  • imported italian leather
  • well-organized interior
  • one-year warranty
Model 4328529991
Weight 4.9 pounds
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

How To Choose The Best College Backpack For You

If you're a college student, you may use a backpack to carry clothes, makeup, beer, video games, mobile devices, athletic gear, and maybe even the occasional textbook. The point being that a college backpack represents a significant investment. Consequently, you want to choose a bag that's right for you.

The overriding idea of a college backpack is to function as a utility, which is why most top bags are made out of durable materials including reinforced nylon, polyester, and leather. Materials like these won't easily wear or fray as a result of bearing considerable weight, especially if a backpack features any type of interior padding along the frame. Padded backpacks can ease the burden on a student's shoulders, just as padded straps can enable a backpack to rest more comfortably along the back rail of a chair.

Compartments are an essential component of any backpack. Yes, you need at least one major compartment in the front of the pack for storing pens and other stationery. But you may also want a few minor compartments for storing cosmetics, medication, snacks, or any personal items, as well.

Any college backpack's central compartment should be deep enough to accommodate large textbooks, binders, and notebooks. If you carry a laptop or a tablet to class, you either want to keep that device in a separate bag, or you want to ensure that it's stored in an isolated, cushioned compartment where there isn't any chance of it getting damaged or crushed.

Several Keys To Organizing Your College Backpack

It sounds simple, right? You toss some books into a backpack, and you're on your way to class. And yet the reality is that this is a shortsighted approach. Ideally, you want to keep your backpack light, and orderly. You want to feel assured you've packed the books - and only the books - that you'll need for every class. One method of doing this is to separate your textbooks based on which classes are being held on different days of the week. This way you can fill your bag with one small stack at the beginning of every morning, and then replace that stack with another the following day.

Minimizing the amount of weight that you keep in a backpack will allow for lighter travel, and it will also reduce the level of stress on a backpack's lining, long-term. More often than not, when a hole begins to form along a backpack's lower corners, that hole is the result of too many textbooks rubbing hard against the fabric over the course of several months.

If you carry pens, pencils, a compass, or any other pointed instruments, it's beneficial to store those items in a plastic case. The case will provide a buffer for the backpack's stationery compartment, and it will also keep those items from sticking out and pricking your skin.

If you own a five-subject notebook there probably isn't any need to remove that notebook from a backpack at all. If, on the other hand, specific classes require you to keep separate notebooks, be sure that each of those notebooks features a different-colored cover. Color-coding is an efficient way to avoid packing the wrong notebook, and it may also wind up saving you a considerable amount of time.

Buying a Backpack For College: A Parent's Guide

Let's say you're buying a college backpack for your son or daughter, and you want it to be a surprise. You know that this backpack needs to look cool for the simple reason that college kids can be the world's worst cynics. But more importantly, you want to choose a backpack that has value, and will last.

So where do you start? Oddly enough, you may be able to get some good ideas from social media. Take a look at some of your son or daughter's recent Facebook photos (assuming that you have access to them, of course). What type of backpacks are the other kids in those photos wearing? More often than not, you'll begin to see a lot of the same colors, styles, and brands.

If your child spends a lot of time on a laptop (or any other digital device), then you'll probably want to pursue a cushioned bag that features at least one specially-padded compartment. If your child's major requires him or her to work with art supplies or drafting tools, then you'll probably want to pursue a bag that features several stationery compartments, as well.

If you want to learn more about a specific backpack, read some of its customer reviews. Be sure to give specific weight to any of these reviews that were obviously written by a college student, as these could provide the most reliable gauge of how effective a backpack will be on a day-to-day basis.

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Last updated on May 18, 2018 by Daniel Imperiale

Daniel is a writer, actor, and director living in Los Angeles, CA. He spent a large portion of his 20s roaming the country in search of new experiences, taking on odd jobs in the strangest places, studying at incredible schools, and making art with empathy and curiosity.

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