The 10 Best Herschel Backpacks

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This wiki has been updated 29 times since it was first published in January of 2017. Beloved by everyone from high schoolers to hipsters, road warriors to messengers, these Herschel backpacks will help you carry whatever you need to haul, no matter where you need to haul it. We’ve included a variety of models, including those that are sleek enough for a modern office, big enough to accommodate textbooks, and fashionable enough to turn heads — at all price points, too. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.

1. Little America

2. Herschel Classic

3. Heritage Backpack

Editor's Notes

December 08, 2020:

Designs come and go, and alas, a few have gone. The Men's Winlaw, Packable Daypack, and the Unisex Barlow are off the list, but we have some attractive and functional replacements.

Check out the Travel 20.0L if you're looking for a backpack that will impress in an airport or a work environment. We like the Nova Mid-Volume for its clean look, and it fits an impressive amount inside for a bag that isn't bulky at all. The Dawson Classic has lots of color choices and patterns to choose from, but they all have charming, old-fashioned touches like buckle straps (that you don't need to buckle) and a drawstring top.

June 18, 2019:

While there are so many great Herschel backpack styles available, we still think it's tough to top the Little America and the Classic, which are go-to bags for plenty of reasons. For one thing, the color offerings are fresh and attractive, and for another, they're big enough to be useful in a variety of settings, from the college campus to the airport. We've also added the Unisex Barlow as a top pick. Although it's made for hitting the trail, it features a laptop sleeve, so it's equally useful for commuters. It comes with a ripstop rain cover, so it's also a fine choice for those living in rainy climates.

We debated about removing the Settlement Mid-Volume, but ultimately decided to keep it on the strength of its clean styling and fun color selection. The drawback, however, is the chunky metal zippers. Although this means they can take some abuse, it also means they can be rough on your hands as you reach in and out of the bag. This won't bother everyone, but for some, it's a dealbreaker. You might consider the Heritage Backpack instead; its zippers aren't placed in exactly the same manner, so it's not as much of a problem. It, too, comes in a large color range.

Special Honors

Grove XS The Grove XS is a backpack, true, but because of the size, you might want to think of it as a large purse with backpack straps. It will accommodate a tablet and perhaps a laptop, although it's a squeeze and the load may not be all that comfortable.

Dawson XL Studio The Dawson XL Studio offers you two bags in one, since it arrives with an internal pouch that you can remove and wear as a crossbody. Its ample interior can hold a 15-inch computer comfortably, and you'll know it's secure thanks to the drawcord closure.

Birds of Herschel Collection Herschel sometimes creates special collections, and a particularly attractive one is the Birds of Herschel print, which celebrates the avians in the founders' hometown of Herschel, Saskatchewan. The print is available in the Little America and Nova backpacks, and you can even get it on a matching chair.

4. Pop Quiz

5. Herschel Retreat

6. Settlement Mid-Volume

7. Travel 20.0L

8. City Multipurpose

9. Nova Mid-Volume

10. Dawson Classic

The Backpack Is King

Perhaps the most obvious use belongs to that of the student, who must transport books and assorted school day necessities, such as lunch and notebooks.

When it comes to bags, there are more than plenty of choices: sling bags, totes, purses, satchels, duffels, roller bags, waist packs, and on and on. Yet there’s one bag that might be the “one bag to rule them all,” and that is the backpack. It can be everything you need, including versatile, useful, stylish, and even comfortable to carry. So, what is it that makes the backpack so amazing? Just consider the following.

First, a backpack is practical in many situations. Perhaps the most obvious use belongs to that of the student, who must transport books and assorted school day necessities, such as lunch and notebooks. But you can use a backpack in many other circumstances. You might employ one as a carry on when going on a plane trip, a daypack to hold souvenirs or snacks while exploring a new city, or even a computer bag when traveling to the office. Hikers and campers utilize backpacks to hold their gear, although they may reach for models with frames, which help wearers schlep a large amount of weight.

Then, most backpack straps don’t slide down off the shoulders the way that the straps of other bags do. Handbags and tote bags are especially prone to this issue, whether their straps are long or short. Messenger bags may alleviate this, but a cross-chest strap is simply not comfortable for everyone and may require frequent adjustments. A properly-fitted backpack, on the other hand, stays on your back, right where you left it.

And of course, a backpack can provide most of the crucial features that the wearer desires. If you love fashion, for instance, you can rock an on-trend style. More concerned about functionality? Then you might look for models with organizational systems and usability features. With some of the better backpack brands, including Herschel, you can even tick all of your boxes with the same model.

Finally, a backpack doesn’t have to take up a lot of space when not in use, unlike rolling luggage. Fold it down flat and stick it in the top of your closet or under your bed, then forget about it until you need it again. Plus, a backpack doesn’t have wheels that can break or fall off, and if it does need repairs, it’s likely that you can perform them with only minimal sewing skills.

Small Details For Sturdy Styling

For many people, the only thing better than a backpack is a Herschel backpack. They’re known for their appealing combination of style and functionality, which has led to them become something of an icon in the luggage realm. You can see why Herschel backpacks have earned such great popularity when you take a look at the little details.

Perhaps the most iconic of the Herschel touches is the signature striped liner; some say it was designed to call to mind the striped engineer overalls of yesteryear, in keeping with the brand’s nostalgic styling. No matter where it comes from, this cheery interior fabric shows attention to detail and provides a distinctive look.

If you don’t love zippers, not to worry — many Herschel backpacks feature adjustable drawstring closures.

Another detail to look for on Herschel backpacks is the use of fleece-lined sleeves and slots that help you safely transport your most sensitive items, including computers, tablets, and sunglasses. Built into the construction of the bag, these compartments save you from having to use a separate case for protection. Most are padded, as well, for extra peace of mind.

One of the comfiest features on a Herschel backpack would be the padded straps. Although vintage bags, after which modern Herschel pieces are styled, tended to have thinner, unpadded straps, most Herschel packs offer fully padded and contoured straps for the wearer’s comfort.

A small detail perhaps only backpack aficionados will notice, the zippers on Herschel backpacks vary, but offer high-quality touches, including full-grain leather pulls. If you don’t love zippers, not to worry — many Herschel backpacks feature adjustable drawstring closures. So you don’t have to fiddle with zippers and drawstrings to listen to your music, many designs feature headphone ports.

Any discussion about Herschel’s details would be incomplete without a mention of the label. It isn’t loud or flashy, but its understated styling does manage to announce the brand’s presence boldly. You can find this label affixed proudly to the front of most of their classic backpack models.

A Very Brief History Of Herschel Backpacks

You can thank the Canadian team of brothers Lyndon and Jamie Cormack for bringing the world Herschel Supply Co. and its timeless backpacks. Founded in 2009, the company is based in Vancouver and boasts worldwide distribution; you can buy Herschel goods at retail locations in bustling cities across the globe, including Milan, Hong Kong, and Paris.

Herschel Supply’s popularity and styling have also allowed them to branch out into other types of items beyond just backpacks.

Herschel Supply Co.’s roots reach back farther, however, as the brand takes its name from the name of the small town that’s been home to three generations of the Cormacks. The brothers’ great grandparents arrived in Herschel, Saskatchewan in 1906, building their life in this small village that today boasts a minute population of around 30 people.

This connection to the past can be seen in the company’s style, which focuses on capturing throwback designs in a modernized way. The brothers have noted that they don’t want to simply mimic old designs, in fact, but rather create bags that reflect today’s needs while embodying classic nostalgia. This is why a Herschel backpack offers vintage visual appeal but still gives a safe and efficient way to transport today’s electronics.

Herschel Supply’s popularity and styling have also allowed them to branch out into other types of items beyond just backpacks. The company’s offerings are varied and include wallets, laptop sleeves, headwear, outerwear, messenger bags, passport cases, and much more. They’ve also partnered with several cultural icons to create distinctive collections, such as those for Major League Baseball, Disney, and Coca-Cola. As these collections may be produced for limited periods, designs in these lines can become difficult to come by once they are no longer in production.

Melissa Harr
Last updated by Melissa Harr

Melissa Harr is a language-obsessed writer from Chicagoland who holds both a bachelor of arts and master of arts in English. Although she began as a TEFL teacher, earning several teaching certificates and working in both Russia and Vietnam, she moved into freelance writing to satisfy her passion for the written word. She has published full-length courses and books in the realm of arts & crafts and DIY; in fact, most of her non-working time is spent knitting, cleaning, or committing acts of home improvement. Along with an extensive knowledge of tools, home goods, and crafts and organizational supplies, she has ample experience (okay, an obsession) with travel gear, luggage, and the electronics that make modern life more convenient.

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