Last Updated August, 2020.
With a few notable exceptions (lawyers and bankers, mainly), a 21st-century businessperson doesn’t have to wear a suit to conduct business, especially now. That means you don’t necessarily have to carry a briefcase. With comfort and functionality as priorities, lots of people now use backpacks for their everyday commute — just throw it over your shoulders and you’re hands-free for a coffee, a handshake or holding on while the bus creeps forward. The backpacks below cover the spectrum of possible uses, so whether you’re looking for a simple vessel for getting from A to B with the day’s goods or you plan to telecommute to a secluded bungalow on the beach, these backpacks are up for the task.
Bellroy Classic Backpack
Just Get This
Fabric: Dura nylon
This 20L zip-top back strikes a chord between minimalist design and maximilast features. Though it comes in a variety of durable fabrics, this all-black version is made with Bellroy's Dura nylon material. It features a slew of compartments, cleverly hidden throughout including a water-resistant top pocket for your phone and other small electronics. The main compartment is filled with several padded dividers as well as a separate mesh pocket.
Jansport Right Pack Backpack
Fabric: 915 Denier Cordura, suede
It doesn't get much simpler than this. Tough Cordura fabric coupled with Jansport's iconic suede bottom give it a long-lasting appeal, physically and aesthetically. It comes with two outer pockets for quick-access items and a single roomy main compartment complete with a padded laptop sleeve big enough for a 15-inch laptop.
Mission Workshop Arkiv Modular Systems
Fabric: Cordura, waxed canvas
Mission Workshop’s Arkiv Backpack is a modular system that’s customizable to your heart’s desire. It comes in a range of fabrics from Cordura to waxed canvas, each of which is waterproof. The range of modules includes packs for laptops and other electronics, all of which can be added or detached as needed.
The North Face Ruthsac Backpack
Fabric: Polyester twill
This simple 31.5L bag exudes a vintage aesthetic with leather detailing and barrel-style outer pockets for water bottles. Your items are easily accessed thanks to the panel-loading design, but if you want to grab your laptop quickly from its padded sleeve, there's also a dedicated top-loading zipper. It also includes generous padding at the back and shoulders along with tough webbing fabric for the top handle, daisy chaining and bike light loop.
Mystery Ranch In & Out Backpack
Fabric: 100D Cordura Mini Rip fabric
The 19L In & Out bag is cut from incredibly durable 100D Cordura mini rip fabric. It features plenty of easily accessible outer pockets including a hydration reservoir pocket which includes ports for a drinking tube. And, this daypack can even be stuffed down into its own mesh pocket.
Patagonia Ultralight Black Hole Pack
Fabric: 70D recycled ripstop nylon
Patagonia’s Black Hole series of bags and duffels are known for their strength and durability. This 20L top-loading backpack uses recycled nylon ripstop and features comfortable padding at the straps and back. Plus, it packs into itself.
Rains Field Bag
Fabric: Polyurethane, polyester
Though it’s well-known for its waterproof outerwear, Rains also makes a range of water-repellent bags perfect for inclement weather. This minimalist bag has a padded laptop sleeve and an external zip pocket, and the material blend is inspired by the Danish brand’s classic raincoats.
$100 to $200
Topo Designs Rover Pack
Fabric: Ballistic nylon, leather
Made in America, this bag features a ballistic nylon body and pull-up leather bottom. A flip top and drawcord opening secure the main compartment, which can house a 15-inch laptop, and zip pockets adorn the front and top flap.
Epperson Mountaineering Medium Climb Pack
Fabric: DWR-coated 1000D Cordura nylon
Epperson’s 70s-inspired mountain climbing pack is made in the USA using a tough and lightweight Cordura nylon. It comes with a bevy of durable features like military-grade webbing, sealed seams and bar tack reinforcements. And, you can still haul your laptop inside, hiking or just hanging out.
Aer Duffle Pack 2 Convertible Backpack
Fabric: 1680D Cordura ballistic nylon
Part backpack, part duffel bag, Aer’s hybrid bag excels in either mode thanks to its front-loading easy-access compartment and side handles. Not only can it fit laptops up to 15.6 inches, it can stash a pair of size 13 sneakers.
Joshu+Vela Stone Backpack
Fabric: 18-ounce cotton twill
Made in San Francisco, this simple flip pack secure your goods without the need of a drawstring closure. The bag is cut from 18-ounce cotton twill, features a military-grade “G” hook closure, includes an internal laptop sleeve and has a double-layered bottom for durability.
Fabric: 500D Cordura nylon with DWR coating
DSPTCH’s slim and technical take on the bookbag builds upon classic book bags using a modern sensibility. It features padded compartments for your laptop and tablets, mesh interior pockets, easily accessible yet secure magnetic outer pockets and it’s all made in the USA.
Sealand Buddy 2-Way Bag
Fabric: Upcycled canvas
Sealand’s Buddy 2-Way Bag is made meticulously in South Africa using upcycled materials. It’s got enough storage for a 15 inch laptop, two water bottles and the rest of your EDC.
$200 to $400
Brooks England Pickwick Backpack
Fabric: Waxed canvas
If you can’t stand zippers, get the Pickwick backpack. It features a water-resistant canvas exterior, a roll-top closure design and webbed nylon shoulder straps. An ideal bag for the bike commuter with a classic sense of style.
Winter Session Waxed Canvas Backpack
Fabric: 20-ounce waxed canvas, vegetable-tanned leather
Made in Denver, Colorado, Winter Session’s Waxed Canvas Backpack is as burly as they come, utilizing a seriously heavy 20 ounce cotton canvas that’s been waxed to make it water-resistant. It features enough room for a day’s load and comes with vegetable-tanned leather and brass hardware, ensuring that it ages well.
Master-Piece Slick Series Ballistic Backpack
Fabric: Resin-coated nylon
This rubber-like fabric is built from German resin and Italian polyester. Made in Japan, the design features an asymmetrical zip pocket, leather detailing, padded shoulder straps and Cordura backing.
Bleu de Chauffe Woody Backpack
Fabric: Cotton canvas, vegetable-tanned leather
Bleu de Chauffe makes all of its bags and leather goods in its French atelier wtih high precision. Its Woody backpack features burly cotton canvas paired with thick vegetable-tanned leather. The large main compartment is finished with seam binding for durability and includes a removable zip pouch.
Cote&Ciel Nile Rucksack
Fabric: Coated polyester, ripstop nylon
This bag features a coated polyester shell, leather panels and a reinforced rip-stop hood. The bag has a laptop pouch, internal pockets and coated metal hardware.
Filson Tin Cloth Backpack
Fabric: 14 ounce oil finish tin cloth, 10.5 ounce dry finish Tin Cloth
Made from a combination of oil finish and dry finish Tin Cloth, this rugged bag features bridle leather straps and brass hardware. The main compartment is lined with nylon and comes with a removable compartment pocket. For easy access, the bag also includes a convenient side zip for smaller items. And, the padded quilted back makes it a comfortable wear.
Loyal Stricklin Ryder Ruck Sack
Capacity: 21L (rolled), 29L (unrolled)
Fabric: Waxed cotton twill, Horween Chromexcel leather
Made in Tennessee, Loyal Stricklin’s Ryder Ruck takes after vintage ruck sacks and features heavy duty water-resistant waxed twill combined with full-grain Chromexcel leather from the famed Horween tannery. It comes with roll-top entry, three outer pockets and a spacious main compartment.
Want Les Essentiels Kastrup Backpack
Fabric: Nylon, leather
The streamlined backpack has an exterior made from nylon and leather. It has an internal laptop sleeve that holds a 13-inch computer, and internal accessories pouch and adjustable padded straps.
Mismo Leather-Trimmed Canvas Backpack
Fabric: Cotton canvas, full-grain leather
First introduced in 2011, Mismo's high-end backpack streamlined the designs of vintage backpacks while keeping their upgraded materials. It's made with brass hardware, vegetable-tanned leather and a tough and water-resistant cotton-blend canvas which was originally developed for the Italian army. It features a fold-over design which can be rolled or unfurled for more carry capacity and is easily adjusted using the brass d-rings.
Kika NY Butterfly Backpack
Fabric: Vegetable-tanned leather
Made in Brooklyn, this top-loading zip-up bag is made with vegetable-tanned Italian leather and antique brass. It’s inspired by vintage money bags and opens up like a butterfly for easy access to its main compartment which includes an interior laptop pocket, a large zippered pocket and a small zippered pocket on the back panel for securing your wallet or phone.
Visvim Cordura 20L Backpack
Fabric: Cordura nylon
This Japanese-made 20L bag reference classic ’70s daypacks. Made from durable Cordura nylon, it features a suede bottom, padded back, waterproof zippers and internal laptop sleeve.
Lotuff Leather Zipper Backpack
Fabric: Tumbled, vegetable-tanned leather
This backpack is cut from vegetable-tanned leather and includes solid-brass YKK zippers. Interior pockets organize valuables, pens, and keys, while a larger pocket is designed to carry a laptop or tablet. This bag is made in New England and comes with a lifetime guarantee.