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The Best Backpacks for College Students

You shouldn't be towing textbooks in a tote bag. Instead, try one of these trusty backpacks.

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Back in the day, all anyone looked for in a backpack for life on campus was durability and size. Could it endure several semesters without tearing and fit an unreasonable number of (supposedly) required textbooks? Today, with so much tech to carry to class (plus all the cords and chargers), these backpacks need to be slightly more sophisticated while still maintaining the toughness of those from the days of yore. There’s also the quandary of wanting them to fit everything but the kitchen sink in an organized and compact way that’ll keep them looking sleek and minimal and dare I add, stylish yet completely comfortable. So, are we asking too much? Actually, no.

What Makes a Backpack Right for School?

Yes, a college backpack today needs to tick a lot more boxes than it used to. But many do! What differentiates a school backpack from other forms is that it needs to be tough and durable to withstand the weight of laptops and textbooks and the inevitability of rainy days — plus dirty lecture hall and library floors. It should double as a filing cabinet, with organizational pockets and a separate padded compartment for your laptop.

The best ones have extra features, like key rings, secret pockets for quick accessibility to often-used sundries, and water bottle holders for long days. Often, it’s hard to find a backpack that masters functionality without compromising on style, so you may opt for a tote bag to avoid looking like a freshman (even if you are one). But totes aren’t going to protect your stuff from hard falls or bad weather, and you definitely don’t want uneven distribution of weight messing up your back. Nix the tote.

The Best Backpacks for College Students


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      Best Overall Backpack for College Students
      State Kane Double Pocket Backpack
      best upgrade backpack for college students
      Filson Dryden Backpack
      Best affordable backpack for college students
      Herschel Classic Backpack XL
      Best Retro Backpack for College Students
      L.L. Bean Mountain Classic School Backpack
      Away The Front Pocket Backpack
      Topo Designs Recycled Daypack
      Osprey Arcane Large Daypack
      Carhartt 21L Essentials Backpack
      Now 15% off
      The North Face Daypack Backpack
      Sealand Archie Backpack
      Bellroy Classic Backpack Plus
      Dagne Dover Dakota Neoprene Backpack
      Saturdays Jackson Backpack
      Peak Design Everyday Backpack Zip
      Incase City Compact Backpack
      Troubadour Apex Compact Backpack
      July Carry All Backpack Series 2
      Dickies Student Backpack
      Best Backpack for College Athletes
      Adidas Prime Backpack
      Brevite Everyday Backpack
      30 Dorm Room Essentials Every College Student Should Have
      dorm room with brick fireplace and wood floor
      Elliott KaufmanGetty Images

      These are the items you need to feel at home in your dorm.

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