Whether you’re a student, commuter, a hiker, or just someone who uses backpacks a lot, you know that a backpack can cause back pain when worn for extended periods of time. Typically, backpacks are bulky and put a lot of weight on your back and shoulders. As a result, you get so easily drained. Many decent backpacks on the market, when picked correctly, will not only make it easy for you to wear but also help you get rid of back pain.
Back pain is a real problem and can affect us in both the short and long term run and let’s face it you have had backpacks that cause you back pain before. Those who work on desks or any other sedentary work should know exactly what a sore back would feel like. Luckily, it’s very easy to pick a backpack that can prevent back pain.
In a Hurry? The test winners after 9 hrs of research
The best backpacks for back pain should come with “S” shape shoulder straps and waist or chest straps to distribute weight evenly on your back. Hiking, backpacking, and traveling shouldn’t give you a problem with you’re back. Given the frequency that most of us use a backpack to hold our laptops, books, and everything else, investing in an ergonomic backpack that does not kill the balance or contribute to back pain over time is critical. This is why we have done the research for you to find the best backpacks that will suit you as well as a buying guide to help you make an informed decision before purchasing one.
The Osprey Packs Farpoint 55 Men’s Travel Backpack is a backpacking carry technology with an urban aesthetic and a zip-off daypack. This is the perfect companion for a long weekend. Feel free to add an extra sweater and a pair of waterproof boots; this pack is designed to handle loads up to 50 pounds. The LightWire frame suspension transfers the load from harness to hipbelt. A mesh backpanel improves ventilation and the mesh on the harness and hipbelt reduces chafing under load. The entire suspension stows away under a zippered panel creating a sleek silhouette for transport.
Unzip the lockable sliders to access the main compartment. Inside there’s a mesh pocket for small items. Dual compression straps keep cargo from shifting during transit. Top and side padded carry handles are helpful when you need to hoist the pack. Dual front compression straps keep gear stable while wearing the pack. Be sure to also check out our list of travel backpacks for more great items like this.
Stowaway backpanel, harness, and hipbelt with zippered rear flap for protection
Durable fabrics in high-wear areas
Large panel zip access to the main compartment
Lockable sliders on main compartment zipper
Dimensions: 25″ H x 13″ W x 13″ D
Weight: 3.9 lbs
It has two handles that can be used when it’s not in backpack-mode
When detached, the main bag is small enough to be considered a carryon
The main bag has hidden shoulder straps that are tucked and zipped away when needed, and the smaller backpack attaches to the front via another zipper
The main compartment unzips like a suitcase (around the side) rather than straight down the middle (like a duffel) or from the top (like a backpack)
The water bottle pockets on the daypack exterior are not nearly large or stretchy enough
The Incase ICON Laptop Backpack is a great option if you want a laptop backpack that provides unparalleled organizing capacity and durability. This pack features two side-access safe and separate compartments that can fit both a 15-inch laptop and a tablet or iPad.
You can not only house all of your tech gears in the external top-access secondary compartment, such as hard drives, cords, and cameras but also store files and flat objects in the main compartment. This pack contains over 14 different pocket styles — great for anything that you might need to carry and organize on the go. You may also be interested in some of the best laptop backpacks for travel from our list, so check them out.
Three large dedicated compartments
Engineered airflow channels into the compression-molded back panel
Padded shoulder straps with multiple adjustment points
Constructed with heavy-duty, durable 840D ballistic nylon
Dimensions: 19″ H x 13″ W x 9″ D
Weight: 2.51 lbs
Stands up right even empty
Dedicated pockets for laptop and glasses/phone are fur lined
Back breathes well
Even with the bag full, pockets are still very accessible and don’t encroach on each other
With so many pockets, there isn’t much room for large objects if you need to carry them
The Osprey Packs Fairview 40 Women’s Travel Backpack is perfect for a weekend getaway in the city or the wilderness and is built to meet most airline carry-on requirements. A women’s specific backpanel, hipbelt and harness system can easily be stowed and zipped away for a slimmer profile when traveling. This creates a slimmer profile for the bag, making it a better-checked bag. It also utilizes an internal LightWire frame suspension system that helps transfer load from the harness to the hipbelt.
Two internal compression straps secure your load, so feel free to add an extra sweater and a pair of waterproof boots; this pack is designed to handle loads up to 40 pounds. Dual front compression straps keep gear stable while wearing the pack. The Fairview 40 also includes a padded shoulder strap for multiple carry options. Our guide to the best travel backpacks for women offers more great products like this.
Large panel zip access to the main compartment
Lockable sliders on main compartment zipper
Dual front compression straps and mesh pockets
Heat-embossed scratch-free zippered slash pocket
Padded top and side handles
Stowaway backpanel, harness, and hipbelt with zippered rear flap for protection
Dimensions: 21″ H x 14″ W x 9″ D
Weight: 3.16 lbs
Nice fit, hugs weight closer to your bag than other packs
Opens all the way around like a suitcase
Great hideaway strap system
There are tightening straps both on the inside and on the outside
Great for the daily commute to school or a fun day outside, this sporty backpack provides classic style and adequate room for all the most important items you have. The JanSport Odyssey Backpack is made of durable polyester and ballistic nylon fabric and features a sporty build with numerous storage pockets, ergonomic S-curved shoulder straps, a sternum strap, and a tuck-away hip belt that makes it easier to wear.
This backpack has two large key compartments and features a padded sleeve for carrying your tablet or 3-liter hydration kit, dual water bottle pockets, a quick access loft pocket, and a deluxe tool pocket for storing all your small accessories. Don’t forget to also check our guide to the best JanSport backpacks.
Deluxe utility pocket with organizer
Dual water bottle pockets
Ergonomic S-curve shoulder straps
Two large main compartments
Side compression straps
Dimensions: 20″ H x 14″ W x 12″ D
Weight: 2.86 lbs
The design and functionality is top-tier
It’s a very comfortable backpack makes it easy to carry around 10kg of stuff
Good compartments for a student or hiker
It has good quality fabric and nice straps
The medium sized middle compartment is the one with all the pockets for organizing the small items meaning that a significant amount of space in the backpack is devoted to this and unfortunately reducing it’s carrying capacity
Osprey Packs Jet 12 Kid’s Hiking Backpack is just right for first-time hikers who are big enough to carry their own gear. It has front panel access to main compartment for easy packing and unpacking. The mesh back panel provides ventilation and the fleece-lined shoulder harness is extra comfortable all day long.
The external zippered pocket is perfect for snacks or lip balm while the internal zippered pocket is good for small items. Dual stretch mesh side pockets give youngsters a place to store new found outdoor treasures. There’s also an external reservoir pocket to make refills easy. Love Osprey? Check out our review of the best Osprey backpacks for our top picks.
Small external zippered pocket for sundries
Lower web loop attachment points for lashing extra gear
Dual stretch mesh side pockets for water bottles or snacks
Small internal zippered pocket secures small items
Large front stretch mesh pocket for quick storage
Dimensions: 15″ H x 9″ W x 7″ D
Weight: 0.88 lbs
The straps are cinched all the way in, but the pack itself is just the right size
The Friendly Swede Waterproof Backpack is a perfect combination of great, timeless design, ergonomic comfort, and many practical functions. Unique to other dry bags, they have added a padded laptop inner pocket, organizer mesh bag, and a carabiner, on the inside on this one. This way you can find all your gadgets quickly when needed. The ergonomic back and waist straps are easily adjusted and will help you travel long distances without getting a sore back.
The chest strap is also easy to adjust in height to make the backpack even more comfortable to wear and suited perfectly for you. To the strap’s buckle, they added a practical emergency whistle that is useful when out in the woods, to get attention, or if you are in a threatening situation. You will always have it close and handy at your chest. To enhance your visibility when dark outside, they have also added reflectors to the front pocket and also to the shoulder straps. Don’t forget to also check our guide to the best waterproof backpacks for travel.
Adjustable strap with lock
Adjustable and movable chest strap
Spacious mesh pocket
Brand: The Friendly Swede
Weight: 2.5 lbs
Thick and sturdy
The front pocket is perfect for items you wish to get to quickly
The mesh side pockets are perfect for drinks or other things that don’t need to be kept dry
It is comfortable to carry and has two ways to secure the opening
The inside pockets are less than thrilling to say the least. It’s basically a giant trash bag with a velcro pocket to put your laptop
Unlike any other backpack you’ve ever seen, the eBags Professional Slim Laptop Backpack features absolute organization. With a streamlined look and elegant style, this pack will take you from nine to nine, no pit-stops needed, wherever you need to go. Pass-through sleeve secures bag to rolling luggage and top carry handles
With several padded tech pockets for all of your gadgets and several internal and external pockets, this bag becomes a keeper. Plus, the ventilated air mesh back panel and contoured braces make an amazing fit— absolutely perfect for a long commute. Lastly, it has a removable and adjustable sternum strap for more comfort.
Front bottom structured zip pocket
Front vertical exterior zip pocket
Breathable, padded air-mesh back panel for comfort
Adjustable sternum strap
Diagonal stash pocket inside middle compartment
Dimensions: 18″ H x 12.8″ W x 8.5″ D
Weight: 3.81 lbs
Many different storage pockets. They vary in shapes, sizes, construction, and location on either the inside or outside of the bag
The backpack straps can be tucked away and the bag can be carried like a briefcase with a handle on the side
The two grab handles (one on top and one on the side) recess flat against the sides of the bag when not in use
The overall design aesthetic. It’s not flashy but looks good
The water bottle holder is not large enough to fit a 40oz hydroflask
With a modern refresh, The North Face Borealis is for stashing your gear quickly, and hitting the road now offers updated features and an improved suspension system for all-day comfort. The main compartment features a padded, highly-protective laptop sleeve and the front compartment is equipped with a tablet sleeve to protect and organize your electronics. Finished with easy-access, stretch-mesh water bottle pockets and an external bungee cord that allows you to lash on additional gear.
The FlexVent suspension system boasts custom injection-molded shoulder straps and a padded mesh back panel with a spine channel for maximum support and ventilation Secondary compartment has internal organization with a fleece-lined media pocket, secure zippered pocket, and elastic webbing for cord management. Other comfort features include a sternum strap with whistle buckle and a removable waist belt. Make sure you also check our selection of the best North Face backpacks.
Padded, fleece-lined 15″ laptop sleeve
FlexVent suspension system
Front elastic bungee for external storage
Fleece-lined media pocket
Comfortable, padded top haul handle
Brand: The North Face
Dimensions: 19.75″ H x 13.25″ W x 9.75″ D
Weight: 2.69 lbs
The front compartment has a lot of pockets and such to help organize your supplies
This backpack also has little flaps that fold over the zippers that, paired with the thick material, effectively keep rain water from soaking its contents
There is also a perfectly sized laptop pouch that’s padded
It’s very comfortable on your back even when loaded due to the padding
Backpack can’t stay upright without being leaned against something
The XD Design Bobby Compact Anti-Theft Laptop Backpack is designed for anyone who needs to travel far and wide while holding their laptop and other necessities. Most people think they’re all out to take from them, and it’s a bit true. Hidden zipper and anti-cut technologies make theft from the bag nearly impossible for anyone.
The backpack transfers weight towards your back, so you’ll feel less pain. The many pockets inside are ideal for carrying larger items such as laptops and tablets, along with smaller items such as glasses and pencils that are easy to lose. Find more great products like this by checking out our guide to the best anti-theft backpacks for travel.
Integrated USB Charging Port
Hidden Zippers & Hidden Pockets
Protective layers and a Cut-Proof Protection board
Includes compartments which hold a laptop up to 14″
Integrated Raincover & Free shopping tote
Dimensions: 15.3″ H x 11″ W x 5.5″ D
Weight: 1.96 lbs
The shoulder straps are adjustable and padded, and there is a little elastic band on either side of the straps to hold the rolled up length of the strap
The back panel has a foam layer with a mesh covering for ventilation
The ergonomic design does not lie! It also holds its shape rather well but you have to be careful not to smoosh the bag unnecessarily
The Kelty Redwing 50 Backpack is built for travel and hiking, adding convenience and organization to any adventure. Highly utilitarian, the Redwing has all the features and organization needed for a simplified travel or an overnight on the trail. With a full-access U-zipper, the Redwing works both as a top loader and a panel loader, adding convenience to any adventure.
Sternum strap and load-lifter straps help balance the load. Anatomically curved shoulder straps and a padded hipbelt help distribute weight for load-carrying ease. Equal load balance across the back as opposed to squarely on the shoulders. Shoulder straps, hipbelt and ventilated back panel are lined with moisture-moving mesh that dries quickly, helping you stay comfortable in the heat of hiking
Hybrid-loading U-zipper design
LightBeam single aluminum stay
Water bottle pockets on the side
Dynamic Airflow back panel and Air Mesh on the shoulder straps
Load lifters, stabilizers, removable hip belt stabilizer straps, sternum straps, and waist buckle
Dimensions: 24″ H x 15″ W x 12″ D
Weight: 3.08 lbs
The hip straps are removable
It is front-loading, which is nice
It has a lot of compartments to organize your belongings
Back is not too sweaty as the aluminum beam is curved so there is air flow for the back
Backpacks with S-shaped shoulder straps preserve the back’s normal curvature when holding loads. Padded back and shoulder will enhance ergonomic comfort as well. Chest and waist straps will help distribute weight and shape to conform to your body shape, which is helpful if you plan on carrying heavy loads in your backpack.
In the event that your laptop or other gadgets drop down on the floor. Having a backpack with shock protection will be useful for those who want to cart their laptops, tablets or phones around. Examples of shock protection features are built-in airbags and padded laptop compartments.
Although it is easy to use both large and small ergonomic backpacks, if you don’t have a big and strong upper body, you should go for a small backpack! Smaller backpacks are lightweight and accommodate small items and make it more comfortable to carry.
Without any organization, placing your things in your backpack all in one pocket lets their weight collect at the edges. That isn’t ideal for people with back pain at all. You must instead search for a backpack that provides the best compartments for your supplies. Placing devices such as your laptop or camera in the appropriate pocket distributes the weight around the straps of the shoulder better, making it easier to carry them without painful discomfort problems.
It is advised not to carry more than 10% of your body weight in your backpack. In other words, if you weigh 150 pounds, you should try to keep the weight of the bag to less than 15 lbs, so that you do not risk your spinal cord being damaged from daily use. It forces your body to bend forward when you wear an overweight bag to compensate for the extra weight. This leads the spinal cord to gradually curl slowly over time.
Frequently Ask Questions
Why do some backpacks cause back pain?
Although ergonomic backpacks are built for people with back pain, it is not the majority of regular backpacks. This means they will be causing pain all day long. Some people say the backpack bends their spine while others experience stress pressure in their shoulders. It’s generally due to poor design; if the straps on the shoulder do not have any padding, there would be a lot of strain on the shoulders, which can lead to stiff muscles. rHeavy backpacks can also place a lot of pressure on the back, remember that you must only carry about 10-15% of your body weight.
How can a backpack reduce back pain?
Thanks to their smart design, ergonomic backpacks can reduce back pain. Ergonomic backpacks, usually have sturdy, flexible straps that help distribute the weight equally over the back and shoulders, mitigating discomfort and helping to improve posture. It also ensures that when you wear the backpack, your muscles become more comfortable, so you are less likely to suffer from sore, rigid muscles. That is really important if you carry your backpack everyday at work. Back pain can sound like a minor inconvenience after all, but wearing an uncomfortable backpack will affect you in the long term.
What is an ergonomic backpack?
An ergonomic backpack is designed to support your body and protect it. It will be more flexible than most regular backpacks and straps are more cushioned. Ergonomic backpacks are specifically built to keep you comfortable when holding your things and also to provide quality. These bags lower the pressure on your shoulders, have padded straps, and are uniformly built, and it can distribute weight really well.
Where should a backpack sit on your back?
Optimally, a backpack should sit 2 inches under your shoulders and not less than 2 inches above your hips. If you have a strap in your chest, adjust to make it 1 inch below your collarbone. It won’t limit your arm movement in that position, and will still not be too loose.
We hope this guide was helpful for finding the best backpacks for back pain as well as our guide on features to look for in a backpack for back pain. If you have any questions or concerns regarding this guide, feel free to let us know in the comments section.