Best Backpacks for Grad School

10 Best Backpacks for Grad School in 2020 – Buyer’s Guide

(Last Updated On: September 21, 2020)

Often grad school students find themselves maintaining full or part-time work when managing a timetable for a full semester. And it is a must to find a backpack that will help any part of one’s lifestyle. Having a bookbag with plenty of space would help maintain your work and school things apart while ensuring that you have ample pockets to organize your laptops, charging cables, books, pens, and any other personal products you bring.

You have to consider features that match your unique requirements and find the pack that’s right for you. We have included massive packs of travel to lightweight daypacks plus several choices between. Once you have a feel for just how much stuff you’ve got to cart around, you should think about design, compartmentalization, and durability. When you foresee a change in the load of your course, you can also pick a bigger bag that cinches down to hold a smaller load.

In a Hurry? The test winners after 9 hrs of research

Timbuk2 the Authority Pack

Timbuk2 the Authority Pack – Premium Pick

Why is it better?

  • The bag looks very clean and neat
  • The zippers have nice handles on them
  • There’s a hidden pocket you can’t see on the front to store sunglasses
  • The laptop pocket is separate from the rest of the bag

Herschel Little America Laptop Backpack

Herschel Little America Laptop Backpack – Best Value

Why is it better?

  • Material feels very thick & well-made
  • The faux leather straps also are a nice design touch
  • Straps are comfortable and even when filled with a lot of stuff
  • Front pocket for phone, keys

Best Backpacks for Grad School – Overview

College and grad school students need a number of superfluous expenses they would be allowed to get out of, but not one of them is a decent backpack. The best grad school backpacks aren’t necessarily inexpensive, but a little additional money may be the correct choice for your potential well being. Here are the perfect backpacks to carry out a large load securely without losing style.

Backpacks for Grad School Reviews

1. Timbuk2 the Authority Pack – Premium Pick

Timbuk2 the Authority Pack

The Timbuk2 the Authority Pack is a supremely organized monster of a work pack. If your school requires a lot of stuff and you like order but prefer not to look too stuffy, put the Authority on your back. It’s a bring-the-school-with-you bag. Rear access padded compartment fits up to a 17″ computer including a 1″ suspension gap for extra protection for your device while giving more space in the main compartment for your other stuff.

Pockets big and small make sense of everything your day job and side gig require. And it feels good thanks to the backpack straps and a super cush grab handle. Pair that with a beautiful base fabric, tuck-away sternum straps, and an air mesh back panel that keeps your dress shirt dry.

Key Features:

  • Dedicated laptop compartment
  • Neoprene water bottle pocket
  • Dual-purpose compression straps
  • Key keeper FOB

Specifications:

  • Brand: Timbuk2
  • Capacity: 28L
  • Dimensions: 18.1″ H x 11.4″ W x 5.9″ D
  • Weight: 2.4 lbs
Pros
  • The bag looks very clean and neat
  • The zippers have nice handles on them
  • There’s a hidden pocket you can’t see on the front to store sunglasses
  • The laptop pocket is separate from the rest of the bag
Cons
  • Hard to get to items at bottom of main compartment

2. Herschel Little America Laptop Backpack – Best Value

Herschel Little America Laptop Backpack

The Herschel Little America Laptop Backpack was made for everyone. Use it for your commute, the school week, a business trip, or a weekend adventure. A timeless silhouette inspired by the classic mountaineering style. Sturdy polyester and nylon fabric made for all adventures. Signature striped liner, drawcord closure, and magnet-fastened straps with metal pin buckles.

Finished with Herschel’s classic woven label. Spacious, versatile, and tech-friendly, the Herschel Little America is suited for both your everyday. Padded, contoured shoulder straps and breathable air mesh back padding, designed for a more supportive and comfortable commute to work or school. It also has multiple compartments for keeping your essentials in place. Be sure to also check out our list of Herschel backpacks for more great items like this.

Key Features:

  • Internal media pocket with headphone port
  • Front pocket with hidden zipper and key clip
  • Padded and fleece lined 15″ laptop sleeve
  • Magnetic strap closures with metal pin clips

Specifications:

  • Brand: Herschel
  • Capacity: 25L
  • Dimensions: 19.25″ H x 11.25″ W x 7″ D
  • Weight: 2.07 lbs
Pros
  • Material feels very thick & well-made
  • The faux leather straps also are a nice design touch
  • Straps are comfortable and even when filled with a lot of stuff
  • Front pocket for phone, keys
Cons
  • Bag tips over when set down

3. The North Face Jester Backpack

The North Face Jester Backpack

The ultimate campus pack, The North Face Jester Backpack doesn’t play around when it comes to protecting and organizing your gear. The main compartment features a padded 15″ laptop sleeve and is roomy enough to also accommodate your books and binders.

A front compartment with internal organization has a padded tablet sleeve, and bungee cords crisscrossing the front of the pack are perfect for stuffing your jacket and bike helmet under for convenient, hands-free walks from class to class. Our handy guide to the best North Face backpacks features more great products like this.

Key Features:

  • Front accessory pocket
  • Integrated key clip
  • Bungee system to hold items that need to be easily accessible
  • Two side mesh water bottle pockets
  • Removable hipbelt for added support.

Specifications:

  • Brand: The North Face
  • Capacity: 26L
  • Dimensions: 18.8″ H x 14″ W x 7″ D
  • Weight: 1.80 lbs
Pros
  • Great support so you can carry a hefty amount
  • Very sleek and classic
  • The front of the bag has room for pens/pencils/or a small notebook
  • Great compartments
Cons
  • The side pockets aren’t as generous

4. Thule EnRoute Backpack

Thule EnRoute Backpack

The adventure never has to end when you’re packed to go with the journey-ready Thule EnRoute Backpack. Constructed from durable 330D nylon mini-ripstop and 600D polyester. Zip closure provides an easy packing experience. Padded and adjustable backpack straps. Back panel with airflow channels to provide premium ventilation, keeping you cool all day long.

Front exterior features a crushproof safeZone zip pocket for sunglasses, smartphone or anything fragile, compression straps, an expandable drop pocket for quick access storage, and hideaway lash points with reflective detail. Padded compartment fits most 15″ laptops and 10″ tablets. Interior features a safeEdge construction laptop sleeve for corner protection, a slip pocket for your tablet, and an organization panel.

Key Features:

  • Laptop + tablet storage
  • L-shaped opening
  • Soft-lined pocket
  • Quick-access front pocket
  • Hidden lash points

Specifications:

  • Brand: Thule
  • Capacity: 23L
  • Dimensions: 15.2″ H x 10.4″ W x 1.2″ D
  • Weight: 2.16 lbs
Pros
  • Well made, and very comfortable
  • The lined device pocket works to hold a plus size phone
  • The pocket in the front with a vertical zip easily swallows small items
  • The hidden water bottle pocket is slick
Cons
  • Crushproof pocket on top is small

5. Fjallraven – Kanken Laptop 17″ Backpack

Fjallraven - Kanken Laptop 17 inch Backpack

Scandinavian design has long been known to deliver realistic, functional pieces that are beautiful to see but intended for use. Based on a classic edition built for Swedish school kids in the ’70s, the Fjallraven – Kanken Laptop 17″ Backpack is constructed of sturdy, water-resistant Vinylon F fabric and features a spacious back pocket to store your tech securely.

Stash your 17″ laptop in its own padded compartment and still have the main compartment and three extra pockets for everything else. Two-way zipper with rain flap for more protection. Padded, ergonomic shoulder straps for the long haul. Dual top snap handles for quick carry. Find more great products like this by checking out our guide to the best 17-inch laptop backpacks.

Key Features:

  • Padded laptop compartment
  • Two-way zipper with rain flap
  • Padded, ergonomic shoulder straps
  • Dual top snap handles

Specifications:

  • Brand: Fjallraven
  • Capacity: 20L
  • Dimensions: 16.9″ H x 11.8″ W x 7.1″ D
  • Weight: 1.1 lbs
Pros
  • The construction and material feels sturdy
  • The front pocket is a decent size for miscellaneous smaller items
  • Very comfortable
  • Waterproof
Cons
  • It could be difficult to fit a water bottle into the “water bottle” pocket due to its lack of elasticity

6. Incase City Backpack

Incase City Backpack

The Incase City Backpack is constructed with durable 270 x 500D blended weave polyester. It features a front zippered compartment with organization features and two primary storage areas for carrying MacBook, iPad and iPhone, along with purposeful pockets for organizing extra accessories, documents and other essentials.

The City Backpack features a 360-degree padded, faux-fur lined laptop compartment for optimal MacBook protection. Created with soft design lines and a slim profile while maintaining the essential storage space every commuter needs. It also features adjustable shoulder straps with air mesh padding for added comfort and a customized fit.

Key Features:

  • Front zippered compartment with organization
  • 360-degree padded, faux-fur lined laptop compartment
  • Soft design lines and a slim profile 
  • Two zippered side stash pockets

Specifications:

  • Brand: Incase
  • Capacity: 22L
  • Dimensions: 20.5″ H x 13.5″ W x 5.5″ D
  • Weight: 2 lbs
Pros
  • The lining does a great job of protecting the laptop from impact and scratches
  • There is also a two-compartment mesh inside the large pocket
  • The upper pocket has fleece lining making great for storing sunglasses
  • Front pocket has a standard collection of small pockets and a divider
Cons
  • No water bottle pockets

7. JanSport Right Pack

JanSport Right Pack

Choose the iconic JanSport Right Pack (originals) and carry your needs in style! Made of premium Cordura fabric, this sturdy, lightweight backpack features a suede leather bottom and comfortable, padded shoulder straps.

It has one large main compartment for books, clothing, or other bigger items, an internal laptop sleeve, an organizer pocket, and a zippered front stash pocket to store school supplies, cosmetics, your cell phone, and other small essentials. This trendy yet practical backpack, available in a range of colors yet designs, is ideal for grad school students, casual travelers, adventurers, and everyone on the go! Make sure you also check our selection of the best JanSport backpacks.

Key Features:

  • Front stash pocket
  • Front utility pocket with organizer
  • One large main compartment
  • Premium Cordura fabric with suede leather bottom
  • Straight-cut, padded shoulder straps

Specifications:

  • Brand: JanSport
  • Capacity: 31L
  • Dimensions: 18″ H x 13″ W x 8.5″ D
  • Weight: 1.32 lbs
Pros
  • Just the right number of sections
  • Very lightweight when empty
  • Resistance to heavy things
  • It has a good Shape and persist when you have lot of things inside
Cons
  • The compartment for the laptop computer is not padded enough

8. AmazonBasics Laptop Computer Backpack

AmazonBasics Laptop Computer Backpack

The AmazonBasics Laptop Computer Backpack has been built to safeguard and protect your laptop when moving. The backpack contains multiple storage compartments, and extra resources and accessories functions. There’s no need to bring an additional bag or sleeve when you are traveling with your computer. The padded interior has a separate interior, which can hold up to 17-inch laptops and notebook computers. The bag also contains a smaller laptop pouch.

The flexible, highly padded, shoulder straps of the AmazonBasics backpack make the backpack fit secure even when filled with all your clothes. A mesh pocket on the left-hand strap offers easy access for wireless phones or tablets.

Key Features:

  • Large multi-compartment design
  • Side mesh water bottle pockets
  • Padded shoulder straps
  • Padded sleeve for laptops holds up to 17-inch notebook

Specifications:

  • Brand: AmazonBasics
  • Dimensions: 19.3″ H x 13.4″ W x 7″ D
  • Weight: 1.98 lbs
Pros
  • Lots of convenient pockets
  • Small cell-phone pocket in between laptop and main pocket is awesome
  • Mesh pockets are functional
  • Straps work great for holding larger things
Cons
  • Bottom is a little thin, so dropping it on hard surfaces is not something you should do

9. Timbuk2 Parkside Laptop Backpack

Timbuk2 Parkside Laptop Backpack

The Timbuk2 Parkside Laptop Backpack is dressed up but not fussy. Its clever pocketing provides a place for all your phone, cards, keys and its laptop sleeves carries up to a 15-inch MacBook Pro. Its roomy main compartment can accommodate layers and a pair of shoes, and its external water bottle pocket doubles as a u-lock holder for days you get to ride.

In terms of organization it has a front zip pocket for small bits. Internal organizer for pens, phones, and other small stuff. Secure zip pocket for cables, earbuds, stylus, cards, cash, etc. It has a custom-fit strap design for a truer, more comfortable fit.

Key Features:

  • Front zip pocket for keeping small items in check
  • Elasticized external side pocket for water bottle or U lock
  • Custom fit strap design for a truer, more comfortable fit
  • Pockets: 3 interior slip, 4 exterior

Specifications:

  • Brand: Timbuk2
  • Capacity: 25L
  • Dimensions: 18.1″ H x 10.6″ W x 7.3″ D
  • Weight: 1.6 lbs
Pros
  • Sleek design
  • Very sturdy
  • There is plenty of room in the main compartment for a 3-ring binder and a jacket
  • Unstructured (if that appeals to you)
Cons
  • There is a laptop sleeve on the back, but it has no extra padding

10. Carhartt Legacy Classic Work Backpack

Carhartt Legacy Classic Work Backpack

The Carhartt Legacy Classic Work Backpack is the optimal choice for your everyday, go-to pack. Built of heavy-duty 1200D Poly with Rain Defender durable water repellent and Duravax abrasion-resistant base, this pack will not let you down.

The large main compartment contains a dedicated padded laptop pocket and tablet sleeve. The 2 zippered pockets on the front are great for organizing smaller items. Top it off with contour fit shoulder straps and padded air mesh back panel. Additional details: YKK zippers, metal hardware, triple-needle stitch for reinforcement where it counts, Carhartt logo patch. Don’t forget to also check our guide to the best work bags for men.

Key Features:

  • Made of 1200D Poly with Rain Defender
  • Main compartment with dedicated padded laptop pocket and tablet sleeve
  • Front zippered organization compartment
  • Contour fit shoulder straps and padded air mesh back panel

Specifications:

  • Brand: Carhartt
  • Dimensions: 18″ H x 11.5″ W x 8″ D
  • Weight: 1.3 lbs
Pros
  • Zippers open and close easily
  • Shoulder straps and back pad are very comfortable
  • All pockets on the outside have zippers
  • Two nice and deep pockets on the inside
Cons
  • No water bottle pocket on the sides

Buying Guide

Compartments

Backpacks come with a broad variety of pockets and compartments. External compartments are useful for things such as pens or water bottles that you need to navigate easily. Internal compartments typically provide a higher hierarchical standard and subdivide into pen holders, computer pockets, device compartments, and padded laptop sleeves.

Straps

Straps are as critical as any other feature of the backpack. Look for models with adequate padding and adjustability functionality for supportive straps which won’t damage your back. wide straps are better because they spread the weight of the backpack equally. Hip and chest straps often tend to disperse weight, often by moving some of the load to your hips instead of centering it on your shoulder. Compression belts restrict too much rotation of your bag when you are riding, which tends to reduce the pressure of awkward placement.

Water Resistance

You may be trapped in the rain or a snowstorm at any stage during the semester so it is important to have a backpack with water-resistant features. Usually, these backpacks are constructed from water-repelling fabrics such as nylon and polyester. Bear in mind that water-resistant is not the same as waterproof – try to minimize the access to the environment to prevent water for the bag.

Size

It’s no wonder in the modern era that backpacks are mostly categorized by what size laptop they fit. Determine the precise dimensions of your laptop to determine the correct fit for a backpack. Not only can these measurements help you select the appropriate model, but they also guarantee that the laptop is safe in its designated compartment.

Other Features

Most backpacks nowadays are equipped for tech-savvy students with features. Many models have headphone holes and USB charging ports that create a media hub for your backpack. Many backpacks feature a high-tech anti-theft system with locking mechanisms and protection against RFID.

Frequently Ask Questions

What’s the difference between a regular backpack and one for college or grad school students?

College/grad school backpacks will mostly have 1 main pocket plus 1-3 small pockets. They usually don’t have tech features like a USB port, shoe compartments, and anti-theft capabilities.

Can I machine wash my backpack?

Most of the time, you’ll be able to machine wash your backpack, just make sure to check the instructions per brand as they will vary sometimes. Although others would prefer to hand wash it on their own, just remember to use a soft detergent.

What should I not put in my backpack?

Soft drinks and any kind of fruit or vegetables should be avoided as much as possible. Normal water bottles are fine because even if they accidentally spill inside, it won’t be as sticky as soft drinks are. If you have a lunch bag, it would be better to place all food-related items there.

Conclusion

We hope this guide was helpful for finding the best backpacks for grad school as well as our guide on features to look for in a backpack for grad school. If you have any questions or concerns regarding this guide, feel free to let us know in the comments section.