Best Budget Backpacks

10 Best Budget Backpacks in 2020 – Buyer’s Guide

(Last Updated On: September 20, 2020)

Whether you’re walking, commuting, or hiking, our favorite budget backpack pics below are functional, affordable, and will cover any journey you’ll anticipate. But it can be hard to know where to cut costs without sacrificing quality with the equipment you need. A decent budget backpack has to last at least months or perhaps years for whatever reason you’re using it. Aside from this article, we have a guide on the best hiking backpacks under $100 as well.

Thankfully, it is possible to spend less on equipment without missing out on their caliber. And one easy place to start is by investing in an affordable backpack. You might think that you need to spend a fortune to get a high-quality backpack, but that is not always the case. While a cheaper backpack isn’t going to have that many features, we’ve done our best research and found the most functional budget backpacks.

In a Hurry? The test winners after 10 hrs of research

Targus Ascend Budget Backpack

Targus Ascend Budget Backpack – Best Value

Why is it better?

  • It’s very durable and comfortable to have on
  • Comes with protective rain shell
  • Well designed with functional pockets
  • Has lined pocket to keep drinks cold

Under Armour Hustle 3.0 Budget Backpack

Under Armour Hustle 3.0 Budget Backpack – Premium Pick

Why is it better?

  • It has a compartment in the very bottom for shoes
  • The middle compartment has a couple smaller pockets inside
  • The smallest compartment is good for headphones, a lock, etc.
  • It’s also very comfortable even when packed heavy

Best Budget Backpacks – Overview

Whether you’re going to work on foot, by car, by rail, by bus or by bike, a backpack is a simple, affordable and very common way to carry essential work. With so many backpacks to choose from, choosing a practical one that fits your work needs can be tough, but it also matches your style. Choosing the right one can help you stay organized, keep your tools and valuables safe and secure, as well as complete the professional look you are looking for. This is why we’ve researched the best budget backpacks on the market just for you.

Budget Backpacks Reviews

1. Targus Ascend Budget Backpack – Best Value

Targus Ascend Budget Backpack

The Targus Ascend Budget Backpack is perfect for travel, work, and school. This pack is designed for laptops with up to 16-Inch screens. The spacious front workstation includes pockets for pens, a key clip, business cards, and several small accessory pockets. The large storage compartment features a padded laptop compartment for added protection along with space for documents and files.

The backpack also features two jersey mesh water bottle holders. For your comfort, the ergonomic padded back panel and padded adjustable shoulder straps minimize back strain and maximize carrying ease. The bottom of the backpack has a durable, weather-resistant material to stand up against the elements.

Key Features:

  • Compatible with laptops 16″
  • Easily accessible water bottle holder
  • Ergonomic, padded shoulder straps
  • Soft-touch handle

Specifications:

  • Brand: Targus
  • Dimensions: 18.75″ H x 13″ W x 7.5″ D
  • Weight: 1.19 lbs
Pros
  • It’s very durable and comfortable to have on
  • Comes with protective rain shell
  • Well designed with functional pockets
  • Has lined pocket to keep drinks cold
Cons
  • Bulky but you can carry a lot of stuff

2. Sosoon Budget Backpack

Sosoon Budget Backpack

The Sosoon Budget Backpack is a multifunctional backpack perfect for school or work. It has one large main compartment that provides enough room to carry on what you need daily necessities, tech electronics accessories. One front compartment includes additional pockets, pen pockets, and a key fob hook to make your items more organized and easier to find. while two side pockets are convenient for carrying bottles and umbrellas.

There is a hook on the side pocket of the laptop bag. You can fasten the zipper of the main pocket and the computer pocket with the hook. The adjustable shoulder straps of the backpack is equipped with massage mats to make you feel comfortable when you use it and to ensure it doesn’t pinch your shoulder. The shoulder strap is also equipped with a special card pocket and hook for glasses. This backpack is equipped with a USB charger outside that you can connect your power supply too.

Key Features:

  • External USB charging port
  • Luggage strap/suitcase steeve
  • Earphone hole
  • Reflective stripe
  • Water-resistant

Specifications:

  • Brand: Sosoon
  • Dimensions: 18.75″ H x 13″ W x 7.5″ D
  • Weight: 1.19 lbs
Pros
  • Great storage capacity
  • Many separate compartments for good organization
  • Very comfortable padding on the shoulder straps
  • The USB charging port is very handy
Cons
  • Zippers can come undone if the compartments are not fully zipped

3. KINGSLONG Budget Backpack for Women

KINGSLONG Budget Backpack for Women

The KINGSLONG Budget Backpack for Women is built with super lightweight polyester fabric that is anti-tearing and durable. The shoulder strap uses thick breathable sponge than a normal bag and the airflow backing system with extra padding provides maximum back support, more comfortable & distribute the weight well. It also comes with a sturdy handle & adopts the double & enhanced sewing technology, especially for every force position,

It comes with a separate laptop computer compartment, 2 big zipper compartment, 1 stylish convenient deep pocket. This backpack is waterproof, keeping your valuable items safe from the occasional rain. The stylish explosion-proof zipper glid smoothly, zipper and unzipper easily, and cannot easily be broken.

Key Features:

  • Organized pocket
  • Explosion-proof zipper
  • Double side water holder
  • Comfortable straps
  • Sturdy handle

Specifications:

  • Brand: KINGSLONG
  • Dimensions: 17.7″ H x 12.2″ W x 7.1″ D
  • Weight: 1.3 lbs
Pros
  • The back one has a padded slot for the computer but there was room in front of the slot for all the cords
  • The bottle pockets on both sides are sized perfectly for standard bottles but big enough they could probably take something wider than average
  • The front flap is also a pocket between the left edge of the bag to the buttons
  • The straps are very comfortable
Cons
  • If you have the middle pocket jammed full of stuff, it’s a bit harder to get to the bottom of the front pocket

4. Under Armour Hustle 3.0 Budget Backpack – Premium Pick

Under Armour Hustle 3.0 Budget Backpack

Go for the Under Armour Hustle 3.0 Budget Backpack when you need a reliable and durable bag. Built with UA Storm technology that delivers an element battling, highly water-resistant finish. It holds up to a 15″ MacBook Pro or similarly sized laptop. Adjustable HeatGear® shoulder straps for extra comfort.

For those who like going to the gym, it has a large, gusseted front laundry/shoe pocket placed at the bottom of the bag. Two side water bottle pockets are available as well for convenience. The water repellent front valuables pocket is there to keep your stuff safe.

Key Features:

  • Tough, abrasion-resistant bottom panel
  • Water-repellent front valuables pocket to keep your stuff safe
  • Adjustable HeatGear® shoulder straps for extra comfort
  • Large, gusseted front laundry/shoe pocket
  • Two side water bottle pockets

Specifications:

  • Brand: Under Armour
  • Capacity: 30L
  • Dimensions: 18.9″ H x 13.6″ W x 9.3″ D
  • Weight: 1.3 lbs
Pros
  • It has a compartment in the very bottom for shoes
  • The middle compartment has a couple smaller pockets inside
  • The smallest compartment is good for headphones, a lock, etc.
  • It’s also very comfortable even when packed heavy
Cons
  • It doesn’t sit standing up on a bench, it kind of falls over and makes things more difficult to put into than a duffel

5. Venture Pal Lightweight Packable Backpack

Venture Pal Lightweight Packable Backpack

The Venture Pal Lightweight Packable Backpack provides several pockets for handy storage and convenient organization. In addition to its roomy main compartment, the backpack features two front zipper pockets for smaller items, an internal zippered pocket, and two open-mesh side pockets for quick access such as guide books, water bottles or umbrella.

A true space saver. Easy to fold the backpack to a small pocket(a sandwich size). Simply unfold from your checked bags and use it as a carry on for your excess baggage. To ensure longevity, stress points are reinforced with numerous bar tacks and use 2-way abrasion-resistant materials. Be sure to also check out our list of packable backpacks for travel for more great items like this.

Key Features:

  • Made of high-quality nylon
  • Heavy-duty two-way SBS metal zippers
  • Breathable mesh shoulder straps
  • Two side pockets
  • Folds into a zipped inner pocket to fit anywhere

Specifications:

  • Brand: Venture Pal
  • Capacity: 35L
  • Dimensions: 9″ H x 8.5″ W x 2.2″ D
  • Weight: 0.7 lbs
Pros
  • The fact that it easily folds up into its own pocket was very useful
  • There are lots of pockets which was super useful
  • The straps were comfortable and solid and the chest strap was nice when the bag was heavy
  • The front lower zipper pocket has a smaller separator inside and a additional zipper pocket
Cons
  • The “water resistance” was really more like a treatment on the inside of the fabric so after lots of wear, rubbing, heat, and, you guessed it, water, the treatment stuff was peeling off all over the bag

6. ARMYCAMOUSA Expandable Large 3 Day Backpack

ARMYCAMOUSA Expandable Large 3 Day Backpack

Enjoy your life outdoors together with the premium and heavy-duty ARMYCAMOUSA Expandable Large 3 Day Backpack. It’s crafted into perfection, made of 600 denier polyester with vinyl backing that is waterproof and perfect for any outdoor activities, whether rain or shine, it will never break, soak wet or damage easily and will definitely last for many years. The non-slip shoulder strap with breathable fabric, reinforced thick webbed handle will ensure you have a good grip.

This 3-day expandable tactical backpack features an extra-large expandable main compartment to fit everything you need for a day hike, overnight or three trips. It can be compressed to 40 liters or expanded to 64 liters of carrying space. It has a front molle webbing compatible for pouches or allowing you to customize your storage option as you need. It also has two side buckles to assist the zipper closure and to make it more stable and safe for your things inside of your backpack. Our handy guide to the best 3-day backpacks features more great products like this.

Key Features:

  • Made of 600 denier polyester
  • Front molle webbing compatible for pouches
  • 2 side buckle to assist the zipper closure
  • Nonslip shoulder strap
  • Adjustable height sternum strap

Specifications:

  • Brand: ARMYCAMO
  • Capacity: 40-64L
  • Dimensions: 21″ H x 14.5″ W x 8″ D
  • Weight: 2.5 lbs
Pros
  • Holds a tremendous amount of stuff
  • Seems to be made out of good sturdy material and has decent strong zippers
  • Rugged construction
  • Expandable feature is nice to have
Cons
  • Padding is minimal on straps and is nonexistent on the back where it rests on your back

7. Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Day Pack

Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Day Pack

When you need to compress volume without significantly adding weight, the Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Day Pack is an excellent solution. Made from a 30D diamond rip-stop siliconized CORDURA fabric they can be compressed to one-third of the original volume. Ideal for use inside your pack or travel bag when you need to compress clothing or bulky soft items to allow space for other essentials or fun holiday items.

Packs down small so it easily fits in pockets, purses, or luggage. This pack features reinforced shoulder straps for increased carrying comfort and bartack reinforced stitching on all stress points. Webbing daisy-chain attachment point can hold a bike light. Find more great products like this by checking out our guide to the best backpacks for day hikes.

Key Features:

  • Stuff sack has an attached carabiner
  • Simple, streamlined design so it’s light and low profile
  • Siliconized CORDURA fabric for strength and durability
  • Two-way zipper closure

Specifications:

  • Brand: Sea to Summit
  • Capacity: 20L
  • Dimensions: 4.8″ H x 2.3″ W x 2″ D
  • Weight: 0.15 lbs
Pros
  • High quality construction
  • Plenty of room for one person, and allows for more
  • Very light
  • Packs very small
Cons
  • Zippers kept wanting to unzip when packed

8. JANSPORT Right Pack Backpack

JANSPORT Right Pack Backpack

Go off to school with your laptop and other essential elements tucked inside this JanSport classic backpack. The JANSPORT Right Pack Backpack is made of sturdy Cordura nylon and suede leather and features a classic silhouette with a zip-around cover, a rugged leather bottom, and flexible padded shoulder straps that make it easy to wear.

Detailed with a webbing haul handle and a zippered front pocket with pen loops and slot pockets, this backpack provides a spacious key compartment. To suit your personal style, it comes in a variety of solid colors and eye-catching designs. Make sure you also check our selection of the best JanSport backpacks.

Key Features:

  • Premium Cordura
  • Suede leather bottom
  • Internal sleeve fits 15″ laptop
  • Padded shoulder straps
  • Front utility pocket with organizer

Specifications:

  • Brand: JanSport
  • Capacity: 31L
  • Dimensions: 18.1″ H x 13″ W x 8.3″ D
  • Weight: 1.32 lbs
Pros
  • Very spacious
  • Comfortable straps
  • Leather accents which increase the durability
  • The zippers are smooth
Cons
  • The pocket itself is just an elastic band pocket

9. 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 features include 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 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
  • You gotta fidget with the straps to get it to adjust

10. High Sierra Swerve Laptop Backpack

High Sierra Swerve Laptop Backpack

With its sleek and stylish design, the High Sierra Swerve Laptop Backpack is the perfect 17in laptop backpack for men and women. The large main compartment and multiple pockets provide storage solutions perfect for all of your gear. It features an organizer compartment that includes a zippered mesh pocket, pen pockets, lidded media pocket, and key fob hook – perfect for keeping all of your smaller items secure.

This pack features a shoulder strap suspension system that provides relief when carrying heavier loads by dampening the shock of weight transfer while transporting your gear. Non-slip shoulder pads attached to the strap disburse weight more evenly on your shoulder while you travel. A swivel clip at the end of the strap helps prevent twisting. The padded Airflow back panel made with moisture-wicking Vapel mesh material and deep air channels help keep your back dry and create maximum airflow between your back and the pack. With its adjustable side compression straps, it makes any load you are carrying compact and allows you to move with ease.

Key Features:

  • Zippered accessory pocket with USB port
  • Moisture-wicking Vapel mesh material
  • Adjustable side compression straps
  • Padded bottom panel to protect your belongings
  • Reflective accents

Specifications:

  • Brand: High Sierra
  • Capacity: 36.5L
  • Dimensions: 19″ H x 13″ W x 7.8″ D
  • Weight: 2.2 lbs
Pros
  • Lots of room for textbooks and a laptop
  • Side straps to tighten bag/make it smaller
  • 4 main compartments plus an easy access laptop compartment zipper thing
  • Easy access valuables pouch
Cons
  • No waist/chest strap

Buying Guide

Organizational Pockets

If you intend to use the bag for classes, organizational pockets can be very useful. It’s a hassle not being able to find your preferred pen when you need to pin down stuff. Those pockets can also be helpful if you intend to use the pack for hiking. Other essential pockets along the waistbelt have zippered or velcro pockets.

Comfort

One of the most critical factors to consider is the comfort of a bag. If it’s not comfortable, you won’t want to use it. We focused mainly on the straps to assess the comfort of these budget backpacks. We noted if they had a decent amount of cushioning and/or breathability or not. Waist and chest straps are also a great indicator of the comfort of the bag as they help distribute the weight on your back.

Capacity

Capacity is critical as with any form of backpack, budget or expensive. You’ll want to pay close attention to the size, depending on the planned use of the budget backpacks. If you’re going to use it as a day tote, about 20 liters would be perfect around the city. For a water bottle, a snack, a notebook, and a jacket, this would be enough. Nonetheless, if you’re looking for an inexpensive pack for a full day walk, the average size you’d want to look at is 35-liters.

Materials

You’ll want to keep an eye out for sturdy, abrasion-resistant, and probably water-proof or resistant to hiking. If the pack that you want is not weather-resistant, you should invest in a rain cover to keep your things protected from flooding. In addition to the actual bag fabrics, the zippers are also something to look at, no matter what you intend to use it for. YKK zippers are well regarded to have the best reputation and are luckily the most popular.

Durability

Just because the products on this list are inexpensive does not mean they are not durable. A few factors to include while assessing a product’s quality include the fabrics used to produce the bag, the stitching, and whether or not it is reinforced, the warranty, and the customer reviews.

Frequently Ask Questions

What features are important for a cheap backpack?

Finding a worthy but inexpensive pack from a budget brand comes down to two key aspects: it should meet your needs in terms of size, price, pocket number, and straps. It should have as few weak points as it can. It’s just about how many weak points you’re okay with. Possibly the kind of trip or adventure that you usually go on doesn’t always involve tons of pockets, so that isn’t a downside to you. Or maybe you just don’t care if you have compression straps or a hip belt in your backpack.

Where can I find budget backpacks?

Going to nearby thrift shops can be a great way of finding a cheap bag. Many outdoor gear retailers also have thrift services specifically planned for the resale of outdoor gear. While it’s always a gamble, those who are diligent do get a great deal. Another great quick idea for budget pack shopping is searching for products sold by amazon and looking through customer feedback on choices. Customer reviews are another way of seeking a good alternative to using the internet. Some are priced low because they’re inexpensive or uncomfortable. However, this is not always the case, and reading customer feedback will help you find out which bags are fairly cheap and which are a decent deal.

What size for a budget backpack should you buy?

Depending on the length of trip you’re planning. The size will always be different.

Conclusion

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