Best College Backpacks

10 Best College Backpacks in 2021 – Buyer’s Guide

(Last Updated On: January 7, 2021)

As a college student, you’ll have a high opportunity for you to run to and from classes throughout the day. Therefore a decent college backpack is vital because your notebooks, pens, textbooks, and laptops have to be placed somewhere. Given that your high school backpack is due for upgrading, this back-to-school season is the time to invest in something more durable for college. If you’re looking for a backpack more gender-specific: we have one for prepared a guide for college backpacks for guys or girls.

The decision to go to college and pursue higher education is a fairly big deal for most people. And we don’t think anyone would disagree with the idea that it’s one heck of a commitment. The best thing you can do to make good on that promise is to get yourself fully prepared. That includes planning out an educational path, managing your finances, and actually regularly attending your classes. It also means getting the proper gear to get you through your school days. And if you’re also into fitness, we suggest taking a look at our selection of the best hydration running packs, best gym bags for men, and best gym bags for women.

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

eBags Slim College Backpack

eBags Slim College Backpack – Premium Pick

Why is it better?

  • This one will stand up on its own rather than slump over when placed on the ground
  • When doing and undoing the zipper, it has a solid, deep sound that one can be assured will never tear or open accidentally as you walk down the street
  • The material feels robust and resistant to tears or scuffs
  • The laptop pocket comes with removable padding at the bottom to protect the bag from modest drops

JanSport TDN7 Big Student Backpack

JanSport TDN7 Big Student Backpack – Best Value

Why is it better?

  • It has plenty of room
  • It is very lightweight
  • The fabric used is super sturdy
  • The mesh pockets is perfect for water bottles

Best College Backpacks – Overview

College backpacks are not a simple matter. Not only do you need them to store your books, your laptop, and the like, but you need them to do so efficiently, keeping your items packed and safe throughout the day. Who knows, you might need a waterproof backpack for college as well. Anything that isn’t weighing you down and damaging your back is safer. And if you are lugging around your laptop all the time, this guide on the best college backpacks for laptops might suit you better. But that doesn’t mean they also have to be purely functional. There is every kind of backpack nowadays for any type of student. Whether you’re full-time, part-time, or just taking a class here and there, heading to grad school, there’s a college backpack to help your learning endeavors.

College Backpacks Reviews

1. JanSport TDN7 Big Student Backpack – Best Value

JanSport TDN7 Big Student Backpack

The JanSport TDN7 Big Student Backpack has an old-school feel and a refreshingly simple design to keep you going. With two key compartments, this bookbag has plenty of space to differentiate the evolution theory from the textbooks on creationism. S-curved shoulder straps will not chaf your shoulder blades when you stroll across the grounds, and a completely padded back cover will secure your backbone.

In the top zippered accessory pocket store your pens, pencils, and gum for fast retrieval. The cell phone and calculator are handily stashed by the front pocket leaders, and a headphone port lets you relax while you book it from class to class. Our guide to the best JanSport backpacks offers more great products like this.

Key Features:

  • Two large main compartments
  • Ergonomic S-curve shoulder straps
  • Front utility pocket with organizer
  • Upper zippered accessory pocket
  • Lower front zippered stash pocket

Specifications:

  • Brand: Jansport
  • Capacity: 34L
  • Dimensions: 17.5″ H x 13″ W x 10″ D
  • Weight: 1.1 lbs
Pros
  • It has plenty of room
  • It is very lightweight
  • The fabric used is super sturdy
  • The mesh pockets is perfect for water bottles
Cons
  • The flaps have a really annoying tendency to get caught in the zipper

2. Incase Icon College Backpack

Incase Icon College Backpack

Incase Icon College Backpack includes the most storage compartments starting with a small zip-up pocket on top. It’s lined with soft material so you can drop your iPhone in (or AirPods and Apple Watch as pictured) safely. Icon has a medium-sized side pocket fit for tablets too. The larger 12.9-inch iPad Pro may be too tall for this pocket and be positioned inside the main compartment, but it’s perfectly sized for the 9.7-inch iPad Pro

While the tablet pocket runs along a third of the backpack, a notebook pocket lined with soft material unzips along the remaining two-thirds of the back. The first side pocket has a bright green lining and an opening the run a cable through even when the pocket is zipped up. This is ideal for stowing a small battery pack and running a USB cable through for charging your iPhone in your hand or pocket. The other side pocket is similarly sized and also zips closed but lacks the cable slot. Icon’s middle section is the largest and includes plenty of pockets, slots, and pouches.

Key Features:

  • Three large dedicated compartments
  • Compression molded back panel
  • Padded shoulder straps
  • Made with durable 840D ballistic nylon
  • Integrated cable port

Specifications:

  • Brand: Incase
  • Dimensions: 19″ H x 13″ W x 9″ D
  • Weight: 1.74 lbs
Pros
  • Stands up right even empty
  • Dedicated pockets for laptop and glasses/phone are fur lined
  • Even with the bag full, pockets are still very accessible and don’t encroach on each other
  • Aesthetics are clean and professional
Cons
  • Dedicated pockets for everything but a water bottle

3. AmazonBasics College Backpack

AmazonBasics College Backpack

The AmazonBasics College Backpack was designed to protect and hold your laptop while on the move. The backpack features multiple storage compartments and features for additional supplies and accessories. When you travel with your computer, there is no need to bring an additional bag or sleeve. The padded interior features a separate interior space that is able to hold up to 17-inch laptops and notebook computers. The backpack also has a smaller pouch for tablets.

The AmazonBasics backpack’s adjustable, heavily padded, shoulder straps make the backpack comfortable to wear even when loaded with all your gear. A mesh compartment on the left strap provides a quick-access space for cell phones or other small items.

Key Features:

  • Large multi compartment design
  • Side mesh water bottle pockets
  • Padded shoulder straps
  • Mesh compartment on the left strap

Specifications:

  • Brand: AmazonBasics
  • Dimensions: 19″ H x 15″ W x 7″ D
  • Weight: 1.98 lbs
Pros
  • Water resistant against light rain
  • Lots of convenient pockets
  • Main pocket is roomy and spartan. No useless pockets in here, it’s meant entirely to store books, and it does that well
  • Straps work great for holding larger things
Cons
  • Could use a decent chest strap

4. eBags Slim College Backpack – Premium Pick

eBags Slim College Backpack

The eBags Slim College Backpack boasts supreme organization, unlike any other backpack you’ve ever seen. With a streamlined look and sophisticated design, this pack will take you everywhere you need to go from nine-to-nine, no pit-stops necessary. It has a pass-through sleeve secures bag to rolling luggage and top carry handles. It can fit up to a 17″ laptop as well.

Featuring several padded tech pockets for all your devices and several internal and external pockets make this bag a dream come true. Plus, the vented airmesh back panel and contoured straps make for an incredible fit, absolutely ideal for a lengthy commute. This pack features a breathable, padded air-mesh back panel for comfort and a removable and adjustable sternum strap.

Key Features:

  • Fleece lined padded tablet sleeve
  • Breathable, padded air-mesh back panel for comfort
  • Diagonal stash pocket inside middle compartment
  • Pass-through sleeve secures bag to rolling luggage

Specifications:

  • Brand: eBags
  • Capacity: 21L
  • Dimensions: 18″ H x 12.75″ W x 8.5″ D
  • Weight: 3.81 lbs
Pros
  • This one will stand up on its own rather than slump over when placed on the ground
  • When doing and undoing the zipper, it has a solid, deep sound that one can be assured will never tear or open accidentally as you walk down the street
  • The material feels robust and resistant to tears or scuffs
  • The laptop pocket comes with removable padding at the bottom to protect the bag from modest drops
Cons
  • Bottle pocket could be improved

5. Fjallraven – Kanken Classic College Backpack

Fjallraven - Kanken Classic College Backpack

Fjallraven – Kanken Classic College Backpack is the classic that will always be cool. It has the same classic Kanken design since 1978. Stash everyday essentials in the main zippered compartment, front zippered pocket, and two open side pockets. The material: Vinylon F. has a weird name but it’s dirt-resistant, water-resistant, and wipes clean.

Other features include a two-way zipper with rain flap for protection, ergonomic shoulder straps for the long haul, dual top snap handles for quick carry and a sitting pad for impromptu seating. For nighttime visibility, it also has a reflective logo for convenience.

Key Features:

  • Made of vinylon f material
  • Two-way zipper with rain flap
  • Ergonomic shoulder straps
  • Dual top snap handles

Specifications:

  • Brand: Fjallraven
  • Capacity: 16L
  • Dimensions: 14.9″ H x 10.6″ W x 5.1″ D
  • Weight: 0.7 lbs
Pros
  • The bag itself is big enough to fit most books
  • This bag can be used as a tote and as a backpack
  • The two pockets on the side are really nice too
  • Color is great and large variety for colors
Cons
  • The straps don’t have any pads so they tend to dig into your shoulders

6. SwissGear 1900 Scansmart TSA College Backpack

SwissGear 1900 Scansmart TSA College Backpack

A bestseller design, the SwissGear 1900 Scansmart TSA College Backpack continues to be chosen by road warriors time and time again! With a lay-flat TSA-approved tech compartment, protect your laptop and tablet inside designated mesh pockets. Stash supplies, and your shades inside organized exterior pockets while securing your smartphone and large gear inside a roomy main compartment. This highly functional pack also features a heavy-duty grab handle and ergonomic straps for on-the-go comfort.

Its contoured, padded shoulder straps feature a sunglasses loop and built-in suspension that provides stretch and shock absorbent. Side compression straps help to customize the fit of the pack while a signature Airflow panel cushions your back.

Key Features:

  • Made with durable, weather-resistant 1200D ballistic polyester
  • ScanSmart lay-flat technology
  • Easy access laptop and iPad compartment
  • Two, breathable, side compartments
  • Contoured shoulder straps

Specifications:

  • Brand: SwissGear
  • Capacity: 31L
  • Dimensions: 18.5″ H x 13.5″ W x 9″ D
  • Weight: 3.35 lbs
Pros
  • It’s very sturdy, with great back padding and a deep air flow channel
  • The straps are comfortable when wearing the pack
  • All pockets have large capacity
  • The handle has a solid molded core, covered in the fabric and grip handle
Cons
  • It should come with a user guide to explain all of the features

7. JANSPORT Right Pack

JANSPORT Right Pack

With its signature suede leather bottom, the JANSPORT Right Pack is the iconic JanSport classic backpack. With an internal 15 inch laptop sleeve and front organizer pocket, the Right Pack by JanSport is sure to be the best backpack for wherever your day takes you. It’s the original classic, but sometimes pairing that with your outfits is all that is needed to complete a sophisticated style!

JanSport backpacks are made with durable fabric, zippers & straps, in colors & designs to reflect your style. They stand by their packs for a lifetime, so carry your JanSport on your adventures, knowing they’ll replace or repair any breaks. JanSport is about the discovery of fun, freedom & adventure. From your first school backpack & lunch bag to the messenger bag for your first interview, from running errands to chasing dreams, JanSport gear inspires your journey.

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: 18.6″ H x 14.5″ W x 2″ D
  • Weight: 1.32 lbs
Pros
  • Resistance to heavy things
  • A lot of compartments
  • It has a good shape and persist when you have lot of things inside
  • Very light weight when empty
Cons
  • The shoulder straps are not comfortable and they are a little short

8. Mancro College Backpack

Mancro College Backpack

The Mancro College Backpack is made of water-resistant durable polyester fabric for lasting durability. The black rugged handle and lined with steel cable provides strong and long-lasting performance with maximal weight. With built-in USB charger outside and built-in charging cable inside, offer you a more convenient way to charge your phone while walking.

The Headphone hole design gives you a shortcut without opening up the backpacks. A luggage strap allows backpack fit on luggage/suitcase, slide over the luggage upright handle tube for easier carrying. Ergonomic design for comfortable elastic pad provides relief when carrying heavy loads, less stress on your shoulder.

Key Features:

  • 20+ large multi-compartment and pockets design
  • Thick breathable airflow mesh padding
  • Usb charging port
  • Headphone hole design
  • Back side luggage strap 

Specifications:

  • Brand: Mancro
  • Capacity: 50L
  • Dimensions: 20″ H x 15.7″ W x 11.8″ D
  • Weight: 2 lbs
Pros
  • The material is heavy duty without being too heavy
  • It is well padded, has lockable zippers on both large compartments
  • It has a sturdy strap for attaching to the handle of luggage
  • The side pockets for drinks and snacks are out of the way but easy to get to
Cons
  • The outer large pocket could use a paper sleeve to help keep things seperated

9. Under Armour Storm Recruit College Backpack

Under Armour Storm Recruit College Backpack

Wherever you go, the Under Armour Storm Recruit College Backpack is going with you. Since it’s on your back every day, it needs to be comfortable, super durable, and have enough space to carry all of your stuff. With padded shoulder straps, tough materials, and pockets on pockets—this thing checks off everything you need from a backpack. UA Storm technology delivers an element-battling, highly water-resistant finish

Tough, abrasion-resistant bottom panel. The soft-lined laptop sleeve holds up to 15” MacBook Pro or similarly sized laptop. Water-repellent front valuables pocket to keep your stuff safe. other features include an adjustable, padded, HeatGear shoulder straps for total comfort, 2 side water bottle pockets and a comfortable top grab handle.

Key Features:

  • Tough, abrasion-resistant bottom panel
  • Soft-lined laptop sleeve—holds up to 15” MacBook Pro or similarly sized laptop
  • Water-repellent front valuables pocket to keep your stuff safe
  • Adjustable, padded, HeatGear shoulder straps for total comfort
  • 2 side water bottle pockets

Specifications:

  • Brand: Under Armour
  • Capacity: 33L
  • Dimensions: 19″ H x 13″ W x 10″ D
  • Weight: 1.45 lbs
Pros
  • The backpack is well made and is made of polyester
  • The shoulder straps are extra comfortable and help with back support
  • The bottom of the backpack has a panel that is abrasion resistant
  • It is waterproof
Cons
  • It lacks a zippered pocket inside the bag for money or other small important items

10. Targus Drifter II College Backpack

Targus Drifter II College Backpack

The Targus Drifter II College Backpack is designed to fit laptops with up to 17; screens. This backpack features two large compartments for storage including a padded laptop compartment that keeps the device secure and separate from other items carried in the case. The extremely thick padding on the back panel includes a large hidden zippered compartment and is strategically placed to provide lumbar support for your back. The heavily padded shoulder straps provide comfort for travel and include a removable mobile phone pocket as well as an elastic loop specifically designed to hold sunglasses on the shoulder strap.

The main front compartment includes pockets for business cards, a mesh accessory pocket, and key clip. A convenient soft, lined pocket is scratch-resistant to store fragile accessories such as glasses, and more. To keep files in order, the interior divider provides a safe place to store documents. Focusing on durability, the Drifter backpack features a weather-resistant bottom, thick industrial zipper pulls and a sturdy molded plastic handle supported by metal grommets and cabling. The Drifter Backpack offers a rugged case full of storage options and protective compartments for important devices.

Key Features:

  • Padded, contoured shoulder straps
  • Soft-lined pocket on top for sunglasses
  • Hidden zippered pocket on the back
  • Rugged carry handle
  • 2 water bottle pockets

Specifications:

  • Brand: Targus
  • Dimensions: 20.1″ H x 14.6″ W x 7.9″ D
  • Weight: 2.8 lbs
Pros
  • Tons of usable space
  • Comfortable to carry. Good straps
  • Lots of padding for the laptop and back
  • Holds a 24 ounce water bottle on the side easily
Cons
  • The pocket between the main compartment and the front pen pocket is fairly worthless since it directly competes for the space used by the main compartment

Buying Guide

Durability

Bags must be sturdy and durable, especially college backpacks. You shouldn’t get it if it’s not strong. This is the principal rule here. Something that has ordinary construction should never be bought. The material should be made from synthetic fabrics such as polyester, nylon or similar. These are the most sturdy ones that can be used to build those bags.

Waterproof

Whatever the outer world holds, your bag should be packed. At this point, the smooth structure of the bag and the protection against the weather are critical. It should not be quickly penetrated by raindrops and moisture. Otherwise, it’ll compromise your precious belongings.

Comfort

The bag should be able to optimize the weight you carry, provided that you have to carry heavy objects. It is here that the ergonomic concepts come in. The bag’s comfort can rely on through its straps. They will clearly be padded and meshed. They won’t cause pain to your shoulders in this way. Apart from being ventilated, the back panel should be padded too. That in effect will make things more comfortable for you.

Compartments

There must be several pockets, bags, and compartments in the backpack. These are among the reasons you first need a professional backpack. We allow you to bring as many of the essentials as you can without making things too messy. The more compartments available, the more the bag is functional.

Value

Not all bags are created equal, you might think that skimping on a few dollars for a less durable bag is a better option. But to be honest is it much better to pay for a premium to have a bag that will last you through months or possibly years of use. Especially in college where you would be carrying your backpack everyday.

Frequently Ask Questions

What kind of bags do college students use?

College students use anywhere from tote bags, messenger bags for men, vegan leather bags, and backpack purses. This will really depend on the person, there is no right or wrong way to carry your items to college.

Which Herschel backpack is best for college?

The Herschel Pop Quiz Classic Backpack is the best for college and universities. The sleek design of this bag gives you that college look plus plenty of organization for all your daily carry. Read more about Herschel backpacks here and why they are great not only for school but also for travel.

What type of bag is best for university?

Simple but efficient backpacks like Herschel Pop Quiz Classic Backpack and Incase Icon College Backpack make for a great bag at a university. They don’t draw too much attention while gives you the professional look.

Should I get a tote bag or backpack for college?

While there is no wrong answer, this will vary greatly on how many items you are planning to carry. Will you be carrying books? Makeup items? Learning aids like calculators? Once you’ve figured out how many items you’ll be bringing to school, you’ll know what type of bag you need to get.

Conclusion

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