Best Commuter Backpacks

10 Best Commuter Backpacks in 2021 – Buyer’s Guide

(Last Updated On: June 28, 2021)

We all want a sturdy and functional commuter backpack, whether you need it for holding your laptop or a fun weekend away from work. Laptops and tablets are getting slimmer and lighter, and you need to shield them from bumps and accidents. So while there are moments where a hood or cover can be useful, nothing shouts full-on security like a commuter backpack.

A backpack for commuters has to rank high on both fashion and feature. Unless you do not travel to work, you are likely to bring your tablet alongside a lunch bag, a water cup, extra shoes or pieces of clothes, and all the other things that make up your everyday transportation. Furthermore, the weather is erratic and public transport can be terrifying, so your bag should be water-resistant and stain-resistant.

In a Hurry? The test winners after 11 hrs of research

Timbuk2 Armory Commuter Backpack

Timbuk2 Armory Commuter Backpack – Best Value

Why is it better?

  • It’s a really thin and slim bag, it’s not bulky at all
  • The pack is fairly deep so you can store a good amount of stuff without having it bulge outwards
  • Very well designed and crafted with top-notch fabrics and materials
  • The bag has three compartments with an additional two side pockets

Thule Pack-n-Pedal Commuter Backpack

Thule Pack-n-Pedal Commuter Backpack – Premium Pick

Why is it better?

  • The bag is very comfortable
  • It can hold a surprising amount of stuff
  • It has good structure and it is not bulky
  • The front pocket is good for storing cables and adapters or whatever random things you might have

Best Commuter Backpacks – Overview

A decent backpack for commuting is important to someone who takes a ton of equipment to work, school, or just for a weekend getaway. So that’s just what you’ll find in this guide, 10 of the best commuting backpacks for everyone! You will find everything from budget to premium backpacks in this guide.

Commuter Backpacks Reviews

1. Timbuk2 Armory Commuter Backpack – Best Value

Timbuk2 Armory Commuter Backpack

If you love the great indoor-outdoors but also work 9-to-5, this is the pack for you. Inspired by the classic top-loading mountaineering pack, but kitted out with at-the-office tricks, the Timbuk2 Armory Commuter Backpack truly is indoor/outdoor. It rides the line between exploring Mother Nature and office work, pairing a rugged base fabric and compression straps with laptop and tablet compartments and office appropriate pocketing. Can you wear it to work? Yes. Can you ice climb in it? Probably.

Size zip pocket with internal gusset and compression strap can vertically hold a yoga mat or poster tube. Organized front pocket with key keeper, zip pocket, and multiple slip pockets. Airmesh ventilated back panel keeps you cool while on the move. Removable sternum strap. On-strap bottle opener for when you need a quick refreshment. Reflective hits for nighttime safety.

Key Features:

  • A top-loading commuter pack with outdoor styling
  • Side zip pocket with Internal gusset and compression strap fits a water bottle
  • Lockable main compartment zipper prevents unauthorized access
  • Built for comfort with air mesh ventilated back panel and adjustable, removable sternum strap

Specifications:

  • Brand: Timbuk2
  • Capacity: 26L
  • Dimensions: 20.1″ H x 11.6″ W x 6.3″ D
  • Weight: 2.3 lbs
Pros
  • It’s a really thin and slim bag, it’s not bulky at all
  • The pack is fairly deep so you can store a good amount of stuff without having it bulge outwards
  • Very well designed and crafted with top-notch fabrics and materials
  • The bag has three compartments with an additional two side pockets
Cons
  • If you have a wider neck, the shoulder straps will definitely be digging in quite a bit

2. SwissGear Travel Gear 1900 Commuter Backpack

SwissGear Travel Gear 1900 Commuter Backpack

With a road-warrior approved construct, the SwissGear Travel Gear 1900 Commuter Backpack relies on modernity and ScanSmart technology to hold all your business or travel essentials. Complete with laptop-only compartment, floating tablet pocket, accordion file folder and large zip pockets perfectly sized for your power supply. Glide your laptop and tablet inside a mesh laptop pocket and a floating TabletSafe sleeve located in the ScanSmart compartment.

Carry textbooks, cords, chargers and your smartphone in the designated pockets located inside its spacious interior and utilize the front organizer to keep keys, office supplies, and important travel documents easily accessible. 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
  • Contoured shoulder straps with mesh fabric
  • Adjustable side compression straps

Specifications:

  • Brand: SwissGear
  • Capacity: 31L
  • Dimensions: 18.5″ H x 13.5″ W x 9″ D
  • Weight: 3.26 lbs
Pros
  • This bag has ample storage capacity
  • This bag seems to be equally well constructed
  • The handle atop the bag is made with hard inner materials and is attached to the bag very securely
  • The outside zippered pouch pictured near the top of the bag is very convenient for small things you wish to have quick access
Cons
  • The elastic loops on the shoulder straps for holding sunglasses and the like have small rubber logos stitched onto the elastic

3. Kenneth Cole Reaction Brooklyn Commuter Backpack

Kenneth Cole Reaction Brooklyn Commuter Backpack

Make your daily commute safer and more stylish with the Kenneth Cole Reaction Brooklyn Commuter Backpack. Constructed from ballistic polyester, the Kenneth Cole REACTION the Brooklyn commuter RFID laptop backpack features a well-detailed design with multiple pockets and compartments for organization. Featuring a top zipper pocket on the front of the bag, lined with soft brushed polyester made to hold and protect valuables.

Loaded with features including an easy access zipper pocket and gusseted zip down pocket with a padded tablet pocket and an RFID protected business organizer, as well as a center checkpoint-friendly EZ-scan feature so your laptop does not need to be removed when passing through airport security checkpoints. A stylish and practical backpack, perfect for the modern business traveler. Be sure to also check out our list of men’s backpacks for work for more great items like this.

Key Features:

  • Durable 1680D polyester exterior with fully lined interior
  • Designed with checkpoint-friendly / EZ-scan feature
  • RFID blocking protection technology
  • Roomy front compartment
  • Padded top grab handle

Specifications:

  • Brand: Kenneth Cole REACTION
  • Capacity: 29L
  • Dimensions: 18″ H x 14″ W x 7.5″ D
  • Weight: 2.9 lbs
Pros
  • Soft and comfy grab handle on top
  • Great pocket organization
  • Hidden pocket on the inside of the luggage handle pass through strap
  • It stands up on it’s own
Cons
  • The zippers can be kind of sticky if you have the bag packed really full

4. KROSER Commuter Backpack

KROSER Commuter Backpack

The KROSER Commuter Backpack is suitable for daily use, perfects for business traveling, college students, and outdoor activities in daily life. The main and back compartment comes with a well-padded sleeve that offers enough and safe space for your 17.3″ laptop/tablet/iPad, it also easily fits your clothes, camera, and books. With several front functional pockets, you can hold your small items perfectly, such as laptop accessories, cell phones, keys, pens, etc.

A luggage strap allows the backpack to fit on a luggage/suitcase, slide over the luggage upright handle tube for easier carrying. Breathable mesh back and padded shoulder straps for a more comfortable fit, relieve the stress of shoulder. Durable top handle for long-time carrying on. One side of the shoulder strap with glasses hook can hang sunglasses.

Key Features:

  • Built-in USB port
  • Ergonomics and adjustable padding shoulder straps
  • Sturdy handle
  • Breathable mesh back
  • Two side zipped pockets

Specifications:

  • Brand: KROSER
  • Dimensions: 18.5″ H x 13.3″ W x 7.8″ D
  • Weight: 2.64 lbs
Pros
  • Plenty of compartments for storage
  • Overall easy access to everything you need
  • Hidden zippers inside for more sensitive documents
  • Two drink compartments is pretty handy
Cons
  • Compartments for things like chargers, controllers, etc.

5. Timbuk2 The Division Commuter Backpack

Timbuk2 The Division Commuter Backpack

The Timbuk2 The Division Commuter Backpack is your everyday carry bag, perfect for your commute. Its clean exterior appearance belies its very nerdy interior. Its laptop sleeve is our most lux, its organization on point, and access beyond easy. It’s even designed to sit upright while you dig inside. It has a side stretch neoprene pocket for a water bottle.

The large main compartment fits books, lunch, and a light jacket. Rear access to a laptop pocket keeps your device protected while giving more space in the main compartment for your other stuff. It also has external compression straps for cinching or expanding

Key Features:

  • Internal organizer for pens, phones, and other small stuff
  • Back padded laptop compartment fits 15 inches laptop
  • Grab handle for easy lifting
  • Side Neoprene pocket

Specifications:

  • Brand: Timbuk2
  • Capacity: 22L
  • Dimensions: 17.3″ H x 11″ W x 4.3″ D
  • Weight: 2.1 lbs
Pros
  • Small, lightweight and well made
  • The main compartment has small sections on the outer side of the back, for things like phones, passports, etc.
  • The back-back straps are padded, adjustable and comfortable
  • You can remove and re-attach the front cross-strap as needed
Cons
  • You have to open the main compartment up entirely if you want to access items at the bottom of the bag

6. Thule Pack-n-Pedal Commuter Backpack – Premium Pick

Thule Pack-n-Pedal Commuter Backpack

The Thule Pack-n-Pedal Commuter Backpack is a stylish, waterproof backpack that is perfect for commuting by bike in all-weather conditions or hauling gear to your favorite spot. The Pack ‘n Pedal Commuter backpack includes carrying solutions designed to house your cycling gear including your helmet, light, and U-Lock. There’s also specific carrying solutions for your laptop, phone, and other items.

The 360-degree reflective elements increase visibility from all angles. There is also a built-in light attachment on the back of the pack allowing you to bee seen in traffic. Hideaway helmet attachment system securely holds your helmet when not in use. Airflow channels on EVA back panel and breathable shoulder straps provide maximum comfort and ventilation.

Key Features:

  • Waterproof main compartment with roll-top closure
  • Hideaway high visibility rain cover
  • Hideaway helmet attachment system
  • Padded, removable 15″ laptop compartment
  • 360 degree reflective screen print increases visibility from all angles

Specifications:

  • Brand: Thule
  • Capacity: 24L
  • Dimensions: 18.9″ H x 13.4″ W x 6.7″ D
  • Weight: 2.56 lbs
Pros
  • The bag is very comfortable
  • It can hold a surprising amount of stuff
  • It has good structure and it is not bulky
  • The front pocket is good for storing cables and adapters or whatever random things you might have
Cons
  • The shoulder straps take some getting used to – at first, they would be hard to find while putting the bag on and they would get twisted

7. Timbuk2 Spire Commuter Backpack

Timbuk2 Spire Commuter Backpack

Designed exclusively for Apple, Timbuk2 Spire Commuter Backpack gives your MacBook Pro and iPad plenty of protection in a serious drizzle thanks to its water-resistant TPU and canvas fabric construction. It has expandable volume via the flap or roll top main opening and easy access to your phone, MacBook or iPad. The front zip pocket fits your earbuds, cards, cash and your ID, and an internal organizer for pens, phones, and other small stuff.

It has a custom-fit strap design for a truer, more comfortable fit. It has a ventilated back panel to give your back breathing room. Other features an elasticized external side pocket for water bottle or U-lock. an exterior daisy chain webbing offers attachment points for carabiners and helmets and an on-strap bottle opener for party tricks and quick refreshment.

Key Features:

  • Large main compartment
  • Ventilated back panel to give your back breathing room
  • Custom-fit strap design for a truer, more comfortable fit,
  • Removable sternum strap and on strap bottle opener for party tricks and quick refreshment
  • Elasticized external side pocket for water bottle or U lock

Specifications:

  • Brand: Timbuk2
  • Capacity: 30L
  • Dimensions: 18.7″ H x 12.4″ W x 5.1″ D
  • Weight: 2.4 lbs
Pros
  • Very lightweight on its own
  • Lots of storage space
  • Two slide in protectors for a laptop and a tablet or something similar/ tech based
  • It has a back zipper that allows you to enter the bag through the back
Cons
  • The black picks up quite a bit of lint/ dust, but that can be easily wiped off

8. Osprey Packs Daylite Commuter Backpack

Osprey Packs Daylite Commuter Backpack

The Osprey Packs Daylite Commuter Backpack is at home on a 14,000-foot summit or on a trip to the local farmer’s market. Designed to attach to a number of Osprey’s larger packs and travel bags for use as a separate pod pack on day trips away from base camp, it is the perfect companion on any trip. Access to the main compartment is easy with a large zippered panel. Side mesh pockets hold water bottles and other sundries while a front pocket with a mesh organizer and key clip secure small items in a single secure spot.

Mesh-covered die-cut foam backpanel provides both comfort and ventilation. It also has a built-in external hydration reservoir pocket. While the Daylite continues to serve well as add-on packs for traveling and more, they shine on their own with incredible versatility and are now available in an even more robust color palette than before.

Key Features:

  • Large panel loading main compartment
  • Dual stretch mesh side pockets
  • Multi-function interior sleeve
  • Front panel shove-it pocket
  • Mesh-covered die-cut foam back panel

Specifications:

  • Brand: Osprey
  • Capacity: 13L
  • Dimensions: 18″ H x 9″ W x 9″ D
  • Weight: 1 lbs
Pros
  • The bag itself is very lightweight
  • If the bag isn’t fully packed there are some adjustable buckle straps that can be shortened to give the bag a more define shape
  • The bag has some odly shaped side nets which can be used to hold water bottles and stuff
  • It also has chest and hip straps which are removable
Cons
  • The side pockets are tiny

9. Thule Subterra Commuter Backpack

Thule Subterra Commuter Backpack

The Thule Subterra Commuter Backpack is a commuter-inspired Daypack with flexible capacity, quick-access compartments and dedicated protection for a 15 MacBook plus iPad tablet. It has superior bumper protection, thanks to SafeEdge construction within the laptop compartment. It also has a removable SafeZone compartment protects sunglasses, smartphone or other fragile items.

The duffel-style zipper opens the main compartment wide for easy packing and full visibility. The quick-access front pocket expands to hold large items such as a U-lock or power brick for a laptop. A hidden, vertical pocket to store frequently used mid-sized items such as headphones, a hat or gloves. It also has an integrated daisy chain attachment system for carabiner or bike light.

Key Features:

  • Quick access to laptop and tablet through secondary side zipper
  • Molded safe zone protects a phone, sunglasses or small valuables
  • Duffel style front zipper
  • Interior mesh zippered pocket
  • Expandable front pocket holds

Specifications:

  • Brand: Thule
  • Capacity: 25L
  • Dimensions: 18.5″ H x 13″ W x 11″ D
  • Weight: 2.18 lbs
Pros
  • Has a vacuous main compartment accessed by a side zipper
  • A generously sized bottle holder on one side and a great crush-proof pocket on the other
  • A chest compression strap, solid straps and a top handle round out features that make this bag easy to manage
  • The thick nylon seems super tough
Cons
  • The lid should really have a zipper pouch

10. Timbuk2 Q Laptop Commuter Backpack

Timbuk2 Q Laptop Commuter Backpack

Loved by students and office warriors, the Timbuk2 Q Laptop Commuter Backpack is a mid-sized backpack with laptop and iPad protection and organization for all the gear that entails. The front panel unzips to reveal a command center – full of places for pens, cords, cards, and keys. A bottom zip pocket provides a perfect place to stash the dreaded power brick, and a roomy internal pocket provides ample room for a sweater, headphones, or change of shoes.

The Q’s legitimately comfortably straps and ventilated back panel will keep you looking fresh and ready to rock, even when you’d rather be retired. It has a large main compartment for books, jacket, and other carry-on essentials and a tricot-lined floating pocket protects sunglasses or your smartphone. You may also be interested in some of the best tech backpacks from our list, so check them out.

Key Features:

  • Channeled air mesh ventilated back panel
  • Elasticized external side pocket
  • Fully padded laptop compartment
  • Reinforced grab handles
  • Vista loop for attaching blinky bike lights

Specifications:

  • Brand: Timbuk2
  • Capacity: 26L
  • Dimensions: 18.9″ H x 11.8″ W x 5.1″ D
  • Weight: 2.3 lbs
Pros
  • The sleek “brick” design makes it easy to sling on and off
  • Straps are really solid and supportive, and you have the option to fasten them across your chest which is great
  • The material is sturdy, and it’s lined and waterproof
  • It’s got a ton of pockets
Cons
  • The bag is very narrow. Its dimensions make it perfect for books, a laptop, and other items that comfortably lie flat. It isn’t as great with wider or bulkier items

Buying Guide

Comfort

It’s important to get a backpack that’s going to feel comfortable, even if you fill it with the bricks. Of course, that matters the most because you’re still wearing the backpack for the better part of the day on your shoulders-if your commuting mode is walking, you don’t even have to think too much about its size or weight.

Mode of Commute

If you’re driving every day to work, then this won’t really be a concern. But if you’re riding a bike every day for half an hour to work, you can aim for an anti-theft backpack made of sturdy materials with a sternum strap as well as a hipbelt. Such two smart features will avoid the backpack from rolling about on your shoulders, and ensure it remains fixed to your body even though you’re riding a bike. And whether you’re going to school by subway or bus, an anti-theft backpack for commuting will suffice.

What will you Carry

If you’re bringing a lot of things you’re going to need a big pack. If you don’t, anything smaller should be fine. Let’s presume you’re a regular commuter who wants a laptop space, a snack, and a change of clothes. Search for a backpack with a padded sleeve to keep your laptop secure, and with enough space to accommodate the rest of your belongings. When your work wardrobe is more corporate than casual, select a bag with a wider, covered main compartment that will prevent wrinkling of collared shirts. For those rainy days, consider using waterproof backpacks or simply a backpack rain cover instead.

Pockets

Depending on how many things you wear around, you’ll want to search for a bag that can comfortably fit all of them. And not only getting them jumbled up in the main room, but one that helps you to arrange it easily and you can know where it is. If you always bring your tablet, then a special electronics sleeve or pocket is a must. It’s always best to have smaller pockets for all the items you might have.

Style

A streamlined and functional aesthetic that resonates with the city. Leave the pop colors and pick muted colors for the jungle to walk around the hills. Think of blacks and blues and greys, and it would suit every uniform, whether it’s for school or office. Yet we do know that time is precious. Keeping these points in mind, we have selected our top picks for the best backpacks, with a range of budgets and vibes, for your daily city commute.

Frequently Ask Questions

Does the weight of the commuter’s backpack matter?

Your backpack’s weight contributes to the total weight you’ll bear on your back, so it may be worth considering – particularly if you’ve experienced back pain while riding in the past. Heavier bags are usually constructed of thicker, more sturdy fabrics, which provide more pockets and dividers. Getting all that organization doesn’t do you much good though if the bag gives you discomfort because of its weight.

Is a roll-top or flap closure better?

Whether you choose a roll-top or a flap closure is mostly down to personal taste, but it does influence your bag’s waterproofness. Roll-top seals are usually very secure since the plastic twist renders it virtually difficult for water to spill into the main compartment. On the other hand, flap closures can be more or less efficient at holding water out – waterproof bags with flap closures also provide a secondary safety mechanism, such as a drawstring closure within.

Is a messenger bag or backpack better for commuting?

Whether you want a laptop bag or a backpack is basically your choice. Some messenger bags provide room for larger laptops, but it’s still easy to find backpacks these days that can accommodate smaller laptops, so this is no longer a big factor. For quick commutes, messenger bags may be more convenient than for long commutes, since they place all the weight of the bag on one side, while a backpack distributes weight over both sides. Backpacks can also be less prone than a messenger bag to move about on bumpy streets.

Conclusion

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