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21 Best Men’s Backpacks for Work, Travel & School

By Andrew Peloquin  |  Updated June 18, 2024

21 Best Men’s Backpacks for Work, Travel & School
Courtesy of Ekster

A great backpack is worth its weight in gold.

There’s only so much I can carry around in my pockets, and on my days off work, there’s no way I want to be hauling around a business briefcase.

But a backpack, now that’s an everyday item I can use for school, nights out on the town, mini-vacations, road trips, and so much more. Heck, the right backpack can even be work-friendly, the one-bag-to-rule-them-all solution to carrying my EDC items.

  • Size matters. Smaller “day packs” in the 20 to 35-liter size are great for weekend getaways, road trips, camping, or hiking trips. If you’re planning to travel for a week or longer, consider a larger 36 to 50-liter pack.
  • Material matters. Leather is sleek, stylish, and ultra-luxurious, but not the toughest or most waterproof. Nylon, polyester, and canvas are more durable, resilient, and adventure-ready, but may not be as “chic”. Choose the right material according to the activity you’re packing for.
  • Functionality matters. Features like dedicated zippered pockets, padded laptop sleeves/pockets, hidden ID/document pockets, expandable storage, exterior water bottle pockets, internal organization compartments, and luggage pass-throughs can make traveling with your backpack just that much easier!

I’m looking for bags that are sleek, stylish, sturdy, and ultra-functional. My research has led me to create the list below, and I think you’ll find each of the options I’ve assembled has something unique and special to offer.

Whether you’re looking for something to take to work, school, or just have on hand for that next trip, give these backpacks a look, and I guarantee you’ll find one that suits your needs (and your budget) just right.

Best Hybrid Backpack & Tote
BillyKirk No. 609 Standard Issue

Best for On & Off-road Adventures
Ekster Grid Backpack

Best Backpack for Maximum Space
TOPO Global Travel Bag

Best Inexpensive Backpack
THE NORTH FACE Vault Everyday Laptop Backpack

Best Leather Backpack
Harber London City Backpack

Best Backpack for Photographers

Best Packable Backpack
Matador ReFraction Packable Backpack

Best Hybrid Backpack & Tote

BillyKirk No. 609 Standard Issue


Carry this bag however you want: on your back, slung over one shoulder, or in your hand. The hybrid tote-and-backpack design makes it easy to switch it up depending on how you’re traveling.

It’s definitely on the slimmer side, but it’s the ideal backpack to carry on a plane when you’ve got all your backup essentials in your checked luggage, or in a separate gym bag.

Best for On & Off-road Adventures

Ekster Grid Backpack


Best Backpack for Maximum Space

TOPO Global Travel Bag


For men who want to fit the maximum amount of gear into the most portable bag, I recommend the TOPO Designs Global Travel Bag. The unique rectangular shape gives you more space to work with, and thanks to the TOPO Designs packing cubes (sold separately), you can make use of every square inch to really pack this bad boy to the brim.

When it comes time to travel, you’ve got three carry options: the padded backpack straps (complete with cross-body strap), the top-mounted grab handle, and a shoulder strap. It can even be attached to your roller luggage handle for a fourth bonus option.

It’s sized just right for long weekends and holiday trips, is fully carry-on compliant, and is built using a nylon fabric that is both fully recycled (for a “greener” holiday) and incredibly resilient to abrasions and damage. Now that’s a backpack you can love.

Best Inexpensive Backpack

THE NORTH FACE Vault Everyday Laptop Backpack


The fact that the American Chiropractic Association endorses THE NORTH FACE Vault Everyday Laptop Backpack is definitely one of the reasons I took notice of it. Once I tested it out myself, I fell in love.

This laptop backpack has everything I could want for both a daily commute and a journey into the wilderness: a flexible yoke (made using flexible, custom injection-molded straps) that sits comfortably and offers good back support, a lumbar panel for extra stiffness, ample storage space (27L) with a good assortment of compartments and pockets, and a tough material (600D recycled polyester) with a DWR coating that keeps it dry in wet conditions.

For climbers like me, you’ll love the daisy chain that lets you hook it up to your climbing gear so you can always keep it close at hand when on the mountain.

Best Leather Backpack

Harber London City Backpack


The full grain leather is butter-soft to the touch, the Spanish craftsmanship is supreme, and the design (half-backpack, half-tote) is versatile enough for work and vacation both.

It’s capable of fitting up to a 16-inch laptop along with my other work essentials, and even a water bottle (in a dedicated interior pocket). It even comes with a sternum strap to take the weight off my shoulders and give my back a break.

Best Backpack for Photographers



Photographers, world-travelers, parents, and working professionals, this one is for you. The PRVKE backpack was designed specifically for those with a lot of delicate equipment to haul around, adding multiple interior and external compartments to make gear organization simpler and safer.

The upgraded back panel and shoulder straps maximize comfort and reduce the strain on your back, even if the pack is fully loaded.

Thanks to its hidden passport pocket, you’ve got instant access to your most critical documents. It’s weather-resistant, ultra-secure, and lined with soft fleece to shield your equipment from bumps, bangs, scratches, and impact.

Best Packable Backpack

Matador ReFraction Packable Backpack


What I love about the Matador ReFraction Packable Backpack is that it is so incredibly portable. When not in use, I fold it down into its own pocket, and the Dopp kit-sized package fits into my duffel bag or suitcase. Once I’m at my holiday destination, I can whip it out and I’ve got a compact, streamlined extra bag perfect for my daily adventures.

The backpack is small, just 16L, meaning it’s got just enough space for a single day’s essentials: a change of clothing, chargers and cables, a backup battery pack, etc. But I love that it’s tough enough to keep up with a jungle hike or a ride in an ATV.

It’s made using recycled nylon and other materials that are Bluesign-approved. It’s also finished with a PFC-free coating that adds water resistance to make it an even more reliable, versatile backpack I’m glad to take on any adventure I’m planning.

Chrome Industries Barrage Cargo Backpack


When I’ve got a lot of gear to carry but don’t want to upsize to a duffel bag or suitcase, this is the backpack I’ll reach for every time.

It’s built with a cargo net compression system that lets me easily tighten the backpack to keep extra items packed in snugly, or expand the net to fit a bike helmet, water bottle, hard drive, and other large-sized accessories.

The welded waterproof liner keeps the contents fully protected from rain and snow, and the rolltop opening ensures it’s as weatherproof as possible—not to mention convenient to access and pack/unpack.

I’m particularly stoked by the abrasion-resistant exterior fabric. It’s tough enough to have survived 2+ years of daily commuting, cycling, and zipping around town on my e-scooter.

And just so you know it’s top-quality, it’s backed by a lifetime warranty that guarantees repair or replacement in case of even the slightest damage.

Mission Workshop Rhake


Mission Workshop’s Rhake backpack is the overnight bag I love to take on camping trips, holidays, and road trips. Thanks to its roll-top design, I’ve got easy access to all my gear and plenty of expandable storage in case I need to pack for a few days.

The purpose-built internal and external pockets are perfect for organizing all my EDC gear: phone, laptop (up to 17”), chargers, sunglasses, water bottle, and tablet (I can’t enjoy camping without a good ebook handy).

The two shoulder straps are equipped with Arkiv rails that let me to clip on even more MW accessories—including the utility pocket and weatherproof cell phone pouch.

Best of all, the back panel is designed with a luggage pass-through that makes it easy to slide the pack over the handle of my rolling luggage for easy transportation.

Filson’s Journeyman Backpack


The Journeyman Backpack by Filson is made using “Tin Cloth”, a unique proprietary fabric made by saturated a tightly-woven cotton canvas with paraffin wax. The result is a backpack that is both incredibly sturdy and waterproof enough you can stride confidently through even the heaviest rain.

The backpack features a back panel made of twill that will reduce chafing/rubbing and prevent heavy sweating. It even gives the backpack some structure so it’s easier to pack and will prevent shoulder/lower back strain.

It’s got a dedicated sleeve for a 15” laptop, multiple interior pockets for organizing your EDC gear, and ample space for everything you could want to carry to work, on holiday, or out camping.

DSPTCH Ruckpack


Based on a military design, the DSPTCH Ruckpack is the ultra-durable backpack you’ve been looking for.

Made of insanely tough 1680-denier ballistic nylon, this bag can withstand scratches, drops, rips, and punctures.

The Duraflex hardware will last for years without breaking or rusting, and the mil-spec webbing will keep everything tightly secured and in place no matter how active your daily travel.

It’s made in the USA and backed by a Lifetime Guarantee, so you know it’s a bag that can handle daily motorcycle, e-bike, and electric scooter rides.

Best of all, its many interior and external compartments and pockets make it a breeze to organize all your EDC items just the way you want them, accessible at a moment’s notice.

Hardgraft Well-rounded Leather Backpack


If you’re looking for a true luxury item and don’t mind spending a bit more, you’ll love this backpack—a work of fine leather-crafting art.

The backpack is made from the most luxurious Italian washed vegetable-tanned leather, and it feels buttery soft to touch right out of the bag. The more you use it, the more beautiful it will become as it develops a gorgeous and unique patina.

It’s one of the smaller backpacks on our list, which makes it perfect for touring the city in style and comfort. Thanks to the fully adjustable padded leather straps, you can adapt it to sit on your back just right to match your outfit and complete your look.

Heimplanet Transit Line Travel Pack


Keep it simple and ultra-stylish with this backpack by Heimplanet. The Transit Line Travel Pack is chic enough to match with your work outfit but sturdy enough that it can handle a weekend vacation, road trip, or camping trip with ease.

It’s made using both waterproof fabric and water-repellent zippers, and your contents will stay dry even in a heavy downpour. The clamshell opening makes for easy packing and allows you to see everything inside at a glance. There are also plenty of pockets and compartments—including two external zipped pockets, an elastic water bottle pocket, a 15” laptop compartment, and multiple interior compartments of varying sizes.

You’ll love how comfortable the backpack sits when belted across your chest and waist, but you can remove these straps to make it a standard-looking backpack (shoulder straps only). OneBaggers will love its practical and versatile design.

Bradley Mountain Wilder Backpack


Every one of these backpacks are made by hand, combining artisan-quality craftsmanship with top-notch and ultra-sturdy materials (like 19.8-ounce waxed canvas, 9-ounce harness leather, and antique brass hardware). The result is a truly gorgeous bag that is tough enough to weather any storm and survive any adventure.

Its 28L size makes it perfect for a weekend camping trip or holiday road trip, and you’ll love all its dedicated storage space—including a spacious main compartment, padded interior pocket sized for a 16” laptop, water bottle external pocket, and a front zipper pocket for safe storage of your electronics.

GoRuck GR1


The GR1 by GoRuck took the ultra-durability of the packs used by U.S. Special Forces and blended in a modern vibe that makes it at home everywhere from Times Square to the Santa Monica Pier to the streets of Baghdad.

The flat-opening design allows me to see everything inside at a glance, and the MOLLE webbing allow for total customization of the bag’s layout. The laptop compartment is “bombproof”, with a hard plastic frame that shields my electronics (and my back) all day long.

However, when I want to trim down the weight, the frame can be removed to make the backpack divinely lightweight and packable

The 1000-denier Cordura nylon is tough and water-resistant (I’ve left this one out in the rain for hours), and the bag is just the right size and shape to be TSA-compliant to fit under airplane seats. Take it anywhere and everywhere—you’ll always be glad you have it.

Everlane The ReNew Transit Backpack


Traveling just got a whole lot more comfortable and eco-friendly with the Everlane The ReNew Transit Backpack.

On the “green” side, it’s made from 100% recycled polyester derived from 29.2 renewed plastic bottles, its manufacturing process cuts around 90% of virgin plastic from the supply chain. It’s also finished with an eco-friendly, fluorine-free coating that adds amazing water resistance.

Functionality-wise, it’s a work of art. It’s loaded with pockets and compartments inside and out: an exterior laptop zip pocket sized for computers up to 15”, two external zip pockets for your documents and other daily essentials, two water bottle pockets (internal and external), and two internal slip pockets.

The magnetic closure keeps the top firmly closed so you never have to worry about your items sliding or falling out. And thanks to the luggage pass-through, you can attach the bag to your rolling luggage for easier carry.

Carhartt Single-Compartment Backpack


If you need a backpack you can use both around town and on the job site, you won’t find one tougher and more work-friendly than Carhartt’s option.

This 27L Single-Compartment Backpack has space enough for all your daily essentials—including a laptop in its padded sleeve, a tablet, and small electronics in the mesh pockets—and like their famous work pants, it’s also one of the hardiest backpacks I’ve ever tested. You can take it out in the rain, snow, sleet, and hail, and the 1200-denier polyester and Rain Defender DWR coating will shrug off moisture no problem.

One great detail I loved about this bag: it’s got a Duravax abrasion-resistant base that keeps it from being scuffed, scratched, or scraped any time I put it down on a job site. Thanks to its contour-fit straps and the padded, mesh-covered back panel, it’s comfortable enough to wear all day long.

Boundary Errant Pack


I take this bad boy on my daily commute because it makes keeping my daily gear safe and better-organized an absolute breeze.

Don’t let the 22-liter size fool you—it’s got an impressive amount of storage space inside, with more than enough pockets and compartments (including a padded 15-inch laptop sleeve, zippered main compartment, padded tablet pocket, stretch mesh pockets, quick-access external pockets, a zippered bottom compartment for my gym clothing or running shoes, and a huge water bottle side pocket to fit my 1-liter bottle) to make it a breeze to keep all my gear neat while still being easily within reach.

The durable exterior loops let me to attach other accessories to the backpack, and the luggage pass-through makes it a breeze to carry with my spinner suitcase for easier carry-on.

There’s even RFID protection in a hidden pocket to keep my credit cards and passport safe. Pretty much my favorite EDC backpack I’ve tested to date. Works well as a gym backpack.

RAINS Backpack


I have yet to come across a backpack quite like this one. RAINS designs their backpack a bit differently: it uses pure polyester with a polyurethane coating and a flap-top design that makes it resilient against light rain, and features both magnetic snap fastenings and a carabiner closure that ensures once it’s closed, it stays closed.

It’s great for daily work at the office, with a single main compartment that offers good storage space for essentials, as well as a 15” laptop sleeve, internal zip pocket for small items, and an external back zip pocket for documents.

Herschel Heritage Backpack


Keep it simple and stylish with the Herschel Heritage Backpack. At 21L, it’s not the most spacious of backpacks, but it’ll more than suffice for your daily commuter backpack when you’re headed to school or the office.

The interior 15” laptop sleeve, internal media pocket, and front compartment gives you just enough space for the bare minimum, so you can travel light and easy.

It does have some really nifty features, though. The internal media pocket includes a headphone port so you can connect your headphones to your tablet or phone and listen without pulling it out of the backpack.

The polyester inner lining is soft and does an amazing job of cushioning the backpack’s contents against impacts and drops.

And thanks to the tough polyester exterior, it’ll be hardy enough to survive years of daily commuting.

L.L. Bean Comfort Carry Laptop Pack


For a backpack that handles hikes, bike rides, kayak trips, and everyday use, give the L.L. Bean Comfort Carry Laptop Pack a try. It’s made using a blend of 300-denier ripstop polyester and 420-denier ripstop nylon, which together ensures maximum durability. Just to make it even tougher, though, the bottom is made using 1000-denier nylon, so it’ll hold up to scuffs and scrapes any time you put it down.

When fully loaded, the 30L backpack can fit enough of your clothing and basic items for a long weekend, and there’s even extra storage space thanks to the front bungee cord rigging (which holds another jacket or a backup sweater).

The combination of adjustable sternum strap and waist belt ensures the weight is evenly distributed if you’re hiking or cycling, but you can tuck away the waist belt for quick, streamlined everyday carry.

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