Peak Design Everyday Backpack 20L v2 in Midnight BlueSource: Hayato Huseman / Android Central

Best Backpacks 2021: Bags for laptops, students, travel & more Android Central 2021

The best backpacks are used for all kinds of reasons, whether it's to travel to work, school, or even vacation. Ideally, you'll want a backpack with several compartments that can hold a computer, like one of the best Chromebooks, tablet, and other essentials, plus have small pockets for items like your phone, wallet, keys, and more. There are so many types and kinds of backpacks, many of which are appropriate for different use cases. But one of the best and most versatile is the Peak Design Everyday Backpack V2, which, as the name implies, is designed to handle everyday use. It can hold a laptop and other essentials, both large and small, thanks to adjustable dividers. Plus, it's water-resistant, expandable, and designed with plenty of features to reduce theft.

Best overall: Peak Design Everyday Backpack V2

Peak Design Everyday Backpack 20L v2 (Midnight Blue)Source: Hayato Huseman / Android Central

As the name implies, the Peak Design Everyday Backpack V2 is a versatile backpack made for everyday use, and it's designed such that it would look as great on a college campus as it would while you walk about a trade show. The internal dividers are adjustable so you can move them around as needed, whether you're carrying a laptop, camera gear, or clothing for an overnight trip.

It can accommodate a laptop up to 15 inches in size in the protected laptop sleeve. A MagLatch at the top keeps your stuff protected inside, both from falling out and from unauthorized access. Inside is 8 liters of storage space, but you can carry more if needed using the hidden straps on the exterior. Inside are tons of hidden compartments and expandable pockets for storing even more. Note, however, that the side openings aren't super wide so you might not easily be able to fit a wide water bottle.

The 100% recycled nylon canvas shell is weatherproof so you don't need to worry about a little rain or snow. There's both a 20-liter or this 30-liter option, depending on how much you want to carry. The attractive style and color options make this bag a great one, no matter what you want to do with it.

Pros:

  • Ample storage
  • Two size options
  • MagLatch closure
  • Adjustable dividers
  • Elegant design

Cons:

  • Can only hold up to 15-inch laptops
  • Only two colors
  • Side openings aren't very wide
  • Expensive

Best overall

Peak Design Everyday Backpack V

Peak Design Everyday Backpack V2

Best bag for everyday

This is a great backpack whether you're traveling by plane, walking up the street, hanging with friends, or hard at work.

Best value: Herschel Heritage Backpack

Herschel Heritage Backpack LifestyleSource: Herschel

With the Herschel Heritage Backpack, you get a really cool, modern, and elegant design with high quality material that will meet your basic needs. It's more stylish than what you might get with a basic backpack from a brand like Jansport, and it isn't that much more expensive.

In addition to the full-sized, classic 21.5-liter version, it also comes in smaller 7-liter and 14.5-liter versions, all made from polyester material that can be easily wiped clean with a damp cloth. It's also fully lined inside, and the interior sleeve can hold an up to 15-inch laptop.

The larger bag has a dedicated laptop sleeve along with a zippered pocket on the front, a key clip, and a headphone port inside the internal media pocket. It won't accommodate everything you might need, but it's enough to do the trick for daily outings. It comes in a number of patterns, solid colors, and designs to suit every personal style.

Pros:

  • Lots of color and pattern options
  • Smaller sizes available if desired
  • Laptop sleeve

Cons:

  • Laptop sleeve only holds up to 15-inch models
  • Not as spacious as others
  • Not rugged

Best value

Herschel Heritage backpack

Herschel Heritage Backpack

Get an elegant, expensive look with this basic yet functional backpack that won't break the bank.

Best for tech gear: North Face Resistor Charged Backpack

North Face Resistor Charged Backpack LifestyleSource: North Face

A trend over the last few years has been to include chargers in backpacks so you can keep your gear chugging along throughout the day. One such backpack is the Resistor, which has a battery pocket and hub holder inside that you can recharge then use to plug in your electronic devices.

The backpack itself has custom-molded shoulder straps, a padded mesh channel and spine channel, and a lumbar panel that is designed to make it comfortable to wear without putting strain on your back.

Carry items inside the main compartment, including an up to 17-inch laptop in the zippered mesh pocket. It also has a secondary main compartment, which has an internal organization and cord management system. Two external zippered mesh pockets are lined with fleece and can store smaller items.

With a reflective design and two water bottle pockets, this bag is as great for using at a trade show as it is while hiking in the great outdoors.

Pros:

  • Lots of pockets
  • Can hold an up to 17-inch laptop
  • Padded, mesh back panels
  • Reflective material

Cons:

  • Big
  • Expensive

Best for tech gear

North Face Resistor backpack

The North Face Resistor Charged Backpack

Keep gear powered up

Keep your electronic devices safely stored and fully charged up in this charging backpack from a leading brand.

Best for elementary school students: JanSport SuperBreak One BackPack

Jansport Superbreak Backpack LifestyleSource: Jansport

Available in a variety of colors that will appeal to younger kids, this lightwight school backpack, which Jansport calls a "bookbag," is a simple backpack that doesn't have any frills but will do the intended job. It comes with a main compartment with lots of interior storage for notebooks and other supplies, along with a front utility pocket with a built-in organizer. It's important for little ones to remain hydrated, and this backpack has a side water bottle pocket.

The shoulder straps and back panel are both padded so it's comfortable to wear all day. Keep in mind that it does not have a padded laptop compartment, but most elementary school kids won't need to cart a computer back and forth to school; chances are the school will provide devices like Chromebooks kids can work on while there.

The backpack is also made of water-repellant fabric with a coated interior and zippers so it can withstand being bumped around, dragged on the floor, and carried in the rain by little ones.

Pros:

  • Lots of color and pattern options
  • Built-in organizer
  • Padded shoulder straps and back panel
  • Made of water-repellent fabric

Cons:

  • No padded laptop sleeve
  • Might be too big for very small kids

Best for elementary school students

Jansport Superbreak One Backpack

JanSport SuperBreak Backpack

This basic book bag will meet the needs of a younger child before they need to upgrade to a full-on laptop backpack.

Best for high school students: JanSport Big Student Backpack

Jansport Big Student Backpack LifestyleSource: Jansport

When it comes to backpacks for students, JanSport is one of the most recognized and popular brands, and for good reason. Its backpacks, like this one, are standard in design, but have all of the features a student would need and are very affordable.

The Big Student backpack has plenty of pockets to store everything from a laptop to the various small items a high schooler might carry. A front utility pocket can hold the items you need to grab quickly, like your wallet, ID, and phone, while other larger zippered compartments can hold a notepad, charger, and other items. Store everything from electronics to your gym clothes or running shoes in the spacious 34-liter interior. Plus, it has a water bottle sleeve so high school students can stay properly hydrated. While the inside is very spacious, and large enough to hold a laptop, it doesn't actually have a padded laptop sleeve inside, which is the one downside.

Available in more than 35 color options, it's made from durable material and comes with ergonomic S-curve shoulder straps and a padded back panel so you can comfortably wear it all day.

Pros:

  • Spacious interior
  • 35+ color options
  • Affordable
  • Padded back panel

Cons:

  • Casual style
  • No padded laptop sleeve

Best for high school students

Jansport Big Student Backpack Render

JanSport Big Student Backpack with 15-Inch Laptop Compartment

Everything you need for school

Throw everything you need for school in this spacious backpack that comes in different colors and designs.

Best for university students: Targus Ascend Backpack

Targus Ascend Backpack LifestyleSource: Targus

There's nothing a college or university student appreciates more than a good deal, especially when they are knee-deep in tuitition fees. While you might think that a college student requires an expensive backpack, this isn't necessarily the case. I have tried many Targus backpacks over the years and find them to always be reliable, high quality, and affordable. The Ascend is no exception.

It's designed to carry a laptop up to 16 inches in size along with other essentials, including a tablet, notebooks, study guides, snacks, and more. There are tons of accessory pockets, along with a water bottle pocket, essential to keep water or protein shakes on hand 24/7 (or, who are we kidding, travel coffee mug!). The vertical front pocket is perfect for slotting in a notebook you want to be able to grab quickly and easily when needed, or, more likely, your smartphone, or even an accessory like a stylus.

The padded back panel makes it comfortable to wear as you walk from one side of the campus to the other, or from class to class. Targus offers a lifetime manufacturer's limited warranty, which is pretty rad, too.

Pros:

  • Lots of color and pattern options
  • Laptop sleeve
  • Tons of accessory pockets
  • Lifetime limited warranty available

Cons:

  • Only one basic look
  • Not rugged

Best for university students

Targus Ascend Backpack

Targus Ascend Backpack

Affordable realibility

College and university students are on a tight budget, and this affordable backpack comes from a reputable brand without breaking the bank.

Best for business: Targus Spruce EcoSmart Travel Backpack

Targus Spruce Ecosmart Travel Backpack LifestyleSource: B&H Photo

Great for travel as well as business, this eco-friendly backpack has the added advantage of being made from 100% recycled PET polyester and PVC-free material, so you can feel good about using for multiple reasons. It only comes in black, but its style will fit right in with any office.

The foam padded laptop compartment can keep a laptop up to 17 inches in screen size protected by absorbing shock. It also comes with a removable padded slipcase, making TSA security checks at the airport simple. There's also a smaller version with a slipcase that can hold a 15.4-inch laptop.

It also has zip down compartments for accessory pockets, and a quick access mobile phone pouch when you need to answer that urgent call from a client. As with all Targus products, it comes with a limited lifetime warranty.

Pros:

  • Understated design
  • Padded laptop sleeve
  • Quick access phone pouch
  • Made from eco-friendly materials
  • Lifetime warranty

Cons:

  • Might be too big for some laptops (15.4-inch version available)
  • Only one color option

Best for business

Targus Spruce Ecosmart Travel Backpack

Targus Spruce EcoSmart Travel Backpack

Understated yet functional

It's not the flashiest backpack but it will do for business thanks to the padded laptop compartment, and quick access phone pouch.

Best for travel: Peak Design Travel Backpack

Peak Designs Travel Backpack LifestyleSource: Peak Design

When traveling, you need a backpack that is large enough to accommodate everything you need but won't be a strain. And it helps if you can use the backpack after you arrive at your destination, too. The Peak Design Travel Backpack offers all of that thanks to its design that can easily expand from a 35-liter capacity to hold up to 45 liters by simply unzipping it. Use it to pack all of your essentials, unpack when you arrive at your destination, then zip it up to use the smaller version while out and about, bringing along only what you need.

It's weatherproof, made of nylon canvas material that makes it strong and durable, and comes in either black or gray. It has adjustable straps to accommodate wearers of all heights, and it has a water bottle holder. Inside is ultra-light padded foam to keep your belongings safe from bumps and drops, or shifting around in the overhead bin of an airplane or train, for example. It also has a padded laptop compartment, so whether you're traveling for work, play, or a bit of both, you're covered.

Pros:

  • Expandable design
  • Large enough to function as a suitcase
  • Weatherproof design

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Only comes in two colors
  • Might be too large for some

Best for travel

Peak Design Travel Backpack

Peak Design Travel Backpack

On the road again

With an expandable design, this travel backpack combines carry-on luggage with a backpack.

Best oversized backpack: Mountain Warehouse Traveller

Mountain Warehouse Traveller LifestyleSource: Mountain Warehouse

With this handy, machine-washable backpack, you essentially get two backpacks in one. The main backpack has a massive 60-liter capacity to store all of the essentials you'd need while the travel backpack that attaches to its front has a 20-liter capacity, enough to use for day trips and short outings.

Don't worry about the size on your back. You can adjust the shoulder straps to help prevent back pain and use the chest and hip straps as well to further stabilize the pack and distribute weight evenly throughout your body. It also comes with a rain and flight cover.

It also has plenty of pockets to keep smaller items organized. It's a pretty big backpack, but in terms of oversized options, this one provides the best of both worlds because you have the option to use it as a small bag as well when needed. It's also available in five colors so you can find one that fits your style. Just keep in mind that there's a separate version designed to better fit female bodies.

Pros:

  • Large interior
  • Removable smaller backpack
  • Included rain and flight cover
  • Chest and hip straps
  • Separate version for women's fit

Cons:

  • No laptop sleeve
  • Too big for some

Best oversized backpack

Mountain Warehouse traveller backpack

Mountain Warehouse Traveller

Pack it all in

This backpack is not only oversized, it also includes a detachable smaller backpack for when you need it.

Best for photographers: Lowepro Freeline BP 350 AW

Lowepro Freeline backpackSource: Lowepro

Photographers have lots of gear they need to bring along with them, which requires a specific type of backpack. And while you might have or want a backpack with slots that are designed just for your specific equipment, there are great backpacks that can you use both when you have your photo gear as well as when you don't.

The Lowepro Freeline BP 350 AW has customizable QuickShelf dividers inside that either open to a three-tier shelf when you're bringing your camera gear with you or can fold flat when you aren't. Plus, it comes with a tech organizing pouch, slots inside for small items like charging cables and SD cards, and even straps on the front so you can easily carry items like a tripod.

Made with a water-resistant coating and high-grade nylon exterior, it can withstand the elements while you shoot in harsh conditions. Its large and spacious interior can accommodate pretty much everything you'd need. A padded compartment can also accommodate a 15-inch laptop.

Pros:

  • Large interior
  • Removable dividers
  • Straps for tripod
  • Water-resistant coating
  • Laptop sleeve

Cons:

  • No side handles
  • Expensive
  • Only one color
  • Sleeve only fits up to 15-inch laptop

Best for photographers

Lowepro Freeline BP 350 AW

Lowepro Freeline BP 350 AW Backpack

Get ready to shoot

Pack and organize all your camera gear or remove the dividers and use the backpack for other outings, too.

Bottom line

There are so many backpacks from which to choose, so it's a tough decision when it comes to narrowing things down to the best backpacks that will meet your needs. Sometimes, the business "travel" backpack is actually an ideal one for business, or the value backpack is what you really need for school.

In terms of being the most things to most people, however, the Peak Design Everyday Backpack V2 lives up to its name, providing different size options depending on your needs along with a padded laptop compartment, adjustable dividers to organize items inside, and plenty of hidden compartments and expandable pockets for smaller items. It might not be the cheapest backpack of the bunch, but if you're looking for a backpack that will last, can withstand the elements, will deter theft, and can accommodate everything you need for work, play, or other outings, it's one of the best options out there.

While each backpack has its pros and cons, and some are better suited to specific use than others, you might find that the best backpack for high schoolers works well for a college-aged student, for example, or the backpack we think is the best travel backpack is perfect for business use. Bottom line: choose the best backpack for you, based on your needs.

Credits — The team that worked on this guide

Author: Cp Headshot

Christine Persaud resides in Toronto, Ontario Canada with her husband and 8-year-old son. While she works from home, a backpack is essential for day trips, trade shows, and other events; and she always takes one as a carry-on while traveling.

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