The 10 Best Work Backpacks of 2021
Commute in style
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Backpacks are a comfortable way for commuters to haul around everything they need for the day. There’s just one problem: these accessories don’t always look as professional as a briefcase or handbag. Still, there are great options in the market that are workplace appropriate. Whether you commute a mile on foot or an hour each way on public transportation — here are the best work backpacks that prove form and function aren’t mutually exclusive.
Best Overall: Dagne Dover Dakota Medium Backpack
If you need a durable bag with room for everything, the Dagne Dover Dakota Medium Backpack checks those boxes. Incredibly versatile, it’s ideal for use at the office, the gym, or even away for the weekend. There are seven different colors to choose from including black, moss green, two shades of blue, red, and blush.
This minimalist backpack particularly stands out for its two large separate compartments—the back section is even padded enough to hold any sized laptop safely without an additional sleeve. The front section features a mesh divider for separating gym clothing and sneakers from the rest of your gear. Even more, a front pocket provides quick access to your wallet, while two exterior bottle pockets are ideal for workout days.
The bag is also made from neoprene, a high tech fabric that’s water-resistant, insulating, and shock absorbent. Because it’s strong yet lightweight, the work backpack won’t weigh you down, even when heavily packed.
Best for Women: Rebecca Minkoff Julian Backpack
With the aesthetic of a handbag and the convenience of a backpack, Rebecca Minkoff’s Julian Backpack is a solid choice for women. Made of textured leather with bold silver hardware and tassel-accented zippers, it’s edgy yet versatile enough for the office or to take to yoga.
While this bag might look straight off the runway, don’t be fooled—it’s a great choice for every day. There are pockets galore including three zip pockets on the exterior, perfect for easy access to smaller items. The inside features three slip pockets and a zipper pocket. Although this work backpack doesn’t have a specific laptop pocket, the leather is structured enough to protect your device when commuting. Adjustable straps ensure an ideal fit, keeping the bag close to your body. The top loop also makes it easy to grab and go.
Best for Men: Herschel Supply Co. Mammoth Large Backpack
If size matters to you, opt for this bag from Herschel Supply Co. Case in point: the aptly named backpack has a mammoth capacity of 23 liters, giving you room for everything you need for work and beyond. Its dobby nylon exterior is abrasion-resistant, so there’s no need to worry about scratches and scuffs. The inside is fully lined, which adds an extra layer of durability. Still, despite its rugged style, the streamlined look of this bag is appropriate for the office. Two exterior slip pockets hold water bottles, while internal slip pockets secure laptops, tablets, and other electronics. There are also several smaller internal pockets as well as a key clip.
This backpack is also ideal for men who bike to work, no matter the weather condition—the outer rain cover ensures everything inside stays dry, with reflective emblems to make sure the wearer stays safe, even at night.
Check out our guide to the best men's briefcases you can buy today.
Best Budget: Timbuk2 Rogue Laptop Backpack
Style and practicality don’t have to break the bank with the Timbuk2 Rogue backpack. This bag is designed to keep the wearer extremely organized, especially for busy commuters. Best of all, the work backpack accommodates larger laptops, with an internal pocket that can hold up to 15-inch sizes. The large main compartment can fit a light jacket, books, and even lunch. The elasticized side pocket keeps water bottles away from electronic devices. And for the occasional drink or two after work, there's a built-in bottle opener on the strap.
Thanks to a waterproof tarpaulin exterior, the bag’s interior contents will be protected from the rain. And, because it’s designed for large hauls, there are extra comfort features including a ventilated back panel, adjustable straps, and removable sternum strap.
Most Versatile: KNOMO London Harewood Totepack
Part backpack part tote bag, the KNOMO London Harewood Totepack is the perfect convertible accessory. This sporty yet sophisticated bag comes with exterior zip pockets, a side-zip media pocket, and a key clip, as well as a magnetic snap phone pocket, so you won’t misplace your phone again.
As for safety measures, the water-resistant bag is made from ultra-lightweight polyester and features classic leather trim. The backpack straps easily tuck away to convert the bag into a tote for a more polished look during meetings, events, and happy hour. A wide nylon strap at the top makes it easy to carry the bag with your hands or slung on your shoulder.
Anyone who frequently travels for work should consider the KNOMO, as it’s like having two bags in one. Plus, this roomy bag also stows easily underneath an airplane seat, making it an ideal carry-on piece.
See more reviews of our favorite travel wallets available for purchase.
Most Comfortable: The North Face Recon Backpack
Go with The North Face’s Recon backpack if comfort is of the utmost importance. Made of nylon, it's both lightweight and strong. There are also a variety of ergonomic features that help distribute weight—the adjustable FlexVent injection-molded shoulder straps help assure a proper fit to your body, while a mesh back panel and spine channel add extra layers of comfort, and the optical waist belt gives additional support when needed.
There’s also plenty of room for all of your things with interior zip and wall pockets, as well as a padded section for laptops. The front compartment has additional pockets and an organizer. Those who bike to work should take note of this bag’s useful reflective trim, which offers 360-degree low-light visibility.
Best Splurge: Longchamp Veau Foulonne Backpack
Treat yourself with the Longchamp Veau Foulonne Backpack—it has a classic look that will compliment any outfit, from formal to business casual styles. Sophisticated and Parisian-inspired, it has the same stylings and features you'd find in the brand's iconic French handbags.
While chic, this work backpack is also big on practicality. Made of sturdy leather, it’s still lightweight and comfortable, especially with the adjustable straps. The drawstring makes it easy to open and close without worrying about items falling out, especially on the go. Two exterior zippered pockets make it a breeze to access small items like lip balm or your phone. While this bag doesn’t have built-in pockets or laptop sleeves, it’s still large enough to fit a laptop, tablet, and all of your daily essentials.
Best for Travel: Tumi Voyageur Hartford Backpack
Tumi’s Voyageur Hartford backpack is perfect if you travel a lot for work and need a backpack to accommodate all of your business trips. Available in black, blackberry, and milk/silver nylon, it features bold metal hardware and two zippers with pulls, making it easy to open and close. A leather trim gives the bag an extra luxurious touch.
This well-thought-out work backpack also includes an interior zip pocket that protects the laptop pocket from spills. If all of these features aren’t convincing enough, the bag’s Tumi’s Tracer technology will give you peace of mind—it’s designed to help you retrieve lost or stolen luggage.
Best Waterproof: Rains Waterproof Backpack
A waterproof backpack is essential if you’re commuting in a rainy or wet climate, like the Rains backpack. Not only is this bag made from a waterproof fabric that’s 50 percent polyurethane and 50 percent polyester, but also the zippers are waterproof for maximum protection. With a modern aesthetic, this work backpack is chic and gender-neutral.
The interior has room for everything you need for the office and beyond including a 13-inch interior laptop pocket, zip pocket, and hidden exterior phone pocket. The minimalist backpack also comes with a hook closure for a stylish accent, while the rest of the closures are magnetic, making it a breeze to find your umbrella.
Best for Laptops: Samsonite Mobile Solution Deluxe Backpack
Secure larger laptops with Samsonite’s Mobile Solution backpack. It has an interior padded tech panel that fits most laptops up to 15.6 inches vertically and tablets up to nearly 10 inches.
This water-resistant, nylon backpack is also chock full of pockets including a large exterior front pocket, two interior zippered pockets, slip pockets, and a key leash, as well as exterior side pockets for water bottles. And if you’re on the road or at the airport, you don’t even need to haul this bag on your back because it has an exterior sleeve that fits securely over most upright luggage handles—making those long TSA security lines a little less painful. Choose from three colors including black, caper, and navy.
Interested in reading more reviews? Take a look at our selection of the best carry-on luggage for business travel.