What do your dinged laptop, shvitzy gym clothes, and rumpled K95s have in common? They all belong in one of these, the very best backpacks for men. See, the right backpack should be more than just another place to store your stuff. It can be an outfit-making accessory, a mobile office, an ad hoc weekender, a TSA-ready carry-on, or all four—at the same time.
A solid backpack offers peace of mind in bag form, the only accessory we know of that can comfortably house all the knickknacks you insist on schlepping around throughout the day, along with enough H2O and trail mix to fuel a JV football team—y’know, just in case. (It will also, and we don’t say this lightly, spare you the particular ignominy of patting down every pocket on your body to find the small doohickey you thought you left in your jacket that morning, only to realize it’s still on your desk at home.)
So it’s about time you treated yourself to a version that’s up to snuff. Whether you’re looking to upgrade from the wilted canvas tote you swiped from your ex (be better than the canvas tote!) or jonesing for a ‘roided up crossbody bag with a heckuva lot more functionality, the best backpacks for men have your, uh, back. Here are the 19 we couldn’t stop thinking about since we started writing this piece.
The Best Budget Backpack
Sometimes you want to secure the bag without dropping one. Enter the Dawson, a medium-sized classic backpack from the carry-on whizzes at Herschel. Its dual pocket design is reminiscent of some of the best fanny packs on the market right now (spoiler alert: Herschel makes a great one too), sans the hoary associations and with a ton more storage space. Don’t let the sub-$100 price fool you: it comes kitted out with the same specs as its pricier counterparts, and then some. Practically speaking, that means drawcord closures, magnet-fastened straps, a front pocket organizer bigger than most NYC apartments, and a fleece-lined laptop sleeve so your computer stays cozy. More of a visual consumer? Just take a gander at its unassuming good looks. Go ahead, judge a bag by its cover. For less than a Benjamin, you can afford to.
The Best Travel-Ready Backpack
For hardened TSA veterans, a reliable backpack is a must. Samsonite made a name for itself hawking spinners built to handle the grueling nature of constant travel with nary a nick on their shells to show for it. So it follows that the brand makes a killer travel-ready backpack too, outfitted with all the you storage room you need to ditch the carry-on for good. This one comes with an easy-access laptop pocket you can unzip in a jiffy at security, natch, but also a lifesaving front organizer meant to hold corded headphones, breath mints, eye masks, and the sundry thingamajigs you lost to various coat pockets over the years. There’s also a handy interior mesh zip pocket designed to secure the real valuables: your passport and boarding pass. A handsome leather finish and muted silver-tone hardware means waltzing through check-in won’t just feel like a breeze—you’ll also look like an airport style icon doing it.
The Best Heavy Duty Backpack
The military-industrial complex is nefarious and far-reaching, but every now and then it inspires a doozy worthy of your tax dollars. Case in point: Nike’s SFS Responder backpack, an absolute unit of a bag crafted from 900D cordura nylon——one of the toughest materials on the planet—that looks all the better repurposed for the grind of civilian life. Calling it a backpack is an understatement. Better to think of it as a home base you can sling over your shoulders, down to the duraflex buckles, removable exterior pockets, and drainage ports designed for shedding excess water. (Rest assured, it comes with an interior sleeve for your laptop, too.) It’s built for weekend treks up treacherous terrains or yearlong trips spent scuttling from one grueling peak to the next, and it’s so good you’ll consider calling your congresspersons to allocate more funds to the backpack department, stat.
The Best Backpack for Stashing Your Workout Gear
For sworn devotees of Lululemon’s straightforward activewear, the brand’s fuss-free backpack is a no-brainer. Normally, we wouldn’t put too much stock in a product name, but the legging juggernaut’s Everyday bag lives up to the mandate. It’s got ample room for an extra pair of running shoes, plus bonus space for your work computer if you need to liaison with the marketing team in between sets. A sturdy nylon exterior and an all-important water bottle pocket ensure you’ll always look like you know what you’re doing, no matter how frantically you’re googling “best workouts for bigger traps” from the comfort of the shoulder press. Pick from an array of downright luscious jewel tones and then cram your sweaty exercise duds into it post-workout—no one will suspect the damp mess it conceals.
The Best Backpack for Your Morning Commute
Hauling ass to catch the subway is the last place you should be stressing the state of your bag. So Troubadour’s backpack is designed to make the early-morning grind as seamless as possible, leaving you free to bump EST Gee in noise-cancelled serenity. The Apex is a tour de force of streamlined ergonomics housed in lightweight, waterproof canvas accented by clean lines and a minimalist’s eye for aesthetics. It runs laps around your clanky briefcase when it comes to utility and your DTC-branded tote when it comes to sex appeal, and looks so nice you’ll be proud to leave it parked by your cubicle. Fielding an endless stream of compliments on your backpack is only slightly less annoying than rolling with tier-two baggage, but it’s a tradeoff you should make every time.
The Best Backpack for Braving the Great Outdoors
Spend enough time trawling the internet for the best men’s backpacks, and you’ll encounter dozens of options promising some variation of alliterative versatility. (The train to the trails is the new boardroom to the bar!) In this case, though, all that marketing hoopla is true. Patagonia’s recycled polyester backpack is big but not bulky, merging a durable, water-repelling exterior with a spacious interior you can pack with trail mix and a first-aid kit or the trappings of urban life. (The padded laptop compartment and phone pocket help.) Its outdoorsy bona fides—see: the two-way zip closures and lash points—mean it’ll serve you well while you’re exploring the wilderness, but it’s compact enough that your coworkers won’t mistake you for the team member who signs on to Zoom from a different location every week.
13 More Backpacks We Love