Skip To Content
    Updated on Oct 16, 2018. Posted on Jan 26, 2018

    6 Backpacks That Just Might Change Your Life

    BuzzFeed writers' favorite backpacks, from bags for everyday wear to ones perfect for travel and commuting.

    We hope you love the products we recommend! All of them were independently selected by our editors. Just so you know, BuzzFeed may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page if you decide to shop from them. Oh, and FYI — prices are accurate and items in stock as of time of publication.

    1. The Matt + Nat Vignelli, a functional and stylish everyday bag that's cruelty-free and available in several elegant colors.

    Emmy Favilla / BuzzFeed, Matt + Nat

    I live in New York and lug a *lot* of crap around with me every day during my commute. I'd always dismissed backpacks as being too frumpy, or too annoying to maneuver when I'd need to take my wallet or a book out, for instance — opting instead for a cross-body bag and maybe the addition of a tote if I couldn't fit everything in bag #1. Until: the backpack of my dreams came along.

    Prior to this bag, I'd finally converted to a casual bookbag that fit my laptop and the host of other items I carry on me at all times, but it still seemed so...homely-looking and often made me feel like the least pulled-together person in the room (or on the subway). I decided to take things up a notch and splurge on a bag that was both functional and made me look more like some semblance of a put-together human who also doesn't like being achy at the end of the day. I'm a big fan of eco-conscious brand Matt & Nat, and their Vignelli bag checked all necessary boxes (with the added bonus of being made from vegan leather — yay for not killing an animal to wear!). Now we're inseparable. You can wear this puppy literally anywhere and never feel dressed down because you're carrying a backpack — it's professional, it's dressy, and you can hold it in your hand if you really want to, without looking like you just left algebra class.

    It's a seemingly sleek and narrow-looking bag, so I was initially worried I wouldn't successfully be able to pack all my essentials in there, but I was proven otherwise! Every day, in the main compartment I'm able to easily fit my MacBook Air (yes, it fits my laptop!), my wallet, my sunglasses case, and my makeup bag, with room to spare. It also has this cool zipper on the side that's super convenient for stuff like my phone, keys, or MetroCard, and there are two different-sized pockets inside the bag to store your smaller items. At $160, it's not exactly cheap, but it's not outrageous for a quality, long-lasting bag either — the return on investment makes the price tag more than worth it for me. My last cross-body bag was also by Matt & Nat, and I wore it for more than three years, with near-daily use. —Emmy Favilla

    Get it from Matt + Nat for $160 (available in black, beige, and fig).

    2. A Herschel backpack that's simple, comfy, affordable, and gets the job done while looking cute.

    Whitney Jefferson / BuzzFeed

    I’ve been seeing a chiropractor since I was 12 years old. You might think that being tall and having my back consistently realigned by medical professionals over the years would have put me in the backpackers camp long ago, but for some reason I resisted. Fast-forward to four years ago when a new chiropractor of mine was surprised to see I carried a gigantic purse. She mentioned that having so much weight on one shoulder can definitely knock things out of alignment. “DUH!!!!!” the angels sang out to me from the skies, and I immediately logged onto Amazon and ordered a backpack.

    Now here’s the thing: If you’re just changing over to #BackpackLife, you'll need to consider what everyday items you'll be keeping in your bag before you order one. I didn’t take comfort or how much room I’d need into account at first —

    but three backpacks later I am here to tell you all about how much I love my Herschel backpack. First of all, it’s simple bag. There are no crazy bells and whistles, but it turns out that I didn't need those anyway. What I did need was a front pocket (check!), a sleeve big enough to hold my laptop (check!), and a keyring to keep track of my keys (check!). It also has a pocket on the inside that’s perfect for holding a bottle of water.

    Beyond its usefulness, I also really like the design of this backpack. I’m a nature-loving fool who wears a lot of black, so when I came across this particular ‘pack it felt like my destiny. And so it was. —Whitney Jefferson

    Get it from Amazon for $45.99+ (available in 22 colors).

    3. A super-durable Fjallraven backpack that gets a perfect score in the comfort department and is available in every color under the sun.

    Sheridan Watson / BuzzFeed

    I have never been a backpack person — I blame it on back problems that started when I got boobs in middle school. But when I went to visit my in-laws in Norway last year, I saw everyone rocking this one backpack: a Fjallraven Kånken. And at that point, I was tired of carrying around a tote that did nothing for my back except make one arm feel numb at all times — plus I'm always trying to be as cool as the Scandinavians are, so I decided to buy one.

    I AM IN LOVE. Apparently these backpacks were originally made for Swedish schoolchildren in the '70s, with their comfort in mind, and *boy* is it comfortable. I never tug at the straps, I never feel like my back is going to break. Not only do I use this every day at work, it has become the perfect travel bag. Remember Hermoine's never-ending magic bag? This is it, IRL! On my last trip to Norway, I managed to fit a scarf, a wrap, a blanket, one book, SEVEN magazines, a laptop, a water bottle, all my chargers, PLUS my toiletry bag. Safe to say, I ended up buying this bag in two other sizes and colors. Oh, and it's durable AF (it rains all the time in Norway and none of my shit got wet). —Sheridan Watson

    Get it from Amazon for $51.79+ (available in 53 colors).

    4. This Patagonia backpack designed for high-impact physical activity that might just inspire you to speed up your commute.

    Jessie Gaynor / BuzzFeed

    Like many New Yorkers, I live my life largely at the mercy of the subway. I live in Brooklyn and rely on the (often unreliable) MTA, New York's public transportation system, for most of my getting-places needs. I've learned that if I want to be definitely on time anywhere, I have to budget at least an hour of travel time. But the day that Google Maps informed me that it would be five minutes faster to walk the 4 miles from my apartment to my boyfriend’s than it would be to take the subway was the day I vowed to become a run-commuter.

    Running is my preferred (and only) form of exercise, but schlepping a pack with me on a run for the sake of efficiency always struck me as the province of optimization-happy tech bros. Designed for climbing, the Patagonia Linked 16 Pack holds everything I need to look like a ~fully optimized~ human at work. It takes a little stuffing, but I'm able to cram in a spare set of clothes (including shoes and jacket), a makeup bag, a wallet, and a book. The pack lies blissfully flat against my back, and the waist and sternum straps keep any bouncing to a minimum. It's also narrower than a typical backpack, so it feels more like an extension of my body than a persistent nuisance while I run.

    The pack is no longer available "campfire orange" (pictured), but it also comes in the more restrained shades of gray and navy. At $79, this pack isn’t cheap — but given that it's basically a subway ride and a gym membership rolled into one (I said basically), it was definitely worth it for me. I haven't cracked the whole "sweaty mess" quandary of run-commuting yet, so for now I'm confined to destinations with accessible showers. Although the back panel of the Linked 16 Pack is breathable enough that my back doesn't get entirely soaked when I carry it, I still sweat. A lot. But for running to my boyfriend's house, or home from work, or even to a casual hang at a friend's house (where my sweatiness is grudgingly tolerated)? It's perfect. —Jessie Gaynor

    Get it from Patagonia for $99 (available in black and blue).

    5. A High Sierra backpack that's big enough to carry all your essentials and quite possibly might last you until the apocalypse.

    Nichole Francois / BuzzFeed, High Sierra / Via shop.highsierra.com

    Alright, so I’ve had this same style and brand of backpack — the High Sierra Swerve — since I was 9 (I’m 24 now) and I cannot rave enough about how much I love it! Let’s just say I almost cried when my backpack from middle school finally gave in and broke when I was in college. My current backpack has lasted me five years: It's been through two years of college and a stint studying abroad, and aboard tons of flights. I’ve lugged this thing around everywhere, and it has definitely proven its durability.

    The bag has four different compartments that make it easy to keep all your stuff organized; I love being able to separate my laptop from my books and snacks. Plus, it has not one but TWO water bottle pockets, so you never have to worry about staying hydrated! The compression straps makes the backpack super comfortable to wear over long periods of time, and the back is cushioned. It’s perfect for college students — big enough to fit all the books you need, but not so large that it's bulky. I even got away with wearing it with no issues on the metro in Paris while studying abroad. It might not be the most stylish backpack, but it’s functional AF when you've got tons of stuff to lug around (and there always seems to be new colors and patterns to choose from!). —Nichole Francois

    Get it from High Sierra for $28.99+ (available in 16 colors/patterns).

    6. The sturdy and functional Osprey Farpoint, which will help make all your travel dreams come true in comfort — even if you're an overpacker.

    My absolute top recommendation for a backpack is the Osprey Farpoint 55 Travel Pack. It comes with a detachable day pack (which comes on every trip with me without fail; I'm pictured wearing it at the right) and fits everything I need for a backpacking trip. I have used it to travel for nearly three months in Southeast Asia, six weeks in Central America, and two weeks in California. I can fit tons of clothing in there with the help of packing cubes, plus a few pairs of shoes. I bring a laundry bag, toiletries, a poncho, towels, and more — and it all fits.

    It’s sturdy, comfortable to carry (it has cushioned, adjustable hip and shoulder straps), and it’s easy to pick up, which means no throwing out your back. It’s the perfect choice for a long-term backpacking trip where you know you’ll be doing laundry and want a simple, easy way to carry your belongings from place to place. —Taylor Fuller

    Get it from Amazon for $121.24+ (available in S/M and M/L, in red and gray).

    Looking for the perfect gift for any occasion? Check out all of BuzzFeed’s gift guides here!

    Ryan Pattie/BuzzFeed

    Shopping Newsletter
     

    Find great products and the best-money saving deals around, delivered right to your inbox.
    Newsletter signup form