16 Adult Backpacks That Are Every Bit as Stylish as Your Favorite Tote

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Best adult backpack: A collage of backpacks
McKenzie Cordell for PureWow

Whether your eldest is headed back to the dorms or you're sick and tired of your shoulder bag falling down at the grocery store, we're here to remind you that adult backpacks can be just as convenient as the ones you wore in your school days. Not only that, but depending on which one you get, they can also be every bit as stylish as your favorite totes. (Seriously, just check out how chic this luxe woven leather Bembien design, $360, is!) Frankly, we see no reason to ditch this multi-use fave simply because it's more likely to be carrying your lipstick and wallet than your textbooks.

A backpack is one of the more efficient choices for daily use thanks to its roomy size and hands-free carrying. Many are also packed with useful features, like USB ports (hello, Ytonet, $18), laptop sleeves (classic Troubadour, $195) and ergonomic straps to make toting your essentials easier than ever.

Our favorite backpacks are a blend of durability, stylishness and functionality, all wrapped into one. Want to go from sightseeing to cocktails? We’ve got you covered with our top 16 adult backpacks below.

The Best Adult Backpacks at a Glance


Best Minimalist Backpack

Everlane The ReNew Transit Backpack

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Best Day Backpack

Herschel City Backpack

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Best Designer Backpack

Burberry Check Backpack

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Best Drawstring Backpack

Bandolier Leather Drawstring Backpack

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Best Convertible Backpack

Free People Leather WTF Soho Bag

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How to Style a Backpack

We love how TikTok user @anniesilkaitis styled her simple Béis backpack ($88) with a more '90s-inspired ditsy maxi skirt, chunky sandals and cropped ribbed halter tank in the video below.

The lesson? Choose a style that's neutral enough, and it will be a breeze to match with accessories and outfits you already have in your closet—a fact that's further demonstrated by @mandyywongg.

How We Chose the Best Backpacks

When vetting the best backpacks for adults, we considered options that were personally tested by our editors as well as those with high ratings from shoppers. We also looked for a chic exterior and functional features, such as adjustable straps, weather-resistant fabrics and multiple pockets for storage.

Best Minimalist Backpack

1. Everlane The ReNew Transit Backpack


  • Features: 15-inch laptop pocket, luggage pass-through strap, water-resistant
  • Cons: spot-clean only
  • Number of Pockets: seven
  • Straps: adjustable

Our forever favorite for clean, stylish basics, Everlane unsurprisingly slays in the minimalist backpack department, too. Don't be fooled by its sparse exterior, however. It has seven pockets that can hold your belongings, including one with a padded laptop sleeve to ensure you won't have to report any computer incidents to your company's IT department. There's also space galore. Raved one shopper: "I have tried so many different bags...and nothing has as much room as this backpack....This easily fits everything I need. The weight is very evenly distributed and it never feels heavy." Better yet, it's made from 100 percent recycled polyester, making it an Earth-friendly choice, too.

Best Day Backpack

2. Herschel City Backpack


  • Features: buckled strap, can fit a 13-inch laptop
  • Cons: no interior pockets in main compartment, magnetic closure isn't super secure, no strap cushioning
  • Number of Pockets: one
  • Straps: adjustable

Herschel Supply Co. just may be the reigning king of backpack brands. We especially love the canvas and synthetic leather style, which is made even cooler by the buckled strap down the center. Big enough to hold your stuff when hopping around the city, but small enough that it won’t weigh even a petite shopper down, shoppers say the sizing is just right for a water bottle, a laptop, a large thermos and some cold-weather gear at once. "I'm a 5-foot tall woman, so I wanted to find a bag that wouldn't swamp me. This does a decent job and the straps can be adjusted to be very short," one buyer explained. It's also durable, has a nice weight distribution and won't be an eyesore in your closet—can you say triple threat?

Best Designer Backpack

3. Burberry Check Backpack


  • Features: quilted back panel, leather trim, Burberry print, two-way zippers
  • Cons: pricey
  • Number of Pockets: four
  • Straps: adjustable

This nylon number is the sort of bag that will stay with you for the long haul (and for this price, it better). It comes in the classic Burberry print and is equipped with a laptop pocket, two exterior pockets and an interior zip pocket. It also takes the niceties up a notch with a real calf leather trim and a quilted back panel for comfort. All in all, we think it's elegant enough to be your everyday bag, or even a nice weekender if you’re an expert packer.

Best Drawstring Backpack

4. Bandolier Leather Drawstring Backpack


  • Features: fits a 13-inch laptop, adjustable drawstring opening
  • Cons: not weather-resistant
  • Number of Pockets: one
  • Straps: not adjustable

A fashion-forward take on the usual sporty drawstring find, this leather option from Bandoliner is a real stunner. It's roomy enough to fit up to a 13-inch laptop and has a convenient outer zip pocket, so you won't need to dig to get to what you need. We also love that you can add a little flair to it, since a variety of accessories can be attached to its D-ring, like this mini round pouch ($58) or heart initial charm ($28).

Best Convertible Backpack

5. Free People Leather WTF Soho Bag

Free People

  • Features: twill lining, roomy interior
  • Cons: spot-clean only
  • Number of Pockets: three
  • Straps: adjustable and convertible

We're always here for thoughtful details. With a unique strap that zips up the middle, allowing you to easily convert it from a sling strip of leather into two double traditional straps, this distressed leather backpack from Free People was designed with both style and function in mind. It has three main compartments that reviewers confirm are exceedingly spacious, too. "Extremely roomy and stylish for its size," one writes, adding, "Love it!!"

Best Personalized Backpack

6. Paravel Cabana Backpack


  • Features: stain-repellent, can be personalized with a monogram or emoji
  • Cons: no laptop sleeve
  • Number of Pockets: two
  • Straps: adjustable

We’re calling this backpack “The Carrie,” because if Carrie Bradshaw was looking for the perfect laptop bag, we think she’d choose this one. Much like her signature necklace, this Paravel pick is available with a personalized touch in the form of an embroidered or hand-painted monogram or emoji. Along with the sleek, stylish design (it's even better in person) and its sustainable details (it's made of recycled plastic water bottles and vegan leather details), it has a zippered interior and exterior pockets. The fabric is also both spill-proof and stain-repellent, so you won't have to worry about it getting ruined with frequent use."This backpack is great!" one happy shopper wrote. "It fits a small umbrella and a 32-ounce water bottle....The straps are very comfy and match really well with most things."

Best Smart Backpack

7. Ytonet Laptop Backpack


  • Features: USB port, RFID pocket, waterproof, holds up to a 15.6-inch laptop
  • Cons: power bank not included
  • Number of Pockets: five
  • Straps: adjustable, padded

Talk about a grown-up backpack! This smart design is a must for anyone who loves a good tech feature: It's fully loaded with a USB port for on-the-go charging (though you'll want to note that it requires an external battery to work), an RFID pocket and a waterproof exterior, so you won’t need to worry if you get stuck in the rain on your commute. It's big enough to hold a 15.6-inch laptop and opens up like a tote at the top for easy viewing of your belongings. All for less than $20? Uh, yep.

Best Commuter Backpack

8. Béis The Backpack


  • Features: elastic compression straps, water-resistant lining, luggage trolley strap, padded laptop sleeve
  • Cons: spot-clean only
  • Number of Pockets: six
  • Straps: padded and adjustable

Designed with travel in mind, the Béis backpack is loaded with pockets for your water bottle, laptop, keys and more, as demonstrated by @anniesilkaitis's video above. It even has a water-resistant lining that will make cleaning up any spills a breeze. The luggage trolley strap will fit seamlessly sit atop the brand's roller luggage, $218 (read our review here), and the interior has four elastic compression straps to help you condense a whole weekend's worth of outfits inside. "I was in search of something that would be good for both work and travel. This backpack has exceeded my expectations," one shopper confirmed. "The faux leather details are beautiful and it’s incredibly comfortable. 

Best Waterproof Backpack

9. Troubadour Ember Backpack


  • Features: waterproof, padded laptop sleeve, luggage trolley sleeve, vegan, five-year warranty
  • Cons: few color options
  • Straps: contoured and padded

We chose this attractive backpack from Troubadour because it's equipped with tons of functional features that will get you where you're going with ease and style. It's made of a waterproof material and has ergonomic padded shoulder straps to keep the fit nice and comfy. There's also a padded sleeve to further protect your laptop (up to 16 inches) and multiple interior pockets for effortless organization—plus, the company offers up to a five-year warranty for any manufacturing defects. "It’s great quality, super cute (love the gold zippers!), and even waterproof, (which already saved my laptop this week)," one Amazon buyer gushed, adding, "I also love how lightweight it is."

Most Stylish Backpack

10. Bembien Leather Frida Backpack


  • Features: adjustable drawstring, magnet closure, charitable factor, handwoven leather
  • Cons: pricey
  • Straps: adjustable

The handwoven leather fabric of this classic design, which was inspired by the retro style of the 1950s, makes this one of the most fashionable backpacks you're likely to find. (Trust us, we searched high and low.) In addition to the adjustable drawstring, it has a magnetic closure for extra security. Our favorite part, however? Ten percent of the proceeds will be donated to Nest, a nonprofit that's dedicated to helping to advance artisan communities.

Best Large Backpack

11. Kroser Laptop Backpack


  • Features: water-repellent, built-in USB port, luggage trolley strap
  • Cons: power bank not included
  • Straps: padded and adjustable

Sometimes, it's all about the space, and this Kroser option has it in spades. With room for up to a 17-inch laptop in the larger size, it's one of the tallest packs we've come across. What's more, it has a nice, wide opening and a structured design that not only opens up easily, but stays open until you close it. There's a USB port for those traveling with a power bank, too. "This bag is just amazing," one buyer wrote. "Good quality. Beautiful. Huge capacity for daily use." With another pointing out that it doesn't even attract pet hair, it sounds like it checks all of our boxes—and then some.

Best Small Backpack

12. The Dust Company Leather Mod 130 Backpack

The Dust Company

  • Features: drawstring and strap closure, leather fabric
  • Cons: won't fit a laptop, no organizational pockets
  • Number of Pockets: none
  • Straps: adjustable

Made in Italy from vegetable-tanned leather, this drawstring backpack's bold red hue, which is sure to stand out from the crowd, is one we're big fans of. It has a smaller capacity than some of the other options on our list (you won't be able to tote your laptop around town in it), but it's an ideal size for keeping your essentials close while exploring a new city or spending a day shopping and lunching with friends. It's also organic and sustainable, making it a smart pick on several fronts.

Best Yoga Backpack

13. adidas by Stella McCartney Adjustable Backpack

adidas by Stella McCartney

  • Features: expandable, adjustable bottom straps can hold a yoga mat
  • Cons: spot-clean only, pricey
  • Straps: adjustable and padded

This adidas by Stella McCartney bag is about as versatile as a backpack can be. For starters, it has expandable compartments at the top and sides, including a hidden pocket for your cell phone. By far the standout feature, though, is the bottom strap that can easily secure your yoga mat when you're heading to and from class, allowing you to save your energy for all those downward dogs. There are padded and adjustable straps, and it's made of recycled nylon fabric, too.

Best Canvas Backpack

14. Baggu Drawstring Backpack


  • Features: fits a 13-inch laptop, machine washable, recycled cotton canvas
  • Cons: not weather-resistant
  • Number of Pockets: two
  • Straps: adjustable

We're suckers for good sustainable finds. This recycled cotton canvas backpack features a drawstring, a snap closure and exterior pockets for easy access to your phone or keys in a pinch, not to mention, the main compartment can easily fit a 13-inch laptop. Plus, it’s unlined, which makes it easy to wash and pack at the bottom of your suitcase or fold up in a work bag for post-office plans.

Best Leather Backpack

15. Madewell Leather The Transport Backpack


  • Features: real leather, three ways to carry it, ultra-durable, stud closures
  • Cons: not weather-resistant
  • Number of Pockets: four
  • Straps: adjustable

This carry-all, which is made of Italian vegetable-tanned leather sourced from a gold-rated Leather Working Group tannery, is so pretty, we almost don’t want to tarnish it with our snack wrappers and forgotten pennies. Luckily, it’s sturdy enough to handle the worst we can subject it to. You can carry it as a single strap, with double straps or by the handle at the top, and there are three hidden pockets inside in addition to the exterior pouch to help you stay nice and organized.

Best Sustainable Backpack

16. Day Owl The Backpack

Day Owl

  • Features: fits a 16-inch laptop, spill-resistant water bottle pocket, luggage trolley strap
  • Cons: spot-clean recommended
  • Number of Pockets: five
  • Straps: adjustable and padded

After using this Day Owl backpack many times over the past couple of years, Assistant Commerce Editor Natalie LaBarbera loves it for travel—especially the protective laptop sleeve and comfy padded straps. The small top pocket is great for storing essentials, like keys or a small wallet, and there's a a spill-resistant area for beverages, too. More importantly for sustainable shoppers, it's constructed from 25 recycled water bottles with a 100 percent recycled polyester lining and trim.

How to Wash a Backpack

While some backpacks can simply be washed using your normal washer and dryer cycles, others will require hand-washing or spot-cleaning to keep them in their best condition. You'll want to check each one's tag to make sure you're giving your bag the proper treatment.

  • If you're machine washing your backpack (this method typically works well for polyester, nylon and canvas backpacks), be sure to empty all of the pockets before turning it inside out and placing it in a protective laundry bag, $8, (or even a pillowcase). Then, choose a mild, non-bleach detergent and set the washer to a gentle cycle using cold water.
  • To hand-wash your backpack, fill your sink with lukewarm water and a mild, non-bleach detergent before submerging it. Clean it using a soft brush or towel, being sure to use a sponge for more delicate mesh areas. For tough stains, try scrubbing with a toothbrush. Be sure to rinse the backpack throughly after draining your dirty water.
  • To spot-clean your backpack, apply either a stain remover ($20) or a mild detergent to a cloth or sponge and apply to any soiled areas on the backpack. Allow the solution to set for 30 minutes before gently scrubbing it away.

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Why You Should Trust Us

PureWow is the best friend you never had when it comes to finding the best, most useful lifestyle products online. Founded in 2010, our company’s editors and writers have spent more than a decade shopping online, digging through sales and putting our home goods, beauty finds, wellness picks and more through the wringer—all to help you determine which ones are actually worth your hard-earned cash. From our PureWow100 series, which sees each and every item we test being ranked on a 100-point scale of awesomeness, to the painstakingly curated lists our fashion, beauty, cooking, home and family editors create as vertical experts, you can trust that our recommendations include some of the greatest items you’ll find on the internet. Whether you're looking for travel-size hair dryers you can take on-the-go or women’s walking shoes that won’t hurt your feet, we’ve got you covered.

natalie bio photo e1692204716113

Assistant Commerce Editor

Natalie LaBarbera is PureWow's assistant commerce editor. She writes about all things shopping, including fashion, beauty, travel, wellness and more, searching for the best...

purewow author

Freelance Writer

Paige Doepke Liwanag lives in Chicago and has been working as a freelance writer since 2016 and writing fashion, beauty and home commerce content for PureWow since 2021. She's a...