Whether you're looking for something more convenient to take on your hikes than your shoulder bag or you happen to have a teen who is headed back to college, finding a good backpack is essential for lugging around gear, laptops and books. But finding a good bag can get pricey, fast—especially when you're looking at trendy brands like The North Face, Béis and Dagne Dover. We're here to tell you that it is possible to find a cheap backpack that fits all of your stuff without looking like a gray square with straps. In fact, we found several options with thick, comfortable padding, plenty of pockets and durable materials from top brands like Herschel Supply Co ($48) and True Religion ($40) that will be ace for their next class or your next gym session.
15 of the Best Cheap Backpacks That Still Look Stylish, from $20 to $64
Function *and* affordability in one
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The Best Cheap Backpacks at a Glance
How We Chose The Best Cheap Backpacks
When scouring the internet for the best cheap backpacks, we considered things like the material they were made of and helpful features, like USB ports and padded straps, that will make them easier to use. To find up if they actually lived up to their claims, we also thoroughly vetted customer reviews to find cheap backpacks shoppers were particularly happy with.
Best Faux Leather Backpack
- Why We Love It: anti-theft design, convertible, waterproof
- What We Don't Love: no separate compartments, fragile zipper
- Number of Pockets: six
- Dimensions: 5.9 inches wide by 12.6 inches tall
First up on our list is this incredibly affordable Cheruty backpack. This satchel-style pick is city-savvy with a purposeful, anti-theft design that makes your valuables difficult to access without you noticing. It holds up to a 9.7-inch iPad Pro and will still have leftover room for your books, water bottles and more, according to the brand. Its faux leather material is waterproof (something that's always handy should you get caught in a storm), and the copious color options make it easy to find one that will suit your style. As for the straps, there are multiple—a pair of dual back straps, a shoulder strap and a top-carrying handle, so you can tote this baby around any which way you please.
Best Cheap Modern Backpack
- Why We Love It: six compartments, charging port, traditional aesthetic
- What We Don't Love: not super spacious, magnets lack longevity, power bank not included
- Number of Pockets: six
- Dimensions: 11.8 inches wide by 16.5 inches tall
With leather-like front straps, this affordable backpack may have a traditional exterior, but it's been outfitted with plenty of modern touches. Case in point? The external USB charging port it has for a a phone charger (note that you'll also need a portable battery pack to power it up, $25). It's said to be nice and roomy by the happy reviewers who love it, with six compartments available, and the straps are padded for comfort while carrying it. We think the tough nylon fabric will bode well for use in the great outdoors, too.
Best Cheap Convertible Backpack
- Why We Love It: maximum organization, removable shoulder strap
- What We Don't Love: zipper might separate
- Number of Pockets: seven
- Dimensions: 10.25 inches wide by by 11.75 inches tall
This sophisticated-looking backpack from Crown Vintage has a removable shoulder strap that you can add when you want your bag to look more like a tote and and take off when you've got a ton to carry and want to make use of the traditional dual straps. We love all of its spacious pockets ( there are seven in total, between its exterior and interior ones), and happy shoppers say the synthetic leather is high-quality. The zippers aren't the greatest, according to reviews, but at this price, you can afford to replace them if need be.
Best Cheap Lightweight Backpack
Herschel Supply Co.
- Why We Love It: name brand, lightweight
- What We Don't Love: not waterproof, straps not padded, , not many pockets
- Number of Pockets: one
- Dimensions: 12 inches wide by 17 inches tall
Carrying a backpack can feel like carrying the weight of the world if you've got one that's not lightweight—which is exactly why we chose this one. Made of a cotton material, the Herschel Daypack is a lightweight as they come, according to reviewers on the Herschel site, yet there's reportedly still room enough to house your laptop (up to 15.6 inches), water bottle and more. Adjustable slim shoulder straps and a sizable front pocket are the icing on the cake.
Best Cheap Sporty Backpack
- Why We Love It: lifetime warranty, material wipes clean, eco-friendly elements
- What We Don't Love: too small for heavy items, water bottle pockets not expandable
- Number of Pockets: at least five
- Dimensions: 14.06 inches wide by 9.65 inches tall
This adidas backpack is ideal to toss your smelly clothes in after an intense sweat session, since its recycled mesh polyester material is likely to dry quickly and wick away moisture. With certifications from the Global Recycle Standard for polyester, we love that it's an eco-friendly choice, as well—a fact that's made even better when you consider the fact that this bag comes with a lifetime warranty. Its one collective complaint seemed to be about its size, as it can't hold as much as some, and its side pockets don't expand for larger water bottles. If you don't have a ton to haul, however, we think it's a great little option.
Best Cheap Backpack Design
- Why We Love It: USB port, water-resistant, open-top design
- What We Don't Love: straps can break, hardware is of lower quality
- Number of Pockets: six
- Dimensions: 6.3 inches wide by 16 inches tall
Hate digging through your bag to get to what you need? Us, too. That's why we adore the genius design of this little number, which has a wide-mouth top that opens up like a tote to allow you to easily peek inside. Made of a reportedly lightweight and water-repellent canvas, it's got a USB port built right in and is tall enough to fit a 15.6-inch laptop. What's more, there are two water bottle pockets, a front pouch and a hidden side pocket on the back.
Most Organized Cheap Backpack
- Why We Love It: well-organized, detachable multicolor shoulder strap, hidden pockets
- What We Don't Love: small opening, potential for tears
- Number of Pockets: at least six
- Dimensions: 12.3 inches wide by 13.4 inches tall
Many inexpensive backpacks have one glaring thing missing—compartments to hold your various pens, documents, keys and the like. This colorful option not only features a back-zip pocket inside and four exterior ones, there's also a hidden zip pocket at the back for your valuables. The included shoulder strap detaches, giving you some added versatility, and it's made of vegan leather that shoppers say is super durable. Wrote one fan: "This purse is not treated gently in any way, shape, or form—I have abused the crap out of it for the last four months and it still looks brand new."
Best Cheap Minimalist Backpack
All in Motion
- Why We Love It: water-resistant, laptop pocket, made of recycled materials
- What We Don't Love: strap and handle may not hold up over time
- Number of Pockets: at least four
- Dimensions: 12 inches wide by 17.5 inches tall
This minimalistic pack doesn't have a whole lot of bells and whistles, but then again, it doesn't need them to be fully functional for school or travel. Its front pocket, two water bottle pockets and separate laptop pocket allow for basic organization, and the pack straps adjust for comfort. It's also a relatively eco-friendly choice, since its water-resistant material is made of at least 20 percent recycled plastic and at least 20 percent recycled polyester.
Best Personalized Cheap Backpack
- What We Love: custom embroidery option, water-resistant, made of recycled materials
- What We Don't Love: unpadded straps
- Number of Pockets: at least two
- Dimensions: 10 inches long by 12 inches tall
Made of Paravel's water-resistant recycled nylon fabric, this backpack has a unique design that can be folded into a barely-there pouch. That means it will be a breeze to toss into a larger travel or tote bag to give you the extra carrying capacity you need to stash extra outfits or souvenirs. More importantly, however, it can be customized with a personalized monogram for a $15 upcharge. There's even a 25 percent off code of SUNNY, so you'll still be getting it for less than $50. Though this one isn't very big (think: just enough for your daily essentials), you can also get a larger option from $56 with the code.
Best Cheap Black Backpack
I.N.C. International Concepts
- Why We Love It: carrying handle, plentiful pockets
- What We Don't Love: stitching might loosen, pricier than other options
- Number of Pockets: five
- Dimensions: 9.5 inches wide by 11.5 inches tall
Despite weighing just 1.27 pounds, this backpack can hold enough to be your daily go-to. "There are just the right number of places to put things that I need everyday and still have room for the odd thing here and there," one Macy's shopper wrote. With a convertible carrying handle at the top and a slim profile, it's chic enough to be a purse, albeit with a more functional configuration: It's got two slip interior pockets and a zipper pocket that's big enough to house your iPad (something we always appreciate while commuting). While it's normally $70, you can get it for $44 right now with code SHOP.
Best Cheap Mini Backpack
- Why We Love It: detachable straps, front zippered pocket
- What We Don't Love: too tiny for large items
- Number of Pockets: one
- Dimensions: 7 inches wide by 9 inches tall
Mini-but-mighty! Measuring 7 inches wide by 9 inches tall, this little guy won't exactly hold your laptop, but for those who don't need to tote a whole lot, it should work beautifully. The straps are both adjustable and detachable, allowing for various styling options. There’s a front pocket that enables you to get what you need fast, and the cotton and nylon construction is sure to be sturdy, soft and lightweight, according to our research, thanks to the nature of the fabrics.
Best Cheap Rolling Backpack
- Why We Love It: double wheels, straps tuck into back pocket
- What We Don't Love: not as durable, water pocket might be too big, tricky handle lock
- Number of Pockets: five
- Dimensions: 12 inches wide by 8 inches tall
Even a backpack gets too heavy from time to time. A rolling backpack, on the other hand, is a great option for the days you don’t want to lug your heft around (we've been there), and this one has double wheels for ultra-smooth movement. The straps tuck into the back pocket, so they won't be dragging along the ground. An added bonus? It makes for a great child’s suitcase in a pinch.
Best Cheap Designer Backpack
- What We Love: chic, minimalist style, trusted brand
- What We Don't Love: mini size may not fit much
- Number of Pockets: three
- Dimensions: 8 inches wide by 8 inches tall
Swap your usual handbag for this stylish option crafted in a sleek ivory faux-leather fabric from the brand that brought you your favorite aughts jeans. Its straps are adjustable and padded for comfort, and, despite its mini size, it's well-organized with two interior pockets and an exterior zip pocket. We also like the chic and neutral color selection.
Most Durable Cheap Backpack
- Why We Love It: recycled material, large capacity, hidden zip pocket
- What We Don't Love: not washable
- Number of Pockets: four
- Dimensions: 16.5 inches wide by 12.5 inches tall
This trendy backpack from Gymshark can reportedly hold more than 40 pounds of stuff, making it an ideal choice for those who like to take their whole world with them on-the-go. A new spin on the brand’s gym bag, it has a hidden little area for your most precious belongings and two front compartments. It’s lightweight so as not to overstress your shoulder and the adjustable straps are webbed for a better grip. We're also big fans of the fact that its durable nylon is made of 100 percent recycled materials.
Best Cheap Travel Backpack
- Why We Love It: luggage strap, built in USB port, water-repellent
- What We Don't Love: power bank not included, limited durability
- Number of Pockets:
- Dimensions: 12.3 inches wide by 17 inches tall
This is *the* cheap backpack you need when you're on-the-move. For starters, it's got a unique luggage strap that will allow you to slide it right over your suitcase. As one of the taller options on our list, it will enable you to comfortably fit a 15.6-inch computer, no problem, and it will take the stress out of worrying about your battery life, since it features a built-in USB port that you can use with your own power bank (sold separately). It's also made of water-repellent fabric—not a bad deal for a less than $25 price tag!
How Much Should You Pay for a Good Backpack?
For those looking for seriously durable backpacks (the kind you'd stuff full of anything and everything needed for a multi-day camping trip), backpacks can easily cost a couple hundred dollars. But for those of us just looking for a good-enough carry-all to get you by, something in the $20 to $70 range should be just fine as long as you look for strong materials, such as nylon or canvas, and features like padded straps, which will keep your bag feeling comfy throughout the day.
Where to Buy Cheap Backpacks
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