The 25 Best Backpacks for Full-Grown Men
REMEMBER THE crazy-colorful backpacks from your childhood? You know, the ones that featured your favorite cartoon characters and were often ornamented with bold, kitschy keychains? Now, delete that from your memory, because backpacks have come a long way in both style and function.
There’s no reason for any man to turn his back on the convenient, hands-free bag style. Rich textures, sleek shapes, and useful compartments make the bag perfectly acceptable for men to haul their gear everywhere, even in a business suit. For both work and weekends, the coolest backpacks for commuting and travel help to lighten the load on your pants pockets (especially if you carry a bulky wallet) and look way more polished than your beat-up gym bag. Sure, you could opt for a messenger bag, but why do that when you can evenly distribute the weight of your gear to both shoulders and move freely?
With great options from top men’s clothing brands for every guy’s style and budget, check out these 25 cool backpacks for full-grown men to look like a total boss while carrying all their daily gear with ease.
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Best Everyday Bag: Bellroy Classic Backpack 20L
Bellroy has a number of reliable backpacks out there, but if we had to pick a favorite it would be this minimalist-inspired Classic Backpack. The fact it comes in several colors and has a unique silhouette gives us just the right amount of subtle styling. Plus the 100% recycled nylon build provides a lightweight, water-resistant option for all types of uses—we call this the coffee shop bag.
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Best Gym Backpack: Lululemon Everyday Backpack 2.0
Whether you use it solely for the gym or for everyday use, you’re bound to get a lot of miles out of this stylish bag. What’s great is the Everyday Backpack 2.0 is designed with a water-repellant shell and with ample pocket space to store all your gear—like your phone, water bottle, and laptop.
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Best Rugged Backpack: GoRuck GR2 26L Heritage Backpack
Designed by a former Green Beret, GoRuck’s backpacks combine the superior durability you’d expect from military-grade materials with timeless, retro-inspired styling. The Heritage edition of the brand’s popular GR2 pack includes Red Wing leather and a rainproof Martexin wax finish—a process that dates back 170 years—on duck canvas. Your laptop will always remain extra-safe, too, thanks to a double-reinforced storage compartment. We understand the entry point is pricey, but if you’re looking for a rugged backpack that will last you for at least a decade—and look even better as it ages—then this is the one.
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Best Travel Backpack: Peak Design
Sizable, sleek, and hidden with features in all the right places, Peak Design’s Travel Backpack is the ultimate airport bag. Thanks to its shell design and theft-proof zippers (you can clip the zipper loops into each other for an interlocking hold), the chances of someone pickpocketing you in a crowd is significantly lowered. It takes a second to get used to opening up the main compartment, but when you realize how much easier it is to lay out your gear you’ll be happy with the adjustment. And if you really want to take your packing to the next level, you can score some of Peak Design’s packing cubes and optimize your organization even further.
Best Luxury Backpack: Montblanc Extreme 3.0 Backpack M LOCK 4810
Luxury backpacks can be, well, a little bit tacky sometimes. That’s far from the case with Montblanc’s new Extreme 3.0. The black leather bag is wonderfully sturdy and comes in a goldilocks size (not too big or too small). But what ultimately catches the eye is the signature M LOCK, a unique clip design that instantly elevates the bag to something you’d see in a film like Blade Runner.. It’s also worth mentioning this bag has a cosign from Cillian Murphy, the face of the Montblanc campaign where this bag was featured.
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Best Student Backpack: Herschel Nova Backpack
We call this Herschel bag the best student backpack because it’s perfect for lugging your work and laptop around (of course) but also due to the fact you get a ton of value for the price. We recommend this specific Nova backpack with metal hardware. It’s a tad more expensive than the basic Herschel, but you’ll get a much longer lifespan out of this one due to the more durable zippers. The brass detailing adds style points too.
Best Commuter Backpack: Incase A.R.C. Commuter Pack
Supremely water-resistant and full of pocket space, the A.R.C. is a worthy bag for carrying all your work materials. Our favorite features include the reinforced laptop sleeve and a hidden pocket under the backpack’s top handle.
Best Packable Backpack: L.L. Bean Stowaway Pack
The Stowaway pack goes beyond the typical packable backpack by adding padded shoulder straps and ample storage space. Keep one of these bad boys under your car seat and break it out whenever you need on-the-go storage.
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Best Backpack for New Dads: Dagne Dover Indi Diaper Backpack
New dads looking for a bag to carry all their baby gear will be stoked to find this gem. This backpack has all the compartments you’d find in a diaper bag with a much cooler look.
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Best Waterproof Backpack: Filson Dry Backpack
Filson’s Dry Backpack is one of the best cooler bags around thanks to its insanely waterproof (and flexible) 840D nylon TPU shell. Throw a couple of cold ones in here on your next trip to the park or keep your valuables rolled up inside on your next hike. And in the oft chance this bag falls in a river or lake, you’ll be happy knowing the Dry Backpack will stay afloat and airtight.
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Best Leather Backpack: Shinola Runwell Backpack
An all-leather backpack looks dang good, from the time it’s new to years down the road when it develops a fine patina. Stay away from cheap leather backpacks, as the lifespan can be significantly shorter. Plus, if the bag has a lot of cheap finish applied, it could rub off on your clothes and leave a nasty brown stain. Go with the Runwell from Shinola for a timeless, trusted leather backpack. You won’t have any problems with that bag.
Best Convertible Backpack: Mack Weldon Ion Convertible Backpack
Is it a backpack? Or a messenger bag? The answer is: yes. Mack Weldon’s convertible bag is all of these things, and more, thanks to its suite of detachable straps that let you switch between bag styles. And because this is Mack Weldon, it’s made with performance in mind. The interior lining has anti-stink capabilities, the handles are non-slip, and the zippers are waterproof.
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More Men’s Backpacks We Love
If you’re planning for an upcoming trip, this sturdy style has multiple compartments for everything you could need, whether that’s your laptop, a water bottle, or an extra outfit.
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This delightfully boxy business backpack will replace your briefcase without hopelessly clashing with your suit. The leather material elevates this backpack to fit in even the most professional workplaces.
Keep your laptop and other daily essentials secure and protected in this style, which is made with waterproof fabric, lining, and zippers to keep everything dry. It even comes with a separate shoe compartment to make your gym-to-work (or vice versa) virtually seamless.
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By far one of the most stylish roll-top-style backpacks we’ve ever seen, this slim stunner fits all the gear you need, but with an elegant exterior to give your briefcase a much-needed breather.
Durable fabric and an innovative design make this cool backpack with multiple pockets a total winner.
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This WANT Les Essentials classic backpack features silver hardware and an asymmetrical zipper pocket to level up this standard nylon backpack for top-notch style.
Leather isn’t the cheapest material to use for a backpack, but the long-lasting, luxe fabric will age nicely over time for a vintage vibe.
Love to add a pop of color to your everyday look? This bright (yet still versatile) option from Someone Somewhere—which works with local artisans in Oaxaca, Mexico—is just what you need. Complete with a secret pocket to hold your most important things, this statement-making bag has form and function.
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If there’s any brand that’ll know how to make a quality backpack for commuting and beyond, it’s a cycling company. This modern rectangular style is undoubtedly sleek and fashionable, but it also has a molded back panel for more airflow.
How We Selected
For the past three years, Men’s Health fashion editors and writers have been testing hundreds of men’s backpacks. To narrow down our favorites, we evaluated backpacks on their design, durability, style, and comfort. We also considered price points, as some men’s backpacks have better overall value than others.
Deputy Editor, Commerce
As Men’s Health’s Deputy Editor, Commerce, Christian Gollayan oversees all shopping content on menshealth.com. He relocated back to New York by way of Portland, where he was the Associate Managing Editor at TheManual.com. Christian’s work has also been featured in InStyle, Food & Wine, the New York Post, and Tatler Asia.
Gear and Commerce Editor
John Thompson is the Gear and Commerce Editor at Men’s Health, where he covers fashion, grooming, gear, and technology. He was previously the Style & Gear Editor at BroBible.com, and a commerce writer for TheManual.com. His interests include shopping for rare vintage clothes and following his favorite baseball team, the Kansas City Royals.
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