Best Backpacks for College to Keep Your School Stuff Intact in the Go

The world owes Dick Keltey credit for inventing the first modern backpack in the mid-1900’s to carry his camping gear. Although backpacks have witnessed tremendous evolution since then, they still remain important organizational tools.  This is especially true for college students who have to carry learning and recreational items almost on a daily basis. As such, the importance of a college backpack in accommodating a student’s daily needs cannot be emphasized enough. Some of the daily items a student requires to carry around from class to class may include; notepads, pens, textbooks, gym gear, laptop, snacks, tablets, lunch, among others.

A student’s needs may change over the course of college life and, therefore, an all-round bag that is versatile is worth considering. A backpack used for a specific purpose only may run its course sooner than expected rendering it irrelevant, and a waste of resources.

Although the requirements of students may vary, the market is saturated with all types of college backpacks to cater for every need. Based on this, it can get confusing considering the countless options available.

To narrow down the options, here are some of the best college backpacks that can become your dependable companion through your educational exploits.

Top 10 Backpacks for College of 2019 Reviewed

1. Matein Mlassic Laptop Backpack with USB Port

Best for heavy-duty use

The Matein Mlassic Laptop backpack stands out with its USB port and charging cable which allows you to charge your electronic devices while on the move. The USB port can be connected to a power bank on one end and your device on the other. The main compartment of the backpack can comfortably accommodate a 15.6-inch laptop. The laptop compartment comes with extra padding to protect against shock.

To make organizing your items easier, the Matein backpack comes with multiple pockets located inside and outside the bag. This includes mesh side pockets for water bottles, and an anti-theft hidden pocket to store valuables. The shoulder straps are sturdy and made using ventilated fabric. This ensures trapped heat escapes and does not make you sweat.

To protect your items, the Matein backpack is constructed using high-density, waterproof polyester fabric. The fabric is durable, easy to clean and equipped with an air-flow system to prevent hot air getting trapped inside the backpack.  The bag also comes fitted with convenient straps to secure against a suitcase in case you are travelling.

Laptop Backpack with USB Charging Port,Slim Travel Backpack with Laptop Compartment for Men and Women,Water Resistant College School BookBag


  • Light in weight
  • Can also be used as a carry-on bag.
  • The extra-padding eases the backpack’s load.


  • The anti-theft pocket has minimal features compared to other backpacks in the same category.
  • Has no slash-proof materials.
  • A little heavy

2. SWISSGEAR Travel Gear 1900

Best for tech savvy college students

The SWISSGEAR 1900 is a functional backpack, designed for users who tend to carry a lot of electronics. It comes with many pockets for a wide range of items ranging from a 17-inch laptop, to a set of keys. Constructed using durable 1200D ballistic polyester fabric, the backpack can withstand harsh weather conditions and the rigors of every day use.

he backpack comprises of the main compartment for your laptop, a floating tablet pocket, a file holder, an organizational compartment, numerous internal pockets for accessories, water bottle pockets. It also has side accessory pockets, a media pocket equipped with a port for headphones and a front pocket for easy access.

Notably, all the pockets on the backpack are well-padded to protect your gadgets. Other features include well-padded and contoured straps which give the backpack room for flexibility. The straps are designed to stretch and also act as shock-absorbers. To cushion your back, an Airflow panel is fitted, while the compression straps on the side ensure a tight and comfortable fit.  The grab handle is sturdy and designed to endure rugged use.

SWISSGEAR Travel Gear 1900 Scansmart TSA Laptop Backpack Black/Black


  • Light in weight
  • Can also be used as a carry-on bag.
  • The extra-padding eases the backpack’s load.


  • The anti-theft pocket has minimal features compared to other backpacks in the same category.
  • Has no slash-proof materials.
  • A little heavy

3. Modoker Vintage Laptop Backpack

Best for books

If you are looking for a stylish and practical backpack, then the Modoker Vintage provides both features. The backpack comes with a spacious main compartment, ideal for gym gear, folders, books among other items. A secondary compartment can accommodate notebooks, magazines, wallet, and is equipped with a zipper.

The padded laptop compartment can comfortably fit a 15.6-inch laptop, while two side-pockets can carry water bottles, umbrellas, cups and other items. A built-in external USB port provides the convenience of charging your devices anytime. The shoulder straps are well-padded and can be adjusted to fit all types of shoulders.

Made using 600D high-quality Nylon fabric, the Modoker Vintage backpack is light in weight, scratch and tear resistant, and also has anti-splashing properties. The stylish look of the bag is further enhanced by vegan leather trims located across the side pockets. The grey color of the bag hides ink stains, smudges and dirt; which means you do not have to clean the bag regularly.

Modoker Vintage Laptop Backpack for Women Men


  • Equipped with magnetic closures for additional safety.
  • Fairly priced.
  • Firm and durable stitching.


  • Cannot fit a 17-inch laptop.
  • Small in size.
  • Does not come with a slot to hold an electronic device while charging.

4. High Sierra Loop Backpack

Best for suspension and comfort

Available in around 30 colors and different styles, the High Sierra backpack is an all-round bag. The storage space consists of two main compartments, and a smaller inside pocket ideal for keys and wallets.  Compression straps are located at the bottom of the backpack to provide more storage options. You can attach any other items you would like to carry. The back panel and shoulder straps of the High Sierra backpack come with extra-padding for enhanced comfort.

Additionally, the shoulder straps are equipped with a unique suspension system.  When walking, the system absorbs the shock of the load, easing pressure on your back, neck and shoulders. The system also ensures even distribution of weight across all pressure points.

To prevent twisting and slipping, the shoulder pads come with a swivel clip conveniently located at the end of the strap. The backpack has a well-padded and dedicated tablet pocket which can also fit your phone and power bank. A mesh pocket ideal for beverages is located on the side of the backpack within easy reach.

High Sierra Loop Backpack for Men and Women


  • Lightweight.
  • Can easily fit under car and airplane seats.
  • Made using durable material.


  • Only mini-laptops and tablets can fit in the main compartments.
  • The light colored versions stain easily.
  • Not waterproof.

5. Yorepek Large Travel Backpack for Men

Best for heavy and rugged use

Equipped with over 20 pockets, the Yorepek Travel Backpack has sufficient storage space for all your items.  Despite its large size and numerous pockets, it remains light, weighing in at only 2lbs. The backpack is designed to ensure all your stored items are within easy reach. The backpack comprises of 3 spacious main compartments and many hidden pockets to store small items and valuables. There are also mesh side pockets for beverages, umbrellas and other items.

The main compartment is heavily padded and can fit a 17-inch laptop. The backpack also comes with a USB port to charge your devices. The carry-on handle is sturdy and made using a steel cable. Inside, the Yorepek backpack’s interior is lined with nylon while the exterior is made with quality high-density polyester fabric.

The shoulder straps are wide, comfortable and well-padded with a thick sponge to relieve stress on your back.  The backpack comes in a U-shaped design to ensure adequate ventilation as well as to provide an escape route for heat. The shoulder straps have a lanyard design whereby you can hang your sunglasses and other small items.

Extra Large College School Laptop Bookbags with USB Charging Port


  • Water resistant
  • TSA approved
  • Tear and scratch resistant


  • Too large for individuals with small frames
  • The interior nylon lining is noisy
  • Prone to overloading due to its large size

6. Matein Slim Anti-theft Backpack

Best for carrying valuables

This is a backpack that combines safety, compactness and a stylish design. Despite its seemingly slim model, the Matein slim Anti-theft backpack is quite spacious with a capacity of 32L. It weighs a paltry 1.5lbs and has a main, front and laptop compartment, as well as side pockets fitted with elastic. This elastic addition allows you to carry large water bottles or an umbrella.

To deter theft of your valuables, the backpack comes with a combination lock that is high-quality coupled with lockable zippers. The backpack is constructed using durable polyester fabric which is also water-resistant. A front side pocket is designed to store small items that tend to get lost easily such as keys, earphones, cards or documents. The backpack also has an in-built USB charger and cable.

The shoulder straps are sufficiently padded to ensure comfort, and are made using an anti-sweat fabric. The thick padding also doubles up as back support and you can carry the backpack around comfortably for longer. The straps are adjustable and can fit any body frame. This feature is vital as it relieves stress on your back, neck and shoulders.

Slim Travel Backpack,Anti-Theft College School Backpack with USB Charging Port


  • Padded carry-on handle
  • Sturdy metal zippers
  • Comes in various colors and patterns


  • Does not have protective pads under the laptop compartment
  • Only laptops less than 17-inches can fit in the backpack
  • The zippers have durability issues

7. Yorepek Extra-Large Backpack

Best for carrying multiple items

The Yorepek Extra-large backpack is an improved version of the large travel backpack. It comes with additional features such as an organizer compartment with numerous pockets, and double-zipped pouches for smaller items.  While the large travel backpack is specially designed for men, the extra-large version is unisex. Designed to last, the backpack is constructed using superior high-quality fabric, while the interior has high-density nylon.

With over 20 different pockets, the laptop compartment is equipped with a Velcro strap. This is to ensure your device is fastened securely, and the compartment can fit all laptop sizes.  A USB port ensures your devices do not run out of charge. You can listen to music hands-free courtesy of the headphone hole the bag is equipped with.

Located on the backpacks side, are compression straps to enable you adjust the length of the bag to fit perfectly. The shoulder pads are ergonomically shaped and contoured for a perfect fit. They are heavily padded for extra comfort and made using mesh fabric. This design also enhances airflow and prevents sweating during hot weather.

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  • Designed with quick access compartments
  • Fairly priced
  • Water resistant


  • The shoulder straps are secured with plastic buckles prone to breakage.
  • The inner lining rips easily.
  • When filled to capacity, it can get extremely heavy.

8. Timbuk2 Parkside Laptop Bag

Best for multiple storage

Despite its small size, the Timbuk2 laptop bag has a fairly spacious interior. With over seven compartments, the bag provides numerous organizing options for your 15-inch laptop and smaller items. The front pocket can provide storage for items such as cables, cash, earphones, keys, cards among others. The pocket is equipped with a sturdy zip to prevent your items from getting displaced. The main compartment can accommodate your lunch, books and a jacket comfortably.

The laptop compartment, on the other hand, is adequately padded to prevent shock. To protect your items, the bag is made using  thick treated polyester. The stitching is sturdy and durable and will hold firmly even when the bag is packed to capacity, and it also retains its original shape.

The shoulder straps are custom fitted, well-padded and do not stress your shoulders. Additionally, the straps absorb most of the load providing a lightweight feel. You can also carry the bag comfortably for long periods. The external side pockets are cleverly designed and can serve as a U-lock holder to hold your beverages securely in place.


Timbuk2 Parkside Laptop Backpack


  • Stylish design.
  • Accepted by a majority of airlines.
  • Well ventilated back panel.


  • Not water-proof
  • Pricey
  • Cannot fit a 17-inch laptop

9. Under Armour Storm Recruit Backpack

Best for water resistance

The Storm Recruit backpack is made using 100% tough polyester material; both on the exterior and interior. Designed with UA storm technology, the backpack is water resistant and can withstand a heavy downpour. The front pocket has water-repellant properties to ensure your valuables remain free from damage at all times.

The laptop compartment is fitted with a heavy abrasion-resistant bottom that also provides enhanced shock-absorption for your device. A 15-inch laptop can fit comfortably and still leave some room for other items.  The side pockets are fitted with elastic to enable them hold two large water bottles. They are also designed to be easily accessible. The top grab handle is reinforced to ensure a steady hold with anti-slip properties.

For enhanced comfort while on the move, the shoulder straps are heavily padded and also act as back support. They are adjustable to enable custom fit, and are equipped with HeatGear. This is a technology that provides adequate ventilation to prevent sweating on your back and chest where the shoulder straps lie.

Under Armour Storm Recruit Backpack


  • Light backpack weighing only 1.2lbs.
  • Shoulder straps distribute weight evenly.
  • Bag retains shape even when packed to capacity.


  • Does not fit a 17-inch laptop.
  • The front pocket runs too deep.
  • Not suitable for students with small frames.

10. KOPACK Slim Laptop Backpack

Best for long distance travel

With over 10 slots to pack various items, the KOPACK Slim backpack provides several organizational options for a bag its size. It also makes it easier to customize each pocket for a particular item. The laptop compartment is situated at the back of the backpack, and can hold a 15.6-inch laptop comfortably. To secure your device, the compartment comes with a stretchable strap, preventing any play that results from moving around.

A front lid ensures privacy as it opens at angles of between 90-180 degrees. This enables you to remove an item from the backpack without exposing the bag’s contents.  For enhanced security, the backpack is fitted with stealth zippers. This means the zippers are hidden by an outer covering and cannot be seen from the front or sides of the backpack.

The backpack is built for easy access items that are frequently used, such as phones and wallets thanks to  the hidden side pocket, only accessible to the wearer of the bag.  The back of the bag is padded with bubble-foam to cushion your back from the backpack’s load. The shoulder straps are also padded to prevent stress to your shoulders.

KOPACK Slim Laptop Backpacks Anti Thief Business Computer Bag College School 15 15.6 inch Gray


  • Even weight distribution for added comfort
  • Light weight design
  • Affordable


  • No anti-scratch properties
  • Challenging to reach items at the bottom of the backpack, unless the lid is opened wide
  • Lacks water bottle pockets

How to Choose the Best Backpack for College – Buying Guide

Buying a backpack is not just about going online and clicking on whatever comes your way. You ought to understand what will work best for your situation. Comfort, size, price, durability, weight, design and availability of space are some of the most important issues to consider when shopping for a college backpack. Like with any other product on the market, a quality and stylish backpack does not necessarily have to be expensive. You can still get good, but affordable deals that match your budget. To get here, you may need to ask a few questions?

How reliable is your backpack?

A backpack’s reliability is another important issue worth your attention when shopping. This is a bag that will see you through all the years of college, and still be usable after graduation. A quality backpack should have the capacity to evenly spread out the weight of your load across your back and shoulders. There can be serious health implications if this is not achieved such as severe back, neck and shoulder pains; in addition to headaches caused by straining at the end of the day. To further guard against such a scenario, a backpack with additional hip straps will ease your burden considerably.

To identify the right backpack for your needs, the first step is to establish the items you need to carry around each day. Only then, can you correctly determine the size of the backpack you will require.  A lightweight backpack is crucial to avoid a situation where the load will weigh you down. The distance you will cover either in between classes, or to and from college is also worth considering; the lighter the load, the less strenuous it will be for you.

Does your height matter?

An individual’s height is also matters when shopping for a backpack. Tall people require backpacks that are designed with some extra length, while the opposite works for shorter individuals. The bag should not just fit the items you plan on carrying, but it should fit you comfortably as well. It is also worth noting, that there are bags designed for both men and women. Men’s backpacks tend to be slightly larger compared to women’s. This is to accommodate the petite body frames of the ladies.

Some bags come packed with extra features, which can be an added bonus. For example, you can get a bag with wheels if you need to haul heavy items every day. Or you can get a bag fitted with a solar panel which charges your electronic devices while on the move. The possibilities are endless.

With that in mind, here are the main features that you should look out for;

Backpack Features to Consider

1. Consider Durability

The durability of a backpack depends on a few things. The most important is the material used to construct the bag. Secondly, the way the stitching is done and how firmly embedded it is to the main bag. Look out for bags that have heavier cloths attached to the straps and at the bottom of the backpack. These are the areas that bear the brunt of the backpack’s load. This also means they usually wear out first due to friction, abrasion and the weight of the load. That is the reason they should be reinforced using a tough and heavier material.

Choose a bag that will protect your college items from the harsh elements of weather, like waterproof backpacks that are designed with a flap that covers the zippers. In case you are caught out by a downpour, rainwater will not leak into the backpack and cause damage to your items.

2. Material used matters

The secret of identifying the sturdiness of a backpack’s fabric by sight is to observe the density of how the material has been woven together. If the weave forms a thick layer, then the bag is most probably made using durable material. On the other hand, if the fabric forms a thin layer, then the bag will wear out within no time.

There are different types materials used to construct college backpacks. Some of the fabrics include; canvas, cotton, leather, nylon and polyester among others. Leather, cotton and canvas are considered heavy-duty material and bags made from these fabrics can withstand a lot of abuse. These backpacks also cost more compared to those made from synthetic fabric, and also tend to be heavier.

Nylon and polyester backpacks are the most common. They are light in weight, and can be treated to be waterproof. There are tougher and heavier nylon versions such as Ballistic and Cordura that offer the sturdiness similar in non-synthetic materials; but bags made from the above-mentioned fabrics also tend to be pricey.

If you are on a tight budget, then polyester is the best option. Compared to nylon, it is cheaper but slightly less durable.

3. Straps and padding for comfort

A quality college backpack should be designed with extra-wide and padded straps. This feature comes in handy in easing the backpack’s burden. It provides much needed relief to your back, shoulders and neck.  Additionally, it makes heavy loads feel much lighter. This is because wide and well padded straps distribute the weight of the backpack’s load evenly across your back, neck and shoulders ensuring comfort.

For students who carry extraordinary weight, it is advisable to invest in a backpack that is designed with additional sternum or waist straps. The straps improve balance and provide a wider surface area for the equal distribution of the backpack’s heavy load.

Straps should also be adjustable and a perfect fit. A backpack with a grab handle at the top is a plus, as it is a convenient aid when loading and offloading your backpack.

4. Compartments and pockets for easy organization

The number of pockets and compartments, how and where they are strategically placed, can make or break a college backpack.  Pockets and compartments are important as they ensure your college items are well organized, and easy to locate.

According to the various items that you plan to carry to and from class, make sure there is a place for everything. For example if you carry a laptop, you should purchase a backpack that is designed with a padded compartment for that specific purpose. Most college backpacks specify the exact size of the laptop they are designed for, and some may also come with a slot for the charger.

Pens, notepads, textbooks, sunglasses, gym gear, snacks and drinking water should all have their own pockets and compartments as well. Water bottles should preferably have an external compartment so that they do not damage other items in the event of a leak.

Consider backpacks with double zippers. They provide ease of access to your bag, enhanced security and adequate back up in case one of the zippers goes out of commission.

5. Why you need reflective material

In case you cycle to college, it is advisable to purchase a backpack that has reflective material so that you can be visible on the road, especially at night. If your preferred backpack does not come with reflectors, you can always buy a few reflective strips separately, and attach them on the rear side of your backpack.

6. Look out for the Extras

In order to keep up with current fashion trends and technological advances, college backpack manufacturers have become very innovative. The main objective is to ensure the backpacks they churn out attract attention and outdo the competition. This has resulted in college backpacks designed with various extras that range from techno savvy features to extra comfort and convenient additions.

For example, some backpacks are fitted with a raised and extra-padded laptop compartment to cushion the device from shock in case the backpack drops. Others are designed with breathable mesh material for students who reside in hot areas.  Some backpacks can also have a provision for fitting portable solar panels. This ensures that your electronic devices never run out of charge, while others come with portable phone chargers and USB ports.

7. Does the backpack come with warranty?

When shopping for a college backpack, ensure you settle for one that comes with a warranty either on workmanship, shipping, factory and general defects. Some backpacks come with a lifetime warranty. These are the best backpacks to purchase as the buyer is guaranteed of the quality of the product.

Final verdict

We may not promise that you will get a backpack that will last a lifetime. However, to guarantee quality and durability, always go for a backpack brand that is tried and tested. You will also find that the well-known brands offer a wider variety of product choices to suit every style, need, taste and budget bracket.

Make comfort your top priority. According to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, over 5,000 students annually seek medical treatment for serious backpack related injuries. Minor injuries account for over 14,000 students. Never compromise on safety and always purchase a backpack with well padded straps to avoid becoming a statistic.

For a college student, a backpack can symbolize and serve as a fashion statement or a reflection of their personality. Do not be afraid to experiment, and have fun while you are at it. With the numerous college backpack options currently on the market, there is a specific one that mirrors who you are.

Adrian Dimakis

Written by Adrian Dimakis


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