Best Backpacks for College Students: Carry Your Laptop, Books & More

Best Students Backpack for Women

Amber & Ash have produced the perfect balance between style, function and quality.

Best Wheeled Backpack 

This Jansport wheeled bag is simple, sturdy and great for students with prefer to roll their things.

If you want to succeed at college, it is important to make sure you are prepared. This means setting a budget to see you through the year, considering your course options and buying equipment – and when it comes to buying equipment, one of the main things you need to buy is a backpack. The college board recommends many items including a backpack, so why not get the best one for your college years!

Image

Model

Number of Compartments

Laptop Compartment

Check Price

Herschel Retreat Backpack, Black, Classic...

Herschel Supply Co. Retreat Backpack

5 +

Yes – 15 Inch

Amber & Ash Everyday Backpack - Slim, Durable...

Amber And Ash Laptop School Backpack

11 +

Yes – 15.6 Inch

Backpack for Women,VASCHY Water Resistant...

Fashion Leaves College By Vaschy

10

Yes – 15 Inch

Vera Bradley Women's Signature Cotton Campus...

Vera Bradley Iconic Campus Backpack

10

Yes

Jansport Driver 8 Rolling Backpack - Wheeled...

JanSport Driver 8 Core Series Wheeled Backpack

10

Yes – 15 Inch

17.3 inch Laptop Backpack with Rain Cover...

Outjoy Laptop Backpack

10

Yes – 17.3 Inch

KUPRINE Travel Anti Theft Slim Durable Laptop...

Kuprine Water Resistant Lightweight Laptop Backpack

12

Yes – 15 Inch

SwissGear SA9769 Black with Light Grey Laptop...

SwissGear SA9769 Laptop Backpack

10

Yes – 15 Inch

AmazonBasics Laptop Computer Backpack - Fits...

Amazon Basics Backpack

7

Yes – 17 Inch

Wenger Synergy Padded Stabilizing Laptop Bag...

Wenger Synergy Backpack

7

Yes – 15.3 Inch

The North Face Women's Recon Backpack, Acid...

The North Face Women's Recon Backpack

7

Yes – 15 Inch

KOPACK Slim Laptop Backpacks Anti Thief...

Kopack Slim Business Laptop Backpack

17

Yes – 15.6 Inch

Under Armour Storm Recruit Backpack, Black...

Under Armour Storm Recruit Backpack

5

Yes – 15 Inch

Laptop Backpack, Sosoon Business Bags with...

Sosoon Laptop Backpack

7

Yes – 15 Inch

Naukey Laptop Backpack

5

Yes – 15 Inch

Why Do You Specifically need a College Backpack

Here are a few reasons why college students can benefit from owning a backpack.

Everyday Use

A backpack is ideal for everyday use; it is easy to fit a packed lunch and a jacket inside, as well as other smaller items such as a bottle of water and an umbrella. Sure, it is possible to fit most of these items in an over-the-shoulder bag, too – but that is about all you will be able to fit in there, and most college students have a few more things to carry with them!

Carrying Books

Most college students have to take lots of books to college every day. This includes large, bulky textbooks, as well as notebooks and library books, which can take up a lot of room! Thankfully a backpack has lots of room for books, and due to the long, narrow shape of the bag, they are perfect for holding books.

Carrying Laptops

Today many students use a laptop or a tablet for college. This could be because they are a design student and they require a certain programme to do their work, or it could simply be because they prefer typing to writing.

However a laptop bag isn’t a good option for college, as there is no room to store anything else – but a laptop backpack is a great option. This is because there is one sleeve for holding laptops, and then a large interior pocket for everything else!

Carrying Sports Equipment

Sports students use a sports backpack to store their sports equipment and gym clothes. This is because lots of sport backpacks come with an outside mesh pocket to hold a large water bottle, as well as a hanging tag that you can attach trainers to. It is also possible to buy sports backpacks with water resistant pockets inside, and you can use this pocket to store your gym clothes after a workout.

Storing Clothes

Backpacks are ideal for storing clothes, and we don’t just mean gym clothes. Most backpacks can easily fit a jacket or coat inside, which is very useful for college students who are studying in a cold city. It is also easy to store multiple outfit changes in one backpack, as most backpacks are very roomy.

"

I stuff my backpack with everything I could possibly need to have a fun and productive day around campus.


Sara - College advice at saralaughed.com

Common Features of Quality Backpacks

Material

There are a few features that indicate you have found a high quality backpack. The material is one of the most important factors; ideally you want a bag that is made from a durable woven or synthetic material that can last for years without ripping or becoming damaged. Two popular options are nylon and polyester, as both are very durable and tough. This article highlights all the possibilities when it comes to materials of a bag.

Shoulder Straps

The shoulder straps are another good indicator of quality; you should look for a backpack with wide, padded straps so that they won’t dig into your shoulders and cause back problems. This is especially important if you will be carrying lots of things in your backpack, or if you will be walking long distances every day with the backpack on.

Quality Zippers

It is important to choose a backpack with good zippers. Many people overlook the zippers, but in reality weak zippers can easily ruin a backpack by becoming stuck. For this reason you should look for a backpack with durable two-way zippers. It can also be beneficial to choose a backpack with a zipper brand that you know.

Smart Design

If you will be carrying lots of things around with you, it can be beneficial to invest in a backpack with a smart design, as this will make it much easier for you to organize your things. After all, no-one wants to spend half their class looking for a pen that has fallen to the bottom of their backpack!

Warranty

Finally it can be useful to look for a backpack that comes with a warranty. This indicates that the bag is strong and durable, so it should last you for a few years (at the very least). Some backpacks come with a three month warranty, while others have a lifetime warranty, so be aware that warranties can vary quite a lot!

best backpack brands for college

What To look For In a Good Backpack For College Students

Personal Purpose

It is important to consider the specific things that you will be carrying to college. A sports student will want to buy a durable backpack with a pocket that can be used to store clothes, as well as a tag to hold their trainers, while an games design student should look for a bag with a padded tablet pocket.

Safe & Secure Laptop Compartment

Many college students use a laptop to complete their college work. If this is the case for you, you should definitely look for a backpack with a secure laptop compartment. It can also be useful to check the size of the compartment beforehand; some laptop pockets can fit 16 inch laptops, while others are designed to hold smaller 13 inch laptops. 

Multiple Compartments

Most students will benefit from buying a backpack with multiple compartments. This is because it makes it much easier for them to store all of their things, so you can find something quickly if you need it. Most high quality backpacks have a selection of interior and exterior pockets, which is ideal for college students.

Waterproof or Water Resistance

If you travel outdoors to get to college (which is the case for nearly every college student in the world!), it is smart to invest in a backpack that is waterproof or water resistant. This is especially important if you will be studying in a rainy city and you will be carrying a laptop in your bag every day!

Anti-Theft Features

Many modern backpacks come with anti-theft features. This includes combination locks, double zippers and codes that make it difficult for other people to get inside. This is very handy for students who regularly study in public spaces, especially if they are carrying valuable items inside their backpack.

Price Vs Quality

Many college students are on a budget, so they need to find a high quality backpack that isn’t too expensive. Thankfully there are lots of durable, affordable backpacks on the market, so it shouldn’t be too hard for you to pick one up; you simply need to find the best backpack for your college experience.


15 Best College Backpacks Reviewed

There are lots of backpacks that are specifically designed for college students. From backpacks with laptop sleeves to backpacks that are designed to store smelly gym clothes, here are 15 of the best college backpacks.

1. Herschel Supply Co. Retreat Backpack

Quick Look - Bag Features
  • Style of backpack = Laptop
  • Number of Compartments = 5 +
  • Is It Waterproof? = No - Water Resistant
  • Laptop Compartment = Yes – 15 Inch
  • Suitable For = Unisex
  • Price Guide = $$$

Herschel Supply Co. recently launched an entire travel accessory line although backpacks remain their core product. 

The Retreat backpack is perhaps one of the best laptop backpacks for college. The bag has a fleeced lined laptop sleeve, which helps to keep your laptop safe as you travel around, and the bag has magnetic strap closures to make sure it doesn’t accidentally open during the day.

Best of all, the backpack has a lifetime warranty guarantee, so it is very durable! However the backpack doesn’t have many compartments, so if you have lots of things to organize this may not be the backpack for you.

CBS website recommends Herschel bags in '25 gifts men actually want' and we agree. This timeless classic is not just for men though with several colors available it is certainly a unisex backpack.

We have reviewed the range of herschel backpacks in detail here.


2. Amber And Ash Laptop School Backpack

Quick Look - Bag Features
  • Style of backpack = Laptop
  • Number of Compartments = 11 +
  • Is It Waterproof? = No - Water Resistant
  • Laptop Compartment = Yes – 15.6 Inch
  • Suitable For = Unisex
  • Price Guide = $$

This backpack is simple and stylish, and it comes with a built in second strap so you also carry it in your hand. Inside the main compartment are six smaller pockets so you can easily organize all of your things, and there is also a padded sleeve for your laptop or tablet. This backpack also has a fairly large laptop pocket, so it can fit most laptop sizes. 

One of the main benefits of this backpack is that it can easily be attached to a suitcase, so if you have to fly home for the holidays this could be the perfect backpack for you. It is perfect for female students who want to keep it simple while being prepared. 

This Californian duo has produced smart and savvy products and are well recognised for quality and affordability. 


3. Fashion Leaves College by Vaschy

Quick Look - Bag Features
  • Style of backpack = Every Day Carry, Laptop
  • Number of Compartments = 10
  • Is It Waterproof? = No - Water Resistant
  • Laptop Compartment = Yes – 15 Inch
  • Suitable For = Women
  • Price Guide = $

This gorgeous backpack from Vaschy is one of the best college backpacks for girls. The backpack has a fun leaf pattern, but the bag isn’t just beautiful; it is also very practical. It is made from top quality, lightweight polyester, and it has large padded laptop compartment.

NY mag also rates this backpack the best backpacks for girls with one amazon reviewer stating  that her daughter received so many compliments on the bag.

There are also lots of different designs to choose from, so it should be easy to find a pattern you love! This is perfect for someone who wants a unique backpack that will stand out in the crowd. And it comes at a price point that wont break the bank!


4. Vera Bradley Iconic Campus Backpack

Quick Look - Bag Features
  • Style of backpack = Laptop
  • Number of Compartments = 10
  • Is It Waterproof? = No - Water Resistant
  • Laptop Compartment = Yes
  • Suitable For = Unisex
  • Price Guide = $$$$

The Iconic Campus backpack is perhaps the best Vera Bradley for college students who need to use multiple laptops or tablets. 

This is because the backpack has two mesh pockets for storing technology, so if you need to take both a laptop and a tablet to college you will have no problem. The backpack is also water resistant, so it is ideal for college students who live in a rainy city.

Vera Bradley recently partnered with a company called blessing to donate 25000 backpacks filled with food for under-priveleged school children. Their range may cost more than other brands but supporting them goes beyond just purchasing a bag. We whole-heartedly support initiatives like this in the consumer space.


5. JanSport Driver 8 Core Series Wheeled Backpack

Quick Look - Bag Features
  • Style of backpack = Travel
  • Number of Compartments = 10
  • Is It Waterproof? = No - Water Resistant
  • Laptop Compartment = Yes – 15 Inch
  • Suitable For = Unisex
  • Price Guide = $$$

The Driver 8 Core Series wheeled backpack is the best college backpack for heavy loads. This is because the shoulder straps are padded for comfort, and they can easily be tucked away if you want to use the backpack as a wheeled bag instead; it has 80mm wheels mounted to each side!

The backpack also has lots of compartments, including a laptop compartment and a sealed interior compartment. HYPEBEAST recently teamed up with Jansport to produce a new special edition range for skaters. These collabrations help cement their standing as one of the top backpack brands in the world.

We have reviewed the range of Jansport backpacks in detail here.


6. Outjoy Laptop Backpack

Quick Look - Bag Features
  • Style of backpack = Laptop
  • Number of Compartments = 10
  • Is It Waterproof? = Yes
  • Laptop Compartment = Yes – 17.3 Inch
  • Suitable For = Unisex
  • Price Guide = $$

The Outjoy laptop backpack is ideal for anyone with a fairly large laptop, as it has a roomy 17.3 inch laptop sleeve. It is also has a luggage pull-along handle that makes it very easy to transport, even if you have filled it with heavy things.

The bag also comes with a six month warranty, and it has a rain proof cover; perfect for students who live in a rainy area! Finally the backpack has wide shoulder straps, so it won’t be uncomfortable to wear, even if you are carrying lots of things with you.


7. Kuprine Water Resistant Lightweight Laptop Backpack

Quick Look - Bag Features
  • Style of backpack = Laptop, Every Day Carry
  • Number of Compartments = 12
  • Is It Waterproof? = No - Water Resistant
  • Laptop Compartment = Yes – 15 Inch
  • Suitable For = Women
  • Price Guide = $$

This lightweight women’s backpack has lots of different compartments, so it is perfect for students who have lots of things to carry. This includes a laptop sleeve, a pocket for clothes or lunch, a second interior pocket for notebooks and textbooks, and a power bank pocket in the middle that allows you to easily charge your phone.

This is super handy, especially if you have a phone that needs charging every day! We love how many pockets can be found inside this backpack; perfect for students who like to stay organized.


8. SwissGear SA9769 Laptop Backpack

Quick Look - Bag Features
  • Style of backpack = Sports
  • Number of Compartments = 10
  • Is It Waterproof? = No - Water Resistant
  • Laptop Compartment = Yes – 15 Inch
  • Suitable For = Unisex
  • Price Guide = $$$$

This no nonsense backpack comes from the maker of the Swiss Army Knife, and it is designed to be practical and functional. There is a laptop compartment, and a very large packing ability; it can easily hold up to three ring binders.

It has an airflow back system to keep you cool and fresh and a water bottle pocket, which is why it is one of the best backpacks for college athletes. There is also a large interior pocket that could be used to store gym clothes and trainers.

We have reviewed the range of Swissgear backpacks in detail here.


9. Amazon Basics Backpack

Quick Look - Bag Features
  • Style of backpack = Every Day Carry, Laptop
  • Number of Compartments = 7
  • Is It Waterproof? = No
  • Laptop Compartment = Yes – 17 Inch
  • Suitable For = Unisex
  • Price Guide = $

This simple laptop backpack is designed for students on a budget. The laptop is very affordable, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have any extra features; there is a large padded sleeve to store your laptop in, as well as multiple storage pockets for your other items.

The backpack also has padded shoulders, so it is very comfortable to wear. However there aren’t many pockets, so if you have lots of things to organize this might not be the best backpack for you.


10. Wenger Synergy Backpack

Quick Look - Bag Features
  • Style of backpack = Laptop
  • Number of Compartments = 7
  • Is It Waterproof? = No
  • Laptop Compartment = Yes – 15.3 Inch
  • Suitable For = Unisex
  • Price Guide = $$

If you like to listen to music as you travel to and from college, you may want to invest in the Wenger Synergy backpack. This is because the backpack comes with an external music player pocket that makes it easy for you to listen to music on the go.

There is also a padded laptop pocket that can easily hold a 15 inch laptop. However this bag isn’t water resistant, so it is best suited to students who are studying in a sunny city.


11. The North Face Women's Recon Backpack

Quick Look - Bag Features
  • Style of backpack = Every Day Carry, Laptop
  • Number of Compartments = 7
  • Is It Waterproof? = No
  • Laptop Compartment = Yes – 15 Inch
  • Suitable For = Unisex
  • Price Guide = $$

This backpack is perhaps the best North Face backpack for college. It is available in a wide range of colours, and it is very comfortable to wear; it has a FlexVent suspension system with molded shoulder straps, as well as a padded mesh back panel. So even if your bag is really heavy, it should still be easy to wear!

The bag also has a few safety features, such as a reflective bike light loop and reflective shoulder strap webbing, which is perfect for students who cycle to college.

We have reviewed the range of North Face backpacks in detail here.


12. Kopack Slim Business Laptop Backpack

Quick Look - Bag Features
  • Style of backpack = Laptop
  • Number of Compartments = 17
  • Is It Waterproof? = No
  • Laptop Compartment = Yes – 15.6 Inch
  • Suitable For = Unisex
  • Price Guide = $

If organization is very important to you, then you will love the Kopack Slim Business laptop bag. The bag is slender, so it doesn’t look bulky or large, but it isn’t basic at all; in fact, there are 17 different slots inside the bag to help you organize everything. This includes a laptop slot, as well as a detachable USB cable that allows you to charge your phone on the go.

We love this backpack as it also made #2 on our list for best work backpacks. This is super useful and practical, especially for students who frequently use their laptop or their mobile while they are at college. It is also very affordable, so it is a good option for students on a budget.


13. Under Armour Storm Recruit Backpack

Quick Look - Bag Features
  • Style of backpack = Laptop, Sports
  • Number of Compartments = 5
  • Is It Waterproof? = No - Water Resistant
  • Laptop Compartment = Yes – 15 Inch
  • Suitable For = Unisex
  • Price Guide = $$

This 100% Polyester backpack comes with UA Storm technology, so it is highly water resistant. The bag also has a tough, abrasion resistant bottom, so it can be used in harsh weather conditions without a problem, which is ideal for sports students. It is also possible to add an external tag to the backpack to hold trainers.

We have reviewed the range of Under Armour backpacks in detail here.


14. Sosoon Laptop Backpack

Quick Look - Bag Features
  • Style of backpack = Laptop
  • Number of Compartments = 7
  • Is It Waterproof? = No - Water Resistant
  • Laptop Compartment = Yes – 15 Inch
  • Suitable For = Unisex
  • Price Guide = $

This high quality backpack is made from tear resistant, water repellent material, and it is also anti-scratch proof – so it is seriously durable! The bag also has an external USB interface, so you can charge your devices on the go.

The bag has lots of storage compartments, so it is easy to organize your things, and it also has a few anti-theft features, such as invisible pockets and hidden zippers. This is perfect for students who are safety-conscious.


15. Naukey Laptop Backpack

Quick Look - Bag Features
  • Style of backpack = Laptop
  • Number of Compartments = 5
  • Is It Waterproof? = No
  • Laptop Compartment = Yes – 15 Inch
  • Suitable For = Unisex
  • Price Guide = $$$

This fashionable backpack is made from durable, eco-friendly materials, and it comes with a built-in USB charger outside the bag, as well as a built-in charging cable inside. This means that you can charge your devices as you walk around, which is very useful if you exclusively use your laptop for studying.

This high-tech bag also looks great due to the sleek, minimal design.


Best Brands For Girls and Guys

North Face

North Face are well-known for producing high quality, durable backpacks that are ideal for sports and the outdoors. Most of their backpacks are weather resistant, and they also have a range of laptop backpacks. Their bags are also unisex, so there are lots of options for both men and women!

Vera Bradley

Vera Bradley have designed a wide range of colourful, fun bags that are well suited to women and girls. This includes a wide range of college backpacks, all of which come with lots of innovative features, although they don’t have many sports backpacks. Most Vera Bradley backpacks come with a laptop pocket, which is ideal for students.

Herschel Supply Co

Herschel Supply Co are famous for their stylish backpacks. They mostly design preppy, practical laptop bags that are perfect for college students. They sell everyday backpacks, laptop backpacks and sports backpacks, so it is very likely that there is a Herschel Supply Co backpack that is suited to your needs.


best backpacks for college students

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a rolling backpack and should I consider one?

A rolling backpack has an adjustable opening, which makes it easier for you to fill the bag up. This is ideal for college students with a lot of books!

Should I consider a lock or security feature when shopping for backpacks?

It can be useful to look for a bag with anti-theft features, especially if you will be putting valuable items in the backpack (such as a laptop or a tablet).

How big does a student backpack need to be?

Ideally it should be at least 20 inches, as this will allow enough room for textbooks and a laptop.

Is a bookbag the same as a backpack?

No, a bookbag is a side bag that can’t be worn over the shoulders.

Are these brands sturdy, durable and reliable?

Yes, all of these brands produce high quality, durable backpacks!

What is the price range of a good college backpack?

The price can range between $30 and $300 – so there is a lot of variation!

Where is a good place to buy cheap backpacks?

Amazon is one of the best places to buy affordable backpacks. They offer a wide range of backpacks; you can even find durable laptop bags for under $50.


Conclusion

It is important to make sure that you choose the right backpack for your college experience. If you will be carrying a lot of things, you should make sure that the bag has wide, padded shoulder straps, and if you will be using a laptop every day it is essential to buy a laptop backpack.

This will make your college experience much more enjoyable!


  • Updated September 13, 2020
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