Best Backpacks for Women in 2019 – Buyer’s Guide & Reviews

Best Travel Backpack
Hynes Eagle 38L Flight Approved Weekend Carry On Backpack

Hynes Eagle 38L

We love this Hynes model because its spacious, lightweight and designed for women who love to travel

Best Laptop Backpack
Kinmac Bohemian Water Resistant Laptop Backpack With Massage Cushion Straps

Kinmac Bohemian

We love the Kinmac because of its funky design, smart compartments & comfortable straps.

Traditionally, grown women have carried purses and tote bags of various kinds—from dainty clutches to diaper bags. Unfortunately, all of these bags are carried on one side of the body, and for some, this is injurious.

Fortunately, backpacks are improving; it is easy to find a backpack that is cute or professional in a feminine way, and has every practical feature you could want.

Why Should Women Get a Specifically Designed Backpack?

Women as a group have a different build from men: on average, women are smaller in stature (with a shorter torso), they typically do not have as much upper body strength as men, and, of course, women have characteristic curves.

Therefore, as a general rule, the best backpacks for women are lighter than those for men. It is also ideal for the backpack to have a shorter length dimension so that weight is centred properly on the female torso. Many women find that S-shaped straps accommodate the bust better than J-shaped straps. If you are not sure by looking at a pack what shape the straps are, either ask someone or look for backpacks that are specifically described as having S-shaped straps.

Of course, for many, the best reason to seek a women’s backpack is the look. Women’s backpacks allow women to feel beautiful in professional, athletic, and everyday situations.

best backpacks for women

3 Important Questions before Buying

1. Where will you be using the backpack?

There are aesthetic and practical reasons to ask this: if you will be outside a lot, you need water resistance (or even waterproofing). If you will be taking the backpack to the office, you need it to have an appropriately formal and minimalist look. If you will be taking the pack into unpredictable public environments, you need anti-theft mechanisms.

2. What will you be mostly carrying?

If you are using your backpack as a suitcase or gym bag, you will want an open main compartment. If you are carrying your laptop or tablet, you may want a backpack with protective sleeves on the interior, and you might even want an exterior USB port connected to an interior battery, so you can charge your devices as you go. If you are carrying only daily personal items (as you would in a purse), you need organizational features for small items and only a little space.

3. How much do you want to spend?

As a general rule, you pay more for high fashion backpacks, as they usually contain expensive materials (such as leather), are of excellent make, and have brand recognition. Such expensive packs are usually everyday carry or purse backpacks. Office, travel, and recreational packs often come at much more affordable prices. (You can also get lovely purse backpacks cheaply, as well; however, usually these will not be from a big-name brand.)


emily luxton blog

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Larger backpacks are perfect for longer trips, especially if you’re headed to multiple countries and need to pack for more than one climate. My tip, though, is never to fill them completely – too full and your pack will be annoyingly heavy, which is not fun for a long trip!


Emily Luxton - blogger

What to look for in a Good Women’s Backpack

Weight & Capacity

A pack’s weight only loosely relates to its carrying volume: the weight ultimately depends on what and how much you put in the pack; women especially should make sure they choose packs that are lightweight when empty—generally under 2 pounds is ideal.

If you need to carry clothes, you need a pack that has at least 25L of open volume. If you have to carry unfolded paper, you need to be sure the dimensions of the pack exceed those of the paper; the same goes for any non-foldable item you must carry in your backpack.

Style Options

Most women want something moderately feminine—with relatively lightweight features and, probably also, cheery colors. All of the backpacks reviewed below fit the bill. A women’s backpack does not necessarily mean something stereotypical (pink, frilly, etc.); it is whatever is right for you.

In fact, there is nothing wrong with wanting a gender neutral, or even a men’s backpack—but it might be ideal to be sure that it works for you structurally, that it is not too heavy, that it can be adjusted to balance weight close to your body, and that the straps are comfortable.

Multiple Compartments

Generally, women appreciate compartmentalization in bags more than men do, and the designers of women’s backpacks seem to know this—women’s backpacks have a few more slots, pockets, and pouches than their men’s or gender neutral counterparts do.

While most women like these features, use common sense—if you want a backpack to just throw stuff in, then you do not need compartments; in fact, they will just get in your way or take up space.

Laptop Compartment

While women are just as likely as men to want their laptops with them, the idea of having a laptop backpack may be a bit more alien to women. If you are a woman who has always lived under the assumption that a backpack is just not graceful enough or professional enough to carry around in your everyday life, you should reconsider:

You can bend over without your laptop (or other belongings) tumbling out; and you can walk with both arms available to put your phone to your ear, break a potential fall, shake hands, etc. In addition to the guarantee that your laptop will not fall out of your bag, a laptop backpack generally provides some padding and suspension of the laptop, protecting it from impact and scratches.

Security Features

The most foolproof security feature is a combination lock on a strong zipper system. It is also helpful if the fabric of a backpack is resistant to cutting, as some thieves try to cut into bags, too. However, there are less obvious anti-theft elements: pockets in the back panel prevent someone from slipping out critical items (credit cards, ID, etc.) while you are wearing the backpack.

Also, having to get past multiple zippers slows a thief down; therefore, a zippered pouch within the zippered pouch of the main compartment is relatively safer than the front pocket.

Water Resistance Levels

Most good backpacks keep out water to some extent. However, this may not be enough if you are carrying computers or cameras in your pack; if you are carrying sensitive items, you need a backpack made of water resistant material (e.g. polyester, nylon), and possibly—if you will spend extended periods in the rain—a rain cover.

Leather backpacks are quite water resistant but it is advisable to treat the leather so that it is not damaged by prolonged water exposure. Some packs are 100% waterproof, but these are not fashionable everyday carry packs; rather, these “dry bag” backpacks look like rubber tanks and are intended for situations where the pack might end up falling in water.

Ergonomic Design & Padding

Both men and women benefit from ergonomic padding on the shoulder straps and back panel of their backpacks. As mentioned above, S-shaped straps are usually ideal for the feminine shape, but, of course, you should go by what feels right to you, first and foremost.

Another thing to keep in mind: Do not be concerned when you see that small, purse-sized backpacks do not have padded straps and panels the way larger packs do; small backpacks usually weigh much less (unless you really put something heavy in them, which is not advisable).

Price

Some women’s backpacks cost hundreds of dollars, and these high-end backpacks are beautiful—users report getting compliments all the time. In general, backpacks with leather as a part of their build cost more, and it is not just a fashion thing.

People love the strength of leather; they enjoy how it smells and how it looks worn in an attractive way as it ages. However, there are so many less expensive backpacks, made of excellent material, that are built to fit your needs—whatever they might be—and are stylishly feminine all the while.

Warranty

The average woman’s backpack comes with a 1-year limited warranty. Limited means that the warranty only covers demonstrable manufacturing flaws; it will not cover all damage or wear. More expensive packs often have a lifetime limited warranty; lifetime here means a reasonable period of use for the backpack—not forever, as it may sound.

A few high-quality brands offer completely unlimited warranties, meaning they will fix or replace a damaged or flawed backpack, no matter when you purchased it from them.


12 Best Women’s Backpacks Reviewed

1. Osprey Packs Women’s Tempest 9 Backpack

Osprey Packs Women’s Tempest 9 Backpack

Quick Look - Bag Features

Best As Everyday Backpack
Capacity

9L

Laptop Compartment

No

Main Material

Nylon (highly water resistant)

Colors Available

4

Price Guide

$$$$

Warranty

Yes—unlimited lifetime

The Tempest 9 is the perfect pack for athletic women; it is also a great hiking pack for women, provided the journey is short (no more than 1 day). Its smooth, attractive design also makes it appropriate for everyday carry. It is small-capacity, so it is ideal for light loads.

However, it has a compartment for a hydration bladder (in addition to side pouches for bottles), an external LidLock™ helmet attachment site, and attachment loops for a trekking pole or ice tool. There is also a system of bungee straps across the front. It has both hip and chest straps; the hip straps have convenient built-in zippered pockets. It has a BioStretch™ harness that is designed for women and an AirScape™ ventilating back panel to make for an athlete-friendly suspension system.

It is worth noting that, although this pack is on the more expensive side, Osprey will replace or repair any defective or damaged product for an unlimited amount of time—a tremendous added value.

Pros

  • Laptop sleeve
  • Secured with zippers
  • Multiple zippered compartments
  • Pockets for keeping water bottles
  • Specially designed for women

Cons

  • Not suitable for hiking
  • Not as much capacity as other backpacks

2. Hynes Eagle 38L Flight Approved Carry On Backpack

Hynes Eagle 38L Flight Approved Weekend Carry On Backpack

Quick Look - Bag Features

Best As Carry On Travel Backpack
Capacity

38L

Laptop Compartment

No

Main Material

Polyester (600D)

Colors Available

11

Price Guide

$$$

Warranty

Yes—lifetime limited

The Hynes Eagle is the best carry on backpack for women: it fits almost all airlines’ size maximums and comes in a variety of uplifting colors to boot. This pack is designed and sized to fit as overhead or under-seat storage on any IATA (International Air Transport Association) airplanes.

It can be converted into a hand-carry pack—you can tuck the shoulder straps away and use either the top handle or the side handle to carry the pack. It has interior luggage straps and exterior compression straps, so it can accommodate both heavy and light packing. The front compartment has plenty of organizational pockets of different sizes, ranging from tablet-sized to pencil slots—all well-positioned to be scanned by TSA, if necessary.

The main compartment has a large zippered compartment, in addition to the main luggage space—this gives extra personal item organization that most women find helpful. Also, the larger compartments of this pack are double zippered, so they can be locked closed for security.


3. Venture Pal Lightweight Backpack/Daypack

Venture Pal Lightweight Packable Durable Travel Hiking Backpack-Daypack

Quick Look - Bag Features

Best As Hiking/Multi-Day Backpack
Capacity

35L

Laptop Compartment

No

Main Material

Nylon (water- and tear-resistant)

Colors Available

12

Price Guide

$

Warranty

Yes—Lifetime limited

The Venture Pal is the best backpacking pack for women. It is very durable—it has a double-layered bottom to hold heavy loads, strong SBS zippers, and tear-resistant fabric—but is also lightweight. The adequately padded and ventilating suspension system includes a chest strap with a built-in whistle in the buckle.

Despite all this, the Venture Pal can fold up into its own zippered pouch to be 9 inches long, so you can stuff it into another bag easily. Travelers and hikers will also appreciate the zippered mesh pouches that can hold bottles on both sides.

While this is not a hydration pack, users report being able to fit a hydration bladder in one of the sub-compartment of the main and thread the hose through the double zippers. Also, some users are satisfied with this pack as a diaper bag, too. Another plus is that it can be machine-washed (but do not put it in dryer).

Pros

  • Good storage capacity
  • Attractive travel design
  • Meshed shoulder straps
  • Unisex style
  • Multiple compartments

Cons

  • Not suitable for heavy loads

4. Kinmac Bohemian Backpack with Massage Cushion Straps

Kinmac Bohemian Water Resistant Laptop Backpack With Massage Cushion Straps

Quick Look - Bag Features

Best As Laptop Backpack
Capacity

11 x 5.5 x 15.7 inches

Laptop Compartment

Yes—15.6 inch

Main Material

Canvas

Colors Available

10+

Price Guide

$$

Warranty

No

The Kinmac Bohemian is a cute everyday carry laptop backpack that comes in many color patterns. It has ample foam support for laptop, as well as—for the wearer—shoulder straps that are especially well-padded with a bumpy pattern designed to be comforting to the wearer.

A great feature in laptop backpacks, this pack has an external USB port; the battery is not included, but there is a main compartment pocket ideally sized and placed to hold a battery. The Kinmac Bohemian has side pockets on both sides—suitable for relatively narrow beverage bottles.

Unfortunately, this is not the ideal backpack for long outdoor ventures, because it is only slightly water resistant. You can enhance its water resistance by spraying it with silicone or other water repellent spray.

Also, realize that this is a small backpack; it is not sufficiently large for most students or travellers—it is more of an everyday carry laptop backpack.


5. Mancro School and Work Backpack for Women

Mancro School And Work Backpack For Women With Anti-Theft And USB Port

Quick Look - Bag Features

Best As Backpack For Work
Capacity

20 x 12.2 x 5.7 inches

Laptop Compartment

Yes—15.6 inch

Main Material

Polyester, nylon (tear-resistant, water resistant, eco-friendly)

Colors Available

7

Price Guide

$$

Warranty

No

With its features and minimalist design, this Mancro backpack is perfect for the woman commuter (student or professional) who wants to bring all of her electronic devices along safely. The pack comes with a combination lock on the main compartment.

There is an external USB port on the right side of the pack that can be connected to an interior power source to charge devices. (A compatible USB cable is included, but the battery itself is not included with the backpack.) The front zippered pouch has slots suitable for a tablet and two smartphones.

The two side pouches have leather snap straps that can close the pouch to keep belongings in; there are also compressions straps that can double as containing straps for long bottles in the pouches. Users praise this pack for being so effectively water resistant as to be almost waterproof—another feature that makes it excellent for carrying electronics.

Read our full Mancro review here


6. S-Zone Canvas DSLR Camera Backpack

S-Zone Canvas DSLR Camera Backpack

Quick Look - Bag Features

Best As Casual Camera Backpack
Capacity

17.7 x 11 x 8.3 inches

Laptop Compartment

No

Main Material

High-density cotton canvas, leather trim

Colors Available

3

Price Guide

$$$

Warranty

No

The S-Zone Canvas DSLR Camera backpack has all of the critical features of a photography pack in a bag that is traditional with a stylishly rustic feel—perfect for the creative professional. The bottom half of the pack zippers all the way open to display a cushioned compartment with soft adjustable dividers made to hold the camera and extra lenses.  

The top half, which is sealed by a flap covering a drawstring closure, can hold other belongings and equipment. There are a total of 3 external pouches along the packs sides and front. It is rendered almost entirely waterproof by the rain cover in a zippered pouch in the pack’s bottom. While this backpack is not technically anti-theft, it helps that it does not in any way advertise that it is a camera bag.

Many users appreciate that you can remove the dividers in the bottom so that this backpack can double as an everyday carry or travel backpack.


7. P.MAI Valetta Leather Backpack for Women

P.MAI Premium Valletta Leather Laptop Backpack for Women 

Quick Look - Bag Features

Best As Leather Backpack
Capacity

12.5 x 6 x 15.5 inches

Laptop Compartment

Yes—15 inch

Main Material

Premium Napa calf leather, Nylon (2520D)

Colors Available

3

Price Guide

$$$$$

Warranty

Yes—1 year (limited)

P.MAI indicates that their backpacks are designed “for women, by women”—these are very high-quality materials formed into femininely beautiful, yet professional-looking, backpacks.

Many women suffer from neck, back, or shoulder pain from carrying a big bag on one arm, and P.MAI backpacks were originally developed to be a healthy and aesthetically appealing alternative to the large handbag or purse. 

An added feminine touch: the company includes a wristlet that matches the Premium Valetta backpack you have purchased. The main compartment is zippered closed underneath a stylish top flap with a magnetic snap closure. Their design effectively organizes belongings, distributes weight evenly for comfort during wear, and allows the bag to stand upright on its own.

Despite the relatively small size of this backpack, most users are satisfied by how much they can carry. Travellers will appreciate that this pack has both a luggage strap and sturdy top handle, so it can be carried in 3 different ways.


8. Vaschy Vintage Leather Canvas Backpack for Women

Vaschy Vintage Leather Canvas Backpack For Women

Quick Look - Bag Features

Best As Canvas Backpack
Capacity

20L

Laptop Compartment

Yes—15.6 inches

Main Material

Canvas (cotton), leather

Colors Available

5

Price Guide

$$$

Warranty

Yes—1 year (limited)

The Vaschy Vintage has, as its name suggests, a vintage look—it is a traditional rucksack. In fact, the canvas and leather actually look better as they age. In case you are concerned about the leather component, this backpack comes with a how-to booklet to care for the backpack’s genuine cowhide leather.

Despite the old-fashioned look, this pack does have a laptop sleeve and most users are satisfied with the pockets and organizational features of the interior. It even has pockets on each side for small bottles. The Vaschy Vintage even has an anti-theft feature: a small zippered pouch on the top of the pack’s back—thieves cannot snatch items in the pocket while you are wearing the backpack.

It has a strong and substantial leather top handle, so you can easily carry it in hand, too. Despite the leather, in general, most users are impressed by the pack’s water resistance. However, spraying it with water repellent spray is advisable.

Read our full Vaschy review here


9. Amber & Ash Everyday Backpack

Amber & Ash Everyday Backpack

Quick Look - Bag Features

Best As College Backpack
Capacity

12 x 17 x 5 inches

Laptop Compartment

Yes—15.6 inches

Main Material

Cotton (water resistant), leather accents

Colors Available

2

Price Guide

$$$

Warranty

Yes—1 year (limited); 90 day hassle-free

The Amber & Ash Everyday backpack’s exterior is soft and minimalist—it is like a tote bag crossed with a backpack. However, unlike a tote, it has abundant organizational features everywhere: on the exterior, there are bottom zippered pouches on front and back, plus a zippered side slot ideal for a smartphone; in the main compartment, there are a variety of features, including tablet-sized slot and a key ring.

The faux-fur-lined laptop space is the back-most zippered compartment. There is also a tablet-sized slot taking up much of back panel—a great place to put items you want to protect from being stolen while you are wearing the pack, or you can tuck the shoulder straps into the slot to get them out of the way; in addition, you can unzip the bottom of the slot to create a luggage sleeve.

Student users note that this pack is not ideal for carrying textbooks, so it is ideal for older students and those who use predominantly electronic sources.


10. KROSER Laptop Backpack

KROSER Laptop Backpack

Quick Look - Bag Features

Best Small Backpack For Petite Women
Capacity

16.9 x 11.15 x 7.5 inches

Laptop Compartment

Yes—15.6 inches

Main Material

Polyurethane leather, nylon (water resistant)

Colors Available

1

Price Guide

$$

Warranty

Yes—1 year (limited)

The KROSER laptop backpack is like a sleekly designed purse crossed with a professional backpack: Zippered opening to main compartment opens the bag up completely. The main compartment zips open at the top in such a way that you get a complete overhead look at the interior contents.

Because of the firm, purse-like support system, the pack tends not to fall over when sitting or to collapse when opened. It also has large top handles that snap together for a purse-like handle. That said, it has great backpack features for the student, professional, or traveller: External USB port, luggage sleeve, and a bottle pouch on each side.

Interiorly, there is a tablet sleeve on top of the laptop sleeve, plus other pockets and slots of different sizes. Note that, unlike many other backpacks, this pack’s laptop sleeve is small, so it is generally a snug fit even for thin 15.6-inch laptops. However, its small size is what makes it the best backpack for petite women.


11. Michael Kors Rhea Medium Slim Leather Backpack

Michael Kors Rhea Medium Slim Leather Backpack

Quick Look - Bag Features

Best As Backpack Purse
Capacity

10.5 x 12 x 4.75 inches

Laptop Compartment

No

Main Material

Floral perforated Saffiano leather, polyester lining

Colors Available

6

Price Guide

$$$$

Warranty

Yes—1 year (limited)

One glance tells you the Michael Kors Rhea is among the best leather backpacks for women—it has beautiful embossed leather and gold zippers. Its minimalistic design gives it an understated glamour—perfect for the professional and/or fashionable woman.

However, the Rhea is also practical: it has a tablet/iPad pocket, a zippered pouch at the top back of the interior, a magnetically closed zipper on the top of the back panel, and of course, a zippered front pocket for small items. Users observe that you can adjust the strap lengths to be uneven in such a way that you can easily carry it on one shoulder.

It is advisable to apply leather care techniques to this backpack; however, leather has a desirable way of wearing over time—many people find that they like the aged look better. It is important to recognize that this is essentially a purse with shoulder straps instead of purse strings—it cannot carry as much stuff as average-sized backpacks can.


12. Såk Gear BackSåk Waterproof Backpack

Quick Look - Bag Features

Best Waterproof Women’s Backpack
Capacity

35L or 25L, depending on size you purchase

Laptop Compartment

No

Main Material

PVC-coated polyester (500D)

Colors Available

7

Price Guide

$$$

Warranty

Yes—lifetime (limited)

The Såk Gear BackSåk Waterproof backpack is perfect for the woman who wants a 100% waterproof pack for use during water sports or long walks through heavy rain. Many backpacks are effectively water resistant, but a pack like the Såk Gear will keep items dry even in brief submersion situations.

Its roll-top and high-frequency welded seams are critical characteristics for a truly waterproof bag. For this pack, you have 2 waterproof closure choices—you can roll it up at least 3 times and snap the clips together to make a top handle, or you can snap the clips into side fasteners to make a flattened top. It has the normal comfort backpack traits for a pack its size: a suspension system with adjustable shoulder straps, a padded back panel, and a chest strap.

The interior has a small pocket to protect dry or sensitive items from potentially damp belongings. An added bonus is the reflective pieces on the exterior, so you can spot the pack (or others can spot you) during night time treks.


Frequently Asked Questions

Can these backpacks be cleaned?

Yes, leather backpacks often come with special care instructions. Otherwise, almost all backpacks can at least be wiped off with a damp cloth, and most can be hand-washed in cool water.

Can I put them in the washing machine?

A few can be machine-washed, but generally you should not try this unless the manufacturer indicates that the pack is machine-washable (or if other users report that machine-washing works). Never put a backpack in a clothes dryer; let it air dry (with a towel underneath, if it is drying inside).

How should you wear a backpack to stop any stress on the back and shoulders?

While you can probably get away with carrying purse-sized backpacks sling style, it is always safer to carry a backpack on both shoulders. Also, really make a point of adjusting the shoulder straps to fit you comfortably. Try to avoid wearing your backpack too low on your back — students especially may feel that the saggy look is cooler, but it is not the healthiest way to carry the weight.

How many liters is a good size for a daypack?

The best daypacks for women are somewhere between 5 and 25 liters is best. If you need space for a laptop and or tablet, you need a backpack with sufficient dimensions to accommodate the devices, so 20L is a minimum in this situation. If you only need small personal items, something between 5 and 10 liters is fine.

What is the price range of the bags on this list?

For the bags reviewed above, the price range is $20.99 to $459.00.


Conclusion

There are practical reasons for women to seek out backpacks made especially for women: having the right backpack will make you a healthier, more efficient person.

However, for many, a feminine style is comforting and inspiring, too. With so many options, it is easy to enjoy this comfort and self-expression anywhere you go.

  • Updated October 7, 2019
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