The term everyday carry means something unique to everyone. For some, it’s all about textbooks and laptops. For others, it’s camera gear. Still others might be journeying with a capsule wardrobe overseas. Whatever it means to you—whether business or pleasure—we’ve compiled the very best everyday backpacks to meet your needs.
For an affordable and spacious, cool and versatile everyday backpack, we recommend the Herschel Supply Co. Little America Backpack. Now, before we begin, ask yourself—what’s your everyday carry?
The Top Everyday Backpacks Reviewed
Best Overall Backpack
Inspired by a mix of urban and mountaineering styles, the Herschel Supply Co. Little America Backpack is the best of both worlds. The no-frills interior is spacious and roomy, yet still manages to feature a 15” laptop sleeve. A magnetic strap closure and cinch top keep your belongings secure.
Outside, contoured shoulder straps and ventilated air mesh back padding keep you comfortable all day. Because the America backpack is all about style and versatility, this is a great option for work, school, and even a day trip into the mountains.
- Awesome Colourway
- No water bottle pocket
In close second, we’ve got the Patagonia Arbor Classic Backpack 25L. For the same price as the America Backpack, this is an equally great option for students, commuters, and travelers alike. Altogether, the Arbor offers 25L of space, divided into a large main compartment, a 15” laptop sleeve, and a spacious external zip pocket.
It even comes equipped with a 1” hipbelt to add support for those heavier loads, like when packing for a cottage weekend. And don’t worry—the water-repellent DWR finish means you can rock your Arbor in any weather.
- No water bottle pocket
Best Budget Everyday Backpack
An absolute classic among students everywhere, the JanSport Superbreak Bag - 26L has earned its place as the most ubiquitous everyday backpack. But what’s behind its enduring popularity?
The minimalist design, durable construction, and unbeatable price are the reasons the Superbreak continues to be a budget favourite. Moreover, the pack is an incredibly light 12 oz, making it nearly weightless when empty. It even features a left-side water bottle pocket to get you hydrated.
- No frills
Best Small Size Backpack
If you’re someone whose everyday carry comprises only the essentials, then you’ll love the Fjällräven Kanken Backpack 16L. At just 16L, this isn’t a large backpack but still delivers a spacious main compartment, two flat side pockets, and a big external zip pocket.
The face fabric is tough and durable, while the comfortable back panel can be removed to double as a foam seat cushion. A definite must for the minimalist voyager.
- Great pockets
- Removable foam seat
- Flimsy straps
Best for Bike Commuting
Cyclists, rejoice! The Chrome Urban Ex 2.0 Rolltop 20L Daypack is where the everyday backpack meets functional techwear. This 100% waterproof backpack features a secure rolltop closure, reflective attachment loops, and ergonomic shoulder straps. Inside, a secure 15” laptop pocket is perfect for your MacBook Pro.
Not only is the Urban Ex 2.0 an extremely cool backpack, it’s the pinnacle of comfort and security for the urban biker.
Best Backpack for Professionals
As lockdown lifts across the globe, the traveling professional will soon be back on planes, trains, and buses. For the business traveler, the Thule Accent Backpack 23L offers a secure and streamlined solution for the new era.
Don’t let the minimalist exterior fool you. The Accent boasts ample internal storage and glorious, easy-to-navigate compartments. The 1680D polyester face fabric is durable, while the padded shoulder straps and adjustable sternum strap keep you comfortable in any exotic city.
- Smart storage
- Limited volume
Best for Camera Gear
Back with their revamped award-winning camera pack, the Peak Design Everyday Backpack V2 30L is a veritable masterpiece. The durable and weatherproof 400D nylon canvas shell stands up to rain and abrasions. Inside, three FlexFold Dividers keep gear organized and accessible. For quick-access, the MagLatch top clip and side access points get it done.
Whether you’re out for a day of casual shooting or undertaking a serious photo journey across the globe, the Everyday Backpack V2 30L won’t disappoint.
Rugged, durable, cool—the Filson Journeyman Backpack is the backpack other backpacks wish they could be. The 22 oz Rugged Twill with oil finish guarantees years—even generations—of unforgettable use.
The Journeyman is inspired by Filson’s traditional outerwear but features all the modern conveniences. A padded, 15” laptop pocket complements the iconic Bridle Leather tabs and solid brass zippers. This heavy-duty backpack is perfect for both day trips and road trips.
- Rugged design
Consturcted from durable, recycled materials, the Osprey Arcane Small Day Backpack - Unisex is a reliable companion for on-the-go folks. A spacious main pocket keeps things organized with a 13" padded laptop sleeve, zip pocket, and key clip. As a 10L backpack, the Arcane Small Day Backpack is designed with just the essentials in mind.
For more room, the Arcane Roll Top Everyday Backpack 22L - Unisex offer a 15” laptop sleeve and 22 litres of storage.
The very cool Patagonia Black Hole Pack 25L is a rugged minimalist backpack. The outside is lightweight, durable, and weather-resistant. Inside, the back panel pocket functions as both a 15” laptop compartment and hydration sleeve. A great choice for everything from urban commuting to wilderness day hikes.
What to Look for When Buying an Everyday Backpack
When searching for the perfect everyday backpack, there are several qualities you should take note of. Below, we break it down to help you choose the right pack.
Ask Yourself—What Do You Carry?
The first thing to consider when buying an everyday backpack is what you want to fill it with. Almost unconditionally, a laptop sleeve is essential; whether you’re studying, on a business trip, or undertaking an expedition, a laptop is an indispensable tool in the 21st-century.
Size & Weight
Most everyday backpacks fall somewhere in the range of 10L and 25L. The small end is perfect for daily essentials, while the big end is better suited to travel. If weight is an important factor, check the specs. Anything under a pound is considered lightweight. Keep in mind, however, that lighter packs may not be as durable.
Comfort is king. The most important thing is to ensure that the pack dimensions fit your body. Then, consider how much padding you want on the shoulder straps. For heavier loads, a sternum strap and/or hipbelt is awesome. While not strictly necessary, a reinforced back panel with breathable mesh offers additional support and ventilation.
Because everyday backpacks are made to be compact, you shouldn’t fill them beyond their recommended weight or volume rating. That’s an open invitation for back problems.
Everyday backpacks feature a large main compartment. This can be partitioned in a million different ways; camera bags offer many sub-compartments to keep things organized, while minimalist packs are a blank canvas of wide-open space.
The one reliable overlap between the two extremes is the laptop sleeve. Just make sure it’s large enough for your device and well padded for your activities.
Many everyday packs also feature some kind of external storage pocket for quick-grab essentials like your keys and wallet. Another thing to consider is whether you want an external water bottle pocket.
You’ll see a range of additional features on everyday packs, from a simple key ring to a fully waterproof outer. When choosing a backpack based on features, take into account what kind of activities you’ll be using it for. This will help narrow your search. For instance, if you’re looking for a cycling pack, an attachment loop for a U-lock is a huge benefit.
Durability is important but it comes with a trade-off. More durable packs often have a thicker face fabric which translates to more weight. So instead of opting for the most durable pack, go for the pack that will be the most durable for your needs.
Besides reading over the specs, checking out customer reviews can be a great way to gauge a pack’s durability.
FAQs for everyday backpacks
What types of backpacks are trending right now?
Backpacks never go out of style—they’re functional accessories designed to be comfortable, durable, and versatile. That said, minimalist-style backpacks like the Herschel Supply Co. Little America Backpack are dominating the scene and spawning endless imitators.
Here’s a few other models trending in 2021, according to our bestseller list:
What are the best backpack brands?
What backpack is best for your back?
By paying attention to a few key features, you can determine how ergonomic an everyday pack is.
Ask yourself these questions:
- Are the shoulder straps padded?
- Are there load adjusters on the shoulder straps?
- Is there a sternum strap/hipbelt to help redistribute weight?
- Is there an internal frame?
- Is there back panel padding (either on the inside or outside)?
That does it for 2021’s best everyday backpacks. Whether you’re jet-setting to your next business meeting, packing for a wilderness weekend, or simply commuting to school, having the right pack is a must.
For an affordable and spacious, cool and versatile everyday backpack, we recommend the Herschel Supply Co. Little America Backpack. But the question still remains—What will you carry?
Next up, discover your next favourite hiking backpack!