If you're hauling your gear with you to work every day, you need a backpack that's sizable, comfortable, and looks damn good, too. It can make a sweaty bike ride or bumpy train ride all the better.
Here are eight packs that'll meet a range of different needs, from heavy-duty bags for daily bike commuters to lightweight, easy to carry backpacks that'll protect your precious laptop.
Pelican hits a homerun with their first foray into soft goods. Known for their legendary cases and coolers, the Pelican Mobile Protect backpack retains Pelican's understated style in a feature loaded pack. The large compartment is wrapped in a water resistant shell and zippers to keep your gear dry. It's got a lifetime warranty so if you break it, they'll replace it!
Not everyone is going to spend over $200 on a backpack, but if you're a serious commuter looking for a pack that'll last, you won't be disappointed in Mission Workshop's Sanction. The company says it's "built to last a lifetime," and The largely agrees with that sentiment, noting that, "if anything, the Sanction is a bit too tough for its own good." Its heavy-duty waterproof liner adds considerable weight, making the bag 2.6 pounds when empty.
If carrying your laptop is a top concern, you may want to consider something like Booq's Cobra Squeeze. It gets for its high carrying capacity with relatively little bulk—all of which remains well-padded to avoid any damage. The bag itself is also made from a water-repelling fabric, and Booq uses a serial number system that can help you track it down if you lose it.
Timbuk2's bags are among the most recommended around, whether you're talking about messenger bags or backpacks. The Raider is one of the company's more affordable options for cyclists, and it's equally suited to carrying your shoes, clothes or a laptop. A zippered pocket on top and two external mesh pockets will ensure you have quick access to essentials during your commute.
MiiR's Commuter backpack is a big and light bag that promises not to skimp on durability or waterproofing. You'll get a padded pocket inside for your laptop, a top zipper for easy access, and a loop for a bike light, among other standard features. It helps that it also has a sleek and streamlined design.
If you're looking for something cheap, simple, and gadget-friendly, this 1Voice backpack will serve you well. At only $50, it comes in a clean design with an included 10,000mAh battery inside, charging gadgets up to 6 times on a single charge. It also has a padded compartment for 15-inch laptops and comes in two designs (Finch and Sidewinder) and two colors (black and grey).
Chrome is another manufacturer that's a favorite of many cyclists, especially those whose top concern is durability. The Urban Ex Rolltop backpack uses the company's so-called lightweight Knurled Welded construction, which promises less weight and durability, and found said it delivered as advertised. Larger laptops may be a tight fit, but you do get what Chrome describes as a padded iPad sleeve, along with a waterproof quick access compartment.
Osprey's Flapjack is another bag designed with gadgets in mind, offering both a 15-inch laptop sleeve and a tablet sleeve. Those features, among others, made the bag a clear winner in testing, which notes that the backpack is "extremely well-thought-out" and also the most comfortable among the ones they tested. The only potential drawback is you'll need to lean the bag against something when you put it down since it can't sit upright on its own.
$130 (and up)
The North Face has a backpack to fit just about any need, but the Surge is a versatile choice that's equally at home, on a bike commute, or stuffed in an overhead compartment. Like the Osprey, you'll get both laptop and tablet sleeves, along with plenty of pockets inside and out for lugging your stuff.
If modern commuter backpacks aren't quite your style, there's always more traditional-looking bags like Herschel's Little America pack. Despite outward appearances, however, there are plenty of updated conveniences to be found, including a padded sleeve that'll hold a 15-inch laptop, a media pocket complete with headphone port, and a padded mesh lining to help keep your back cool. But the best part? Tons and tons of color options.
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