Best high school and college backpacks for students in 2023
Sturdy backpacks for students with sturdy needs.
Finding the best back for students is an important endeavor. Students carry around a lot of stuff, like books, laptops, hoodies, water bottles - the list could go on for ages. They need a sturdy, roomy backpack that will survive the school day being thrown around and filled with all manner of things. Of course, every student has different needs. Some need a protective laptop sleeve, others a good place to fit gym clothes and shoes. We've found the best student backpacks we can find, and put them all here for your perusal - here are the best high school and college student backpacks around.
The best backpacks for students
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Best anti-theft pack
The outside of the Mancro backpack is a durable, water-resistant polyester, so books and gear never suffer when it's raining or snowing. The padded over-the-shoulder straps are comfortable and adjustable, and this pack comes with a bit of extra security to boot. You'll get a USB charging port to keep your phone topped off, and a hidden anti-theft pocket for money and devices sits just behind your lower back. This rucksack is large enough to hold a 15.6-inch laptop, a tablet, plus lots of books.
So many colors
This nice-sized backpack will hold all of the books, papers, and tech you need for class. The compression straps and suspension system make carrying a heavy load more comfortable. Keep in mind that this doesn't have a padded laptop section, so you'll probably want a good MacBook sleeve to carry your precious computer around.
Best for big laptops
If you carry a larger laptop, such as the 16-inch MacBook Pro, you're going to love the roomy rucksack from Amazon Basics. This large, multi-compartment pack has a padded sleeve for your laptop, mesh water bottle side pockets, plus organization compartments for pens, keys, and phones. This is a big pack that evenly distributes the weight of heavy books and electronics, and doesn't cause shoulder or back pain. The shoulder harnesses are padded, and it comes with a cushioned carry handle at the top.
Best classic pack
JanSport has been making packs in the U.S. since the 1960s, and its outdoor gear is well-known and loved for its durability and longevity. The Big Student pack from JanSport features a dedicated 15-inch padded laptop compartment, a front utility pocket, an organizer, a pleated front stash pocket, and a fully padded back panel. Grab this iconic pack in one of many colors and patterns, and it'll hold up to years of school and personal use.
From class to the gym
The Adult Hustle Backpack 5.0 from Under Armour is sport and school-ready, flashy yet functional. With a tagless design and UA Storm technology, the Hustle 5.0 rests happily on your back and battles the elements with a water-resistant finish. Two large main compartments give you space for essentials like books, gym clothes, laptops, tablets, and phones. Grab this backpack from Under Armour in one of 36 colors and head back to class in style.
A slim option
The YOREPEK Slim Anti Theft Laptop Backpack makes an excellent book bag that never weighs you down. Slender in style, the YOREPEK is plenty big enough to hold a 15.6-inch laptop, plus books, tablets, phones, and other items. Dual metal zippers are reinforced with Flexible Lock to keep wallets and other valuables safe. This pack also features USB and headphone ports to store your tech safely in your bag while listening to music or charging up devices.
Adjustable compression straps
Stuff this High Sierra Swerve Laptop Backpack as full as you need to and use the side compression straps to cinch the pack, shrinking your overall load. The large, multi-compartment design provides an abundance of space for pens, tablets, keys, and phones. There's also a dedicated computer sleeve tucked inside to keep your tech wrapped in an armor of protection. The High Sierra is made of ballistic nylon fabric that will outlive your college or high school career.
If you fly the friendly skies between home and college, don't pass up the SWISSGEAR 1900 ScanSmart backpack. Made of weather-resistant 1200D ballistic polyester, this bag can withstand heavy use and harsh weather. It also makes travel a breeze. The lay-flat technology lets you fly through airport TSA scans. The inside is organized and spacious, and this big bag has no trouble fitting a 17-inch laptop, plus notebooks and other essentials.
The rugged backpack
The North Face Jester is about as sturdy as they come. Built for the wild, the Jester has enough space for all your school essentials, all bundled up in a waterproof material. The inner 15.4-inch laptop sleeve is padded, and there's even an extra tablet sleeve for additional tech storage. If you want a bag that'll outlast your college career, this is it.
Solid and simple
A plain and simple backpack that'll hold everything you could need to take with you. The straps are adjustable, and there's an extra pocket on the front for smaller items. It's nothing fancy, but it will get the job done.
For the outdoors
While it may be designed for hiking, it'll be perfect for lugging your laptop and books to school too. It's got a breathable mesh back to make it more comfortable to wear, and it's water resistant to keep all your stuff dry should the heavens open.
It's a timeless classic schoolbag: the brown diamond, the leather-like bottom panel. Everyone has, at some point, seen some version of this bag, but this is the original. There's space for a 15.6-inch notebook too, so you'll be able to carry all your stuff.
Roomy and recycled
The Adidas Excel 6 Backpack is made from recycled Polyester, making it not only more durable but also more environmentally friendly. It's an extra large size, so you'll be able to fit everything you could need, and you can separate your stuff out into the five separate pockets. There are even two water bottle pockets, so you can stay hydrated throughout the day.
Get the look
The Fjallraven Kanken is the backpack of the moment, with kids and students adorned with the little fox logo in schools all over the country. Its no surprise - its made of sturdy, long lasting canvas, and has enough space to fit plenty of books and notes. That, and the fox logo is adorable. Just look at it.
This no-frills backpack has everything you need with nothing extra. Straps to keep it on your back, a zip opening to the main compartment, and an extra pocket on the front if you're feeling frivolous. It comes in some cool colors, although our favorite is olive green.
Our top three picks for this year
Our favorite backpack is the Mancro Laptop Backpack for Travel. It's got a slot for just about everything, like a built-in laptop sleeve, a phone pocket, and even an anti-theft pocket for your valuables. There's even a bigger option for bigger laptops, and its relatively low price makes it a very solid option for anyone.
If you want something slimmer, the YOREPEK slim computer backpack is a compact option that also has enough space for all your gear. There's even a little USB port on the side that you can hook your portable battery up to, and then use to charge your phone or headphones.
And if you're a frequent flier, you're going to love the SWISSGEAR 1900 ScanSmart. It's big enough to hold a 17-inch laptop, clothing, and all your gear, plus it's TSA-friendly.
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As the Buying Guides and Deals writer for iMore, Tammy puts over a decade of experience in finding the best prices of Apple products to work, helping you save money on the equipment that you want. An audiophile at heart, she loves all things audio and visual, but you’ll also find her drooling over the latest Macs and MacBooks. With a Masters in screenwriting, Tammy likes to spend her free time writing feature-length and TV screenplays or driving digital cars around virtual circuits, to varying degrees of success. Just don't ask her about AirPods Max - you probably won't like her answer.
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