New school year, new backpack. Finding the best back for students is an important endeavor. Students need to carry books, laptops, hoodies, water bottles, and plenty more. So, they need a sturdy, roomy backpack. Teens and young adults can be pretty rough on their stuff, so they need a bag that will survive being thrown around a bit. Of course, every student has different needs. Some need tech pockets and a protective laptop sleeve for the best student MacBook, others may need a good place to stow those gym clothes and shoes. College students that are studying far from home will need a backpack with travel-friendly features as well. We've found the some of the best student backpacks 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.
Luxury and function
The mous Extreme Commuter Backpack is more than just attractive. The laptop compartment has AiroFoam technology for outstanding protection while Fidlock® technology and lockable YKK zippers keep unwanted hands out of your bag. You'll find plenty of compartments and pockets, including one for your water bottle. It's water-resistant and comfortably holds a 16-inch MacBook Pro and 12.9-inch iPad Pro, as well as plenty of other gadgets and chargers.
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 (perfect for the 15-inch MacBook Air), 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.
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.
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. It comes in tons of colors. That, and the fox logo is adorable. Just look at it.
This no-frills, nicely-priced 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.
This is the ultimate backpack for people who like everything properly organized within their bags. There are tons of compartments and pockets so everything has its place. For a college student will be flying back and forth to school, this bag is ideal, with a suitcase strap on the back and a 17-inch laptop TSA-friendly sleeve accessible from the outside.
Our top three picks for this year
A great all-around backpack for students of all kinds 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.
When I was a college student, my parents lived overseas, so I did quite a bit of flying going back and forth from school. I would have loved having the STM Dux 30L Premium Tech Backpack. I have it now, and it's fantastic for travel, with the TSA-friendly padded laptop sleeve accessible from the outside so you can pull it out without opening up the main compartment. Slide this bag right onto your rolling suitcase handle. It's extremely sturdy and has a plush lining and tons of padding so you know your precious laptop is safe within it. What truly sets this bag apart from the rest is the number of compartments (within compartments) that it has, so you can keep all of your important items perfectly organized and separated so cords don't get tangled and keys won't scratch your pricey tech.
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As iMore's Senior Staff writer, Tammy uses her background in audio and Masters in screenwriting to pen engaging product reviews and informative buying guides. The resident audiophile (or audio weirdo), she's got an eye for detail and a love of top-quality sound. Apple is her bread and butter, with attention on HomeKit and Apple iPhone and Mac hardware. You won't find her far away from a keyboard even outside of working at iMore – in her spare time, she spends her free time writing feature-length and TV screenplays. Also known to enjoy 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.
- Karen S FreemanContributor