Best High School and College Backpacks For Students iMore 2020

Because college and high school students lug around a larger variety of tech products and books, they need sturdier backpacks than those that might do the trick for younger crowds. We've put packs to the test and rounded up a list of favorite rucksacks of the year. Check out these high-quality backpacks for all your school adventures.

Best anti-theft pack: MATEIN College Bookbag

Staff Pick

The outside of the MATEIN 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.

$30 at Amazon

A see-through pick: Eastport XL Mesh Backpack

The oversized Eastport Mesh is semi-transparent. Whether your school requires a transparent bag or you prefer a lighter pack with more breathability, this is a fun option that's never heavy but always strong enough for all your gear. It's made from breathable polyester mesh material and includes an elastic front bungee for fastening bike locks, hoodies, and other items. There are three compartments and two side drink pockets in this inexpensive offering.

$25 at Amazon

Best for big laptops: AmazonBasics Laptop Backpack

If you carry a 17-inch notebook, you're going to love the roomy rucksack from AmazonBasics. 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.

$35 at Amazon

Best classic pack: JanSport Big Student Backpack

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 19 colors and patterns, and it'll hold up to years of school and personal use.

From class to the gym: Under Armour Adult Scrimmage 2.0

The Adult Scrimmage Backpack 2.0 from Under Armour is sport and school-ready, flashy yet functional. With a tagless design and UA Storm technology, the Scrimmage 2.0 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 25 colors and head back to class in style.

A slim option: YOREPEK Slim Computer Backpack

The YOREPEK Slim Computer 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: High Sierra Loop Backpack

Stuff this High Sierra backpack as full as need be 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.

TSA-friendly: SWISSGEAR 1900 ScanSmart

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.

A multi-use daypack: Columbia Winchuck

The Columbia Winchuck is a sizeable 30-liter bag with contoured straps that hug your shoulders. A breathable air mesh back keeps you cool while you travel from the dorm room to the classroom. Made of tough material with Omni-Shield technology, this pack will never fade in the sun or let a drop of water slip through. The Winchuck is sizeable enough for a 15.6-inch laptop and books or a weekend's worth of clothes.

Our top three picks for this year

There's no shortage of great backpacks geared toward students on the market, but there's also an abundance of cheap models that won't take you through the entire school year. We prioritize quality, as you should through the rest of your back to school shopping.

Our favorite pack is the MATEIN College Bookbag. It can handle your laptop, phone, tablet, books, and purse, plus it's waterproof and comes with an anti-theft pocket for valuables. If you carry a 17-inch laptop from dorm to class, look at the laptop backpack from AmazonBasics. It's spacious enough for big laptops, books, notebooks, and even extra clothing.

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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