Best Backpacks For Men

Best Backpacks For Men That Are Stylish, Durable, & Comfy

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In A Hurry? These 5 Are The Best Best Men’s Backpacks

  1. Best Overall Quality Men’s Backpack: Tumi Harrison Webster Backpack
  2. Best Men’s Backpack for Travel: Everlane ReNew Transit Eco-Friendly Backpack
  3. Most Durable Men’s Backpack: WANDRD PRVKE Backpack
  4. Best Casual Backpack: Fjällräven Kånken Backpack For Men
  5. Best Duffel Backpack: Timbuk2 Impulse Travel Backpack Duffel

When you think of a backpack, it’s hard not to think of that bag that children take to school every day. But, aside from school bags, there are plenty of others that can provide utility and a sense of fashion too.

In this guide of the top backpacks for men, we’ll take a look at 11 of the most outstanding products and find out the greatest things about each.

If you are uncertain about any of the features on the backpacks – you will want to head on down past the reviews where we go over all the nitty gritty details on what makes a backpack good.

After the key features, we’ll pass on some handy tips about how to care for your backpack so that you get the most out of it every day you pack it up and toss it over your shoulders.  If, after all that, you still have some lingering questions, we’ll answer them so you’ll be all set to start shopping.

Strap yourself in and let’s get started.

The Best Men’s Backpacks of 2020 Reviewed

1
Best Overall Quality Men’s Backpack: Tumi Harrison Webster Backpack

It’s all about the details with Tumi’s Harrison Webster Backpack and the careful attention to the details is what makes it our choice for best overall quality backpack.

This stylish, modern backpack is made to be worn with more formal or business-like attire. As such, this backpack is elegantly designed to suit this particular type of outfit. It is available in black or navy blue, both of which should pair well with businesswear, and has a weight of 2.8 lbs.  You’ll find Tumi’s signature logo on a small logo at the bottom.

It is built with durable ballistic nylon material so it’s ready for a lifetime of use, and it has touches of leather around the backpack to give it a beautiful aesthetic. In terms of wearing this backpack, Tumi has thought about the user and included padded leather shoulder straps to ensure that your shoulders and back will be comfortable while wearing it.

For business-people on the go, you’ll be glad to know that this smart bag includes a 15-inch internal compartment for your laptop that is also has extra padding to ensure that your laptop stays safe.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Extra padding in straps and compartments
  • Comfortable on back and shoulders
  • Durable ballistic nylon construction

Cons

  • Expensive

What You Need To Know

This Tumi backpack is a sophisticated and stylish choice. It provides users with a comfortable and well-designed backpack and is just an overall fantastic option.

Check the latest reviews here

2
Best Men’s Backpack for Travel: Everlane ReNew Transit Eco-Friendly Backpack

When it comes to traveling, you’re going to want to have a backpack that is comfortable and easy to travel with – that’s what you get with our pick for the top backpack for travel, the Everlane ReNew Transit Eco-Friendly Backpack.

As the name suggests, this backpack is eco-friendly and is made of 100% recycled polyester. It also has a water-resistant finish to help you keep your things dry during your rainy travels.

This backpack has a wealth of pockets to help store small things that you might travel with. It also includes a very sneaky side pocket for your laptop or media device that is protected by a zip-up closure while the entire internal main compartment is also enclosed by a zipper.  It comes in several shades of gray and exudes a stylish, urban image.

It’s not overly spacious in the amount of things you can fit inside and you shouldn’t expect to be able to cram a lot of things in the main compartment. However, you can easily take it along for lighter traveling and day trips.

Pros

  • Great value
  • Made of eco-friendly materials
  • Plenty of handy pockets for loose items and tech

Cons

  • Won’t be able to fit bulkier items into the main compartment

What You Need To Know

This backpack is a fantastic value purchase if you’re looking for a handy backpack for traveling.

Check the latest reviews here

3
Most Durable Men’s Backpack: WANDRD PRVKE Backpack

Odds are, you’re going to want a backpack that will hold up over time. Our favorite backpack for those seeking something extremely durable is WANDRD’s PRVKE Backpack.

This bag is billed as something that can withstand just about any purpose, and we believe it too. It is made of “damn-near-bombproof materials” such as nylon and tarpaulin and, while it’s not advertised as waterproof, it is highly resistant to the effects of weather.  If you need something durable, you’ll love this level of toughness.

This bag is the first on our list to showcase a roll-top closure. This roll-top closure gives this bag the flexibility to hold 21-25 L, so you can pack all your gear for you next adventure.  The PRVKE is available in black, green, or blue, and has a pretty reasonable weight of 2.8 lbs.

While you might think it would be a hassle to open and close this bag, that is just not the case. It is actually designed to be checkpoint friendly and gives you easy access to your laptop and liquids to get through those security lines pretty quickly.

The main interior compartment comes divided into sections and is enclosed via a zipper. These compartments contain ample space to fit an array of things inside, albeit not very bulky items. There are also a bevy of internal pockets, including four zippered, so you have a pocket for each small but important item you might have to carry.

Pros

  • Flexible capacity
  • Checkpoint-friendly
  • Lots of extra pockets

Cons

  • Can’t fit bulky items
  • Doesn’t offer much protection for sensitive items (i.e. laptop and camera)

What You Need To Know

The WANDRD PRVKE Backpack is made of durable materials that are capable of increasing and decreasing in size, while still maintaining peak functionality.

Check the latest reviews here

4
Best Casual Backpack: Fjällräven Kånken Backpack For Men

Another brand that has really made a splash in the backpack world is Fjällräven. They really only have one backpack, the Kånken, and it is our number one pick for a casual backpack.

It has an interesting, almost box-like shape, that can surprisingly fit quite a few things inside. It has a zippered external pocket plus two side pockets for your water bottle and small items. The Kånken is simple, fun, and great at carrying the essentials. It comes in an endless variety of colors and we guarantee you’ll find one to your liking.

The main interior compartment is enclosed by a two-way zipper which is also protected by a waterproof rain-flap to keep your gear dry. There is also a pocket on the back wall of the main interior compartment for your laptop, although the pocket does not offer much protection.

Pros

  • Great bag for carrying the essentials
  • Rain-flap provides protection for zippered enclosure

Cons

  • Not much protection for your laptop

What You Need To Know

If you’re looking for a backpack that is fun, casual, and not too bulky to carry around, we highly recommend you take a look at the Kånken.

Check the latest reviews here

5
Best Duffel Backpack: Timbuk2 Impulse Travel Backpack Duffel

This Timbuk2 backpack duffel is a truly interesting piece of equipment.  It is designed as a backpack, but its straps are adjustable and tuckable so that you may convert it to a duffel bag at your convenience.

The bag itself is sleek and black, with a large but less noticeable logo on the front in a shinier black as well as all black hardware.

Although the fabric type is not specified, it is water resistant and wipeable for easy cleanup.  The bag offers a padded 17″ pouch for your laptop or electronics, as well as internal straps for securing contents.  Reviewers said the bottom pocket was an awesome place to store shoes.  Lastly, adjustable chest straps and belt offer added suspension.

Pros

  • Versatility to use as a backpack or duffel
  • Internal straps keep belongings secure

Cons

  • Lack of transparency regarding materials
  • Zippers not of the highest quality

What You Need To Know

If you need function and versatility in a bag, this piece from Timbuk2 has you covered.

Check the latest reviews here

6
Best Men’s Backpack for Hiking/Backpacking: Teton Sports Scout 3400 High Performance Men’s Backpack

If you spend a lot of time outdoors going on hikes and you’re searching for a great hiking backpack, look no further than the Teton Sports Scout 3400 High Performance Backpack.

Like most hiking backpacks, the Teton Sports Scout is much longer than traditional models and features ample internal space – 3400 cubic inches or 55 L.

It may seem like this backpack is a bit heavy with a weight of close to five pounds, but your back and hips will be supported with the padded and adjustable waist strap, making this bag similar to a rucksack. This will help to keep your backpack against your back instead of bouncing off of it.

It also includes multiple compartments and pockets where you can fit all the gear and accessories you need for your weekend-long hike, including its own separate compartment for your sleeping bag in case you decide to camp out.  It even has a waterproof rainfly built in to keep your gear dry.

Pros

  • Provides extra comfort on shoulders, back, and hips
  • Lots of organization and packing space
  • Rucksack-like design
  • Great value

Cons

  • No compartment or sleeve for your laptop

What You Need To Know

If you’re in the market for a dependable, durable, and affordable backpack with just the right amount of toughness for your hiking or backpacking adventures, you need to consider this high performance model.

Check the latest reviews here

7
Best Men’s Backpack for College Students: JanSport Cool Student Backpack

For students, you just really need two compartments in a backpack: one pocket for your laptop and one for your textbooks. This JanSport backpack has both.

For those that are about to start their freshman year at college and want to rock a new backpack on campus, go with a classic look and consider the JanSport Cool Student Backpack.  This model comes in a variety of colors and features the signature JanSport logo on a label at the top of the front compartment.  Below the label is a small zippered pouch where you can keep your pens and other school accessories.

The Cool Student Backpack model might be more comfortable than other JanSports as this comes with ergonomic shoulder straps and a padded back panel to give you reprieve from those long cross-campus treks.

Pros

  • Extremely affordable
  • Comfortable to wear
  • Sufficient compartments for textbooks and laptop

Cons

  • Overpacking with textbooks can rip or wear out zippers easily

What You Need To Know

If you’re not looking to spend more than $40 on a backpack and want one that is reliable, comfortable, and durable, this JanSport is a smart choice.

Check the latest reviews here

8
Most Stylish/Fashionable Men’s Backpack: Salvatore Ferragamo Firenze Men’s Backpack

If fashion is of utmost importance to you, the Salvatore Ferragamo Firenze Backpack is the clear cut winner for us.

This Ferragamo Firenze Backpack looks fantastic in its all-black color and is made of pebbled leather.   If you care for it properly, it should last you a lifetime.  The construction of this bag does make it a bit more dense and thus, heavier.

There are two internal compartments that are enclosed by zippers. Depending on the size of your laptop, it may or may not fit into the back-wall tech pocket.  The bag features a barely noticeable Salvatore Ferragamo signature logo on the front pocket, but you won’t need the label to portray a high-end urban image – this product says that on its own.

The shoulder straps are padded and protected offering you supreme comfort. A nice finishing touch to this bag is the handle at the top of the backpack.

Pros

  • Made of premium leather materials
  • Very stylish
  • Comfortable shoulder straps

Cons

  • Incredibly expensive
  • Heavy

What You Need To Know

If you prefer fashion over function and are willing to dish out some serious cash to satisfy your fashionable appetite, Salvatore Ferragamo's Firenze Backpack might be the perfect product for you.

Check the latest reviews here

9
Best Men’s Backpack for Work: Tumi Alpha Bravo Sheppard Men’s Backpack

Tumi makes another appearance on our list, this time with our choice for the greatest backpack for work, the Alpha Bravo Sheppard Backpack.

The Alpha Bravo Sheppard Backpack is made of polyester and leather and comes in the all-black color, portraying a very professional image. It is an incredibly organized backpack which is great for work as it allows you to be and stay organized.

The main compartment, which is enclosed with a zipper, comes with two distinct interior compartments: one pocket specifically for you to pack your media devices like laptops or tablets, and the other pocket to pack flatter items, such as notepads, folders, and binders, so you’ll be all set for your day at the office.

This bag also has a number of separate external pockets. The two most prominent ones are the zipper enclosed side pockets where you can easily store your wallet, mobile device, or other small accessories.

Pros

  • Very organized internal compartments
  • Plenty of external pockets

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Can’t fit bulky items

What You Need To Know

If you’re someone who prefers to stay organized all the time for work, the Tumi Alpha Bravo Sheppard Backpack will do just that.

Check the latest reviews here

10
Best Leather Men’s Backpack: Patricia Nash Tuscan II Leather Men’s Backpack

Perhaps, some of the highest-quality and most durable backpacks are those made of leather. The Patricia Nash Tuscan II Backpack is our top choice in this category.

Thanks to the leather material, the Tuscan II has a smooth, rich, and vintage vibe to it while still giving off just the right amount of toughness, and comes in a chocolate color.

It is divided into two internal compartments with a pocket on the back wall intended for your laptop or tablet device. The main internal compartment area is quite spacious and can fit all the items you need to be all set for an urban adventure.

The shoulder straps are a treat on your shoulders and they can be adjusted so that it won’t cause any abrasions on your shoulders.

While it is a higher-price backpack, the overall quality of this bag is excellent.

Pros

  • Good storage space
  • Dedicated back pocket for tech devices
  • Comfortable, adjustable shoulder straps

Cons

  • Leather is expensive

What You Need To Know

If you're into quality leather products and are in search of a backpack, combine the two and go with this great model.

Check the latest reviews here

11
Best Small Men’s Backpack: Moleskin Id Go Men’s Backpack

One of the sleekest and slimmest on the market is the Moleskine Id Go Backpack.

You won’t have to worry about carrying around a heavy load with this bag. Rather, this backpack serves more as a functional option for those who are constantly on the go and need quick access to their things inside.

There is a tidy internal pocket for your laptop or tablet device and enough space to carry your Moleskine notepad and anything else that may be flat-shaped (i.e. magazines and books).

This backpack comes in two distinct colors and patterns. The first is a polished, solid, all-black color. The second comes in a black, grey, and yellow color combination that blend together into a camouflage pattern.  Either color portrays a stylish, urban image.

Pros

  • Small, light, and easily transportable
  • No shoulder/back pain using this bag

Cons

  • Difficult to fit bulkier, non-flat objects in this backpack

What You Need To Know

If all you carry around in your backpack is a laptop, a notepad, and a few other small items, the Moleskine Id Go Backpack is the most economical backpack for you.

Check the latest reviews here

12
Most Trendy/Hipster Men’s Backpack: Herschel Supply Co. X Basquiat Classic XL Backpack

For those who have more of a hip, trendy, urban style, you might be interested in the Herschel Supply Co. X Basquiat Classic XL Backpack.

Herschel has established a reputation for producing quality backpacks and has even been called a heritage brand by some.  The brand produces some trendy backpacks and the Basquiat certainly hits that mark. The backpack’s design features artwork produced by Jean-Michel Basquiat and his artwork gives this bag a charismatic vibe not commonly found on others.

With the black color version of this bag, you’re hit with its eccentric designs of random words and doodles scribbled all over this backpack. With the assorted color version, you get much of the same random designs and words, but this time with more colors.

Funky design aside, this backpack is made of polyester and sports a slim design with a front pocket. It features a decent (not great) amount of space in the main interior compartment, but you can use the zippered front pocket to store some items instead. The contents in your bag are supported by a reinforced bottom.

Pros

  • Unique and trendy style
  • Reinforced bottom
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Could use more space in the main internal compartment

What You Need To Know

If you're in search of a backpack that will make a hip and trendy statement by standing out from the crowd, we think you'll love this Herschel number.

Check the latest reviews here

What to Know When Buying A Backpack

When it comes to picking out the right backpack for you, here are eight different things you need to think about.

1. Style/Intent

The first thing you’ll need to consider when starting the search for your backpack is why you are buying one. Is it for school? Do you need one to pack your essential gear in for that epic backpacking trip? Do you want one as a sleek fashion accessory for when you spend the day in the city?

A few of the more common intentions for buying a backpack include the following:

Casual/Traditional/School

Traditional backpacks have the classic look you are likely used to in a school backpack. If school is your intended use, you’re going to want one that has good interior storage space to fit all of your things. You wouldn’t want to buy a backpack that only fits two textbooks if you’re taking five classes and have five textbooks. If you are carrying lots of heavy textbooks every day, you’re going to want to make sure that the backpack is comfortable to avoid hurting your back and shoulders.

Sporty/Minimalist

You’re not going to want to carry that same bulky backpack that you use for school to the gym or your fitness class. Instead, you’re going to want one that is smaller in size and can usually fit just a few essential items (i.e. running shoes, water bottle, etc). Due to their smaller stature, these are generally much easier to carry around and you can conveniently take them with you on flights and bus rides, or on your usual day to day travels – just don’t try to pack too much in it.

When it comes to backpacks that are minimal in design, it’s really more about the fashion than the function. These generally fit fewer items and are more likely to be worn with fashionable or formal clothes as they’re likely a bit more sleek. Wearing this type of backpack with a suit can be ideal because they generally won’t create creases or folds in your suit lines in the way that a normal backpack can. However, since they are more minimal in design, they will have fewer external pockets.

Hiking/Backpacking

For people who enjoy going out on weekend-long hikes or multi-day backpacking adventures, you’ll be more inclined to opt for a backpack that is more suitable for the terrain you’ll be in. Often, convenience is not the most important thing with these packs as they are usually quite long in size. The bulkiness from the length will not make it the most comfortable backpack either. However, these are great because of their enormous storage potential – a must so that you can pack all of the gear you need for the outdoors. When you’re carrying a lot of gear, organization is key, so these are often built with different interior pockets or compartments within the backpack to store your things and there are usually a good amount of external pockets as well. Products for this purpose should also be waterproof or water resistant, in the event that you have to brave the elements and want to keep your gear dry. They are very durable and can cost a bit more than the other backpack styles.

Fashion/Modern

Backpacks that are more fashionable and modern are also more expensive than other styles, but you won’t ever look out of place in an office or social setting. What’s great about these is the variety you get with them. You’ll be able to choose from a range of colors, fabrics, and sizes to find one that is perfect for you and your fashion sense.

Professional/Business

Backpacks that are for professional or business settings have a more traditional and sleek look to them and because of this, you won’t see many external pockets hanging out. These tend to be convenient to carry around all day and are a comfortable size; not too big nor too small, just the right amount of space to pack the essentials.

2. Capacity

A backpack’s ability to carry items is measured by its capacity and that figure is often stated in cubic inches or liters. In cubic inches, a normal range is roughly 2,000-4,500.  You’ll want to keep this in mind if you plan to pack a lot of gear or enough clothes for a whole weekend.

3. Brand

There are a handful of brands that are most prominent among people who use backpacks.  Brand name might be important to you if you enjoy the peace of mind of buying from a known brand, or if you’re into heritage brands. Take a look at some of the more popular names.

Jansport – there’s a high probability that you’ve seen a Jansport backpack before. Perhaps the signature brand in this space, they carry a wide assortment of styles and can range from affordable to expensive ($30-$300).

Herschel – often considered a heritage brand, Herschel has really established itself over the past decade and is very prominent among backpack users. Like Jansport, Herschel has a bevy of backpack looks and styles and their price range is more on the affordable side as you’re likely going to pay in the neighborhood of $30-$170.

The North Face – known for their quality outdoor products, The North Face also produces some sturdy and sporty backpacks. They tend to range in price ($40-$250) but expect to pay somewhere near the middle to upper tier on this price scale.

Nike – match your Nike runners with your Nike backpack which are just as sporty in look and style as their other products. Much like their kicks, their backpacks can also vary in price but a good range is somewhere between $27-$240.

4. Closure

You might be surprised to find out that zipping up your backpack is not the only way to close it up. Here are the many types of backpack closures, in addition to zippered.

Rolltop – this type of closure is great for securing your gear from the elements (i.e. water, dirt, etc). To seal it, you simply roll the top one to four times and connect the straps to lock your roll in place.

Drawstring – providing a less formal look, these backpacks are closed at the top by pulling on a string. This closure is not as secure as it won’t protect your things inside from the elements (i.e. rain or snow). Your belongings might also be vulnerable as it can be accessed by others quickly, so you shouldn’t pack valuables near the top.  This type of closure is more common in daypacks, which are far less structured.

Flap – a flap closure offers a more traditional look and will keep your things secure. There are usually one or two flaps that close this backpack. Backpacks with flaps are one of the more convenient ones to access your things inside because you simply have to unbuckle one or two flaps and you’re in. It also offers decent protection from the elements.

Lock – a lock closure offers the most protection and security for your things inside and can be a great feature if you need to pack valuables. However, if you’re in the security lineup at the airport, it can be difficult to access your belongings quickly, especially if you’re in a hurry.

Magnetic – magnetic closures are great if you need to grab something inside quickly when you’re in a rush. One thing you’ll have to watch out for is how the magnetic closure holds up if you tend to over pack your backpack. If you pack your bag to the brim it can put a lot of stress on the magnetic closure and it may weaken because of this.

Snap – much like the backpacks with magnetic closures, those with snap closures are great for being able to grab your belongings quickly. Again, if you pack too much the snap closure can weaken over time.

Zippered – the most common closure of a backpack is zippered. Your stuff will always be protected and you’ll be able to get your things with the simple un-zipping of your backpack. One thing to watch out for is the zipper breaking or wearing out because of overfilling your bag.

5. Fabric

The fabric that a backpack is built with can have a big impact on its style and functionality. Some of the more common backpack fabrics are canvas, nylon, and leather.  You won’t frequently see fabrics like cotton, which are more common in far less durable daypacks.

Canvas

Canvas material is the look that most people are familiar with when it comes to backpacks. This classic look offers a backpack that is more durable and affordable.

Nylon

Nylon backpacks are the most affordable of any kind of backpack material but are less durable.  With that said, ballistic nylon is another story entirely.  Originally designed to protect aircraft personnel from ballistic impacts like bullets and schrapnel, ballistic nylon is incredibly durable.

Mesh

Some modern packs are made of mesh (which is often polyester). More commonly they feature mesh detail, as bags built exclusively with mesh fabric would likely not be very durable and would leave your belongings exposed.

Leather

Backpacks made of leather are environmentally-friendly and by far, the most durable, although there may be some care involved.  This material exudes a more modern style but can be costly, so these are often the most expensive.

6. Features/Extras

There are a number of extra features that can enhance the look, feel, and functionality of a backpack. Here are the most common ones.

Compartments

Depending on the type of backpack you purchase, you may find different interior compartments for organization. The most common compartment is one for general storage and the bulk of your items will go in here.

There are also outside pockets that are meant to provide you with an easy to access space to pack your things (i.e. earbuds, gum, mobile phone charger, etc.). The addition of these external pockets keeps the general storage space uncluttered and free of loose things and allows you to quickly access items you may need throughout the day. The only downside to keeping your things in these external pockets is that they’re less protected than if they were inside your backpack.

If you’re not fond of keeping your things less protected in the external pockets, lots of backpacks are starting to feature more secret compartments for safer organization. These add more value and storage space to your backpack and help to keep your things more secure. However, these secret compartments can be more inconvenient to access if you’re in a hurry.

The last of the special compartments in a backpack is the laptop compartment. All kinds of bags today often feature an internal pocket specifically designed for your laptop and other media – this pocket is usually quite accessible for quick retrieval.

Adjustable Torso

Depending on the backpack, some offer the ability to adjust the torso area, usually via a connectable strap. This function provides you increased comfort and the ability to keep your backpack closer to your back, so that it’s not constantly bouncing off your back.

USB Charge Hub

A recent trend in backpacks is the emergence of USB charging hubs. While only a handful have this feature, it’s a handy one to have if you’re on your mobile devices a lot during the day as it can give you the quick charge that you need.

Checkpoint Friendly

Backpacks that are more checkpoint-friendly (i.e. airport security lines) are easier and more convenient to travel with because they provide you with easy accessibility to your belongings.

Eco Friendly

Another backpack trend on the rise are ones made of eco-friendly materials. These are often made with sustainably sourced and/or organic substances and have that classic backpack look. Perhaps greatest of all, they don’t sacrifice the durability and quality of the backpack and there are plenty of affordable options out there.

Another great eco-friendly option is backpacks made of recycled components. These can range in looks and styles and often are more expensive than those made of organic substances. The jury is still out on these as some users have said that these fabrics, like organic cotton, are less durable.

Laptop Sleeve

Many backpacks will have an interior pocket for your laptop to be tucked into. This pocket is usually easy to access – usually, right when you open up your bag – and help to keep your bag organized. Depending on where it’s located, it may leave your media devices less protected.

Leather Bottom

Leather is a fairly tough and durable material and as such, more backpacks are using it on the bottom to further add to the durability of the bag and to give it that classic, backpack feel (think of the old-school Jansports).

Handle

Many backpacks will have a convenient handle as well, usually at the top of the bag.  This handle allows you to carry the bag in with your hand like a duffel bag if need be, without having to drag it by a shoulder strap which is generally far too long for this use.

Waterproof Exterior

Sometimes offered as an additional feature, a waterproof exterior protects your gear against precipitation and soggy mishaps.

7. Price

When it comes to the price of a backpack, you should be able to comfortably find one in the $30-$300 range.

8. Color/Patterns

Backpacks can come in a variety of colors and patterns. Ones in a solid hue are, perhaps, the most common and are versatile as they can be used in different situations. Some also sport some sort of pattern or accents that can offer a fun and modern style but can also sometimes clash with your attire.

How to Care for and Wear a Men’s Backpack

Let’s shift gears and take a look at how to get the most out of your backpack.  This will vary depending on the construction of your particular backpack and some require more care than others, but treating it properly will extend its lifetime.

1. Cleaning

A backpack can become altered or damaged if it is not cleaned properly, but it really depends on the material. Some of the most common are leather, canvas, and nylon.

Leather – your backpack will benefit from having that sleek, polished look and feel if it is cared for properly. Generally, there are three steps to doing so:

  • Leather Cleaning – cleaning involves using either a specialized or proprietary cleaner, and both are effective. A good specialized cleaner is saddle soap (originally intended for horse saddles, of course!) and the mildness of this soap ensures that the surface of your bag won’t be ruined. For a proprietary cleaner, the Lexol Cleaner is a good choice, although this cleaner is intended to be used along with their line of conditioner.
  • Leather Conditioner – speaking of conditioners, this process is essential to caring for your backpack because it helps to add back moisture that’s been lost during the cleaning process. Replacing this moisture helps to strengthen the fabric.
  • Protecting – you’ll want to avoid polishing your backpack because it may transfer dyes to your clothing. Instead, use a protectant that adds a coating to protect it in case you take it out on a rainy day.

Canvas/Nylon – to clean backpacks made of canvas or nylon fabric, a simple spot clean will do. To do this, take a clean sponge, dab it in lukewarm water, and spot clean certain areas. If the stain or spots are particularly tough to scrub out, go ahead and add a pinch of detergent-free soap to your sponge and apply it to the dirty area.

2. Wear for the Right Intent

You can rock a certain level of style with your backpack by pairing it with clothing that suits your style.

If you’re someone who likes to dress up each day and really pays close attention to fashion, your outfit would be complimented with a nice, sleek backpack. If jeans and t-shirt is more of your day to day look, a casual style (like the Kånken) might be a better fit. Use your judgment and pair it accordingly with your outfit.

3. Be Mindful While Wearing

In particular, you’ll want to be especially mindful of surface scratches if you are wearing a leather backpack. Having to treat scratches can be a tiresome process. A good tip to avoid small scratches is to apply a coating of saddle soap, which will add a protective layer and extend the life of your bag.

Canvas backpacks are obviously not as strong in material as leather. Canvas material can be prone to ripping and if you are a student at school, it’s important to be wary when you’re near lockers, bike racks, and doors to avoid accidental tears.

If your bag is not waterproof, do your best to avoid precipitation and spills.  A waterproof bag can withstand moisture, but beware that waterproof does not necessarily mean stain resistant.

The key takeaway here is to just be mindful of your surroundings while wearing a backpack.

4. Don’t Overload

When wearing your backpack, try not to overfill it. Overfilling your bag can rip apart the seams of your bag, especially if it’s made of canvas or nylon material, and can also degrade the structure of your bag, particularly your zippers. If you’re packing for a whole weekend away, you may want to consider a bigger bag.

Another consequence is that by carrying more than you should is that you are putting your back and shoulders in danger. Overloading your bag can cause aches and pains in these areas, especially if it does not provide ample support to these areas (i.e. in the form of padded shoulder straps). If you do this each day, it can lead to long-term effects such as poor posture.

The bottom line here is to exercise good judgment when filling up your bag. If there is a question of whether or not you feel like it might be too heavy, it probably will be, so don’t over pack your bag.

Common Questions Men Had About Backpacks

A few questions can pop up when shopping for that new backpack. We’ll answer some of the most common ones.

What are the top men’s backpack brands?

The answer to this question will vary because “top” can mean something different to every person. While the answer to this question is purely subjective, some of the more notable brands include JanSport, Herschel, The North Face, Nike, and Osprey.

How do I look cool wearing a backpack?

There are two specific ways to look cool while rocking one.

Coordinate it to the activity – when you’re going out for a specific purpose, such as heading to the gym, pick a backpack that is suitable for the occasion. A good example is if you work in a corporate office, it’s probably not a good idea to wear your gym bag to work. Conversely, you also won’t want to bring your expensive designer bag to the gym. The idea here is that you don’t want your backpack to seem out of place.

Coordinate the outfit to the backpack – you’ll want to design your whole outfit to match each day. The idea here is that you don’t want your clothes to completely contrast your backpack. So, if you’re heading out with a checkered or patterned shirt, you won’t want to pair that with your checkered or patterned backpack. Pick clothes that will be a fashionable complement.

Can I wear a backpack to work?

Yes, you can, but you shouldn’t choose just any backpack. Here are a few tips.

Go ahead and take your backpack to work if it matches your work attire. If you go to work in a suit and tie, you’ll want a sleek backpack that complements that.

Backpacks that are made of canvas or leather material have a much more sleek and professional feel to them and would be the right choice for a day of business.

Another thing to keep in mind is the color and or patterns. For work purposes, it’s better to go with a backpack that comes in a solid hue and without patterns. Also, be mindful  huge logos (i.e. JanSport, Fjallraven, Nike, etc.), as they can come across as unprofessional.

When it comes to wearing a backpack to work, the key takeaway is that it should match or complement your clothes and not stand out on its own.

What is the difference between a knapsack and backpack?

Knapsack and backpack are terms that have incorrectly been used interchangeably before. To clear the air, knapsacks are bags that generally have a drawstring closure and are never made out of leather.

What is the difference between a rucksack and backpack?

A rucksack is quite similar to a heavy-duty backpack.  In fact, rucksack is derived from the German words for back and bag.  A rucksack is large and rugged, often used by outdoorsmen to carry a large amount of gear.  A rucksack also features additional straps around the waist and chest to secure the pack to the wearer.

What is a daypack?

A daypack is essentially a small, unstructured backpack. It is generally lightweight, but tends to lack toughness and durability.  As the name suggests, a daypack can carry about a day’s worth of stuff, so they’re suitable for day trips and not much more.

Why does a backpack always pull your shirt up?  Any way to prevent this?

When it comes to wearing a backpack, nothing can be more annoying than one that rides your shirt up. The reason why this happens is due to friction. The motion of you walking causes it to move up and down. When your back is pressed up against the backpack, the friction caused by the up and down motion, begins to pull your shirt up.

To prevent this from happening, we recommend that you find a backpack that fits your body well. Some have straps that wrap around your torso area to keep the bag tighter to your back.

Backpacks vs. Messenger Bags vs. Briefcases vs. Laptop Bags

There are a few different kinds of everyday bags that guys use. Let’s evaluate each.

Backpacks

Of all the bags listed, backpacks are by far, the most versatile of the bunch. They can be worn in a number of different settings and are generally much more casual in nature. They offer better support and comfort with thicker-padded shoulder straps to help ease the load off your shoulders and back. Many also have an added handle at the top.

Backpacks have large openings and most of them can fit a good amount of things inside. However, they don’t all have a dedicated interior pocket for your laptop or tablet devices, although many are now starting to incorporate this feature.

They are also known as knapsacks, rucksacks, booksack, and more per Wikipedia.

Messenger Bags

Messenger bags can also be used in many different settings and, like the backpack, they are generally casual. They are made of either canvas or leather material and the bag doesn’t have specific interior compartments for your belongings (i.e. laptop, tablet, documents), so you have to pack a messenger back especially neatly if you like to be organized.

It usually only comes with one strap that you sling it over your shoulder or wearing it across your body and placing it on your opposite shoulder. Since it is only worn over the one shoulder, carrying a heavy load in this bag is not advisable as they aren’t comfortable to carry for a long period of time.

Laptop Bags

Laptop bags are not a very versatile type of bag as they are much slimmer and are made to just carry your laptop or other similar media. Despite this lack of versatility, they are fantastic for carrying laptops, tablet devices, and other media because of their protective body. Laptop bags usually offer more padding in its pocket for the laptop to avoid damage to it.

Briefcases

Briefcases are used in professional settings (i.e. working in a corporate office) and tend to be more rigid and firm in design. They are generally slim, sleek, and can fit flat objects such as your laptop, documents, and notepads. Some briefcases come with a combination lock to keep your documents secure inside.

Our Criteria for Choosing the Best Men’s Backpacks

When it comes to shopping for a backpack you love, it’s important to go through this short checklist of criteria to choose the right product for you: the quality of the materials, what your needs are, will it fit in with your style, and if it is right for your intended activity.

The material of the backpack is crucial because it will usually give you an idea of how durable it will be. Products made of leather and canvas will have a longer life than ones made of a cheaper nylon material or organic cotton. Finding a backpack that will fit your needs is also important because you don’t want to buy one that is completely inadequate for your needs. Your intention should drive the features you look for. If you’re going to school, you’re going to want to look for a backpack that has a laptop compartment or sleeve and ample space for all of your textbooks.  If you’re an outdoorsman you’ll likely want one that’s waterproof so your gear stays dry no matter the weather.  If you’re looking for something to take out on a weekend you’ll want a more urban, trendy style.

Another thing to keep in mind during your search for a backpack is if it will fit your style. Finding one that complements your style is ideal as you don’t want to buy one that will make you look and feel out of place. Lastly, finding a backpack that will fit the activities you’ll use it for is significant – it should serve a functional and useful purpose to you. You wouldn’t want to buy a casual backpack to take with you on your hikes because it may not fit all the gear you would need to bring with you.

If you follow these criteria, there’s a good chance your search for the right backpack will lead you to one that is well-equipped for you and your life.

About The Author

Shawn Burns

Shawn is the founder and senior editor at Tools of Men, the leading style and grooming source trusted by men in 187 countries. He started this site with the goal of teaching men proper grooming habits and sensible style. He is an expert in all things men's grooming related. His work has been mentioned on countless sites including The Wall Street Journal, NBC, AskMen, Vice, WikiHow, and the New York Times.

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