It’s difficult to believe that, just a few years ago, pretty much the only people wearing backpacks were either gap-toothed school kids who needed something to stash their Pokemon cards in or, well, backpackers. Backpacks for men seemed like an oxymoron, as what self-respecting full grown adult would be seen carrying one?
These days, however, the men’s luggage landscape is an altogether different place, and this practical type of bag has become the gold standard, along with other previously unwelcome trends, like cross-body bags. And it’s not just luxury backpacks; there’s been a revival of the everyday pack too, with more people than ever before using one for their day-to-day duties. So, why is it suddenly a fashion-approved bag trend?
“There was a gap in the market for an everyday use bag – a utilitarian product with an injection of design,” explains Lyndon Cormack, co-founder of Herschel Supply Co. “People are always on the move these days and they have a lot of things to carry around, such as phones, laptops, books, wallets, gym gear etc,” adds Lyndon. “We are in more of a commuting culture than we have ever been.”
So instead of scratching your head over the return of backpacks for men, embrace it with the best backpacks we could find from the most popular backpack brands on the market.
Stylish Backpacks for Men
Best Overall Backpack: Herschel
The fact that it’s only been on the scene for just over a dozen years makes Canadian label Herschel Supply Co. a relative newcomer to the backpack party. To be fair though, it wasn’t actually much of a party until it arrived. Herschel is on the frontline of the everyday-pack revolution, and you only need take a swift glance at its products to see why they’re so popular. Heritage styling, practicality and tasty leather detailing come as standard. A true future classic.
Best Backpack for Work:
If you needed proof that smart isn’t a byword for stuffy, Danish brand Mismo provide it by the shed-load. The label prides itself on its straightforward, functional and durable designs and strives only to provide what is strictly necessary. The result is a collection of quintessentially Scandi bags, with minimalist styling and premium craftsmanship. Throw in a few leather bridle straps, brass hardware and practical additions such as padded laptop compartments, and you’ve got yourself the perfect pack for the working week.
More Comfortable Backpack: Eastpak
When it comes to rucksacks, American-born label Eastpak certainly knows a thing or two. After all, it’s been in the game for 65 years, honing its craft to perfection. Having started life as Eastern Canvas Products USA, Inc. in 1952, producing bags and packs for the US military, Eastpak soon turned its attention to the consumer market and began a beautiful love affair with everyday, casual luggage. For a no-BS approach to styling and a focus on durability, Eastpak is the way to go.
Best Everyday Backpack: Carhartt
If only there were a brand that offered products as stylish as they are bulletproof. Enter, Carhartt. The heritage American workwear label has forged a reputation for itself as one of the finest manufacturers of rugged, utilitarian apparel and, in recent decades, has taken over the world of streetwear too. Expect to find packs you can trash to bits during your day-to-day routine, that don’t compromise on style. Everything a modern, street-savvy guy wants on his shoulder.
Most Stylish Backpack: Ally Capellino
For those looking to splash a bit more cash on their casual backpack, Ally Capellino’s offerings present the perfect blend of luxury and practicality. For well over 30 years, Alison Lloyd’s label has come to be known as one of the leading names in men’s and women’s premium accessories. Look out for waxed cotton, buckled leather straps and other high-end finishing touches.
Best Affordable Backpack: ASOS
Dominating the online, fast-fashion marketplace, ASOS is the perfect place to pick from a colossal selection of both trend-led designs and timeless classics. In a vast range of styles, colors, fabrics and prices, you can bet good money that you’ll find exactly what you’re after here. For an endless selection of products, at prices that won’t break your back, and with lightning fast delivery, ASOS is your one-stop-shop.
Best Streetwear Backpack: River Island
Since its inception in 1948, London-based high-street chain River Island has established itself as one of the leading names in affordable fashion retail. River Island prides itself on being able to provide shoppers with everything they need to create stylish head-to-toe outfits, season after season. The company’s tightly curated luggage range sits at the intersection between affordability, wearability and practicality. Expect to find stylish, seasonal designs like this street style rolltop backpack, with a finger firmly on the fashion pulse.
Best Backpack for Travel: A.P.C
When it comes to fuss-free, Parisian chic, few labels are doing it anywhere near as well as Jean Touitou’s A.P.C. The French firm has a long-standing reputation for clean, contemporary classics, and its stripped-back approach to design and branding has become something of a calling card. Here you’ll find tasteful, timeless styles, with classy contemporary twists. Look out for details such as solid metal hardware, premium waxed canvas construction and that subtle trademark branding. Their backpacks are great for traveling because of their small size and ability to fit under the seat or in an overhead bin on a plane.
Best Backpack for Multi Use: Sandqvist
Founded in 2004 by brothers Daniel and Anton Sandqvist, and their mate Sebastien, Swedish backpack and luggage brand Sandqvist draws its inspiration from the sprawling Nordic landscape, combined with urban living. As a result, its backpacks are stylish and practical in equal measures, and unmistakably Scandinavian. They may be sleek and minimal, but they’re definitely not short on space (the same is true of its briefcases). Finished off with leather strap detailing and logo patch branding as standard, this is smart luggage done the right way.
Best Value Backpack: BoohooMAN
Buying a suave, smart backpack doesn’t have to mean remortgaging your house and selling a kidney, as boohooMAN’s collection proves perfectly. The online retailer prides itself on being the ‘best-kept secret in menswear’, but its low prices and a regularly updated selection of on-trend products means it won’t stay under wraps for long. Expect a huge variety of designs with two things in common – up-to-the-minute styling and jaw-dropping value. Can’t say fairer than that.
Best Waterproof Backpack: Rains
If you’re keen to keep your laptop from getting soggy on rainy commutes to the office, a waterproof backpack from Danish brand Rains may be just the ticket. Launched in 2012, Rains takes its inspiration from both minimal Scandinavian design and wet Scandinavian weather. With form and function at the fore, tonal coloring and nifty details such as laptop sleeves and hidden mobile phone pockets, Rains’ backpacks are a solid option, whatever the weather.
Best Statement Backpack:
Best Leather Backpack: Miansai
Leather backpacks are a hot commodity on today’s fashion landscape and, arguably, nobody is doing them better than Miansai. The Miami-based label has a strong focus on craftsmanship and sourcing the finest materials money can buy. And the results are stunning. For a real hand-crafted backpack, constructed from Italian leather, you need look no further.
Best Retro Backpack: The Cambridge Satchel Company
Looking at The Cambridge Satchel company’s designs, you’d be forgiven for thinking they had been around forever. However, the brand was only founded in 2008. The bags draw inspiration from the original Oxford and Cambridge university satchels, but have been subtly updated for the modern age. Hence the fact that some of them are now backpacks. Classic heritage styling, Made in the UK and painstakingly crafted from high-quality leather. Not bad for a backpack, not bad at all.
Best Backpack for Commuting:
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Best Backpack for Laptops: Fjallraven
It’s difficult, if not impossible, to think of backpacks and not immediately think of Fjallraven. The beloved Swedish brand has been doing its thing for decades, but thanks to the rucksack’s recent surge in popularity, its Kanken bags have found a new, but equally doting audience. Fjallraven offers great-looking and highly-functional luggage, with heritage styling and that signature G-1000 waxed cotton. Most of their designs come with details like padded laptop sleeves, pliant straps, and practical storage compartments.
Best Backpack for Hiking: The North Face
Outdoors brands don’t come much bigger or better than The North Face. The California-based label has been leading the way since 1968, and one of the many things it does to exemplary standards is backpacks. Durable, weatherproof fabrics, and practical touches such interior dry pockets or ventilated patches mean these are genuinely made for outdoor living.
Most Sustainable Backpack: Patagonia
Looking to lug all of your gear up mountains, retain your street cred and save the planet, all at the same time? Quite a tall order, really, but luckily there’s a brand that can provide you with all of the above and then some. Patagonia has been doing it all for well over 40 years. Renowned the world over for its brightly colored, high-spec outdoor gear and its commitment to sustainability – if you want hard-wearing kit that is as environmentally sound as it is good-looking, Patagonia is the one.
Best Backpack for Everyone: Poler Stuff
Poler Stuff makes – as they put it – “gear for people that are travellers, couch surfers, regular surfers, skateboarders, snowboarders, bicyclists, parents and kids”. So, in other words, everyone. This is luggage that will appeal to a broad spectrum of consumers, but at its core, it’s colourful, contemporary, playful and high-performance. If you want to turn a few heads on your next hiking trip, look them up.
Best Backpack for Backpacking: Master-Piece
That heritage look – with all the contrast leather bits and whatnot – is all the rage when it comes to backpacks. But a lot of the time, investing in aesthetics means compromising on performance. However, there are a few brands that are making it their mission to turn this on its head. One of them is Master-Piece. You only need to take one look at a Master-Piece bag to get a feel of what it’s all about. Handsome, rugged, colourful and cool, with materials and stitching that can comfortably withstand a weekend in the wilderness. Are there any boxes left unticked?
Best Backpack for Gym: MIER
MIER makes performance backpacks for athletes and gym-rats alike. It’s a highly functional gym bag with features like a compartment for a ball that doubles as a ventilated space for your smelly gym clothes, multiple pockets, a water bottle holder on the side and water-resistant fabric. If you’re looking for a mix of durability and affordability in your gym back, without sacrificing style, MIER is your best bet.
What should I look for in a backpack?
If you’re in the market for some hands-free luggage, what exactly should you be looking out for? “The most important point is the quality and durability of the bag,” says Domitille. “The backpack is an accessory people should be able to rely on, in all situations. Look at size and functionality, depending on where you are going, and what you need to carry. Once you narrow it down, you can choose a style that fits with your personality or outfit.”
Consider things like: size and design, durability, comfort and style. Remember it’s a practical bag, too. Look out for things like key clips, laptop pockets and air mesh straps. Details make all the difference. As our pick of the best backpack brands will attest.
What is the best backpack for everyday use?
Some of the top rated backpacks for everyday are from Herschel, Eastpak, Patagonia, The North Face, Carhartt and
Is it unprofessional to carry a backpack?
Absolutely not. If you’re worried about it, and are currently employed at a more stuffy office, avoid the casual backpack brands like Herschel and Eastpak and invest in a high-quality leather backpack from
Are Fjallraven backpacks still cool?
Fjallraven is one of the best backpack brands in the market. Part of that is due to the fact that they’ve been around for a long time, and are at the forefront of the movement to normalize stylish backpacks for adults.