As an avid traveler or busy professional, you know how important it is to have a high-quality backpack that can handle everything you need to carry and keep you organized on the go. The ideal backpack for travel and work should be comfortable, durable, and stylish while providing ample storage space for documents, devices, and personal items. With so many options on the market, finding the best backpack for your needs can be challenging. We have done the research to determine the top 10 best backpack for travel and work in 2021 based on factors like capacity, comfort, durability, style, and value. Whether you are traveling the world or commuting to the office, one of these top-rated backpacks is sure to perfectly suit your needs and become your most valued companion.
What to Consider When Choosing a Backpack for Travel and Work
When choosing a backpack for travel and work, there are several factors to consider:
Capacity and number of compartments. For travel, look for a backpack with multiple compartments to keep items organized, while for work opt for a backpack with space for a laptop, chargers, books, and other essentials. Aim for a capacity of at least 20 to 30 liters for travel and 15 to 25 liters for work.
Material and durability. High-quality, water-resistant materials like nylon or polyester blends are ideal for travel. For work, consider more professional-looking fabrics. Check that zippers and straps are reinforced for frequent use.
Comfort and ergonomics. Look for a backpack with padded, adjustable shoulder straps to distribute weight. Additional features like a padded back panel, hip belt, and sternum strap can enhance comfort for long periods of wear.
Security. For travel, consider a backpack with lockable zippers and pockets to deter thieves. Some backpacks also offer built-in RFID blocking material to protect your personal information.
Style. Choose a simple, professional style for work to maintain a polished look. For travel, styles can be more casual and colorful depending on your needs and preferences.
By considering capacity, material, comfort, security, and style, you can find a high-quality backpack well-suited to your specific travel or work needs. With the proper backpack, you’ll be prepared and organized for whatever adventures or tasks lie ahead.
Top 10 Best Backpack for Travel and Work: 2021 Reviews
#1 Best Overall: The North Face Surge Backpack
The North Face Surge Backpack is the best overall backpack for both travel and work. This versatile pack provides ample storage space for short trips or long hauls, all while distributing weight comfortably.
The North Face Surge Backpack is the best overall backpack for both travel and work. This versatile pack provides ample storage space for short trips or long hauls, all while distributing weight comfortably.
For travel, the Surge offers a sizeable 31-liter main compartment with padded sleeves for up to a 17” laptop and tablet. Front pockets provide easy access to smaller items like chargers, pens, and snacks. The FlexVentTM suspension system features padded shoulder straps and back panel with a breathable lumbar panel for maximum ventilation and support.
For work, the Surge functions well as a daily pack or laptop bag. A dedicated laptop compartment and tablet sleeve keep devices protected, while multiple pockets organize smaller essentials. The pack’s durable, water-resistant nylon fabric and sturdy straps withstand the rigors of a bike commute or public transit.
With both a padded top handle and breathable back panel, the Surge transitions seamlessly from travel to work. This versatile, high-performance pack suits professionals, students, and casual travelers alike. At just under $100, the Surge provides unparalleled value given its comfort, organization, and longevity.
For your daily adventures or once-in-a-lifetime journeys, the North Face Surge backpack rises to any challenge. This premium pack ranks as the overall best option for balancing travel, work, and everything in between.
#2 Best Budget: Matein Travel Laptop Backpack
Spacious and Durable
The Matein Travel Laptop Backpack is a highly affordable yet durable option for both work and leisure. This backpack is made of water-resistant polyester fabric and features padded shoulder straps for maximum comfort even when packed full. It includes a separate laptop compartment that can hold up to a 15.6-inch laptop and a tablet, with extra padding to prevent damage. The main compartment is roomy enough for a few days of clothing and other essentials.
This backpack has a practical design suitable for professionals and students alike. It includes multiple organizer pockets for items like pens, keys, and chargers. An elastic pocket on one side is perfect for an umbrella or water bottle. Compression straps on the sides allow you to cinch the backpack in for a tighter, more compact profile. The padded top handle provides another carrying option, while the luggage strap on the back lets you attach the backpack to rolling luggage for easier transport.
For security, the Matein Travel Laptop Backpack includes both a luggage lock and a theft-proof pocket to help prevent loss of important items. The theft-proof pocket is discreetly located on the back, closest to the body. The durable metal zippers are designed to last through frequent use and the elements. This backpack comes in a variety of colors to suit your tastes, including gray, black, blue, and red.
With its spacious and thoughtful design, durable and water-resistant construction, and security features, the Matein Travel Laptop Backpack offers solid functionality and value. For budget-friendly backpack that will serve you well for both business and pleasure, this option should make your short list. Its combination of comfort, utility, and reliability is hard to beat for the price.
#3 Best for Organization: eBags Professional Slim Laptop Backpack
The eBags Professional Slim Laptop Backpack is an excellent choice if organization is a top priority. This backpack features a separate laptop compartment that can hold up to a 17” laptop, as well as a fleece-lined tablet pocket. Multiple interior pockets provide storage for smaller items like pens, cables, and other accessories.
The main interior compartment has pockets for storing items like your wallet, keys, and other small electronics. A zippered mesh pocket keeps smaller items contained. The deep side water bottle pockets can also double as storage space if needed.
On the exterior of the backpack, a large front pocket provides quick access to items you need regularly. A smaller pocket at the top of the backpack is ideal for items like your phone, boarding pass, or other items you want to have handy. Padded shoulder straps make this backpack comfortable to carry, even when fully loaded. The straps can also be tucked away for storage in overhead bins or under airplane seats.
High quality, durable construction
Constructed of durable nylon, this backpack is designed to handle the rigors of frequent travel and daily use. Reinforced stress points prevent premature wear and tearing. The padded laptop compartment helps protect your electronics from damage. With a sleek, professional design, this backpack transitions well from the workplace to the airport.
Overall, the eBags Professional Slim Laptop Backpack excels at keeping you organized while on the go. For business or leisure travel, this backpack has the storage and features to meet your needs with a polished, professional style. With numerous pockets and compartments, there is a dedicated space for all your important items so you can travel with confidence.
#4 Best for Comfort: Timbuk2 Aviator Travel Backpack
The shoulder straps and sternum strap are fully adjustable, ensuring the Aviator fits snugly but comfortably. Tighten or loosen the straps depending on the amount of gear you’re carrying and your body type. The straps can also be tucked away when checking the bag for travel.
Ventilated Back Panel
The mesh back panel wicks away moisture and allows air flow, preventing your back from getting too hot. This is especially useful if you live in a warm climate or are traveling somewhere tropical. The breathable material will keep you comfortable even when trekking long distances or in hot weather.
Padded Shoulder Straps
In addition to being adjustable, the shoulder straps feature plush padding that helps relieve pressure on your shoulders. The padding acts as a buffer between the strap material and your body, making the Aviator pleasant to carry even when loaded with heavier items or during extended use.
A sternum strap, also known as a chest strap, connects the shoulder straps across your chest. This strap helps stabilize the bag and distribute weight more evenly. The Aviator’s sternum strap is fully adjustable, so you can tighten or loosen it depending on your needs and comfort level.
Overall, the Timbuk2 Aviator travel backpack prioritizes your carrying comfort with its breathable, padded design and adjustable straps. For travel or long days commuting with a heavy bag, the Aviator helps ensure you stay cool and comfortable every step of the way.
#5 Best for Durability: SwissGear Travel Gear 1900 Scansmart TSA Laptop Backpack
The SwissGear Travel Gear 1900 Scansmart TSA Laptop Backpack is built to last through all your travels and daily commutes. Constructed from durable 1200D ballistic polyester, this backpack features reinforced stress points and sturdy zippers designed to endure frequent use.
With a weather-resistant and water-repellent exterior, this backpack protects your belongings from rain, snow and spills. The material is also resistant to tears and abrasions, maintaining its structure after years of regular use. For extra protection, the backpack includes a built-in rain cover that can be quickly deployed when needed.
Roomy enough for extended trips, this backpack provides separate padded compartments for both your laptop and tablet. The main compartment is large enough for a few days’ worth of clothing, while the front organizer pocket keeps smaller items like pens, keys and charging cords neatly arranged and within easy reach. Side pockets are ideal for water bottles or umbrellas.
Comfort and Support
Designed with comfort and ergonomics in mind, this backpack distributes weight evenly through padded shoulder straps and back panel. The straps are adjustable for the perfect fit and a sternum strap provides extra stability. Contoured, breathable mesh ensures cooling comfort even when the backpack is fully loaded.
For the frequent traveler or daily commuter, the SwissGear Travel Gear 1900 Scansmart TSA Laptop Backpack provides unparalleled durability and storage in a design built for comfort. With rugged weather resistance and spacious, protective compartments for all your essential gear, this backpack is ready for any adventure. Thoughtfully crafted for longevity, this is a backpack you can rely on for years to come.
#6 Best for Style: Kenneth Cole Reaction Colombian Leather Flapover Computer Backpack
The Kenneth Cole Reaction Colombian Leather Flapover Computer Backpack is ideal for the workplace or business travel. Constructed of high-quality Colombian leather, this backpack has a classic yet stylish look that is suitable for any professional environment. The full-grain leather is durable and resistant to wear and tear, ensuring this backpack will last for years to come.
Spacious Storage and Organization
This backpack features multiple storage pockets and compartments to keep all of your essentials organized. The main compartment includes padded and fleece-lined laptop and tablet sleeves to protect your electronics. Front zippered pockets provide easy access to items you need regularly. Side pockets are ideal for water bottles or umbrellas. Interior organizer pockets keep smaller items like pens, keys, and charging cords in place. With all of these storage options, this backpack can carry everything you need for work or a short business trip.
Comfort and Convenience
In addition to its style and storage, this backpack focuses on comfort and convenience. Padded shoulder straps and a ventilated back panel make this backpack comfortable to carry, even when fully loaded. The padded top handle provides another carrying option. Flapover closure with dual buckle straps allows for easy access to the main compartment. The compact, lightweight design won’t weigh you down, even during long commutes or walks between terminals.
Premium Backpack at an Affordable Price
While Kenneth Cole is known for high-quality leather goods, this backpack is offered at an affordable price point. For under $150, you receive a stylish and functional backpack that should last for many years. The full-grain Colombian leather and solid construction provide premium quality at a lower cost than comparable backpacks from other brands. For value, style, storage, and comfort, the Kenneth Cole Reaction Colombian Leather Flapover Computer Backpack is a top choice.
#7 Best for Security: Pacsafe Metrosafe LS350 15L Anti-Theft Laptop Backpack
The Pacsafe Metrosafe LS350 15L Anti-Theft Laptop Backpack is an excellent choice if security is a top priority for you. This backpack features anti-theft technology including slash-proof panels, tamper-proof zippers and straps, and a built-in anchor strap that you can attach to a fixed object like a table to prevent grab-and-run theft. Its discreet and minimalist design also helps avoid attracting unwanted attention.
Spacious and Practical
Despite its security focus, this backpack does not compromise on storage space or functionality. It has a 15L capacity with a dedicated laptop sleeve that can hold up to a 15-inch laptop, as well as various compartments and pockets for storing smaller items like chargers, pens, keys, and other everyday carry essentials. The breathable mesh back panel and shoulder straps provide comfort and ventilation for long days of wear.
Durable and Weather-Resistant
Constructed of durable nylon with water-resistant zippers and a water-repellent coating, this backpack can withstand the elements and the stresses of frequent travel or use. Its long-lasting, high-quality materials and components are designed to serve you well for years to come. The Metrosafe LS350 is a thoughtfully-designed, full-featured anti-theft backpack perfect for tech-savvy travelers, students and professionals alike who value both security and functionality.
- Padded laptop sleeve fits up to 15” laptop
- Lockable zippers for added security
- RFID blocking material in pocket prevents cyber theft
- Five-year warranty
- Weight: 1.98 lbs.
- Dimensions: 17.72″ x 11.81″ x 5.91″
This premium backpack provides an ideal balance of anti-theft protection, storage space, durability and comfort for those seeking a high-performance carry solution for work, school or travel needs. Its discreet yet purposeful design gives you peace of mind without compromising on style or functionality. Overall an excellent choice for the security-conscious yet practical individual.
#8 Best for Organization: eBags Professional Slim Laptop Backpack
The eBags Professional Slim Laptop Backpack is an excellent choice if organization is a top priority. This backpack features multiple compartments and pockets to keep all your essentials tidy and within easy reach.
Dedicated Laptop Sleeve
This backpack comes with a padded laptop sleeve that can accommodate most 15-inch laptops. The sleeve is located in a separate, padded compartment to protect your device from damage.
Multiple Storage Pockets
In addition to the laptop sleeve, this backpack contains:
- A large main compartment for books, files, and other bulky items.
- A front organizer pocket with slots for pens, cards, chargers, and other small accessories.
- Two side water bottle pockets to keep drinks handy but prevent spills from reaching the interior.
- A discreet rear pocket for storing valuable items out of sight.
Comfort and Durability
While highly organized, this backpack is also designed with comfort and longevity in mind. It features padded shoulder straps, a breathable air mesh back panel, and a sturdy water-resistant nylon construction. At just over 2 pounds, it adds minimal weight while still holding up to the stresses of frequent travel and use.
Professional, Minimalist Look
With its slim profile and solid black color option, the eBags Professional Slim Laptop Backpack has a minimalist yet professional style suitable for work or business trips. Its organizational features and storage capacity make it ideal for carrying everything you need for a productive day on the go without seeming bulky or unrefined. For organization aficionados seeking a highly-functional yet polished backpack, the eBags Professional Slim Laptop Backpack is an excellent well-rounded choice.
#9 Best for Style: Kenneth Cole Reaction Back-Stage Access Slim Colombian Leather Backpack
The Kenneth Cole Reaction Back-Stage Access Slim Colombian Leather Backpack is a stylish yet practical choice for both work and travel. Made of high-quality leather, this backpack is as fashionable as it is functional. Its slim, minimalist profile and neutral brown color allow it to pair well with both casual and professional attire.
Despite its slim appearance, this backpack offers ample storage space for everything you need to carry. The main compartment features padded and raised panels to keep your laptop, tablet and other electronics securely in place. Multiple exterior pockets provide easy access to items you need to grab quickly like your phone, keys or a charging cable. Interior pockets help keep smaller items like pens, notebooks and chargers organized.
Comfortable To Carry
Padded shoulder straps and a reinforced back panel make this backpack comfortable to carry even when fully loaded. Adjustable straps allow you to customize the fit for your torso length and the weight you’re carrying. A top carry handle provides another convenient way to grab and go. At just over 2 pounds, this backpack adds minimal weight even before you put anything in it.
Kenneth Cole is known for producing high-quality and long-lasting products. This full-grain Colombian leather backpack is durable and designed to stand up well to frequent use and the wear and tear of travel. With proper care and maintenance, this backpack can remain a go-to choice for work or weekend trips for years to come. At this price point, it provides an excellent value for the quality.
In summary, the Kenneth Cole Reaction Back-Stage Access Slim Colombian Leather Backpack combines fashion, function, comfort and quality in a stylish yet practical backpack suitable for both professional and leisure activities. Its spacious yet slim profile, durable full-grain leather construction and comfortable fit make it a top choice for today’s traveler and commuter.
#10 Best for Storage: Targus Drifter II Backpack for 17-Inch Laptop
Spacious Main Compartment
The Targus Drifter II Backpack features a large main compartment to store all your essentials for work or travel. At 17 inches high, 13 inches wide, and 8.5 inches deep, this backpack provides ample space for larger laptops, files, books, and other must-haves. The padded laptop pocket can hold laptops with up to a 17-inch screen. There are also multiple smaller pockets and compartments throughout the backpack to keep items organized and easily accessible.
Padded Straps and Back Panel
This backpack is designed to be comfortable even when fully loaded. Padded shoulder straps help reduce strain on your shoulders and back. An air mesh back panel allows for ventilation and breathability. The straps can also be adjusted to find the perfect fit for your torso. For longer treks, the padded back panel and shoulder straps are greatly appreciated.
Some other useful features of this backpack include:
- A trolley strap to attach the backpack to rolling luggage for easy transport
- Side beverage pockets to hold water bottles or other drinks
- A media pocket with a headphone port so you can listen to music on the go
- Heavy-duty zippers and a durable polyester construction built to last through years of use
- A limited lifetime warranty from Targus for peace of mind
The Targus Drifter II Backpack is an excellent choice if you’re looking for a high-quality, long-lasting backpack with ample storage space for both work and leisure travel needs. This backpack is versatile enough for everyday commuting yet durable enough for more rugged use. Overall, this is a great pick for someone wanting functionality, comfort, and lots of room for their essential gear.
FAQ: Best Backpack for Travel and Work
What size backpack should I get?
The size of backpack you need depends on how long your trip is and how much you need to carry. For short trips, a carry-on size backpack (under 45L) should suffice. For longer trips or if you need to carry bulky items, choose a larger backpack (50-70L). Consider if you’ll be carrying:
- Clothing for different weather conditions
- Camping gear like a tent, sleeping bag, cooking equipment
- Electronic devices (laptop, tablet, chargers)
- And other essentials
Once you determine what you need to pack, choose a backpack size that can comfortably accommodate everything. It’s best to go slightly larger than what you need so you have room for any souvenirs you buy.
What features should I look for in a travel backpack?
For the best travel backpack, consider:
- Padded shoulder straps and back panel: To help distribute weight and prevent discomfort.
- Multiple compartments: To keep you organized. Look for a main compartment, secondary compartment, laptop sleeve and front pocket at a minimum.
- Water resistant material: Like nylon or polyester so your belongings stay dry. Some backpacks come with a built-in rain cover for heavy rain.
- Lockable zippers: For security. Lock the main compartments to deter theft.
- Straps to compress contents: To prevent excess movement of contents.
- Hidden pockets: For valuables like your passport, wallet or phone.
- Durable material: Like ballistic nylon to withstand the stresses of travel.
- Ventilated back panel: To prevent overheating. Mesh material allows for airflow.
A high-quality backpack with useful features will serve you well on your travels. Look for a trusted brand that specializes in travel gear for the most durable and thoughtfully designed options. With the right backpack, you’ll be ready to comfortably explore the world.
As you prepare to embark on a new adventure or just head to the office, choosing the right backpack to carry your essential gear can make a world of difference. With so many options on the market, determining the best backpack for your needs can be challenging. This list of the top 10 best backpacks for travel and work in 2021 provides an overview of highly rated and versatile packs perfect for your journey. Whether you need a rugged backpack for outdoor excursions, a stylish pack for your daily commute, or a compact bag for quick business trips, you’re sure to find a great option on this list. With the right backpack, you’ll be equipped to comfortably and efficiently navigate wherever life takes you.