We spend an insane amount of time going to and from the office every day. And if you live in a city and rely on public transit, commuting can be particularly hellish. Why? Well, a few things. First, people who drive to work can keep everything in their cars, but car-less commuters have to carry everything on their backs like pack mules. Second, whether they’re squeezing themselves onto a crowded subway car or walking ten blocks in a torrential downpour (or both), car-less commuters are the physical manifestation of the word “trudging.”
So, if you find yourself trudging to work five days a week, you want to make sure that you’ve got something that will carry everything you need (your computer, gym clothes, lunch, and other sundry items) without being too heavy or cumbersome. Lucky you, wayward commuter—we’ve rounded up 12 of the very best work-appropriate backpacks on the market. Check out our favorites.
Herschel Supply Co. Little America Backpack
Over the last few years, the Vancouver-based Herschel Supply Co. has exploded—everyone is wearing their backpacks, and for good reason. They’re high quality without being too pricey, and come in a dizzying amount of styles, colors, and patterns. The Little America Backpack in particular is a good choice, as it combines the silhouette of a classic mountaineering backpack with a slim design that makes it work well for your commute to the office. Features include a padded laptop sleeve, cinch-top closure, multiple interior and exterior pockets for all of your essentials, and leather straps down the front for extra flair.
Aer Duffel Pack
San Francisco-based Aer had a desire to make a quality gym bag that could double as a work bag, and the brand’s Duffel Pack accomplishes this goal—and then some. The pack features three separate compartments—a waterproof main compartment to house gym clothes, a ventilated shoe pocket, and a dedicated pocket that will house your computer, tablet, notebook, and anything else you need to get the job done.
Timbuk2 Especial Tres Backpack
There’s a reason why this bag from San Francisco-based Timbuk2 is called “Especial”—it’s made with durable, waterproof Cordura rip-stop nylon and has a number of features added with the harried commuter in mind. The roll-top pack provides easy access, the dual side stretch pockets will fit water bottles (or a thermos of coffee), and the external compression straps make heavy loads a lot less heavier.
Incase Icon Pack
Since it was established in 1997, San Francisco-based InCase has been creating quality bags like the Icon Backpack. Available in a handful of colors (black, two shades of gray, and red), the durable backpack is perfect for the road warrior on the way to the office, with tons of compartments to keep all of your stuff organized. You’ll like it so much, you’ll want to use it even when you’re not traveling to and from the office (hint: it would make a great carry-on bag).
Chrome Industries Bravo 2.0
Chrome Industries has built a brand with the reputation for cranking out products that are indestructible, but just because something is tough-as-nails doesn’t mean it can’t look sleek. Enter the Bravo 2.0, which sports a “don’t mess with me” look while still being able to go into the boardroom if needed. By day, it can be a compact laptop bag, and by night, it can expand from a 20L capacity to a 32L capacity, perfect for all of those groceries you have to haul home for tonight’s dinner.
RAWROW Laptop Backpack 130
Somewhere in between the backpack you carted to high school and the messenger bag you’ve been dragging to work is the RAWROW Laptop Backpack, which takes the basic construction of a backpack but makes it slimmer, more stylish, crafted with the commuter in mind. Made from durable waxed canvas, the sleek design is perfect for your professional life, but the interior is where things get down to business, featuring dedicated interior pockets for things like your laptop, keys, phone, water bottles, and everything else you’ll need when you’re out of your home for 12+ hours a day. It’s also equipped with fully-adjustable leather straps, so you can carry it as a backpack, messenger bag, or briefcase. Whatever the occasion calls for.
Traveling for work isn’t typically on the top of anyone’s list for fun activities, but Dsptch’s Daypack will help ease the pain. The all-back backpack (made from water-repelling ballistic nylon) is made for work travel, with designated laptop and tablet pockets and a built-in cord management system.
Mission Workshop VX Sanction Rucksack
Based in San Francisco, Mission Workshop makes handmade goods for people in motion, which is why the VX Sanction Rucksack might be the most durable bag you’ll ever owned. Made with VX Cordura ripstop material that’s backed with a PET waterproof membrane, it will handle literally anything you throw at it on your commute and still look great. The bag has six—count ‘em—six interior and exterior pockets, and comes with a lifetime warranty.
GO RUCK GR0
If there’s anyone who knows about hauling gear on their backs, its people who have served in the military. That’s why GORUCK backpacks are so high quality—because the company was founded by military vets. Their GR0 model is virtually indestructible (it’s made with Special Forces-grade materials that make it literally bombproof), has a built-in padded laptop compartment, and because it lays flat for easy packing, it can easily double as a weekender bag.
Able Archer Rucksack
Popular among photographers and journalists who are constantly on-the-move, chasing their targets, you can rest assured that anything Able Archer has on offer is made with people in motion in mind. Their Rucksack (available in army green, gray, beige, and black) is made with rugged, water-resistant canvas and boasts a roomy interior with dedicated pockets for a laptop, camera, lenses, and the like. Those who often find themselves needing fast-access to their stuff will especially appreciate the dual side-entry pockets.
Lexdray Vienna Pack
Lexdray is relatively new to the bag game, but its offerings are impressive. The gray-and-black bag is made from water-resistant fabric, with military-grade hardware, and a dizzying amount of pockets (6 exterior, 3 interior), including designated laptop and tablet slots, making it the perfect work trip bag.
Teranishi Venture Pack
Created by a musician who knows a thing or two about spending inordinate amounts of time on the road (and carrying bags from planes to cabs to hotels and back), Teranishi’s Venture Pack is made for wayward travelers—regardless of whether your travel is across the globe or just to the office. Crafted out of rugged black waxed canvas, it has a Cordura lining, a roll-top closure, padded laptop sleeve, and side zippers for quick-access to the main compartment