The 20 Best Work Backpacks

Aug 8, 2019

Category: Gear

Traditionally, men are expected to carry a briefcase to and from work. Of course, briefcases aren’t exactly practical for modern commuters, as they require you to give up the use of one of your hands in order to haul them. That’s probably one of the big reasons that, at least in recent days, it’s become a good deal more acceptable to use something more practical, like a backpack, for your work bag.

Not only do these iconic haulers keep your hands free, but they can spread out the load for more comfort during your commute, they’re often more capacious (meaning they can haul more gear), and — more often than not, nowadays — they have some measure of weatherproofing built right in. Of course, the backpack you choose to carry to the office is going to suit you much better if it’s got some boardroom-friendly styling, as well. With that in mind, we’ve put together the following list of the 20 best work backpacks for men that look as good on the streets as they do in a high-rise.

JanSport Interface Laptop Backpack

It’s always a risk to shoot for bargain-bin gear, especially if it’s something you’re going to take to the office. But if you’re on an ultra-tight budget, you’re definitely safe trusting everyone’s favorite school-age backpack brand, JanSport. This particular backpack is a bit more refined than their kid-friendly offerings, boasting a padded 15″ dedicated laptop pouch and a sleeker exterior design, but it’s also still well within the realm of affordability for even the most penny-pinching of folks.

Capacity: 29L
Material: 600D Polyester

Purchase: $45

Herschel Supply Co. Little America Backpack

Still on the more inexpensive side of the spectrum, but a bit more refined and stylish than the JanSport above, Herschel’s Little America Backpack is favored around the world by carry enthusiasts. That’s likely due in part to its iconic, timeless rucksack styling with its flip-top closure and dual vertical buckled straps. But some credit is also due to its features — like a dedicated 15″ laptop pouch, 25L capacity, and dual compartments for a measure of solid organization.

Capacity: 25L
Material: Polyester

Purchase: $75

The North Face Kaban Backpack

Everyone knows and loves The North Face for their outdoor-ready gear, but this lauded brand also makes some excellent urban-friendly offerings, as well. For instance, their Kaban Backpack is an office-friendly hauler if there ever was one. Not only does it boast a sleek and stylish weatherproof exterior, but it also features a roomy 26L of storage — including an oversized laptop pocket with an easy-access ejector handle, dual external water bottle pockets, a fleece-lined tablet sleeve, and more. Pair that with ten colorway options and this is as safe a pick for a work backpack as any.

Capacity: 26L
Material: TPE PVC-Coated 900D Polyester

Purchase: $129

Timbuk2 Authority Laptop Backpack Deluxe

If you’re looking for a solid work pack, it makes sense that you might seek out one that was specifically built for that purpose — which is exactly the case with Timbuk2’s Authority Laptop Backpack Deluxe. Comfortable enough to carry all day long, thanks to its padded straps and air mesh back panel, this 28L nylon bag is also extremely organization-friendly. In fact, it features a 17″ dedicated laptop pocket, and internal organizer to keep all your gear in order, and compression straps to ensure that, once it’s all loaded up, it stays put. It also features a water bottle pocket and reflective straps for safety.

Capacity: 28L
Material: Nylon

Purchase: $139

Chrome Industries Urban Ex Rolltop Backpack

Headquartered out of Portland, Oregon and in constant operation since 1995, Chrome Industries built their business specifically around bike commuters. That means that, not only do they build extremely durable gear, but they have always made sure it looks just as good rolling down the street as it does in an office setting. And their Urban Ex rolltop bag is a prime example of just that, with its clean, stylish, minimalist exterior; expandable low-profile MOLLE webbing; 28L capacity (with a 15″ laptop sleeve); and weatherproof construction. If you want a city-going pack you can bring into the boardroom, this is it.

Capacity: 28L
Material: 600D PU/Nylon

Purchase: $140

Bellroy Classic Backpack

If you’re familiar with Bellroy, it’s likely due to their exceptionally well-made wallets. But they’ve recently expanded their business into the realm of larger carry solutions — like their Classic Backpack. Using the same design language found in their minimalist wallet designs, this backpack features an exceedingly clean aesthetic that’s eye-catching despite being completely void of extraneous flash. It’s also responsibly built from venture-weave polyester and environmentally-certified leather, has a capacious-yet-manageable 17L capacity, and features a dedicated laptop pocket that fits up to a 15″ folding computer.

Capacity: 17L
Material: Venture-Weave Polyester & Environmentally-Certified Leather

Purchase: $149

Incase ICON Backpack

Incase’s ICON Backpack was already a superb work backpack in its original form. But the brand managed to make it even better by incorporating extremely durable diamond wire into the exterior for added security, durability, and weather resistance. This pack also shines thanks to its multi-chamber design — with two large main compartments (one with a dedicated, padded laptop pocket), a number of smaller zippered pouches for your everyday carry and tech gear, and a rigid structure that won’t collapse whether you’re setting it down on the subway, under your desk, or your landing back at home.

Capacity: 17L
Material: 70D Diamond Wire Ripstop Nylon

Purchase: $150

Aer Duffel Pack 2

For some folks, a work backpack needs to be more than just a bag in which you can put your laptop. If you’re the type who heads from home, to work, to the gym and back, then the Aer Duffel Pack 2 is probably the perfect bag for all your needs. Not only is it built from weather-resistant ballistic nylon, but it also has a capacious 24.6 liters of internal room spread around a wealth of compartments. Those compartments include a large, main one; dual flank pockets with internal organizational pouches of their own; a padded laptop pocket; and even an isolated shoe compartment that fits up to a men’s size 13 (or dirty gym clothes, if that suits you better). We’re hesitant to call this the best do-it-all backpack, but the thought has crossed our minds more than once.

Capacity: 24.6L
Material: 1680D Cordura Ballistic Nylon

Purchase: $170

Topo Designs Commuter Briefcase

If you can excuse the fact that Topo Designs calls this a “briefcase” and take a closer look, you’ll see it for what it is: a backpack that masquerades as an office-ready carrier. That is to say, it certainly appears to be a briefcase, but it actually hides away a pair of backpack straps — which make it a much more versatile hauler in the grand scheme of things. Pair that with its striking combination of Horween leather and ballistic nylon, a wealth of internal organizational pockets, and spectacular looks that could very literally survive the apocalypse and this is a bag you can always rely upon. Best of all, this 15L pack was made right here in the USA.

Capacity: 15L
Material: 1050D Ballistic Cordura Nylon

Purchase: $189

Arktype Dashpack Mark II

A lot of everyday backpacks were made to look good in lieu of functioning well — not necessarily in regards to organization, but rather survivability. Yes, they look good, but they’re not going to make it through the other side if durability becomes a determining factor in your days. By contrast, the Arktype Dashpack Mark II was specifically made to look good, function well, and survive through the worst of the worst. It’s constructed from ballistic nylon with a DWR weatherproof coating, has heavy-duty hardware, and still boasts dedicated pockets for things like your water bottle and laptop. It’s also made in the USA from American-sourced materials.

Capacity: 15L
Material: 1680D DWR Ballistic Nylon

Purchase: $198

Aer Tech Pack

Aer is so good at making spectacular bags that look as good as they function, they’re the only brand to appear on our list twice. And while their first bag is perfect for folks who often travel or incorporate gym trips into the daily grind, this one is a bit more well-suited to anyone with high-tech gear as a part of their everyday carry and is also a bit more compact. Boasting 16.2L of internal storage, this bag benefits from a ballistic nylon exterior that’s coated for extra weatherproofing — to keep all your gear inside safe. It also has a 15.6″ quick-access laptop pocket, a structured design to keep from collapsing when you set it down, and plenty of internal organization for everything from cables to hard drives and more.

Capacity: 16.2L
Material: Coated 1680D Cordura Ballistic Nylon

Purchase: $200

DSPTCH Gym/Work Pack

If you like the idea of a do-everything daypack, but you’re not fond of the styling of Aer’s Duffel Pack, then this bag might be right up your alley. As the name suggests, DSPTCH’s Gym/Work Pack is made specifically to go from home to the office, to the gym, and back again. It manages this with a durable DWR-coated poly/nylon exterior, 25L of internal space across a number of different compartments (including an isolated zippered pouch for your gym gear), and a secure dedicated laptop pocket. And in case that’s not enough for you, it also comes with a lifetime guarantee — so you can count on this bag literally every single day.

Capacity: 25L
Material: DWR 380D Poly/Nylon Blend

Purchase: $212

Defy Bags Bucktown Backpack

Named for the famous Chicago neighborhood, Defy’s Bucktown Backpack is an absolutely gorgeous take on an ultra-tough hauler that looks just as good on public transit as it does in an office — and that makes it the perfect pack for working in a big city. This particular example is crafted from super-durable Martexin waxed canvas (which is also weatherproof) and has 23L of internal storage space across a large main compartment and several smaller ones. That’s bolstered by a 1000D Cordura liner, water-resistant YKK zippers, a 17″ laptop compartment, a beefy seatbelt strap handle, and so much more.

Capacity: 23L
Material: Martexin Original Waxed Canvas

Purchase: $289

Lexdray San Francisco Camera Pack

Lexdray has always built some of the most stylish and functional packs out there. And while they’re not cheap, they’re also made to last for a lifetime of use — so you should be considering them an investment, rather than a hurdle. Their San Francisco pack happens to be one of our favorites, especially if your work includes anything involving a camera. Not only is it weatherproof and capacious, but it was specifically designed to house all the camera gear you might need on any given day. In fact, it can be used with or without modular organizational camera packs. If you’re a photographer looking for a solid work backpack, go no further.

Capacity: 26.5L
Material: Ripstop Nylon

Purchase: $299

Able Archer Rucksack

Perhaps our favorite thing about Able Archer’s Rucksack — besides its long list of organizational and durability-focused features — is the fact that the brand managed to take tactical styling and imbue it into a city-friendly work backpack. That’s not an easy thing to manage, especially considering the usual disparity between the work and tactical worlds. Of course, the looks are also functional and not just for fashion — meaning the external grid can be used for modular expansion, the nylon exterior is up to mil-spec standards and offers a measure of weatherproofing, and more. Of course, it also has a dedicated padded laptop pouch with a waterproof zipper for your folding computer.

Capacity: 22L
Material: Mil-Spec Canvas

Purchase: $350

GoRuck GR1 Backpack

For many folks, GORUCK’s GR1 pack might be a little too tactical/casual for a work backpack. But if you work somewhere with a little more leeway in regards to attire and gear, you probably aren’t going to find a better bag out there. Hands down, the GR1 might just be the best all-around production backpack ever built. It looks good, it’s functional as they come (even including an external MOLLE grid), and it’s insanely tough. In fact, it comes with a laptop compartment that is literally bombproof. On top of all of that, the brand also has a lifetime warranty applied to each and every one of these bags — so it will literally last you forever or the brand will fix it for you.

Capacity: 21L, 26L
Material: 1000D Cordura Ballistic Nylon

Purchase: $395

Mission Workshop The Rhake WX Backpack

Mission Workshop’s Rhake pack was already one of the best all-around urban backpacks on the market — with its 22L main compartment, compression straps for commuter-friendliness, modular rails for added attachments, and a weatherproof construction with a rolltop closure. But they managed to make the bag even better by now making it out of waxed canvas sourced from Fairfield Textile. What that means to you is that you get all of the superb features this bag already offered, but now you also get even more waterproofing and durability. It’s an expensive buy, but this bag will likely literally last for your entire life — work or not.

Capacity: 22L
Material: Fairfield Textile Waxed Canvas

Purchase: $455

Killspencer Special Ops Backpack 3.0

A bit more on the fashion side of things, there’s still no denying the exclusivity and stupendous craftsmanship offered by Killspencer in their Special Ops Backpack 3.0. Clean and minimalist, this is an absolutely gorgeous piece of carry made from ultra-premium materials — like uncorrected full-grain leather, Swiss-made Riri zippers, and even a waterproof fire-retardant lining. Of course, that wouldn’t mean much without some measure of functionality, so it also has a decent amount of internal storage — including a dedicated laptop pouch. If you want an eye-catching work backpack and money is no object, this might just be the bag for you.

Capacity: ~13L
Material: Full-Grain Leather

Purchase: $550

Hard Graft Well-Rounded Backpack

If you’ve ever had a sit-down in some of the most luxurious cars presently available, you may have noticed a remarkable, premium upholstery material that’s kind of like suede, only far nicer. Well, that’s called Alcantara and it’s the same material that Hard Graft used to make their absolutely stunning Well-Rounded Backpack. Beautiful in its simplicity and built only from top-tier materials, this work backpack is the kind of bag that sets you apart from everyone else in all the best ways. And like everything the brand makes, it’s a limited run — so it won’t be around forever.

Capacity: ~23L
Material: Alcantara & Leather

Purchase: $748

Veilance Nomin Pack

While they’ve dropped their parent company’s name from their own, Arc’teryx’s Veilance line is still just as premium and spectacular as ever. And there’s plenty of proof of that to be found in their Nomin Pack. One of the sleekest, most minimalist work backpacks available, this bag has more features than most other competitors combined. That includes taped seams and water-tight zippers — which pair with its waterproof face fabric to make this one of the most weatherproof carriers around — multiple compartments for plenty of organization, a rigid tech pouch (which is big enough for your laptop and has a magnetic closure), and clean low-profile shoulder straps. Yes, it’s expensive; but it might just be the best everyday backpack ever built.

Capacity: 26L
Material: Urethane-Laminated AC2 Plain Weave Nylon

Purchase: $800

The 30 Best Everyday Carry Backpacks For Men

If work-ready packs aren’t a concern of yours, but you still need something in which to haul all your daily gear, you’ll definitely find what you’re looking for on our list of the best everyday backpacks for men.

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