No one likes saying goodbye to summer, but getting ready for the coming school year means one thing: new gear. On top of the usual essentials like pens, notebooks, and textbooks that you’ll find on supply lists, many students find themselves also needing a good laptop to get things done. And if you’re going to be adding one to your EDC, it’s a good idea to get a backpack that was designed to protect that huge investment. You want something that’s sturdy enough to deal with the everyday grind of school (and possibly some inclement weather), without sacrificing a lightweight design and comfortable build. It can be hard to find the perfect bag but don’t worry, we’ve got your back. In this updated guide we’ll go over a few A+ bags that will make getting to class a little easier for you.
Timbuk2 The Authority Pack
Timbuk2 has really made a name for themselves when it comes to cycling gear, but whether you’re on a bike or on foot, the 28L Authority Backpack is a solid choice. On the front are two quick access pockets for smaller essentials like pens or a pair of glasses, while a larger front compartment provides plenty of organization for notebooks or a tablet. In the main compartment is a padded laptop sleeve for up to a 15” laptop, while the ventilated back panel keeps you cool on campus.
Thule Paramount 24L Daypack
Roll-tops are great for keeping rain out but they’re not the best as getting to your gear quickly. That’s where the Paramount 24L by Thule comes in, with side pockets designed to easily get to your laptop or tablet without needing to unroll the top entirely. It also has SafeEdge construction which reinforces the corners, so if you drop your bag a little harder than you meant to your laptop has some extra protection. A nifty front pocket also provides multiple storage options for smaller items like charging cables, pens, or even a quick snack before your next class.
Arc’teryx Granville Backpack
Arc’teryx is a name synonymous with professional climbing equipment, but they also make practical gear for when you’re not at the crag. Take the Granville backpack for example. Its sleek design and durable, lightweight construction brings the best of outdoor gear to your everyday life. You’ll get a 25L pack with padded sleeves for a 15” laptop and tablet, not to mention the peace of mind that comes with the pack’s impressive weather resistance thanks to its AC^2 fabric and taped seam construction.
Aer Fit Pack 2
Aer understood what it took to make a good backpack with the original Fit Pack, and with the Fit Pack 2 they’ve made it even better. The internal pockets got a fresh redesign making it easier to access your gear and carry more. They also have better padding along the straps for added comfort and you won’t have to worry about rain damaging your gear thanks to the 1680D Cordura ballistic nylon. The cherry on top is the redesigned shoe compartment, which is bigger and better ventilated so you can hit up the gym after class.
Topo Designs Klettersack
The Topo Designs Klettersack was made to be a comfortable option for anyone going on a day hike, which makes it perfect for campus. An exterior made of 1000D Cordura lends some protection to your valuables, and there’s even an inner drawstring closure for good measure. In the main compartment you’ll get a padded 15” laptop sleeve while a smaller outside pocket gives you quick access to anything you don’t want to dig through your bag for. Toss in two side pockets for extra accessories like an umbrella or water bottle and you have a bag you can bring to class during the week and a hike on the weekend.
5.11 Rush 12
The 5.11 RUSH 12 gets its name from being able to hold up to twelve hours worth of gear, which can sometimes be how long a full day of classes lasts. This pack already has two robust front pockets and a larger main compartment, so having the option to attach MOLLE-compatible pouches means this bag can be as versatile as you need it to be.
Despite its unassuming design, the USA-made DSPTCH Daypack is the furthest thing from your generic bookbag. DSPTCH is known for making quality bags, and the 22L Daypack checks all the boxes when it comes to a modern, urban EDC. Inside the main compartment you’ll find a dedicated tablet sleeve, zippered stash pocket, and internal water bottle pockets on both sides. A separate padded compartment fits up to a 15” laptop and maintains the bag’s sleek structured silhouette. The water-resistant 1680D nylon exterior keeps your belongings dry, and a large front pocket equipped with MOLLE-like elastic webbing gives you quick access and organization for your smaller essentials.
The GORUCK GR-1 is arguably the holy grail of durable backpacks. If you’re looking to invest in a pack that will be with you throughout school and beyond, look no further. The GR-1 is water-resistant and can hold up to 400 lbs, with silent YKK zippers so you can keep a low profile when you’re late to class. It also has a separate padded compartment that can hold up to a 17” laptop and is MOLLE-compatible so you can attach pouches and extra gear. The GR-1 is literally ready for war, so hauling it to and from Bio 101 should be a piece of cake.
One pack that’s been making its way around the internet is the VRS Design Ark Backpack. It was designed for the frequent traveler, but those same features are what makes it great for school. One of the two main compartments opens flat for easy access to your laptop or tablet. That makes it perfect not just for getting through airport security, but also good for quickly stowing your laptop between classes. The second compartment is large enough for a binder but has smaller pockets perfect for pens, battery packs, or calculators. If you do end up using it for travel, you can also just slip it onto the handle of your rolling luggage.
Incase Icon Slim
If you’ve been reading the site for a while, you’d know there are always cool new backpacks being announced. But there’s nothing quite like a classic. Take the Incase Icon Slim backpack for example. While it’s plenty durable with a water-resistant nylon exterior, it’s how well executed it is on the inside that counts. The Icon Slim has five internal pockets for tablets, notebooks, and other essentials, with a faux fur lining in the main laptop compartment that makes this Incase so popular. The safer your laptop, the better.