Everlane Modern Commuter Backpack
Commuting and traveling are so much easier with this backpack in tow. The medium size is spacious without feeling bulky, there's a padded 15-inch laptop sleeve, and it's well-priced for the stylish design.
Fjallraven Kanken Mini Classic Pack
This iconic Scandinavian backpack is ready for adventures with its water-resistant, dirt-resistant Vinylon F material. It also comes with a foam sitting pad for less-than-ideal surfaces, and the mini size is ideal for daily use, too.
Rebecca Minkoff Julian Backpack
Rebecca Minkoff's Julian backpack is the perfect alternative to your everyday purse. The pebbled leather reads chic instead of sporty, and it's sized just right for the essentials like a wallet, a phone, and sunglasses.
Tumi Sinclair Hanne Backpack
This sophisticated Tumi backpack will make you feel more like an executive than an intern. The compact design is less cumbersome than a messenger bag, yet it can still fit a 14-inch laptop, and it has dedicated pockets for things like your phone and keys.
Herschel Supply Co. Pop Quiz Backpack
You'll get function and style with any of Herschel Supply Co.'s backpacks. This one has plenty of space for textbooks, plus a waterproof zipper that'll protect your laptop during downpours. It's also sturdy enough for sprints across campus.
Backpacks have come a long way since your old high school JanSport, and it's time to welcome a class of all-new styles! Read on to see our top picks that'll have you covered from the college library to boardroom meetings — they might just convince you to leave handbags behind.
Learn More About Our Top 5 Picks:
1. Check Price—
Pros: Streamlined look, fits a 15-inch laptop, has eight pockets
Cons: Lack of color options, has to be spot-cleaned
Sometimes a cute little handbag just won't cut it for daily commutes to work or school. If you know it's time to make the switch to a backpack, Everlane's Modern Commuter is our top pick for a highly functional style with a grown-up look.
The minimalist, streamlined design is made from cotton twill with leather trim, and the medium size can store a good amount of stuff without getting too bulky. There's also a padded laptop sleeve, and a total of eight pockets throughout. You'll have to be more careful with keeping the cotton clean as opposed to a nylon, but this is part of what makes the backpack look more high-end. It's an overall great option for travel, work, or any day that requires more space than a tote bag.
2. Check Price—
Best for Outdoor Activities
Pros: Large variety of colors, made with water- and dirt-resistant fabric
Cons: Too small for storing lots of gear, the straps aren't padded
You might recognize Fjallraven's Kanken due to its street-style status, but this backpack has actually been around since 1978! The iconic Scandinavian design has recently seen a surge of popularity as a fashionable handbag choice, but it has several features that make it an ideal outdoor companion, too.
For one, this backpack is made from a fabric called Vinylon F, which is both water- and dirt-resistant, and can be easily wiped clean. Inside, there's a pocket with a foam sitting pad that'll come in handy for spontaneous breaks during a hike, or even provide extra cushioning at a sporting event. The mini size pictured here won't have the storage space for things like camping gear, but you'll find it to be a convenient, portable way to carry the necessities during daytime activities.
3. Check PricePurse —
Best for Everyday
Pros: Can be worn day or night, looks similar to a purse, made from leather
Con: No room for laptop or books
We all know about crossbodies for going hands-free, but what about days when you need to store more than just an iPhone and lipstick? Consider a backpack, like the popular Julian style from Rebecca Minkoff. It's stylish, spacious, has five pockets, and will still keep your hands available for carrying groceries or sifting through clothing racks.
What we love most about this bag is that the leather looks more luxe than sporty, so you'll have no problem taking it from weekend errands straight to a dinner with friends. There's also a wide zip-front opening that makes it easy to locate belongings. If you require laptop storage, you'll have to look elsewhere, but for a more comfortable alternative to the everyday shoulder bag, this is a can't-go-wrong choice.
4. Check PricePurse —
Best for Work
Pros: Fits a 14-inch laptop, option to monogram, can slip over a suitcase handle
Con: Expensive for not being leather
There's nothing inexpensive about Tumi, but it's not without reason — they've mastered the art of premium-quality professional gear with purposeful design. If you're ready to make an investment in a new work bag, the Hanne from their Sinclair collection is an excellent choice, and it's much easier to tote to the office than the typical messenger bag or briefcase.
While most work backpacks tend to be larger, Tumi does a lot with this compact style. It's not much larger than a handbag, yet there's a separate compartment that can hold a 14-inch laptop, a hidden cell phone pocket, a velvet-lined pocket for jewelry, and a strap across the back that can attach to a suitcase handle. If you're looking for an all-leather backpack, keep in mind that this one is actually coated canvas with leather trim. However, that makes it even more durable and less susceptible to scratches. The sleek design will also fit in seamlessly with a professional wardrobe.
5. Check Price—
Best for School
Pros: Large variety of colors, fits a 15-inch laptop, waterproof zipper
Con: No exterior side pockets
When storage space is the top priority, Herschel Supply Co. is up for the job. The Pop Quiz backpack is slightly more utilitarian-looking than other options on this list, but for a rugged bag that has room for textbooks, a computer, and school supplies, Herschel still manages to have a cool, stylish look that you'll enjoy sporting between classes.
Along with a spacious interior, this backpack has a padded sleeve that can fit a 15-inch laptop, padded shoulder straps, and a waterproof zipper that'll keep your things dry on rainy days. There are also tons of color options to choose from. The only minor complaint we could find was a lack of exterior side pockets to hold a water bottle, but otherwise this backpack consistently receives rave reviews, and it has over 700 five-star ratings on Amazon alone.
More of Our Top Picks:
Just because they didn't make our top five doesn't mean there aren't more backpacks worth shopping! Check out some of our other favorite styles in additional categories.
6. Check Price—
Best Vegan Pick
Pros: Adjustable straps, expandable opening, eco-friendly lining
Con: No exterior pockets
We've found that synthetic leather handbags can sometimes label themselves as vegan to distract from using cheaper materials, but Matt & Nat is dedicated entirely to creating high-quality accessories without the use of animal-based products. (Fun fact: The Matt & Nat name is short for "material and nature.") The sleek, minimalist design of their popular Fabi backpack can easily compete with a real leather version.
Similar to Rebecca Minkoff's Julian backpack, this isn't the right option for storing a laptop and books, but more of an attractive alternative to carrying a handbag everyday. It also has adjustable shoulder straps, an expandable opening for easy access to the interior, and a lining made from 100% recycled plastic bottles. It's a backpack purchase you can definitely feel good about.
7. Check Price—
Best Convertible Style
Pro: Can be worn as a backpack or crossbody bag
Cons: Small interior, only one pocket
The only thing better than getting a new handbag is getting two new handbags — which is exactly what it's like when you have this convertible backpack from ZAC Zac Posen. Featuring the brand's signature Eartha silhouette, it has clip-on straps that let you change the style from backpack to crossbody bag as often as you please.
We wish this bag had a zip pocket instead of a slip pocket inside, but it's still perfectly functional for carrying the day-to-day essentials. It's also made from a structured leather that's a bit more durable, and the pearly embellishment on this particular rendition of the Eartha makes it a total statement piece.
8. Check PricePurse —
Best Splurge Pick
Pros: Timeless look, several color options
Cons: Expensive, unlined, always selling out
If budget is off the table, then this backpack from Mansur Gavriel makes a beautiful investment piece to add to your handbag collection. While it is a bit pricey, MG's cult-like following puts them on par with designer options, but for upwards of a thousand dollars less. Case in point: This Gucci backpack.
The structured, minimalist aesthetic (a Mansur Gavriel hallmark) also gives this backpack a classic look that'll feel current for years to come. The simplistic design extends to the interior, so don't expect much in terms of storage space, but it still makes a great everyday bag that'll instantly elevate any outfit. Not into pink? The black and red options are pretty chic, too.