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The Best Backpacks for College and High School Students

Updated Dec 10, 2022
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A backpack is a school-wardrobe staple—from classroom to gym, and from late-night library marathons to early-morning coffee runs, a good bag will carry all the supplies you need for a long day. So it’s important to find one that’s comfortable, stylish, and durable enough to hold up to daily use. Since our first round of testing in 2015, we’ve tried dozens of backpacks in a variety of styles. These five bags are the best we’ve found for any college or high school student.

Patagonia Refugio Daypack 26L, ergonomic hero

Patagonia Refugio Daypack 26L

Ergonomic hero
Padded mesh straps and back panels make heavier loads feel effortless. This pack also has the easiest-to-use water-bottle pockets of any bag we’ve tested, as well as a removable laptop caddy. If you loved previous versions of the Refugio, keep in mind that this redesign is lighter on interior organizational features.
We recommend
Fjällräven Kånken Laptop, schoolyard style

Fjällräven Kånken Laptop

Schoolyard style
This small, durable, and practical backpack is high on aesthetic appeal: It’s the knapsack you might have carried to elementary school, all grown up. Though the lightly padded straps represent a significant upgrade from the straps on the original Kånken, this still isn’t a backpack for carrying extra-heavy loads.
We recommend
Everlane The ReNew Transit Backpack, modern and functional

Everlane The ReNew Transit Backpack

Modern and functional
Sleek form and utilitarian features (such as a luggage pass-through and magnetic top closure) make this elegant bag look more pricey than it is, but it isn’t backed by a warranty like our other picks.
We recommend
Herschel Classic Backpack XL, the best traditional upgrade

Herschel Classic Backpack XL

The best traditional upgrade
Simplicity is what makes the Classic Backpack XL cool. It comes in a plethora of colors and patterns to stand out or blend in—but it offers no fancy laptop protection or organizational features.
We recommend
Eastpak Padded Double , a favorite, reimagined and improved

Eastpak Padded Double

A favorite, reimagined and improved
The Eastpak Padded Double is sturdily constructed with durable polyester and has several cool storage options beyond the two front pockets. If you carry a giant water bottle, this bag’s single, smallish side pocket might not pass muster.
We recommend

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