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When you start shopping for a bag, you will soon discover that there really is a backpack for every occasion.
In this guide, I’ going to share some of my favourite everyday backpacks, suitable for work, travel and other daily activities.
Buyers Guide for Everyday Backpacks
These are the key things I kept in mind when compiling this list:
- Flexibility: In general, the priority for an everyday backpack is flexibility and a range of pockets/ features which will make the backpack adaptable to the day’s needs whatever they may be.
- Laptop/ tablet sleeve: The vast majority of us, for the vast majority of the time, will want to take a device with us. Make sure that the laptop sleeve is suitable for your devices, but you should also look for a suspended laptop sleeve, which means it doesn’t sit directly on the bottom of the pack, this gives a bit of room if you drop your bag.
- Waterproof/water-resistant: When using a bag out and about regularly, especially if you live in the UK, then having a waterproof or at least water-resistant bag could be very useful to you. Again, how important this feature is to you will depend on how you will use your bag.
- Durability: If you’re going to splash out on a new backpack, you want to ensure it lasts. You can pick up a cheap backpack for as little as £10, but I guarantee you it won’t last long. I’ll only ever recommend backpacks from brands I trust. Try to ensure high quality materials such as nylon rather than polyester and look for YKK zips which are very strong.
- Organisation pockets: A bag which has at least some useful organisational pockets will make for the most useful everyday backpack proving useful in the widest range of settings. Look out for products with a selection of different organisational pockets both internally and externally for the most adaptable backpack.
Best Everyday Backpacks
These are the top 7 everyday backpacks available in the UK:
- Best All-Round: Herschel Supply Co
- Best for Travel: Osprey Daylite Plus
- Best for School/College: Fjallraven Kanken
- Budget Pick: Berghaus TwentyFourSeven
- Best for Work: Pacsafe MetroSafe
- Best with a Water Bottle Pocket: North Face Jester
- Best with Wheels: Samsonite GuardIt 2.0
Below I’ve shared more details on each backpack along with the pros and cons.
Herschel Supply Co – Little America Backpack
All American style of backpack with plenty of packing space
Sizes: 25L // Price: ££ // Material: 600D Polyester
There’s a reason why this sites logo is based on the Herschel, becasue it’s a great all round backpack for travel, work or general purpose.
This backpack features a classic American style which adapts well to casual or outdoor settings and can get away with joining smart(ish) environments. The 25L of packing space only adds to its useability.
It has well-padded laptop compartment fitting devices up to 15” as well as other useful internal pockets for all your bits n bobs. All in all, an excellent choice for an everyday backpack because of its adaptability.
The only quibble on my part is the opening. I’m not a fan of drawstring closures, but at least the buckles aren’t buckles but magnetic-snap closures which make up for the drawstring a bit!
Osprey Daylite Plus
A quality backpack for people who love the outdoors
Sizes: 20L // Price: ££ // Material: 210D Nylon Oxford
The 20L Osprey Daylite Plus makes a great everyday backpack for travel or outdoor enthusiasts. If you know anything about Osprey, you’ll know that this is their field of expertise.
Important for everyday use, the backpack has various internal pockets for organising all your essentials (mobile phone, keys and so on). Including an internal sleeve for a laptop (up to 15”).
Having said that, the backpack also includes features which mean you can use it outdoors too. Such as an external sleeve for a hydration pack and a removable hip belt. If like me you have an Osprey travel backpack, you can attach it to the clips for easier carrying.
The product also has a nice range of colour choices if you’re looking for a bag with a bit of personality.
A water-resistant Swedish-designed formal styled backpack
Sizes: 16L // Price: ££ // Material: Lightweight Vinylon
If style is important to you, then this lightweight 16L backpack looks trendy and will hold its own in formal settings.
Originally designed for Swedish school children, the cuboid backpack has become a staple among young adults for college and university too.
It’s perfectly sized to hold files, books and other essentials including a laptop. On the down-side, it doesn’t have very many internal/ organisational pockets so you’ll need organisers or a laptop sleeve to make the most use of it.
If you find yourself with a sore backside on the tube/ benches or even at work you may well appreciate the removable seat pad. I’ll bet this is one of those things you don’t know you need until you have it and then you suddenly discover how essential a portable seat pad really is.
Tidy design and excellent all-round backpack with multiple sizes and colour options
Sizes: 15, 20, 25 and 30L // Price: £ // Material: Polyester
This adaptable backpack has a tidy style making it useful in several different settings. Furthermore, you can choose from four different sizes and a wide range of colours. This makes the backpack appealing for a wide range of people with different use aims.
Overall, Berghaus is well-known for good quality whilst not being too pricey, and this backpack holds up to that reputation. However, the plastic end of the internal key clip is a possible weak point vulnerable to damage.
The external carabiner would come in use when travelling or doing outdoor activity to fix your bag or to hang things from for quick access. If you’re tall or petite you’ll appreciate the height-adjustable chest strap.
A backpack with lots of safety features that’s perfect for travelling to work everyday
Sizes: 25L // Price: £££ // Material: 210D Nylon with ExoMesh skeleton
This backpack comes in a good size with 25L of packing space. However, the main plus is the plethora of anti-theft features. If you use your bag for work most days, then you will appreciate the extra security to keep your laptop and documents safe.
The backpack uses eXomesh fabric to prevent slash and run thefts, and RFID materials used for the internal pockets keep your credit cards and ID safe.
One of the straps can be used to fix your bag when eating/ sitting out, while the ‘lockabout’ security clip puts off/ prevents pickpockets.
The Pacsafe Metrosafe has lots of pockets including a padded sleeve for your laptop (up to 15”), this also makes it a great choice if you like to have a place for everything.
A stylish and reflective everyday backpack with water bottle pocket and drawstrings to stash your belongings
Sizes: 29L // Price: ££ // Material: Polyester
This backpack features well-designed internal pockets including a padded laptop pocket and convenient water bottle pocket. Particularly useful for cyclists, the backpack has a bike light loop and various reflective features which increase your visibility when out and about in the dark.
For anyone who’s pet peeve is a forever slumping bag, they will love the way this backpack stands unsupported. There are definitely more eco-friendly products out there, but this product does use some recycled materials, so I guess that’s a start.
Overall, the backpack does look smart, but the drawstring across the back does look casual and may mean you wouldn’t want to use the backpack in very formal settings.
Samsonite GuardIt 2.0
Ideal for the commute or business travel if you want a backpack that doubles up as a small suitcase
Sizes: 29L // Price: ££ // Material: Polyester
If you want a backpack which you can get away with using in a formal workplace, then the Samsonite backpack will do the trick. The design looks slick, and its spacious capacity of 27.5L will fit a laptop up to 17.3” in the internal sleeve.
If you travel a lot for business, you will appreciate the smart sleeve which allows you to slip the bag easily over the handles of wheeled luggage. The internal pockets are very well-designed and this particularly suits everyday work use when you want to carry a range of different items, and to find everything quickly.
If you wear glasses or like to have your sunglasses to hand they have kindly provided a soft sleeve internal pocket.
This isn’t the backpack for hiking or casual use, but as an everyday bag primarily for the commute or business travel, it will do very nicely.
Kieren is the avid traveller behind the blog. His adventures have included Interrailing through Europe, road tripping the US and backpacking SE Asia.