Welcome to Buy Choice, in which we pick one everyday item, cut out all the noise, and present you with nothing but the best options on the market.
Our days of riding school buses, eating crayons and sticking gum under desks may be long numbered.
But there’s one thing from our days of higher learning we’ll never give up: the humble backpack.
Far more versatile than a briefcase and more comfy than a messenger bag, the backpack is perfectly suitable for adult life — assuming you choose the right one.
Herein, the 15 best backpack choices for grown-ups this fall, arranged by your needs, tasks and personality type.
For the organizationally challenged: Everyday Backpack
Peak Design’s Kickstarter success ($6 million plus in funding) is now available for everyday carry. The key here? Custom dividers so you can configure the internal storage however you want, plus magnetic latches and a separate, protected laptop/documents pocket.
For the indecisive: Trecknos Deuce Expandable Pack
Until now, Datum’s designed-in-California bags were only available in Japan. This water-resistant pack actually folds down into a small sling pack when not in use. A looker, too.
For rougher days: Filson Day Pack
Matte nylon and rugged twill make up this lightweight, made-in-America bag, which also features quick-drying shoulder straps and a snap-removable wool zipper pouch. Also, now on sale at $20 off.
When you’re not sure you want a bag at all: Freerain 24 Backpack
Waterproof 24L bag by day, or when needed. When not, it rolls up into a fist-sized pouch you could throw into a jacket pocket. Also currently on sale.
For minimalists: Monolith Minimal Pack
Minimalist in (good) looks only: The exterior cleverly hides three pockets, and there’s a laptop sleeve inside.
For keeping things charged: NIID UNO Slim Laptop Backpack
Another clean look here, but this water-repellent pack — which features a choice of interior storage compartments and a number of hidden pockets — also has a built-in charging port (battery is separate). Now 25% off.
For gym-going: Aer Duffel Pack 2
These SF bag makers just released a sequel to our favorite gym bag. With a ballistic nylon exterior, more storage and separate ventilated compartments for your sweaty workout gear.
For price: Everlane Street Nylon Zip Backpack
We’ve used an Everlane backpack for five years, and it’s still going strong. These straightforward nylon bags shouldn’t be any different, and at $48, the price is hard to beat.
For color: Topo Mountain Backpack
Pretty much anything from Topo is gonna add a nice burst of color. This mid-sized pack will protect your laptop and hold everything you need for the day (thanks to an abundance of main compartment storage, side pockets and a quick-access front panel). It’s also currently half off during Backcountry’s summer sale.
For people who like NYC and the future of America: Spence Atlantic Yards by State Bags
Coney Island, Greenpoint, The Heights ... all stylish, NY-themed bags from this Brooklyn atelier, but we particularly like this refined charcoal foldover. And with each purchase, State delivers a well-stocked backpack to an American child in need.
For urban commuting: Timbuk2 Division Pack
This is your bag if you’re constantly on the go: compression straps, grab handle, airmesh ventilated back panel, reflective zipper pulls, a side stretch pocket for water bottles and a loop for attaching bike lights.
For the old school: 1970s The North Face Daypack
The North Face fairly recently intro’d a throwback line of waxed canvas and leather bags. But if you want an original, scroll through Etsy —you’ll find a number of vintage bags in this classic teardrop silhouette.
For technical specs: Ultrahigh Rolltop by Outlier
An ultralight roll-top composed of Ultrahigh Dyneema Composite fabric, an Armordon self-reinforcing polypropylene sheeting and a magnomechanical Fidlock closure. In English: it’s stronger than steel, floats on water, stays snug and forms to your body shape over time.
For just black: The Shell
The Goods, a new L.A. leathersmith, makes elegantly structured backpacks, folios and wallets in an effortlessly cool matte black. This full-grain leather bag features comfy canvas straps
When price is no object: Moore & Giles Crew
A leather backpack so nice, it really carries you. It’s also $930, but a sitewide sale will bring that down 25%. (How much is that? Figure it out, schoolboy.)
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