Best Backpacks For College Students in 2021: Both for Boys and Girls

Best Backpacks For College Students in 2021: Both for Boys and Girls


Why does it matter which backpack I have for college?

At college, you will have many things to carry around, whether it is those cumbersome textbooks that you paid a small fortune for or that shiny new laptop. Having a backpack that fits your requirements will make carrying everything you need for your lectures much easier, require less organization, and not forget the most important thing, which will help prevent you from injuring your back (those heavy college textbooks again…)

We have painstakingly researched the best backpacks on the market in 2021 to find the best backpacks to fit the modern college student lifestyle requirements to ensure that you get the most bang for your buck.

best backpacks for college students

How Did I Decide?


When you are looking for the best backpack for college, you should always consider the volume of the bag that you need. The backpack volume is usually measured in liters; a small backpack would be around 10 liters, whereas a larger backpack would have 20-30 liters. Some backpacks hold far more than this, but these will generally be too big for college use.

Ergonomics / Comfort

If you are carrying your backpack around college all day, your backpack must be comfortable, especially if you will carry around heavy textbooks and a laptop. Make sure that the backpack that you buy has adequate padding on the straps and the back.


You may be a fashion-conscious person, or you may not be, but it is still great to have a stylish backpack if it fits your requirements. Below you will find some stylish backpacks that still have all the functionality that you will need for college.


Does it have enough pockets? Would you be happy to put your shiny $2000 new mac in there? These are all important questions when looking for the best backpack for college. These days, most people will be taking laptops to college, so a laptop sleeve inside the backpack is important for college students.

Build Quality

One of the most important things about backpacks is will it last? College life can be punishing on backpacks as students are often carrying around heavy textbooks and laptops.


There are many good materials that you should look for in your college backpack. Leather is fantastic for its durability and style, the canvas is eco-friendly and has a nice vintage look, but if you are looking for build quality, then ripstop nylon is great.

Best College Backpacks

The Herschel Supply Co Retreat

Herschel Supply Co backpacks are trendy at the moment in colleges worldwide, and it is easy to see why. These backpacks are stylish, comfortable, and compact.

the herschel supply co retreat

Rather than using zips like most backpacks, The Herschel Supply Company decided to go with straps, which I think is a great idea considering how often zippers get stuck on bags! The flap on top of the bag that protects your valuables from the elements is fastened using a magnetic clip and conceals a large opening, making it easier to pack and unpack your stuff.

There is a laptop sleeve; however, it could do with more padding. The size of the bag is 19″X12″X6″, which should be enough room for most people.


  • Comfortable
  • Stylish, unique design
  • Great build quality should last.


  • The laptop sleeve needs more padding.
  • While roomy, if you like to carry a lot of stuff with you to college, it may not be quite big enough.

EcoCity Vintage Canvas Backpack

The EcoCity Vintage Canvas Backpack is fantastic for college students who want an eco-friendly, stylish, comfortable, and affordable bag. The bag is available in five visually appealing colors; coffee, army green, khaki, grey, and black. One of the best things about this bag is eco-friendly credentials as the backpack is made of cotton canvas and leather, rather than the synthetic materials that most backpacks these days are made from.

ecocity vintage canvas backpack

The bag's main compartment uses leather straps to close the flap on the top and has a drawstring to make sure that it is tightly closed. While it not the largest backpack around (11″L x 16.5″H x 6.3″ W), it should be fine for most people. Though if you have a larger laptop, you may have difficulty fitting it in.


  • Comfortable
  • Lots of internal pockets
  • Eco-friendly
  • Stylish


  • Not enough space for some larger laptops

Fjällräven Kånken Backpack

This is another popular backpack in colleges now, and many five star reviews show how great a backpack it is! With multiple colors and sizes to choose from, you can make sure that it looks how you want it to look and can hold everything that you will need to take with you to college, whether you need a small backpack to carry around your MacBook air or you need to carry around big heavy college textbooks.

fjallraven kanken backpack

This is a high quality, well-made backpack with a stylish, minimalistic & retro look. The straps are comfortable and well-padded, so this is a great backpack to wear all day without having to deal with the shoulder pains that often appear towards the end of the day with some backpacks.

The main compartment has a laptop sleeve to keep your laptop safe, and there is also a small pocket on the front of the bag to keep smaller items that might get lost in the larger main compartment of the backpack.

This bag isn’t cheap, but you really get your money’s worth as this backpack has a fantastic build quality.


  • Such an awesome name that I’m not sure how to pronounce it!
  • Popular
  • Lots of colors to choose from
  • Available in multiple sizes from 13L to 20L


  • Quite Pricey
  • Can pick up dirt on the bottom when placed on the ground

Amazon Basics Backpack

While not the most stylish backpack out there for the fashion-conscious college student, this backpack offers great bang for your buck. It’s clear that when Amazon designed this backpack, they had college students in mind. This bag is roomy, with a padded space for laptops that are up to 17 inches in size, organizational compartments for your keys & cellphone, and the bag also has mesh pockets on the side of the bag so that you can take your water bottle or your protein shaker bottle to the campus gym!

amazon basics backpack

Internally the bag has dimensions of 12″ x 4.5″ x 17.5″, so you should be able to fit a few textbooks as well as your laptop.


  • Very budget-friendly
  • Roomy, lots of space for those college textbooks!
  • Lots of pockets to organize your stuff in
  • Padded compartment for your laptop
  • Mesh pockets for carrying bottles


  • The padding around the laptop compartment is a bit thin, as is the back and shoulder padding.
  • While the laptop compartment can hold laptops that have up to a 17-inch screen, if you have a very bulky laptop, you may not be able to fit it in.

The North Face Borealis Backpack

This is the backpack that I am currently using! This backpack can hold up to 28 liters of your stuff but remains fairly compact, making it ideal for college. It also looks nice and is available in a huge variety of different colors, so you will almost certainly find one to fit your personality.

the north face borealis backpack

The North Face Borealis Backpack has a laptop sleeve that can fit laptops up to 15 inches in size, which should keep your laptop safe around college, two main compartments, and one smaller compartment. There are also many smaller pockets inside the main compartments useful for safely carrying around smaller items such as your phone. There is also an elastic bungee to expand the bag’s storage beyond the initial 28 liters; this can be useful for carrying something like a bike helmet or jacket. You can also carry water bottles in the mesh pockets that are on the side of the backpack.

The padded shoulder straps on this backpack are very comfortable and also have some mesh lining for breathability. There is lots of padding on the backpack back, which prevents back pain when carrying heavier loads. You will also find a chest strap and a waist strap to increase the bag's stability when moving quickly.


  • Very roomy
  • Comfortable for all-day use
  • Laptop sleeve
  • Lots of pockets


  • Might be a little big for some people

Best College Backpacks Designed for Girls

Leaper Casual Lightweight Canvas Backpack

The Leaper backpack is a very stylish and cute backpack for college girls; it comes in various colors, multiple sizes, and some unique, funky patterns that are different on each backpack.

leaper casual lightweight

While not the largest backpack around, it has plenty of functionality that will be useful to college students, including a laptop sleeve that can fit laptops that are up to 14 inches in size, side pockets for drinks bottles, a glasses holder, and a second compartment so you will have plenty of room for your stuff.

The bag's straps and back are well padded, making this backpack comfortable for all-day use.

Ropper Lightweight Canvas Backpack

Another adorable backpack (who doesn’t like bears?) is available in cute and stylish designs, including cats, owls, and elephants. So you can be certain to find a version of this backpack to fit your personality.

ropper lightweight canvas

This backpack includes two main compartments: a laptop sleeve and side pockets for storing items such as water bottles. The Ropper is a comfortable backpack with adequate padding on the shoulders that should be fine unless you carry around cumbersome stuff. Still, in that case, you would probably want a proper hiking daypack instead!

Kinmac Bohemian Pattern Laptop Backpack

The unique design on this backpack guarantees that you will stand out from the crowd on campus! Like many of the backpacks I have reviewed, this one also has a padded laptop sleeve that can hold up to a 15-inch laptop. It has ample space for your laptop and books and has the added benefit of what Kinmac calls “massage cushion straps,” which are textured straps to give you extra comfort when carrying heavy loads in the bag.

kinmac bohemian pattern laptop backpack

This backpack has lots of pockets on the inside and out, including pockets on the bag's sides for drinks bottles.


  • Unique design
  • Colorful
  • Comfortable to use when carrying heavy items


  • Some complaints about straps breaking, though this is common with backpacks and could just be related to individual use

Coofit Cute Emoji Backpack

Everyone loves emojis, so why not get this super cute emoji backpack? This is a lightweight canvas backpack that is ideal for people who won’t be carrying a huge amount of stuff around college and is of good quality.

coofit cute emoji

There are two main compartments on the backpack, which should be enough for most people, but some side pockets and a laptop sleeve would have made this backpack even better.

The Herschel Supply Co Retreat

Herschel Supply Co backpacks are trendy at the moment in colleges worldwide, and it is easy to see why. These backpacks are stylish, comfortable, and compact.

the herschel supply co retreat 2

Rather than using zips like most backpacks, The Herschel Supply Company decided to go with straps, which I think is a great idea considering how often zippers get stuck on bags! The flap on top of the bag that protects your valuables from the elements is fastened using a magnetic clip and conceals a large opening, making it easier to pack and unpack your stuff.

There is a laptop sleeve; however, it could do with some more padding. The size of the bag is 19″X12″X6″, which should be enough room for most people.

Wowlife Canvas Backpack

If you like stripes, this might be the one for you. The Wowlife backpack is adorable and stylish. With a unique retro look, this backpack will turn heads at college! It is available in four different colors; blue, pink, brown, & red, but I think the blue is the cutest!

wowlife canvas backpack

Hopsooken Travel Light Backpack

This is another adorable and stylish backpack available in five different designs, some cute, some very funky! It is made from lightweight canvas and has two main compartments to hold your stuff. The main compartment has a laptop sleeve that can hold laptops up to 14 inches in size, and there are also two side pockets for holding water bottles.

hopsooken travel light backpack

The backpack has padded straps, which are comfortable and seem to be very sturdy.

Abshoo Casual Travel Canvas Rucksack

The Abshoo is another stripy backpack (stripes are always cute and fashionable) available in 8 different stylish designs and colors that will look great on any college student. This backpack has lots of room for your possessions and includes a laptop sleeve with space for laptops up to 14 inches in size and includes side pockets that can be used for water bottles or other small items.

abshoo casual rucksack

This is a very comfortable backpack with plenty of padding on the straps, making it comfortable carrying around those heavy college textbooks all day long without getting any should pain.

Do you know of any other cute backpacks for college students? Please let us know in the comments section below, and we will try to review it!

High Sierra Loop Backpack Review

The High Sierra Loop Backpack is one of the best-rated backpacks you can find currently on the market. It is a bit pricey, but its durability makes it worth every cent you spend. It has many color options, and we are sure you can find the one that fits your style perfectly. No matter if you need to pack all your books, your iPad, or even if you plan to go to the gym after classes, this backpack might be perfect for you.

high sierra loop backpack

This backpack is made out of 100% polyester, including even the polyester lining. It has a modern, sport-ish look, with many small compartments. This includes a tablet sleeve, a front attachment clip, and mesh pockets for your drinks. The shoulder straps are enhanced with a non-slip pad, and the straps themselves are designed to distribute the weight evenly. There is a swivel clip at the strap end, which prevents twisting.

If you think you need some extra security – don’t worry. The backpack has compression straps that enable additional reinforcement, and they can help you adjust the size of the bag. You can use bottom compression straps to add some extra gear, as well.

Pros: Comes in 40 different colors and designs, made with 100% polyester, has a multi-compartment design, compression straps provide additional safety.

Cons: A bit pricey; the bottom feels a bit cheap.

So How Can I Decide on the Right Backpack for Me?

I hope the reviews above of the best backpacks for college helped you find the right college backpack for you, but if you still can’t decide, here are some useful questions to ask yourself, which might help you decide on the best college backpack for you.

What do I need to keep in my backpack?

This is probably the most important question. Do you need to carry a laptop? A backpack with a laptop sleeve is important. Lots of big, heavy college books? You need to make sure that you buy a large enough backpack that is large enough to fit them in and comfortable enough so that you do not hurt your back then carry them. If you don’t need to carry a lot around with you at college, you can go with one of the smaller or more stylish backpacks. If you are not sure, then ask a professor what you are likely going to need to take with you to class every day, or look at what other college students in your class are using. You can also click on the links to each of the backpacks above and view the Amazon reviews, where many people leave reviews explaining what they have been able to fit into each of the backpacks.

What do I want to spend?

If you don’t have much to spend, then the Amazon Basics Backpack is probably the best one to go for as it is good quality and very cheap, but if you have a larger budget, we would easily recommend the Herschel.

How important is the style for me?

For some people, the style will be the most important thing they look at when looking for a backpack for college, whereas other people won’t worry about style. Most people fall somewhere in between. Generally, if you want a stylish backpack, you will end up paying more for it, though it can be worth it in the long run as the stylish backpacks are often well built and can last longer.

If you are not too worried about how stylish the backpack is, you can often get a backpack with more functionality such as extra pockets or more padding or a similar price to a stylish backpack with less functionality.

Last Updated: 30th Jan, 2021


  • backpack
  • college
  • student
Oğuz Tokatlı

Oğuz Tokatlı

Co-Founder, Editor, Content Creator, and Full Stack Web Developer of I am here to provide you the best content.


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