Most of us spent years with a backpack slung over our shoulders carrying books to and from school. Most of us also felt that once we left the hallowed halls of academia that we’d be leaving the backpack behind as well. But the venerable backpack turns out to be more important than ever to many of us as we embark on professional careers. In that case not just any old book bag will do. Below are the 15 best men’s backpacks for work for 2019.
Best Men’s Backpacks For Work
The Incase City Collection Compact Backpack is a high-security pack featuring hidden zippers, a durable rip-stop nylon shell, ergonomically contoured shoulder straps and plenty of internal pockets and compartments to organize your various work tech. There’s air mesh padding on the back to keep you cool, a dedicated and padded protective sleeve for your 15” laptop and a reinforced top handle. It’s an extremely handsome, secure, professional laptop bag with some of the most comfortable shoulder straps we tested. Make sure you also check our guide to the best waterproof backpacks.
Fleece-lined, padded 15″ laptop sleeve.
Separate, secure tablet pocket.
Highly water resistant shell.
Dedicated smartphone pocket.
Padded, ergonomically shaped shoulder straps.
Front zippered accessory pocket.
- Weight1.81 pounds
The Q Laptop Backpack from Timbuk2 features a water-resistant nylon shell and 3 external carrying loops in case you get tired of slinging it over your shoulder. There’s a vista loop for hooking up a blinking light, (should you take it along on your bike commute), and numerous zippered pockets, including one for your cords and another for your smartphone and sunglasses that’s lined with soft, velvety tricot. Inside its somewhat austere exterior is a veritable compact office with sleeves and slots for cards, pens, notepads, headphones and all your essentials.
Multiple secure zippered pockets.
Dedicated 17” laptop compartment.
Adjustable sternum strap.
Air mesh ventilated back panel.
Reinforced grab handles.
Sunglass and smartphone pocket.
- Weight3 pounds
The Mancro Anti-Theft Business Backpack has plenty of internal space for all your work-related gear tucked neatly behind a skin of durable, lightweight, water-resistant polyester. Anti-theft features include locking zippers and a discrete pocket inside to hide your valuables. This is a good looking, well-made lightweight bag with an integrated USB charging port, ergonomically designed shoulder straps and a lined sleeve for carrying your 15” laptop. When the extremely affordable price point is taken into consideration it runs away with our Best Value tag. You can also use it as a college backpack.
Integrated USB charger.
Combination lock on main zipper.
9 small inner pockets for peripherals.
Water-resistant polyester shell.
Ergonomic shoulder straps.
- Weight1.3 pounds
Thule makes a lot of great backpacks for school, work and outdoors and their Subterra Daypack is no exception. With its generous internal volume, molded smartphone pocket, extensive molle webbing and overall build quality it’s going to serve the average professional well for years to come. There’s two good-sized external pockets and the interior is lined with soft, easy to clean polyester. If there’s a downside here it’s that the shoulder straps are going to start digging if the backpack is filled to capacity.
Fashioned from durable rip-stop nylon.
Accommodates 15” laptop.
Interior zippered mesh pocket.
Extensive molle webbing.
Easy access outer pocket.
Reinforced safe pocket for phone.
- Weight2.5 pounds
The Everyday Backpack from Peak Design is deceptively large as it expands upward to accommodate bigger loads. The overall profile is sleek and the look thoroughly modern with its nylon shell, anodized aluminum hardware and leather accents. Inside you have the option of opening the space for general use or installing the flex fold dividers and stacking your DSLRs and peripherals. The sternum strap is nothing to write home about but the multiple reinforced carrying straps mean you don’t always need to sling it anyway. It a really nice stylish backpack for men.
Integrated expansion system.
Accommodates 16” laptop.
Flexfold gear protection dividers.
Anodized aluminum hardware.
Nubuck leather accents.
Highly water resistant.
- BrandPeak Design
- Weight3.4 pounds
If you’re a fan of the minimalist modern look no men’s backpack for work on the market expresses it more effectively than the Kopack Slim Business Laptop Backpack. The clean contemporary lines conceal a wealth of useful features starting with the USB charge point and continuing on through the anti-theft zippers, the private laptop access and the tear resistant, water-resistant oxford shell. Recharge your smartphone while riding the subway and if you get streetside and discover it’s raining don’t worry, your Kopack has you covered.
Dedicated laptop sleeve.
USB charging station.
Large external pocket with hidden zipper.
Tear and water-resistant shell.
Sponge padded shoulder straps.
If not the best rucksack for work the Little America is certainly in the conversation. The handsome leather straps are a Herschel trademark that helps secure your valuables in an effective and stylish fashion. Inside there’s a padded and lined laptop sleeve, numerous pockets for cables, chargers, XHDs, notepads and pens and the pack expands upward to accommodate a ridiculous amount of material. The zipper on the front pocket is discreetly tucked away to discourage weasels while the generous padding on the shoulder straps encourages comfort. Don’t forget to also check our guide to the best travel backpacks.
Magnetic strap closures.
Fleece-lined laptop sleeve.
Dedicate pocket for electronic media.
Comfortable, contoured shoulder straps.
- Brand Herschel Supply Co.
- Weight1.5 pounds
The Carhartt Legacy is a briefcase you carry on your back. Fashioned from ultra-durable 1200D water resistant polyester it’s not going to fail you in the rain and won’t easily succumb to everyday wear and tear. The contoured shoulder straps are some of the best out there, the air mesh back panel keeps you dry and cool and the 15” laptop sleeve is padded, reinforced and lined with a soft, fleece-like material. The real highpoint though is the insane degree of organization possible with the numerous internal pockets, sleeves and subcompartments.
Durable 1200D water resistant shell.
Numerous internal pockets and sleeves.
Dedicated laptop sleeve.
Breathable air mesh back panel.
2 zip front pockets and 2 side pockets.
Lockable main zipper.
- Weight1.87 pounds
With 31 liters of internal storage space the SwissGear Travel Gear 1900 is the perfect professional backpack to accompany you on overseas business trips. It’s checkpoint friendly with the ScanSmart technology able to protect up to a 17” laptop. Inside it’s the organizational equal of the Carhartt Legacy but offers even more storage space. The back panel features the company’s Airflow ventilation system and around the sides you have expandable mesh pockets for water bottles, umbrellas or what have you. For more great items like this, check out our guide to the best luggage sets.
Fashioned from tough 1200D polyester.
Water-resistant, tear-resistant shell.
Numerous exterior pockets.
High security locking zippers.
Well-padded contoured shoulder straps.
Outstanding work laptop bag.
- Brand Swiss Gear
- Weight3.2 pounds
A sleek, attractive piece of gear the Bopai Business embraces the notion that mens backpacks for work are more than just glorified bookbags. Bopai Business Backpack is a seriously beautiful, professional accessory with a rich, faux leather finish, a durable side carry handle and discrete high-performance lockable zippers on the main compartment. The real treat here however is that, with a simple flick of a zipper, the Business expands by 50%. Other features include the hidden card pocket on the shoulder strap, the USB charging port and the soft flannel lining.
Flannel lined 16” laptop sleeve.
Integrated USB charging station.
Hidden internal pocket for valuables.
Accordion feature increases space by 50%
Discrete shoulder strap pocket.
Waterproof PU leather and microfiber shell.
- Weight2.03 pounds
This eBags Professional Slim Laptop Backpack is purpose built for the pro on the go with numerous zippered compartments arrayed across the Teflon-coated waterproof exterior. All of them lock to make sure your valuables stay with you yet at the same time the arrangement allows you to access what you need to get through security without delay. You can stow up to a 17” laptop, there’s a separate sleeve for your tablet and tucked in down below is a removable AC adapter garage. Our handy guide to the best overnight bags features more great products like this.
High security locking zippers.
Durable waterproof rip-stop nylon shell.
Ext compartment with multiple storage sleeves.
Adjustable sternum strap.
Top and side carry capability.
21.5 liter load capacity.
AC adapter garage.
- Weight3.5 pounds
The Pacsafe Metrosafe LS450 is a sleek minimalist high-security men’s backpack that’s tough, convenient and will let you rest easy when you get on a crowded commuter train. All 3 exterior pockets lock down tight and are backed up with discrete zippered interior pockets for squirreling away valuables. The outer shell also features eXomesh Slashguard technology meaning no one can do a quick slash and grab. If you’re looking for a secure backpack you won’t find better.
Cut-proof 100% rip-stop nylon shell.
3 lockable exterior pockets.
Well-padded shoulder straps.
21.5 liter storage capacity.
Zippered interior pockets for valuables.
High security zippers.
Fits laptops up to 15”.
- Weight1.9 pounds
Some may dismiss the PRVKE Travel and DSLR Camera Backpack as just another crowd-funded flash in the pan that’s too focused on camera transport and security. But the fact is the dedicated camera storage “cube” is easily removable which opens up the interior for more prosaic materials like laptops, books, notepads, charging cables and what have you. While the design isn’t what you’d call “office ready” it is nonetheless extremely practical and every form enables some necessary function, which is as it should be.
- Weight2.87 pounds
The Rogue from Timbuk2 provides lots of interior space to harbor your valuables, lots of molle webbing on the exterior to sling those things that won’t fit inside and an adjustable sternum strap to make sure that big load is secure. Inside there’s a padded compartment for your laptop but that’s about it. The rest of the interior is wide open space. But while it won’t win any awards for organizational capabilities whatever you decide to store inside will be kept high and dry by the waterproof polyvinyl shell.
Waterproof polyvinyl shell.
Lots of exterior molle webbing.
Top loading for convenience and security.
Cushioned laptop sleeve.
Voluminous main compartment.
Adjustable sternum strap.
- Weight 1.76 pounds
The final item on our list of best men’s backpacks for work is this modest entry from Everki Versa. Everki Versa Premium Work Laptop Bag features a felt-lined tablet pocket, a compartment for your 15” laptop, what the company calls a “dangle-free” shoulder strap system and genuine leather handles. The Versa also features a water-repellent nylon shell and an outstanding patent-pending corner guard system that will protect your tech from bumps and thumps.
Genuine leather handles.
Felt lined laptop pocket.
Patented corner guard protection.
Quick access sunglass case.
Water-resistant nylon shell.
Fits up to 15” laptops.
- Weight4.01 pounds
Backpack for Work Buying Guide And FAQ
Features To Look For In Best Backpacks For Work
Material - A variety of materials are used to make men’s work backpacks including:
Canvas - Canvas bags have been around for centuries and have a number of advantages. It’s a natural material that is typically less expensive than other materials. It’s relatively durable and easy to maintain. It’s lightweight and can be effectively waterproofed with little effort.
Cordura - Cordura is a fabric produced by DuPont. It’s a type of treated nylon that is prized for its light weight and abrasion resistance. Cordura is more expensive than canvas or standard nylon and is sometimes used in high-end bags.
Polyester - Polyester is tough and has the added benefit of being highly resistant to UV rays. It also tends to hold color really well. So if a colorful backpack is what you’re after you might want to look into polyester.
Rip-stop nylon - Most heavy duty backpacks for work are made of rip-stop nylon. It’s a dense weave designed to resist the types of cuts and tears that could turn a canvas, polyester or even leather backpack into your former backpack. It’s also highly waterproof and lightweight.
Leather - It’s hard to beat the panache you’ll acquire from toting a high quality leather backpack to work. When well cared for a professional backpack made from high quality leather will last decades. But that’s the rub: it must be properly cared for. The maintenance aspect is the thing that scares off a lot of guys when it comes to leather backpacks. That and the cost.
Straps - When it comes to work backpacks there are a few key things that you’ll want to look for regardless of material or other considerations. One of those is the quality and comfort of the shoulder straps. After all, you’re going to have this draped over your shoulders day after day. So those shoulder straps need to be both comfortable and durable.
Zippers - Zippers are an oft-overlooked aspect of backpack construction. It’s important that the zippers be rust-proof and dependable. Zippers are one area where manufacturers often look to save money. They rightly assume that people are focused on the size, number of pockets and the overall look of the backpack when making their decision. Go the extra mile and make sure the backpack you choose has high quality, YKK-grade rust-proof zippers or the equivalent.
Weight - Mens backpacks for work shouldn’t weigh more than 2 or 3 pounds and be well-built with robust stitching throughout. A work backpack that’s heavier than that is going to be a major drag to be toting around all the time. As for the weight when full; it’s recommended that you don’t carry more than 15% of your body weight in your backpack. Any more than that and you risk doing long term damage to your back and shoulders. Of course, the odds that a grown man is going to carry 15% of his body weight in his work backpack every day is extremely remote, so don’t worry too much about that.
Multiple Compartments & Storage - A traditional backpack like you see kids carrying to school typically has a large main compartment and maybe a zip pocket or two on the outside. You’re going to want more than that from the best office backpack. Multiple pockets and compartments allow for greater organization and quicker access. You may want separate pockets for power cords, chargers, XHDs and other such tech items. It’s also nice to have a pocket for business cards and maybe a small notepad. A couple of slots for pens can also be helpful.
Waterproofness - Any bag that wants to be considered the best professional laptop backpack needs to be highly water resistant or downright waterproof. A backpack made from water-resistant material (or material treated with a waterproofing agent) will keep your laptop and other tech safe most of the time. The need for true waterproofing only comes into play if you ride your bike to work regardless of the weather. In that case you’ll want a backpack made from waterproof nylon or polyester. Not leather or canvas.
Anti-Theft Features - Many of the best men’s backpacks for work come with a range of anti-theft features built in. These include:
- Hidden pockets - One of the first and most important aspects of the anti-theft backpack is the secret pocket. This is where you keep valuables like your wallet or passport or maybe an XHD with lots of important files on it. While a skilled pickpocket may be able to gain momentary access to your backpack, chances are they’ll never access the secret pocket.
- Slash-proof shell - A true anti-theft backpack for work should have an outer shell made of slash-proof fabric. Cut-Tex is perhaps the most famous of these but there are others on the market that also do a good job and aren’t quite as expensive. Slash-proof fabric will prevent a thief from coming up behind you and doing a quick cut and run.
- Locking zippers - Locking zippers are another important feature of the anti-theft backpack. They’re relatively cheap for manufacturers to install so there’s no excuse not to have them. If the anti-theft backpack you have your eyes on doesn’t have them you should find one that does.
Men’s Backpack For Work FAQ
Q: How much do work backpacks weigh?
A: The typical work backpack shouldn’t weigh more than 2 or 3 pounds. Some polyester backpacks might weigh bit less than that. But they’re load capacity may also be reduced. And some leather bags might weigh a bit more. But hey, they’re leather. You need to cut them some slack.
Q: My bag can get heavy. Is an ergonomic backpack a good idea?
A: A heavy backpack can cause a manner of musculoskeletal problems in the back so opting for an ergonomic backpack if you normally carry a lot of material to and from work might be a good idea. The true ergonomic backpack will reduce postural distortion and pain, increase stability and safety if you bike to work and reduce the chance of injury. Ergonomic backpacks typically fit closer to the body so if you commute via subway the pack will take up less space and have less chance of contacting those around you.
Q: How to wash a work backpack?
A: Since the best men’s backpacks for work are made from a wide variety of different materials and some are treated with water-resistant chemicals, it’s impossible to give one definitive answer when it comes to washing your office backpack. The best advice we can give is that your work rucksack should have a tag with detailed care instructions somewhere on the inside. It’s important that you follow them to the letter, particularly if you have waterproof or water resistant backpack. If yours is leather that’s a whole different story. There are cleaners and conditioners made specifically for leather bags. It’s important that you use them if you want your bag to last. Also, if you’re not going to use your leather backpack for a while fill it will bubble wrap of something similar to hold its shape when not in use.