College backpacks have to meet specific criteria. They have to be large enough to safely fit a laptop, books, lunch, a water bottle, snacks, your phone, keys, a change of clothes, your Frisbee, and err… other stuff. Weatherproofing is also ideal, unless you’re headed to SoCal, which doesn’t have weather.

Of course, a nice balance of comfort and style is appreciated, as well. But most of all, college backpacks have to be built to withstand at least four years of abuse. Daily treks to and from class do damage over time. So can bike commutes, camping trips, flights home, accidental frat parties, vengeful boyfriends and/or girlfriends, and your disgusting roommate.

Let’s be real here: You’re not shopping for just a pack, you’re choosing a constant, reliable companion.

01

Jansport Right Pack Backpack

Sure, it’s not as hi-tech or high-end as the other backpacks on this list, but this Jansport ($58) is a great basic option. Featuring a couple frontside pockets, and a large main compartment (including, of course, a laptop sleeve), this backpack is best for the student who just wants to keep things simple, dammit.

Jansport

Sure, it’s not as hi-tech or high-end as the other backpacks on this list, but this Jansport ($58) is a great basic option. Featuring a couple frontside pockets, and a large main compartment (including, of course, a laptop sleeve), this backpack is best for the student who just wants to keep things simple, dammit.

02

Linus The Sac

More of a carry bag than a traditional backpack, the Sac ($69) is for the student who thinks all this backpack hype is a little over the top. Inspired by vintage boat bags, the Sac’s treated canvas provides durability at a low cost, and the deep design means it can easily double as a beach or shopping bag.

Linus

More of a carry bag than a traditional backpack, the Sac ($69) is for the student who thinks all this backpack hype is a little over the top. Inspired by vintage boat bags, the Sac’s treated canvas provides durability at a low cost, and the deep design means it can easily double as a beach or shopping bag.

03

Fjallraven Skule 40

Fjallraven is known for its camping and trekking gear, and the Skule 40 ($120) fits that bill by using strong, sustainable materials to protect its contents from the elements. As its name indicates, however, the pack is primarily made for students, and comes with the requisite protected pockets and sleeves expected of a school-friendly backpack. If you need to trek across the tundra to get to your biochem class, this is the perfect pack.

Fjall Raven

Fjallraven is known for its camping and trekking gear, and the Skule 40 ($120) fits that bill by using strong, sustainable materials to protect its contents from the elements. As its name indicates, however, the pack is primarily made for students, and comes with the requisite protected pockets and sleeves expected of a school-friendly backpack. If you need to trek across the tundra to get to your biochem class, this is the perfect pack.

04

Roadrunner Medium Anything Pack

The savvy college student knows that a backpack needs to carry more than books, snacks, a phone, and a computer. One day, you may need to lug a sleeping bag on the bus, or haul an agitated dog to the vet, or deliver one of those giant three-foot supermarket sandwiches to your Wednesday night study group. The simply designed Roadrunner Medium Anything Pack ($150) has a main pocket for all your school gear, but also sports a pair of looped compression straps on the outside to help you carry much more without increasing the size of the bag.

Road Runner Bags

The savvy college student knows that a backpack needs to carry more than books, snacks, a phone, and a computer. One day, you may need to lug a sleeping bag on the bus, or haul an agitated dog to the vet, or deliver one of those giant three-foot supermarket sandwiches to your Wednesday night study group. The simply designed Roadrunner Medium Anything Pack ($150) has a main pocket for all your school gear, but also sports a pair of looped compression straps on the outside to help you carry much more without increasing the size of the bag.

05

Tylt Energi Backpack

There’s nothing like landing after a long flight home for Thanksgiving and finding your phone or computer dead in your bag. Tylt’s Energi Backpack ($150) comes with a built-in battery that can charge up to four devices at a time over USB. It includes a cable pass-through system that prevents everything from getting tangled together, and is designed to be TSA-friendly to prevent your bag from being endlessly searched on the security line.

TYLY

There’s nothing like landing after a long flight home for Thanksgiving and finding your phone or computer dead in your bag. Tylt’s Energi Backpack ($150) comes with a built-in battery that can charge up to four devices at a time over USB. It includes a cable pass-through system that prevents everything from getting tangled together, and is designed to be TSA-friendly to prevent your bag from being endlessly searched on the security line.

06

Thule Paramount 29L Backpack

Thule’s Paramount 29L ($150) is all about organization. A dual zipper system for select compartments allows you to access your laptop, for example, from different areas of the bag depending on your situation. Its pocket system is also compulsively organized, helping you quickly and effortlessly retrieve your cell phone and plane tickets (provided, of course, you remember where you zipped them up in the first place).

Thule

Thule’s Paramount 29L ($150) is all about organization. A dual zipper system for select compartments allows you to access your laptop, for example, from different areas of the bag depending on your situation. Its pocket system is also compulsively organized, helping you quickly and effortlessly retrieve your cell phone and plane tickets (provided, of course, you remember where you zipped them up in the first place).

07

Cole Haan Zerogrand

Are you convinced that the super-intense guy in your Ab Psych class is up to something? Maybe like trying to steal your hard-earned bitcoins? If only you had a way to protect your digital assets and look sophisticated doing it. Cole Haan’s Zerogrand Commuter Pack ($150) comes with an aluminum-lined Blackout Pocket designed to prevent electronic transmissions, keeping your electronics and credit cards safe and unhackable.

Cole Haan

Are you convinced that the super-intense guy in your Ab Psych class is up to something? Maybe like trying to steal your hard-earned bitcoins? If only you had a way to protect your digital assets and look sophisticated doing it. Cole Haan’s Zerogrand Commuter Pack ($150) comes with an aluminum-lined Blackout Pocket designed to prevent electronic transmissions, keeping your electronics and credit cards safe and unhackable.

08

Chrome Bravo 2.0 Backpack

Chrome’s Bravo 2.0 Backpack ($160) checks all the boxes—waterproof main compartment, easy access to the padded laptop compartment, and external straps for hauling additional gear. Its twenty-five liter capacity is on the larger size, and it’s available in a variety of earth tones. The truck tarpaulin liner and military grade nylon used to build the bag are guaranteed for life.

Chrome

Chrome’s Bravo 2.0 Backpack ($160) checks all the boxes—waterproof main compartment, easy access to the padded laptop compartment, and external straps for hauling additional gear. Its twenty-five liter capacity is on the larger size, and it’s available in a variety of earth tones. The truck tarpaulin liner and military grade nylon used to build the bag are guaranteed for life.

09

Topo Designs Commuter Briefcase

Do business majors still need to carry briefcases around campus? Did they ever? Who cares. Topo Designs’ Commuter Briefcase ($169) lets you live in the business world, but only when you want to. With stowable backpack straps, a detachable shoulder strap, and two leather carrying handles, you can transform yourself from a backpack toting hippie, to a shoulder strapped cool kid, to a briefcase carrying captain of industry… all in the course of a day’s studies.

Topo Designs

Do business majors still need to carry briefcases around campus? Did they ever? Who cares. Topo Designs’ Commuter Briefcase ($169) lets you live in the business world, but only when you want to. With stowable backpack straps, a detachable shoulder strap, and two leather carrying handles, you can transform yourself from a backpack toting hippie, to a shoulder strapped cool kid, to a briefcase carrying captain of industry… all in the course of a day’s studies.

10

New Balance Timbuk2 C Series Backpack

Most backpacks are just so…rigid. Not the Timbuk2 C Series ($198), designed in partnership with New Balance. Its slightly stretchy material helps it hug your gear and bike helmet. The iridescent strip on the back of the pack glows in direct light and, more importantly, its reflective flecked screenprint improves on-bike visibility. It even comes with a bottle opener, although we have no idea what you’d use that for.

Timbuk2

Most backpacks are just so…rigid. Not the Timbuk2 C Series ($198), designed in partnership with New Balance. Its slightly stretchy material helps it hug your gear and bike helmet. The iridescent strip on the back of the pack glows in direct light and, more importantly, its reflective flecked screenprint improves on-bike visibility. It even comes with a bottle opener, although we have no idea what you’d use that for.

11

Mission Workshop Arkiv Modular

Even if you L-U-V love your backpack, sometimes you wish it was just a little bit bigger, or maybe a little bit smaller. The Arkiv Field Backpack ($235) from Mission Workshop is a modular system with a twenty liter, weatherproofed backpack as its base. From there, you can snap and strap on more compartments to increase your carrying ability. Optional add-ons are designed to carry a computer, a phone, your tools and so on.

Mission Workshop

Even if you L-U-V love your backpack, sometimes you wish it was just a little bit bigger, or maybe a little bit smaller. The Arkiv Field Backpack ($235) from Mission Workshop is a modular system with a twenty liter, weatherproofed backpack as its base. From there, you can snap and strap on more compartments to increase your carrying ability. Optional add-ons are designed to carry a computer, a phone, your tools and so on.

12

Incase Icon Pack – Diamond Wire

Another well-organized backpack that checks all the boxes, the Incase Icon Pack ($300) unfolds like a folio, allowing you to keep your computer, tablet, documents, and books all easily organized and available upon opening the pack. The Icon Pack’s Diamond Wire material is designed to prevent ripping or tearing, keeping your valuables protected from jagged edges, the elements, and your roommate’s cat.

Incase

Another well-organized backpack that checks all the boxes, the Incase Icon Pack ($300) unfolds like a folio, allowing you to keep your computer, tablet, documents, and books all easily organized and available upon opening the pack. The Icon Pack’s Diamond Wire material is designed to prevent ripping or tearing, keeping your valuables protected from jagged edges, the elements, and your roommate’s cat.

13

Waterfield Designs Bolt Backpack

Reminiscent of an old-school canvas Army backpack, Waterfield Designs’ Bolt Backpack ($329) is thoughtfully designed and crafted from waxed canvas and full-grain leather. Put together by “the most skilled sewing team in San Francisco,” it has separate compartments for a laptop and a tablet, and seven additional pockets for pens, phones, chargers and so on.

Waterfield Designs

Reminiscent of an old-school canvas Army backpack, Waterfield Designs’ Bolt Backpack ($329) is thoughtfully designed and crafted from waxed canvas and full-grain leather. Put together by “the most skilled sewing team in San Francisco,” it has separate compartments for a laptop and a tablet, and seven additional pockets for pens, phones, chargers and so on.

14

Outlier Ultrahigh Rolltop

Made of ultrahigh Dyneema composite, which claims to be the world’s strongest fabric but is also so light it can float on water, this pack ($375) is deeply weather resistant (and possibly shark resistant?), while also resisting the standard stretching and deformation prevalent in most backpacks after four heavy years of use. Additional space-age technologies help with a light and contoured back plate and magnomechanical closures.

Outlier

Made of ultrahigh Dyneema composite, which claims to be the world’s strongest fabric but is also so light it can float on water, this pack ($375) is deeply weather resistant (and possibly shark resistant?), while also resisting the standard stretching and deformation prevalent in most backpacks after four heavy years of use. Additional space-age technologies help with a light and contoured back plate and magnomechanical closures.

15

Filson Weatherproof Leather Journeyman Backpack

For the discerning student who intends to brave extreme elements every day of the week, all while looking like a million bucks, this is the pack for you. Filson’s leather backpack ($795) is all about high quality materials, extreme durability, and making a statement. Containing four little pockets for all your little things, and a protected computer sleeve for your most important thing, you’re just as ready for class as you are for that summer adventure job on the Alaskan fishing boat.

Filson

For the discerning student who intends to brave extreme elements every day of the week, all while looking like a million bucks, this is the pack for you. Filson’s leather backpack ($795) is all about high quality materials, extreme durability, and making a statement. Containing four little pockets for all your little things, and a protected computer sleeve for your most important thing, you’re just as ready for class as you are for that summer adventure job on the Alaskan fishing boat.

16

ThinkGeek Backpack of Holding

So you’ve finally vanquished your foe after five grueling attempts, and all his high-end gear is now your hard-earned loot. But man, how are you going to lug all those potions, armor, blades, gems and gold out of there? You’re nearly overloaded as it is! It’s a good thing you equipped your Backpack of Holding ($50), brave Paladin. Now go find thyself a mage for some healing.

ThinkGeek

So you’ve finally vanquished your foe after five grueling attempts, and all his high-end gear is now your hard-earned loot. But man, how are you going to lug all those potions, armor, blades, gems and gold out of there? You’re nearly overloaded as it is! It’s a good thing you equipped your Backpack of Holding ($50), brave Paladin. Now go find thyself a mage for some healing.

Originally from: 

Buying Guide: The 16 Best Backpacks for College