Looking for some affordable alternatives to North Face backpacks? A backpack is one of the most enduring and versatile staples of any closet. Camping trips, work commutes, and weekenders all require a well-equipped carryall that will hold everything from your laptop to a spare umbrella.
The North Face has long been synonymous with high-quality, long-lasting backpacks. While the North Face brand name comes with a higher price point, there are alternatives that deliver the same quality and durability with a softer impact on your wallet.
Which bag is the “best” is a very personal decision, but there are some factors that can help narrow down the choice.
- Are you looking for a tough, camping backpack that can cope with any and all conditions? If so, take a look for something waterproof, with a lot of capacity and a high Denier rating
- Are you looking for a regular work commute backpack? Then you’ll be looking for compartments for all your gear so you can find everything quickly
- Does this need to fit under an airplane seat for travel? Several of the packs below will do the job nicely, but we wrote a whole article on that subject
There are many more backpacks below, but these are the four we think fit best for different buyers:
Want to see the full list? Let’s get to it!
Alternatives To North Face Backpacks: For the Great Outdoors
Let’s take a look at the best North Face backpack alternatives (that are reasonably priced). We’ll start with the more traditional camping/outdoorsy versions.
Airlab Rucksack Backpack
- Drawstring closure
- Compression straps
- Large capacity
- 15-inch laptop pocket
- Fits a ton of items – great as a travel bag
- There’s an anti-theft pocket at the back which lets you secure your most valuable items
- Nice-looking with a choice of three colors
- The drawstring closure isn’t as secure as a zippered closure or magnetic closure
- The main pocket is deep, rather than wide, so your stuff might get jumbled up
The Airlab Rucksack Backpack is an inexpensive choice that could easily be used as an outdoor adventure bag, but also be comfortably repurposed as a gym or travel bag.
Kelty Redwing 50 Backpack
- Perfect Fit Suspension
- Duel hydration sleeve
- Laptop sleeve
- U-zipper design
- Front stash pocket
- Organized compartments inside
- The compression straps make wear comfortable, even for long periods
- There are loops for your hiking/ski poles
- The front opening makes loading/unloading gear way easier
- The mesh fabric can be uncomfortable on the skin
- Not water-resistant (at least it is not advertised as such – some people have commented that it is “somewhat resistant”)
- Some tearing issues.
A very classic, rugged option perfect for the longest and roughest camping trip. It’s a bit much for the office or classroom though.
Oakley Mens Men’s Bathroom Sink Backpack
- 100% Nylon lining
- Padded laptop sleeve for devices up to 13 inches
- Mesh-lined straps for cooling
- Specialized compartments for your gear
- This backpack is fully machine washable!
- The heavy-duty fabrication will last
- Oakley’s brand standard = consistency in quality
- The single-zipper design isn’t well-engineered
- No exterior water bottle pockets
The Oakley Mens Men’s Bathroom Sink Backpack is a rough-and-tumble choice for those who need a backpack that can go on the road or up a mountain with them.
GEARONIC TM 21L Vintage Canvas Backpack
- Four external zippered pockets
- Large main pocket
- Drawstring closure
- Leather corners for increased durability
- Tablet Pouch
- The vintage canvas and brass hardware look stylish
- The canvas material is extremely durable
- The main compartment is large, and with the exterior pockets, you can fit all of your gear in this backpack
- No dedicated laptop compartment
- No zippers (which may be a pro for some!)
- No water bottle pouches
The GEARONIC TM 21L Vintage Canvas Backpack is a good choice for those who like an old-school, almost military look, and are not too fussed about having all their tech in its own special place.
Alternatives To North Face Backpacks: For the Traveler
OK, let’s move on and take a look at some alternatives that maybe aren’t quite so “go climb a mountain”, but more “Which is my departure gate again?”
MATEIN Travel Laptop Backpack
- 17-inch laptop pocket
- USB and headphone ports
- Padded shoulder straps
- Luggage strap
- Optimized to unfold and go through a TSA checkpoint without removing your laptop
- The laptop pocket fits a larger device than most competitors
- This backpack is water-resistant!
- High-quality zippers that easily close
- Made of extremely durable material
- Once a laptop is in the laptop pocket, some larger water bottles don’t fit in the side pocket
- Heavier than other backpacks when empty
- The padded back traps heat and gets too warm quickly
The MATEIN Travel Laptop Backpack is not flashy, but it is highly-functional and holds up as a travel bag, outdoor take-along, and daily commuter. We like the built-in USB port that lets you put a battery pack on the inside, and access it from the outside – nice way to charge our devices!
KAKA 35l Travel Backpack
- Terylene oxford fabric
- Computer and tablet compartments
- Lock with combination
- Water bottle and key compartments
- This versatile backpack can be carried as a duffle bag or shoulder bag
- There are several anti-theft mechanisms that come with the backpack
- A large interior that can hold your entire packing list
- This bag is NOT waterproof
- There are some issues with zipper placement
- Smaller than it looks in photos
I’d recommend the KAKA 35l Travel Backpack for weekends away – as long as your travels don’t include the great outdoors. It’s stylish and functional enough to work as a daily backpack for students as well.
SwissGear 1900 Scansmart TSA Laptop Backpack
- Made with weather-resistant 1200D ballistic polyester
- Padded media pocket with headphone cord port
- ScanSmart lay-flat technology for laptops up to 17 inches (perfect for airport security)
- USB equipped charging capability
- RFID Pockets
- Easy access laptop and iPad compartment
- Front compartment with organizational pockets
- Two side pockets to accommodate water bottles, umbrellas, etc.
- Comfortable shoulder straps
- Plenty of room
- No need to remove your laptop when going through airport security
- Fits in the overhead compartment on the plane
- The heavy-duty grab handle makes it easy to pick up and move
- Flimsy zippers
- Even when it’s full, the backpack will tip over when placed on the floor
Overall, the SwissGear 1900 Scansmart TSA Laptop Backpack is a solid option if you fly a lot, but for regular work and school, you may want to consider an alternative.
Alternatives to North Face Backpacks: For Everyday Carry
OK, moving on again. Let’s take a look at some alternatives that are ideal for everyday carry, whether you’re looking for a laptop carrier for work, or books for school, there should be something here for you!
Tocode Laptop Backpack
- USB Port
- Built-in charging cable
- Two external mesh pockets
- Laptop compartment
- Multifunction organization compartment
- Fits under an airplane seat with ease
- Sturdy and holds up to the daily commute
- Not waterproof or even water-resistant (it got damaged after being rained on).
- The chest strap is a bit small
- Heavier than other options due it the material and padding
The Tocode Laptop Backpack will suit the needs of users that have a covered commute and don’t plan on using this pack for outdoor recreation!
Modoker Canvas Laptop Rucksack Backpack
- Padded laptop sleeve
- Tablet sleeve
- USB charging point
- Front compartment
- Two side pockets
- The flap top closes with a magnetic clasp
- The vegan leather material looks great and is water-resistant
- Large enough for all your devices
- Would work as a camping or travel pack
- Sporadic issues with the battery connection in the USB port
- Quality may not stand the test of time
This option is great for outdoor enthusiasts, students, and professionals alike – all for a great price.
HFSX Laptop Backpack
- Reflectors on the straps
- USB port
- Headphone jack
- Large side pockets
- 6 in laptop compartment
- Firm frame and quality fabric construction.
- Many compartments, which makes organization easier.
- Smaller than it appears in the listing photo.
- This backpack is not waterproof.
- You get what you pay for in terms of durability – don’t expect this bag to last a lifetime.
With its trendy look and low price point, HFSX Laptop Backpack is a great option for students who need a durable backpack that doesn’t break the bank.
AmazonBasics Classic Backpack
- Laptop pocket
- Two exterior water bottle compartments
- Inner zipper compartments
- Lots of colors to choose from.
- Truly has the “classic” backpack look
- Lightweight but roomy
- This backpack comes in a four-pack
- It comes in a four-pack because these aren’t designed to last very long
This simple, no-frills basic backpack is ideal for students or overnight travelers who know what they like.
Vaschy Classic Water-resistant Backpack
- Padded sleeve to fit a device up to 15 inches
- There’s a hook for your keys in the front pocket
- Two side pockets
- Headphone port
- Faux-suede bottom with padding to cushion your items from any drops
- This backpack is water-resistant thanks to its polyester material
- Trendy design in multiple colors
- Comfortable straps
- A good amount of pockets while leaving lots of room inside
- Might not accommodate all the needs of students with many textbooks and binders
- Some colors are not true to the photos
- The straps tend to shed
- Low-quality zippers
The Vaschy Unisex Classic Water-resistant Backpack is a good choice for anyone looking for a versatile and trustworthy pack for daily use.
JANSPORT City View Backpack
- Laptop sleeve that fits up to 15-inch devices
- Suede bottom
- Web haul handle
- Padded shoulder straps
- The Jansport brand is reliable for quality backpacks
- Many color options
- Roomy interior that can fit enough clothes for a short trip
- This backpack can only be washed by hand
- No water bottle holder
- Some people have noticed quality control issues when it comes to the seams
The JANSPORT City View Backpack is a classic, time-tested backpack that continues to live up to its reputation as a durable EDC. The City View version has an updated look compared to what you probably remember from high school, and would be appropriate for professionals and older students alike.
Carhartt Triple Compartment Work Backpack
- Durable 1200D material
- Padded pocket to hold a laptop up to 17 in
- Front compartment with organized divisions
- Padded Air Mesh back panel that wicks away sweat
- The contoured shoulder straps are extremely comfortable
- The back mesh allows air to get through and cool you
- Great quality, lives up to the Carhartt brand.
- Hard to actually fit in a 17 in laptop
- Some issues with the zippers sticking
The Carhartt brand is known for its durable and tough products for work and play. This backpack certainly lives up to the reputation, with some added perks to keep your technology safe.
BOPAI Slim Laptop Backpack
- USB charging port
- Flannel laptop compartment
- Multipurpose pockets
- Luggage strap
- Water bottle holder
- This backpack has a large capacity, with 6 inner pockets
- Lightweight and breathable
- Professional appearance
- May be too thin for some tastes
- Too small if you need to carry a big load
- Looks cheap for the price
This ultra-slim backpack is best for career individuals or graduate students who want a more polished look in their backpack. It is not right for you if you like to use your pack like a duffel bag.
Tzowla Business Laptop Backpack
- Laptop Compartment for laptops under 15.6 inches
- Luggage strap to secure the backpack to a rolling suitcase
- Anti-theft pocket hidden at the back
- Two mesh umbrella/water bottle pockets
- USB port
- Breathable material designed for optimal airflow
- Wide, padded shoulder straps
- Comes in various colors and patterns
- Quality zippers
- Comes with a built-in charger
- The hidden pocket can be locked with a combination
- Good value for the money
- The side pockets don’t fit larger bottles
- Smaller than it looks
- It is NOT water resistant
The Tzowla Business Laptop Backpack is perfect for students and those who love a casual hike on the weekends.
Alternatives to North Face Backpacks – Wrap Up
As we said earlier, there are a number of factors that come into play when making a choice. Is it for commuting or camping? Does it need to fit under an airplane seat? What materials should it be made of?
Which is the best bag is really a personal decision. Nevertheless, we hope you found something in the list that works for you.
Before You Go…
Side note: If you’ve been looking for alternatives because your existing North Face backpack needs a lot of TLC… we’ve got you covered! Check out our next article and see if you can breathe some new life into an old faithful:
- The Great Debate: Backpack vs. Messenger Bag
- What Are Backpacks Made Of?
- How Heavy Should a Backpack Be?
All product names, logos, brands, and trademarks are the property of their respective owners
Last update on 2023-11-15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API