You’ve carried a backpack through your whole school career thus far. From the bright colors and characters of elementary school, through the “cool” bags in middle and high school.
But now? Now it’s time for a serious bag that can help you stay organized and ready for success throughout grad school.
We’ve searched high and low, asked every student we know (and some we didn’t) for their takes. Here’s the result – our take on the best backpacks for grad school students!
The full reviews are after the tables, but for those who just want to jump right in – here’s the list we’re going to go through:
Want to see more? Read on for the full list!
Best Backpack for Grad School – The List
Booq Daypack Lightweight Everyday Laptop Backpack
Dimensions: 18.5 x 13 x 6.3 in
Weight: 1.54 lbs
Kicking off our list, this stylish bag is also eco-friendly due to the combination of cotton and recycled PET fibers.
It has a padded laptop pocket for up to a 15” computer, and interior organization for a tablet and smaller accessories, a mesh “cargo net” in the main pouch, basically a great back for organization.
There’s a quick-access top pocket that has a scratch-proof lining — perfect for grabbing your phone on the go. The bag is easy to carry as well, with contoured straps and air mesh back padding.
This bag will keep you and your supplies organized and ready to go.
Pros: Lots of organization, surprisingly roomy, comfortable to wear
Cons: Some buyers had issues with the zipper on the curved opening. We suspect this is mostly due to pulling the zipper at an angle, not “around” the curve, so be aware of this
Rains Backpack for Grad School
Dimensions: 11.42 x 3.94 x 17.72 in
Weight: 1.1 lbs
The Rains Backpack is described by the manufacturer as a “minimalistic, yet practical bag”.
It’s made of a waterproof faux-leather material to protect your belongings. There is one main compartment, a 13” laptop pocket, an inside zipped pocket for small items, and an outer phone pocket on the backside so your phone is always in easy reach.
The bag is small and lightweight, though its a little long (vertically) so it might not be ideally proportioned for people who are not so tall.
This is a great option if you’re looking for something stylish and city-friendly, but able to handle changeable weather (we’re looking at you, Seattle …). It’s easy to clean by simply wiping it down.
Pros: Waterproof and stylish? Who knew you could do that?
Cons: The straps are not the most comfortable – too thin to bear a lot of weight for long periods
YETI Crossroads Backpack
Dimensions: 18 x 12.5 x 7 in
Weight: 3 lbs
Made with 1000D nylon and lined with 420D ripstop nylon, our favorite bag on the list bag is built for durability.
We love the “Structure Arc” design that means the bag stands upright and unzips almost all the way for quick and easy loading and unloading. There are separate foam-lined laptop and tablet pockets — this bag holds up to a 15.5” laptop.
The quick-stash top pocket helps keep necessities (phone, keys, glasses, etc.) in easy reach. The two exterior bottle pockets have magnets to keep them closed when not in use.
The thing we like the most though is the comfort factor. The foam shoulder straps and back panel adjust to your shape ensure a surprisingly comfortable carry.
Pros: Very comfortable, durable materials, convenient compartments with magnetic closures
Cons: Minor – the inner “quick access” pockets essentially steal space from the main enclure and can get in the way
Timbuk2 Division Laptop Backpack
Dimensions: 9.84 x 4.33 x 17.32 in
Weight: 1.9 lbs
This bag has multiple organizational features, including rear access to the 15” laptop compartment to keep the main area clear for books and papers. There is also an organizer for your phone, pens, pencils, etc. & a water bottle holder. There are also external compression straps to cinch or expand the pack as needed.
Similar to the Yeti, this bag is designed to sit upright while you are going through it, and it carries well due to the contoured shoulder straps, tuck-away sternum straps, and air mesh back panel.
Add in the lifetime warranty and all in all, this is a great, lightweight bag with a lot of “comfortable carry” factors built in.
Pros: Comfort and capacity, we like the breathable rear mesh panel a lot
Cons: Could do with more organization options inside the main section
Samsonite Modern Utility Laptop Backpack
Dimensions: 12 x 8 x 17.75 in
Weight: 2 lbs
Another great option – this bag is made with ripstop polyester material which makes it durable and the bottom part is water-resistant. How many times have you put a bag down on a wet surface and regretted it immediately? I know I have.
The air mesh padding in the back pad and shoulder straps allows you to carry your supplies in comfort, while the various compartments keep you organized. The laptop pocket holds up to a 15” computer, and there is a dedicated tablet compartment, a zippered front pocket to store small items, and multiple exterior pockets for quick and easy access.
We like the style, this is a bag that looks good as well as helping organize everything.
Pros: Looks, organization, waterproof base
Cons: A few buyers expressed concern about the stitching quality. This was not a regular complaint so we would be sure to check carefully on delivery
Herschel Pop Quiz
Dimensions: 11.75 x 6 x 17.5 in
Weight: 1.76 lbs
OK, we love the look of this bag!
This 100% polyester back pack has a nylon lining and weatherproof zipper to ensure your belongings stay safe and dry. The spacious main compartment will store all of your books and essentials. The padded and fleece lined laptop sleeve holds up to a 15” computer.
The front zippered pocket has an internal mesh organizer and key clip, and the small lined pouch on top keeps your phone or glasses in easy reach. In other words, straightforward organization that comes in a classic style back pack.
Pros: Classic design with padded fleece laptop sleeve
Cons: It’s essentially a book bag, there’s not a lot of other compartments
Targus Drifter II
Dimensions: 16 x 21.5 x 5 in
Weight: 2.9 lbs
This bag offers a case full of storage options and protective compartments for important devices. Focusing on durability, the nylon bag has a weather-resistant bottom and thick industrial zipper pulls. The two large main compartments provide ample storage, including a padded laptop section that holds up to a 17” device, and an interior divider to keep files and papers organized.
The front zip compartment has pockets for business cards, a mesh accessory pocket, a key clip, and a soft lined, scratch-resistant pocket for fragile accessories like glasses. The back panel has extremely thick padding that includes a large hidden zippered compartment strategically placed to provide lumbar support.
Likewise, the shoulder straps are heavily padded for comfort and include a removable mobile phone pocket and an elastic loop specifically designed to hold sunglasses. This bag keeps everything you need protected and in easy reach.
Pros: Excellent organization and comfort, designed by a company that specializes in mobile computing accessories
Cons: Although the cases appears quite rugged, some buyers report it doesn’t stand up well over the long term to being knocked around
eBags Professional Slim Laptop Backpack
Dimensions: 18 × 12.75 × 8.5 inches
Weight: 4 lbs
eBags is an online retailer that sells bags, luggage, backpacks, laptop bags, and travel accessories, both their own brand (like this one) and others.
This bag is comfortable to carry, with contoured shoulder straps and a padded yet breathable back panel. It also includes a removable and adjustable sternum strap. There are multiple exterior zippered pockets to keep everything you need in easy reach.
The padded laptop sleeve holds up to a 17” computer, and there is a fleece-lined padded tablet sleeve as well. The bag also has a side zip water bottle pocket, and the front zip pocket for small items has interior mesh pockets to keep everything in its place.
The slim design and light weight ensure that the bag looks good and is easy to bring wherever you go.
Pros: Great slim and lightweight option
Cons: This is an excellent bag for people who don’t pack too much – but it gets overloaded easily
LifeProof Squamish Backpack
Dimensions: 19.3 x 13 x 2.5 in
Weight: 2 lbs
As the name implies, this bag can handle anything life throws at it!
The bag is made with Cordura water-repellent fabric and features sealed weather-resistant tech pockets. The padded laptop pocket will hold up to a 15” computer and a tablet and opens from the side for easy access.
The large bottom pocket and expandable cinch front pocket ensure you have plenty of room, and the interior storage pockets keep you organized. With a quilted back, padded shoulder straps, and detachable chest-strap, this bag is comfortable to carry as well.
Pros: Water-repellent fabric, weather-resistant tech pockets
Cons: It’s smaller than it looks
Fjallraven Kanken 17” Laptop Backpack
This practical bag is made from a material called Vinylon F, which is water-resistant, dirt-resistant, and wipes clean easily. The two-way zipper has a rain flap for added protection. The shoulder straps are padded, adjustable, and ergonomic for carrying with ease.
The dual top snap handles allow you to quickly grab and carry like a tote for short distances. The padded laptop compartment holds up to a 17” computer and leaves you with one main compartment and three smaller pockets to hold everything else you may need.
The back pocket is also padded to ensure it’s comfortable against the back (this backpack design was actually created with schoolchildren carrying tons of textbooks in mind – source). And yes, these backbacks are for both sexes!
Pros: Classic looks in water-resistant, dirt-resistant Vinylon F
Cons: We feel that a 17″ inch laptop fits, but it’s a stretch. A 15″ laptop carries really well
Best Laptop for Grad School – Buyer’s Guide
There are a lot of options here for great back packs for grad school. Like having the right supplies, choosing the right bag will help you be prepared and succeed in your classes. Here are a few things to think about when you’re making your decision:
- Capacity: What’s the maximum you’ll need to carry in the pack? Think about not just your laptop and phone, notebooks and textbooks, but any other accessories, water bottles, etc. Size the bag for the day you’ll have the most to carry
- Access: Does the pack have a good number of compartments with convenient access? It gets hugely tiresome having to practically empty a pack to get that one thing that’s (inevitably) slipped to the bottom. Make your life easier!
- Durability: This is going to get daily use, and if you’re going to be exposed to the elements, so will the backpack. If you’re likely to be dodging rain showers, make sure your pack is at least water-resistant to protect your gear
Our choice? It’s really a very personal decision, and what’s right for one person might not be right for you, but for its combination of easy access (standing upright because of its Structure Arc design), its extra storage compartments, and well thought-out extra features make the YETI Crossroads backpack our choice:
- Lots of thought in this design, from upright ease of access to extra features like magnetic closures
Before You Go…
Hope you found something you liked, or at least were inspired by our collection! But what if you actually have a backpack already, that needs a little TLC to bring it back to life? We’ve got you covered – check out our next article:
- Inexpensive Alternatives to North Face Backpacks
- Best Backpacks for Under an Airplane Seat
- Caring for Leather Bags and Backpacks
Still want more? Check this out:
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Last update on 2023-11-15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API