Forget any schoolwear connotations, the best backpacks for women make for a stylish and sensible way to carry your essentials. (Still, they're great for when it's time to head back to school, too.)
Compared to lugging around a bulging, full-to-the-brim tote bag, a backpack or rucksack is the perfect choice for anyone on the go. There are laptop-friendly backpacks smart enough to wear to work, roomy backpacks durable enough for travel and sport, and even fashion backpacks that’ll let you go hands-free on the weekend.
One of the best things about a backpack, aside from evenly distributing the weight across your shoulders so you’re not leaning to one side, is that they come with plenty of different compartments. Say goodbye to rummaging desperately for your purse at the ticket barrier, and hello to knowing exactly where all of your valuables are. It really is the little details that make all the difference when getting from A to B, so look out for backpacks with padded straps, waterproof coatings, and zip-tops too.
According to the British brand Aspinal of London (makers of some of the best designer bags), the average UK woman carries 17 items in her handbag at any one time, which is the equivalent of three bags of sugar. If you needed convincing that it was time to invest in a backpack, let that statistic be it. No wonder so many of us are suffering from back pain.
So, who makes the best backpacks for women? For work, we like Longchamp, Rains and Aspinal of London for their sleek yet functional designs. Away, The North Face and Sandqvist are our top picks for women’s travel backpacks, whether you’re enjoying a city break or trekking cross country. If you’re in the market for a fashionable backpack that delivers on substance too, Madewell, Everlane, and Zara have got you covered.
Best backpacks for women - as chosen by our fashion team
Best travel backpacks for women
The North Face Women’s Borealis Backpack
If you're looking for top-notch comfort, you'll be pleased to know that this backpack has been recommended by the American Chiropractic Association. It's brimming with extra features too, including a highly protective laptop compartment and a fleece-lined pockets for sunglasses and other valuables. Choose from 5 stylish colourways.
Away The Backpack
Sleek and minimal, Away's The Backpack is all class. Great for times when a suitcase feels overboard, three roomy compartments make space for everything from books to overnight clothes. The outer is made from water-resistant nylon, so you don't need to worry about spills and stains either.
Fjall Raven Backpack Laptop 13”
One of our top picks for the best women's travel backpacks, Fjall Raven's colourful backpacks have become something of a capsule wardrobe staple in recent years. They're remarkably hardwearing, with the fabric staying bright and snag-free wear after wear. With space for a 13" laptop, this could be used for work too if your office has a relaxed dress code.
Sandqvist Johannes Backpack
Not just a pretty face, this is one of the best backpacks for outdoor adventures. It can carry up to 15L, with a practical cord detailing to keep everything in place. Padded straps, a top handle and easy-to-reach side pockets are all welcome features too.
Hunter Original Ripstop Packable Backpack
Like to travel light? Then how about a backpack that can be neatly folded away in the front pocket when it's not in use. As you'd expect from British clothing brand and wellington boot experts Hunter, this delivers as much on style as it does practicality. The design is minimal yet suitably sporty, finished with the brand's easy-to-spot logo.
Best backpacks for working women
Longchamp Le Pliage Original Backpack
The best backpacks are the ones that go with everything in your closet, and this neutral number certainly ticks that box. This backpack is light as a feather, meaning it won't add any extra weight to your files, folders or electronics. It also folds to the size of a paperback, making it easy to store in your desk drawer.
Worried about getting caught in a shower? This classic backpack is made from fully waterproof fabric and finished with weather-resistant hardware. So if you forgot to pack your brolly, it's no problem. The only drawback is deciding which of the 10 available shades to go for.
Dr Martens Leather Backpack
A brand best known for their stompy boots, our Doc Martens outfits have been keeping us comfortable and cool for years. To overlook the rest of Dr Martens offering would be to miss a trick, and to miss out on beautifully made leather accessories like this backpack. Paying homage to the classic satchel with metal hardware and an outer pocket, this is a bag that's built to last, no matter how much you fill it.
Aspinal of London Anderson Backpack
This might be the priciest item in our round-up of the best backpacks, but it'll quickly earn back it's keep in your wardrobe. Handmade in Europe, the main fabric is a tightly-weaved, Italian nylon, finished with a buttery calf leather trim. The neutral colours mean it can be worn with everything from 9-5 tailoring, to your best jeans when the weekend rolls around.
Sweaty Betty Switch Up Backpack
Worried a backpack won't look professional enough for your next big meeting? The generous top strap means this backpack doubles as a tote too. Perfect for packing away your gym kit at the start of the day without having to carry something that feels obviously sporty.
Best fashionable backpacks for women
Madewell The Transport Rucksack
If there's one thing you'll never regret investing in, it's luxe leather accessories. Not only will they look better with age as inevitable marks add personality, they'll get softer too. Buy this backpack now, and wear forever.
Zara Everyday Backpack
Add some sunshine to your everyday outfits with the addition of this buttercup yellow backpack. We'll be using ours to liven up head-to-toe black looks, and enjoying the freedom of going hands free.
Everlane The ReNew Transit Backpack
Functional but still in keeping with Everlane's fuss-free aesthetic, this minimal backpack is a worthwhile purchase. Perfect for anyone trying to make more conscious shopping decisions, it has been carefully crafted from recycled plastic bottles, to help minimise landfill.
Eastpak Padded Pak’r Backpack
Who said backpacks were boring? Eastpak are here to prove them wrong, with the help of this beautiful botanic print. Great for festivals or any time you'll be doing a lot of walking, the padded back means this is one of the best backpacks for comfort.
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