Backpacks are back—and no, we’re not talking about the ones with embroidered initials that are big enough to carry your textbooks. We’re talking about the numerous stylish and practical options brands are making. Think about it: Carrying all your gear evenly on your back is a lot more comfortable than a duffel bag, which weighs down one side more than the other. Plus, backpacks leave your hands free, so they're easy to bike, run, or just adventure with.
We’ve scoured stores to find the latest and greatest on the backpack scene. Here are our favorite backpacks for every type of activity you'll be doing.
Best for a Day Trip
Whether you’re headed to the beach or the park, you’ll be glad you have this pack. The bottom of the bag is actually an insulated cooler with a mesh pocket made for an ice pack. The small side zipper allows you to access a can straight from your back. The two exterior pockets are koozies to keep your cans chill, and there's a hidden bottle opener attached to the shoulder strap. Toss everything else you need (sunscreen, a frisbee) in the main compartment, latch a rolled blanket or towel in the front two clasps, and you've got yourself a party-to-go on your back.
Best for Weekend Trips
This Cotopaxi pack is lightweight, agile, and comfortable to carry, so it's good for many activities. But the size combined with the wraparound, suitcase-like zipper for easy access to all your items make it perfect for weekend trips—no matter if you're going to a city or a mountain.
Best for Running
Strap on this guy before heading out to log some miles. The mesh lining not only provides cushion, but it also allows for ventilation, so you don't get that gross swamp back. It comes with a 1.5-liter bladder, and you can stash your phone, snacks, or other essentials in the front pockets. Plus, there’s reflectivity on the front and back, meaning cars can see you at dawn or dusk.
Best for Bike Commuting
The inside of this pack is molded to add an extra layer of protection for your gear, no matter what bumps or potholes come your way. As you wear it, the leather straps form to fit your shoulders without digging in, while the cross-chest strap keeps it locked in place. And it’s easy to get in and out of, thanks to the drop-front design, which comes in handy when you’re on a bike.
Best for Hiking
If you’re planning to hit the trails, chances are you need to bring more than just water. This pack comes with a 2-liter hydration reservoir, plus a top pocket and main compartment to store your phone, sunscreen, bug spray, a change of clothes, and some trail mix, of course. The adjustable straps and belt allow you to dial in the fit, and the exterior fabric repels dirt and water to keep your pack clean and dry no matter how dusty or drenched the trails get.
Best for the Gym
Pockets on pockets on pockets. This knapsack is the best gym buddy since it keeps you uber-organized with an inside zip compartment for shoes, a main compartment with interior pockets for gear and personals, an outer water bottle pocket, a separate padded laptop sleeve, as well as numerous zipped pockets for your other essentials. Bonus: It never gets mad at you for missing a workout, unlike some other gym buddies.
Best for Travel
It may look like a regular old backpack, but this bag doubles as the perfect carry-on. The inside holds a removable packing cube, in which you can stash a change of clothes or separate your dirty ones during a weekend away. Once you arrive, remove the cube and the bag is free to be used every day instead of being held hostage by your clothing. The padded computer sleeve can be accessed from the top or side, making it easy to pull the laptop out to get through security. And when you unzip the front pocket, you’ll discover the perfect home for your phone, chargers, wallet, travel documents, keys, pens, and more.
Best for Everyday
A water-resistant finish on the exterior of this bag makes it great to carry around on the regular, no matter what Mother Nature throws your way. It can fit a lot of gear (up to 34 liters) in four main compartments, and the vintage design gives it that cool, throwback-but-new vibe.
Best for Camping
Pack this bag full of everything you need for an overnight camping trip. The harness adjusts to multiple torso sizes so you can get a comfortable, personalized fit. Plus, it's chock-full of extra features like a rain cover, sleeping bag compartment, internal hydration sleeve, and trekking pole attachment.