Having a reliable backpack means you can carry cargo hands-free; that means errands, beer runs, and overnights are all handled. And now that road trips are back in a big way due to COVID-19, a backpack is one of the best investments you can make. It allows you to keep key essentials — masks, sanitizer, wipes, phone and ID, and critical snacks and water — with you. One of the best backpacks for men will help you stay organized no matter what your destination. And even if you're not hitting the open road, a backpack with ample pockets and water-resistant fabric will serve you well, because you never know what the day will bring.
You might want to spring for one or two convenient features for the 21st century as well, like padded laptop sleeves or USB ports. If you travel by plane often, a TSA-friendly design will allow the pack to open flat so you don't need to remove your laptop. But if you frequently head off the grid, you might be better served by a wilderness-friendly pack that comes with an internal frame for more support. On the other hand, if you really just want a nice budget backpack that won't take up much space in your closet when not in use, consider one that packs away in a small footprint.
Ahead, the six backpacks for every type of adventurer. And remember: Don’t forget your mask.
1. A Budget-Friendly Backpack That Packs Down Small
If you think you'll just use a backpack for the occasional adventure, you might not want to shell out the big bucks. This budget backpack pick, featured here in the 20-liter size, is plenty sturdy and fans can't get enough of it (more than 7,000 Amazon reviewers have given it a perfect five-star rating). Made from water-resistant, rip-proof nylon with a reinforced handle and mesh-lined straps, it's durable and lightweight. It weighs less than half a pound and packs down to just about 6-inches square with the included stuff sack. You get a good-sized main compartment and two zippered pockets on the outside, plus mesh side pockets for umbrellas, water bottles, and more.
- Available colors: 16
- Available sizes: 3 (20 liter, 25 liter, 33 liter)
2. A Versatile Backpack For Everyday
This wear-it-into-the-ground backpack combines modern conveniences like a USB port for charging electronics and a designated laptop sleeve, with an anti-theft design and durable construction. Carry up to a 15.6-inch laptop (although you can also find it in a 17-inch version) and even a change of clothes between the two main compartments. "Although I got this backpack for school I will definitely be utilizing it for travel," one Amazon shopper wrote of its versatility. It's made from water-resistant polyester canvas and features two exterior zippered pockets lined with mesh for small items, plus: water bottle sleeves, a luggage strap, and a hidden pocket for keeping valuables handy. The only caveat: You need to provide the power source for charging your devices.
- Available colors: 10
- Available sizes: 2 (15.6 Inch, 17 Inch)
3. This Professional-Looking Backpack
This tech-savvy backpack takes its cues from the C-suite in ballistic nylon and briefcase-worthy vegan leather. The materials are naturally water-resistant to protect any tech you keep in its padded laptop sleeve designed to hold up to a 15.6-inch laptop, and a USB charging port ensures you'll never run out of juice on the go (Note: power bank not included). Hidden exterior pockets on the sleek anti-theft design keeps trade secrets safe and lend an ultra-clean look. Contoured padding on the back leaves plenty of room for airflow — no more sweaty marks when you take off your bag. Plus, it comes with a strap to attach to your luggage trolley for easy travel. "Was looking for something functional but a bit more “grown up” and this bag ticked all the boxes. I get regular compliments on the style but also functionally," one shopper noted, adding, "Charging capability has also been a nice bonus after some late work nights."
- Available colors: 1
- Available sizes: 1
4. A Rugged Backpack In Natural Canvas
This vintage-style backpack is made from lightweight cotton canvas with leather trim for an all-purpose pack with hardy, minimalist good looks. The exterior has three sizeable zippered pockets while the inside is fully lined and an organizational sleeve on one wall (it can accommodate 13- to 16-inch laptops, but its stuff-and-go drawstring design isn't quite as computer-friendly as other picks on this list). Also important to note: Canvas isn't inherently water-resistant, so Scotchguard up if you need that feature. That said, one shopper took theirs on a water ride and reported, "Nothing inside got wet, despite the backpack taking some light splashes. The magnetic snaps on the main flap's straps were a life saver and held up just fine through constant access all day, and the zippers functioned as they should, smooth pulls to open."
- Available colors: 5
- Available sizes: 2 (Medium, Large)
5. An Outdoorsy Backpack You Can Take Camping
If you frequently head off-road, an internal frame hiking backpack might give you more use in the long run; the Teton Sports Scout 3400 comes loaded with plenty of wilderness-ready features but isn't too big to toss next to you in a car. It has a 55-liter capacity and weighs less than 5 pounds. The padded back has extra lumbar support and extra straps at the waist and shoulders help distribute weight when the going gets heavy. There's tons of external storage and a bungee lattice, plus a built-in weather shield that pulls out of one pocket in case a downpour. Tuck a sleeping bag in the designated compartment, and you're prepared for almost anything. And thanks to its 600-denier ripstop nylon and Oxford canvas construction, this durable pack is one you'll have for years.
- Available colors: 4
- Available sizes: 1
6. A Discreetly Durable Backpack That's TSA-Friendly
Backed by more than 11,000 Amazon reviews, this high-end travel backpack still hits a relatively accessible price point for a bag that's this full-featured. First, it's made of thick ballistic polyester that shrugs off abuse (and rain, too), while contoured shoulders feature built-in suspension and tons of padding that still feels breathable. Then, inside, your tech stays swaddled in “floating” compartments like some kind of sci-fi movie, and it unzips flat so you can get through security without removing your electronics if you ever use it for air travel (It can fit up to 17-inch laptops). Plus, there's organizational space inside the spacious main compartment for documents and ID. Outside is a quick-access zip pocket for essentials plus a roomy exterior zippered pocket, and two side water bottle pockets. It would be a challenge to overpack this thing.
- Available colors: 7
- Available sizes: 1