Jun 18, 2023

Best women's backpacks 2023: 23 functional and stylish options



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Whether you’re a student or off to the office, there’s nothing quite like a backpack to carry all of your essentials in a comfortable, stylish manner.

Much like men’s backpacks and messenger bags, options fit for women typically boast exterior zipper pockets, an embossed design of some kind — perhaps gold hardware, tassels or a pebbled leather shell — and come in a catalog of classic styles.

To help you enjoy your shoulder carry-all more and stress less, the New York Post Shopping team hand-picked our 23 favorite women’s backpacks of 2023 for you to enjoy and recommend to everyone you know, too.

Not to mention, you may want to also browse our edits of the best adult lunch boxes and best crossbody bags to complete your online shopping haul of must-have accessories.

Absolutely. In fact, the right backpack can even enhance your outfit in the same way the wrong one can take away from it.

Think about it? How often have you taken an hour to plan the perfect ensemble for work, only to have it ruined by a giant, clunky backpack?

While we love a tote or purse, backpacks are often the most practical choice, especially when you have multiple things to carry. The good news is that there are a variety of fashionable backpacks for women to choose from.

Modern Picnic’s Picnic Backpack ($210) is a minimalist dream. From the front it looks like a slim and sleek tote, but if you check out the back, there are handy straps to carry on your back. An insulated compartment inside works perfectly for your lunch, and there’s also a laptop sleeve. Made of vegan leather and available in three colors, it’s as stylish as they come.

If you’re looking for a gorgeous women’s commuter backpack, go for the Tumi Voyageur Celina Backpack ($475). It has adjustable straps, a laptop sleeve and multifunctional pockets for every lipstick, tube of SPF and notebook you need. More important, it has lovely metal detail.

Another one worth checking out? The Mancio Vintage Laptop Backpack($20). Besides being slim and compact, it has a USB charging port, is made with tear resistant Oxford fabric and is available in six different colors.

Certain items never go out of style and backpacks are one of them. They’re an accessory staple that’s not only a necessity for back to school but many adults who rely on them for work. Unlike a purse, they can hold a laptop, an extra set of clothes, snacks and other things you can’t leave behind.

In terms of fashion, not all backpacks are made with style in mind. However, the ones on this list are.

Want more? Don’t forget to read our other shopping stories:

With its retro charm, the Mancio Vintage Laptop Backpack is a steal for less than $25 right now. It’s available in an array of colors to suit your style, has messenger-style leather buckles to secure the pack in place and gold exterior zipper detailing that feels rather high-end.

Review: “I needed a new laptop bag and I love backpacks, so this was so perfect for me! My large laptop fits great and [there’s] still extra space for me to bring anything else I need.”

If you’re walking around an urban area, consider an anti-theft backpack, like the CHERUTY Satchel Backpack. Just shy of $30, this vegan leather women’s backpack features one main compartment with an interior pocket, two interior slit pockets, two side pockets and one front pocket.

Review: “This is a great backpack purse, especially for the price. I bought the medium carmel color first, then the large black [one]. I love then both.”

As one of the most popular brands in the backpack game, Fjallraven has its best-selling Kanken Classic Backpack for less than $100. Take it on a picnic, on a hike, to class or to the mall. Any which way, you’ll be satisfied.

Review: “I had been watching this backpack for a few months and am so glad I finally bought it. It has a classic style, quality fabrication and is a good size. It is lightweight yet sturdy with strong zippers and straps. I abandoned my tote-style purse for my Fjallraven and have no regrets!”

This sleek and functional Topo Designs backpack will take you from point A to Z in style. It’s narrow, which we prefer to more traditional, chunky bags, comes in more than 12 colors and has lots of features. A drawstring cinch closure gives access to the main compartment, perfect for storing folders, notebooks and other day-to-day necessities. A padded sleeve keeps a tablet or laptop safe, while the flap top with dual side-release buckle closures ensures nothing spills out. A zippered front pocket is where we’d store pens, flash drives and maybe a lipstick pencil or two. However, you’re free to use it for whatever you want! One happy Amazon customer who added the backpack to their cart called it “small but mighty” and we couldn’t agree more.

We love how chic and versatile the Telena Vegan Leather Backpack is. Namely, its top-class soft exterior coupled with that adorable tassel detailing makes it feel like your designer clutch — though with a multitude of compartments.

Review: “This is a really nice backpack purse! I was surprised at the quality! It has a ton of great little zipper pockets and I think it’s going to fit my needs perfectly! I’ve been using it about a week and have [received] a ton of compliments on it. Highly recommend!”

If you’re anything like us, your idea of “the basics” is actually a lot. Laptop, phone, phone charge, notebooks, planners — it’s easy to see what finding the right women’s backpack can be difficult. You want something on trend but that actually holds what you need, doesn’t hurt your shoulders or break mid-transit. Thousands of people rely on The North Face Jester Backpack for this reason and we don’t blame them. It has a 360 degree reflective (nice for when you’re working home at night), two pockets for water bottles, a padded 16 inch laptop sleeve and even a front front bungee system where you can tuck your umbrella. It comes in seven different color combos but they’re selling out, so grab your favorite while you can!

Rest assured you’ll have ample space with this Waterproof Travel Backpack that’s available to purchase directly from Amazon. Clad with USB charging port holes, a laptop pocket and a 360-degree waterproof design, it’s worth the $50 price tag. One of our favorite best women’s backpacks for travel, it’s available in more than a dozen colors.

Review: “I used this twice so far, once for a four day glamping trip and once for an AirBnB stay [for a few days]. It held all my clothes for [my trip] (minus the shoes), all my electronics, some snacks, jewelry, and some of my toiletries. It’s really crazy how much stuff you can pack in this bag, and it’s still comfortable to wear.I love all the pockets. I felt like I had places to hide my jewelry and iPad and cords and what not. Well worth giving it a try. I fit just as much if not more in this bag than I have in a suitcase before and it was way easier to carry. I got the off-white and it still hasn’t shown any dirt.”

Meet the backpack we personally use and can’t stop recommending IRL: the Dagne Dover Dakota Neoprene Backpack. Price will depend on your preferred size and you should certainly snag it if your main objective is carrying everything comfortably.

Review: “Received this as an early birthday present and it’s everything I wanted and more. Fits everything I need to take with me to work, is extremely comfortable to carry and cute.”

We also love the Modern Picnic’s The Backpack — coming in multiple colors, smooth to the touch and great for storing your laptop, an umbrella and other odds and ends. Its vegan leather straps give it that ultra-designer feel, too. And when you want to use it like a tote, take the sturdy handle on this women’s backpack purse in hand. From the front, no one will even suspect it doubles as a backpack!

Review: “Run do not walk to get this backpack! I originally bought it as a bag to bring to a summer internship and it’s been perfect! Fits everything without being bulky, and the quality is top-notch. I’ve gotten so many compliments. I recently brought it along while traveling, and it was perfect for that too!”

This guide would be incomplete without a mention of Tumi, the unbeatable travel brand with exceptional on-the-go items. Notably, its Voyageur Celina Backpack is a splurge worth making as it features a laptop pocket, interior multifunction pockets and exterior zip pockets.

Review: “I love that the backpack has a lot of pockets. It’s good for traveling [and] all your little gadgets fit in there. My most important thing is that my 16 inch MacBook Pro fits perfectly. It’s also very stylish, although a bit big for my petite size, as a 5-feet woman.”

If you love everything 90s, this is the women’s backpack to grab. It’s small, slouchy and would look super cute with your best Clueless-inspired outfit. Although on the smaller side, the bag has two pockets for water bottles, two interior pockets, one zippered exterior pocket and a laptop sleeve. It’s only available in black but since that goes with everything, we don’t mind.

For more of an athletic backpack, the Nike Heritage Eugene Backpack is one of your best bets. It comes in other shades aside from pink and also boasts a classic look, an internal laptop sleeve and a side accessories pocket to keep your phone, chargers and other items well-organized.

Review: “The backpack is sturdy and [has] a great design. Plenty of pockets and space.”

For a collegiate-grade staple, you can’t go wrong with The North Face’s Isabella 3.0 Backpack. It’s exceptional for carrying a ton of items inside (think: textbooks and a litany of electronics) and has a convenient exterior pocket that’s quite spacious, like its inside.

Review: “Love it! Holds my laptop and everything I need for going into work, plus works great when I travel.”

We can’t neglect lululemon (aka, one of our first loves). The brand has a wonderful City Adventurer Backpack Micro 3L that’s perfect if you’re looking to invest in a smaller pack. Not to mention, it’s designed for on-the-move use and was designed with water-repellent fabric.

Review: “I love how small it is. It fits my pretty nice sized wallet, keys and iPhone 14. It’s exactly what I was looking for.”

Easily, the Rebecca Minkoff Jumbo Julian Leather Backpack is one of the most chic options you can grab. From its unique saddle-like design to gold-embossed detailing, you’ll receive tons of compliments on it (trust us, and buy now).

JanSport is paving the way for accessibility in the backpack and accessories space with its brand-new launch of its Central Adaptive Accessory Pack. For less than $40, everything — from maneuvering its zipper pockets to grabbing your credit card — is designed to be done with one hand, especially apt for those with upper-extremity disabilities.

For more, check out our guide of the best adaptive clothing brands.

Review: “I love all the space I have to carry my many things. The bag itself is lightweight, which means I don’t need to worry about what I carry being too much.”

We have the Urban Originals Convertible Sling Backpack hung up in our closet and think it’s probably the best accessory ever (no exaggeration). For less than $80, dare we say it’s the perfect mini backpack to take with you to the mall?

Yes. Marc Jacobs is sold on Amazon — and yes, we’re obsessed with the brand. Its Nylon Varsity Backpack has that durable neoprene fabric that’s seemingly more forgiving when it comes to spills and other mishaps. And, we adore the well-constructed gold detailing of this women’s nylon backpack.

Review: “It’s the perfect size! I can fit two water bottles, my wallet, phone and my hand cream in the main compartment. There’s another small zipper between the front pouch where I keep [other] products, and the front pouch I keep pens, chapstick, and an my emergency inhaler. Basically, it’s a perfect bag for storing a decent amount of stuff.”

Structured and equipped for all of your on-the-go travels, the Monos Metro Backpack is an investment worth making, much ado to its sleek profile, water-resistant nylon and vegan leather details. It also features the brand’s patented QuickSnap Modular Kit System, allowing for interchangeable, streamlined packing.

With a name like Longchamp, you know it’s going to be good. The top-rated Le Pliage Backpack makes a lovely gift for less than $150 (cough, cough, graduation?) and has its signature nylon design with that brown leather upper.

Looking to change diapers on the go? If you’d rather carry your baby’s essentials on your back rather than use a diaper bag (though we still love them), the Pottery Barn Kids Bugaboo Changing Backpack is the real deal, clad with multiple compartments to keep everything organized.

Hello, vibrant colors! CALPAK is one of our favorites on this list, mostly because its Kaya Laptop Backpack is polished, put together and pretty in pink (along with dozens of other colors). What’s more, it has that convenient exterior pocket we all know and love.

Take a page from Shay Mitchell’s playbook with her brand Béis. Its Expandable Backpack has ample storage, is 100% sustainable (made of recycled plastic water bottles) and has the luxury of perfectly compartmentalizing everything, from your smaller tech items to your laptop.

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