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The 7 Best Commuter Backpacks in 2022

The 7 Best Commuter Backpacks in 2022

When you’re on the move, you can have a lot of things to carry from point A to point B. The best commuter backpacks are a solution to this issue.

And you can bet that we’ve got some favorite choices, a guide for picking the right bag for you, and we cover the other essentials to streamline your commute.

What’s the Best Commuter Backpack?

No matter where you’re traveling, you don’t want to worry about things falling out of a pocket or rifling through the depths of other bags to find your keys or train pass. 

Of course, spending time to find the backpack for you can seem like another overwhelming task to deal with. Don’t worry, because we’ve put together our top choices with catering for any need.

Our Top 7 Picks for the Best Commuter Backpacks:
  1. Best Overall: SwissGear Scansmart Laptop Backpack
  2. Best for Bike Commutes: North Face Borealis Laptop Backpack
  3. Best for Flights: NUBILY TSA Travel Anti-theft Backpack
  4. Best for a Gym Bag: Under Armour Adult Hustle 4.0 Backpack
  5. Best for Style: KROSER Laptop Backpack
  6. Best for Cost: Matein Business Anti-theft Travel Laptop Backpack
  7. Best for College Students: Vera Bradely Cotton Campus Backpack

Commuter backpacks range from bulky options good for overnights to slim bags for everyday use. They’re a handy way to keep everything together while showing off your style.

Why You Need a Commuter Backpack

Guy wearing one of the best commuter backpacks delivering packages in his bike in the city

Halfpoint/Shutterstock

Commuter backpacks are a versatile option for storing your necessities for the day, and they’re a far cry from the simple school backpacks you might remember from childhood.

The best commuter backpacks offer security and organization to the various essentials of adult life. In the digital age, one of the most crucial features is having a protected sleeve for laptops or other devices.

And for many of us, that’s just the start of our needs. Commuter backpacks are spacious with internal pockets, better than alternatives like open purses or simple cases.

When carrying around valuables, you want to feel safe. Unfortunately, crime rates are exceptionally high among commuters. A key strategy to keep your valuable items, like laptops, secure is to store them in non-descript cases close to your body.

Backpacks meet both of these criteria. Commuter backpacks can carry everything, and they hold up to high-energy activities.

These bags have features that vary in function, but most can handle biking, travel, going to the office, or hitting the gym. Our reviews will help you find the best commuter backpack, and we’ll dive deeper into tips for choosing.

Best Commuter Backpacks: Our Top 7 Picks

We spent time testing out backpacks to find the ones we felt best endured the challenges of everyday life. We considered different options and decided on an overview of every bag’s best features and where they didn’t meet standards.

Let’s get into the reviews and find your next backpack.

1. Best Overall: SwissGear Scansmart Laptop Backpack

Best Overall
SwissGear Scansmart Laptop Backpack
Pros:
  • Various internal pockets for optimal storage
  • Durable quality for extended use
  • Extra comfortable padding for everyday wear
Cons:
  • Potentially too large and oversized
  • Internal headphone access instead of charging capability
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When searching for the best commuter backpack, the SwissGear routinely comes out on top. This bag is incredibly spacious, has plenty of inner and outer pockets for organization, and has many other features to make your everyday life easier.

One of the only possible complaints about this bag is that it’s too big. But if you have lots to carry on your trips to school or work, you’ll probably enjoy the space.

When you load this bag, you can feel confident in still being comfortable because of the padded straps and back. The bag will fit a 17-inch laptop in a well-protected place near your back.

There are dual water bottle holders on the sides to keep extra hydrated or handle an umbrella for easy access. What’s more, the SwissGear commuter backpack can keep water off your gear and has reflective details for dim conditions.

This sizable bag still has a relatively attractive and slim appearance in black with its streamlined detailing. Indeed, it won’t look out of place, whether behind an office desk or out on a hike. 

2. Best for Bike Commutes: North Face Borealis Laptop Backpack

Best for Bike Commutes
North Face Borealis Laptop Backpack
Pros:
  • Plenty of organization
  • Waist clip for extra security
  • Reflective features for visibility on the road
Cons:
  • Smaller storage capacity than some bags
  • Won’t stand by itself on the ground
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The North Face is one of the best commuter backpacks if you tend to bike on your commute. It has an American Chiropractic Association endorsement, so you know it’ll be comfortable while you wear it for long periods.

In particular, its extra waist strap keeps the backpack tight to your body while you move to help redistribute weight. The padding of this backpack keeps away sweat and moisture from collecting.

Your 15-inch laptop is kept snugly inside a well-padded compartment against your back. One main complaint is that the large compartment isn’t very spacious.

It can fit a few books and essentials, but you won’t be able to pack a day’s worth of clothing or other necessities like some alternatives. The shape of this bag prioritizes ergonomics, laptop safety, and a slim design, so it doesn’t have a flat bottom.

Some may have issues with the bag not standing up without leaning against another object. Nevertheless, the bag is attractive and comes in plenty of colors and styles to personalize.

3. Best for Flights: NUBILY TSA Travel Anti-theft Backpack

Best for Flights
NUBILY TSA Travel Anti-theft Backpack
Pros:
  • Room for packing items and clothing
  • Secure and hidden pocket in the back
  • Portable charger access
Cons:
  • Not the most durable
  • Zippers may come undone in certain positions
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For some people, air travel makes up a large portion of their regular commuting. If you regularly need a solid bag that can handle holding the essentials for overnight stays, try out this commuter backpack by NUBILY.

Some features that make it ideal for airports are the ability to unzip for efficiently passing security and a band on the back to slip over luggage for effortless carrying.

This bag makes a great carry-on because it can hold a change of clothes and other valuables you might not want to risk in checked luggage. While traveling, you’ll appreciate cord access to an internal pocket for your portable charger.

This helps keep your phone charged on the go, and the padded area can accommodate a 17-inch laptop. For extra security, it has a hidden zipper pocket against the back for valuable documents or belongings.

Many other bags force users to put these items in the front pocket for accessibility, even though the front pocket is the most dangerous place to house belongings. Unfortunately, this bag can have a security issue where the zippers can occasionally come undone while kept upright.

If you zip the bag and keep them at the bottom, you shouldn’t face this problem. Should you use this bag heavily, you may see some deterioration that needs patching over time.

4. Best for a Gym Bag: Under Armour Adult Hustle 4.0 Backpack

Best for a Gym Bag
Under Armour Adult Hustle 4.0 Backpack
Pros:
  • Extra storage for gym clothes and shoes
  • Comfortable for everyday use
  • Stylish bag for all settings
Cons:
  • Bag can’t stand by itself
  • Large shoes may not fit
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Under Armour is a well-known and respected brand, and it has the best commuter backpack for hitting the gym after a long day. This roomy backpack keeps work necessities in the main compartment and has a bottom section dedicated to holding extra shoes and clothing.

The stylish bag has plenty of color options while maintaining a professional appeal. What’s more, this backpack is highly durable and can handle plenty of daily use before showing signs of wear.

It will ensure your items are organized and will protect your 15-inch laptop. Some might find it frustrating that this bag can’t stand on its own because it doesn’t have a flat bottom. However, this is a trade-off for the extra laundry and shoe storage.

Additionally, the shoes may occasionally press into the main compartment and have less space than expected. Still, this bag can keep your gym clothes separate from your valuables after your workout. Overall, it’s a comfortable and sturdy bag for everyday use.

5. Best for Style: KROSER Laptop Backpack

Best for Style
KROSER Laptop Backpack
Pros:
  • Stylish bag made of artificial leather
  • Larger than it appears
  • Internal access to portable chargers
Cons:
  • Not waterproof
  • Zippers may stick occasionally
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If you’re looking for style in your commuter backpack, the best option is this KROSER, a cross between a traditional backpack and a purse. This bag uses artificial leather, giving it an elegant quality.

Moreover, it has a wide opening that makes it deceivingly spacious for your daily necessities. The inner pocket has a bright lining that makes it easy to find your belongings among the small organizers.

Elsewhere, there is a USB port to access an internal personal portable charger. Plus, there are dual outer pockets for water bottles or other easy access. It can fit much more than you might expect, but it can get heavy quickly.

This commuter backpack also comes with a luggage strap on the back for easy carrying. It has a stylish look that makes it perfect for carrying into the office or other professional situations. You can keep your 15-inch laptop in it comfortably.

Unfortunately, this bag can have issues in heavy rain as it isn’t waterproof. There may also be some minor issues with the zipper sticking but that can usually be resolved with some effort. 

6. Best for Cost: Matein Business Anti-theft Travel Laptop Backpack

Best for Cost
Matein Business Anti-theft Travel Laptop Backpack
Pros:
  • Hidden pocket on the back for security
  • Large pockets with organizers
  • Sleek and stylish appearance for multiple settings
Cons:
  • No bottom padding for laptops
  • Not comfortable over extended periods
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The Matein travel laptop backpack is an ideal option for value because it has many essential features at a low cost. The bag has a large main compartment offering plenty of organization. 

This backpack has some travel details found in higher-end options, like a luggage strap for carrying and a secure hidden pocket against your back.

It even has a USB access port for an internal portable charger to keep your devices at full charge. Your 15-inch laptop will be pretty safe in the back pocket of this bag. However, this backpack lacks padding on the bottom of the laptop compartment.

This could be dangerous if you’re not careful with how you set the bag down. Additionally, it isn’t the most comfortable bag for all-day wear.

But you might be surprised at how stylish this bag appears. It has an attractive appearance and its numerous plusses make it a strong competitor against higher-end bags. 

7. Best for College Students: Vera Bradely Cotton Campus Backpack

Best for College Students
Vera Bradely Cotton Campus Backpack
Pros:
  • Machine washable cotton
  • Plenty of organization
  • Very comfortable for extended wear
Cons:
  • Zippers may stick
  • Designs may fade or rub off over time
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Vera Bradley has an incredibly comfortable and roomy bag that makes it the best commuter backpack for college students. It can handle the various items you need to carry to class while being comfortable all day and night. 

The soft cotton is machine washable, so you can always rinse it if anything spills. In addition, there are plenty of other features like a luggage strap and dual side pockets. It can easily fit your 15-inch laptop in padded safety.

These bags come in a variety of beautiful styles for optimal customization. Some may find that the pattern fades over time, or designs with metallic embellishments flake. You may occasionally have a zipper stick, but it will usually come undone with effort.

Overall, these bags offer a lot of space and plenty of style. They have unique comfort and washing features that make them ideal for the hectic lives of college students. 

Finding the Best Commuter Backpack for You

Woman with a commuter backpack walks down an semi-busy city street with the background in a blur

GP Pixstock/Shutterstock

Below we’ll give you helpful tips to find the best commuter backpack for your needs.

Comfort

First and foremost is comfort, as you’ll be carrying heavy items in this bag for most of the day. It’s crucial to select the proper size backpack for your body to keep your back from hurting. You may also need more padding depending on personal preferences. 

It’s not only about the dimensions but the distribution of items within the backpack. Ensure you have enough organization to keep things well-placed throughout your trip.

Organization Features

Next, you want to ensure the bag has the proper organization you need. Some people only need the main compartment, while others prefer having dedicated spots for every item. 

While thinking of the organization, consider safety and ease of access. Certain items should be kept internally for the best security, while others need to be easy to grab for use. You can list your daily items and try to envision them all fitting in your bag.

How You Commute

One of the most important factors to consider is how you commute. Some backpacks are great for biking, while others can’t hold up to that much vigorous activity.

If you regularly are on the subway or other tight spaces, you might want to choose a compact bag. Of course, if that’s the case, it’s crucial for your bag to have safety features in those situations.

Laptop Safety

Finally, if you regularly carry a laptop or other personal device, you should ensure your bag has good storage for the valuable item. The best commuter backpacks offer padded storage.

Also, ensure your laptop can fit in your desired backpack, as some bags can only fit 15-inch laptops while others can handle larger 17-inch devices.

Frequently Asked Questions

For a piece on the best commuter backpacks, a guy wears a pack while a train speeds by in a blur

franz12/Shutterstock

If you’re looking for more info about commuter backpacks, keep reading because we have the answers to a few of the most commonly asked questions.

What is a commuter backpack?

A commuter backpack is a specialized bag that typically provides organization for daily necessities. Many have a laptop compartment for commuters who often carry many belongings.

Should I carry a backpack in NYC?

Yes, many people carry backpacks in New York City, and it’s safer than keeping items in your pockets. Keep your valuables out of the front pocket for the best security, and you may need to lock your bag at locations like the Statue of Liberty.

Are commuter backpacks safe?

Yes, keeping your items in a backpack is safer than your pockets. These bags tend to be non-descript bags and are not as often targeted as laptop cases.

What is the best commuter backpack that can double as a hiking bag?

Out of our options, we would recommend the North Face Borealis laptop backpack because it is lightweight and has chest straps for extra security during activity.

What is the best waterproof commuter backpack?

Our top pick for a waterproof commuter backpack is the SwissGear, as it can keep delicate items reasonably dry in harsh conditions.

So, What’s the Best Commuter Backpack?

Overall, the best commuter backpack for you is dependent on your preferences for organization, comfort, laptop needs, and commuting methods.

Best Overall
SwissGear Scansmart Laptop Backpack
Pros:
  • Various internal pockets for optimal storage
  • Durable quality for extended use
  • Extra comfortable padding for everyday wear
Cons:
  • Potentially too large and oversized
  • Internal headphone access instead of charging capability
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Each of these options excels in its way, and you may find our top SwissGear pick the perfect bag for your daily commute. However, that choice is ultimately up to you. Happy travels!