11 Best Commuter Backpacks That Hold More And Weigh Less

Written by Priyam Gupta
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Now that office normalcy is back on the table, it’s accompanied by thoughts of back-to-work basics, from classic trench coats and breezy button-downs to comfy kicks and business blazers. Let’s not forget about some professional prerequisites like a notebook, water bottle, adapter — and of course, a stylish backpack that fits it all. Whether you take the subway or ride a bike, you want the best commuter backpack that lets you store everything in neat compartments while being comfortable on the shoulders. Something compact with a hefty amount of internal and external pockets, some kind of anti-theft tech, and the ability to resist water — now there’s a backpack that checks all the boxes.

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While the struggle of locating such a bag might be real, once you get through with our selection of the 11 best commuter backpacks, you’ll forget all about the struggle of finding what you need, when you need it. Before looking at the options, allow us to give you an insight into the essence of a commuter backpack.

What Is A Commuter Backpack?

A commuter backpack is a bag specifically crafted for commuters who travel every day and need to carry their things around safely. It usually has several compartments and pouches that look slim and seamlessly hold a ton of essentials. Such bags have comfortable shoulder straps that make them easier to carry. They are versatile and can also be used on treks, hikes, and during short travels.

11 Best Commuter Backpacks To Easily Carry All Your Stuff

1. Tzowla Travel Laptop Backpack

This one’s got all the qualifications to be your go-to backpack when you’re always on the go. It has a ton of space to hold your laptop and smaller items like phones, keys, etc. There’s a section entirely dedicated to storing a 15.6-inch device, not to mention pockets for accouterments like pen drives, cables, chargers, and power banks. The front compartment comes with 3 compact partitions to hold your key fobs and other miniature items, guaranteeing that no part of your travel gets wasted in scanning and searching. Crafted with high-quality 300D nylon material, the backpack is ideal for long, frequent, and turbulent journeys. Its anti-theft feature is a major highlight as it keeps your stuff secure from snooping hands, thanks to the password system and premium quality metal zippers.

Pros

  • Water-resistant
  • Soft, fluffy protection
  • Has multiple dividers
  • Magnetic buckle on the side
  • Inbuilt USB port for hands-free audio

Cons

  • Slightly small in size

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2. Targus Drifter II Laptop Backpack

The Targus Drifter deserves to be your top choice if you like bags that strike a delicate balance between durability and design. It features thick zippers and sturdy plastic handles supported by metal grommets to make your trips comfortable and stress-free. As far as storage goes, the enormous laptop chamber with a zippered pocket to hold small accessories will definitely satisfy your need for space. The shoulder straps are padded and adequately contoured to make the design even more user-friendly, with the back panel offering thick pads to ensure solid back support. There’s also a hidden pocket in the rear for keeping certain belongings a hush-hush.

Pros

  • Super-durable handle
  • Weather-resistant material
  • Compatible with 16-inch laptops
  • Soft-lined pockets for sunglasses

Cons

  • The design looks a bit clunky.

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3. Kenneth Cole Reaction Brooklyn Commuter Backpack

Kenneth Cole Reaction has an entire range of backpacks explicitly designed to iron out any wrinkles from your commute. Crafted with ballistic polyester, this one has enough space to retain all your everyday essentials, easily fitting laptops with 16-inch screens along with some accessories. It’s induced with RFID blocking technology to give you substantial protection against credit card thefts. If you want to keep your laptop from passing through airport checkpoints, the TSA-compliant EZ scan feature with a full-length zipper pocket renders check-ins a breeze. Bonus points for exterior features like a trolley tunnel that fits upright in most trolley handles.

Pros

  • Fully lined interior
  • Tear-resistant exterior
  • Spacious front compartment
  • Ultra-padded air mesh back panel
  • Lightweight 1680D polyester exterior
  • Available in 6 colors

Cons

  • The interior fabric isn’t noiseless.

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4. Ridge The Commuter Weatherproof Backpack

Ergonomically designed to inspire the highest degree of comfort and convenience while you’re on the move, this weatherproof commuter backpack is inches away from being the holy grail for travelers. Its dual zipper configuration provides access to the main pocket from the top and the front, with two separate sections for laptops and accessories. There’s a power bank outlet attached to an external USB port to charge your devices no matter where you are. More than capable of surviving the grind and grime of city life, this is an excellent choice for people who spend the majority of their time on the road.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Water-resistant
  • Exterior USB port
  • Hidden RFID-blocker
  • Available in 3 colors

Cons

  • Slightly pricey

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5. Incase Icon City Commuter Backpack

As a versatile fusion of urban and sleek aesthetics, the Incase city commuter backpack helps you stow essentials equally well for work and weekend getaways. With a separate 360º-padded compartment, the bag keeps your laptop safe and sound while being super-comfy to carry. The fleece-lined outer pocket is designed for delicate basics like your phone, sunglasses, and items that need extra TLC. The highlights, however, are the multiple organizer pockets that serve as a shortcut to the little trinkets that are frequently sacrificed to depth, such as keys, earphones, or your wallet.

Pros

  • Available in 7 colors
  • Quick-access front zip pocket
  • Spacious back compartment
  • 270 x 500D blended weave poly material

Cons

  • Slightly flimsy exterior

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6. Bellroy Classic Backpack Plus

This zesty and adorable commuter backpack by Bellroy isn’t just work-friendly, but it’s also a suitable accessory for school and recreational trips around the city! Don’t be deceived by its humble stature — the bag has a mammoth, 22-liter capacity that can hold everything from your laptop and accessories to clothes, wide-mouth bottles, and a lunch case. There’s a perpendicular compartment in the front for quick access to the little things, with a secret stretch pocket for stuff like cables or cash. Thanks to the long-lasting craftsmanship and high-quality materials, the backpack is a total winner in the portability department, too. It comes with a comfortable harness and a sternum strap that evenly distributes the weight across your torso and gives your back a break.

Pros

  • Contour straps
  • Durable zippers
  • Sustainable material
  • Lumbar support

Cons

  • Slightly expensive

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7. Riderbag Reflektor35 Black Reflective Backpack

The Riderbag Reflektor35 is pretty much the be-all and end-all of safe voyages for those who bike everywhere. Supported with extra padding on the straps and rear, the backpack is comfy to wear and comes with all the necessary tools to protect your gear. First and foremost, the high-visibility reflector will allow other vehicles to see you coming a mile away, so you don’t have to worry about safety. Secondly, the waterproof exterior and durable fabric let you ride in all weathers and terrains. The fact that it comes with a water-resistant backpack cover, a paracord survival keychain, and an attachable helmet net cinches the bag’s position as a reliable, adventure-ready buddy.

Pros

  • Versatile bag
  • Waterproof fabric
  • Holds 16-inch laptop
  • 2 mesh side pockets
  • Available in 4 colors
  • Comes with an emergency whistle

Cons

  • Slightly undersized shoulder straps

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8. Thule Pack ‘N Pedal Commuter Backpack

The aptly titled Thule Pack ‘n Pedal commuter backpack is intended for those who like to be ready for anything and everything. Along with a 24-liter capacity, it comes with some pretty cool stocking solutions that keep your laptop, tablets, and other accessories safe and easy to reach. The main laptop compartment is waterproof and has a roll-top closure that maintains dryness. Padded and detachable, it’s versatile enough to be used as back support. There’s also a covert, neon blue rain cover that enhances protection against the elements and improves your visibility. With EVA panels that facilitate airflow and well-ventilated shoulder straps to boot, you’ll finally be able to experience supreme travel comfort.

Pros

  • Stylish design
  • 360º reflective panel
  • Comes with a rain cover
  • Hideaway helmet attachment system

Cons

  • Slightly heavy

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9. Osprey Radial Bike Commuting Backpack

Another fantastic option for bikers, this backpack has two zippered front panels, mesh organizational sleeves, woven side pockets, and an internal key fob. The padded laptop sleeve and can effortlessly accommodate 15 inches of hardware. It has a capacity of 26 to 34 liters, which is quite a rare find. There’s a nylon waist belt that you can modify with the ErgoPull™ closure system or even remove when not in use. The bag also offers an EVA-foam Biostretch harness and a magnetic sternum clip for better breathability and support. Overall, this radial backpack is ideal for light commutes, when all you need is to carry stuff in an organized manner. You can also use its scratch-free pockets for keeping sunglasses or little electronic contraptions

Pros

  • Integrated rain cover
  • LidLock™ Helmet clip
  • Lower side compression straps
  • Suspended mesh airspeed™ back panel
  • Available in 3 colors

Cons

  • The material is not lint-resistant.

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10. Nike Commuter Running Backpack

Fancy frequent trail runs? Ditch the barely-there running belt that weighs heavy on the waist and invest in this stodgy, functional, made-for-running backpack that comes with a stabilizer to eliminate bouncing. It’s also got a nicely-ventilated back panel that keeps you cool, a removable sternum strap for customization, and multiple pockets for everything you need. You can organize your stuff the way that suits you best and even make space in the expandable sides for quick-access items like a water bottle or cooling towel.

Pros

  • Reflective detailing
  • Lightweight polyester
  • Expandable capacity
  • Flexible water bottle holder
  • Mesh pockets on both sides
  • Doesn’t bounce or move

Cons

  • The capacity is slightly low at 15 liters.

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11. Kopack Slim Laptop Backpack – KP694

With thousands of reviewers calling it the best tech backpack money can buy, we were especially curious about this one. Turns out, it is indeed one of the most efficient tech-packs on the market right now and an urban commuter’s delight, thanks to the uber-smooth fabric that resists wear and tear. The anti-theft zones and unique zippers that lock in a D-shape ring are ideal for keeping your laptop and other valuables sound when you’re out and about in crowded areas. The well-organized compartments will never lose out on the important stuff like keys and bills, while the sleek rectangular parameters help you store it neatly in the front of your seat on flights.

Pros

  • Sleek and stylish
  • Water-resistant exterior
  • Detachable USB cable
  • Adjustable shoulder straps
  • Anti-puncture 4 tooth zippers
  • Available in 5 colors

Cons

  • The laptop zipper is not easily lockable.

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These bags won’t just get you from Point A to Point B — they’ll do it in style. Before buying a commuter backpack, check out all the points you should keep in mind.

Things To Consider When Buying A Commuter Backpack

  • Size

The ideal size of your backpack depends on your everyday basics. In case you need a lot of space, choose a backpack with a capacity of 20-30 liters. If you need a small backpack, choose anything with a capacity of fewer than 15 liters. However, make sure your laptop (and files, if any) fit without a struggle.

  • Weight

The best commuting backpack is lightweight and super-easy on your shoulders despite being constructed with a solid material. Nobody wants to invest in a bag that weighs them down or strains their shoulders or back. Even if you’re used to carrying heavier loads, your bag should still be feather-light in comparison.

  • Water resistance

When you are taking your bike to work or walking to the subway, the last thing you need is an unexpected shower to drench your precious belongings. The wiser course of action here is to invest a few extra bucks in a weatherproof backpack that saves you thousands of dollars in water damage. Such bags are suited to all types of weather conditions and are generally more durable.

How To Pack A Commuter Backpack?

  • Carry less

Always try to limit the amount of stuff you carry. Keep your checklist concise by including only the most essential items that you can’t do without. This especially applies if you’re a public transport commuter. So travel light and be ruthless in your purge of the inessential.

  • Arrange things properly

To give your backpack the right amount of balance and leverage, place clothing and other heavy items at the bottom. Packing experts will tell you to roll your clothing, as rolling can save space. Also, place your bottoms on top of your shirts.

  • Laptop placement

While you might be tempted to keep your laptop anywhere (as long as it’s inside) when you’re in a hurry, make sure you always place it in the designated area. This ensures the safety of your device and makes enough space for other items.

  • Separate food and other accessories

Try to carry your food in reusable containers. This prevents spillage, keeps your meal intact, and is better for the environment. However, make sure you place it far away from electronics and clothes, preferably in a waterproof pouch or bag. The best way to do this is to keep small items and accessories like your phone, keys, etc., in the outer compartments, which are handy and easier to access.

Everything you need to know about picking the best commuter backpack is right here. You can choose the one that accommodates all your needs and specifications, from a lunchbox and water bottle to notebooks and tiny trinkets. Whether you’re a student, a professional, or a business executive, a high-quality bag that comes with multiple zip pockets, a designated compartment for your laptop, a waterproof body, and other top-notch features is an absolute must. Once you make a choice based on these factors, you are all packed and ready to go!

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