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19 Best Big Backpacks With Lots of Space

backpacks with a lot of space

Whether you are planning a weekend trip or your college courses require a heavy book load, there are many situations where a big backpack is the best backpack. That’s why I tracked down some of the sturdiest bags (including ones specifically for full desktop computers) to help protect even your largest and most misshapen supplies. Read on below for Heavy’s best big backpacks.

What Are the Best Large Backpacks in 2022?

best backpacks for college Amazon Customer Reviews
  • 34L volume
  • Easily organized pockets
  • Durable
Price: $134.95 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
osprey porter backpack Amazon Customer Reviews
  • 46L storage volume
  • Chest and waist strap
  • Large main compartment
Price: $174.95 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
sosoon smart backpack Amazon Customer Reviews
  • USB charge-out port
  • Lots of compartments
  • Low price tag
Price: $29.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
outdoor master hiking backpack Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Waterproof backpack cover
  • 50L storage volume
  • Chest and waist strap
Price: $41.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
speedo teamster backpack Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Large opening
  • Water-resistant
  • Built-in stadium seat
Price: $75.00 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
best backpacks for college Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Low price tag
  • Two water bottle pockets
  • 32L storage volume
Price: $37.84 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
best backpacks for college Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Large pockets
  • Condenser straps
  • Full-body zippers
Price: $80.68 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
stm dux tech backpack Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Large main pocket
  • Reinforced bottom
  • Suspended laptop sleeve
Price: $253.83 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
targus drifter 2 backpack Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Shock-absorbing straps
  • Lifetime Warranty
  • 30L storage volume
Price: $89.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
under armour hustle 5 backacpk Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Water-resistant
  • Many compartments
  • Two water bottle pockets
Price: $46.74 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
high sierra swerve backpack Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Many different styles
  • 36.5L storage volume
  • Ergonomic design
Price: $45.05 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
jansport big student backpack Amazon Customer Reviews
  • 34L storage volume
  • Ergonomic design
  • Front organizer pocket
Price: $82.00 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
outlander backpack Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Lightweight design
  • Lifetime Warranty
  • 35L storage volume
Price: $18.32 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
best backpacks for college Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Smooth rolling wheels
  • Rigid design
  • Spacious main pocket
Price: $84.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
best backpacks for college Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Slim, professional design
  • Hardshell pocket
  • Padded laptop sleeve
Price: $69.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
kaka travel backpack Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Convertible duffle design
  • Large and smooth zippers
  • Chest and waist strap
Price: $69.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
tortuga men's setout backpack Amazon Customer Reviews
  • 45L storage volume
  • Chest and waist strap
  • Full zip main compartment
Price: $199.00 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
hynes eagle travel backpack Amazon Customer Reviews
  • 40L storage volume
  • Chest and waist strap
  • Many compartments
Price: $49.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
best backpacks for college
  • 32L storage volume
  • Comfy back panel
  • Lots of pockets
Price: $143.99 Shop now at lifeproof.com Shop now Read our review
Our Unbiased Reviews
  1. 1. EDITOR’S CHOICE: Oakley Kitchen Sink Backpack

    Pros:
    • 34L volume
    • Easily organized pockets
    • Highly durable
    Cons:
    • High price tag
    • Will be too large for many users
    • Bag can get incredibly heavy

    As its name suggests, Oakley’s Kitchen Sink backpack is for the person who brings everything with them. It measures 20 x 14 x 8 inches and has an internal volume of 34L. Its main compartment is large enough to fit almost everything you could need, but not an actual kitchen sink. Even if you did cram a kitchen sink in there, it would be a total waste of this brilliantly compartmentalized pack.

    It has a side-access sleeve for up to 15-inch laptops, exterior daisy chains, a front organizer panel, a mesh sunglasses pocket, a media pocket, a bottom shoe compartment, and side pockets galore.

    The shape of the pack does make it feel a little bulky, but that should be expected from a bag of this size. I can pack away my laptop, a head-to-toe change of clothes, a 1-gallon Camelbak, two footlong sandwiches, and there would still be room left over.

    The Kitchen Sink pack makes carrying heavy loads easy too, with a compression-molded back panel and adjustable shoulder straps. It also has a horizontal sternum strap and a hip belt to safely distribute the weight. And that’s an essential feature for any big backpack.

    Capacity: 34L
    Dimensions: 8 x 14 x 20 inches
    Weight: 2.2 pounds

  2. 2. Osprey Porter 46 Travel Backpack

    Pros:
    • 46L storage volume
    • Adjustable chest and waist strap
    • Large main compartment
    Cons:
    • Bulky design
    • No water bottle pockets
    • High price tag

    The Osprey Porter 46 Travel Backpack may seem dangerously close to the size limit for carry-on baggage, but it actually makes the cut for most domestic airlines. This makes it one of the best travel backpacks for chronically overprepared travelers. The core design of the bag revolves around a single full-zip pocket where you can just cram all the stuff.

    I want to say like 95% of this bag’s 45L storage capacity is all in the main compartment, leaving only a few small organizer pockets for your smaller items. There is one on the front, two on the sides, and a hidden valuables pocket on the back. There is also a padded laptop pocket on the rear panel. Yes, the bag’s dimensions make it quite bulky but it does at least have compression straps for cinching down the overall size of the bag when you don’t need all that extra space.

    The one big shortcoming of this bag — in my opinion — is that it lacks an external water bottle pocket. Hydration is crucial no matter the mission and an external water bottle pocket ensures you don’t have any liquids leak into your main compartment. That said, this bag has to take whatever space it can get if the goal is maximum storage capacity. And it clearly is.

    Capacity: 46L
    Dimensions: 21.5 x 14 x 9 inches
    Weight: 3.3 pounds

  3. 3. Sosoon XL Smart Backpack

    Pros:
    • USB charge-out port
    • Lots of compartments
    • Low price tag
    Cons:
    • Not fully water-resistant
    • Finicky zippers
    • Weird USB charge-out port placement

    The Sosoon XL is a spacious and inexpensive smart backpack with enough room for everything you need from day to day. What is a smart backpack? It is a bag designed for urban commuting in a connected world. You can find more examples in my roundup of the best smart backpacks here.

    In terms of size, this bag is quite large, with 41L of storage capacity. Additionally, it has an almost outrageous number of compartments. It starts with two quick-access front compartments on the front plus two square side compartments. Next, we have a front organizer compartment with internal pockets for change, keys, and more.

    Now we move onto the main compartment, which makes up the bulk of this bag’s storage capacity. It is able to hold large objects like a bike helmet or a basketball. Finally, at the rear, we have a dedicated laptop compartment with padded pockets for both a 15-inch laptop and a tablet. This is also where you can connect a power bank to the backpack’s external USB charge-out port for easy mobile charging.

    Last but not least, the rear of the backpack has a hidden passport pocket and a luggage strap to mount this bag on top of a suitcase. If you need lots of smart storage on a budget, then then the Sosoon XL is a great pick. But you get what you pay for, as the external materials aren’t as durable or waterproof as a high-end backpack would have. The most likely point of failure will be the zippers, which are quite finicky out of the box. But again, for the price, the Sosoon XL is hard to beat.

    Capacity: 41L
    Dimensions: 4.9 x 3.1 x 7.5 inches
    Weight: 1.9 pounds

  4. 4. OutdoorMaster Hiking Backpack

    Pros:
    • Waterproof backpack cover
    • 50L storage volume
    • Adjustable chest and waist strap
    Cons:
    • Zippers can snag easily
    • Straps could be more padded
    • Limited padding

    The OutdoorMaster Hiking Backpack is an inexpensive hiking bag that is lightweight and versatile enough to be used for much more than just camping outside. Visually speaking, this bag is defined by its beefy hip belt and its foldout waterproof rain cover (a feature I frequently utilize as a PNW resident and cyclist). But despite its appearance as a dedicated camping pack, its large storage volume and good compartmentalization are also helpful for travel, school, and work.

    You can fit about 50L worth of stuff in this bag. Practically speaking, that’s a lot of stuff. If you got a bag much larger than this one then you wouldn’t be able to bring it as your carry-on bag for most airlines. The backpack has a spacious main pocket, a secondary pocket, plus a slip pocket on the outside of the pack. It even has a laptop sleeve for a 15-inch laptop.

    The OutdoorMaster Backpack has an adjustable waist and chest strap, both of which have their uses for indoor and outdoor adventures alike. The incredibly thick back cushions and two water bottle pockets are great for long excursions of any kind too. This bag also has a pocket with a tech and school supply organizer, so you can easily access small items.

    But while the back cushioning feels nice and plush, but the shoulder straps could stand to be a little more padded. Still, they work. For such a low price, this bag offers more than you could ask for. It delivers storage, utility, and durability in a package that none other does. If you can look past the techwear aesthetic, then it is an easy choice.

    Capacity: 50L
    Dimensions: 22.5 x 15 x 1.5 inches
    Weight: 2.4 pounds

  5. 5. Speedo Large Teamster 2.0 Backpack

    Pros:
    • Large opening makes it easy to pack and unpack
    • Tough and water resistant exterior
    • Included stadium seat allows you to sit comfortably anywhere
    Cons:
    • Could use larger secondary pockets
    • No sternum strap or added support
    • So-so zippers

    You might know them for their aerodynamic swimwear, but Speedo actually makes everything an on-the-go athlete might need, including this heavy-duty gym backpack.

    The Speedo Large Teamster Backpack has a tough exterior shell with a water-resistant bottom that makes it perfect for rainy weather or the locker room. It’s not as aerodynamic as their swimwear, but Speedo’s backpack is still a huge win for the collegiate athlete. This water-resistant bottom padding is even removable and can double as a stadium seat cushion when needed.

    True to its title, this pack has a large 35L volume, which puts it roughly in the middle of the bags I reviewed. The Speedo Teamster 2.0 has a great arrangement of pockets to match. The biggest one is its handy top-load main compartment. This main pocket has a laptop sleeve that could easily handle most 17-inch laptops, plus a removable “dirt bag” for dirty or wet gym clothes to keep them separate from your electronics.

    The other pockets are much smaller, and only offer room for small trinkets The backpack has two tall water bottle pockets for storing bottles, which is always a huge plus for me. The backpack straps are adequately cushioned, as is the back of the pack. But there are no additional support features for those who need them.

    Just because it is built for swimmers doesn’t mean the Speedo Teamster 2.0 won’t be perfect for someone who only gets wet when it rains. It is still a well-priced and good-looking pack that is thoroughly waterproofed. You will get plenty of use out of that alone, even if you never take it to the pool.

    Capacity: 35L
    Dimensions: 20 x 17 x 8 inches
    Weight: 1.3 pounds

  6. 6. AmazonBasics Laptop Backpack

    Pros:
    • Low price tag
    • Two water bottle pockets plus sub-compartment storage
    • 32L storage volume
    Cons:
    • Boring design
    • Minimal fabric padding
    • No sternum strap or added support

    When it comes to offering the backpack features you need at the right price, the AmazonBasics Laptop Backpack is a clear winner. This backpack offers 32L of storage volume at a price point that is hard to beat.

    Its external dimensions of 15 x 7 x 19 inches allow this pack to easily hold a 17-inch laptop in its special padded compartment. Additionally, you have organizational compartments for pens, keys, a cell phone, et cetera. There is even a smaller padded pocket for tablets. These sub-compartments are practically distributed throughout the five main pockets of the pack. There are also two water bottle pockets on the side.

    The main thing that this backpack is lacking, though, is any sort of style. It is quite plain-looking. It also lacks any kind of hip belt or sternum straps. But on the plus side, it is also virtually devoid of any branding.

    It is comfortable to wear with padded straps, but I think it needs a little more padding to protect the main pocket. Of course, even if you bought a padded laptop sleeve to supplement this, you would still be saving money compared to buying a sturdier, fancier backpack. For that reason, it gets a pass.

    Capacity: 32L
    Dimensions: 15 x 7 x 19 inches
    Weight: 2 pounds

  7. 7. SwissGear Travel Gear ScanSmart 1900

    Pros:
    • Large pockets with plenty of subcompartments
    • Condenser straps to resize pack as needed
    • Full-body zippers make any part of the bag accessible
    Cons:
    • Easily confused with other SwissGear models
    • Backpack does not stand easily on its own
    • No sternum strap or added support

    The Travel Gear ScanSmart Backpack from SwissGear warrants a comparison to the iconic Swiss Army knife. It fits an unreal amount of utility into a sleek, sizable package.

    This durable travel pack has a variety of useful features that are just as relevant for international travel as they are for walking across campus. The Travel Gear has a mobile phone pocket, a sunglasses holder, a side water bottle pocket, an organizer pocket, an accessory pocket, and a padded compartment that holds a laptop up to 17 inches and a tablet up to 13 inches.

    All of these pockets provide a total 31L of storage when the bag is expanded to its max dimensions (18.5 x 13.5 x 9 inches), or it can be cinched down with its condenser straps to secure a smaller load. However, it is not just the size of these compartments that I love but also their accessibility.

    The laptop pocket zips all the way down for easy access and quick trips through airport security. The rest of the zippers are nearly as long and can practically open the pockets to the bottom. That way no corner of the bag shall go unchecked when you are looking for the granola bar that you are sure you packed this morning.

    The Travel Gear is comfortable to wear too. Its mesh back panel has wide channels for airflow and its shoulder straps are nicely padded. There is no waist or sternum strap, unfortunately. One of the only other shortcomings of this design is that it does not stand up when packed, so it pretty much always has to lay on the floor.

    If you are a fan of SwissGear bags and you are in the trades, then you might also want to consider the Swissgear 3636, one of my favorite tool backpacks around.

    Capacity: 31L
    Dimensions: 9 x 19 x 14 inches
    Weight: 3.3 pounds

  8. 8. STM Dux Tech Backpack

    Pros:
    • Large side-access pocket
    • Reinforced bottom and thick padding
    • Suspended laptop + tablet sleeves
    Cons:
    • Bag depth not adjustable
    • No hip belt
    • High price tag

    When it comes to stuffing a backpack full, it’s not just about the bag’s capacity but how you use it. And that’s exactly why I like the STM Dux Tech Backpack. This backpack does a lot of things different from your typical travel backpack, namely the design for its largest bag compartment.

    Rather than load from the top, this bag’s main compartment opens from either side. It has adjustable hook-and-loop internal shelves inside that allow you to easily access things from the top, middle, or bottom of your bag without having to pull out everything above it. They can be totally removed if you want to load something large into the pack, but you won’t be able to overpack this bag easily because of its rigid design.

    The Dux Tech is one of the most well-padded bags I’ve ever used. The bag has both a reinforced bottom and a rigid molded backplate. They go a long way towards protecting your bag’s contents. The laptop compartment, in particular, is extra protected. It is also suspended above the bottom of the bag so it won’t hit the floor when you set your stuff down.

    There are quite a few additional pockets on the Dux Tech too. Most notable is a top-loading compartment for valuables, which has a microfiber-lined sunglasses pocket. You also have two zip-out water bottle pockets and a security pocket against the back of the pack. The Dux Tech may not be largest bag out there but what it lacks in raw storage capacity it makes up for in versatility.

    Capacity: 31L
    Dimensions: 20 x 13 x 9.5 inches
    Weight: ‎3.92 pounds

  9. 9. Targus Drifter II Backpack

    Pros:
    • Shock-absorbing straps and back padding provide maximum comfort
    • Limited Lifetime Warranty
    • 30L storage volume
    Cons:
    • Backpack depth not adjustable
    • Limited color options
    • No sternum strap or added support

    Targus’ Drifter II Backpack is one of the most talked-about backpacks on Amazon, and for good reason too. It is comfortable, durable, and of course spacious, which is pretty much everything you would want out of a backpack. The only thing it is lacking is flair. (Good luck finding this backpack in any color other than black or grey.)

    This drip drought aside, the Drifter II is an impressive backpack. Its exterior dimensions of 16 x 5 x 21.5 provide over 30L of storage volume across several compartments. The two main compartments are best for packing large books. The back compartment also has a 17-inch laptop sleeve.

    The Drifter II also has more exterior zippered compartments than you can shake a stick at, plus interior file storage and two side water bottle pockets. Unfortunately, it does not have any compression straps so this backpack gets very saggy when it isn’t fully loaded.

    The bag’s shock-absorbing shoulder straps and thick back padding help ease the burden of a full load. It is one of the most comfortable ways to carry around a semester’s worth of Poli-sci textbooks. Granted, a hip belt and sternum strap would make heavy loads even more manageable, but for short jaunts the Targus Drifter II still gets the job done.

    Capacity: 30L
    Dimensions: ‎16 x 5 x 21.5 inches
    Weight: 2.8 pounds

  10. 10. Under Armour Hustle 5.0 Backpack

    Pros:
    • Tough water-resistant material
    • Many compartments for organized storage
    • Two water bottle pockets
    Cons:
    • Bottom panel could be stronger
    • No sternum strap or added support
    • Total volume could be larger

    In addition to making durable water-resistant clothing, Under Armour also makes water-resistant backpacks. The Under Armour Hustle 5.0 is one of their most popular designs.

    This backpack comes from the iconic water-resistant clothing brand, which keeps your goods dry whether they are under your clothes or in your backpack. You can store stuff in one of the two spacious main pockets or one of the two slip pockets without having to worry about that stuff getting soaked. It also has a gusseted laundry pocket at the bottom of the bag, so you can keep your athletic gear away from the same place you packed your lunch.

    This bag is smaller than the average among backpacks we reviewed but it is still large enough to bring along the necessities. The total volume of the pack is 29L, not counting the two side water bottle pockets or the extra storage potential of the side straps from which you can clip hats, keys, or sunglasses.

    The main pocket has a soft-lined laptop sleep that will fit most 15-inch laptops, including the MacBook Pro. This main pocket isn’t particularly deep, though, so it isn’t ideal for carrying oversized items (think of a towel or a bike helmet). Another downside to this otherwise durable pack is that it lacks a padded or otherwise reinforced bottom panel. You pretty much need an item in the laundry pocket to provide sufficient padding.

    The adjustable HeatGear shoulder straps are quite comfortable and don’t necessarily beckon the need for extra support, but those who need a sternum strap will need to look on further.

    You also have to be okay with some heavy UA branding, but aside from those issues, the Storm Hustle 5.0 is a winner, especially if you live in a rainy climate as I do.

    Capacity: 29L
    Dimensions: 6.3 x 20.1 x 12.6 inches
    Weight: 1.3 pounds

  11. 11. High Sierra Swerve Backpack

    Pros:
    • Many different styles to choose from
    • 36.5L storage volume
    • Ergonomically shaped shoulder straps
    Cons:
    • Zippers can be finicky
    • Internal mesh can pill shirts and coats
    • No sternum strap or added support

    High Sierra’s Swerve Backpack is a versatile pack for small and large needs alike. Whether you’re packing some 600-page textbooks, a laptop up to 15 inches, a change of clothes to the gym, or all three, this bag has got you covered.

    Condenser straps allow you to flatten out this high-volume 36.5L pack, but you will most likely be using it at full size. When you do, you can take full advantage of its fully padded laptop compartment, tablet sleeve, multiple large compartments, shoulder strap media pocket, two water bottle pockets, and padded bottom panel.

    The zippers have large teeth that don’t easily catch but they will still get a little finicky after a few years of use. On the plus side, they zip almost all the way to the bottom of the pack, making it easy to access items that have fallen to the bottom.

    Its dimensions of 19 x 13 x 7.8 inches are fairly average, but the High Sierra Swerve offers an above-average level of comfort with its S-shaped shoulder straps and suspension system to manage larger loads. Additional load-supporting straps are absent, but not particularly missed, as the padded back panel makes carrying this pack very manageable.

    Coming home from late-night classes feels safe, as the reflective piping increases visibility when walking alongside roads, and the shoulder strap pocket for a phone or mp3 player is a great addition.

    The High Sierra Swerve is made with sturdy nylon material, making it partially waterproof and fully rip-resistant. The bottom of this bag is reinforced with additional material to keep this bag functioning for longer than your average college backpack. It is an all-around solid pick.

    Capacity: 36.5L
    Dimensions: 19 x 13 x 7.8 inches
    Weight: 2.2 pounds

  12. 12. JanSport Big Student Classics Backpack

    Pros:
    • 34L storage volume
    • Ergonomic S-shaped backpack straps
    • Front organizer pocket
    Cons:
    • No padded laptop sleeve
    • Zippers can be finicky
    • Bottom panel could be stronger

    The JanSport Big Student Classics backpack is called classic for a reason. It is a time-tested design that holds up to the rigors of all levels of education. In fact, there’s a chance you had the smaller version at some earlier point in your learning career.

    We recommend the Big Student bag because its 34L storage volume is better suited for the increased book load of college courses. Their more common JanSport Superbreak Pack, on the other hand, is just a little too small. With the Big Student, you get the nostalgic look of the Superbreak with the extra space you need for serious coursework.

    The JanSport Big Student Classics pack has two almost equally-sized main pockets, plus a smaller front pocket with an organizer for school supplies and portable devices. The design is simple, which makes it easy to keep track of everything you need. The one downside of this simple design is that there is no padded laptop sleeve. If you carry a laptop around, you will need a separate protective sleeve to keep it safe. This does create more space for large books though, which is likely going to make up the bulk of your load.

    This backpack has ergonomic S-shaped straps that contour to shape of your upper torso, which helps a lot for dispersing the pack’s weight. The pack has a single mesh water bottle holder, and the material comes in a variety of different colors. However, the bottom panel could use some extra reinforcement. If you’ve had a JanSport before, you also know that the zippers can sometimes get stuck in nearby material.

    These flaws are easy to forgive, though, as the bag is simple, cheap, and sturdy. Its 600D polyester material gives this bag a potential to last a lifetime if you take good care of it.

    Capacity: 34L
    Dimensions: ‎18 x 15.5 x 2 inches
    Weight: 1.4 pounds

  13. 13. Outlander Packable Handy Lightweight Travel Backpack

    Pros:
    • Lightweight and fully packable for travel
    • Lifetime Warranty
    • 35L storage volume
    Cons:
    • Zippers can be finicky
    • No laptop sleeve
    • No sternum strap or added support

    Outlander’s Packable Travel Backpack can have limited applications in a school environment but is honestly too cool to pass up mentioning. The special thing about this backpack is that it is made from a lightweight nylon material that allows it to be rolled up into its own pocket for easy storage.

    Given its lightweight build and 35L volume, you might end up using this pack every day. Yet, it can still be handy to have a backpack that stows away easily. This packable bag can fold into itself and shrink down to a handheld size. When fully unpacked, it is 18.5 x 13 x 7.5 inches. Because of its ability to shrink down significantly, it does not have any special padding for laptops, though it could still store one easily in its main pocket.

    It does have deep water bottle pockets, plus two front zipper pockets for smaller items. Shoulder padding is still sufficient, but will obviously lack any supplemental support because of its lightweight nature. Nonetheless, this bag is proof that you don’t need a heavy backpack to carry a lot of stuff.

    Capacity: 35L
    Dimensions: 18.5 x 13 x 7.5 inches
    Weight: 0.7 pounds

  14. 14. High Sierra Freewheel Wheeled Backpack

    Pros:
    • Smooth rolling wheels and telescoping handle
    • Rigid reinforced design protects contents
    • Deep and spacious main compartment
    Cons:
    • Heavier and bulkier than non-rolling backpacks
    • Zippers can be finicky
    • Only one water bottle pocket

    Though they are often written off as being for kids, rolling backpacks can be handy when you are suffering from an injury or just excessive laziness. The High Sierra Freewheel is a stylish and spacious backpack that can be worn on your back or rolled at your side. It has smooth-rolling wheels and a beefy telescoping handle that folds away and zips out of sight with ease.

    The Freewheel has bumpers stitched into its corners, plus a reinforced bottom for rough handling. The bag material is nice, and the tuck-away shoulder straps are well padded to offset the extra discomfort you will experience from the frame for the wheels.

    The storage volume is quite good, but High Sierra doesn’t offer any figures for cross-comparison. It can certainly be loaded full enough to justify using the rolling feature, as large backpack loads can put unnecessary stress on your spinal column.

    It has about as much space as their highly-rated Swerve bag, minus the extra space needed for the wheels and telescoping handle. Its main compartment has a laptop sleeve for laptops up to 15 inches in screen size and plenty of space for books and binders. Its two front compartments are smaller half-zip pockets for more important trinkets. One has an organizer for smaller objects. This pack has one water bottle pocket on the right side.

    One of the things that I like best about this bag is that it doesn’t look like a typical rolling backpack. If you didn’t see the wheels underneath, it would look totally normal with its duralite material and average size. A nice bonus is that it has reflective accents for nighttime visibility.

    If you want some cheaper roller backpack options, then you can browse our picks for the best cheap rolling backpacks here.

    Capacity:  34.5L
    Dimensions: 20.9 x 13.5 x 8 inches
    Weight: 6.1 pounds

  15. 15. eBags Professional Slim Laptop Backpack

    Pros:
    • Slim, professional design
    • Secondary document pocket and hardshell pouch
    • Well-padded laptop and tablet sleeves
    Cons:
    • Bag material is heavy
    • Total volume could be larger
    • High price tag

    Want to escape the neon colors and superfluous doodads of camping packs? The eBag Professional Slim Backpack is a piece of luggage that offers a more refined style.

    The eBag backpack is made from a fairly heavy material, making it a little heftier than it needs to be, but also giving it a nice rigidity. The backpack straps feel comfortable, and the bag has a sternum strap for added support.

    When it is preferred, you can tuck one backpack strap away and use this bag more like a briefcase. The main pocket makes up the bulk of this bag’s 21.6L volume and has a brightly colored lining to help you find objects at the very bottom.

    It houses both a laptop sleeve and a tablet sleeve. Each one is well padded and very spacious. The bag also has a “2D” secondary pocket with room for documents and a Napoleon pocket with an organizer.

    Beneath this main compartment is a removable hard shell pouch for carrying sunglasses or other delicate goods. The slim bag even has a zip-out water bottle holder that is there when you need it.

    The eBag slim backpack is a versatile dress code pack that checks all the boxes for a great bag without packing any bungee cords, exterior mesh pockets, carabiner clips, or other outdoorsman bling.

    If you don’t mind the higher price tag, this school bag can transition into your office space companion for years to come.

    Capacity: 21.6L
    Dimensions: 18 × 12.75 × 8.5 inches
    Weight: 4 pounds

  16. 16. Kaka Convertible Duffle Backpack

    Pros:
    • Convertible duffle design
    • Large and smooth zippers
    • Adjustable chest and waist strap
    • Included rain cover
    Cons:
    • Only one water bottle pocket
    • Could use more internal storage
    • Shoulder straps could use more padding

    Despite its unfortunate name, the Kaka Convertible Duffle Backpack is a versatile travel companion that offers many high-quality features at a value price. This backpack has a fantastic 40L capacity as well as the ability to switch it between a backpack, a duffle bag, or a shoulder bag using the convertible strap system. This is a neat gimmick but my personal favorite way to use this bag is simply as a backpack.

    That’s because the bag has an included sternum strap and hip belt, which is great for distributing the weight of heavy loads. The main pocket has a padded compartment that can hold most 17.3-inch laptops and there is another flat pocket on the back face of the bag for holding smaller items. This bag has a single water bottle pocket too. The bag only has a limited number of internal organizer pockets, though.

    The bag is made of terylene material, which holds up well against heavy use but is not fully water-resistant. It has smooth, wide-tooth zippers that feel nice to use. It also has compression straps so its can be cinched down when not fully packed. The Kaka Convertible Duffle Backpack is an all-around well-designed bag, though some users might prefer a bag with more compartments, especially if they don’t expect to use the convertible straps.

    Capacity: 40L
    Dimensions: 21 c 12.2 c 6 inches
    Weight: 4.2 pounds

  17. 17. Tortuga Setout Backpack

    Pros:
    • 45L storage volume
    • Adjustable chest and waist strap
    • Full zip main compartment
    Cons:
    • Bulky design
    • High price tag
    • Backpack does not stand easily on its own

    The Tortuga Setout Backpack is an extra-big travel backpack whose name likely comes from the fact that this behemoth will sit on your back like a turtle shell. Carrying a bag this large won’t do any wonders for your posture but it will ensure you can bring a week’s worth of gear with you wherever you go.

    With a total storage volume of 45L, this bag is about as large as it can be while still counting as a carry-on bag for most domestic airlines. And since it is designed to be filled full of heavy gear, it has an adjustable hip belt and sternum strap so you can comfortably distribute the weight of this pack. The bag also has compression straps to reduce its form factor when you only need to pack a few things. The shoulder pads themselves are nicely padded and the molded back panel allows for some decent airflow.

    This bag loads a little differently from your average backpack, though. Its large main compartment unzips to the size like a suitcase so you can more easily access every corner of the pack. I haven’t tested if this causes the zipper to wear out quicker but so far this design seems just as sturdy as a bag with a reinforced bottom. The Tortuga Setout also has a padded laptop compartment, several small organizer pockets, and a lone exterior water bottle pocket.

    This bag may be on the expensive side, but considering just how much stuff it holds, it is a worthwhile investment for the frequent traveler.

    Capacity: 45L
    Dimensions: 22 x 14 x 9 inches
    Weight: 3.9 pounds

  18. 18. Hynes Eagle Travel Backpack

    Pros:
    • 40L storage volume
    • Adjustable chest and waist strap
    • Many compartments for organized storage
    Cons:
    • Straps could be more padded
    • Laptop compartment could use more padding
    • Finicky zippers

    The Hynes Eagle Travel Backpack splits its high storage capacity across a large number of pockets, making it a nice alternative to carry-on-size backpacks that are designed for cramming all of your stuff into one pocket. Instead, you can split your gear across a full-zip main pocket, a half-zip secondary pocket, and a flat organizer pocket.

    The main compartment is designed to be filled like a suitcase and is a great place for bulky clothing items that you feel obligated to bring along because what would your mother think if you left the house without a jacket? The secondary compartment has padded compartments for both a 15.6-inch laptop and an 11-inch tablet. I appreciate not having to dig to the back of my bag for these important items but they do feel kind of vulnerable when they aren’t secured right against your back.

    If, however, your main compartment isn’t being fully utilized, you can use the Hynes Eagle’s compression straps to cinch your valuable electronics closer to your back. If you’ve packed light enough, you can actually tuck the shoulder straps away entirely and carry the bag like a briefcase. But, personally, I think this bag is best suited as a backpack. It even has a sternum strap and hip belt to help disperse the load, although they aren’t quite as well-padded as the ones you’d find on a high-end travel backpack. Still, the Hynes Eagle is a great budget bag.

    Capacity: 40L
    Dimensions: 20.1 x 13.4 x 9.8  inches
    Weight: 2.2 pounds

  19. 19. Lifeproof Squamish XL Backpack

    Pros:
    • 32L storage volume
    • Comfortable molded back panel
    • Unique compartments for any need
    Cons:
    • Bag depth not adjustable
    • Main compartment doesn’t open wide enough
    • Backpack does not stand easily on its own

    Up until now, Lifeproof’s claim to fame has been their fully weatherproof phone cases. But now that phones do a great job of protecting themselves, Lifeproof has been called upon for a higher purpose: protecting everything you carry with you.

    Their new Squamish line of backpacks seeks to bring the same Lifeproof philosophy to the world of luggage, and the Squamish XL backpack is their biggest and baddest bag so far. The Squamish XL sports a solid 32L of storage volume, which is spread out across two large compartments and other small hiding spots on the bag.

    The largest main compartment houses a fleece-lined laptop sleeve that will fit most 15-inch laptops. The second-largest compartment has an organizer section for smaller items and a fleece-lined pocket for a smartphone. I use this bag as my regular carry-on backpack and I rarely have an issue fitting all of my stuff into these two pockets.

    There are a few other smaller storage spaces on this pack, the coolest of which is a thin side zip pocket with a second padded sleeve to house a tablet. You also have two side zip pockets for small items, two huge mesh water bottle pockets, and an expandable front cinch pocket that’s big enough to hold a bike helmet.

    The bottom zip pocket is one of the most important compartments on the pack, as it allows you to place padded items like a jacket underneath your more precious cargo. It also makes things that would normally sit at the bottom of the pack much easier to reach.

    Add a set of skateboard straps on the back and the last thing you will need out of this backpack is more storage. The only downside to the way these pockets are laid out is that the zippers don’t stop halfway down the pack, making it hard to dig things out from the bottom. Also, because the bottom compartment lacks rigidity, the bag will not stand up on its own unless you keep a puffy jacket in there at all times.

    These gripes aside, the bag is pretty much perfect. The laptop and tablet sleeves are all raised from the bottom of the bag, so there is no chance they’ll absorb any shock when you toss it around.

    The bag has comfortable padded shoulder straps with a rigid backplate that provides extra airflow when you’re on the go. It has a detachable sternum strap for when you need to carry a particularly heavy load.

    The rest of the pack is made from durable and water-repellent 305D Cordura material. Cordura is lighter than ballistic nylon, which helps reduce the load your shoulders are left to bear. All in all, this bag has a nice selection of useful pockets and ergonomic features, making it one of the best backpacks for college.

    Capacity: 32L
    Dimensions: 12.2 in x 20.1 in x 8.1 inches
    Weight: 2.5 pounds

How To Pack a Big Backpack

If you want to pack for anything, then you have to be smart about how you use your space, especially if you plan to live out of your backpack for a few days at a time.

Though I chose not to add any bags that exceed the average carry-on limit for US airlines, you can still learn a thing from outdoor backpackers packing their Flextrek Whipsnake 9000s. Backpacking backpacks require a strict packing strategy like the one outlined here by Gear Junkie. So why not apply these fundamentals to packing a travel backpack?

The key techniques are fairly intuitive. First, you should know roughly how much space you need for your stuff. Coming short on space will only make this hard on yourself.

Next, you should pack the bottom of your bag with either durable gear like jackets, or alternatively, gear that you won't need often. The important stuff goes on top. Try to evenly distribute your bag weight throughout.

Once the main compartment is full of your largest items, you should fill out the accessory pockets as needed. The manufacturer included those for a reason and they are actually quite handy for keeping track of essentials like keys, sunglasses, and your water bottle.

Then before you even put the backpack on, you should check the weight and make sure it is light enough to hold in two hands. If it isn't, you might be carrying a little too much stuff. You should also make sure all the zippers close easily, as stuffing your bag extra tight can damage your zippers or cause items to fall out.

How to Wear a Big Backpack

When you are wearing a backpack designed to hold heavy contents, then it is particularly important to wear the bag properly for both your health and safety. Here's why.

Italian researchers who investigated the predisposing factors of back pain in a study at the National Center for Biotechnology Information found that 60 percent of young students suffered from backpack-related pain. 

And one of the biggest factors they cited is students wearing backpacks improperly over one shoulder. Sorry cool kids, but if you want a healthy spine then you should wear your backpack correctly over both shoulders. You should have the shoulder straps tightened so that they are hugging your shoulders without carrying any of the load themselves.

If you expect to pack heavy loads every day, then consider a bag with a sternum strap and/or hip belt. They help to evenly distribute the weight of their contents across your shoulders, chest, and hips. I know, I know, you're not a backcountry backpacker. But this is how you become one.

Additionally, store your heaviest stuff closest to your back so that less pressure is applied to your shoulders. And you should always remove excess course materials from your bag when you don't need it. Otherwise, you're putting unnecessary stress on yourself and your backpack.

I know being told to follow the rules is never fun but it really helps in the long run. Those who don't wear their backpacks properly end up suffering.

How Do You Choose the Best Backpack for You?

There are many other factors beyond health concerns that determine which backpack is right for your needs. The best backpacks have not only a high storage capacity but also clever compartmentalization and a style that fits you.

To find the pack that's best for you, you have to prioritize features that suit your specific needs. Once you get a feel for exactly how much stuff you have to carry around, then you can worry about things like style, compartmentalization, and durability.

And if you want a more versatile bag, you can always opt for a larger bag that cinches down to carry a smaller load.

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