Carry: The Best Back to School Backpacks of 2016

best back to school backpacks

As ubiquitous as it is useful, the classic school back pack can be seen hanging from the shoulders of second-graders and college sophomores alike. But it might surprise you to learn that the very first zippered rucksack wasn’t created until 1938 and the first true back pack didn’t come about until the 1960s. Prior to the invention of both the rucksack and back pack, kids carried their school materials bound in a leather book strap and slung over their shoulders, which, as you can guess, was neither water proof nor conducive to carrying anything other than books. But we’ve come a long way since then. From moisture-proof light-weight packs, to updated versions of the classic back pack form, back packs are here to stay for the foreseeable future.

We’ve rounded up 6 of the best back to school backpacks (plus a bonus bag) for the 2016 season, so you don’t have to sift through the thousands of options out there.

Filson Day Pack, $120

best back to school back packs

Sporty, colorful, and good for trekking or everyday carry. The Filson day pack has a cinch-top closure and an internal, removable wool pouch, good for keeping chords, pens, and any other loose stuff secure. With a waterproof twill exterior and leather and a padded back panel, this back pack transitions seamlessly from quiet trail to raucous quad.

Herschel Classic Back Pack, $45

herschel classic back pack

When you think of ‘back pack’ this is where your mind goes. Classic, sturdy, simple, and strong, the Classic Back Pack from Herschel is a back to school or travel staple. Use it as a book bag, work bag, or outdoor bag. Versatile and attractive, this pack is also the least expensive back pack on our list, leaving you a little extra in your wallet.

HP Power Up, $200

HP Power up, best back packs of 2016

The HP Power Up does just what you would expect: it charges all your gadgets while you’re on the go. With a built-in high-capacity 22400 mAh battery, you can charge up to three devices at once, all while giving priority to the device you choose. So if you want your phone to fully charge before your tablet, you can make that happen. The Power Up also sports a heat sensor which automatically adjusts the charging levels of the battery if things get too toasty. The pack is roomy enough for all your gear and has a professional silhouette that will take you from classroom to boardroom.

Langly Alpha Pro, $250

best backpacks

Promoted as a camera and photography bag, the Langly Alpha Pro also makes an excellent back to school pack for all those out there who carry not only their books, but their laptops, cameras, tablets, water bottles, lunches, and any other trapping that we’ve worked into our daily lives. As Langly says itself, “You may not be able to bring everything you have but you’ll have space for everything you need.” Made from military-grade water proof twill with brass buckles, these bags are field tested by real photographers with real opinions and they all agree: this bag rocks.

Battenwear 3-Way Commuter, $250

battenwear 3 way back pack

The 3-way commuter by Battenwear offers just that: three different ways to wear. It can be slung over the shoulder, worn as a backpack, or held by its leather strap, making this bag the perfect day pack to carry on your, well, commute. The flexibility of this bag has contributed to it’s massive popularity, which means there are only a few remaining for retail this season. So, if you’re looking to buy, act fast. Once the 3-way commuter’s stock is depleted, the bag won’t be available again until the next full production run sometime next year.

Taikan Lancer, $100

taikan back pack

This bag is the epitome of classic backpack design. With an old-school silhouette and new-school construction, featuring a 15” padded laptop compartment and duel pocket slips for both external and internal storage, durable ballistic nylon and leather for the frame and nickel finished hardware, the Taikan Lancer is a pared down, simple bag perfect for kickin’ it on campus.

Bonus: July Nine Sequel, $25

july nine sequel tote

This is a bag you can keep in another bag. Highly-compressible fabric allows for the Sequel to be rolled in on itself and secured using the strap as a bag cinch, the Sequel offers up extra space without the weight. Able to shrink down to the size of a pack of playing cards, this bonus bag is an excellent addition to any everyday backpack. Made from waterproof nylon with an equally waterproof zipper, this bag is perfect for storing wet clothes, bathing suits, or towels separately from the rest of your gear.