The 10 Best Backpacks For College Students With A Heavy Course Load

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First impressions count. That's especially true when you're searching for the best backpacks for college. After all, this sack is going to be an extension of you for the next few years. So why not get something that compliments you?

But if only it were that easy!

The truth is that most backpacks out there are ugly. They are plastic and nylon bags with a couple of weak straps thrown on. Most of them come in one or two primary colors. And don't even get started on the return of Hello Kitty backpacks.

Instead, you want something that a sophisticated and determined student should have. Something that's functional, and strong, yet has a certain grace to it. The best backpacks for college are the ones that mean serious business.

​Table of Comparison

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Why Do You Need a Backpack?

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But before you head out to find the best backpacks for college, ask yourself if you even need a backpack. Just think about it for a moment. Use this handy checklist.

  • ​Will you be lugging a laptop to classes?
  • ​Are there course books to carry around?
  • ​Will you require pens, pencils, binders, etc?

If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, then you need a backpack. Your arms or a plastic bag aren't going to cut it. You have to deal with rain and snow, buses, crowds, and who knows what else?

Plus, you'll need to get all of these items from one class to the next, and then home again at the end of the day. Just thinking about it is enough to tire you out.

Thankfully, you won't need as much in your backpack as you did in high school. You can lighten the load a little. On the other hand, your textbooks are about to get a lot bigger.

With that out of the way, we can safely assume that you will definitely be needing a backpack. But which one?

Things to Consider Before Buying a Backpack

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By now you're probably ready to buy yourself a backpack. But hold up. You want only the best backpacks for college. Not some piece of junk that's going to rip apart after one week.

To choose, you'll need to consider a few things with each backpack you check out. Things that will help you determine its strength, usefulness, and overall quality. And if it has extra features, like a built-in phone charger or waterproofing, then even better!

Let's take a look.

  • ​Lots and lots of pockets

There's no denying that having more pockets is better. Instead of jamming everything into one messy central compartment, keep yourself organized with different pockets.

For instance, you can have one large pocket for your laptop, another large compartment for your books, and various pockets to hold your keys, pens, phone, chargers, hair clips, etc.

So when looking for the best backpacks for college, look for lots of pockets.

  • ​Padded straps

Next, you want to make sure that you can actually carry your backpack. The best backpacks for college have thickly-padded straps for added comfort and support.

But adding a bunch of pads to the strap isn't what makes it a good backpack. The straps and pads need to be strong. The straps are one of the weakest parts of a backpack, and they carry the full load of whatever you have inside. So if the straps aren't strong, they're going to rip.

  • ​Lighter is better

Also, you want your backpack to be light. You'll be carrying enough heavy weight around all day. The last thing you want is a heavy bag on top of it all.

Wait a moment.

We just told you to find a strong bag full of pockets. How can it be strong, have lots of pockets, and still be light? The truth is, easily!

The best backpacks for college students meet all of these criteria. And yes, they do exist. We even went out and found some of them to prove it.

How We Reviewed

Remember how we said we found some of the best backpacks for college? Well, we didn't just head over to Walmart and start digging through piles of backpacks.

Instead, we searched through a bunch of sources online and looked up companies and review sites. We did this to save you time. Everything is here, so you don't need to spend all night searching Google.

Then we mosied over to Amazon and had a look at what we had found. We read through Amazon customer reviews to get an idea of how these bags stack up and discard any that made most people upset.

What we were left with were the best backpacks for college.

The 10 Best Backpacks for College Students

​By now you're probably ready to get on with it and choose one of the best backpacks for college. We get it. In fact, picking out a backpack is exciting, almost like choosing a car. It's something that's going to be with you for years.

Let's dive right in!

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First up is the super-stylish Modoker vintage laptop backpack. Nothing says modern, sophisticated college student like this classy bag. It even comes with a USB charging port! With 25 liters of total carrying capacity spread across six compartments, it's ideal for your needs.

Customers on Amazon rated it 4.4 out of 5 stars, making it one of the higher-rated backpacks we checked out.

Most people said it had excellent storage capacity and great build quality. A very small number of people complained about the zippers snagging or breaking, but most people had only good things to say.

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If you like minimalism, then the Manc​​ro School Backpack is for you. It has everything you need, including space for a 15-inch laptop, 10 compartments, and a built-in USB charger. Yet it's all inside a compact, no-nonsense design.

To top it all off, it's waterproof! We loved those thick padded straps, which will give you plenty of mileage. Amazon customers also rated this backpack 4.4 out of 5 stars.

Almost everyone praised the build quality, saying this is a tough bag. People also loved those thick shoulder straps. One problem a few people mentioned was that the straps tend to adjust themselves when you sling them over your shoulder. That could get annoying.

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Third on our list is the Hoperay Backpack. This one takes the minimalism of the Mancro and adds a stylish textured touch to it. It can hold a 19-inch laptop along with books and water bottles and whatever else you pack in there. And it has 10 pockets, making it one of the best backpacks for college.

Amazingly, the Hoperay scored a perfect 5 out of 5 stars at Amazon, with 174 customers who loved it. They all said it has excellent build quality with tough materials and comfortable straps. A few people did mention that it's a rather stiff backpack if that's your thing.

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Next up we have the M​atein "anti-theft" backpack. It's a larger bag, able to fit a 15-inch laptop as well as your other goods.

It's called "anti-theft" thanks to a hidden and locked pocket, where you can store your wallet and other valuables. The straps are tough and comfy, and there's even a luggage strap to hang off your suitcase.

Best of all, it comes with a USB charger.

On Amazon, customers gave it a whopping 4.7 out of 5 stars, making it one of the best backpacks for college students we found. Almost everyone said it was tough and easy to carry. They also loved that hidden compartment. One of the most common complaints was that the zippers break easily.

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Okay, we'll be completely honest with you here. We love the Hap Tim backpack because it has an awesome headphone-wire passthrough in the back. That means we can keep our phone in the bag. Of course, if you're packing Airpods or Galaxy Buds, then that's not a selling point.

But there's more to this bag. It's water-resistant and has room for your laptop and books. In fact, the company says you can carry your office with you. And there are those awesome carrying handles on the top, so you can swing it along in your hands instead of over your shoulder if you prefer.

Best of all, it comes with a 90-day warranty. Thanks!

Customers gave it 4.8 out of 5 stars on Amazon. They praised the build quality and ease of use. Also, many said it looks professional and has lots of room for stuff inside. There wasn't a single real complaint!

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When it comes to looking classy, the Puersit vintage canvas laptop backpack has it going on. This bag is built with 600D Oxford high-density canvas, making it water-resistant. The straps are "humanized" for carrying comfort.

And to top it all off, it's lightweight. That's perfect for a busy student looking for the best backpacks for college!

Amazon customers gave it a respectable 4.1 out of 5 stars. They said it was a great backpack that was durable and comfortable to carry. It has a lot of storage space. However, there are complaints of zippers and buttons breaking off rather easily.

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Maybe you don't want a buttoned-down professional look. Perhaps you prefer a rugged, ready-for-anything type of backpack to complement your outdoor style. In that case, the P.KU VDSL canvas backpack is for you.

This thing is loaded with pockets, both on the inside and the outside. It has a massive main compartment that will easily accommodate books and laptops and whatever else you throw at it. Because it's canvas, it's tough and water-resistant.

Customers loved it, giving it 4.3 out of 5 stars on Amazon. Almost everyone said it was a tough, well-made backpack. In fact, every customer mentioned how durable and strong it is. On the other hand, some people were unhappy with its weight and overall size, which is quite large.

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Next is one of the more unique backpacks we've seen. The Himawari waterproof school backpack comes with a cool multi-color design that manages to stay mature. There are nearly 30 different colors to choose from, too.

It can take a 13-inch laptop, although nothing much bigger than that. Because it's built with nylon, it's tough and waterproof. The straps get the job done with nice thick padding on the upper half, and it has plenty of pockets.

More than a thousand customers gave it an average rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars on Amazon. They said it was well-made with good materials.

Also, many customers praised the padding on the straps, which are comfortable and easy to wear. There were a couple of complaints about broken zippers, but nothing serious.

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Ninth on our list is the Outjoy Double-Padded Backpack. It is as simple a backpack as you can get. There are no zippers showing or complicated pockets to get in the way. Instead, everything is tucked inside. It's like a stealth backpack.

Yet it's large enough to hold a 15-inch laptop and books. And it has multiple internal compartments for all your stuff. Best of all, it has one of those hidden, locked compartments for your valuables, and it's impervious to knives. That means nobody can cut their way into your bag.

This backpack has a 4.9 out of 5 stars rating on Amazon. Customers called it "amazing" and "perfect." They said it was lightweight yet carried a lot, and could take a lot of abuse. There wasn't a single complaint, making it one of the best backpacks for college we found.

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Finally, if you're the type of person who enjoys expensive, high-quality products, the Brass Tacks Leathercraft backpack is right up your alley. It is a premium backpack with a premium price tag. But it is hand-stitched for perfection.

It's built of waxed canvas with genuine leather straps and liners. The zippers are high-grade metal, ensuring they don't fail. It's an all-around luxury backpack.

Customers gave it 4.5 out of 5 stars on Amazon. Many of them said it was tough and looked amazing. They also said it drew plenty of compliments, as it should. There weren't any serious complaints.

​​​Which One Is Best?

student carrying her books and the best backpacks for college

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You're probably wondering which of these are the best backpacks for college. We've got an answer to that question. All of them!

Seriously. We found the best backpacks for college students, so you don't have to. Now it all comes down to personal style choice.

That being said, the Outjoy backpack was hands-down the most highly-recommended bag we reviewed. However, if you don't like that ultra-minimalist industrial design, then don't worry about not getting it. There are nine other great backpacks to choose from.

They're all the best!

Which one is your favorite? Let us know in the comments!


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