Backpacks are one of the most user-friendly ways to carry things around. However, finding the best work backpacks for women that are both functional and professional can be a challenge. Most professionals want an elegant bag that enhances their professionalism whereas many backpacks have a scruffier image and conjure thoughts of high school or sweaty hikes.
Fortunately, there’s a new wave of backpacks designed especially to meet the needs of professionals. They combine the roomy space, organizing pockets, and carrying comfort of your typical backpack with the style and elegance you expect in your professional life. We have collected the best work backpacks for women currently on the market so you can find the one that’s perfect for you.
Our Picks of the Best Work Backpacks for Women
The Knomo Women’s Laptop Backpack may be the perfect backpack, a versatile bag that combines style and function at an affordable price. This sleek backpack looks thin but looks can be deceptive. It has a number of pockets that distribute items so a lot fits in a small amount of space — this includes a padded laptop section, adjustable straps, an RFID blocking pocket, and even a hidden front pocket.
The design is curvy and decidedly feminine. While the backpack isn’t completely waterproof, it can survive getting caught in a surprise rain and still keep the laptop dry. The quality feels similar to luxury brands but at a more affordable price. Well-thought-out details like the black bag featuring a red interior just add to the delight.
Best Luxury Backpack
If you’re looking for a stylish backpack that marries beauty and functionality, you can count on TUMI. Tumi Women’s Voyageur Rivas Backpack has a nylon body and a slimmer, softer shape with less bulk than many computer backpacks. However, at 11.75″ x 15″ it still can hold a 13″ laptop in its padded laptop sleeve.
The leather trim and gold hardware make it look like a fashion statement while the multiple internal and external pockets will keep all your items organized. Being part of TUMI, it’s also designed with travel in mind and has a luggage trolley sleeve so you can slide it onto your rolling suitcase. This is a versatile backpack that can go from the office to a night out.
Best Budget Backpack
Need a professional backpack on a budget? The Kroser Laptop Backpack not only looks good but has a variety of features that make it a great everyday backpack at any price. It’s a durable bag with a steel frame and reinforced edges. Plus it’s got plenty of room for everything you might need from a large capacity main compartment, a padded compartment for a laptop, and side compartment for a water bottle or umbrella.
A padded back panel, shoulder straps, and tote handles make it easy and comfortable to carry. It also has a built-in USB port to charge your cell phone, however, the power bank itself is not included.
Best Anti-Theft Backpack
If you commute by public transport or travel for work, you need to keep the contents of your backpack secure. PacSafe Women’s Citysafe backpack is beautifully designed AND will keep your valuables sales. The backpack features interlocking zippers and a lightweight steel mesh that cannot be cut to protect you from thieves and pickpockets.
However, it also takes protection to the digital age with RFID blocking pockets to keep your credit cards and IDs secure. Plus it comes in a range of colors so safe doesn’t mean boring.
Best Leather Backpack
If you’re looking for a sturdy leather backpack that will last, check out Madewell’s Lorimer Backpack. It has classic lines that’ll never go out of style and the leather ages beautifully. The backpack can be a little stiff to start out but the leather will soften up with use. It’s a bit heavier and less flexible than cloth backpacks but the padded shoulder straps make it quite comfortable to wear.
While it’s a roomy backpack, the one downside is there is no internal laptop sleeve and if you have a laptop 15″ or larger, it’ll be difficult to squeeze it into the backpack due to the small zipper opening.
Best Minimalist Backpack
Looking for a sleek and elegant backpack? Matt and Nat Mercy Dwell Vegan Backpack does away with all the zippers, clasps, and bulging pockets of the average backpack. It has a smooth flap front with a hidden magnet enclosure.
Inside, there is are two zip pockets, as well as a smaller slip pocket but the bulk of the space is a roomy middle compartment. The lining is made of 100% recycled plastic bottles. It has adjustable shoulder straps which are comfortable but not padded so not ideal for heavy loads or long trips.
Best Work to Workout Gym Backpack
If you go to the gym before or after work, having one bag to carry everything around in can make life easier. However, shoving everything into one big pocket in a regular backpack is less than ideal. Fortunately, Lululemon City Adventurer Backpack was designed for quickly going from workout to work and comes with a built-in expandable pocket for sweaty clothes and gym shoes.
It also has a water bottle pocket, an exterior laptop pocket that can hold up to a 16″ laptop, and reinforced padded straps to make carrying everything comfortable.
Most Professional Diaper Bag Backpack
The Honest Company City Backpack is technically designed to be a diaper bag but to look at it, you’d never know. With lines between work and home life blurring, parents are looking for versatility to let them ease between their different roles. This soft vegan leather backpack gives a professional appearance while letting you tote around everything for your baby.
The backpack keeps you organized with 5 interior pockets, a changing pad, plus an insulated compartment to keep a bottle or snacks cool. Whether you’re hauling around diapers or a laptop (or both!), this is a great backpack to make being a working parent just a little bit easier.
Best for Outdoor Professionals
If you have an outdoor-based job or just like to get out into nature, Fjallraven Kanken Backpack (Laptop 15″) is a great choice. Fjallraven has been a fan favorite since 1960 and is known for its unique, vintage styling and commitment to the environment (each backpack is made from recycled plastic bottles). However, they’ve recently added a dedicated laptop compartment that fits up to a 15″ laptop to their most popular backpack. This makes it much friendlier for professionals.
Plus it has handy outdoor extras like water-resistant nylon, a rain flap, exterior pockets for a water bottle, and a removable seat pad. In the category of things that you didn’t know you needed but turned out to be very helpful, the dual tote handles on the top of the backpack mean it’s comfortable to carry like a tote bag too. With the adjustable padded straps, it carries comfortably and distributes the weight well across your back. It also comes in a virtual rainbow of colors for anyone who is tired of the standard black.
How do you choose a good work backpack?
When picking out the ideal backpack for you, consider what you want it to do.
One of the best things about backpacks is all the practical pockets. Consider what you need. For many of us, a padded laptop compartment is essential. Do you also want space for a water bottle or workout clothes? Do you prefer to have a single spacious main compartment or smaller organizational pockets?
If this is a commuter backpack, the weather-resistant material is important to consider. If you live in a place with heavy rainfall, you may want a waterproof backpack — for many of us, water-resistant nylon is enough.
If you will be traveling with your backpack, look for one with a trolley strap so you can strap it onto your rolling suitcase and instantly make your life easier. Backpacks with a spacious interior can be great for weekend trips too.
Will it be strictly a work bag that just needs to fit your daily essentials? Or is this a travel backpack that you’ll only use occasionally but needs to have enough space to carry overnight items? Do you want it to do double duty as a gym bag and have a space for sweaty gym clothes?
Depending on how long you need to carry your backpack and how heavy it is, comfort will play a role. Things like adjustable shoulder straps, a padded back panel, or easy access water bottle pockets will make carrying it around that much more pleasant.
Backpacks are made out of a range of materials that fit any style and budget. Many modern backpacks are made from nylon which has the advantages of being strong, light-weight, and relatively weather resistant. Some eco-friendly brands are also making their nylon out of recycled plastic. Canvas is also a popular choice for backpacks and gives a slightly vintage aesthetic.
Leather is another material popular for work backpacks. The quality of vegan leather has improved considerably in recent years and can be a durable, professional-looking, and animal-friendly option. Of course, real leather lasts years, evolves as it ages, and for many people will be the favorite choice.
The best backpack is an affordable backpack. You can find a functional and professional backpack in any price range.
Is it unprofessional to carry a backpack?
No, but you need to look for an elevated backpack design with high-quality materials that will enhance your professional appearance. Avoid anything that looks like it belongs in high school or a backpacking trip.
Should you consider a backpack for work?
Yes, backpacks are a great everyday bag for work. They’re comfortable to carry, have pockets to keep everything organized, and a spacious interior for all your daily essentials
As a professional, you need a bag to keep your daily items organized. Backpacks can offer roomy space for all your things, built-in organization, and can look just as professional as a briefcase while being a lot more comfortable to carry around. Whether you’re going to the coffee shop or the board room, you can find a backpack that will enhance your professional appearance and still be practical. For more adventure-friendly options, check out best travel backpacks.