12 of the Best Book Bags for College Students

Sooner or later, your little cherub will be heading off to college with a spring in its step, while you are left wondering how the years passed so quickly. College is a time for kids to find their independence, make new friends and enjoy all the extracurricular activities college life offers. But college is also a time of intense studying, with exams looming on the horizon. As such, your child will need one of the best book bags for college students to help him carry all his books and other belongings.

Traditional book bags for college were usually in a satchel type design, but many kids today prefer backpacks because they are easier to carry when laden with heavy textbooks. Modern backpacks come in all shapes and sizes and many different colors. Some even include internal padded pockets designed to hold laptops and tablets safely.

To help you find the right bookbag, we have compiled a list of twelve of the best book bags for college, so read on to see if any of our suggestions tick the right boxes.

Best Book Bags for College Students

Modoker Vintage Laptop Backpack
Check price at
Kenneth Cole Reaction Women’s Chelsea Backpack Chevron Quilted
Check price at
Yorek 2 in 1 Detachable Backpack Travel Backpacks for College
Check price at
Vera Bradley Women’s Signature Cotton Campus Backpack
Check price at
JanSport Cool Student 15-Inch Laptop Backpack
Check price at
Fjallraven Kanken Laptop 15″ Backpack For Everday
Check price at
The North Face Borealis Backpack
Check price at
Thule Crossover 25L Laptop Backpack
Check price at
Herschel Supply Co Heritage Backpack
Check price at

Overall Best Backpack For College: Matein Travel Laptop Backpack

Matein Travel Laptop Backpack in grey

The Matein Travel Laptop Backpack is our editor’s choice for the best college backpack because of its versatility, price, comfort, functionality, and volume. The durable school backpack is an excellent gift to college students who commute from home to college, travel over weekends, and need storage options for college essentials, clothes, and electronic gear.

An anti-theft zipper back pocket hides the ticket, money, id cards, or passport safely but close at hand. Organizing supplies in the front organizer pocket is a delight; there are pouches for phones, pens, notebooks, college paper, a key fob hook, and more.

The pack features a separate laptop compartment, space for a tablet, and an external USB charging port connected to your power bank (excluded) charges your phone during a commute or between classes. The laptop sleeve holds a 15.6-inch laptop or smaller, and the durable polyester material is water-resistant to keep content dry.

Breathable shoulder straps adjust according to a student’s height relieving stress from shoulders. A foam-padded carry handle and luggage strap that fits most luggage handles offer flexibility in carrying the pack. The back’s thick multi-panel ventilated padding allows airflow for comfort, and the design provides back support.

Best Vintage College Backpack: Modoker Vintage Laptop Backpack

Modoker Vintage Laptop Backpack

The Modoker Vintage Laptop Backpack is stylish and practical.  Founded in 1993, Modoker is one of the brands that aim to combine fashion styles with convenience. The trendy logo and leather belt strap with exquisite buttons accentuate the vintage design. With six compartments, 25L storage capacity, and comfortable padded shoulder straps for daily use, the Modoker backpack is an excellent college backpack.

A zippered front pocket holds smaller items like keys, pens, and cards, while the main compartment has plenty of space to store books, folders, clothes, and a power bank. Inside the main compartment is a dedicated internal pocket with a secure strap that fits a 15.6-inch size laptop. The secondary zippered pocket holds a tablet, papers, or books, and two external side pockets are ideal for a water bottle, umbrella, or beverage cups.

College students can charge their phones between classes; the external USB port with a built-in charging cable connects to the power bank (not included) in the main compartment. The adjustable shoulder straps are well-padded for comfort and adjust to fit a student’s body and height.  That’s what places it among the best bags to transport a laptop.

The 600D Nylon fabric comes in five trendy colors; the material is scratch-resistant, tear-resistant, and water-resistant, keeping content safe, clean, and dry.

Best Book Bag For Women: Kenneth Cole Reaction Women’s Chelsea Backpack Chevron Quilted

Kenneth Cole Reaction Women's Chelsea Backpack Chevron Quilted

The Kenneth Cole Reaction Chelsea Backpack is one of the most stylish college backpacks for women. The chevron-quilted polyester-twill fabric with self-repairing gold-plated zipper pockets comes in four sophisticated colors. A fully polyester-lined interior is tear-resistant and is strong enough for daily use as a college backpack or purse. The striped lining colors complement the stylish exterior.

The stylish backpack is more than a fashion statement; it has lots of space. Two organizational pockets in the front to organize accessories and essentials; the smaller pocket is ideal for keys and student cards. The roomy main compartment includes a padded laptop compartment for a MacBook or laptop from 13 inches up to a 15-inch screen, and the padded device pocket fits most tablets.

Padded shoulder straps offer comfort when carrying the bag as a backpack. The bag features a top carry handle and a luggage strap that fits over most luggage upright handles.

Best College Backpacks For Travel: Yorek 2 in 1 Detachable Backpack Travel Backpacks for College

Yorek 2 in 1 Detachable Backpack Travel Backpacks for College

The Yorek Detachable Travel Backpack is one of the best backpacks for college students who travel often. Designed for the airport, the extra-large backpack conveniently unfolds 90 to 180 degrees to keep your stuff neat and tidy and to go quickly through airport security checkpoints.

The 2 in 1 travel backpack comes with a detachable sling waist pack bag with an adjustable waist belt that fits up to 48 inches. (The older model does not feature the waist pack bag.) The waist bag is perfect for cycling, jogging, or use as a wallet when shopping.

A front organizer compartment has multiple pouches for organizing daily supplies like sunglasses, a notebook, a pen, and a power bank that connects to the USB charger port at the exterior. The hidden anti-theft pocket at the back protects valuables like money, cell phone, or passport.

The Yorek 2 in 1 backpack is large enough to fit a 17-inch laptop. The bag features a separate iPad compartment. With a 45 L capacity, the backpack has ample room for everything; there is more than enough space for college stuff, including electronic devices, textbooks, clothes, and travel gear.

This heavy-duty college backpack is the perfect gift for businessmen, college students who like to travel, or need space for college stuff and gym clothes too.

Most Colorful College Backpack: Vera Bradley Women’s Signature Cotton Campus Backpack

Vera Bradley Women's Signature Cotton Campus Backpack

The chic quilted cotton Vera Bradley Campus Backpack comes in various colorful patterns with lots of storage space for a student’s laptop, college books, and more. It is simply gorgeous, inside and outside.

The college bag features two zip pockets with a laptop pocket, a hidden back zip pocket, and two side mesh pockets. The front zip organizer compartment has four slip pockets, an ID window for your student card, and three pen-slip pockets.

Lightweight and durable, the Signature Cotton fabric is machine washable. The comfortable 32-inch adjustable strap is colorfully padded; the bag also has a 3-inch top carry handle and a trolley sleeve.

Vera Bradley brand bags are not just backpacks for college campus students but are beautiful school backpacks with enough room to fit all school essentials and school supplies.

Best School Backpacks for College: JanSport Cool Student 15-Inch Laptop Backpack

JanSport Cool Student 15-Inch Laptop Backpack

The Cool Student Backpack is another excellent choice from JanSports, one of the popular brands for school backpacks ranging from elementary school, middle school, to college. This version comes with all the JanSport features and a laptop sleeve for a 15-inch laptop, ideal for school to graduation to college.

Ergonomic S-curve shoulder straps with a 14-inch shoulder drop and the fully padded back panel support shoulders and backs. The web haul handle is another way to carry the backpack loaded with college items; it has a 34L capacity. Two large main compartments and a pleated front stash pocket offer ample room for binders, books, laptops, lunch, and anything else students need. A water bottle fits in the side water bottle pocket for easy access.

Every JanSport backpack comes with a lifetime warranty; it is one of the most durable book bags for students during their school season, holiday fun, or going to college.  It’s one of the top choices for teenagers looking for a carrier bag.

Most Durable And Versatile Book Bag: Fjallraven Kanken Laptop 15″ Backpack For Everday

Fjallraven Kanken Laptop 15" Backpack For Everday

The Fjallraven Kanken Laptop Backpack has the brand’s design but updated in size to fit a 15-inch laptop. Since the 1960s, Fjallraven products are timeless, durable, and functional. It’s one of the more versatile products that double as totes, purses, and college backpacks.

With 18L storage capacity and eleven color options, students can stash their school items, essentials, and accessories in a stylish color of their choice. The two-way zipper and rain flap cover secures content and keeps it safe and dry. The Vinylon F material is water-resistant, dirt-resistant, and low maintenance; just wipe it clean.

The padded adjustable shoulder strap with its ergonomic X provides support for daily use. Dual top snap handles allow you to carry the backpack as a tote. The backpack features a seat pad in the back pouch, a place for an info tag, a large main compartment, two side pockets for easy access, and a front zippered pouch.

The price may seem high, but considering that it is one of the top brands, if not the number one brand, for durability and style, the backpack could outlast every school day and still look good for college.

Best Pack For Back Support: The North Face Borealis Backpack

The North Face Borealis Backpack

The North Face Borealis Backpack is not just a vessel to carry books; it’s one of the best products for college students with lots of gear, including heavy books, they need to carry around on college campus. The front elastic bungee system keeps the content secure irrespective if it’s half-empty or at its maximum 28L capacity.

This type of backpack offers comfort and support to the back when carrying heavy books. The North Face FlexVent system features a flexible yoke, custom injection-molded shoulder straps, breathable lumbar panels, and a padded mesh back panel. A sternum strap with a whistle buckle offers additional support and prevents shoulder straps from sliding. The college backpack also comes with a removable waist belt for a comfortable custom fit.

Organizing student stuff is effortless with the internal organization front compartment containing a padded tablet sleeve, pen pouches, and secure zippered pockets. Laptops up to 15-inch screens fit snugly in the dedicated laptop sleeve; there is lots of room in the main compartment for school supplies. It’s one of the best backpacks your kids will want this fall.

Best Backpack for Electronic Items: Thule Crossover 25L Laptop Backpack

Thule Crossover 25L Laptop Backpack 

The Thule Crossover Laptop Backpack has dedicated pouches for electronic devices. The main storage area features a padded laptop sleeve that holds up to a 15-inch MacBook Pro and a separate dedicated tablet sleeve. The best part is the SafeZone zip pouch that has a phone pocket for quick access.

Store fragile items like a pair of sunglasses or reading glasses safely in the crushproof SafeZone compartment. Lock it to keep sunglasses and the cell phone safe or remove the pocket if you need extra room. An interesting exterior pocket is the vertical zippered pocket at the front, perfect for small essentials like plane tickets, student ID tags, or a passport.

The main compartment holds a laptop, tablet, paper, files, books, and more college gear. The second-largest pocket is for organizing accessories and things. Place a water bottle, umbrella, or anything you want to grab quickly in the two side exterior pockets.

A padded back panel with airflow channels and mesh-covered shoulder straps will keep students comfortable and cool on hot summer days. Some people prefer low-key bags; the black Thule Crossover’s simplistic style doesn’t make a fashion statement, but it will hold everything you need for college and more.

Best Minimalistic College Backpack: Herschel Supply Co Heritage Backpack

Herschel Supply Co Heritage Backpack

The Herschel Supply Co Heritage Backpack is the perfect college backpack for students who keep things simple. Herschel is one of the best brands for backpacks, and the classic style should satisfy the minimalist who likes simplicity but has a sense of style. It’s ideal for students who don’t want a thousand pockets to keep things.

You’ll be surprised at the amount of stuff a student can store in 21.5L capacity. Without multiple pouches for this and that, the main compartment has more than enough volume for textbooks, binders, gym clothes, and more. The smaller exterior pocket is ideal for quick access to student essentials. The interior laptop sleeve pocket holds a laptop up to 15-inches; the internal media pocket has a headphone port.

With over 50 color versions, there is something for everyone, men and women, from the simplistic basic colors, bright patterns, pastels to color combinations with synthetic leather. The interior lining complements the exterior. Padded straps and breathable air mesh back padding supports shoulders and back comfortably.

Best For Large Size Laptop: Amazon Basics Laptop Computer Backpack

Amazon Basics Laptop Computer Backpack

The Amazon Basics Laptop Backpack’s puncture-resistant construction and padded interior protect devices. The internal 12 x 4 17.5 inches measurements offer a spacious option for most laptops, even the 17-inch size laptops. If your computer doesn’t fit in the dedicated padded laptop sleeve, it should fit in the main compartment. The rucksack also has a smaller pouch for tablets.

Anyone can keep a wide variety of stuff in order with the rucksack’s multiple zippered pockets and pouches. Students can organize electronic gear and details by course, category, or any other way that makes sense. The pack also has an external pocket for quick access to a water bottle.

Try these other great backpack and bag articles:

Most Trendy Unisex Packs: HotStyle TrendyMax Galaxy Patterned Backpack

HotStyle TrendyMax Galaxy Patterned Backpack

If you’re looking for a standout design, this galaxy patterned book bag from HotStyle certainly fits the bill. The printed bonded nylon fabric is eye-catching. A handy internal organizing panel for storing smaller items such as a cell phone, pens, calculator, and cards is a great college accessory. It would be a great backpack for kids too – it’s unique and quirky!

Best Canvas Book Bag: Leaper Canvas Backpack and Book Bag

Leaper Canvas Backpack and Book Bag

The Leaper canvas college book backpack comes in a range of different color combinations, although the styling is more likely to appeal to girls rather than boys. This book bag is made from durable canvas and PU leather and can accommodate a laptop and plenty of textbooks. It’s a fashionable, high-volume bag that’s lightweight and cool.

Cutest Animal Theme Book Bags: Animal Print Book Bag

FOR U DESIGNS Cute Animal Print Book Bag

If you buy a FOR U DESIGNS canvas college book bag, you can choose from a selection of super cute cat, dog, and other animal print designs. The fabric is stain-resistant and fashionable. The backpack has two side pockets and a zipped pocket on the front. It also features a laptop/tablet compartment inside.

Best Waterproof School Backpack: Vbiger Book Bag and Backpack

Vbiger Book Bag and Backpack

The Vbger book bag is the perfect book bag for college students looking for a backpack large enough to sit all their books and other bits and pieces. This backpack is available in lots of different colors and patterns, so there is bound to be one that suits you. The fabric is waterproof nylon, and it has adjustable shoulder straps. Inside you’ll find a handy laptop/iPad compartment.

Best Bags For School: JanSport Big Student Classics Series Daypack

JanSport Big Student Classics Series Daypack

The JanSport classics book bag and daypack is a simple design with ergonomic shoulder straps and two large main inner compartments. The front utility pocket is great for keeping essentials such as a cell phone close at hand. There are also two further zip pockets. This book bag is plain, but it does the job admirably.

Book bags for college have to fulfill several functions: being roomy enough to hold a stack of books is useful, but having a laptop compartment is also pretty important for many college students. Oh yes, and it also has to look cool, which, arguably, is the most important criteria!

Feature image courtesy of Flickr, subsetsum.


  1. I really enjoyed this article. I’m interested in backpacks for hiking rather than the travel type, but the same things apply. I especially bemoan the loss of zippered side pockets in order to get a certain “look.” I make my own packs for this and other reasons.

    I noticed you referred to load lifter straps as “the small strap on top of the shoulder strap, that pulls the pack closer to your body.” Maybe just an oversight, but that’s not really what load lifters are designed to do. They actually transfer weight from shoulders to hipbelt, assuming the pack has a frame of some kind. Without a frame, they’re not of much use unless the pack is loaded completely full, making it somewhat rigid. With a frame, they allow you to adjust the ratio of weight on shoulders and hipbelt.

    I enjoyed your pants rant as well. I finally bought the Mountain Hardwear “Piero 5-pocket pants,” which are basically nylon jeans. So far seem good for my uses. Not stretchy, but can’t afford the soft shell pants.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.