Eight cool backpacks

When I was in college, I wore a nerdy green backpack, but ten years later, backpacks are back! They’re actually considered cool in New York right now (for real), and they’re comfy and perfect for bike rides, laptops, weekend trips, and baby stuff. What do you think? Would you wear a backpack?

1. Farm rucksack, $160.
2. Canoe pack, $195. (More on amazon.)
3. Striped fleece backpack, $58.
4. Classic backpack, $85.
5. Leather backpack, $450.
6. Tie-dyed backpack, $58.
7. Laptop bag, $110. (Cool in Sweden.)
8. Heritage backpack, $55.

Thoughts? xo

(Graphic design by Jennifer Hagler for Cup of Jo)

  1. Definately two of my favourite brands are here. The swedish one is the one I’m using now. Anotherone that I would miss as something trending would be Chrome Industries from San Francisco.

  2. These are some great backpacks. Price might be a little more than expected on a few of them though.

  3. The heritage backup has the perfect size for my ultrabook laptop that I bring to school. The design is cool, it’s light and it pads everything nicely.

  4. My kids are looking forward to their new cool backpacks and you have offered some nice suggestions. Of course, I want the bag to be handy too.

  5. The key to planning a great Sydney holiday is to plan ahead as Flights to Sydney are available at very cheap rates with us.

  6. Cool! I love *2, *4 and * 7.
    I recently baught a neon pink backpack from which can be folded into its own pocket, very usefull for shopping!

  7. i’ve had #6 for a few weeks now and i love it! it’s a perfect mix of practical, cute and dorky

  8. Thanks for this post.. my new yorker body is screaming for a return to the backpack as I mule through my day. These are a good selection to choose from without looking like a college student :) cheers!

  9. I look at the stripey one… and I melt. LOVE

  10. great picks joanna! i really like the leather one because it kind of doesn’t look like a backpack. it’s a new cut and shape!

  11. #7 definitely caught my eye first! and i actually need a laptop case for my macbook still! thanks for posting…

  12. My husband bought me #3 for our second “cotton” anniversary :D I love it!

  13. Great backpacks! I love #2, a little on the pricey side for me but they do look cool.

  14. Head over heels in love with #1.

  15. Oh, how funny! I was just in Sweden last week and bought a Kanken bag, in Cobalt, because I’m obsessed with them. I’m not so sure about it as a laptop bag, I’m using it as an art supplies bag.. but my friends mother laughed at me when I brought it into the house because they’re technically for school children, haha!

  16. Ahhh I have such a soft spot for backpacks. I had a brown leather one for Uni (18 years ago) it was beautiful but gone to the Op shop (Aussie term). So out of your selection I really dig #1 -classic, #3 – styling fun and #5 – gorgeous…am reinspired by backpacks…Thanks Jo!

  17. I actually own Number 3 – the stripy one from Poketo. I love it because it’s fleecy fabric so it’s really soft and comfortable and the leather underneath makes it look a little more ‘grown-up’. The navy blue also matches with everything :)

  18. Number 7 is actually my diaper bag! Even in blue! I loooove it!! <3

  19. Personally I cannot live without my backpack, Great selection, I’m inspired to purchase a new one!

  20. Anonymous says...

    #5 is my favorite- i like the simple, but stylish variety out there now :) i have my trusty brown, leather backpack that i inherited from my sister that packs my kids’ treats + then some when we travel. they’re the way to go.

  21. i love back packs! although i do remember in my final year of high school i had a MASSIVE back pack and one day i walked by a group of first years who mocked me about it. it was both funny and awkward. twerps!

  22. I just sponsored a family with three teenagers for back to school, and found them each back packs for $9.99 each, cute ones at that! Doesnt get any better!

  23. I love backpacks, i bought one at the beginning of the year for uni. Its probably one of my coolest purchases, also the fact that is is red, blue, yellow, green!

  24. OMG! Just today I was telling my wife how I wanted to get a backpack for work (I’m a nanny). I always put my wallet in the kids bag and then forget to take it out when I head home, ARGH! A backpack of my own with a small pocket for a diaper and some wipes would be perfect since I could use it as my everyday bag too! Thanks for this round up, I’m ordering one from BAGGU right away!

  25. Of course my favorite is the $450 one! This is an awesome roundup! Thanks Joanna!

  26. I just fell in love with number three! I wear a purple jansport backpack, there are just too many books I have to carry!

  27. #1 and #3 are my favorites. I miss wearing backpacks. Why do we stop wearing them once we get older? Such a shame!

    Camila Faria

  28. Love all the bags. I’ve been shopping around for a new one for awhile. I’m the same way about back packs as most women are about purses.

  29. I lived in Sweden for a semester and desperately wanted a fjallraven backpack. I spent all my money traveling Europe instead and came home broke with no backpack. Maybe someday I’ll justify it by using it as a diaper bag so that when I take my future children to good old Sverige they’ll be the cool kids.

  30. i’ve totally been loving herschel supply… this is a great little round up!

  31. I use the Fjallraven bag as a diaper bag and I love it. My boyfriend doesn’t mind carrying the diaper bag this way which is super nice. Maybe one day this will be Liam’s first book bag for school. (:

  32. I’m a junior in high school so a backpack is unfortunately still a necessity. I find so many cute backpacks that of course would never be able to hold all of my crap (: these are all amazing though! I especially love 1,7,and 8

  33. dc says...

    i started carrying a backpack again when i got my freight bag. its huge so i have been wanting a smaller more everyday, ride to work, the bar, movies, etc. backpack. a couple of months ago i got a kanken and i love it!! its perfect for everyday and its water proof! (which i found out the hard way, getting caught in the rain on bici yesterday.) they are reasonably priced and have tons of colors to chose from. i highly recommend getting one!

  34. Anonymous says...

    #2 is pretty elegant, and #4 is cute, but I think #3 looks like something the Hamburgler would wear! Too silly for my tastes.

  35. I have your #6 bag (Duck Bag from Baggu) in a sea (solid color). I have a Chrome bag for riding to school but I wanted something cute and casual for short bike rides to restaurants and bars and things like that. The Duck Bag is so perfect for those kinds of things. I love it!

  36. Number 7: Fjällräven Kånken is very sympathic and practical. I’m from Sweden but never got to have one as a kid (my mother said: “-That somethings are popular doesn’t mean they are the best.”) Now my daughter and son have one each, and they are very good. They come in many colours and the ordinary ones are cheaper than the laptop version.

    Stunder med FORTES

  37. i have the striped fleece backpack, for my ‘mom’ bag. i just love it!!

  38. I have a black Herschel just like the last red one you posted and I absolutely love it. I’m definitely a backpack girl for school.

  39. i ebay’d a leather backpack for $30 three years ago and it is seriously one of the best purchases of my life! i even got it repaired at the leather store because i didnt want to retire it!

  40. In grade school I requested a Jansport for Christmas (I was very specific–had to be a Jansport!) and I got an Eastsport instead. I thought it was the worst thing that could have ever happened to me!
    When I was in college, backpacks were decidedly NOT cool. But I did have an old L.L.Bean backpack, one of the little ones with just one outside pocket, that I used for weekend trips. It was my best friend’s from when she was in grade school. We were at school in different cities so it was very special to me!

  41. Anonymous says...

    Hi Joanna, I’m due to have my first bubs (aka baby) in October – any tips for good (but stylish) diaper bags (but not ‘diaper bags’)? I’ve seen a few posts around with suggestions, but now more interested to know what mums have actually bought/used and been successful…tried and tested. Thanks so much! S

  42. i’ve always loved backpacks. they’re so practical, and can be super cute, obviously, like these ones. thanks for the good selection so i don’t have to go shop around on my own!

  43. These are too cute – I’ve been looking for one that’d be perfect for all the travel I do.

    #1 is great and #3 with the stripes is so cute!

  44. @mamasnarkasaurus I totally agree that the prices seem NUTS, but the idea is that you buy one backpack and use it for the rest of your life. They (Duluth Packs) almost never wear out. Some people pass them down for generations. If something breaks on them, they repair it for free. So, you could spend $20 again and again throughout your life on cheap packs, or spend a lot once on a good one.

    Ok I’m done now! Just have some love in my heart for companies who still do things the good old way!

  45. I can vouch for Duluth Packs (#2). My husband was the Marketing Manager there for five years and it’s a wonderful company with old-fashioned ethics. They treat their employees well and make everything by hand with the original old sewing machines and riveters. One of my favorite things to do was to visit him at work and watch the leather cutters and sewers doing their thing. They’re artists, really. I don’t want to sound like a commercial, but I just know first hand that it’s a great company, and a great product. And they’re guaranteed for life.

  46. Sara says...

    I was a little girl in Finland in the 80s, and everybody had Fjällräven backpacks.
    I knew they were cool again when I saw the girl in the film Somewhere with a yellow one.
    Hard to believe the price though, they’ve become expensive!

  47. Did you hear about the super expensive backpack the Olsen twins just brought out?

  48. I just got married and for a shower gift one of my bridesmaids gave me a backpack that looks like #3 (it’s canvas not fleece though). It was the perfect gift because we used it on our honeymoon to pack stuff up in for hikes and going around town and I could still be cute and stylish!

  49. I’m a fan of backpacks. I’ve developed some shoulder issues from my event planning job and now that I’m commuting on public transport backpacks are my doctor’s orders to prevent the shoulder strain and aggravation. Thanks for the recommendations–they’re definitely stylish but I wonder how a laptop will hold up in some of them that are more free-form designed? I’m currently eyeing some from local SF company Timbuk2.

  50. Marie says...

    My mistake, I didn’t know Fjällräven made samelooking bagpacks as well :)

  51. I love a backpack – mine is by English designer Ally Capellino.

  52. 1, 3, 4! I have two Herschel backpacks and they have been a summer essential for me. Excellent quality with the cutest lining of red & white stripes!

  53. Marie says...

    Fjällräven kanken isn’t a laptop bag :D

  54. My mother is having the leather straps of her old (from the 70s) camping packsack replaced to hand it down to me after she’s seen some in the styles of no 1-2-4 in magazines. I feel quite lucky, especially since they’re the most expensive hehe!

  55. I know they are practical, but not too sure about all the styles. But I do love 1 and 2 – seem very French to me!

  56. i’m all about backpacks. i guess i still never got over my girl crush on eliane from seinfeld. i also am very pro loafers for the same reason.

    i love my lesportsac and baggu backpacks… use them daily on my walk into work!

    thanks so much!


  57. i actually bought the Farm Rucksack this winter (possibly on your recommendation from another post?)… i take the ferry every day from Staten Island into Manhattan, carry loads of stuff, and my shoulder just couldn’t handle a tote bag! once i got my stylish new backpack, not only did my back and shoulders feel better, i also felt super cute!

  58. i love it! i only have backpacks for travel, but nothing to wear around town.. these are pretty

  59. Yeah I actually love these backpacks! I do feel like they can be kinda nerdy, but these are cute, and so much better for your shoulder/back than a heavy shoulder bag…

  60. yes, baggu has some amazing ones! you’re right, these are a bit pricy, but i’m thinking of them more as a bag you’ll have for years and use everyday, so you’d want it to be super strong, durable and stylish :) (versus a school bag or now-and-again bag)

  61. elise! says...

    Ah that striped one is really nice! I almost ordered a Fjallraven but eventually decided on a Baggu that didn’t break the bank quite so much. I think you’d like them as well!

  62. I’m a Colorado girl, so utility wins over fashion most of the time. My camelbak is perfect for small grocery runs via bike, serious hikes, and anytime I just can’t handle that purse for one. more. second. !

  63. love these backpacks!, especially #1, 5, and 6. i have a teal jansport one right now, and can’t decide if it’s considered nerdy or not :O

  64. Honestly, I think they’re completely ridiculous, price wise. I can’t imagine spending that much on a backpack, when I know it’s going to get thrown around, shoved in the back seat, stuff spilled on it, classmates kicking it, used as a pillow, and so on. And that’s just me (in college)! The striped one is adorable, but I”m having a heart attack at the thought of spending more than $20, let alone $100…or $450…

  65. Oh, absolutely… we actually just got the Herschel Supply Heritage backpack in black for our “diaper bag”. It’s got the prettiest red & white stipped pattern inside. And my husband carries the Fjall Raven backpack daily, which I love…

  66. I love the look of the first two. We carry an ll Bean one called Apex for a diaper bag. So much easier than a bag that swings on your arm and whacks your two year old in the head.

  67. LOVE me a backpack! So great that you posted this… been looking for one for a while and found a sweat little brown one at Target – $12!! Still on the hunt for the PERFECT one, but really like #3!
    Backpacks are back!

  68. I love # 7 (Fjall Raven)

  69. i love backpacks. i wear them all the time! and these are fantastic!

  70. maggie says...

    number 3 is my fave! i would wear one!

  71. My favorite back pack is one I found at the Gap last summer for six bucks. I’ve taken it to class (I’m getting a post-bacc teaching certification), camping, and on every weekend trip we take (and there are many!).

  72. Kendriana says...

    I would wear a backpack but I know I wouldn’t spend more than $20 on a new one, you guys must be made out of money.


  73. Ellie says...

    The Duluth Pack store has some really cool back packs.
    I love the colors of this one
    It’s a little on the smaller side, but still really fun to use. and this one is just your sturdy every day back pack.
    And this Market tote…
    (I used to live in Minnesota and loved going to the Duluth Pack store!)

  74. I think the backpack is a great idea. I would wear one but it has to have nice structure or a cute pattern.
    I like #1 the best, white with simple detail.
    I know a girl that makes the most stylish handbags/diaper bags online. I wonder if she could make a back pack…hmmm

  75. Kristi says...

    You subscribe to Daily Candy too! haha – got the same backpack email this morning too. Option 2 is my favorite.

  76. I use a Fjall Raven backpack as a diaper bag all the time. It is perfect…and not just cool in Sweden ;)

  77. Heck yes I’d wear a backpack! I love #3, #5 and #6. My daughter enters the big K this fall and we just went and picked out her backpack — purple with a big kitty charm on it. She was so thrilled! ~Melissa

  78. i would totally wear a backpack! I miss my highschool one! soo handy!

  79. Love the striped one and it’s halfway affordable unlike many of the others.

  80. Ahh Joanna, perfect timing… I need a new backpack!

  81. mmmm yummy! number 3 and number 5 to boot!

  82. I meant thanks for the selection Joanna (i am typing with my left hand only ’cause on an injury, hence some glitches)

  83. Thanks for this post! I haven’t worn a backpack since the ’90s (remember the little black backpacks?)but have been thinking about the convenience of using one now that I have two kiddos. Now I have to decide on one, they’re all fantastic!

  84. Man, I’ve been on the hunt for a stylish backpack for work for a while… numbers 1-4 are just what I had in mind. Great list! <3

  85. I love no 7 !
    Thanks for the selection !joanna
    I’ve been looking for a replacement of the Coleman backpack my mom got me when i was like 7 for a trip with my class to camp(blue and camel, went from cool to non cool to cool again over time)
    After 23 years of service et passed away… sob !

  86. i think backpacks are better than sling bags and always will. your shoulder would have the same pressure, its healthy and safe. whereas sling bags may cause you to some disease like Scoliosis.

    also these backpack designs are wonderful! x


  87. I’ve been using a one shoulder bag (technical name) since high school, but I would definitely use these cute backpacks! Especially the striped one. I’m in grad school now and have noticed that a lot of students use backpacks!

  88. I’m not a backpack person, myself, but I have purchased a few because they look super cute. Personally, I love the first 3.
    ♥ laura
    the blog of worldly delights

  89. So cute! I’m heading off to college in the fall, and have been campaigning for the striped backpack…

  90. Number 1 and 2 are for sure my favorites and what a shocker they are the most expensive!! I have an amazing gift of always picking the top priced items on a list!!! It’s a curse I say!
    Recipes Fashion Marriage

  91. These are gorgeous!
    If I had to pick, it would be #1, #3 and #7.
    Cant afford. someone nice enough to get em for me? *puppy face*

    Haha. Love the post.
    Thumbs up!


  92. victoria, i hear you — although i love backpacks when you’re wearing an ergo because it balances you out :)

  93. oh yes backpacks are so handy! and the fjällräven kånken never goes out of least not in the nordic countries :)

  94. I still have my burnt orange, monogrammed LL Bean backpack from high school. I use it for my kids’ “diaper” bag. I never really need to worry about it falling apart, because The Bean (as we call it :-) will replace the zipper, etc. I can’t wait to buy my kids their first backpacks, it seems like such a rite of passage.

  95. haha, themama23, you have expensive taste! :)

  96. I love the first three! I might have to pick one up for my travels!

  97. I’ll tell you what I don’t like about backpacks as diaper bags: you can’t do the quick reach in/grab and go. You have to pull it off your back, unzip, find, replace, repeat. For me @ the zoo, it’s a hassle. For a bike ride and a picnic, it’s great. : )

  98. I like the beige #2 one the most. It makes me think of a vintage boy scout backpack. I love these!

  99. I love 1 through 3. The only thing I hate about backpacks is running in them. I feel like such a nerd with that bog ol’ thing bouncing in the back.

  100. In college, I wore a bright pink one. I’m always so jealous of all the choices students have now! :)

  101. I have one that looks a lot like nr.1 and I totally adore the one with stripes. I mostly use my backpack for bike rides and when I go shopping to the food market. They are so comfy and you can always pack so much in them:) Have a lovely Tuesday, Joanna

  102. I am ALL about Duluth Pack! I just recently did a little post about my favorites. They’re all I’m putting on my birthday wish list this year :)

  103. I love backpacks! I have an old leather one I got at the Gap years ago, and I take it with me when I travel. There’s nothing quite like having your arms free while still keeping everything you might need close at hand.

    These are fantastic. I love numbers 1 and 5, but those stripes! I think they’re calling my name ;)

  104. I love that striped one, and might just prefer it to my diaper bag!


  105. K says...

    I love my classic LL Bean backpack in the “junior” size. It’s perfect for my laptop and bike rides to work. Plus, it’s reflective!

  106. Anonymous says...

    I would definitely wear a backpack! I love that stripey one for summer.

  107. I have a Fjalraven Kanken mini and really love it. A nerdy student at heart, I’ve never stopped loving a backpack. The little stripey one is so cute!

  108. in LOVE with the tie-dyed backpack! Love them all, really.

    When I was in Seattle a couple months ago I noticed that they were big too (but then again that is where Jansport is centered). I went home and bought a green Jansport like I had in high school and love using it for bike rides, hikes, etc.

    -Morgan (Born of the Sea ) <—my little blog

  109. Leave it to me… I picked my top three backpacks… #1, # 2 and #5. Then looked at the prices – yes out of my budget. Nice selection.