The 20 Best Backpack Brands of 2021

In the market for a new backpack, but unsure what the best backpack brands are? Here's a list of 20 to narrow down your options.
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Best Backpack Brands

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There are so many name brand backpacks out there—choosing the right one can be overwhelming.

I’m a big believer in investing in quality gear—gear that will last a lifetime. Investing in a high quality backpack means finding a bag you’ll love that will last for years while keeping your items safe in any condition.

Here’s my list of the best backpack brands for both men and women to help you choose!

1. Tortuga: Best Backpacks for Carry-On Travel

Tortuga Backpack

First up, we have Tortuga, one of the best backpack brands out there (and certainly a favorite of mine). They’re excellent at making high quality carry-on backpacks designed for urban travelers and digital nomads.

Each model backpack that Tortuga creates is designed with attention to detail which means there are a limited number of backpacks in their line of products. And although each backpack is highly functional, they’re also sleek and stylish.

Tortuga is one of those backpack brands that really excels at organization—with lots of pockets and a laptop sleeve with extra padding—and they make the perfect pack for digital nomads. If you’d like to learn more about Tortuga backpacks and the different models, check out my Outbreaker review and the Setout review.

2. Peak Design: Best Backpacks for Travel Photographers

Peak Design Backpack

Peak Design is, hands down, one of the best backpack brands for traveling photographers. Their backpacks combine the versatility of a traditional backpack with the functionality and features of a camera backpack—with a few added features.

Peak Design makes a line of Everyday bags, totes, slings and carry-on bags that are roomy enough to store your camera gear and pack your regular travel items. And you certainly don’t have to be a photographer to wear them. Made in the USA, their backpacks come jam-packed with features and they’re all made up of the highest quality weatherproof fabric. All their products also come with a lifetime warranty.

If you’re interested in how this backpack brand compares to Tortuga, check out my full comparison of the two brands or read my full Peak Design Travel Backpack review.

3. WANDRD: Best Backpacks for Adventure Photographers

Speaking of backpack brands for shutterbugs, WANDRD is at the top of the list. Their backpacks are made for photographers, by photographers.

WANDRD has a range of backpacks, but each has something in common: they’re highly organized. Each bag has lots of storage space and comes with an integrated, modular camera cube section with side access for easy camera access.

All of WANDRD’s packs also have a unique and striking design that scream “ADVENTURE!,” and they’re made with weather-resistant materials. I love the extra padding and the multiple access points so I can quickly grab my camera on the fly.

Backpack brands like WANDRD try to make it easy for photographers to find the perfect pack, but it really depends on your photography workflow.

Read my reviews about the WANDRD HEXAD Access Duffel (one of my favorite 45L travel backpacks) and the PRVKE (21L & 31L everyday pack) to judge for yourself!

4. Osprey: Best Backpacks for Hiking & Climbing

Osprey Hiking Backpacks

When it comes to outdoor backpack brands, Osprey is a household name. They are one of the best backpack brands, period, with a ton of different options aimed primarily at outdoor adventure enthusiasts. For decades, Osprey has made some of the best hiking backpacks on the market.

From daypacks to mountaineering rucksacks to water resistant hiking packs, Osprey seemingly has a backpack for everything. Their backpacks are a common sight on all backpacking routes because they’re versatile enough (and certainly durable enough) to suit anybody.

With Osprey, you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for…even if you’re just starting out.

I’ve tested and reviewed quite a few Osprey packs in my day, including:

5. Aer: Best Backpacks with an Aesthetic Design

Aer Backpack

Aer is on my hypothetical list of the most underrated backpack brands on the market. They create incredibly sleek, stylish gym bags and carry-on packs using subdued colors and clean lines.

Aer’s backpacks are a fantastic option for working professionals who want to make a fashion statement. For example, the Aer Travel Duffel is on my list of best duffel packs because it, quite frankly, looks more like a briefcase than a duffel. The same goes for their sleek gym bags. You’d never know they were full of sweaty gym socks.

Each backpack comes with additional perks, like lockable zippers for extra security, and a padded laptop computer sleeve—all vital for the working professional! Their travel backpacks are some of the best on the market, too.

6. Arc’teryx: Best Technical Backpacks for Mountaineering

Arc'Teryx Backpack

Arc’teryx is on this list of the best backpack brands because they’re, perhaps, the highest-rated outdoor gear brands on the market. Their bread and butter is technical adventure gear for hiking, climbing and mountaineering, but they also offer an array of backpacks for both city and backcountry adventures.

As far as adventure brands go, Arc’teryx is among the very best. Their gear fits well, keeps you warm and dry, and provides plenty of mobility.

7. The North Face: Best Backpacks for Adventure Travel

The North Face Backpacks

Like Osprey, The North Face creates name brand backpacks and technical outdoor gear that just about everyone is familiar with, whether you’re hiking, day-tripping, or mountaineering.

The North Face has such a large product line that it’s impossible not to find something suitable for you. Features like moulded shoulder straps, spacious storage, and laptop sleeves are just a few of your options. They also carry frame backpacks (the kind with a heavy-duty suspension system), if you’re into that kind of thing.

The North Face inevitably ends up on many of my lists, including top picks for best daypacks and best outdoor clothing brands.

8. Shimoda: Best Hiking Camera Backpacks

Shimoda Backpack

Shimoda also makes it on this list of the best backpack brands for outdoor adventure photographers. Each backpack is designed for photographers who carry tons of gear, with impressive height-adjustable shoulder harnesses that make it easy to keep the weight off your back while hiking.

One of their best packs, the Shimoda Explore 40, is a favorite hiking camera backpack of mine. I’m most excited to try out the latest in their arsenal, the Active X30!

9. Matador: Best Packable Daypacks

Matador Backpack

Matador backpacks are well known for their packability, meaning they can be packed down into ultra-lightweight, tidy packages that are small in size. Each pack is water resistant and durable, and many travelers like to use their Matador as a packable daypack to carry with them.

Some of Matador’s daypacks can be packed down into a palm-sized package that links with your regular backpack. It’s a handy travel companion to bring along with you no matter where you are in the world.

10. Douchebags: Best to Shred Pow and Gnar, Dude

Douchebags Backpacks

What’s a list of backpack brands without a brand named Douchebags? Douchebags designs backpacks for surfers, skiers, mountain bikers and even photographers—some of the world’s top athletes use Douchebags.

Douchebags’ coolest feature though is the patented hook-up system, with quick attachment links (G-buckles) that connects multiple wheeled bags to make travel a breeze. If you typically carry a lot of gear, this system is essential.

11. Herschel Supply Co.: Best Name Brand Backpacks

Herschel Backpack

Herschel Supply Co. is a staple in every fashionista’s wardrobe (or, you know, if you’re just looking for a stylish backpack that stands out amongst all the other packs out there). Herschel Supply Co. backpacks are best for making a statement thanks to their bright pops of color and funky patterns, as well as their leather strapping and unique designs.

That’s not to say that Herschel Supply Co. doesn’t make functional backpacks, though. They have a whole line of gear that includes hip packs, duffels, cross-bodies, messengers, and more.

12. KÜHL: Best Rugged Backpacks for Adventure Travel

KÜHL Backpack

Despite the name, KÜHL is a USA-born company that designs gear built for mountaineering. KÜHL is for people who are serious about adventure, and in addition to backpacks the brand also carries clothes and performance wear, including the best pair of pants I’ve ever worn.

KÜHL’s backpacks stand out among other backpack brands for their impressive features. No detail goes unnoticed, from the fleece-lined pockets for storing valuables to the hidden pockets for device trackers. Rest assured; your stuff is safe in your KÜHL bag.

13. NOMATIC: Best Crowdfunded Backpack Brand

Nomatic Backpack

NOMATIC first got its start by raising $2.2-million on Kickstarter to create the most functional gear ever.

NOMATIC has three main backpacks: the NOMATIC Travel Pack, the NOMATIC Backpack, and the NOMATIC Travel Bag. Honestly, the confusing naming system is my least thing part about this backpack brand.

Otherwise, NOMATIC backpacks are absolutely brimming with features—each bag has at least 20+ of them, including things like RFID security pockets, laptop compartments, pockets for your water bottle, and hip belts with pockets.

So is it worth all the $2.2-million hype? Read my NOMATIC review for a deep dive.

14. Timbuk2: A Backpack with a Sense of Style

Timbuk2 Backpack

Timbuk2 makes versatile bags made of durable fabric, including everything from fashion bags to laptop packs and commuter bags. Timbuk2 packs will last you for years, no matter how much time you spend exploring the world.

Some of Timbuk2’s backpacks are entirely customizable, meaning that you can select different color schemes and patterns when purchasing a backpack online. Timbuk2 has some of the best backpacks for expressing your fashion sense (and for carrying your favorite items too, of course).

15. Bellroy: A Bag with A Purpose

Bellroy Backpack

Bellroy is an Australian accessories company that makes bags, folios, wallets, phone cases, and more. Their USP is that they use sustainable materials used from recycled and plant-derived fabric.

If you’re a leather lover, you’ll be happy to know that Bellroy sources high-quality leather backpacks with minimal environmental impact. Plus their products are just gorgeous: backpacks, cross-body bags, laptop bags, and totes all have attractive leather detailing in their fabric.

16. Patagonia: Sustainable Name Brand Backpacks

Patagonia Backpack

Like Osprey, Patagonia is leading the charge for backpack brands with a strong focus on sustainable products. Patagonia makes use of a variety of high-quality fabric, and the company is committed to fair business practices, including being completely transparent about where they source their fabric. They’re also very active in nature and wildlife conservation efforts around the world.

In my opinion, Patagonia is essential in this list of brands for their use of sustainable practices. They also use bright colors and patterns in their designs to really stand out.

17. Fjallraven: Best Backpacks for Simple, Everyday Use

Fjallraven Kanken

Not all that long ago it seemed like everyone was wearing a Swedish backpack from Fjallraven. It’s easy to write them off as simply fashion backpacks—the Fjallraven Kanken line (the most famous of the brand) has a simplistic design that resembles military backpacks (or rucksacks), but they also come in bright colors. And you’ll see them literally everywhere…especially in Europe (and you’ll see knockoffs all over Southeast Asia).

But there’s more than the Fjallraven Kanken here. Fjallraven also features technical packs, tote bags, laptop backpacks, hip packs, outer wear, pants, tops, and more.

When it comes to backpacks, their unique blocky shape is their most distinguishable design asset, and the simplicity of each daypack makes it ideal for everyday use and light activity. They won’t offer much back support for hiking though, so you might want to consider another backpack if that’s what you had in mind.

18. Boundary Supply: Best Modular Backpacks

Boundary Supply Backpack

When it comes to best backpack brands for modular backpacks, Boundary Supply is an obvious choice. These bags are heavy duty, and they come with adaptable storage solutions for both everyday use or for longer backpacking travel.

What makes a bag modular? Boundary Supply’s Prima System bag is the perfect example: you can purchase the Prima backpack, and then add-ons like the Verge Case and the Fieldspace (an organizer with a laptop sleeve). Some bags even have a thermal insert for your water bottles (or a few cans of chilled beer, if you prefer). You can basically build the kind of bag you want.

19. Mission Workshop: High-Quality Modular Backpacks

Mission Workshop Backpack

Looking for backpack brands that have perfected the art of weatherproofing backpacks? Mission Workshop is an excellent top pick.

All of Mission Workshop’s backpacks are built with the highest quality two-layer weatherproof fabric to keep all of your gear safe and dry. Like most of the backpack brands on this list, Mission Workshop has a variety of bags available, from messenger bags to daypacks and durable camera packs.

That being said, Mission Workshop is easily the most expensive brand on this list. You’ll pay a lot of money to wear their packs proudly on your back! But just remember—you get what you pay for.

20. Topo Designs: Best for City Trips

Topo Designs Backpack

Last but certainly not least in this list of the best backpack brands is Topo Designs. They make packs that blend the outdoor experience with world travel culture. The creators used the classic styling of the outdoors gear they had growing up with modern additions to create versatile backpacks that’ll take you from a hiking trip to the city streets all in the same day.

Topo Designs has a veritable menu of products, from backpacks to shoulder bags to even climbing gear like chalk bags. Their Travel Bag 30L & 40L is among my favorites for streamlined city backpacks.

Jeremy Scott Foster
Jeremy Scott Foster
Jeremy Scott Foster is an adventure-junkie, gear expert and travel photographer based in Southern California. Previously nomadic, he’s been to ~50 countries and loves spending time outdoors. You can usually find him on the trail, on the road, jumping from bridges or hustling on his laptop working to produce the best travel and outdoors content today.

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