12 Best Leather Backpacks of 2022

Are you looking for a leather backpack? Then look no further than our list of the 12 best leather backpacks currently on the market!
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Best Leather Backpacks

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Looking for the best leather backpack? Yeah, so was I. As a more adventurous traveler, this wouldn’t be my typical type of bag. But I decided to level up my style game and start researching leather backpacks as well.

The fact is, while most travel backpacks are incredibly functional and practical, they don’t always look great.

I mean, you can’t exactly walk into a trendy cocktail bar with a bright green Osprey pack and not feel a bit out of place. If I’m going somewhere a little fancier than usual, I like to bring along a nicer bag.

That’s why I love leather backpacks. They’re super versatile. You can use them for work, travel, school, and casual day-to-day life.



Kodiak Katmai Leather Backpack

This is my top pick for best leather backpack because it has it all: tons of organization features, a laptop sleeve, some added security, and some seriously beautiful style.


And best of all? Their style is timeless because leather backpacks are virtually indestructible. 

There’s a reason for that too. Until 50 or so years ago, leather was the travel material of choice. And though it isn’t anymore, there’s something so incredibly charming about a leather backpack for travel.

Let’s dive into my picks for the best leather backpacks for travel as of 2022.

Best Leather Backpacks of 2022

Kodiak Katmai

Kodiak Katmai Leather Backpack

The Best Overall Leather Backpack

  • Tons of pocket
  • Padded interior laptop sleeve
  • Ages beautifully
  • Adjustable backpack straps
Wilson's Vintage Leather Backpack

Wilsons Leather Vintage Nebraska Leather Backpack

Best Overall Leather Backpack

  • Very roomy
  • Vintage rugged design meets tech
  • Good security
  • Will fit underneath an airline seat
Harber London Slim Laptop Backpack

Harber London Slim Laptop Leather Backpack

Best Ultra-Slim Backpack

  • Less than two inches deep
  • Padded interior laptop sleeve
  • Fits a laptop up to 16 inches
  • Luggage pass-through sleeve

Monos Metro Backpack

Best Modular Leather Backpack

  • Made with high-quality vegan leather
  • Comes with a snap-on snap-off modular system
  • Fits a laptop up to 15 inches
  • An absolutely beautiful bag
ISM The Backpack in black

ISM The Backpack

The Best Leather Backpack for Men

  • Excellent organization and compartmentalization
  • Pass-through flap to keep your phone charging
  • Modern, sleek design
  • Has a lifetime warranty
Leatherology Parker Backpack

Leatherology Parker Backpack

The Best Leather Backpack for Women

  • Soft leather in different colors
  • Very spacious
  • Keep your tech separate from everything else
  • Great for frequent flyers
ONA's Monterey Backpack

ONA's Monterey Backpack

The Best Black Leather Backpack

  • Perfect size for carry-on luggage
  • Great for the super organized
  • Air mesh back panel
  • Very secure
Pad & Quill Heritage Rolltop Leather Laptop Backpack

Pad & Quill Heritage Rolltop Leather Laptop Backpack

The Best Brown Leather Backpack

  • Unique rolltop look
  • Only bag in this list with side access
  • Very durable
  • Buckles are way more secure than zips
Monte & Coe Camden Backpack

Monte & Coe Camden Backpack

The Best Leather Backpack Purse

  • Extremely stylish, handmade bag
  • Good amount of storage
  • Great security
  • Lifetime guarantee
Wilsons Leather x Kenneth Cole Reaction Modern Backpack

Wilsons Leather x Kenneth Cole Reaction Modern Backpack

The Best Faux Leather Backpack

  • The perfect bag for the digital nomad
  • Fits a laptop of up to 15 inches
  • No shortage of security options
Wilsons Leather Luxurious Lamb Continental Backpack

Wilsons Leather Luxurious Lamb Continental Backpack

The Best Small Leather Backpack

  • Super soft leather that is self-conditioning
  • Versatile design
  • You can zip the shoulder straps together to use as a tote bag
  • Three-section interior
ONA's Clifton Leather Backpack

ONA's Clifton Leather Backpack

The Best Leather Laptop Backpack

  • A lot of room for technology
  • Super organized
  • Great ventilation
  • High, handcrafted quality leather

1. Kodiak Katmai Leather Backpack: Best Overall Leather Backpack

This is my top pick for best leather backpack because it has it all: tons of organization features, a laptop sleeve, some added security, and some seriously beautiful style.

Having an organized leather backpack is an absolute godsend for anyone who likes to keep their gear neat and tidy.

Unlike some of the other more simplistic bags on this list, the Kodiak Katmai Leather Backpack has lots of pockets. There’s a padded laptop sleeve on the back wall of the main compartment, as well as large and medium zippered pockets on the front. Inside those pockets are smaller pockets for carrying your phone, credit cards, and other small items.

Bonus features: the straps are adjustable, and there’s also a luggage strap. The top carry handle is a nice touch.

Plus I just love the timeless look of this bag. It’s Top-Grain cowhide that ages beautifully.


  • There’s a ton of pockets on this backpack
  • Comes with a padded interior laptop sleeve
  • The interior has an extra zippered pocket for more security 
  • Adjustable backpack straps


  • It only comes in one color
  • The main compartment isn’t overly roomy

Kodiak Katmai Leather Backpack Specs:

Dimensions16.5″H x 15″W x 5″D
FabricTop-Grain Cowhide

2. Wilsons Leather Vintage Nebraska Leather Backpack: Best Rugged Leather Backpack

Wilson's Vintage Leather Backpack

This is the first of several Wilsons leather backpacks to be featured in this review. You know when one brand appears a few times in a list that they make excellent products.

Their Vintage Nebraska Leather Backpack is absolutely beautiful, I have to admit. It has a bit more personality than the other backpacks on this list.

Think handsomely rugged.

It’s the perfect leather travel backpack if you want that retro-feel but you need to travel with your tech.

I’m a sucker for that vintage aesthetic. I’ve purchased many retro bags, but their lack of purpose-made space for tech has always been a problem. I also think this bag offers the best security thanks to the buckles and double closure system. 


  • A very roomy backpack with lots of storage space in the main compartment
  • Vintage rugged design meets tech — a laptop sleeve is a must!
  • Buckled top flap combined with the drawstring closure makes this bag pickpocket-safe
  • Zippable large interior pocket
  • Fits snugly under a plane seat


  • This bag may not be big enough if you’re a heavy packer and you’re going anywhere for longer than a weekend
  • Straps are light on the padding, making it okay for a small load but your back will get fussy if you’re carrying a heavy camera
  • No warranty

Wilsons Leather Vintage Nebraska Leather Backpack Specs: 

Dimensions15”H x 13”W x 5.5”D
FabricGenuine leather, interior lining

3. Harber London Slim Laptop Backpack: The Best Ultra-Slim Backpack

Harber London Slim Laptop Backpack

This has got to be the most unique-looking leather backpack on this list.

Ultra-slim is the most appropriate way to describe the Harber London Slim Laptop Bag: it’s only 1.7 inches wide! It actually comes in two different sizes, referring to the size of the laptop it can carry: the small size holds 13”/14” laptops, while the large size holds 15”/16” laptops.

The primary function of this bag is to be as compact as possible. In fact, 5L is its max capacity, because this backpack isn’t meant to carry more than—you guessed it—a laptop.

The zippers are water resistant to make sure your electronics stay dry. There’s a front pocket for chargers, a detachable magnetic key holder, comfortable shoulder straps and a grab handle, and a luggage pass-through sleeve for your carry-on.

Each bag is handcrafted with premium full-grain leather, which ages gracefully and adds to the bag’s personality over time. It’s definitely one of the best looking bags around.


  • Less than 2 inches wide
  • Comes in two different sizes, holding a laptop up to 16 inches
  • Comes with a padded interior laptop sleeve
  • Water resistant zippers
  • Comes in a few different colors


  • Very small, holding max 5L
  • It’s thin, so you won’t fit much else in here other than a laptop and perhaps some books

Harber London Slim Laptop Backpack Specs:

DimensionsMedium: 13.4″H x 10.2″W x 1.7″D
Large: 15.7″H x 11″W x 1.7″D
FabricFull Grain cowhide leather

4. Monos Metro Backpack: Best Modular Leather Backpack

There’s a lot to love about this Monos Metro Backpack. Although there’s a nylon version, this vegan leather bag has a sleek profile, is water-resistant, and is multi-purpose built for everything from your daily commute to a weekend getaway. Best of all, it features the unique QuickSnap™ Modular Kit System.

This is something I haven’t seen on a leather bag before. The interchangeable Metro Kit is designed to easily detach or swap out for another kit to suit your daily needs. It’s meant to hold the things you need in easy reach.

For example, if you’re on a long flight and you need to wash your face, brush your teeth, etc., you can just unsnap the kit and take it with you to the bathroom. Each kit fits other Metro bags as well, so you can attach it to your other bags. You can purchase a Folio Kit separately, which is designed to hold things like your phone charger and credit cards.

The clamshell main compartment makes it easy to access everything, and there’s a 15″ laptop sleeve inside. Plus there’s a built-in luggage sleeve that you can attach to your suitcase while you’re in transit.


  • Sleek and stylish faux leather
  • Part of a modular kit system which allows you to snap on and off different compartments, or swap them out
  • Holds a 15″ laptop
  • Comes in a few different colors


  • Expensively priced for faux leather

Monos Metro Backpack Specs:

Dimensions8.7″H × 6.7″W × 2″D
FabricVegan leather

5. ISM The Backpack: The Best Leather Backpack for Men

ISM The Backpack in black

ISM makes tech-focused leather backpacks sans the luxury price tag. The company’s bags are made in the same factory, with the same materials as many of the top-of-the-line luxury bags on the market. With The Backpack, you’re getting pretty much the same luxury product, at three to five times cheaper. 

It’s not just the price point that makes the ISM pack a great leather backpack for men, or even women, however.

They’ve adopted the hyper-functionality of other tech bags, minus the clutter of all the unnecessary zippers and contraptions that they often come with. They’re specifically made for digital freelancers/nomads who love functional simplicity. That definitely sounds like me, what about you?

ISM also takes comfort seriously. That’s why their backpack straps echo the excellent support and comfort provided by hiking backpacks. 

The ISM backpack comes in large and small. They’re not THAT much different in size. Go for the large one if you’re taller, or if you want to travel for a weekend or longer with a laptop. If you’re shorter than 5”5’, go for the small size.

It’s great for light-carry commuting and day trips. I love that you can keep your laptop separate from everything else. It’s simple but effective. 


  • Excellent organization and compartmentalization
  • The pass-through flap makes it super easy to keep your phone charging AND easily accessible
  • The modern, sleek design is very appealing, ideal for all you minimalists out there
  • Made with highly durable, quality materials
  • Lifetime warranty
  • The unisex frame suits almost everyone


  • The back external pocket does not make for easy access – a side pocket would have been better
  • It’s pretty rigid and doesn’t have much give when overfilled
  • Lack of color options (only black)
  • Not made with 100% natural fibers

ISM The Backpack Specs: 

Dimensions15” H x 11” W x 4” D
Fits a 13-inch laptop
17” H x 12” W x 5” D
Fits a 15-inch laptop
FabricFull-grain leather, nylon, twill lining, memory foam padding Full-grain leather, nylon, twill lining, memory foam padding 

6. Leatherology Parker Backpack: The Best Leather Backpack for Women

Leatherology Parker Backpack

Leatherology is a luxury bag company based in Texas. They do everything, from design to production in-house, so you know you’re getting an excellent product that has undergone a ton of quality testing.

Leatherology makes a huge range of timeless leather products for both women and men, including everything from coin holders to full-sized leather travel backpacks. If it’s leather, they make it. 

Its organization is excellent. There are two huge zippered main compartments and a front zippered outside compartment. Its many pockets include a laptop pocket for slim tech up to 17 inches, 2 x 2-inch exterior side pockets for chargers and keys, and another small exterior zip pocket.

If you’re looking for a soft leather backpack for women, then the Leatherology Parker Backpack is a good choice for you. It comes in a range of black leather and brown leather shades, and it’s pretty versatile. 


  • Made with soft leather, making this a very comfortable bag to use
  • Available in Black Onyx, Cognac, Brown, Ginger, Taupe, Navy, and Charcoal
  • Very spacious inside — you can easily fit a water bottle and change of clothes
  • Keeps your tech separate from everything else
  • Ideal bag for frequent flyers as it fits perfectly under an airline seat
  • Personalized monogram service is not that expensive


  • It’s definitely on the expensive side for a travel backpack
  • There are more durable options — the soft leather is beautiful but it’s not as durable as other sturdier bags
  • No warranty (at such a high price, I’d expect something)
  • While still high quality, the leather grain is variable in look

Leatherology Parker Backpack Specs:

Dimensions17.7” H x 13.8” W x 6.5” D
FabricSoft, full-grain leather

7. ONA’s Monterey Backpack: The Best Black Leather Backpack

ONA's Monterey Backpack

ONA was founded in NYC back in 2010. They design stylish, highly-functional backpacks, especially for creative professionals and freelancers. Their designs are timeless too, so one of their leather backpacks should last you a lifetime. 

The Monterey backpack mimics the style and function of their best-seller, the Camps Bay backpack, but it’s smaller and finished in beautiful black leather.

This black leather backpack is primarily a tech backpack with removable dividers for when you want to use it as an everyday travel daypack. The main has room for a DSLR and up to 5 lenses, as well as a 13-inch laptop. It also offers a specially designed area to keep your personal items.

Better yet, it’s secure with a buckle fastening system. Each compartment has its own access point so you’re not constantly rooting around for your belongings.

Its sleek design suits the tastes of both men and women.


  • Perfect size for carry-on luggage and will slip right under the seat of the plane 
  • Lots of room for tech storage, dedicated room for personal items, and each compartment has its own access point
  • Air mesh back panel is a great addition if you want to take some cameras to a humid climate and hate being sweaty
  • Double closing system that includes a zipper and buckle for ultimate security 


  • Not very much room for personal items if you’re using the backpack to store a camera — it’s really only for small things like a wallet and phone, not clothes

ONA’s Monterey Backpack Specs:

Dimensions14 ½” H x 10 ½” W x 6” D
FabricPremium waxed canvas and leather

8. Pad & Quill Heritage Rolltop Leather Laptop Backpack: The Best Brown Leather Backpack

Pad & Quill Heritage Rolltop Leather Laptop Backpack

Pad & Quill is an artisan leathercrafting company based in Minneapolis. They started out in 2010 making leather cases for iPads, but they quickly moved into making a large range of leather products. 

The Pad & Quill Heritage Rolltop Leather Laptop Backpack is outstanding.

Who doesn’t want a brown leather backpack? They’re beautiful, and they’re vintage-looking (and they’re available in black leather if you prefer that look).

This one has that vintage style that I love so much. I am also obsessed with the water-resistant rolltop too. It makes me want to get up from this desk right now and go for a hike through the Tirol.

This one is the most unique backpack, and it offers great little details like side access. You also get some much-needed room in order to store your travel or adventure tech, including a 15-inch laptop. It’s perfect for carry-on and commuting.

The Heritage Rolltop is definitely for you if you want to stand out from the crowd with a striking brown leather backpack. 


  • The rolltop look of this backpack is very unique — I love the retro vibe, and I think you will too
  • This is the only backpack on this list to offer side access, which is very handy when you need to grab something closer to the bottom of your backpack
  • Everything about this bag is durable, and the full-grain leather is the kind they use to make horse riding bridles
  • Tough-as-nails stitching
  • Brass buckles are way more secure than zips
  • Great online customer service with free domestic shipping, a 25-year warranty, AND a 30-day money-back guarantee


  • No lifetime warranty, despite most other packs in this list of a lesser price have a lifetime warranty
  • Buckles are more secure than zips, but they’re a pain to use if you’re in a hurry
  • It’s a very slim bag, so you won’t be fitting any cameras in there
  • At 3 pounds, it’s pretty heavy and can weigh you down over the course of a day

Pad & Quill Heritage Rolltop Leather Laptop Backpack Specs:

Dimensions16” L x 12” W x 4.7 “ D
FabricFull-grain American bridle leather 

9. Monte & Coe Camden Backpack: The Best Leather Backpack Purse

Monte & Coe Camden Backpack

Monte & Coe is an ethically-run, family business based in Toronto. They started up in 2012. The company makes handmade, limited-production leather bags made with sustainable Italian wool and full-grain Italian leather. They’re some of the best natural materials available. 

Due to the small-batch numbers of their products, their quality control is outstanding and they keep their waste to a minimum, too. As they make their bags locally in Canada, you can be sure their workers make a fair wage. 

The Camden is a women’s leather backpack purse. It’s a hybrid between a weekender backpack and a small commuter bag. If you’re looking for a beautiful leather backpack that you can slip under an airplane seat, or use around town, this might be the best leather backpack for you. 

While it’s by no means big, this backpack is a good size if you’re a light packer and you just want to carry around the essentials, plus a laptop. It has a handy side panel pocket for your keys, wallet, phone combo. It also comes in some exquisite color variations, including Muted Black, Olive Green, and Ox Blood.


  • Extremely stylish bag with lots of color varieties
  • The leather gives the Monte & Coe Camden Backpack tons of structure and stability
  • Decent amount of storage and the padded laptop pocket is a nice addition to a fairly small backpack
  • The combined leather drawstring and brass buckle double the security of this bag
  • Big zippable interior pocket
  • Lifetime guarantee


  • VERY expensive for a carry-on backpack, but it’s still more affordable than designer brands 
  • It’s lacking on the exterior pocket front (I usually like at least two pockets on the outside)
  • Photographers beware: it’s too small to comfortably fit a camera

Monte & Coe Camden Backpack Specs:

Dimensions12.75” L x 6.25” W x 16” H 
FabricItalian full-grain leather, sustainable Italian wool, denim, cotton, brass

10. Wilsons Leather x Kenneth Cole Reaction Modern Backpack: The Best Faux Leather Backpack

Wilsons Leather x Kenneth Cole Reaction Modern Backpack

Wilsons Leather has been around since 1899 when they started leather production in Minneapolis. Wilsons Leather took their present form in 1988 when they headed west and applied some California-cool to their brand. Just like 120 years ago, everything they make is still handcrafted and built-to-last.

Wilsons Leather collaborated with fashion designer Kenneth Cole to produce the Reaction Modern, a beautiful black faux leather backpack.

It can be hard to come across a good quality faux leather backpack. However, if you’re vegan or you just don’t like the idea of animal skin, this is a good faux leather backpack for you.

Personally, if I were to buy a faux leather backpack, I would usually go for something made of plant-based leather. This one is made of synthetic coated nylon, but it’s of such high quality, sturdy nylon, that I could barely tell the difference.

It’s also ideal for digital nomads. This backpack’s main compartment has two gusseted tech pockets, a tablet pocket, and a 15-inch laptop pocket. The thick, padded shoulder straps and the padded back panel make this bag wearable all day long, and the front zipper pocket has RFID blocking technology for extra security.

So, despite the synthetic material, the Reaction Modern still gets a big thumbs up from me.


  • Perfect bag for the digital nomad with a lot of tech storage
  • Fits a laptop of up to 15 inches, while most of the other backpacks on this list only fit a 13-inch laptop 
  • Very secure with RFID tech AND a double locking mechanism


  • While the quality is good, this backpack is still made of nylon — I’d prefer to see bigger companies like WIlsons Leather try out plant-based faux leathers.

Wilsons Leather x Kenneth Cole Reaction Modern Backpack Specs:

Dimensions12.5″W x 16″H x 7″D
QualityVery good

11. Wilsons Leather Luxurious Lamb Continental Backpack: The Best Small Leather Backpack

Wilsons Leather Luxurious Lamb Continental Backpack

Yet another Wilsons Leather product on this list. The Continental is perfect if you’re looking for a women’s small leather backpack that you can sling over your shoulders and take on-the-go. This one is very casual and more of a satchel that you put over your shoulders. It’s perfect for day wear.

For a small bag, the Continental Backpack has great organization. Its three-section interior features two zippered compartments, two accessory sleeves, and one open compartment with a zippered pocket and card slot.

Unlike the rest of the backpacks on this list, the Continental Backpack is made of sheep leather. Yes, this actually exists. 

Sheep leather is generally softer and smoother than cowskin leather, and it is more lightweight.

Just like wool, sheepskin leather also contains lanolin. This is a natural oil present in sheepskin. It helps the leather self-preserve and stays nicely conditioned for many years.

If you want a small backpack made from extra-soft leather, this one is for you.


  • Super soft leather that is self-conditioning, helping your bag stay wrinkle-free for longer
  • Versatile design that can be used as a backpack or a tote
  • Comes in red and black leather


  • This backpack is not very secure, and the snap closure can easily be opened by pickpockets
  • No space for a laptop, but you probably wouldn’t want this anyway if you’re looking for a small backpack 

Wilsons Leather Luxurious Lamb Continental Backpack Specs:

Dimensions11″W x 12″H x 4″D
FabricGenuine leather

12. ONA’s Clifton Leather Backpack: The Best Leather Laptop Backpack

ONA's Clifton Leather Backpack

Digital nomads know how important carrying a laptop is.

The ONA’s Clifton is a great leather laptop backpack for creatives on-the-move. It’s especially good for those who need to carry cameras too. I’m one of those people, so it’s only natural that I love this leather backpack.

But here’s what I like the most.

It’s exceptionally comfortable for long days on the move. 

Having a completely separate laptop compartment in a leather backpack is a wonderful addition for us digital nomads out there. Plus, there is still plenty of room for all your other tech. It’s also a breath of fresh air to see a camera bag made of natural materials. 

Photographers take note: this bag holds between 4-6 lenses, but if you want to take other personal items (like clothes), go for the ONA The Camp’s Bay backpack instead. It’s not leather, so it doesn’t fit on this list, but I highly recommend it for its better use of space. 


  • There’s a ridiculous amount of room for technology
  • Keep your laptop separate from everything else for better organization and security
  • The front compartment keeps all the odds and ends like chargers and pens within easy reach 
  • The air mesh padding keeps you comfy and stops your back from sweating
  • Comes in Black, Antique Cognac, Smoke, and Camouflage colors


  • It can’t fit everything — if the backpack is loaded with camera gear, there is little to no room for clothes
  • No locking capability or buckles, so it can be an easy target for thieves It can only fit a 13-inch laptop but a 15-inch capacity would suit a wider group of people

ONA’s Clifton Leather Backpack Specs:

Dimensions17.5″L x 11.5″W x 5″D
FabricFull-grain leather

What Is a Leather Backpack?

A leather backpack is the perfect travel companion if you want to look a little cooler than all of the other backpacking jokers out there. 

You’re never going to find a full-size trekking backpack made of leather, but if you’re looking for a day backpack or overnighter that has a bit of cool factor, then a leather backpack is ideal for you. 

While leather backpacks look great, don’t choose one based on aesthetics alone. To get the most out of a leather backpack for travel, you want to make sure it’s small enough to slide under an airplane seat, that it can carry a change of clothes, and that it can fit a laptop (preferably in a purpose-built sleeve).

Why Should You Invest in a High-Quality Leather Backpack?

First of all, let me get this straight for you. Given we have so many outstanding purpose-built mountaineering and trekking backpacks out there these days, I wouldn’t even think about taking a leather backpack on a proper hike. 

However, for a weekender bag or carry-on backpack, a leather backpack is absolutely ideal

They’re especially useful if you’re a photographer or digital nomad because they’re robust. They are able to hold a lot of gear. Leather has a surprising amount of give and it ages well over time. Scuff marks actually look good.

They add to that creative vibe you’re searching for.

If you want a backpack that looks good, but you don’t want to pay top dollar, a leather backpack is definitely not for you. You’ll have a hard time finding a decent quality leather backpack for under $300.

If it’s cheaper than that, it’s probably not real leather.

Portrait of a smiling girl with brown hair in  winter forest wearing a leather backpack
It’s hard to beat the stylish look of a leather backpack!

If you feel like a bit of a dork carrying around an ugly daypack that screams “I’M A TOURIST,” well, then a leather backpack might be exactly what you’re looking for. 

I’m going to show you the best leather backpacks for travel for both women and men. I’ll show you how to sort the best leather travel backpacks from ones that are probably better off staying home (or in the warehouse).

The main things you want to look for in a good leather backpack for travel are:

  • It’s not faux leather.
  • That it can fit a laptop in a purpose-made section.
  • That it will work as carry-on luggage

Of course, you want it to be comfortable and secure too. You’ll want buckles. I’ll run through a few things to look out for so you can be sure your leather backpack fits well and keeps your stuff safe.

Side note: Perhaps you like the look of leather, but you don’t like that it’s made from cow skin?

That’s fair enough, but you’re in luck. These days, you don’t have to settle for lesser quality, vinyl-based faux leather. There are a lot of brands producing really good synthetic leathers, as well as plant-based leather.

Plant-based leather is made from everything from seaweed to kombucha SCOBYs. Crazy, right?

What Actually Makes a Leather Backpack for Travel the BEST?

There’s no catch-all leather travel backpack that will suit everyone. We’ve all got different needs. However, there are a few things I strongly suggest you look out for when choosing a leather backpack. 

Genuine Leather or a GOOD Faux Leather 

It goes without saying that if you want a leather backpack, you want to make sure it is actually leather. Leather is an expensive material thanks to its incredible quality and durability. Whether you go for a soft or a rigid style, a good leather backpack should last you several lifetimes. 

When you’re making your purchase, triple check with a salesperson or in the description that the backpack is genuine and/or full-grain leather. 

man wearing a brown Pad & Quill Heritage Rolltop leather backpack
Pad & Quill Heritage Rolltop = GOOD leather!

There are some unscrupulous people out there though. So, here’s what I think. If the price seems too good to be true, it’s probably not real leather.

If you want the leather look without the cow, then a good quality faux leather backpack is what you need.

Rather than going for a cheap vinyl-based faux leather, look for some of the new faux leathers out there that are made of plant materials. Leathers made from seaweed and other tough, fibrous materials are almost as durable as real leather, and they look way better than cheap, faux materials.

If you can’t find any like that, go for something a little on the higher end of the pricing scale. Something like the Wilsons Leather/Kenneth Cole Reaction Modern Backpack uses synthetic materials but they’re still very robust and high-quality.


If you want to take a leather backpack traveling, it’s important that it can be secured. 

I personally avoid zips on a daypack. In fact, the only reason I didn’t choose the ONA Cliften Leather Backpack is that it only has zippers. This is especially true if I’m going somewhere a little dangerous. Plus, who wants to spoil their beautiful, expensive leather backpack with a big, ugly padlock?

Instead, the best leather backpacks for travel have a double closing mechanism. I like leather backpacks that have a drawstring AND a buckling system. Many of them that I mentioned have this function. 

While a genuine leather backpack might suggest you have a ton of money, at least a buckle system will be a good line of defense against pickpockets. 

The thick leather is way harder to slash than some synthetic materials that other backpacks are made from too. That’s a bonus.  

Tech Pockets

Leather backpacks aren’t exactly a new phenomenon, but older backpacks don’t have tech pockets. These days, it’s pretty much impossible to travel without at least a tablet, but you definitely need a laptop if you’re a digital nomad like me. 

When you’re looking for a leather backpack for travel, make sure the backpack has a separate compartment where you can store a laptop. 

If it has a place to keep a camera, you’re looking at a leather backpack that’s better than the best. 


As you will get most of the use of your leather backpack as a day bag, organization is super important, especially external organization. 

The best leather backpacks will have a few external pockets where you can keep small, day-to-day items like chargers and keys. 

There should also be at least one internal pocket with a zip so you can stash away the more valuable items you’re likely to carry around while traveling.  


While the comfort of a leather backpack for travel isn’t as important as a trekking backpack, you still want to make sure it fits well. The best leather backpacks offer adjustability and breathability. 

Look for adjustable, thick shoulder straps that are well-padded. Bonus points if they are padded with breathable foam. The same goes for the back panel. 

Another important thing to look out for is the placement of the mandatory laptop sleeve. Make sure it sits right at your back. This will maximize comfort. 

Carry-On Size

You don’t want to end up with a leather backpack that’s too big for carry-on luggage requirements. 

When you’re choosing between backpacks, make sure they are under 20 inches in height. This should set you up to carry your bag onto any flight in the world. 

Your Search for the Best Leather Backpack Is Over

A leather backpack is a fantastic way to spice up your look if you’re sick of feeling disheveled on your travels. Leather backpacks are also super durable. Some leather objects have been buried in the earth for 1000 years and have been dug out of the ground semi-usable.

If you get a good backpack, there’s a good chance you’ll pass it down to your grandkids one day. And that’s pretty awesome in my eyes.

However, quality and durability come at a price. For a genuine, high-quality leather backpack with a tech sleeve and a few pockets, you’re definitely going to spend upwards of $300. This is considerably more than even some of the best and biggest trekking backpacks on the market.

So, be aware of prices when deciding.

Final Thoughts on the Best Leather Backpacks

It was tough for me to choose the best leather backpack for travel. All of the backpacks I’ve spoken about here have unique features and they all look good. 

So I put it down to a personal favorite. 

Based on aesthetics and functionality, my favorite leather backpack for travel is the Wilsons Leather Vintage Nebraska Leather Backpack. The vintage look is a major selling point for me, and I love the increased security of the buckles. On top of that, it has a well-placed laptop sleeve.

There was a very close runner up though, so another leather backpack gets a special mention here. 

If you want something a little sleeker and more modern, a black leather backpack is for you. In that case, I’d go for the ONA Monterey Backpack. It has the functionality of a tech gear bag, but I love that the makers have adopted the comfort of air mesh on the back panel and shoulder straps. 

Leather backpacks are undeniably gorgeous. I can’t imagine many people wouldn’t want one. It’s understandably difficult to get caught up on the look of a leather backpack.

However, you should never make a purchase based on looks alone. You should make a checklist of “must-haves” and try out a few different packs to compare them.

A leather backpack is a big investment, so think carefully about what you need it to do!

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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3 Responses

  1. FYI, I loved the design of the ISM backpack you recommend in this article, so ended up submitting an order to purchase it. But I’ve never received the bag nor heard back (after emailing and texting) from the company. If you go take a look at their Instagram, they’ve done this to dozens of other customers. Clearly they’re a scam now.

  2. This is a very informative guide on backpacks. really i learn some points. i am a journalist and need the best backpacks for my laptop. thanks

  3. Hello,Thanks for sharing the article with us that a leather backpack is a big investment for everyone.While travelling it is so necessary and its comfort and easy for us.

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