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As someone who is about to graduate, I can still remember standing in the backpack aisles in stores trying to find the right fit. It’s so hard because you want to find the perfect backpack that will hopefully get you through all four years (or more) but still fits your style.
If there’s anything I’ve learned from my boyfriend, it’s that he’s pickier about his backpack than I am… which is very surprising.
I know it’s hard to find the backpack that is going to fit all aspects of your college life, so that is why I’ve put together this list to help you narrow down what you want.
I promise that no matter which backpack you choose that it’ll help carry what you need wherever you need to go.
So, without any further delay, here is our complete guide on backpacks for college men.
In This Post:
Best Overall College Backpacks for Men
What I love about this backpack is it is super affordable.
It runs for around $30 and comes in a variety of colors depending on your own personal style.
It has a lot of different compartments and pockets, so it makes a great backpack for those students on the go.
My personal favorite feature is a dedicated sleeve for a laptop or tablet - those get me every time!
Everyone’s definition of stylish is different, but if there is one kind of backpack I have seen on campus, it’s this one.
It has a super sleek design and is offered in different colors, which is definitely a bonus! Not only is it stylish, it’s also reasonably spacious for a nice and sleek looking backpack!
Now, this is the ultimate backpack for people with a busy schedule and a lot to carry.
I carried around 7 books my freshmen year because I had no breaks and English courses back to back.
This Speedo backpack comes in a bunch of different colors, but most of all it is perfect for carrying around everything you may need.
While it’s mostly made for swimmers to cater to their lifestyle, I think that this one truly works for every student.
Affordable Backpacks for College Men
Honestly, JanSport backpacks are like the holy grail of backpacks for students. I’ve carried a JanSport for years, so I can vouch that they are durable.
The City View backpack is great because not only is it affordable, it’s made from recycled materials! What’s better than padded shoulder straps, a laptop sleeve, AND environmentally friendly? For a great price? Can’t beat it.
This is actually the backpack that I’ve been carrying since my freshman year, and I’m graduating in December! It has a fully padded back panel which is great for busy students who have to carry their backpacks from one building to another.
My favorite thing about this backpack is the little front utility pocket it has. It’s the best for carrying things that you need to grab in a jif, like keys or a wallet. Definitely recommend this backpack!
One of my favorite things about backpacks is not only when they’re super affordable, but also when they have awesome features that make the person carrying the backpack more comfortable.
Obviously, a spacious backpack is great… but, this one has shoulder straps with padded air mesh which helps keep away the sweat and make carrying a backpack a little less annoying.
For a Nike backpack, this one is super affordable and has tons of space. Two bigger compartments, two smaller pockets, two small zipper pockets, and side pockets!
My favorite feature from this backpack, though, is that it’s super easy to spot clean if it gets dirty. I guarantee that there will come a day when you need to get something off your backpack, and I bet that having this backpack will make that a little easier.
One of my very favorite things that a backpack can have is a laptop sleeve, and this one has just that! This backpack has a super simple and sleek design but also space for a laptop and tablet!
The National Backpack Originals also has a padded bottom to help make sure that if the bottom of your backpack gets wet, your stuff is far less likely to have water damage!
Another option that I absolutely recommend from Adidas because it’s also made from recycled materials.
A downside to this one is that it comes in limited colors, so if you aren’t a fan of the ones, they offer then you might want to look at another one.
But a big plus that I find with this one is that not only does it have a laptop sleeve, but it also has a pocket just for earbuds.
If you’re like me and tend to just throw your earbuds anywhere, having an earbud pocket would definitely come in handy to make sure that you aren’t always digging through your bag.
The essentials backpack comes in a different variety of colors which I think is awesome for expressing your own style.
It’s super easy to spot clean because of the material, and even though it’s on the more affordable side, it is decently sized to be able to fit whatever you need.
My favorite features? Double pockets for water bottles and a little ring on the front to fit keys!
This Puma backpack is a great one for its price because it’s all about comfort — it includes padded straps and a padded back to prevent back pain.
A fun bonus to this one is it has two slip-in pockets on the inside of the backpack instead of the outside!
Great for keeping little things you need to carry organized.
While this backpack has similar features to the Buzz backpack, what I think stands out for this one is the design.
It looks more sophisticated and just a bit “cooler” than some of the other backpacks that lean on the affordable side. You’ll still get great comfort, space, and price, but it also might just look better carrying around!
Another awesome and affordable backpack option from Puma that has similar features but comes in more colors.
What’s great from reading the reviews is that even though the prices are more affordable, the backpacks are still able to last.
The only downside to this one is that because of the material, it might be slightly more difficult to spot clean if it gets a bit dirty.
Now this one has to be my favorite in this category because it’s all the things you want in a great backpack for a great price.
Just to list some of my favorite features: laptop sleeve, highly water-resistant, a nice buckle on the front pocket that makes the backpack a bit more fashionable, and 2 side water bottle pockets. Does it get better than that?
This backpack stood out to me because it has a very different design than a lot of the other ones on this list. It’s more of an oval shape rather than just the standard backpack, which I think gives this one a leg up.
It comes in different color combinations, so you have some variety to choose from! A great feature on this one is water-repellent front pockets to keep valuable stuff from getting ruined!
But my favorite feature? It has an abrasion-resistant bottom to keep it from ripping or breaking.
Vans backpacks were always what I thought of as being the cool kid backpack. The designs are super cool for a good price and good quality.
This one was a personal favorite because of its laptop sleeve (duh), tablet pocket, and organizer for pens and such.
Also fun fact, this one has an odor control treatment that helps keep you from smelling bad – especially if you’re super active.
Another great option from Vans. It has a lot of similar qualities, minus the odor treatment and tablet pocket.
I would definitely say this backpack is meant for someone with a less heavy schedule.
It’s a bit smaller than some of the others in the affordable section, but still, a great option if you just need to carry your laptop and a notebook or two
Stylish Backpacks for College Men
Now this one is like the ultimate backpack that also doesn’t look too shabby!
Let me just rattle off everything I love about this one, other than how it looks: tons of storage, laptop pocket, tablet pocket, the bottom is water-resistant, it has trolley handles that you can use if that’s your vibe, a front zipper pocket that’s perfect for keys or smaller things, and it’s easy to spot clean.
When I said ultimate backpack, I meant it…
This backpack is super stylish and decently priced! It has an option for a luggage handle so it could be used as a roller if you needed it for trips.
It’s easy to clean, has a laptop and tablet pocket, and has a 3-year manufacturer’s warranty if something goes wrong!
I love this backpack because its design is stylish but also super functional. It’s original because it can fit a laptop with up to a 17”, which is a lot bigger than most others.
A super original feature is a pass-through USB cord that can let you charge anything you may need. Great features for a great look!
The Fjallraven is a really super backpack brand. They’re easy to get off of Amazon which makes shipping really easy.
These backpacks are both functional but even more than that they are a super original design. They come in a variety of colors, so the only problem you’ll have is deciding which one you like!
These also have good storage, but you may not be able to carry a bunch of textbooks, notebooks, and a laptop - so maybe not the best for people with a super busy schedule and a lot to carry.
23. Nike Hayward 2.0
Nike has a ton of stylish backpacks, but I loved this one because it isn’t tacky or too big. It’s super spacious and even has an adjustable bungee cord in the front for carrying shoes or extra clothes just in case!
The Nike Sportswear RPM is the perfect stylish backpack for students on the go - especially athletes.
It has a lot of different compartments to make sure that you can not only carry school supplies, but also clothes you might need to change into, snacks, or really anything you think you might need to go from one place to another!
I’m a huge fan of Adidas, especially their backpacks. I think the Prime backpack is stylish because it’s simple.
Not an overly complicated design and has simple color options.
And guess what’s back… recycled materials! Easy to spot clean, and a lifetime warranty… need I say more?
A super classic design with durable materials.
Honestly, this one has a lot of the same features as the one above, minus being easy to spot clean and an added earbud pocket.
Adidas backpacks are all pretty stylish, so it really just comes down to personal taste!
The Puma City backpack is probably one of my favorites on this entire list. Its look is super interesting as it’s more rectangular than a regular backpack.
A downside to this one is that it only comes in one color, which stinks if you don’t like the color but like the style.
Favorite feature: a zip pocket that is vertical along the front! I’m considering buying this one for myself.
This backpack from Under Armour has a subtle but stylish pattern that isn’t overwhelming but will make your backpack stand out. In my opinion, it’s also very professional looking!
Favorite features: water-resistant, lightweight fabric, and a large front sprocket for valuables!
The Vans Puffed Up backpack has similar features as the previous Vans backpacks… laptop sleeve, padded shoulder straps and a pocket designed to organize pens and cords.
What puts this one in the stylish category, though, is that the fabric is puffed, which makes this backpack super original.
The only downside is that it only comes in the color pomegranate, which is really just a deeper reddish/purple.
Similar to the Samsonite Modern Utility Double Shot Laptop Backpack, this is another ultimate backpack.
This L.L. Bean backpack is huge – perfect for carrying basically your entire life.
The bonus, though, is that it’s super stylish! It comes in 3 different colors, so some variety, and it’s professional looking without looking old.
This is the backpack that I imagine all the cool guys in Europe use - so if that is the aesthetic you’re going for, this is for you!
The design is made up of a front flap with a buckle, it’s rectangular, and has two side cargo pockets with buckles as well.
It’s waterproof, which is a big plus and will make you look like the cool guy on campus with the nice, smart, and professional backpack.
Customizable Backpacks for College Men
For this custom backpack, you can upload your own text, photo, or logo in order to make your backpack really your own.
Some super cool features, other than being custom, are that it has a laptop sleeve, an office organizer, and is pretty decently sized.
Check out this customized multifunction travel backpack with a USB charging headphone port!
Like the previous custom backpack, you’re able to upload your own images or text.
Bonus features: water-resistant, luggage strap, a separate laptop compartment, and a USB or headset port design that helps you charge your device whenever you need to on the go.
This backpack differs from the others because you can only add text, which is super helpful if you know you want your backpack to say your name or something specific, but you don’t want to worry about if there is a picture.
It doesn’t have a laptop sleeve, but it is slightly water-resistant and has adjustable padded straps with a sponge on the inside to help with a comfortable carry.
Timbuk2 backpacks are super great quality!
This backpack has rear access to a laptop, so that it doesn’t get jumbled with everything else you’re carrying, and an internal organizer for pens or miscellaneous things you need to carry!
What is great about this backpack is that it also can be customized to fit your style.
However, I don’t mean customized like names and pictures. You’re able to pick what color combinations you want to make sure that you’re carrying something that fits your personal style!
Now, Zazzle doesn’t necessarily have just one kind of backpack you can design. This website needed to go in this category because you can basically customize your backpack from start to finish.
They have different styles, colors, words, pictures… really whatever you want to make your backpack all your own!
37. Vans Customs
Like Zazzle, Vans has its own design space to make your backpack fit you.
They have four different styles of backpacks to choose from, and from there you can design it based on certain patterns they offer or even upload your own picture.
These backpacks are super great quality and the Vans design portal is super easy to navigate – they make the backpack creating process super fun!
Minimalistic Backpacks for College Men
And we’re back to another JanSport backpack! I actually had this exact same backpack for all my years of high school, so I can vouch that it’s great quality.
It’s super simple in its design while still being completely functional and sophisticated.
It doesn’t have a laptop sleeve, but I think I can look past that for this one because I know from experience that simple really is the best in this case.
This JanSport backpack not only has a sleek and simple design, but it’s also made from recycled materials! It doesn’t get any better than that if you ask me.
Again, it doesn’t have a laptop sleeve, but I think I can forgive that since it’s so environmentally friendly.
I absolutely love this Herschel backpack because sometimes I think the more pockets and zippers that a backpack has, the more crowded it looks.
This backpack has a single zipper in the front as its only real “design feature” which I think leaves it looking super clean and professional.
Bonus features: laptop sleeve, key clip, and waterproof zipper detail.
I love this backpack from Wexley because it reminds me of a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Shell in the best way!
It’s really just the oval shape of the backpack, but I think that the simple design makes the shape really stand out when you’re wearing it.
I have a friend who has this backpack, and he raves about it – it’s super spacious and comfortable. His favorite thing? “It looks good with everything!”
Lululemon’s Everyday backpack comes in four different color patterns, all of which are super clean.
It is made with water-repellent fabric, has a padded pocket that fits up to a 16” laptop, an exterior pocket, and interior pockets to keep things from flying around!
I love this option because, in my opinion, this is probably one of the most versatile minimalist backpacks - you could take it on a trip, school, work, or the gym and it would fit every occasion.
This Solo Tote/Backpack is such a nice twist on just a regular ole backpack. The style is simple yet sophisticated.
It’s super stylish without being flashy or too big to carry around.
It doesn’t fit as much as a regular backpack does, so this is definitely more of an option for someone with a lighter load!
44. Wenger Foix 16”
I love this backpack because usually when people say, “minimalist backpack,” one would automatically think of a black backpack because of how sleek it is.
This Wenger backpack comes in a really nice olive color that I think captures the same sophistication and sleekness while also being a different color!
The Loudon backpack does an excellent job of combining simplicity and design - providing customers with patterned options for backpacks that aren’t too much.
This one comes in 4 different colors and has a lot of the same great features that Under Armour offers - water-repellent fabric, laptop sleeve, and comfortable straps!
Calvin Klein really knew what they were doing with this one… it’s like the ultimate stylish backpack for guys.
This backpack comes in black and has one main compartment, a front zipper, is fully lined and is faux leather.
It isn’t the biggest backpack, so this probably isn’t the best choice if you have a lot to carry, but you’ll definitely look cool!
If you can’t tell by now, Vans has some pretty great quality backpacks.
But I do think that some of their backpacks are pretty flashy. This Disorder Plus option is great because it has a laptop compartment, an internal organizer, a lined media pocket and mesh water bottle pockets.
More than all that, though, its super clean design will make it so you don’t walk around feeling like you have a flashy backpack you’re carrying all day.
Don’t like the last Vans minimalist men’s backpack option? Here’s another!
The Vans Long Haul is great because Vans changed up their design without overdoing it.
This backpack has the typical backpack shape, but with two small zipper pockets on the very front that will make your backpack easy to find if you lose track of it.
A creative and original design with all the great features Vans offers for its backpacks? Can’t beat it!
Okay, okay, okay! I know - you’re probably tired of Vans backpacks… but they’re great! I can’t help it.
This Transplant backpack has a slightly more oval shape than a normal backpack, but like the Long Haul, it has a zipper pocket in the front that makes this style more original.
It comes in the color indigo, which I think is a great solid color to carry around.
A super fun feature: a removable cross-body bag! Which I think is super cool and very in right now.
And here we have it, my very last recommendation for college men’s backpacks.
This one comes in a cool camo pattern which I think perfectly manages the super simplistic style.
The material is water-resistant, and the reviews are phenomenal. The only downside (in my opinion) is that there isn’t a laptop sleeve…. But I think I can let it slide for a 4.65/5-star review.
Bonus – Most Important Backpack Features
None of these backpacks the one? That’s totally fine – I understand!
When you’re going into a store to shop, though, here are a few of the features that I like to pay the most attention to making sure I have.
As someone who has had the same backpack for many years, these are the features that are going to help you get a backpack that will last for college and beyond.
- The most important feature on my list: a laptop sleeve! I love a laptop sleeve because I don’t have to worry about making sure I have a separate laptop case, and you always know that your laptop will be kept safe from everything else.
- Padded bottom. This helps with making sure that if something spills or you accidentally leave your backpack in a puddle that everything stays dry inside.
- Easy spot cleanable fabric. I promise you will get something on your backpack at some point. If it isn’t easy to spot clean, you’ll just be stuck with a stain.
- Pocket organizer. This isn’t something I have but I wish I did. Pockets specifically made for pens, and such would be so convenient.
- Mesh water bottle pockets. These are so much easier to fit a variety of different water bottle sizes in!
- Key clip. I also don’t have a key clip and I so wish I did so that I wasn’t constantly digging through my bag trying to find my keys when I needed them.
- Mesh pocket on the front. If you’re an athlete or an avid gym-goer, I would say that a mesh pocket where you can put shoes, or a change of clothes is a super helpful feature to have.
Final Thoughts on Backpacks for College Men
While these are just the things on my list, I would recommend making your own list of features that are important to you before shopping.
A backpack should be made to fit your lifestyle, not you trying to fit your life into a backpack – don’t forget that and just buy whatever backpack is in front of you that won’t even fit all your books.
Stay calm, look at the product details, and I promise you’ll be the guy with the coolest backpack at school.
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