Upgrade your backpack: Pick a pack that’s right for you

upgrade your backpack pick a pack thats right for you mission workshop

Everyone has a backpack laying around somewhere, but the handy item goes underappreciated as an everyday carry-along. They can be just as stylish and practical as a messenger bag or briefcase, and let’s face it, they’re better for your back. They are also way more comfortable if you’re going to be doing any kind of walking, perhaps to and from a college campus or the office, during your daily commute. Depending on your uses, your backpack needs will be different, but we’ve rounded up some of our favorite picks in a few categories that should please just about everyone. Take a look to see which bag suits you and your daily lifestyle.

Everyday packs

upgrade your backpack pick a pack thats right for you everydaypacks

If you’re carrying a backpack (without the need for a laptop) on an everyday basis to class, work, or just around town, you’ll likely want something simple, stripped down, and without too much bulk. Unless you’re carrying something heavy duty, pick a pack that is lightweight itself so that you aren’t adding unnecessary weight to your back.

For something classic and as simple as possible, we like the Herschel Supply Co. Pop Quiz (left, $70), which has good looks, a large inner compartment and two smaller outer pockets, a cell phone/gadget pocket, a fleece-lined sunglasses sleeve, and a sturdy synthetic leather bottom.

For a classic outdoorsman look, the L.L. Bean Maine Guide Rucksack (middle, $189), made from durable 22 oz. waxed canvas with leather detailing, is a great choice. This pack has a drawstring closure for the main compartment and two handy outside pockets.

Now, we know for a fact that some people would prefer to carry around a sport backpack whether they are doing anything active or not. However, there’s no reason to tote around a huge REI-style backpack with millions of pockets and different colors for your trip to the office. We’ve picked The North Face’s Borealis pack (right, $79) in black as the best all-around sporty pick. The Borealis has two large compartments with plenty of organizational pockets, external mesh holsters for your water bottles, a useful bungee cord, and it’s even endorsed by the American Chiropractic Association.


upgrade your backpack pick a pack thats right for you laptoppacks

If you expect to carry your laptop with you on your daily commute, it’s best to get a backpack that was specifically designed for that purpose. Your laptop will be better protected and the pack will be designed to comfortably distribute the extra weight.

For the ultimate in customizability, we love the Timbuk2 Swig pack (left, $89+), which was designed as a messenger-backpack hybrid, complete with the company’s swing-around design for easy access to your goods, a U-lock bike lock pocket that doubles as a water bottle holder, and custom-fit straps. The pack also has two large compartments, plenty of gadget pockets, a built-in bottle opener, and a padded ‘laptop hammock’ the keeps your laptop off the ground even when you set the bag down. We like the sleek look of the all-black design, but the bag is available in a wide range of colors and designs or can be custom-designed by you on the company’s website.

Our favorite for the Apple lover and minimalist is the Incase Nylon Backpack (middle, $100), which has a plush faux-fur-lined pocket for any size MacBook (even the giant 17-incher) as well as a plush zippered iPhone/iPod pocket and a slip pocket for your iPad. Two large compartments hold all your gear and padded back pads and straps will keep you comfortable, even if you’re carrying around your 17-inch MacBook. We also like the minimal look of this pack; it’s sporty in design but sleek enough to wear to the office. It’s available in several different colors and zipper accents, so feel free to go a little more crazy if the solid grey is too tame for your tastes.

For a lightweight and simplistic laptop pack, we’ve chosen the iconic Fjällräven Kanken (right, $110), which was originally designed in 1978 for Swedish school children. Since then, the famous arctic fox logo has made an impact in the US, and the company has added a padded 15-inch laptop compartment to its otherwise minimal design. The pack is made from synthetic Vinylon F, which is both extremely lightweight and very durable, making this the lightest backpack of the bunch. We also like the double top handles for versatility in either carrying the Kanken on your back or as a tote bag.


upgrade your backpack pick a pack thats right for you technicalpacks

Whether you want to carry a backpack on a daily basis or not, we all know that they can come in handy for more adventurous pursuits that require both hands to be available at all times. There are hundreds of different technical packs that we could suggest, but we’ve narrowed it down to just a few that might suit your needs.

For a great hiking day pack, we like the Topo Klettersack (left, $139) for its classic design, mid-range size (18L), and quality craftsmanship. The Klettersack has enough room for everything you’d need on a long day hike, including leather lash tabs for securing extra gear, a fully-lined coated pack cloth inside, and heavy duty hardware. A drawstring closure keeps all your gear secure inside the pack, and a zippered top pocket keeps your essentials easily at-hand.

For urban cyclists or anyone who has the need to carry cargo in rain or inclement weather, the Mission Workshop Rambler (middle, $239) would be a premium everyday pack. The Rambler features a fully weatherproof main compartment that can be used as a roll-top for extra protection, or in traditional flap-down mode. Multiple other weatherproof compartments, urethane-coated zippers, and a carbon fiber reinforced internal frame suspension system make this the ultimate backpack for difficult weather and urban adventures. Did we mention that it can easily double in size from 1,350 to 2,700 cubic inches of storage?

Last, but certainly not least, we’ve chosen the Lowepro DryZone 200 (right, $365) for photographers who might find themselves in wet conditions. There is nothing worse for your expensive camera than large amounts of water. Lowepro has realized this and subsequently design the DryZone 200, which is the first completely waterproof soft-sided camera pack. A waterproof TIZIP zipper will keep your camera gear protected, even in complete water immersion. Impressive, huh? A tuck-away tripod holder keeps your tripod upright, padded internal dividers allow for storage of a camera and lenses, and the pack even comes with a full technical backpack harness. This pick comes with a hefty price tag, but hey, it’s probably cheaper than replacing your DSLR.

Smart Home

This device detects when your pet is at the door and opens it for them

Tired of waiting for your dog to come inside, or running home in the middle of the day to let your four-legged friend out? Wayzn automatically opens sliding doors for your dog and gives you remote control.

Rough it in absolute comfort with the best sleeping pads available

Shopping for a sleeping pad for your next backpacking trip? Don't buy something that feels like a cold slab of stone. Narrow your selection with our carefully selected list of the best sleeping pads available.

Best holiday gifts for the outdoor junkie on your list

Have an outdoorsy person on your list and not sure what they need? We've hand-picked our favorite outdoor gear with an eye towards the unique and useful. From high-powered headlamps to heated socks, we've found something for everyone on…

Snooze soundly anywhere you lay your head with the best sleeping bags

A proper sleeping bag has the ability to make or break a camping or backpacking trip. Here are our picks for the best sleeping bags on the market to help you choose the correct bag for any type of outdoor adventure.

You could spend $1,000 on an iPhone, or buy one of these awesome laptops instead

Finding a decent laptop is easy, but finding one under $1,000 is a bit tricky. Luckily, we've taken some of the guesswork out of picking out a budget laptop. Here are some of our favorites, the best laptops under $1,000.

Get electronics gifts for high-tech homes for under $100 with these deals

The holiday season is in full swing with Christmas just around the corner. New deals on interesting, fun, and practical electronic gifts under $100 from major online retailers can convert last-minute shoppers to savvy bargain hunters.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Booze-filled ski poles and crypto piggy banks

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Smart Home

Put away that sponge and let us help you pick the best dishwasher for your buck

Tired of doing dishes by hand? Take a look at our picks of the four best dishwashers currently available and let a machine do the dirty work for you. They’ll do a much better job, anyway.

Canary home security company sued over $10 monitoring fee

A class-action lawsuit claims home security startup Canary offered free monitoring features to entice people to purchase their cameras, then started charging a monthly fee to continue using them.
Smart Home

Find good gift ideas with these small kitchen appliance deals on Amazon

Small kitchen appliances are favorite holiday gifts to give and to receive and that doesn't only mean an Instant Pot. We found excellent deals on Amazon for blenders and espresso makers plus a highly rated sous vide machine.
Smart Home

Never crawl under the tree again! Alexa, turn on the Christmas tree lights

Did you know you can make your Christmas tree smart, just like many of the other electronics and gadgets in your home? You can even create routines involving your tree. Here’s how to make a smart Christmas tree this holiday season.
Smart Home

LG will announce partnerships at CES to help give you a smart kitchen

LG is announcing a number of partnerships that will help make kitchen appliances even smarter. It is working with Drop, the makers of Kitchen OS, to create a unified kitchen experience that will make cooking easy.
Smart Home

Starbucks teams with Uber Eats for delivery from 2,000 of its U.S. stores

Starbucks has teamed up with Uber Eats to offer customers deliveries from almost a quarter of its stores in the U.S. The major expansion launches early next year, making life even easier for fans of the coffee giant.

Amazon Fire Deals: Tablets, TVs, and TV controllers in stock and ready to ship

Last-minute shoppers, and anyone seeking good deals on Amazon Fire products, are in luck. There's still time to order Fire Tablets, Fire TVs, and Fire media players, Fire CVRs, and Alexa-voice-compatible Fire remotes for Christmas delivery.